103 years ago, the military forces of the British Empire were locked in combat, not only on the Western Front but also with the Turkish forces of the Ottoman Empire supported by Germany. The pivotal battle of Beersheba was fought on the 31st October 1917, opening the way for the advance of the British Egyptian Expeditionary Forces into Palestine. On the 9th December the city Jerusalem was surrendered to the British Forces, and on the 11th December General Edmond Allenby took official control of the city and proclaimed Martial Law.
He was the first Christian since the Crusades that is for 683 years, to take control of Jerusalem,. The Prime Minister of Great Britain, David Lloyd George, described this victory as a “Christmas present for the British people.” It was welcome news after a year of bitter disappointment on the Western Front. The British Allied Forces under Allenby drove the Turkish army out of Palestine, launching the battle of Megiddo on September 19th 1918.
It was in the middle of this conflict in Palestine that the Balfour Declaration came into existence. It was a
public statement issued by the Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour, on behalf of the British
Government. How was it that the Government came to issue such a declaration?
Christianity is thought to have come to England by AD 43, but in 595 Pope Gregory the Great chose Augustine to lead a mission to England, where he became the first archbishop of Canterbury. After that time, the Bible became available only in Latin. As a result, the majority of men and women became ignorant of the Scriptures, relying on Priests, Monks and Friars for religious guidance.
It was not until the 14th century that John Wycliffe translated the Latin Vulgate into Middle English, producing handwritten manuscripts which were distributed among his followers in order to teach ordinary men and women from the Word of God about Jesus Christ. Wycliffe held that the Scriptures alone were the authoritative voice of true Christianity. But it was to be nearly 140 years before English scholars were able to obtain and study Greek manuscripts of the New Testament. Thomas Linacre, physician to Henry viii concluded, “If these Greek writings were true, we are not Christians.” So great was the difference between the teaching of the Church and that of the New Testament.
At that time, a brilliant scholar arose who was determined that people should be able to read the Bible in their own language. William Tyndale was fluent in 8 languages, including Greek and Hebrew, and produced translations of both the New and Old Testaments. He stated how he, “had perceived by experience, how that it was impossible to stablish the lay people in any truth, except the scripture were plainly laid before their eyes in their mother tongue, that they might see the process, order, and meaning of the text.” Later he informed a catholic priest, “I will cause a boy that driveth the plough shall know more of the scripture than thou doest.” The King James Version of the Bible is 83 per cent Tyndale’s work, though he has never received credit for it, instead he was executed near Brussels in 1536 as guilty of heresy.
Sir Henry Finch, the greatest legal mind in England, a Hebrew and Greek scholar, published the result of his studies in a book of 234 pages, entitled “The World’s Great Restoration or Calling of the Jews.” He quoted many prophecies from the Bible to prove that the Jewish people had been scattered into all countries of the world; and that before Christ’s return they would be gathered to their ancient homeland becoming a kingdom at the Return of Christ who would be King over all the earth, and all nations would submit and all kings would bow down before him. King James was gravely offended, he considered the work libellous, and Finch and his publisher were imprisoned, and the books were destroyed. Today a copy is very rare, but a few have survived. Finch, now a broken man, died in 1625 as did King James.
James I (1603-1625)
Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658)
Manasseh Ben Israel (1604-1657)
The Restoration of the Jews the Crisis of All Nations; to Which is Now Prefixed, a Brief History of the Jews from their First Dispersion to the Calling of Their Grand Sanhedrim at Paris, October 6th, 1806. and an Address on the Present State of Affairs, in Europe in General, and in This Country in Particular
Jeremiah states that God will bring the Israelites from the North Country and gather them from the coasts of the earth. “He that scattered Israel will gather him and keep him as a shepherd does his flock.” John Thomas in 1848 showed from Bible prophecies that the Jews would colonize Palestine on purely political principles and return in unbelief of the Messiahship of Jesus, under the efficient protection of the British power.
Thomas wrote, 70 years before the Balfour Declaration “I know not whether the men who at present contrive the foreign policy of Britain entertain assuming sovereignty of the Holy Land and promoting its colonization by the Jews. Their present endeavours are of no importance because the finger of God has indicated a course to be pursued by Britain which cannot be evaded and which her counsellors will not only be willing but eager to adopt when the crisis comes upon them.”
Again, “The possession or ascendancy of Britain in Egypt, Ethiopia and Seba, will naturally lead to the colonization of Palestine by the Jews.” These predictions were made at least 35 years before Britain involved itself in Egypt’s affairs in 1883.
