(Introduction and “Thread” 1)
The Tapestry of Israel will be the last posting to the blog, I thank all those who have followed the blog over the last two years for their loyal support. I believe that the blog covers all the information that the Lord has required of me to pass on to His Church. I commit the blog into the hands of the Holy Spirit for Him to continue to use the information provided to “Sound the Warning.” May the Lord bless those who read the blog, by continuing to extend their wisdom and knowledge regarding His plans and purpose.
This study on the Nation of Israel started out with my believing that God wanted me to draw up a timeline of the history of Israel for my own understanding and to give an informed answer to people regarding my support of the nation of Israel. As I started to type up the skeleton draft of the important events, the Lord brought more and more information to my attention, expanding the timeline and giving events more detail. As I worked on the timeline I became aware of a number of trends or “threads” that were an integral part of the history of the nation. The threads wove themselves into a tapestry that is the nation Israel, hence the name of the this study, The Tapestry of Israel. An understanding of each of these threads, with the knowledge that God’s hand is on the nation of Israel, gives discernment and reveals the importance of that small nation in the world today. Israel is not just another nation; it holds a key place in God’s purpose for mankind: Israel is the centre of the world, Jerusalem is the centre of Israel and the Temple Mount is the centre of Jerusalem.
The timeline that I constructed was not all-inclusive, but instead covered events in history that highlight specific threads that weave their way through the complicated tapestry of the nation of Israel. To begin to understand the modern nation of Israel and all its complexities, one must unravel the threads while weaving one’s way through the intricate events of Israel’s past. To do true justice to the Jews one needs to take cognisance of the spiritual, not just the physical. The Jews are a covenant people; the children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Their history is bound to the hand of God. For the very same reason they cannot escape the attentions of a very determined spiritual enemy whose own destiny is determined by whether Satan is able to eradicate the Jewish people group. The prophetic future of Israel and the Church is entwined together; without the one the fulfilment of the prophetic future of the other will not be accomplished.
The land of Israel is the birthplace of the Jewish people. It was here that their spiritual, religious and national identity was formed. Here they achieved independence and created a culture of national and universal significance. Here they wrote and gave God’s word to the world. Exiled from Eretz Israel, the Jewish people remained faithful to this land in all the countries of their dispersion, never ceasing to pray and hope for their return and restoration of their national freedom. Even their national anthem is Hatikvah, ‘The Hope’, and “next year in Jerusalem” was the commonly repeated phrase at the celebration of Passover.
Hatikvah (‘The Hope’), Israel’s national anthem:
Kol od balevav penima nefash yehudi homi-ya (So long as still within our breasts the Jewish heart beats true,)
Ole-fa’atey mizrach kadima, ain le-tzion tzofia (So long as still towards the east, to Zion looks the Jew,)
Od lo avda tikvateynu hatikva bat shnot alpayim (So long our hopes are not yet lost – two thousand years we cherish them –)
Li-yot am chofshi be’artzeinu eretz zion v’yerushalaim (To live in freedom in the land of Zion and Jerusalem).
Written in 1878 by Naphtali Herz Imber
The reasons for this study on the history of Israel are:
- To explain the covenantal right that the Jews have to the land of Israel, and to dispel the lie that the Jews arrived in Palestine in the 1940s after fleeing the Nazi persecutions in Europe and stole the land from the Arabs.
- To recognise the literal fulfilment of prophecy, and that prophecy in Scripture past, present and future is intrinsically linked to Israel and the Jews.
- To warn against Replacement Theology which has given rise to anti-Zionism within the Church; this is part of a worldwide rise of anti-Semitic sentiment.
- To combat the double standards and misinformation that Israel has to endure from the world media.
- To inform that Arab nations perpetuate the plight of the Palestinians, to sway world opinion against Israel.
- To show that Israel and her people continually have to battle against an Islamic belief that is anchored in 7th century ideology, which is totally intolerant.
- To emphasise that Satan is a determined enemy of the Jews and has continually sought and will continue to seek their annihilation as a people group.
- To confirm that God holds leaders and countries responsible for decisions made against His declared will for the nation of Israel because His hand is firmly on the land of Israel.
- To show that evangelical Christian prayer is intrinsically linked to events unfolding in Israel.
- To reveal that there will be an apostate Church in the last days before the return of Jesus, and a mark of the apostate church will be anti-Semitism.
- To show that the eschatological beliefs of Christians will be a major influence on whether they support Israel or not.
- To emphasise that God requires the Church to support Israel and warn that those Christians who do not support Israel will be held accountable by God.
