A thought for Holocaust Remembrance Day

The Jews of Sepharad and the Restoration of Israel
Obadiah is the shortest of all the Bible prophets. The book contains just 21 verses. But hidden within those few verses is an exciting prophecy. Here it is: “The captives of Jerusalem, who are in Sepharad, will possess the cities of the Negev.” Obadiah 1:20.
You can read just about any Bible translation and even then you will not begin to understand the thrill of these few verses. Why? Because all the translations I have seen just use that word Sepharad – and very few people know exactly what that word means. We need to know where Sepharad is because wherever Sepharad may be, the exiles from Jerusalem who are there in exile, will one day possess the southern cities of Israel.
Bible commentators are divided as to where Sepharad is. Some say it is Sardis. The Latin Father Jerome said that the word Sepharad just referred to the places abroad where the tribes had been scattered.
However, Sepharad is the Hebrew word for Spain, and more precisely Andalucía (or El Andalus), the eight provinces of southern Spain: Almeria, Granada, Malaga, Sevilla, Cordoba, Cadiz, Jaen, Huelva. When we were called to Spain as missionaries we never dreamt that we were living in Sepharad.
So who were these exiles of Jerusalem who had been exiled, and taken up residence in Spain? They are known as Sephardic Jews or Sephardim (Jews of Spain). Spain or Sepharad had become their home until they were persecuted, tortured, forced to convert to Catholicism, and finally expelled from Spain in 1492. Spain was their beloved home. Their language was Ladino (Judeo-Spanish), they lived in their own districts known as Juderías (Jewish Quarters), and were successful in their business. Spain was the home they had come to love. Nothing short of the Spanish Inquisition, and the Edict of Expulsion by Spain’s Catholic monarchs, would have persuaded them to leave the shores of Spain. It had been their home for centuries.
But there was a prophecy of Obadiah’s to fulfil! God would bring His People back from Spain to Israel – one way or another.
Expelling the Jews was a completely senseless idea – jewellers, bankers, and traders – that had a disastrous effect on Spain’s economy. The Sultan of Turkey on hearing of Spain’s Edict of Expulsion dispatched his navy to bring as many Sephardim as possible to his country. He exclaimed: “Ye call Ferdinand a wise king he who makes his land poor and ours rich!” Modern Spain has publicly portrayed itself as a penitent nation sorry for its sins. King Juan Carlos, praying in a Madrid synagogue alongside Israel’s president, Chaim Herzog, proclaimed: Sephardic Jews have a place in Spain today. And the Spanish authorities promised a fast track for Sephardim to get their Spanish citizenship.
Inviting Jews to settle in times of economic trouble is a strategy that has been employed all too often before in the world.
Anyway now it is too late: they have gone!
The past weeks in France have seen more anti-Semitic hatred and persecution. France has the largest Jewish population in Europe. However, the Jews of France also are now returning to their biblical home: Israel.
7,000 left France for Israel last year. This year it is predicted that at least 10,000 will return to Israel. Perhaps now we should keep our eyes on the USA – especially New York – for a large-scale return to Israel!
“He will set up a banner for the nations, and will assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.” Isaiah 11:12 – World English Bible (WEB).
The return of world Jewry to a restored State of Israel is the Bible’s most important sign of the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Soon – and very soon – we are going to see the Lord!