Downsizing the State of Israel
Downsizing is a well-known word to the children of this generation. It is a game industrial giants delight to play: Whittle down industries and businesses in one country and send the work to the Third World where it can be done more profitably, all the while creating huge, international, economic empires at the expense of nationals who are forced to teeter along the poverty line. You may say this scenario is an inevitable fact of life in the last days, and you would be quite correct.
However, not all downsizing involves industry. In the Middle East, it involves geography; and it is one reason why believers must make sure they have at least an elementary grasp of the prophetic Scriptures.
An Illuminating Spotlight on Israel
Over the past 100 years, Israel has become a focal point, first in “sizing up,” then in being forcibly “sized down.” The process is a prime example of the widespread disregard for Scripture and the historical, legal, and moral bankruptcy rampant in the new millennium.
All other considerations aside, Israel became a modern state mainly because people who believed the Book understood that the Jewish people had an inherent, God-given right to a home in the ancient land of their fathers. Some will dispute this contention on the grounds that many of the Jewish leaders instrumental in the formation of the state were secular Zionists. That is true. But it is equally true that, while these men were coming to the fore, so were others who came alongside to help make Israel a reality because they were convinced by what they believed was a biblical mandate.
Theodor Herzl, recognized to this day as the father of modern Zionism, was himself a secular journalist. Herzl, particularly while covering the infamous Dreyfus trial in Paris, was perceptive enough to accept the fact that time was running out on the Jews of Europe. Alfred Dreyfus was a Jewish officer in the French army who was convicted of treason based on falsified evidence in 1895. He was publicly degraded amid an enormous outburst of anti-Semitism and carted off to incarceration on Devil’s Island. Dreyfus was later exonerated, but Theodor Herzl had seen the future. Half a century later, his vision would become the nightmare of the Holocaust.
The father of modern Zionism was not without an equally committed Christian Zionist who came alongside to help pave the way for a Jewish state. His name was William H. Hechler, a man of rather odd proclivities but thoroughly given to the return of the Jewish people to Palestine. Following their meeting on March 10, 1896, Herzl described his new friend as “curious and complicated . . . given to pedantry, undue humility, and much rolling of the eyes.”1 Strange he may have been, but Hechler was a man with a wide circle of connections in the courts of Europe. As a result, he introduced the Jewish journalist to kings and princes who extended him a hearing for his dream of a return to Zion.
William Hechler was certain he understood what he was witnessing:
We are now seeing the stirrings of the bones in Ezekiel’s valley: O! may we soon see the glorious outpourings of the spiritual life predicted in Ezekiel 36. The religious element is, according to God’s word, to become the inspiring force, and, I think, I can see that it is the religious faith in Zionism, which is now influencing the whole nation of the Jews . . . what food for reflection to every thoughtful student of the Bible and history.2
In the end, Theodor Herzl’s assessment of Hechler concluded:
He counsels me superbly, and with unmistakable genuine good will. He is at once shrewd and mystical, cunning and naïve. So far, with respect to myself, he has backed me up in quite a wonderful way. . . . I would wish the Jews to show a full measure of gratitude.3
The Restoration Movement
There were, of course, other staunch supporters—Jews and Gentile Christians—who stood fast by the promises of the prophetic Scriptures. A Jewish source had this to say:
It should be noted that the idea of a Jewish return to Palestine had long found strong support among prominent Christians in Western Europe, particularly in England. Eminent men and women lent themselves to what came to be known as the Restoration Movement, which favored the ingathering of Jews to their Homeland on the ground of Christian doctrine. . . . in all likelihood they helped pave the way for the British acceptance of Zionism later on.4
Among the better-known members of the Restoration Movement was the prominent social reformer, Lord Shaftesbury. It has been written about him, “He never doubted that the Jews would return to their own land. This was his daily prayer, his daily hope. ‘Oh, pray for the peace of Jerusalem’ were the words engraved on the ring he always wore on his right hand.”5
In December of 1917, General Edmund Allenby wrested control of the Holy Land from the hands of the Ottoman Turks. As commander of the British Expeditionary Force, General Allenby led a mounted procession toward the Jaffa Gate of the Old City to receive the keys of surrender on behalf of the British Empire. Upon arriving at the gate, the general suddenly reigned in his horse and dismounted. When asked by startled attendants why he had done so, Edmund Allenby declared, “Because it is not fitting that I should ride mounted across the stones where My Lord carried His cross.”6
It was out of this spirit of reverence for the Holy City and the inherent rights of the Jewish people to occupy their ancient homeland that, on November 2, 1917, the landmark Balfour Declaration was handed to the Jewish leader Lord Rothschild. It was a letter authored by British Foreign Secretary Lord Arthur James Balfour, an associate of the Restoration Movement; and it declared Britain’s commitment to the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine.
