Pray for the peace of
(The following is
part three of a brief history of the modern state of Israel. It
began in issue 96-4, and was
continued in Issue 97-1.)
On May 14, 1948 the
Jewish people of Palestine proclaimed their
independence and announced to the world that the nation of Israel
had been reborn after being destroyed, and the inhabitants driven
into exile, almost two thousand years ago. This was the first
time in the history of the world that a nation had come back into
existence after such a tremendous length of time.
The events leading up to Israel becoming a recognized nation of the world can only be described as miraculous. A tiny, under equipped group of Jews obtained control of a portion of their Biblical homeland against all odds.
At the end of World War lithe British retained control of, what was then known as, Palestine. This name had been given to the area, by the Romans, following the defeat of the Jews in the Bar Kochba revolt of 132-135 C.E. In retaliation for their continued rebellion against Rome, the Emperor Hadrian, decreed that all Jews were to be removed from Jerusalem, the city was to be completely destroyed, and the entire area was now to be called Palestine. The name Palestine was a Latin form of the name for the ancient Philistines, who lived in the area called Gaza. The city which had been Jerusalem was then rebuilt by the Romans and named Aelia Capitolina.
However, it was not very many years before Jews began to return to the new city, and eventually it became known once again as Jerusalem, the city of peace. Jews continued to live in Jerusalem and other areas of Palestine from that day to this very time. In fact, since the days of Joshua there has always been a Jewish presence in the promised land that God gave to Israel, though Arab propaganda would have us believe otherwise.
The borders of Israel, as established by God, are given in chapter 34 of the book of Numbers. It encompasses all of what constitutes modern day Israel, including the Gaza strip, the so-called West Bank and the Golan Heights. In fact, if Israel were to establish its borders according to this chapter of the Bible it would also include the city of Damascus, the capitol of Syria.
As recounted in the previous installments, the Balfour Declaration of 1917 provided for a national homeland for the Jewish people that would include all of present day Israel plus a large portion of the current nation of Jordan. Due to various political maneuverings, the size of the nation was whittled down so that, by the end of World War II, the agreement was for a very tiny Israel, with large amounts of land carved out of it for the Palestinian Arabs. The Jews accepted the plan, despite the fact that they had previously been promised many times this amount of territory. However, the Arabs totally rejected it; they wanted all of Palestine without any Jews. Therefore, a key as to whether the Jewish people would be able to survive the impending British withdrawal depended on the outcome of a United Nations resolution supporting the creation of the Jewish state.
There was a fair amount of support for the resolution from many of the worlds nations because of what had happened to the Jewish people during the Holocaust. A vote was taken in November, 1947 and the resolution passed.
In early 1948, the British began their withdrawal from Palestine. It was completed on May 13th. On May 14th Israel proclaimed their independence. On May 15th the Arabs attacked the new nation.
During the last few months of their rule, the British had favored the Arab cause, allowing the Arabs to become much more fully armed than the Jews. As the British withdrew, many strategic buildings were handed over to the Arabs. But, there were also many British officers who had a love for the Jewish people. Individually they did everything in their power to try and keep the balance of power from becoming overwhelmingly Arab. A few of them even stayed behind to help the Jewish Hagadah (Hah-gah-dah = underground army) fight for their independence.
During this period of time Harry Truman was President of the United States. The representative of the Jewish people of Palestine tried repeatedly to see Truman in order to plead the Jewish peoples cause but Truman consistently refused an audience with him. However, Truman had once been in business with a Jewish man back in Independence, Missouri. In desperation the Jewish representative went to Trumans former partner and asked him to intervene so that a meeting could be arranged and Truman agreed.
After hearing the Jewish appeal, Truman decided two things; to support the UN. resolution establishing the nation of Israel, and to recognize the state of Israel immediately if the resolution passed. Both of these actions came to pass and, as a result, President Truman is now recognized as a righteous Gentile in the land of Israel, for his role in helping Israel in its early hours of need.
While support of the United States was needed and welcome, the real struggle for independence fell upon the people of Israel themselves. There was not time for any mass infusion of armaments to ward off the Arab threat, for the Arabs declared war and attacked immediately. It was a brief but bloody war. While Israel did actually gain some additional territory that had not been included in the peace agreement (which the Arabs had refused to sign), they lost one extremely important piece of real estate; the Old City of Jerusalem.
