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From Exodus to World War 2: The Righteous Among the Nations

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January 18th, 2017
  

Exodus and World War 2

The history of the Jewish people is a turbulent one. You could argue that there has not been a single peaceful century for the chosen people of God.

But there are several events that stand out from their past. And two in particular have shaped the identity of people of Israel today. These are the story of exodus out of Egypt and the horrors of World War 2.

The Book of Genesis retells the story of how the Hebrews first moved to Egypt escaping drought and hunger. God used Joseph to provide them safety. But after they became slaves to the Egyptians, God then calls Moses to lead them out to freedom.

World War 2 is a horrendous event that impacted almost all nations and peoples. It is one of the darkest chapters of human history. And still, nothing compares to the horror that was invoked at the time on the Jewish people.

The Nightmare of the War

Around 8.6 million Jews resided in Europe when the Second World War began. It was supposed to be a safe place for them – a civilized world where they could grow and flourish. But the hatred that arose in people’s hearts turned the lives of Jewish people into a nightmare.

By the end of the war, an estimated 6 million of Jewish people were tortured and killed. How could this have happened? Tears continue to flow to this day, remembering those who lost their lives.

It was from the ashes of the Holocaust that the state of Israel was born. Almost every Jewish Israeli had a family member or a family friend who died in the Holocaust. That’s a horrible statistic. The chilling “Never Again” chant is repeated every year in modern day Israel.

man with a ragged Jewish badge

Righteous Among the Nations

A stark majority of non-Jewish Europeans were afraid to assist in helping Jews hide or escape their war-stricken countries. There were a few, however, who risked their lives to prevent an even higher death toll.

When Israel became a nation, the survivors decided to honor the ones that sacrificed a lot to save Jewish lives. Yad Vashem – the Holocaust Remembrance Center brought forth an honorary title “Righteous Among the Nations”, to honor these individuals.

Although it is impossible to recognize them all (since many have passed as anonymous heroes), thousands have been awarded a medal and a certificate as a token of gratitude. The title “Righteous Among the Nations” carries great weight in Israel today.

One of these honored individuals was a Swedish diplomat named Raoul Wallenberg. On January 17, 1945, Wallenberg was arrested by Soviet secret police in Hungary for espionage. He had risked his life by saving tens of thousands of Jews.

In the midst of evil, the LORD used this simple man to save multitudes. Raoul and many other “Righteous Among the Nations” set a precedent in what it meant to sacrificially save lives. But all throughout Scripture we see this standard being set by God.

The Righteous at the Time of Exodus

Although the title of the “Righteous” was established in modern day Israel, can we see such role models before? Of course. History is full of quiet heroes who risked everything to save innocent lives. And often, they were inspired by the voice of the Lord.

As mentioned previously, the Lord used Moses to deliver hundreds of thousands of Israelites out from under the fist of Pharaoh. God used him to call judgment upon the gods of the Egyptians and to lead His people out of bondage.

Then, during their escape, they were halted by a great sea in their path. Moses and the people of Israel were caught between the Red Sea and the great Egyptian army pursuing them.

In those dire circumstances, Moses tells them: “fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD.”

As Moses then lifted his staff, the Red Sea parted. The Israelites walked through the sea on dry ground. But when the Egyptian army attempted the same, the waves came back down and the sea swallowed them.

In a miraculous move, God (again) saved the lives of His people!

jewish man in the desert pointing

Saving Lives in Multitudes

Less than a hundred years ago, God used Raoul Wallenberg to save tens of thousands. And some 3400 years ago, He used Moses to save hundreds of thousands.

However, the greatest example of God saving the lives of His people in multitudes happened even earlier. As the Bible says, “before the foundations of the world”.

“There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12

Salvation and restoration belong only to Yeshua – Jesus, our Messiah. The LORD used His own Son to bring about the greatest restoration for multitudes. Through Him, God restored His relationship with the world.

Yeshua’s death paid the price for our sin. And because of Him we now have the opportunity to receive life.

Who Is Righteous Among the Nations?

God had the plan to send His perfect Son to restore us before the world began. He alone is righteous, way beyond the “Righteous among the Nations”. It is His example that teaches us the value of life. He inspires us to follow Him in steps of righteousness.

We learn in John 10:17-18 that Yeshua Himself made the choice to lay His life down for us. He did so on His own accord. And He made that decision before Moses or Raoul were born.

God’s people are loved and He is in the habit of saving them in times of trouble — both physically and spiritually. Whether we remember Moses, Raoul Wallenberg or anyone else, it has always been God’s plan to save lives in multitudes.

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FIRM is a global fellowship of Biblically-grounded believers committed to cultivating Messiah-centered relationships that bless the inhabitants of Israel—Jews, Arabs, and others—and the Jewish community around the world.
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