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The Word on the Week

Holocaust Day

The 17th January is the date in 1945 when Auschwitz was liberated. It has become the Memorial Date to remember the greatest genocide the world has known. It is so necessary as in every generation since then there have been Holocaust deniers. People who continue to hate the Jews and would prefer to believe that the whole event was a figment of the imagination.
There are survivors of the death camps alive and able to testify to the truth of the slaughter but soon there will be no eyewitnesses. It is important that their stories are retained. Elie Wiesel himself a survivor, who got the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986 for his writings, died in 2016. He saw the struggle against indifference to the Holocaust as a struggle for peace.
If we do not remember we will not learn the lessons of history and the mistakes of the past recur in the present. It was in 1933 when Hitler came to power he set about winning the popular vote. His country was slowly emerging from the 1st World War and his vow was “to make Germany great again”. This he would do by getting rid of Jews, homosexuals, gypsies, communists and minorities that got in his way of producing the “Master Race”.
It was in January 1942 that Adolf Eichmann compiled the record of the Conference at Lake Wannsee where Hitler introduced his policy for the extermination of Jews and “unworthy” people. These were the handicapped, or sick, or had an inherited disease. At his trial in 1960 Eichmann showed no remorse and went to his grave in 1962 unrepentant. He likened himself to Pilate, washed his hands of wrongdoing as he was simply carrying out orders and felt “innocent of any guilt”.
This caused Billy Graham, the evangelist, to remark at the time, “People say Eichmann is finished” but they are wrong. Eichmann has gone to face judgement before a God who knows everything about him and who has the means of carrying out the ultimate sanction in hell. Indeed it is not for nothing that the key verse in Proverbs is “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” Chapter 1 verse 7.
This fear is not the cringing of a coward but is reverend, respectful and humble before our Maker and Redeemer. It is the filial regard which pays respect to the Father not the fear of the criminal before his judge. This is the birthright of all who are born into the family of God. Those who have recognised the perfect love of God which drives out fear and replaces it with faith in Jesus, “God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the Day of Judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. (1 John Chapter 4 verse 17/19).
Holocaust reminders illustrate the depravity of man (of which we are all part) but Jesus died in our place and rose again that he might grant a place in his family to all who see their need of his forgiveness and put their trust in him following him in this life and into the next (1 Timothy Chapter 2 verse 15/16).