The Year 2017 – Or “The year of Commemorations”

1917       2 November    The Balfour Declaration

9 December     Jerusalem surrenders to the British

1917 The Balfour Declaration

Despite the defeat at Gallipoli, it was apparent that the Turkish Empire would break up as a result of the war. With the dividing up of the Middle East into various states, it became a distinct possibility that Jewish interests in Palestine might be secured. Chaim Weizmann became the recognised leader of the Zionist movement in England, and in his capacity as a chemist, made contributions to the war effort. “There is a nice story told by Lloyd George that, to his question how he wished to be honoured for his services, Weizmann replied, he wanted nothing for himself, but a country for his people.”[1]

Arthur Balfour, in his capacity as Foreign Secretary, wrote a letter to Lord Rothschild letting him know that the British Government “view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” Balfour himself believed that, as exiles, the Jews should be given their old land. He wrote: “The answer is that the position of the Jews is unique. For them race, religion and country are inter-related as they are inter-related in the case of no other religion and no other country on earth.” This declaration became part of the mandate from the League of Nations authorising Britain to foster the idea of a national homeland for the Jews, in cooperation with the World Zionist Organisation. However, the Balfour Declaration fell short of defining exactly what was intended by a “homeland” or who was to have ultimate management of it.

The crucial letter from Lord Balfour to Lord Rothschild was dated November 1917. The letter provided the political umbrella for the realisation of Jewish hopes. At the very time the letter was written, the British army was pushing north from Egypt. The Turkish forces withdrew to Jaffa and General Allenby’s British forces captured Jaffa and then marched to Jerusalem. Allenby captured an area north of the city to cut the main line of communications still remaining to the Turks. He successfully avoided conflict within the old city itself. Jerusalem surrendered and General Allenby, with regard to the status of Jerusalem, dismounted his horse and entered the city on foot via the Jaffa Gate. Thus only five weeks after Britain declared her interest by the signing of the Balfour Declaration, she gained control of the capital of ancient Israel in order that the divine purpose might begin to be accomplished.

Four months after the capture of Jerusalem, Dr Chaim Weizmann led the Zionist Commission under the auspices of Britain to begin the organization of Jewish development. With the end of the Turkish Empire, the Middle East was carved up between the major powers. The newly created states were anticipated by the Lord in his prophecy of the budding of the fig tree[2] (which represents Israel). The prophecy in Luke’s record speaks not only of the revival of the fig tree, but “all the trees; when they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand. So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.”[3]  The budding into life, after the winter-night of the Turkish Empire, refers to the many Middle Eastern states that now came into existence.

[1]               Wurmbrand, M, Roth, C, The Jewish People – 4000 years of survival, p393

[2]               cp Mark 11:12-14, 20,21

[3]               Luke 21:29-31


1947       29 November  The United Nations votes for the formation of the State of Israel


1967       7 June              Jerusalem is captured during the Six Day War.

In this year of our Lord, 2017, there are a series of notable dates each which opens the way to the preparation for the Kingdom of God.

 

Sis Beulah Edwards

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