Abdulmejid I (1823-1861)
However, the first colonists to arrive in Palestine were not Jews, but German Christians, known as the Templars, who set up an agricultural settlement in 1868, at the foot of Mount Carmel, more than a decade before the first Jewish settlement of Petach Tikvah was established in 1878. Their experience was helpful to the first Jewish colonists in creating the first modern Jewish agricultural settlement. The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 meant that Britain now had a shorter and more direct route to India.
Meanwhile, Benjamin D’Israeli, a Christian of Jewish descent, became Prime minister. In 1875 he arranged for Britain to purchase the controlling number of shares in the Suez Canal for about £4 million, afterwards requesting Parliament’s approval. In 1878 at the Congress of Berlin, Cyprus was brought under the British flag.
In 1878 Robert Roberts issued a pamphlet, ‘Prophecy and the Eastern Question’, predicting the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the settlement of Jews in Syria under a British Protectorate. He sent a copy to all members of the House of Lords and House of Commons, and received an acknowledgment from W. E. Gladstone, the Leader of the Opposition, expressing his coincidental interest in Biblical prophecy.
In 1882, true to prophetic expectations, 40,000 British troops seized possession of the Suez Canal and established a de facto Protectorate over Egypt, which lasted until 1956. At the same time, the Ottoman Empire was slowly disintegrating, as many Bible students had been predicting from Revelation 16:12 for more than 250 years.
|God has promised to restore Israel to her own land:|
Up until this time, no great movement of Jews towards Palestine had begun. Jews were still persecuted in many countries, particularly in Germany and Russia, leading to large numbers of immigrants to the United Kingdom and the United States. But few Jews then sought to settle in Palestine. Yet the remarkable thing is that in the U.K. the Restoration movement gained new momentum. The prophet Jeremiah 16:14-17 describes a future return of people from all lands where they had been driven, to the land of their fathers, and this would be achieved through two different agents:
Matthew 2:23 refers to ‘that spoken by the prophets’ concerning the Messiah, “He shall be called a Nazarene.” In Acts 24:5 the Jews refer to the followers of Jesus as the sect of the Nazarenes. Today "yeshua ha notzri" is the modern Hebrew equivalent of ‘Jesus the Nazarene’. The actual prophecy is found in Isaiah 11:1, where the rod out of the stem of Jesse is called ‘the Branch’ in Hebrew "natzer" (נֵצֶר), from which is derived "natzerot".
Jeremiah 4:16 speaks of ‘watchers’ coming from a far country. The Hebrew word used is "notsreym" (נֹצְרִים), also occurring in Jeremiah 31:6. If this word occurred in a modern Hebrew newspaper today, its meaning would be ‘Christians’; Christians will cry, ‘Arise, let us go up to Zion the city of the Lord our God.’ And so they have. For the 35 years, Christians from all over the world arrive in Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles, for the past few years being welcomed by the Prime Minister.
Dr. John Thomas (1805-1871)
"There is, then, a partial and primary restoration of Jews before the manifestation, which is to serve as the nucleus, or basis, of future operations in the restoration of the rest of the tribes after he has appeared in the kingdom. The pre-adventual colonization of Palestine will be on purely political principles; and the Jewish colonists will return in unbelief of the Messiahship of Jesus, and of the truth as it is in him. They will emigrate thither as agriculturists and traders, in the hope of ultimately establishing their commonwealth, but more immediately of getting rich in silver and gold by commerce with India, and in cattle and goods by their industry at home under the efficient protection of the British power."
-excerpt from Elpis Israel, 1849
The Scriptures indicate that we should in no wise diminish the Christian dimension that lies behind the Restoration of the Nation of Israel. John Wilkinson, founder of the ‘Mildmay Mission to the Jews’, wrote the book ‘Israel My Glory’, and he discussed with many Jews about the coming of their Messiah and their return to the homeland. David Baron, a Polish Jew who accepted Christianity, formed the ‘Hebrew Testimony to Israel’ organisation. As early as 1809 the Christian Mission to the Jews was founded with many supporters from among Anglicans and other denominations. Other committed Christians of public standing were: J. C. Ryle, Bishop of Liverpool, he preached the restoration of the Jews, publishing a book ‘Are You Ready for the End Time?’ The 7th Earl of Shaftsbury was a prominent advocate of Christian Zionism and an early proponent of the restoration of the Jews to the Holy Land, and a first major politician to propose the resettlement of the Jews to Palestine.
