Have you ever been at a place that something was pressing so hard on the inside of you that you just had to get it out either by talking about it or writing about it and you felt you would explode if you didn”t?? This is where I am today! For a little back ground, a few weeks ago, my husband and I had the opportunity to hear a survivor of the Holocaust. As he shared his horrific experiences and those of his loved ones, each time he would ask, “Could you forgive?” For about two hours he spoke of atrocity after atrocity and it was painful to hear how they had suffered and that was only a fraction of a percent compared to the his suffering, and that of his family, and his friends! His was a message of forgiveness from start to finish! Don’t get me wrong, he shared his anger, frustration, fear, torture but the solid thread flowing through his testimony was forgiveness and that we have to forgive in order to live freely. You see, unforgiveness makes us slave to the one we refuse to forgive, but that is a topic for another day. Next, the Holy Spirit began impressing us that we were to share this fellow’s experiences and theme of forgiveness at a Bible Study we were to substitute teach in two days. We knew we had to be obedient but it took a little time to line up because there were a couple of people who bring their children and the youngest is about eight. The decision was made and the parents were informed on the topic and approved. This all took place on the actual day of Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) and the days following.
The questions that arose from studying and sharing this that Tuesday evening turned a childhood spark into a flame. I had always heard that there were Christians that blamed the Jewish people for the death of Christ. I never understood this thought pattern. You see since I was a child I have been a student of the Word of God. I am not a theology student and I have no “formal” training in the Word. I do believe that God will enable us despite lack of formal training to understand the Word because John 14 it tells us:
John 14:25-26 (HCSB) “I have spoken these things to you while I remain with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit—the Father will send Him in My name—will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you.
Long story short, I began to do more research on the holocaust and the history of the church, how and if the church was a catalyst in some cases that fanned the flames of those who were propagating the evil atrocities that occurred. What I continue to read has sparked a passionate plea! Christians, please read the Word of God for yourself! Know what it says, pray for understanding, find a reliable translation and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you into wisdom and understanding. Yes, even and especially the Old Testament. When we don’t know our roots and our history, we are targets for deception and being lead astray from the truth. When that happens we can fall into false thinking which can lead us do things we might have thought at one time we were not capable of doing and rationalize our actions based on a false belief!
When we as Christians become students of the Word, we are arming ourselves against deception. Throughout the Bible it was prophesied that Jesus would come born of a Virgin and that He would suffer, die, and be raised to life. A look at Psalm 22, Isaiah 53, to name just two tell us this. We are told that before the foundation of the world, Christ is the Lamb that was slain. This was God’s plan long before it happened. Jesus was born and raised Jewish. It was not the Jewish people who were responsible for His arrest, His beatings and His death. A quick look at John tells us it was certain Jewish rulers that plotted His capture and demise and it was planned under the cover of darkness.
John 18:13 And they brought Him first to Annas, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was the high priest that year.14 It was Caiaphas who had counseled the Jews that it was expedient and for their welfare that one man should die for (instead of, in behalf of) the people.
24 Then Annas sent Him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.
28 Then they brought Jesus from Caiaphas into the Praetorium (judgment hall, governor’s palace). And it was early. They themselves did not enter the Praetorium, that they might not be defiled (become ceremonially unclean), but might be fit to eat the Passover [supper]. 29 So Pilate went out to them and said, What accusation do you bring against this Man?30 They retorted, If He were not an evildoer (criminal), we would not have handed Him over to you.
John 19:4 Then Pilate went out again and said to them, See, I bring Him out to you, so that you may know that I find no fault (crime, cause for accusation) in Him.
6 When the chief priests and attendants (guards) saw Him, they cried out, Crucify Him! Crucify Him! Pilate said to them, Take Him yourselves and crucify Him, for I find no fault (crime) in Him.7 The Jews answered him, We have a law, and according to that law He should die, because He has claimed and made Himself out to be the Son of God. (note this is referring back to the chief priests and guards who had brought Him)
Based on scripture, history and archeological findings, it is a pretty sure thing that it was a select group of leaders and their guards/servants that are responsible for the death sentence given Jesus and knowing the prophecy it was accomplishing God’s plan that was from the beginning. Jesus was welcomed warmly when He entered Jerusalem with large numbers of people waving palms and celebrating. It was not they who turned on Him and cried “crucify” in the darkness of early morning! It was those who were threatened by their fear of loss of power, prestige and wealth. I understood this even as a youth based on the Word. It was only in the last ten years that I found that this was by the other historical and archeological findings.
The lesson here is when we don’t learn for ourselves, it is easy to be deceived. When we are deceived, we don’t generally know we are deceived and we act with great confidence fully believing that we are acting in an appropriate way. We have a tendency to become an impulsive people rather than reflective, perhaps before acting rashly we should slow ourselves down; begin asking ourselves some questions; listen to the answers; and for the “still small voice” to reveal:
- What is really going on?
- Am I missing something?
- Why do I feel so strongly about this? whether it is anger, hurt, frustration, confusion.
- What is the heart of those involved?
- Am I being deceived?
- Am I being defensive and if so why?
- What does the Word say about this type situation? Though listed last, it is perhaps the most important question we can ask!
Ephesians 6:11-13 says: 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tacticsof the Devil. 12 For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. 13 This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand.
Last night our pastor reminded us of 1 Peter 5″:8 Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour”. His next words were priceless, he said: “Notice is says as a lion or like a lion; Satan is a poser! He comes to steal kill and destroy posed as a lion, but Jesus came to give us abundant, rich and satisfying life. John 10:10”
Jesus, the Lion of Judah, is the real deal. He is not a poser and He came not only to save us from ourselves and our sin but He came to give us new life, freedom, deliverance; life better than we could ever imagine. Reading, understanding, and seeking to follow His Word is paramount in seeing this to come to fruition in our lives!!