6 million. It is hard to wrap your mind around a number that large. Yet in Israel, this number means a lot. 6 million is the number of Jews currently living in the nation of Israel (of the estimated 12 million people who live between the Mediterranean Sea on the West and the Jordan River on the East.) 6 million Jews live in the Promised Land. 6 million is also the number of Jews who died in the Holocaust at the hands of the Nazis during World War II.
6 million alive today. 6 million killed then. Knowing those two numbers puts our entire Israel trip into context. We saw but a fraction of the people of Israel during our trip . . . but it still felt like we saw a lot. Just imagining the number of people we saw during our 9 days in country dying at the hands of a madman is hard to fathom . . . much less all 6 million of them. How could this possibly be?
As a theologian, I understand the nature of man. I understand that we are sinful and separated from God. I understand that humans are capable of selfishness that rises to extraordinary levels. However, it is still hard for me to imagine Hitler and the Nazis doing what they did.
While touring the Israel National Holocaust Museum (Yad Vashem) in Jerusalem, we encountered hundreds of Israeli Air Force soldiers. They were visiting the museum as a necessary part of their training. The Holocaust occurred a lifetime ago, and today’s Jewish soldiers have not had to live through its trials. Previous generations of soldiers knew why they were fighting. Today’s soldiers have to be taught through the harrowing tales shared on the walls of the museum.
The preservation of the Jewish people through the Holocaust and the modern nation of Israel today is a testimony/reminder of God’s provision for these people. The Old Testament prophet Ezekiel prophesied about the return of the nation of Israel, and today that prophecy has become a reality. Walking the nation of Israel, I had 6 million reminders that God makes good on His promises.