For over a century, Australians have remembered the valour of the ANZACs at Gallipoli. But did you know they also fought against Turkish forces in other campaigns which played a key role in fulfilling Bible prophecy?
The Mesopotamian and Palestine Campaigns
After withdrawing from Gallipoli in late 1915, the ANZACs regrouped in Egypt. Some were sent to France to fight on the Western Front, but others remained in the Middle East fighting against the Turkish or Ottoman Empire.
British Empire forces, including Australian troops, invaded the Turkish Empire from the Persian Gulf. They worked their way up the Euphrates Valley, freeing the land from the Turk.
Other British Empire forces attacked the Ottoman Empire from Egypt. Crossing the Suez Canal, they fought their way across the Sinai Peninsula and into Palestine. By 1917, however, their progress had stalled near Gaza.
Frustrated by a lack of progress, the British appointed a new commander, General Sir Edmund Allenby. He was charged with the objective of capturing Jerusalem by the end of 1917. A key to capturing Jerusalem was overcoming the Turkish forces at Beersheba.
One hundred years ago on 31 October 1917, the Battle of Beersheba was fought. Towards the end of the day, the Australian Light Horse were involved in what was to be the last great cavalry charge in history. These brave soldiers charged the remaining Turkish defenders at Beersheba and captured the city.
The decisive victory at Beersheba broke the Turkish defences in the south of the country. Having captured Beersheba, British Empire forces continued to push the Turks back. Jaffa surrendered on
17 November. Attention was then turned to Jerusalem, which surrendered to General Allenby on 11 December 1917.
Drying up of the Euphrates
Why did the ANZACs enjoy success in the Palestine and Mesopotamian campaigns and not at Gallipoli? It was because these campaigns attacked the Ottoman Empire from its edges rather than near its centre.
Using the figure of the River Euphrates as a symbol for the Ottoman Empire, Bible prophecy indicated that the Ottoman Empire would “dry up” to make way for the return of the Jews to the Middle East and for the establishment of God’s kingdom on earth from Jerusalem (Revelation 16:12-16).
Bible Prophecy called for the Ottoman Empire to be dried up from its extremities, and that process was brought to a head in World War 1.
The Balfour Declaration
While British Empire troops fought in Palestine, officials in London were working on a statement which has had profound ramifications for the Middle East and the rest of the world.
On 2 November 1917, British Foreign Secretary, Arthur Balfour, wrote to Lord Walter Rothschild stating:
“His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”
This extraordinary commitment paved the way for a Jewish state to be set up in Palestine. That became a reality when Israel declared its independence in 1948. The return of the Jews to their ancient homeland fulfilled many Bible prophecies (e.g. Jeremiah 30 and 31), and the valour of Australian troops who fought in Palestine helped to facilitate their return.
Bro Geoff Henstock
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