Secret Mission

by | Jun 7, 1998 | Salvation

It happened in the town of Eisysky in Latvia during WW II. The date was 25 September 1941. On that date the Jewish population of the town was liquidated (a nice word for murdered). In groups of 250, first the men and then the women, the people were taken to the old Jewish cemetery in front of open ditches. They were ordered to undress and stand at the edge of the open graves. They were shot in the back of the head by Lithuanian guards with the encouragement and help of the locals. The chief executioner was the Lithuanian Ostrovakas. Dressed in a uniform, a white apron, and gloves, he personally supervised the killing. He reserved for himself the privilege of shooting the town’s notables, and he practised sharpshooting at the children, aiming as they were thrown into the graves.

Among the Jews that September in 1941, in the old Jewish cemetery of Eisysky was one of the Shtetl’s melamdim (teachers), Rabbi Michalowsky and his youngest son Zvi, age sixteen. Father and son were holding hands as they stood naked at the edge of the open pit, trying to comfort each other during their last moments. Young Zvi was counting the bullets and the intervals between one volley of fire and the next. As Ostrovakas and his people were aiming their guns, Zvi fell into the grave a split second before the volley of fire hit him.

He felt the bodies piling up on top of him and covering him. He felt the streams of blood around him and the trembling pile of dying bodies moving beneath him. It became dark and cold. The shooting died down above him. Zvi made his way from under the bodies, out of the mass grave into the cold, dead night. In the distance, Zvi could hear Ostrovakas and his people singing and drinking, celebrating their great accomplishment. Finally, after 800 years, on 26 September 1941 Eisysky was Judenrein (cleansed of Jews).

At the far end of the cemetery, in the direction of the huge church, were a few gentile homes. Zvi knew the Christians who lived there, he knew them all. Naked, covered with blood, he knocked on the first door. The door opened. A peasant was holding a lamp which he had looted earlier in the day from a Jewish home. “Please let me in,” Zvi pleaded. The peasant lifted his lamp and examined the boy closely. “Jew, go back to the grave where you belong!” He shouted at Zvi and slammed the door in his face. Zvi knocked on other doors, but the response was the same.

Near the forest lived a widow whom Zvi knew also. He decided to knock on her door. The old widow opened the door. She was holding in her hand a small burning piece of wood. “Let me in!” Begged Zvi. “Jew go back to the grave at the old cemetery!” She chased Zvi away with the burning piece of wood as if exorcising an evil spirit.

“I am the Lord, Jesus Christ, I came down from the cross. Look at me – the blood, the pain, the suffering of the innocent. Let me in,” said Zvi Michalowsky. The widow crossed herself and fell at his bloodstained feet. She kept crossing herself and praying. The door was opened.

Zvi walked in. He promised her that he would bless her children, her farm, and her, but only if she would keep his visit a secret for three days and three nights and not reveal it to a living soul, not even the priest. She gave Zvi food and clothing and warm water to wash himself. Before leaving the house, he once more reminded her that the Lord’s visit must remain a secret, because of His special mission on earth. Dressed in a farmer’s clothing, with a supply for a few days, Zvi made his way to the nearby forest. Thus, the Jewish partisan movement was born in the vicinity of Eisysky.

This true story is from “Hasidic Tales of the Holocaust” by Yaffa Eliach I cannot help but recognise that our Lord and Saviour, Jew of Nazareth, who is made reference to in this story, was also sent on a secret mission. The Bible tells us that had ‘the princes of this world’ known, “they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory.” (1 Cor 2:8) That is how secret His mission was.

In Isaiah 48:16 we read, “Come ye near unto me, hear ye this; I have not spoken in secret from the beginning: from the time that it was, there am I: and now the Lord God hath sent me, and his Spirit.” Of this ‘Sent One from the Father’ Isaiah further reveals that, “he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.” (Isa 53:1b)

Thank be to God for His unspeakable grace!

Henk Frijters sermon@minister.com

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