The Hebrew “aleph-beit,” or alphabet, contains twenty-two letters. Over the millennia rabbis and scholars have found that these letters each have a specific meaning. Of course, Psalm 119 gave them a giant clue. This psalm contains twenty-two groups of eight verses, each headed by the appropriate Hebrew letter. A study of these verses will reveal a theme for each group. For example, the eighteenth letter is the tzaddi, which is thought to represent righteousness. Please read Psalm 119:137-144 and see how many times the word “righteous” appears. For more information on the Hebrew alphabet please see Alphabetic Designs.
The twentieth letter of the Hebrew alphabet is the resh, which represents wickedness and evil. Please see Psalm 119:153-160 and see the theme of affliction, wickedness, persecution and treachery.
The Twentieth Century has left us a bloody history. Historians consider that the Twentieth Century did not begin culturally until World War One. This war began with British officers bringing their valets with them and having tea in the afternoon. By the time the United States entered the war it had declined to trench warfare, poisonous gasses and machine guns that could simply mow down a column of soldiers.
Not many years after the conclusion of World War One, Hitler rose to power in Germany. His actions precipitated World War Two which resulted in millions of casualties and was finally concluded by the horrific nuclear bomb. Underlying the story of this war is the attempt to annihilate the Chosen People, the Jews. I find it difficult to understand that the Germans killed six million Jews, but for anyone to deny the reality of the German genocide is insane. And, do not forget, included in the death camps were many Christians, also.
After World War Two, Eastern Europe was turned over to the Soviets, which resulted in millions more dying because they had resisted the Communists and had tried to flee to the West. Even before this, Stalin had starved millions of Ukrainians and others. It is estimated that Stalin was responsible for forty million deaths. He makes Hitler look like an amateur. Of course, we must not forget a similar amount of people killed by “Chairman Mao” of China.
If you have read Foxe’s Book of Martyrs (available to read online) you are aware of the horror of Christian persecution in the early history of the Church. When I read this book, I felt unworthy to even call myself a Christian. And yet, researchers tell us that more Christians were martyred for their faith in the Twentieth Century than any other previous time.
In retrospect, the Twentieth Century appears to be a time of great evil, fulfilling the definition of the twentieth letter of the Hebrew alphabet, the resh. But, there is hope! The twenty-first letter is the shin, which represents Divine power and provision. May the Lord come quickly!