Understanding Holocausts

Written by Jeff Carlson on .

Never AgainHave you ever heard someone say, “Never Again,” referring to an event of history?  That phrase is always used to refer to the Holocaust during World War II in which over 6 million Jews were murdered, largely in the crematoriums of the Nazi regime.  The phrase “Never Again” is designed to express moral outrage for what happened and to serve as a powerful statement to make sure it never happens again. Because the Holocaust evokes such horror in the minds of most people, any time its memory is brought back you have an audience. So when former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, now presidential candidate, accused the Obama Administration last week of marching the Jews in Israel to the ovens of the Holocaust in their nuclear deal with Iran,  it created a media sensation and deep reaction around the world.

The problem with evoking the Holocaust today is that few understand its real meaning. As a result, we are often left with a lot of emotion and political posturing. Tragically, some even deny it ever happened, like the leaders in Iran and a number of other anti-Semitic people around the world. Clearly the Holocaust will always remain a vivid and haunting memory for most of the world. When we study its magnitude and what it reveals about the human condition, it should make all of us stop and listen to an unforgettable message ... unfortunately missed by many.

You see, if you really study the Holocaust, you find out that its source is the Bible and not European history.  The word “holocaust” comes from Leviticus 1:3 and refers to the burnt offering that was made as part of the sacrificial system.  Hence the word, according to a dictionary and the Bible, means “a sacrifice consumed by fire.”  And while the word is used for what happened to the Jewish people during World War II because they were burned and sacrificed, that is not the original context or meaning.

The original meaning then of the Holocaust is connected to the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. Our Lord was “the Holocaust.” His life was the burnt offering that was sacrificed for us. He was consumed on the Cross to satisfy the need for Divine justice regarding sin. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter as the prophet Isaiah tells us in Isaiah 53.  He was the truly Innocent One that died at the hands of wicked humanity to save us all.

And so it seems there are really two Holocausts in history. One took place during a world war and the other took place in Jerusalem as a crowd watched the crucifixion of three men. The amazing thing is that they are both related.  Both of these Holocausts are ultimately about finding a scapegoat.  The Jewish people were made to be the scapegoats of the Nazis (and now the Iranians) for their sins.  The other Scapegoat was God’s solution for sin that allowed the whole world to find a way of dealing with the sins of us all.  Both Holocausts show the human condition at its worst and establish the great need we all have for redemption and salvation.

As we get closer to the Lord Jesus’ return, the Bible has an amazing way to connect the two Holocausts together. It is very clear that another persecution is coming for Israel and the Jews. The signs are everywhere. Yes, another Holocaust is coming for the Jews. The Good News in this hour is that the Lord Jesus will stop it. One future day Israel will look on their Holocaust, the One who was pierced for their sins, and the world will have a glorious new beginning (Zechariah 12:10).