In Jeremiah 31:35-37, God makes it clear that His relationship with Israel is unbroken and His covenants with them continue, “This is what the Lord says, He who appoints the sun to shine by day, who decrees the moon and stars to shine by night, who stirs up the seas so that its waves roar – the Lord Almighty is His name: ‘Only if these decrees vanish from my sight,’ declares the Lord, ‘will the descendants of Israel ever cease to be a nation before me.’ This is what the Lord says: ‘Only if the heavens above can be measured and the foundations of the earth below be searched out will I reject all the descendants of Israel because of all they have done,’ declares the Lord.” For this reason, following along the same path of many Jews and evangelical Christians, the land pre-1948 will be referred to as ‘Eretz Israel’ (The land of Israel), within this book. The land was still under covenant promise during this time, waiting for God’s timing, and His divine will for the people of the land, the Jew, to be restored and become Israel once more.
THE THREADS OF THE TAPESTRY
The series will cover sixteen sections which are the ‘threads’ of the tapestry of Israel, an understanding of which is essential for a clear discernment of the nation of Israel, the Jewish people and the Church’s role in God’s plan for the Jews. Unravelling these threads from the weave that is the tapestry of Israel will bring clarity and draw readers closer in support of Israel as a nation, and the Jews as a people.
1. PROTESTANT BRITAIN’S ROLE IN THE FORMATION OF THE STATE OF ISRAEL
The hand of God in the restoration of the land of Israel in 1948 is undeniable. A look at history sees God’s direction and control over people, groups and nations in moving to the ultimate conclusion of the Promised Land being restored to the Jews. One can delve into history and see the threads of God’s plan extending back into the Middle Ages:
From a low point in 1290 when King Edward I expelled the Jews from England, events began to change for the better when, in 1382, John Wycliffe translated the Bible into English, so people did not have to be language scholars in order to read the Bible and the layman no longer relied solely on the priest for the interpretation of scripture. This was followed by an even better translation of the New Testament by William Tyndale in 1525. He was the first person to print the New Testament into English using Gutenberg’s movable-type press, which greatly increased the circulation of the Bible and made God’s word accessible to the common man. Tyndale’s translations did much to further the Reformation in Scotland and England. But England did not have any great leaders in the Church, such as Luther, Calvin or Knox, that would separate England from the Pope. The break with Rome came from a completely different (and for England, a more important) direction: the king!
God’s plan for Israel and the development of the Protestant Church took a major step forward in England during the reign of Henry VIII. In 1526 King Henry fell in love with Anne Boleyn, a woman who was not the king’s wife but was not satisfied to remain as his mistress. Henry’s wife, Catherine of Aragon, had not produced a male heir for Henry and he used this as an excuse to divorce Catherine and marry Anne. The Pope would not give consent to the divorce. His decision not to allow the divorce was not based on moral ground but rather on the fear of upsetting the powerful Emperor of Spain, Charles V, who was Catherine of Aragon’s nephew. To be able to marry Anne, Henry had to break from the Roman Catholic Church. As king he was also Supreme Head of the Church of England. This meant that the Church of England was no longer under the authority of the Pope, and therefore would be a fertile ground for the development of the Protestant faith. The people of England were then able to own a Bible in English and were free from the persecution of the Roman Church. God used the sinful lusts of Henry VIII to bring about the formation of a Protestant England that was responsible for the major historical events that resulted in the formation of the State of Israel.
An ironic twist in the life story of Henry VIII is that despite all his attempts with all six of his wives to produce a male heir to the English throne, it was his daughter Elizabeth that God used to establish England as a Protestant nation. Phillip II of Spain (angered by the rejection of Catholicism in England) sent a vast armada of ships in an attempt to invade England and restore the land back to the Roman Catholic faith. Spain, at the time, had the most powerful fleet in the world but with Elizabeth’s support, England’s navy and tactics had been developed and the country was a formidable force. England defeated the Spanish Armada in 1588, signalling the rise of Protestant England as a world power. God’s hand seemed firmly on the side of the English, as ‘unusual’ weather conditions caused storms which did more damage to the Armada than the English ships did. King Phillip II said of his attempt to invade England, “I sent the Armada against men, not God’s winds and waves” (1). Spain was never able to regain her stature as a world power. God used Queen Elizabeth to establish England as a dominant world power which could not be threatened by Roman Catholic powers intent on England being under the authority of the Pope once more. England became a sanctuary for the Puritans who were the first Christian Zionists determined to see the prophecies of the restoration of the nation of Israel fulfilled.