Charles Spurgeon, known as ‘the Prince of Preachers’, regularly addressed congregations of 7,000. He believed that the Bible prophesied the restoration of the Jews to their ancient homeland, maintaining that this would occur before Christ’s return. There were many other preachers from various denominations who supported the Jewish Restoration. Their views influenced a considerable number in both Parliament and the Government. Little by little Britain’s foreign policies were directed to the Middle East, towards Egypt and Palestine, and developments among the Jews were taking place elsewhere.
Alfred Dreyfus (1859-1935)
In August 1914 the First World War began. Armies all over Europe were mobilised and in Britain a nationwide appeal for volunteers was made, not only to the citizens of the United Kingdom, but to all the colonies of the Empire. Posters and postcards, portraying the British Lion summoning the young lions, her Colonies, to assist in the conflict were popular at the time. It was felt significant by Bible believers, who saw the connection between the restoration of Israel in the latter days and the young lions: both of which are referred to in Ezekiel 38.
At that time Britannia really did rule the waves, as we can see from the Spithead Review in 1914. Churchill changed the fleet from coal, of which Britain had plenty, to oil, of which Britain had none. But oil was discovered in 1908 in Iran and afterwards in Iraq. A pipeline was constructed from Kirkuk to Haifa on the Mediterranean and it had to be protected.
Chaim Weizmann (1874-1952)
Jews were also recruited for the war effort. Some 60,000 served in the British armed forces in the First World War. A campaign however was launched by the Jewish Chronicle and the request was made to the Government to form a Jewish Battalion, which was granted. Initially in 1915, the Jews were formed into the Zion Mule Corps that served with distinction in Gallipoli, showing themselves fearless under heavy fire.
In 1917 the Jewish soldiers were formed into the 38th Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers, with their own cap badge and flag, under the command of John Henry Patterson. It was the first Jewish fighting force in 2,000 years. Patterson has been described as the Godfather of Modern Israel’s Defence Force. He was the Godfather of Jonathan Netanyahu, the Prime Minister’s brother, who died in the Entebbe rescue in 1976. 1916 was a miserable year for Britain; food shortages and the numbers of allied casualties on the Western Front in the Battle of the Somme amounted to 624,000 with still no breakthrough. David Lloyd George, now the British Prime Minister decided to open a new Eastern front in Palestine.
The British Egyptian army secured Rafah on January 9th and pushed on to Gaza; but after two attempts, failed to take the city. Lloyd George replaced the commander with Edmund Allenby, instructing him to take Jerusalem by Christmas. However, the Turkish forces blocked the British advance at Beersheba a place well known to Bible students. Abraham constructed a well here some 3,800 year ago. The Turks had control of that water supply, without which the British could advance no further. The Anzac’s were given the task of taking Beersheba on 31st October. In the face of heavy fire, the 4th Light Horse Regiment jumped the trenches and then attacked and defeated the Turkish infantry on foot!
The Charge of the Australian Light Horsemen at the Battle of Beersheba (31/10/1917)
The Balfour Declaration (1917)
The next day the British troops were led in prayer by their chaplains. The Bible reading for that day was Isaiah 31 which has the words, “As birds flying the Lord of Hosts will defend Jerusalem; defending it He will deliverer it and passing over He will preserve it.” Allenby ordered the Royal Flying Corps to fly over Jerusalem dropping leaflets, calling on the city to surrender.
The Mayor of Jerusalem, Hussein Effendi el Husseini, meeting with Sergts. Sedwick and Hurcomb of the 2/19th Battalion, London Regiment, under the white flag of surrender, 09/12/1917
The League of Nations convened a meeting of the Allied Supreme Council to allocate the mandates for the Partitioning of the Ottoman Empire in April 1920, confirming the Balfour Declaration into International Law, granting Great Britain the mandate over Palestine. Between 1920 and 1948, Britain appointed 7 High Commissioners over Palestine.
Their task was never easy, mainly due to Arab discontent over the Mandate, which was encouraged by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al Husseini, who was appointed by Herbert Samuel the British High Commissioner as Grand Mufti over Palestine! Husseini was actually co-operating with Adolf Hitler by making propaganda radio broadcasts and helping the Nazis recruit Bosnian Muslims for the Waffen-SS. Moreover he agreed with Hitler’s intentions: the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe.
