“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)
When we think with thankfulness about things that are noble and praiseworthy, our hearts can be radically altered. As we remember that God is in control, we can repent of bitterness and ingratitude.
For many of our readers, today, November 11, is a day set aside to think about how our freedom has been won.
Many will take a moment today to express gratitude for the freedom they now enjoy, which was bought with much blood and sacrifice.
Although World War 1 began 100 years ago, in 1918, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, it came to an end.
Today, many solemnly remember this horrific war that claimed 37 to 65 million lives, military and civilian. This costly war was supposed to be the war that ended all wars, but sadly, this hope failed to become reality.
On this day of remembrance we understand that there is an ongoing battle within man regarding good versus evil, and that ongoing battle all too often erupts in war.
Consequently many countries host national remembrance ceremonies each year on November 11 to recognize the significance of honoring veterans and those currently serving their nation.
Today at 11 a.m. in the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States, Australia and France, to name a few, many will stand in silence for one or two minutes to honor those who bravely fought for freedom.
Some countries, such as the United Kingdom also had ceremonies a few days ago on Remembrance Sunday.
Here in Israel, two ceremonies were held this weekend: one on Saturday at Mount Scopus at the Jerusalem War Cemetery, which was organized by the British Consul in Jerusalem, and another at the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery in Ramleh on Remembrance Sunday, organized by the British Embassy.
Britain’s ambassador to Israel David Quarrey laid the first wreath on behalf of The Queen, before a service at the Jewish area of the cemetery.
“Today we remember those who fought for Britain and her allies. We remember the unimaginable sacrifice of successive generations who fought for freedom. And we remember all those who have fallen in war,” Quarrey said.
This day of remembrance is a wonderful time to recall the heroic acts of those who rose above the ordinary to put their lives on the line for the sake of their fellow man.
Israel makes a habit of saying thank you and remembering courageous acts of kindness that saved the lives of the Jewish People by holding many days of remembrance.
For instance, on Holocaust Remembrance Day (27 Nisan), at 11 a.m., the approximately six million Jews who perished in the Nazi Holocaust are remembered with a two-minute siren that brings the entire country to a halt.
Six days later, Israel’s Memorial Day is celebrated beginning with a one-minute blast of the sirens at 8 p.m. and another two-minute siren at 11 a.m. the following morning.
Each time the siren is heard, Jewish Israelis stand at attention in remembrance of those who have given their lives so the Jewish People might live in their own land.
Since the late 19th century, Israel has lost about 25,000 soldiers and civilians to the Arab-Israel conflict. Another 35,000 have been wounded. These are significant numbers for such a small country.
There are few Israeli families that have not been touched by the loss of a loved one as a result of these conflicts. And today, with “lone-wolf” terrorists stabbing, axing, and running over Israelis, the numbers are rising.
Why Should We Remember?
“Remember the wonders He has done, His miracles, and the judgments He pronounced.”
(1 Chronicles 16:12)
In this technological age, we often find ourselves besieged by a relentless barrage of things we must remember.
Taking a moment to remember those who fought for freedom may seem like yet another useless thing to remember.
Remembering what we should be grateful for, however, is part of the Believer’s lifestyle.
The Bible is full of reminders to remember:
- Remember the Lord (Deuteronomy 8:18);
- Remember the wonders He has done (1 Chronicles 16:12);
- Remember the commandments (Numbers 15:39) and the words of the prophets and of Yeshua (2 Peter 3:2);
- Remember how the Lord delivered us from slavery in Egypt (Exodus 13:3) and led us in the wilderness (Deuteronomy 8:1–2);
- Remember the prisoners (Hebrews 13:3); and
- Remember the poor (Galatians 2:10).
Remembering the Holocaust
It is human nature to want to put aside the past and carry on with a hopeful outlook.
Holocaust survivor Leah Kaufman went through most of her life unable to talk about the things she endured as a child during the Holocaust. She could not discuss “the terrible things humans are capable of doing.”
It was only in 1995 when she could no longer listen to the claims of Holocaust deniers that she felt compelled to tell her story.
“When they came out and said it never happened, I had to speak,” she said. “I had no other choice.”