In 1601 a major event took place for Britain and the future nation of Israel: The East English India Company was founded, which linked Britain to the Middle East. The trade done by the East India Company made Britain an extremely wealthy nation and also a world power, and the Middle East became a vital link to India and the east for Britain. The trade route had to be controlled by Britain as a means of protecting its link with India.
In 1655, Jews were allowed to return to England after being expelled by Edward 1 in 1290. The Puritans had lobbied for the return of the Jews to England, believing that England was an important link to the Jews returning to Eretz Israel. The Puritans were a people who chose to “stand before [God] in the gap” on behalf of Israel (Ezekiel 22:30). One of the reasons the Puritans supported the idea of a Jewish homeland was because of their desire to counter the Roman Catholic doctrine of Replacement Theology. The Roman Catholic Church believed it was the true spiritual Israel, holding that the Jews had forfeited their rights as God’s chosen nation, so all covenant promises to Israel recorded in Scripture then belonged to the Roman Church.
Oliver Cromwell who led the forces that deposed King Charles, became the Lord Protector of England and, because he was a Puritan, unofficially invited the Jews back into England in 1655. This invitation became official policy in 1660. The consequence of this blessing to the Jews was that God blessed the British nation, fulfilling the promise that God gave to Abraham that He would bless those that blessed him and his descendants (Genesis 12:3); this was the start of the British Empire which resulted in the ultimate fulfilment of a hope of the Puritans, which was the return of the Jews to Palestine (through the Balfour Declaration).
In 1790 evangelical Christians in Britain were influenced by the writings of Puritan theologians on the restoration of the nation of Israel. The zeal of the evangelicals of this time was ignited by the prophecy in Matthew 24:14 where Jesus says, “and this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come,” which influenced the formation of numerous missionary societies which, with the expanse of the British Empire, reached the far ends of the earth with the Gospel message.
With The East India Company’s trade routes to protect, England quickly responded to the presence of Napoleon in the Middle East in 1798. Admiral Nelson and the British navy dealt a heavy blow to the French fleet anchored off Alexandria in the Battle of the Nile in August 1798. Napoleon’s defeat the following year at Acre by the local Turkish forces was achieved with the support of 800 British marines. These two amazing defeats, one by Nelson to the French navy and the other to the mighty Grande Armee by tiny Acre, signalled an end of Napoleon’s Middle East campaign. God used Protestant Britain to halt a claim to the Holy Land by the Roman Catholic French.
Napoleon was finally defeated in 1815 at the Battle of Waterloo by the British and Prussian armies, led by the Duke of Wellington. The threat of Napoleon’s Grande Armee invading the shores of Britain had galvanised and united the people of Northern Island, Scotland, England and Wales, and would consolidate them into the powerful force that would be The United Kingdom of Great Britain. Protestant Britain once more foiled the aspirations of Roman Catholic France.
The British evangelicals who had the correct eschatological understanding of Scripture, who were a people of great faith in God and His divine plan, who had the leadership, skills, influence, knowledge of the power of prayer, and the goal of restoring the land of Israel to the Jews, were then under the protection of the most powerful empire on the earth.
In 1840 King Fredrick William IV of Prussia began to motivate for an increased mission presence in Jerusalem. Prussia was a small power at the time and needed support from a major European power, which it found in Britain that had already established missionary links in Jerusalem. This meant that two Protestant European powers were focused on mission activity in the land of Eretz Israel. Then in 1842, under the influence of King Frederick IV, a Prussian consul was established in Jerusalem, following after the British Consulate which had been established in 1838. This was the second Protestant country to establish a consulate in Jerusalem. The Roman Catholic French and other European powers quickly followed suit to offset the Protestant domination of Jerusalem. Jerusalem, which had deteriorated during years of neglect, had then become a centre of interest for world powers. God used Protestant Britain and Germany to bring about the Genesis of a rejuvenation of a battered and sullied Jerusalem.
The Middle East came into the centre of Britain’s plans again when British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli outbid France in 1875 for controlling shares in the Suez Canal. This dramatically tightened Britain’s control in the Middle East. Oliver Cromwell’s decision, based on his Puritan beliefs to allow Jews back into Britain, had reaped remarkable benefits. Britain’s control over the Middle East and Eretz Israel was ensured by Disraeli, who was a Messianic Jew. The great significance of the British control of the Suez Canal would become all too clear with the start of World War I. The Suez Canal was a vital link for Britain to her colonies in the East, and the British presence in the Middle East guaranteed that the Suez Canal remained open.
