For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. (Matthew 24:7-8)
In August 2014, the world commemorated the hundredth anniversary of the First World War. Never had the world ever seen war on such an industrial scale.The destruction can only be described as apocalyptic. The loss of life was unprecedented, so also the loss of faith. The Western ruling class and elites, especially in Europe, lost their tenuous grip on the Christian Faith which had sustained and developed them over many centuries.
The first World War ceased with an Armistice, i.e. a cease fire. The old Austro-Hungarian order was shattered, Russia came under the slavery of Bolshevistic Communism for 70 years, and the rest of the western world ,having lost its faith veered politically to the left,flirting with the destructive Utopian pathologies of National Socialism, Socialism and Fascism which led to the second act of the World War, World War 2.
The Western World has never recovered from the War and it’s aftermath. The complete collapse of civilizational confidence in the West is one of the outcomes of that hugely significant contest.Nationalism is sick unto death, being supplanted by an atheistic brand of globalism, influenced much by Communism, and hostile to Western values. Currently for the most part, our elites are Nihilists, seemingly bent on civilizational suicide.
But God can be seen in the workings of this chaos, carrying forward His prophetic agenda. I believe it was precisely this World War which Jesus referred to in Matthew 24 as the turning point for the whole world.
When World War one broke out, the land of Israel (called Palestine) was under the heavy hand of the Ottoman empire, a barren corner, sparsely populated, but as of the late 19th century, it was of interest to European Jews and some Evangelical Christians who had become convinced that the time of exile of the Jewish people was coming to an end, and the time was right for the return of the Jewish Exiles to the Land.The movement was called Zionism, the aspiration for a Jewish homeland.
The Ottomans were on the German side of the War, therefore there was a British Expeditionary force sent to Egypt, the Sinai and “Palestine” to liberate them from the Turks.
From November to December 1917, The British Army surrounded Jerusalem to seize it from the Turks.The taking of Jerusalem was a miracle of Biblical scale, as here described by Victor Novak, whose account is well researched and exciting, The Birds Flying , the Miracle of December 8
This takes us to the morning of Saturday December 8, 1917. The British chaplains that morning led the troops in prayer. The first lesson from Morning Prayer on that day was from Isaiah chapter 31. The very prophecy that was to be fulfilled on that day was found in that lesson: “For thus hath the LORD spoken unto me, Like as the lion and the young lion roaring on his prey, when a multitude of shepherds is called forth against him, he will not be afraid of their voice, nor abase himself for the noise of them: so shall the LORD of hosts come down to fight for mount Zion, and for the hill thereof. As birds flying, so will the LORD of hosts defend Jerusalem; defending also He will deliver it; and passing over He will preserve it” (Is. 31:4-5). That day, December 8, 1917, was also the Feast of Hanukkah, commemorating an earlier deliverance of Jerusalem by Judah Maccabee two centuries before Christ.
In the reading from Isaiah, General Allenby saw the lion in the prophecy as representing Great Britain and the young lion as representing his ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand) troops. When Isaiah spoke prophetically of God defending, delivering and preserving Jerusalem “as birds flying,” Allenby knew exactly what that meant.
By this time the Royal Flying Corps had complete air supremacy over Palestine. That morning General Allenby ordered British planes to make reconnaissance flights over Jerusalem and to drop leaflets calling upon the Turkish garrison to surrender, but were directed not to strafe or bomb the Holy City. With all of the British air activity, panic broke out among the garrison who had no air support to speak of, and the Turkish officers could not get the situation under control. That night Izzet Bey the governor of Jerusalem smashed all of the equipment in the telegraph office, and wrote a letter of surrender. At 2:00 AM, on December 9th, the Turkish garrison began leaving through the Jaffa Gate. By 7:00 AM the last of the Turkish soldiers were passing through St. Stephen’s Gate making their way along the Jericho Road. Bey and a few frightened policemen came out of the city bearing a white flag and surrendered Jerusalem to General O’Shea of the 60th division. The Holy City had been delivered without a shot being fired.
One aspect of this miracle that needs to be told, is that when the planes dropped leaflets on Jerusalem calling on the Turks and Arab soldiers to surrender, it was signed by “General Edwin ALLENBY” – This terrified the Arabs because “Allenby” sounded to them like “Allah Nebi” i.e. “Allah’s Prophet”, so they fled.
Allenby marched on foot into Jerusalem, rather than riding on a horse as conquerors would do. This is because he refused to ride into the city that Jesus,his Lord once walked into bearing his cross.
World War 1 changed the world, but especially the Middle East.The old Ottoman Empire collapsed and the remnants of it either came under English or French mandates, under the Sykes Picot agreement, in which European Diplomats redrew the map of the Middle East, creating nations such as Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Morroco, Syria, Iraq, Algeria and Palestine.
“Palestine”, the traditional homeland of the Jewish people came under the British Mandate. During the War , a Jewish chemist and citizen of great Britain, Chaim Weissman, invented a synthetic replacement for depleted supplies of saltpeter, an essential ingredient for gunpowder.
As a reward for his service, Weissman requested and was granted by the British Government a declaration ceding Palestine as the Jewish Homeland.This decree is known as the Balfour declaration,
November 2nd, 1917
Dear Lord Rothschild,
I have much pleasure in conveying to you. on behalf of His Majesty’s Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet
His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors 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.
I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.
Arthur James Balfour
The British Government promised the land of Palestine to the Jews , as a homeland, but subsequently cut away from their grant about 70 percent of the land, creating the modern nation of Jordan, to keep a promise to the Arabs, who also helped the British defeat the Turks and Germans.
It would be another thirty years until the British withdrew from “Palestine” and the Jewish State was born, but World War One definitely led to the miracle of a new born Jewish State, in the Land God gave Abraham,Isaac and Jacob.