Kaufman, who was born in Romania and immigrated to Israel from Canada in 1999, was nine when the Nazis forced her family to march from their home in the depth of winter. Until the Nazi powers moved in, she said, her life had been idyllic.
But then, Nazi brutes would rape young girls in front of their parents “and throw them away like garbage,” she said.
She recalls a vile scene on the death march as they passed a yeshiva (Jewish rabbinic school). The students were lined up naked, forced to dig their own graves in the cold of winter.
“The Nazis asked one of them to say a prayer before they killed them, and the instructor said, ‘I thank God we are not killers like you,’” she related. “They were then shot dead into the graves and [the Nazis] did not even bother to bury them.”
Her mother, who was with her on the forced march, repeatedly told her, “Leah you must live! You must remember! You must tell the world!” Her mother, however, did not survive.
Kaufman, who is an educator, is the co-author of Live! Remember! Tell the World! The Story of a Hidden Child Survivor of Transnistria, which chronicles her broken childhood during HaShoah (The Catastrophe).
She now tells her stories to the younger generation, inspiring them to reclaim their Jewish roots. (JPost)
Forgiveness and Remembering
“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14–15)
The Bible teaches us that we are to forgive others just as God forgave us for our sins.
Does extending forgiveness mean that we are to sweep under the rug and be silent about the current incitement of Palestinian leaders to commit violence against Jewish Israelis?
Does it mean forgetting the Holocaust or man’s inhumanity to fellow man?
Should we forget the forces of evil that drive men to commit the acts of incredible brutality that were carried out by those who destroyed over two-thirds of European Jewry?
To do so would cost us dearly.
Today, these same forces of aggression and brutality lurk behind the Hamas and Fatah Palestinian leaders who are inciting violence in Israel.
They also lurk behind the “non-violent” actions of European leaders and organizations who are boycotting Israeli products and sanctioning and divesting from Israeli companies as a means of supporting Palestinian people.
These acts are aimed at weakening Israel so that it might again fall, begging for mercy, at the feet of the world.
Of course, such an act is not God’s will for these last days. He promised this land to Abraham and His seed forever: “I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them.” (Amos 9:15)
Still, many want to blame Israel for the boycotts and terrorism that plagues her and to leave the Holocaust in the past or even deny that it ever happened.
“It’s so mind-boggling that the temptations to forget and to repress, to just put it out of mind, are very real,” Reverend Dr. Chris Leighton of the Institute for Christian and Jewish Studies said.
And as Raye Farr, the film curator for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, explains, “We remember. We remember because it is an unthinkable scar on humanity. We need to understand what human beings are capable of.” (USHMM)
George Santayana said it another way in The Life of Reason: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
God actually set a precedent for remembering such evils when He commanded the Israelites to remember how the Amalekites treated them after God delivered them from Egypt:
“Remember what the Amalekites did to you along the way when you came out of Egypt. When you were weary and worn out, they met you on your journey and cut off all who were lagging behind; they had no fear of God. When the LORD your God gives you rest from all the enemies around you in the land he is giving you to possess as an inheritance, you shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven. Do not forget!” (Deuteronomy 25:17–19)
Although it is wise to remember, we should not fall into bitterness because of evils past and present. In remembering, there should also be gratitude for the good we have seen and the blessings we have experienced.
And when we are tempted to look on the wrongs committed by others with bitterness and unforgiveness, we should also remember that a spiritual war is at work in this world. Many have been taken captive through sin and various false doctrines.
Our adversary may be strong (1 Peter 5:8), but Yeshua is stronger and has already won (1 Corinthians 15:57; Hebrews 2:8–9; Revelation 12:11).
On this day of remembrance, as we consider the freedom that many fought with their lives to secure, let’s also take a moment to remember the cost of the true freedom we now enjoy, which was bought with Yeshua’s blood and sacrifice:
“In the same way also He took the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’” (1 Corinthians 11:25)
He purchased for us the ultimate freedom, fulfilling the promise that He “will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (Jeremiah 31:34)
And when He returns as judge of the whole earth, ruling from Jerusalem, the entire world will enjoy the peace it longs for:
“He will judge between many peoples and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.” (Micah 4:3)