As America celebrates Independence Day this July, it is fitting to recall our blessings. I begin with a personal blessing that I am a first-generation Holocaust survivor and an American citizen. I am grateful to live in a country whose motto is “In God we trust.” Indeed, our founding fathers crafted the Charters of Freedom which have secured our rights as citizens of this land for 246 years-and-counting on the promises of God.
These documents, including The Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, all have their roots in the Torah. The idea that “these truths [are held] to be self-evident, that all men are created equal” reflect the first book of Moses, Genesis, where we read that God created us to be His Image Bearers and, in that act, granted us our greatest freedoms.
Genesis also recounts the rebellion of Adam and Eve, which caused the image of God in us to be tarnished. Sin entered the world and with it, destruction.
My life has been deeply impacted by the attack upon and genocide of my Jewish people during World War II. Most of my father’s extended family in Germany were murdered by the Nazis. However, by God’s grace, my father and his parents escaped Nazi Germany in spring 1939. An SS agent in the Nazi Party, who had known my Grandfather Karl since World War I and was friends of the family, risked his life by falsifying papers, enabling my father and his parents to escape.
After escaping Bonn, Germany and settling initially in British Honduras for two years, they were eventually granted entry into the melting pot of this free land of promise and great hope, moving to Daytona Beach, Florida, in 1941. Later, my father and his parents were grateful to become naturalized American citizens. America was their promised land.
For other Jews of the Diaspora, Israel became their land of promise. Indeed, they forged the rebirth of Israel from the ashes of the Holocaust, celebrating their Independence Day on May 14, 1948. The Land was promised to my forefathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The regathering into Israel some 2,000 years after dispersion was a fulfillment of His covenant and a reflection of His faithful character. Indeed, when we as His followers stand with Israel, this also means we stand in agreement with God’s redemptive plan.
Since God has restored His people to the Land like dry bones coming back to life, the number of my people who have been reborn through faith in our Messiah Jesus continues to grow. In fact, more Jewish people have come to saving faith in Jesus as Messiah and Lord since 1967 than at any time in history, save the first century, when the early Church was Jewish.
We can hope in the God of Israel! He is faithful. He never fails. He is always on time.
In the fullness of time, God sent His Son, Y’shua (Hebrew for Jesus), one of Israel’s own, to redeem fallen mankind and to repair the image of God in us. God sent a deliverer to save His people from sin and to restore the image in us.
At the heart of our faith as Christians is the belief that God can restore that which was broken and bring it back to life, that God, from eternity past to eternity future, has unfolded His redemptive plan with perfect precision and life-changing passion.
This plan, promised to and unfolded through Israel and its Messiah is one that all people and nations are invited to partake. The Gospel is “… the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Rom. 1:16).
I believe that the return of almost 7 million Jewish people to the Land is a foretaste of what is to come! I have experienced, in part, the protection of my people through the freedoms afforded Americans, and yet I still find myself longing for more. In some ways, America is a promised land for us, the land of freedom. And yet, as believers and followers of Jesus, it is still Egypt in some sense.
This land is not our ultimate home. We are just passing through. Our true promised land and ultimate deliverance is yet to come. Hallelujah!
“And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Rev. 21:2-4).
So, this July Fourth, keep looking up and keep counting your blessings. Maranatha!