Husseini urged his own followers, “Kill the Jews wherever you find them! This pleases God, history and religion. This saves your honour. God is with you” Husseini instilled his anti-Jewish venom into his nephew all too well, he is better known as Yassir Arafat.
In 1929 riots broke out and the Jews of Hebron were massacred. Similarly Jews were forced to flee for their lives from Jerusalem. Remaining Jews were evacuated by the British authorities, and the centuries old Jewish presence in Hebron was brought to an end. Jews had lived in Jerusalem for centuries, in fact none other than Karl Marx in a report posted to the New York Herald Tribune in 1854 stated that there were 8,000 Jews in Jerusalem compared with 4000 Muslims. While a pamphlet issued by the Supreme Muslim Council acknowledged that it was beyond dispute that the AL-HARAM AL-SHARIF was built on the site of Solomon’s Temple.
Disruptions continued throughout 1928-9. In Europe, the Great Depression paved the way for Hitler’s rise to power and the outbreak of World War 2. In Germany the Jews were now regarded as the enemy of the German people.
Now the second phase of God’s plan prophesied in Jeremiah 16 had begun: “I will send for many hunters and they shall hunt them from every mountain and from every hill and out of the holes of the rocks.” And what deadly hunters they proved to be, pursuing their prey through forests and mountains and even through the sewers of Warsaw!
Meanwhile in Britain the Government, alarmed by increasing Jewish immigration from Europe, issued the ‘MacDonald White Paper’ in 1939, limiting Jewish immigration to Palestine to 75,000 over the next 5 years. It ended Jewish land purchases, in Palestine and promised Palestine independence within 10 years and announced, “It is not British policy that Palestine should become a Jewish State!”
The British White Paper of 1939:
In a speech to the House of Commons, Conservative Sir John Haslam reminded the Government and all members of the House of their Christian heritage: the Bible. In his speech, he referred to those prophecies which covenanted the land to the Patriarchs and the people of Israel, and those in which God promised to restore them to their land, to rebuild their cities, to restore its agricultural capacity, and to move no more from that land. He concluded with reading Psalm 15, and said, “This Psalm has come to be known as the Gentleman’s Psalm. We claim to be a Christian nation; at least, we claim to be gentlemen. I would repeat, whoso doeth these things shall never fall.” The House received his words in absolute silence, with no intervention. The old Lancastrian had shown the Commons their true selves. Gentlemen do not break promises!
Winston Churchill rebuked the Government saying, “Now there is the breach; there is the violation of the pledge; there is the abandonment of the Balfour Declaration; there is the end of the vision, thee hope, the dream; this is another Munich.” In the Jewish cities of Palestine, in Jerusalem, massive protests took place at the betrayal of the promise. The Balfour Declaration had been torn asunder.
One of the many Jewish protests in response to the British White Paper of 1939
The small steamship ‘Struma’ in 1942, carrying 800 Jews, being refused entry to Palestine was moored at Istanbul waiting for clearance by the British Embassy. Its diesel engine had broken down. It had run out of food, fuel and water. The Turks towed it out into the Black Sea and abandoned it with its passengers, where it was sunk by a Russian submarine. Only one person survived.
Meanwhile, as Parliament debated about the Jews, war had already begun. From 1945 to 1948 Jewish refugees headed for Palestine in any way possible, crowded aboard unseaworthy vessels; some sinking, some making it to Palestine; others intercepted by the Royal Navy. Later the Jews, many of them survivors of the concentration camps, were intercepted, transported to internment camps in Cyprus and Mauritius, or to a British Detention Camp at Atlit near Haifa, complete with barbed wire and watchtowers it is still there today. Between 1939-1948 more than 80 ships crowded with refugees from the Holocaust, sailed to the Promised Land; only to discover British intransigence, even though the mass murder of European Jewry was known to the Allies in 1942. In that year Britain had 34,000 Jewish immigration certificates available for Palestine. At the end of the war, they still retained 3,000 undistributed certificates. These were some of the British ships that intercepted Jewish refugee vessels. these are the names of all 28 ships so employed.
