Last month there were four holidays on the Jewish calendar, beginning of course with Passover. Passover is all about remembering, and it is unfortunate that most of our Jewish friends who celebrate Passover are merely remembering the tradition. Very often, I am told that it is important to have a Seder for the sake of community, but faith in the actual events of Scripture is often faint. Many Jews, perhaps most, really don’t believe that God separated the waters of the Red Sea and brought our people through it to freedom from bondage. If they don’t believe that, then what hope is there in teaching the Sacrament of Baptism, that it doesn’t becomes a mere tradition without the power of salvation and the freedom from bondage to sin!
The other three holidays of the Jewish calendar are all modern holidays celebrated in Israel, and in the diaspora (the Jews living outside of Israel). April 22 and 23 were Yom HaZikaron and Yom Ha’Atzmaut respectively. Yom HaZikaron is Israel’s Veterans Day, remembering the Israelis who have fallen in service to their country, and Yom Ha’Atzmaut is Israel’s Independence Day, remembering the 1948 War of Independence that birthed the Jewish nation. Both of these holidays were opportunities to remember people and events in the lives of the Jewish nation. But the fourth of the four is a little different. While two are about remembering, one is about never forgetting. And there is a distinction.
April 16 was Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. Yom HaShoah is perhaps the most misunderstood of the bunch, although the political implications of the other two can be contentious. But it seems most just don’t understand Yom HaShoah. A couple of days ago, a visitor to our ministry got into a heated argument about the Holocaust, and said that he doesn’t understand why Jews had to be so focused on the Holocaust. It is a common query. As time goes by, and fewer survivors of the Holocaust are sharing their stories, the Jewish community is less afraid of the Holocaust deniers in the world, and more afraid that the Jewish community will have a short memory and allow something like that to happen all over again. Remembering, for them, is self-preservation. So, we have museums, and days on the calendar. In many ways, while the other two question Israel’s survival, Yom HaShoah is about the survival of the Jewish people as a whole.
A quick search of the ESV version of the Holy Scriptures reveals 162 times that “remember” is found. Sometimes we are told to remember our sins, and sometimes we are told to remember God’s grace. Needless to say, it is important to remember our sins. And more importantly, once repentant, we must always remember God’s grace, the He would become incarnate as a man, Jesus, and take our sins to the cross, and the resurrection. God remembers His children. May we never forget.