Another day brings more heartbreak. Today, Elana and I drove down from Ashkelon to the beginning of the Negev Desert. We met with the people organizing food and shelter for 1,500 mufanim (evacuees). But the organizer did not call them mufanim; she called them nitzolim (survivors). Whenever this word is used in Hebrew, it is almost always referring to Holocaust survivors. Hearing her use that word was chilling.
October 7th, which is now being referred to as Hashabbat Hashachur (The Black Sabbath), is the worst tragedy to befall the Jewish people since the Holocaust. To make matters worse, some are denying it even happened, and others are downplaying it. Yesterday, the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that October 7th “did not happen in a vacuum,” blaming Israel for 56 years of occupation (he seems to forget that conditions in Gaza were far worse under Egypt from 1948 to 1967 and that we did our best to achieve peace with them for many years before things became violent). Today, Turkey's President Erdogan said this about the Hamas Nazis— “Hamas is not a terrorist organization; it is a group of mujahideen defending their lands.”
In the midst of world denials, people like Tzachi Ram and Hadass Nissan explain how they are taking care of the survivors of October 7th. They are providing homes and hotels and are preparing to build a tent city as they expect more to come.
The Phone Call You Never Want
Tzachi is one of the leaders of a nearby Kibbutz (collective farm). He received a phone call on Saturday morning, October 7th at 7:30 AM. He was told to tell everyone in the kibbutz to lock their doors and to open up all of the bomb shelters. His Kibbutz is only 15 minutes from where some of the attacks took place.
The sadness knows no end. One of the Kibbutzim (plural) that suffered over 100 deaths is called Beri. Every Kibbutz has its own cemetery. But Beri is off limits—everyone has been evacuated. Every day on Tzachi’s Kibbutz, there are funerals for those who were murdered at Beri. The bodies are placed in temporary graves. When the war is over, they will be exhumed and will find their final resting place at Beri.
One entire family, all except the youngest son, was buried the other day. The mother and oldest brother covered him with their own bodies and saved his life.
This entire family was buried at the makeshift cemetery in Revavim. The youngest son survived because the mother and one of the brothers covered him with their own bodies and saved his life.
It could have been him.
Tzachi showed Elana and me a text. It announced a special 70th Meshek Holiday that would be taking place at Kibbutz Nahal Oz on Saturday evening, October 7th, one of the towns attacked. I am not sure if we have an English word for ‘meshek,’ but it has to do with the farming economy, which is very important to the people of the south.
One speaker was to be Ofir Libstein. We shared his story with you a few days ago. As soon as he realized something was wrong, he put his family in their sealed room, grabbed his gun, and went out to protect the town. He was killed as the terrorists overtook his town.
The next speaker would be our friend Tzachi Ram. As Tzachi showed us the text explaining that he was supposed to be there that evening, we were reminded of what a small community Israel is. Tzachi doesn’t believe in God. Even as he works day and night on behalf of the state of Israel, there's a profound sense of hopelessness. “We have no country,” he confesses.
We plan to show him that we do still have a country. But I have to admit, we, too, are fighting off such despair. If we did not have our faith in God, I don't know that we could be doing what we're doing. But we do have faith in God! And he is faithful to his promises to Israel.
Many have left the country seeking shelter in other nations. I don't blame them or judge them. The nation of Israel was created so that the Holocaust could never happen again. Yes, there would be wars. But no one ever expected a drugged-up, demonic group of terrorists the size of a battalion to storm through our borders committing rape and murder.
There were no iPhones in the Holocaust
Yesterday, the government showed about 45 minutes of footage recovered from the dead terrorists. Many of them had body cams or other types of filming devices. As shocking as it is, many around the world are already October 7th deniers. Apparently, the footage was so gruesome that they won’t release it to the public. I wish they would. Personally, I have no desire to see it, but the world needs to see what happened on October 7th.
Are we in the End Times?
It sure feels like we are getting closer and closer to the coming of the Lord. In Matthew 25, Jesus talks about an event that will take place after he returns. He will judge the nations based on how they treated his brothers and sisters. Many have misinterpreted this as a parable about how we should treat the poor. Of course, we should always seek to be a blessing to the underprivileged among us. However, this prophecy (not parable) is about the Jewish people—the physical brothers of Yeshua.
The ones who are in need in the prophecy are imprisoned like the hostages. They are in need of food and clothes like the survivors. In other words, there's a certain response that God is looking for to this tragedy. Many are failing the test and will one day face “the Son of Man … in his glory” when “he will sit on his glorious throne.”
But many are passing it! It may be a minority, but we have heard from people all over the earth who are loving and blessing Israel in this hour. People have been unbelievably generous. Every day, we receive thousands of dollars that we are passing along to those in need. And every day, we are trying to highlight to you just how great the need is. Maybe Israel will understand that her only true friend is the body of believers.
You, too, can let your voice be heard. And many of you have. Thank you! I would like to show our friend Tzachi that, despite what had happened in Israel, there is a God, and he loves Israel. He can see that love through you!