The dream of these men was virtually as broad as the land grant given to the patriarch Abraham millennia earlier. Accordingly, when the government officially dignified the British mandate for a Jewish homeland, it was, indeed, crafted along the lines of the biblical grant.
Other Men With Other Minds
By 1921, other men with other minds were on the scene. In deference to Arab Sheik Abdullah, Britain truncated the Jewish homeland and awarded approximately 75 percent of the land to the Arabs to establish the Palestinian state of Transjordan (now Jordan).
In 1947, when the United Nations decided to repartition what was left, it carved the remainder into three segments for Arabs; three segments for Jews; and voted to establish the modern State of Israel, sanctioned by international law.
Although the Arab states rejected the plan out of hand, Israel accepted it; and the climactic battles of the 1948 War of Independence were joined. The rest is history.
For Israel, there existed the hope that eventually the new nation could find peace with its neighbors and security for its people in the tiny state that was now Israel. However, these were nowhere near the thoughts of the Arab nations, particularly the radical Islamic regimes. They would settle for nothing less than complete possession of the entire area they dubbed Palestine.
Their contention was, and still is, that Israel and the Jewish people stole their land, dispossessed their people, and must be expelled for the sake of the Arabs and the honor of Allah. War was their path of choice, and the majority of them pursue it to this day.
With the inception of the Al-Aqsa Intifada came a declaration that the Palestinians and their brethren in the world of Islam have launched a war of liberation that will, once and for all, put an end to Israel. This is the aim, and the leaders of the movement are unified on the ultimate goal to drive the Jews into the sea.
Unfortunately, we are not living in a day when the vast majority of leaders in the Western world are men of the Bible. Exceptions exist, to be sure. But the method used to evaluate rights in the Middle East does not subscribe to any quantifiable, biblical, historical, legal, or moral standard. The international, secular news media have made the case in favor of the Palestinians, using false premises and emotional sound bites to distort the facts and cast Israel as an unprincipled villain that denies the rights of impoverished people.
The sad truth is that the West is buying it. Even members of the evangelical Christian community, many of whom are deprived of consistent, biblical, prophetic exposition, are being duped to accept the liberal media’s line and the Islamic propaganda. In the process, Israel is being further downsized in the name of “peace,” which amounts to nothing more than appeasing violent terrorists who will never be satisfied with receiving less than everything—which means all of Israel.
Can We Expect Anything Better?
Yes, we can. First we must recognize that, unless it turns to God, this self-indulgent, look-out-for-your-own-skin generation will not be interested in the fate of our only democratic ally in the Middle East. Next, we must realize that the prophetic Word tells us to expect as much from the children of a world slipping irreparably into apostasy.
Beyond all this, however, there is hope. Earlier we documented the commitment of Christians who believed in the future restoration and ultimate glory of the Jewish state and the destiny of the Jewish people. These men and women shared a steadfast faith in the coming of the Messiah, the reconciliation of Israel, and the triumph of God’s program. On the bedrock of these eternal truths, we stake our claim. Let the winds of political vacillation blow where they will. These promises are sure. In God we trust. He is our hope. And His plan is the reality that will be ours.