I was talking to my daughter this morning about a documentary that got mentioned the other day by one of my teachers. It’s a Ken Burns documentary that can be watched on PBS in three, two-hour segments entitled “The U.S. and the Holocaust”.
I try to watch or listen to these sorts of things with two mindsets: first, assessing agendas and spin, and second, separating the reality of what is being shown and described as historical facts and eyewitness accounts.
Old film clips of the way the European Hebrews were treated in a period from 1923 up to the end of WW II and slightly beyond, showed things that are just mind-boggling. What started early on as an effort to treat the Jews so badly they would all just leave and go somewhere else progressed, over time, to them being imprisoned in Europe, both by foreign borders being closed to them… and eventually the very borders of German-controlled Europe being closed to prevent them from leaving at all… then to be rounded up, placed in concentrated populations within cities and camps and finally systematically murdered in an actual, real, purposeful, thought out, premeditated plan to completely annihilate all the Jews of Europe and beyond.
The mind-boggling part is that this wasn’t just the vision and actions of a small group of initiators completely void of compassion or love but that it was carried out by what had once been friends and neighbors, a military complex of fellow citizens, fellow human beings with whom they had coexisted for years.
My wife asks my daughter, “Could you do those kinds of things to someone?”
Jews were accosted in the streets, beaten, businesses broken into, looted, homes and synagogues burned down, people summarily rounded up off the streets, out of their homes and taken away, possessions and wealth “redistributed”, gassed by the tens of thousands, others marched to open holes in the ground, shot and covered up by killing squads as others stood close by looking on idly.
She, of course, says no. How does one who has the love of God in them even think of such things?
And that is certainly a good question. The circumstances were complicated. There were economic circumstances that were very real and made any efforts to help difficult. Some folks were not “on board” with the way things were going, and others secretly aided to hide and help with escape…but the vast majority chose to go along, one way or the other…accepting propaganda that bred hate and characterized as sub-human the over nine million Jews in Europe at that time and… abiding by policies that removed recognition of citizenship and therefore legal rights. Thus enabled by consciences that had been anesthetized and empowered by the policies that allowed for no recourse, haters were free to do what they did with impunity and others to turn a blind eye.
The Word of God gives us a clue.
The prophet speaks of the heart of man as being…”deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9 AKJV).
Moses prophesized of those who do not have the heart and love of God and are turned from His Ways… that… “the man who is tender among you, and very delicate, his eye shall be evil toward his brother, and toward the wife of his bosom, and toward the remnant of his children whom he shall leave…” (Deuteronomy 28:54 AKKJV).
Yeshua: “And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall grow cold… (Matthew 24:10-12 AKJV).
No man in his natural state is immune. The unregenerate, hard-hearted man only needs the right circumstances and he can justify any evil, it would seem.
On another simple but parallel note, my wife recently got a kind of “get well/encouragement” card from a long-time friend who loves the Lord, one of two ladies we know, who have this ministry of sending out notes and cards to others and who, over the years, have not missed a birthday, anniversary or time of difficulty since they began with us. They remind us we are loved by God and express their own love for us… and whether together or apart, we are in their thoughts and prayers always.
Something like this isn’t an expression of exceeding wickedness, thinking evil against family, immediate or extended… of love that has grown cold.
In its simplicity and its seeming smallness it is an action that has in it what all our actions, small and great, safe or dangerous, should have in them… the heart and love and character of our heavenly Father.
A heart like this cannot be legislated. It cannot be a spoil of a war fought, nation against nation, kingdom against kingdom. Such hearts change politics, not the other way around.
It is the product, it is the outcome, of surrendering ourselves, individually, to the lordship of Jehovah God, becoming a new creature… each and every day living to renew our minds and be transformed into the image of Father God and our Messiah.
In a world that is inhabited by people who have within them growing, the heart and love of God and willingness to express it towards Him… and towards one another… the reality, even the tendency, for man to be inhumane to man can be overcome and done away with.
Our prayer Father, in humbleness and recognizing we have the potential for great evil, is that as we surrender to You…You would form in us…a heart like Yours…
Grant us and enable us to demonstrate love towards one another as You do us all.
And we trust:
“For I, the Lord thy God, will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, ‘Fear not; I will help thee.’” Amen and Amen Dear Father…
in Yeshua’s name we pray.
Amen once again.
May God’s love be in us all.
Isaiah 41:13 (AKJV)