Millions of Jews were lost to the Holocaust, and many others displaced and left alone. Yet, the Word of the Lord says that He gives beauty for ashes. The reclaiming of Israel was one such beauty, one that continues to bloom to this day. But what can we do to remember those who survived the Holocaust and those who did not? How can we, as God’s children, echo our Father, and give beauty for ashes?
Most of us as Believers probably already know a fair bit about the Holocaust. About the more than six million Jews who were slaughtered, along with smaller numbers of Gypsies, disabled, and well, anyone who the Nazis and Nazi sympathizers thought of as ‘undesirable.’
Eleven million people. That is the minimum number of those who died during the years of WWII—1939 to 1945—yet over half that number were Jewish. Men, women, and children who were simply living their lives, not hurting anyone or doing anything wrong.
The Hebrew term for the Holocaust is ‘Shoah,’ which translates to ‘destruction’ or ‘catastrophe.’ Yet, the catastrophic destruction that took place during the years of the Holocaust did not fully end in 1945…
Because those who were not part of the statistics given above, those who survived, many of them were left without fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, or neighbors.
These survivors were left trying to find new homes—their old homes and belongings stolen and/or sold by those who had oppressed them.
These survivors were left trying to find answers; to seek to discover what happened to their families, and then, as was sadly a common outcome when no one was found, they had to find a way to ‘move on.’
These survivors were left trying to find new meaning in living, to show the Nazis through their continued existence that their plan to destroy them had failed… that God still blessed and provided them life!
But it was not easy. Even as God opened up Israel to His children, they had to fight for it… in courtrooms and on the battlefield. They had to fight to find purpose and to restore the Promised Land that had been so poorly tended in their absence. Yet, through it all, God was there! Strengthening His people. Giving them victories… and beauty for ashes!
Yet, even with these victories, many Holocaust survivors and their descendants desire that the world remembers what happened. Not to celebrate or dwell on it, but to provide wisdom to the generations who may not otherwise understand the lessons. To honor those who did and those who did not survive. And to demonstrate how easy it is for so much of the world to stand by and watch atrocities as severe as those of the Holocaust… of how inaction is in itself action… and how Israel needs to be protected today!
“I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”—Genesis 12:3
Beauty for Ashes
“To console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”—Isaiah 61:3
Isaiah 61:3 is the Scripture that speaks of God giving beauty for ashes. Most of us know THAT part of the Scripture, because it is something we cling to, and is often spoken of in song or written around our homes and churches. Yet, while this Scripture applies to ALL of us through God’s grace, it speaks strongly of those who faced the Holocaust.
The Scripture says that God:
- Gives comfort to those who mourn in Zion—Israel, the land He allowed His children to return to.
- Gives beauty for ashes—the Holocaust being a time where both physically and spiritually, ashes seemed to cover the world.
- Gives the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness—He gives new life and hope!
- Does all of this in such a way that those who experience it are called TREES OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, the planting of the Lord—restoring His people and thereby bringing glory to His Name!
By providing a way to regain Zion, and bringing comfort to them there. By giving hope. Planting His children like trees of righteousness… the planting of the Lord. God gave such amazing beauty for ashes!
“The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
for His name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life;
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
God has made us in His image. We are meant to be like Him. And as a result, we are meant to bring beauty for ashes. We are meant to bring life and hope!
At My Olive Tree, one of the ways we are bringing beauty for ashes through people like YOU is to plant olive trees and grape vines in remembrance of Holocaust victims and survivors. To let them know they and those they lost are not forgotten. To bring the oil of joy for mourning. To reaffirm that they are the planting of the Lord, so that God’s Name may be glorified! To bring to Israel new life, as the land that God gave as beauty for ashes is made whole, and its people thrive through the increase.
Though it does not erase the past, planting a tree or grape vine in honor of a Holocaust victim or survivor does ensure that their life will never be forgotten. Instead, their memory will live on in the form of an olive tree or grapevine that will not only give fruit for generations to come, but will restore the land of Israel in turn. Bringing beauty for ashes not only now, but in the days to come. Preparing ultimately for our Messiah’s return!
If YOU would like to learn more about how you can remember a Holocaust victim or survivor, then click HERE!
It is time for God’s children to echo His ways and heart, bringing beauty for ashes!
“‘On that day I will raise up the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down, and repair its damages; I will raise up its ruins, and rebuild it as in the days of old; that they may possess the remnant of Edom, and all the Gentiles who are called by My name,’ says the Lord who does this thing. ‘Behold, the days are coming,’ says the Lord, ‘when the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him who sows seed; the mountains shall drip with sweet wine, and all the hills shall flow with it. I will bring back the captives of My people Israel; they shall build the waste cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink wine from them; they shall also make gardens and eat fruit from them.’”—Amos 9:11-14 (emphasis added)