The past month has been a seemingly never-ending series of political rhetoric, promises that politicians would be hard pressed to fulfil and attempts to create a unity government that were stymied and doomed to failure from the outset. Still, the politicos went through the motions. When it was all over, the country came to the unpleasant realization that it will soon be facing a third round of elections, with no guarantee that the end result of round three will be much different from the end results of rounds one and two. The only difference is that our Prime Minister is now facing a criminal indictment, which undoubtedly will influence some of the voting public. In the meantime, we still have an interim government that is powerless to pass needed legislation and we could be facing administrative shut down if a national budget is not passed by January, 2020 at the latest. But, that should be the subject of a separate post.
Putting politics aside for the moment, I want to share a letter that was written in the shadow of a the Auschwitz-Birkenow concentration camp in Poland last week. The writer is a young Israeli officer in the IDF. He was part of a special delegation of IDF officers to visit various places in Poland as part of a program called “Edeem b’Mahdeem” (Witnesses in Uniform).
Prior to the delegation leaving Israel only a week ago, the parents of the officers were asked to write a special letter of encouragement, which would be given to the soldiers before they complete the five-day tour of camps and various other places. After receiving the letters from the parents, the soldiers found a place apart from the others, where they could read what their parents wrote. From the different reports received, officers wept and did not try to hide their tears from one another. Then, while still dealing with the emotion of the moment, they were instructed to write a reply to their parents. The following is one such reply, written on IDF stationery, by someone very special to us, our youngest son (translated from Hebrew):
“How can I begin to reply to you, when I am here on the ground of Poland, less than an hour from Auschwitz, as a free Jew, an officer in the Israel Defense Forces and Messianic?
“I was exposed to horrors here that cannot be expressed and words are not enough to explain what happened here.
“I am less than an hour away from where dozens of members of our family were murdered and the question that kept coming to my mind is: “We will not forget and will not forgive. Is it so to be?”
“You have educated me on the foundations of the Messiah, and when I am here I cannot help but remember that the Son of God, the Creator, the King of the Universe, who came in the flesh, suffered, was beaten, scorned and disgraced, went to the cross and died for me. But He, Who suffered and died, in His mercy forgave those who led Him away, cursed and beat Him. And He forgave me, despite my trespasses and sins!
He who forgave me was willing to die for me and He was also willing to die for the whole world. He forgave and calls us to forgive. Should we? Can we?
“I’m not saying we should forget what was done, but if the Lord forgives when we repent and ask forgiveness, then how much more should we do likewise, when those who sin against us repent and ask for forgiveness..
“It is my privilege as a Messianic Jewish Officer, a free man and one who belongs to the Messiah, to be a representative here, not only on behalf of the army but as the representative of our whole family!
“At the final ceremony here in Auschwitz, before the singing of “HaTikva” (“The Hope”, the national anthem), the shofar was sounded. It resonated throughout the camp and into the forests nearby. And as the shofar was blown, I closed my eyes and imagined the sounding of the great shofar, and I saw in my mind’s eye, how those who had became ashes and dust, literally, were rising to the sky and I held to the hope in the promise that we have that we, too, shall rise heavenward!
“So thank you, thank you for your love and your labors and above all, thank you for guiding me to the Truth from Whom nothing can separate me.
“Love now and forever,
“Your son Aviad
“Witnesses in Uniform Delegation,” November 2019
Forgiveness and hope in the One Who forgives fully and completely. Are the two humanly compatible? Indeed, nothing is impossible with God. He has His witnesses everywhere, even in the concentration camps.
“Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice.” (John 5:28)
“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Yeshua died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Yeshua. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Messiah will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)
Bless, be blessed and be a blessing.