Is anything unthinkable? Well, I wish there was something. But the ugly realities keep telling all us humans that nothing in the universe is unthinkable. As free moral agents, we’re free to think about anything, and do most things. And that means an awful lot of … unthinkable stuff … happens. Take 9/11, since that’s our current horror reference for the time being. (Until Osama decides to blow up the Rose Bowl while a billion people watch, or some other unthinkable, unspeakable dark deed.) Until about a year ago, hardly anyone had thought of hijacking a plane, or several planes, and then turning them into bombs and killing all the passengers on board including the hijackers themselves. A friend of mine was an air traffic controller on duty when it happened. He heard there were 1, then 2, then 3 planes hijacked. OK, they thought, they won’t tell us where they’re headed… wonder where it could be. Maybe Cuba? Then the first one slammed into the Tower. Suddenly the lights went on. What had been unthinkable became all too thinkable. In fact it was all we could think about for months.
The Holocaust is like that. It was unthinkable that it would happen. That men would do such things. That God would permit such things. That “Christians” who had the power to intervene would silently ignore or even cooperate with such things. Yet the unthinkable happened. And today’s unthinkable idea is that it never happened. Too outrageous for words but yet it’s a growingly popular thought throughout the world.
We unearthed an old letter from 1978 yesterday, and in it my wife related to my parents, who were in Japan at the time, the tremendous impact made in our lives and around the country by the first airing of the mini-series, “Holocaust”. It was so very gut-wrenching because it related, not the horrific numbers — millions of nameless victims — but the daily lives of just one family. NPR carried a talk show about it, and one fellow whose title was “Professor of Religious Science” was asked, “How can we come to terms with a God who would permit such a thing?” His answer, “God needs our forgiveness in this and throughout history.”
Whew! So like God’s this powerless guy who lets his creative power get a little out of hand, and we, his creations who suffer because he couldn’t or wouldn’t do the right thing, have to forgive him for his mistakes or his powerlessness or his callousness or his unfairness…. ??? Unthinkable!
The whole Holocaust, the more we learn about it, is unthinkable. That’s why the Jews were as cooperative as they were … they believed the Nazis lies because the rumors they were hearing of gassings, mass kilings, etc. were just too outrageous to be credited. The logic of everything that was done — keep your clothes together, make sure your name is on your suitcase, time to take a shower, etc. all made sense … after the war, after we submit to working for the Nazi war machine, we’ll start over and everything will be OK. The truth was unthinkable.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this, and one of the amazing things I’ve learned is that these awful events were actually predicted in great detail in the prophetic writings of the Hebrew sages. The scattering of Israel to every nation, the siege and destruction of Jerusalem which began it, the isolation from the world community, the wandering and alienation of the Jew at the hand of wicked tormentors, the time and place of the ending of this Diaspora, the sending of “fishers” and “hunters” to get the Jews back to Israel, the reforging an Israeli society on the “old heaps” — old ruins of the ancient civiliization…. the desert blossoming and feeding fruit and flowers to the world (Israel is now the largest shipper of fruit and flowers to Europe)… and even the bitter dregs ofthe Holocaust was predicted, along with the bitter reaction of young Jews to it: they are described by Isaiah, after their terrible ordeal, as “like an antelope caught in a net” — a proud creature on its side, unable to stand, unable to graze, unable to be free. Read it in Isaiah 49:7 to 52:10.
I have written extensively on this topic – see http://www.Israelrestored.com — both the message to Christians and the message to Jews. Also the Reply to Bradley Smith, a Holocaust denier, which was published in the Ohio State Lantern in January, 1992, and is reprinted on that web site. Another site I write with lots of material on the Holocaust and the role of Jews in human history, is http://www.whyjesusdied.com
It is unthinkable that anything like a real God would need us to forgive him, or to explain his actions. By definition he is able to explain what he is doing. So either there is no God, or he has a plan and a strategy which is designed to allow the unthinkable to happen, and then he will totally outdo it with something better. Is Isaiah explaining what God will do next? He says so, part of what he said has happened… perhaps the rest will, too? I think so!
To God, the only wise, through Jesus Christ, even to Him be the glory through all the Ages! Amen