Martin Gray was one of the few Warsaw Jews to escape the death camp at Treblinka. Captured in Warsaw in 1943, on arrival at the camp he was chosen for work details instead of being marched to the gas chambers immediately after exiting the boxcars.
Only a teenager, Martin labored on several work crews before being assigned to the “excavator pit”—the mass graves where thousands of bodies of men, women and children were buried daily. Martin soon learned that those who worked in the mass graves were themselves killed after a few weeks. No one was to be left alive to reveal to the world the truth of what went on in the camps.
Martin escaped by tying himself with belts to the underside of a truck, then hiding in a load of clothing on a train. As soon as he jumped off the train he was on a mission: He knew that if he could only tell Jews in other towns and villages in Poland that the Nazis planned to kill them all, he would be able to possibly save them.
Martin slipped from town to town, telling everyone he could about Treblinka, the gas chambers, the mass graves and thousands of dead every day. Did anyone listen?
In his own words, “I shouted, ran back and forth among them. They drew away from me and immediately went back to work as if I didn’t exist … ‘Listen to me, I’m a Jew, a Jew, like you! You’ve got to believe me: they’re killing us, all of us! Do you know about Treblinka?’ They didn’t even look up … They carried on with their work as if I weren’t there, as if Treblinka were just some lunatic’s nightmare” ( For Those I Loved, 2006, p. 153).
Later, Martin tells how he watched from a distance as the Nazi troops rounded up all the people in those villages, loaded them into trucks and sent them to their deaths at Treblinka. “Why didn’t they listen, why didn’t they believe me?” he shouted to himself.
Would people today listen to similar warnings? Are warnings being given now that people are intentionally choosing not to listen to?
Do our everyday headlines contain strong warnings about a dire future? Consider these recent items you may have glossed over:
• U.S. national debt reaches $63.8 trillion. “The latest increase raises federal obligations to a record $546,668 per household … That’s quadruple what the average U.S. household owes for all mortgages, car loans, credit cards and other debt combined” ( USA Today, May 29, 2009).
• North Korea tested a nuclear weapon, launched several test missiles and abrogated the 1953 truce agreement—effectively declaring war on South Korea, Japan, the United States, Britain and other nations that were a part of the 1951-1953 “police action” should they try to interfere with North Korea’s ambitions—and threatened a “thousand-fold” military retaliation if provoked.
• “The End of Christian America” headlined Newsweek magazine’s report on a dramatic drop in the number of Americans identifying themselves as Christian. “Many conservative Christians believe they have lost the battles over issues such as abortion, school prayer and even same-sex marriage, and that the country has now entered a post-Christian phase,” stated the article (April 13, 2009).
• In Pakistan, “the government is progressively losing control of its own population and territory. And you’ve got Al Qaeda sitting right in the middle” of a country that has more than 100 nuclear weapons, according to a top terrorism expert (Australian Broadcasting Corporation News, June 3, 2009).
This sampling of alarming headlines points to some very difficult times ahead. The world as we have known it is rapidly coming to an end. But is anyone taking notice, or are we just going about our daily lives as if there’s nothing to be concerned about? Are we repeating the experience of the Poles who heard Martin Gray but closed their minds to what he was saying?
Jesus Christ gave several crucial warnings in His most detailed prophetic message. He foretold a coming time of suffering just before His return that will be the worst the world has ever experienced. He said, “For then will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world”(Matthew 24:21 Matthew 24:21For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
American King James Version×).
He even prophesied that the majority of the world will not listen to any warnings, but will close their ears like the Poles who heard Martin Gray. Jesus said that this time of unprecedented trouble “will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth” (Luke 21:35 Luke 21:35For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.
American King James Version×).
He also warned about what we should be doing as we see this time approaching and stated that there could be a way of escape: “Watch therefore, and pray always, that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (verse 36). To be able to escape, you will have to listen to and heed what you hear. GN