Today is Holocaust Memorial Day, the 78th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp. The camp guards had presided over unimaginable horror before Soviet soldiers arrived on 27th January 1945 to liberate the surviving prisoners. Approximately six million Jewish men, women and children were murdered by the Nazis in various locations during the course of the Second World War.
The Holocaust Educational Trust also reminds us that: “Whilst the term Holocaust refers specifically to the genocide of European Jewry, other groups deemed racially and socially inferior experienced horrific and violent persecution by the Nazis, including Roma and Sinti people, Soviet civilians and prisoners of war, Polish citizens, Black people, people with disabilities, political opponents of the Nazis, Gay men, and Jehovah’s Witnesses. However, it is important to note that only Jews were targeted for complete eradication on a continental scale.”
Anti-Semitic persecution in Nazi Germany began as early as 1933 through numerous laws designed to restrict Jewish life. How different these laws were to the Jewish law contained in the Bible, and so eloquently described by David, the Jewish king about 1,000 BCE:
“The law of the Lord is perfect,
refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is pure,
The decrees of the Lord are firm,
and all of them are righteous.
They are more precious than gold,Psalm 19:7-11 (NIV)
than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
than honey from the honeycomb.
By them your servant is warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.”
This “law of the Lord” that David describes is the collection of commands given to mankind through Moses over 3,000 years ago, detailing how to live happily and successfully in our broken world. It not only decrees what we shouldn’t do, e.g. do not steal, do not commit murder, do not lie etc. But it also guides us in how to live a more peaceful and caring life. For example:
“Be ready to help your brother or sister. Give to the poor in your land who need help.”Deut. 15:11 (ERV)
“Love your neighbour as you love yourself.”Lev. 19:18 (ICB)
“Make sure that the poor are given equal justice in court.”Ex. 23:6 (CEV)
Hundreds of years after Moses, and in direct contrast to the Twentieth Century Nazi laws, Jesus, who was Himself Jewish, declared:
“Salvation comes from the Jews.”John 4:22
He personified God’s deep love for mankind, by laying down His own life for our forgiveness. It’s only in relationship with Jesus, that we can truly know God’s free gift of everlasting life. As He went on to say:
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. The only way to the Father is through me.”John 14:6 (NCV)
Check out: The Four Steps to Transformation