The Old City is the
walled portion of Jerusalem that borders the Temple Mount on the
north and west sides. For well over 1700 years the Old City had
been shared by people of different faiths and ethnic backgrounds.
The Jews had retained a presence there throughout all that time.
They had several synagogues in the Old City and also prayed daily
at what was know as the Wailing Wall now called the Kotel
(Koh-tell = Western Wall). Meanwhile, the Moslem Arabs (Islam did
not come into existence until about the 7th century C.E.) built
two mosques on top of the Temple Mount; the Dome of the Rock, and
the Al-Aqsa mosque. These two structures still stand. The
Christians had a section of the Old City centered around the
Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the place where they believed Jesus
had been crucified and buried.
During the 1948 war, the Jews were dislodged from the Old City and it was taken over by the Jordanians. For the first time in many centuries, the Jewish people were denied access to the Kotel, their most holy site.
Not only were the Jews denied access to the Old City and the Kotel, the Arabs then came in and totally destroyed the Jewish Quarter, including the ancient synagogues. However, when Israel recaptured the Old City in 1967, they not only allowed both the Moslems and Christians to continue worshipping at their holy sites, they actually gave control of the Temple Mount back to the Moslems. Today, if you go to Israel and visit the Temple Mount, you are standing on Arab controlled territory.
In contrast, last fall the government of Israel opened up the north end of a tunnel that runs outside the western wall of the Temple Mount. Immediately the Palestinians began a riot, claiming that Israel was tunneling under the AI-Aqsa mosque and threatening its collapse. Nothing could be further from the truth. The fact of the matter is, the tunnel in question is completely in Israeli territory and has been open to tourists for several years. It runs at the base of the Temple Mount, on the western side, at the level of a first century street (the time of Yeshua). It is a fascinating place. We were blessed to be able to tour the tunnel on our visit to Israel in 1993. Opening the northern end of the tunnel will allow a greater number of tourists to enjoy seeing streets on which our Savior may have walked during His time in Jerusalem. This tunnel is hundreds of yards from the AI-Aqsa mosque, and could never in any way threaten its structural integrity.
Despite the overwhelming odds, the ragtag army of the new nation of Israel defeated the Arabs in their war for independence in 1948. Although they were out manned and out gunned, Israel had a secret weapon. It is called the God of Israel. For although they lost the Old City, the Jews knew that their God had promised that Jerusalem would not be taken from them permanently. It was only a matter of rime before the old places were to be restored to them.
"Thus says the LORD of hosts:
I am zealous for Zion with great zeal;
With great fervor I am zealous for her.
"Thus says the LORD:
I will return to Zion,
And dwell in the midst of Jerusalem.
Jerusalem shall be called the City of Truth,
the Mountain of the Lord of hosts,
The Holy Mountain."
God is in the process
of restoring Jerusalem and the promised land of Israel to His
people just as He promised it to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. While
the ultimate fulfillment of this prophecy will come during the
millennial reign of Yeshua HaMashiach, what we see
happening today is a precursor to that time. For the Temple or
Tabernacle must exist prior to the return of Messiah, in order
for the prophecies of Matthew 24 and Daniel 9 to be fulfilled.
Obviously, there cannot be sacrifices without a Temple or Tabernacle, and there cannot be a Temple or Tabernacle unless the Jews control the Temple Mount where such a structure is required to stand. The Jews cannot control the Temple Mount unless they control Jerusalem and the land of Israel.
We are seeing prophecies being fulfilled right before our very eyes. They are taking place in the land of Israel. In addition, we are seeing thousands of Jewish people coming to accept Yeshua as their Messiah. Things are happening and, as Believers, we need to be aware of what is taking place in light of Bible prophecy.
Next May the nation of Israel will celebrate its fiftieth anniversary. In addition, Jerusalem will be celebrating its three thousandth anniversary beginning this fall. Are such dates significant? I do not know. But this I do know, if you want to observe prophecy being fulfilled at this very time, keep your eyes on the Middle East and especially on Israel and Jerusalem.
"Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near."
to be continued...