In a previous article I told you the story of how I happened to end up researching Jewish history, and its impact on me.
that led him to discover the historical truth about the persecution of Jews by Christians.
(Photo: Ray Montgomery)
Last week Bob told us the second part of his story, and how his research into the Blood Moons led him to meet Gidon, and ultimately to form Root Source. I did not know about this part of his journey, but curiously, the Blood Moons is also how I came to connect with Bob.
The Blood Moons Connection
I had followed all of Bob’s videos on the Blood Moons when they were first published three years ago, but began reviewing them all again earlier this year. In Part Four: Valleys and Shadows, Bob revealed how his Blood Moons study led to his research into persecution of Jews by Christians. In 2015 I noticed the parallel with my own journey, but in March something prompted me to contact him with an email that outlined my own research, and how our respective journeys had paralleled each other’s. I had always felt that this research needed to be more widely disseminated, but wasn’t sure how, so I suggested on March 25th that with Root Source’s global reach and Bob’s knowledge and journalistic skills, perhaps he might like to “do something” about it. I wrote:
“So here’s my suggestion: in preparation for the upcoming 9th Av anniversary (July 21-22 2018), why don’t you do a series of teachings on this date and its significance, and migrate this onto a summary of Christian persecution of our Jewish brethren in general, and the need for global corporate repentance?”
Bob didn’t reply to my key question, but instead starting tasking me with actions to read and review various documents and to answer certain detailed questions he had about my research. Then in ten days he finally responded with this unforgettable statement:
“A man (you) asks another man (me) to do something that God puts on his (your) heart. Then the first man is assigned a bunch of tasks by the second man to see if he is willing to get involved and do some work regarding that idea. Funny how that works, isn’t it? And yet it seems quite fitting to me!”
And yes, it seemed very fitting to me too, which led to our collaboration to combine our research and release it in time for the 9th of Av. Where all of this will ultimately lead neither of us knows, but when we began collaborating earlier this year neither of us could have foreseen our LIST being presented to the Speaker of the Israeli Knesset two weeks ago either. As to where it goes from here, we will just have to leave that in the Lord’s hands. But I have been overwhelmed with the response so far.
Aftermath of my own research in 2010
My own research into Jewish history (in general) to flesh out the many gaps in my Christian Timeline took several months, and led of course to the startling revelation that a good deal of the atrocities perpetrated against Jews had been committed by Christians. And by the time I had finished I was quite simply, undone. For days I could say nothing. I felt sick to my stomach. I descended into a deep depression. Each evening spent researching yet more atrocities had had a compounding effect on me, and was something I didn’t know how to process. I couldn’t even console myself with the vain thought that although I hadn’t committed any of these acts myself, I therefore wasn’t responsible. So why was I feeling so guilty? But I was, and I couldn’t shake it. All I could think of was this scripture:
“Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.” Exodus 34:7
I finally realised that my spiritual forefathers had committed untold atrocities against the Lord’s chosen people, the Jews, and therefore what was now weighing heavily on my shoulders was their collective guilt. What had started out as an intellectual curiosity had now become personal! All I could do was to start crying out to the Lord in repentance and ask for His forgiveness. And it would take weeks of repentance to shift two millennia’s worth of guilt. In some small way I think I was feeling something of the grief that the Lord had had to witness throughout history, His creation turning on itself and tearing itself apart. And I was broken.
But that was only the beginning. Asking God for forgiveness was one thing. But now I had such compassion for the Jews, for this had become so personal, that since then every time I meet a Jewish person I feel the need to explain in brief what I have learned, apologise to them for the sins of my spiritual forefathers, and ask them for their forgiveness personally. Every time I do this I am always surprised at how loving and kind their response is. If anybody should be angry and want to seek revenge (and have the right to exact some kind of revenge!), it is the Jews. And yet every time they show such grace, forgiveness and compassion towards me that I feel truly humbled.
But still this wasn’t enough. Over time I realised that I needed to do more: I needed to actively speak out for the Jews, to stop anti-semitism in its tracks, and to use the knowledge I had gained through my extensive research to rebut ill-informed (or misinformed) people’s attitudes and beliefs. I needed to speak out for the Jews, a lesson that Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller learnt the hard way: he spent seven years in concentration camps (1938-45), and believed that church leaders had been complicit through their silence in the Nazi imprisonment, persecution, and murder of millions of people. He subsequently wrote this famous poem:
“First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for me.”
I have more to say on him below.
In what ways have I been changed after having done this research? Apart from becoming an advocate for the Jews, and speaking out both in their defense and on their behalf as outlined above, I noticed a common thread in our history: forcing Jews to convert to Christianity, and/or forced baptisms. Christians of course have the scriptural injunction to preach the Gospel:
“He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.’” Mark 16:15
But how could I square this with all the atrocities it had led to in history – and perpetrated in the name of Christ? I have noticed that there is an historical parallel between God restoring His people, the collective “Church,” and God restoring His people, the Jews (especially since 1948), and that the path for each is slightly different. But collectively, we are all “His People.” Without trying to launch a theological debate, I believe it is the principle of the Vine (the Church) and the Fig Tree (Israel) being restored together.
