The Holocaust—Why Did God Allow It?
THE Holocaust has had a shattering effect on the faith of many people. Jews and non-Jews alike ask the questions, If there is a God, why did he allow it? Is it enough to ascribe it to ‘man’s inhumanity to man’? Or are there other factors that explain how men and women from “civilized” backgrounds could condone, teach, tolerate, or actively participate in State approved murder and genocide?
The Jewish Conservative community in the United States recently published a “Statement of Principles of Conservative Judaism,” in which they stated: “The existence of evil has always provided the most serious impediment to faith. Given the enormity of the horror represented by Auschwitz and Hiroshima, this dilemma has taken on a new, terrifying reality in our generation. The question of how a just and powerful God could allow the annihilation of so many innocent lives haunts the religious conscience and staggers the imagination.”
Jehovah’s Witnesses, along with millions of others, have been interested in that question, and understandably so, for many of their fellow believers perished in the Nazi concentration camps. Why is it, then, that God has tolerated evil?
Free Will and the Issue
The aforementioned Jewish publication gives a partial answer to the question, saying: “By creating human beings with free will, God, of necessity, limited His own future range of action. Without the real possibility of people making the wrong choice when confronted by good and evil, the entire concept of choice is meaningless. Endowing humankind with free will can be seen as an act of divine love which allows for our own integrity and growth, even if our decisions can also bring about great sorrow.”
This opinion agrees with the record of the Hebrew Scriptures. From the very beginning, mankind has had freedom to choose—whether it was Adam and Eve’s choosing to disobey God (Genesis 3:1-7) or Cain’s choosing to murder his brother Abel. (Genesis 4:2-10) The Israelites of old also had a choice laid before them by Jehovah: “See, I do put before you today life and good, and death and bad. . . . And you must choose life in order that you may keep alive, you and your offspring.”—Deuteronomy 30:15, 19.
But there is one vital factor ignored by the Jewish statement. The very one who rebelled against God and later caused faithful Job’s sufferings is still active, perverting men’s minds with diabolical choices that have led in some cases to concentration camps, torture, and mass murder. That one is clearly identified in the book of Job as a rebellious angelic son of God, Satan, the Adversary.—Job 1:6; 2:1, 2.
Satan’s influence and the choices he offers pervade the world today, leading to violence and disdain for life and moral values. Anything that will divert mankind’s attention from the hope of God’s Kingdom rule, whether political philosophies, racial and religious divisions, drug abuse, excessive pleasures, human idols—all of these serve Satan’s purpose. Little wonder that the Bible prophesied that when this wicked one would be cast down to the vicinity of the earth, it would mean “woe for the earth and for the sea, because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time”! Since 1914 we have been living in that period of violent anger.—Revelation 12:12.
Mankind has had, and still has, the option to submit to rule by God or by his Adversary, Satan. This very choice implies a long-standing issue between God and Satan going back some 6,000 years. But the Bible indicates that Jehovah God has set a time limit for the settling of this issue—and since 1914 mankind has been living in the time of the end for this Satan-dominated system.—2 Timothy 3:1-5, 13.
God’s Kingdom rule will soon destroy all evil and those who prefer it. Those who choose to do good will be granted everlasting life in submission to God on a perfect, unpolluted earth.—Revelation 11:18; 21:3, 4.
“Look! I Am Making All Things New”
The future that God has purposed for this earth and its obedient inhabitants will lift the weight of the past from our memory: “The former things shall not be remembered, they shall never come to mind.”—Isaiah 65:17, Tanakh, A New Translation of the Holy Scriptures According to the Traditional Hebrew Text.
Hence, when God’s rulership holds sway over all the earth, whatever suffering that humans have experienced will eventually fade from their minds. At that time the joys will crowd out all the previous nightmare memories, for as the Bible promises, God “will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.”—Revelation 21:4, 5.
The Bible clearly shows that the time is near when God will use his almighty power to remove those who cause suffering, whether humans or demons. Proverbs 2:21, 22 states: “The upright will inhabit the earth, the blameless will remain in it. While the wicked will vanish from the land.” (Tanakh) Yes, God will “bring to ruin those ruining the earth.” (Revelation 11:18) That will also include, finally, Satan the Devil.
God will not allow the wicked to mar the earth much longer; nor will he allow evil people to torment, torture, and imprison their fellowman. Any who do not choose to conform to His just laws will not be tolerated. Only those who respect God’s will and law will continue living.
Over 4,000 years ago, God “saw how great was man’s wickedness on earth, and how every plan devised by his mind was nothing but evil all the time.” He acted by sending the great Deluge. (Genesis 6:5, Tanakh) There is all the more reason for God to act once again. But if we give God his due praise now, everlasting life will soon be our happy lot.—Isaiah 65:17-25; John 17:3; 1 Timothy 6:19.
However, what about all the millions of dead in the graves, including the victims of the Holocaust? What hope is there for them? Will they be forgotten?