The 28 Royal Navy warships that hunted down the refugees:
HMS Peacock | HMS Talybont | HMS Chevron HMS Chequers | HMS Jervis | HMS Saumarez HMS Venus | HMS Virago | HMS Brissenden HMS Childers | HMS Chivalrous | HMS Octavia HMS Haydon | HMS Espiegle | HMS Chieftain HMS Welfare | HMS Charity | HMS Providence HMS St Brides Bay | HMS Cheviot | HMS Ajax HMS Chaplet | HMS Verulam | HMS Mermaid HMS Mauritius | HMS Phoebe | HMS Pelican HMS Runnymede Park
In October 1945 the Haganah, the Jewish Defence Force, originally trained by Orde Wingate, a British Officer known to the Jews of Palestine as Ha’Yedid (the Friend) joined the Irgun, and now refused to cooperate with the British authorities any more, and Palestine became ungovernable. The British developed fortified areas in Jerusalem: whole streets being turned into barbed wire entanglements that became known as Bevingrad. The Irgun blew up the British Headquarters in the King David Hotel.
On August the 6th 1945 the United Stated dropped the first Atomic Bomb on Japan. That Bomb was designed by Jewish Scientists and it not only brought an end to the war it also changed the world.
Front Page of the Palestine Post (16/05/1948)
As a result of the 6 day war, Israel acquired the Old City and declared united Jerusalem the eternal capital of Israel. Two Arab nations, Egypt and Jordan, made peace with Israel. Since 1948 one million Jews have fled Arab lands and having their property and wealth confiscated, and have immigrated to Israel.
Today, notwithstanding the censure of 225 U.N. Security Council Resolutions, and more U.N. Human Rights Council Resolutions than the rest of the world together – Israel is a prosperous nation. According to the respected Political Magazine, ‘American Interest’, in 2017, Israel is reckoned as the 8th Most Powerful Country in the World!
What is the significance of all this? Well, in the first place the Balfour Declaration “viewed with favour the establishment of a Jewish Home in Palestine”. It is just as well because, notwithstanding all subsequent efforts by the British, the Arabs and the United Nations to prevent it happening, a national home for the Jewish people has come into existence, NOT because politicians in the middle of a world crisis threw in a sop to the Jews, but because long ago God had promised that He would make it happen no matter what. That promise was made known through Moses and the Prophets and recorded it in his Holy Word, the book that still has the greatest circulation in the history of mankind. The Holy Bible. If you haven’t read it you had better start doing so because God has not finished his intervention in world affairs.
The prophet Ezekiel (Ezekiel 37) relates a valley of dry bones which came together into skeletons, and are then covered in flesh and sinews, becoming an exceeding great nation. The prophet is told, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. I will bring you into the land of Israel.” Israel has been scattered without a country, without a king and without a sacrifice, but afterwards they shall return. Why should we think it incredible that God should raise the dead?
But it does not finish here. For Israel’s very existence is to be challenged once more. More of God’s purpose is yet to unfold, for Ezekiel’s prophecy in chapters 38&39 also relates how, in the time of Israel’s restoration, when the land of Israel has been recovered from desolation, and the people of Israel gathered out of the nations; dwelling safely and having obtained cattle and goods, they are confident in their ability to live securely. At that time, the prophet warns of a massive coalition of nations is to be formed that will invade the land of Israel.
Today we find Russian forces in Syria, Iranian forces in Iraq and Syria on the northern border with Israel. Russia is also building relations with Libya and Sudan. Most interesting of all is the co-operation of Israel with Jordan and Egypt against terrorism; and secretly with Saudi Arabia, which has granted Israel permission to overfly its airspace if it comes to war with Iran. The recent Abraham Accords took many by surprise as the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have normalized relations with Israel.
Observers are increasingly aware that war is looming, and it is inevitable. A war in which, as the Revelation indicates, “the cities of the nations fall.” We now live in an age when cities can be vaporised in a matter of seconds. But when the Russian confederation invades, God’s anger will be unleashed and the Lord Jesus Christ will return, as he promised, with glory and great power. The invaders will be totally destroyed for, as the prophet Daniel records, “In those days shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.”
Science says there is no God and the majority of people believe it, but they look for evidence in the wrong
place. The evidence is in the Bible, in the history of the Jewish people, in their return to their ancient
homeland and in their activities in our own day and generation. Of Israel God says in Isaiah 43:12, “You are
my witnesses that I am God.” The prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, puts it succinctly, “The
Bible is the basis for why we are here, why we returned here, why we stay here.” The Bible is also the
basis for believing that “that the long expected but stealthy advent of the King of Israel is on the verge of
becoming a fact, and salvation will be to those who have not only looked for it, but believed the gospel of
the Kingdom and the things concerning Jesus Christ, and are obedient to the faith with fruits proving true
Derek Hilsden | 17th October 2020