The Allies set their focus at the start of World War I on Constantinople in the East and attacked Turkey at Gallipoli. If the conflict at Gallipoli had gone well for the Allies and Constantinople captured then, in accordance with the agreements at that time, Eretz Israel would have fallen into French hands. There would have been no possibility of a Jewish state coming out of a Roman Catholic-controlled Holy Land. That Gallipoli was a military disaster for the Allies meant that the war in the Middle East moved to British-controlled Egypt. The war in the Middle East was dominated by the presence of Protestant Britain.
In secret discussion regarding the division of the Middle East should the Allies be successful, the British were displeased by the possibility of having a nation that they had a long history of conflict with, taking over Syria and Eretz Israel, and being in close proximity to Britain’s treasured Suez Canal. The De Bunsen Committee was formed to establish the foundation for British policy in the Middle East, which included a plan to ensure that France did not get control of Eretz Israel. The significance of God ensuring that Britain controlled the Suez Canal then became abundantly clear when Roman Catholic France was firmly sidelined by Protestant Britain. The policy established by the De Bunsen Committee allowed the powerful body of Christian Zionists in Britain to introduce the Balfour declaration in 1917, which was to set in motion the formation of the nation of Israel.
In 1918 the British and Anzac forces under the leadership of General Edmund Allenby defeated the Turks and took control of Eretz Israel. The British had taken control of Jerusalem on 9 December 1917 when the mayor of Jerusalem surrendered the city to Brigadier-General Watson. The book of Haggai prophesies that the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month (Haggai 2:18) of the Jewish calendar year, would be a significant date, because “…from this day I will bless you” (Haggai 2:19). This date prophesied by Haggai is 9 December, the day that the mayor of Jerusalem handed over the key of the city to Britain. On 11 December General Allenby, mounted on his horse, rode down Jaffa Street to the Old City; he did not ride into the city as a conqueror but dismounted from his horse at the Jaffa Gate and walked into Jerusalem on foot, saying that he had come as a pilgrim and not as a conqueror. God had identified that His selection of who would be responsible for the return of the Jews to the covenant land of Israel was to be Protestant Britain. The British Government made its announcement regarding the Belfour Declaration, and the hope of a future Jewish nation lay firmly in the hands of the British. Francois Picot, the French envoy to the Middle East, tried to claim authority over Jerusalem at the celebratory luncheon held after the parade by announcing that France would set up civil government in Jerusalem. After a long, cold silence Allenby rebuffed the French attempt to take control, stating that Jerusalem was in a military zone and was therefore under the control of the British army.
World War I had important benefits for the Jewish people living in Eretz Israel and the future State of Israel. For the many thousands of Jewish volunteers who received training in the British army and who had fought in the various campaigns during the war, their knowledge and experience became vital in the establishing of the Haganah (a Hebrew word meaning “defence”), as a strong paramilitary group, which would defend the Jews of Eretz Israel against the continual aggression of Arabs during 1918 to 1939, the years between the wars. Similarly, during World War II, thousands of Jewish soldiers once more received outstanding training at the hands of the British which would be the backbone of the Jewish forces that withstood the Arab onslaught during 1947 and in the 1948 war.
The final chapter of the formation of the State of Israel is not a proud one for the British Empire. In 1920 Britain and France met with the League of Nations in San Remo Italy, where Britain was given a mandate over Palestine, with the aim of establishing a Jewish home land in Palestine. Britain did not fulfil its responsibilities by continually succumbing to Arab pressure and limiting the immigration of Jews to Eretz Israel. The enforcement of the “white paper” immigration laws became a disgrace when, after World War II, the British navy was reduced to ramming ships filled with holocaust survivors, in an effort to prevent them from landing in Israel. Those who were captured by the British after landing in Israel were detained in prison camps as illegal immigrants. Jews who had survived the death camps of Nazi Europe found themselves once more behind barbed wire.
The fulfilment of God’s warning in Genesis 12:3 that He will curse those that curse the Jews became a reality to Britain when the country went from being a world power at the start of the twentieth century, ruling an empire over which the sun did not set, to being reduced to just an island state.
The history of Protestant Britain is evidence that God is actively involved in history by guiding, supporting, encouraging and directing mankind according to His plan and purpose. That God used both the British nation and the Evangelical Church in His plans for the restoration of the nation of Israel is strong evidence that the Church must continue the work of those Christians who have gone before, and maintain the links that they have established with Israel, recognising that Israel has an important role to play in God’s future plans. This requires the Church to bless the Jews with their love and support.
(1) Wikipedia. Spanish Armada: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_ Armada, (11/06/2012).