Secondly, I have witnessed that Christian attempts to proselytise Jews almost always backfire, causing division and hostility, in a way that simply recalls for Jews the historical horrors we are guilty of, and reinforces their wariness and distrust of us. I cannot see this approach bringing unity or helping either group. So I have resolved in my discussions with Jews to simply leave this area in the Lord’s hands. I remember a time when one Jewish man said to me, “when the Messiah comes, the first question the Jews will ask Him will be ‘Is this your first visit, or your second?’” Humorous yes, but leaving it there also keeps the relationship between us open, which to me is far more important.
Instead I have decided to learn from Jews. Their approach to the scriptures is different from a Christian’s approach, and their understanding of the scriptures is, as a result, also different. I find it fascinating to strip away the layers of centuries of Christian thought to get back to the Hebrew roots of our faith, which of course also underscores why I support Root Source.
Ultimately my research has led to a deep compassion for my Jewish brethren, who have suffered merciless persecution for millennia. This compassion has led to my conclusion that it is better to build bridges between our two communities, thus establishing a heart connection, rather than reinforce walls of separation via intellectual debate. And I can only do this if I stand with Jews, shoulder to shoulder – compassionately – rather than simply preaching at them – to no avail.
“Then I will purify the lips of the peoples, that all of them may call on the name of the Lord and serve him shoulder to shoulder.” Zephaniah 3:9
Bob told us last week that he felt he had to do more than just repent, that he had “a sense of responsibility to do something productive that could allow me to ‘walk in the opposite spirit’ of those sins of the past.” For me, the biggest (and final) change has been the resolve to personalise the Holocaust slogan: Never Again! This slogan has become the battle cry of post-Holocaust Jewry, and is memorialised at Dachau Concentration Camp in 5 languages:
Never Again memorial at Dachau,
with the ashes of the unknown concentration camp prisoner’s ashes in the urn in front.
Coincidentally, Dachau was one of the concentration camps in which Martin Niemöller was imprisoned.
Contrast his story with Corrie ten Boom’s. Whereas he was sent to the concentration camps largely for his inaction in doing anything (because as he infers in his poem, it wasn’t his problem), Corrie ten Boom was sent to the concentration camps for her action – in helping Jews escape from the Nazis. Both were Christians, and both were sent to the concentration camps, but I shudder when I consider how I might feel to stand before the Lord on Judgment Day, had I done nothing, in light of this scripture:
“And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” Matthew 25:40
It is this dread that compels me to say: Never Again! I hope my resolve is never put to the test, but if it is, I pray that I would have Corrie ten Boom’s courage in not just sheltering and protecting Jews as she did during the Holocaust, but to stand alongside Jews as equals today, as they face a barrage of global anti-semitism – whether through terror attacks, anti-Israel resolutions in the UN, the BDS movement, or skewed reporting in the media. How can I remain silent? Has my research taught me nothing?
Corrie ten Boom’s story subsequently became a best-selling book, The Hiding Place, and she was honoured by Israel as “Righteous Among the Nations,” an honorific bestowed on non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust. I personally believe that Martin Niemöller suffered great remorse for his inaction, as evidenced by his poem. I also believe he redeemed himself in part, for this is a poem of repentance, which has been quoted countless times ever since as a cautionary tale against inaction. Both were Christians, and both were sent to the concentration camps (albeit for opposite reasons), but both their stories have subsequently borne much fruit too.
Nostre Aetate was a landmark document passed by the Second Vatican Council in 1965, which among other things, repudiated charges of deicide against the Jews, and decried anti-semitism in any form. While this was a necessary corporate beginning, I don’t feel it goes far enough. As Bob said previously: we need to own our own past – individually!
This journey has been a long and difficult one for me, and one I wasn’t prepared for as I began researching Jewish history. But I feel this journey is necessary for each of us individually, and corporately as a body of believers. We need to share the guilt of our Christian forefathers, and bear some of the grief our heavenly Father has borne for what He witnessed throughout history. We need to own our own repugnant history, and truly repent. What began with the Second Vatican Council in 1965 must be personalised, for I feel this is the only possible way to begin the healing process we desperately need to bring Jews and Christians closer together.
It is also necessary for the LIST that Bob and I compiled together to reach a wider audience, and it is my hope that as one reader commented, it would go “viral.” For once we know our history, we can embrace the truth, and make that journey from repentance to liberty, for in “knowing the truth, the truth will set us free” indeed (John 8:32).
The corollary to this is that perhaps in knowing the truth, we will also learn from our mistakes, for “those who fail to learn from the mistakes of their predecessors are destined to repeat them” (George Santayana). God forbid! To which I declare: NEVER AGAIN!!