It All Began With Abraham (Israel: The Super Sign of the End-Times, Part 5) – By Dr. Todd Baker – www.searchthescripturesonline.org
World War One and its aftermath were the next significant stage and development for Zionism and the Jewish return to their ancient God-given homeland of Israel. The British had successfully defeated the Ottoman Turks in the Middle East who ruled Jerusalem and the land of Israel for exactly four hundred years (1517-1917)! The British victory was a critical one in this terribly bloody war that eventually brought final victory to the allies. One prominent leader of the Zionist movement arguably helped turn the tide of World War I in Britain’s favor. That person was the brilliant Jewish chemist Dr. Chaim Weizmann (1874-1952). During the midpoint of the war (1916), Britain’s navy was dangerously low on gunpowder for their naval artillery, so much so that if supplies were not quickly increased, they were in jeopardy of losing the war to the Germans. First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill, called on the ingenious Weizmann to prodigiously develop some 30,000 tons of acetone to produce a synthetic type of gunpowder extracted from maize. He was able to successfully accomplish this and earned the profound gratitude of the British government and at the same time greatly contributed to England’s victory in World War I.
To express their sincere thanks, British Foreign Secretary, Arthur James Balfour, wrote an official letter from the British government to Lord Lionel Rothschild, a gifted and leading senior member of the Zionist Federation of England, expressing Britain’s formal support for a national homeland for the Jewish people in Palestine (the British term for what was ancient biblical Israel). This letter became what is known today as “The Balfour Declaration.” The letter dated November 2, 1917 in part read:
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 favor 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
In this momentous document of Jewish history lay the beginning for the eventual reestablishment of the nation of Israel in the modern day. Balfour was able to convince The War Cabinet to sign off on this official endorsement for a Jewish State with the help of the British Prime Minister and the largely overlooked skillful and persuasive Roman Catholic diplomat, Sir Mark Sykes. Balfour’s intention here was not political or personal, but self-admittedly biblical. For he simply believed from a literal and simple reading of Scripture that the God of Israel would in due time restore the Jewish people back into the land of Israel before the return of Christ as foretold in the many prophecies of the Old Testament (See Barbara Tuchman, Bible and Sword: England and Palestine from the Bronze Age to Balfour, page 311). The Balfour Declaration was confirmatory of this truth in the affairs of human government and illustrates the fact that in the common, mundane, and ordinary affairs of men, God sovereignly chooses a particular point in time and history to fulfill His plan for history through the instrumentality of rulers, authorities, and individuals. Implementation of the Balfour Declaration occurred a year later in 1918 when the Zionist Commission headed by Chaim Weizmann traveled to what was then called Palestine to begin surveying the land for the return of Jewish immigrants to Israel.
A modern myth about this period of time usually promoted by Arab propaganda and the Western media is that there were hardly any Jews living in Israel at the beginning of the twentieth century. Nothing could be further from the truth. There were already as many as 55,000 Jews living in the land by 1918 and were to later serve as the demographic nucleus for a reborn Jewish State! Indeed, from the time of Christ, there has always been a significant Jewish presence living in the Holy Land after the dispersion of A.D. 70. President Woodrow Wilson publicly voiced the American government’s full support of the Balfour Declaration on August 31, 1918. Here was the beginning point of the United State’s long support for the existence of the Jewish State of Israel and one of the main reasons why God has so richly blessed our nation to this day–all the more why we as American Bible-believing Zionist Christians must always defend the Jewish people’s right to exist in their own ancient homeland as the nation of Israel. In these rattling and shaking sounds of an ancient people being called back to their God-given homeland, a very important prophecy of the End-Times was and is being fulfilled now—a prophecy of the rebirth and regathering of the Jewish people back to Israel by God from the graveyard of nations where He had previously scattered them. This prophecy is none other than the famous dry bones prophecy of Ezekiel 37, a prophecy that begins with the “noise of rattling and shaking” (Ezekiel 37:7).
The prophecy of Ezekiel 37 is surely by far the greatest singular fulfillment of Bible prophecy in the present day since the time of Christ. The prophecy begins with Israel in a moribund condition of despair, desolation and hopelessness. The prophecy opens with a vision God gave the prophet Ezekiel of the fallen nation of Israel depicted as a scattered pile of dry, bleached, and lifeless bones lying across an open valley floor. “The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry” (Ezekiel 37:1-2). The Lord informs the prophet that this disturbing scene of skeletons strewn as far as the eye could see pictures the scattered and hopeless state of the Jewish people throughout the world, cut off and without a national homeland seemingly left for dead as a people in the nations where they had long been dispersed. “Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, ‘Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!’ (Ezekiel 37:11) One cannot help but see here in this macabre imagery how accurate of a picture this was for Israel during the Diaspora, especially during the time of the Holocaust when literally millions of the people of Israel were gathered in mass open graves where bodies were left to decay into skeletons indiscriminately piled one on top of the other. When the Western Allies liberated the Jews from the Nazi concentration camps they were utterly horrified to see the very thing Ezekiel describes about Israel in Ezekiel 37:1-2; skeletal remains and corpses of thousand and thousands of Jewish men, women, and children carelessly scattered and piled in heaps everywhere. One British soldier and liberator’s description of what he saw at the Nazi concentration camp of Belsen hauntingly underscores the Vision of Dry Bones when he observed that, “Corpses in every state of decay were lying around, piled on top of each other in heaps. There were corpses in the compound in flocks. People were falling dead all around, people were walking skeletons.” The Holocaust was the last and the worst of what the Jewish people endured in the Diaspora from the anti-Semitic Gentile nations and left many of them feeling, according to the prophetic words of Ezekiel 37:11, “hopeless,” “cut off,” and seemingly abandoned by the God of Israel to face such a terrible end.
But what was a hopeless condition for Israel beyond the help and ability of themselves and man to repair and rectify was not beyond the power of God. For in verse three God rhetorically asks Ezekiel if indeed the scattered House of Israel, pictured as dead dry bones scattered in an open valley, can ever be restored to live again. “And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live”? So I answered, “O Lord God, You know.” Ezekiel wisely knew that what lay before him was humanly impossible to fix and that only the power of the Sovereign Lord could repair the irreparable. From the outset we see here that the origin of Israel’s national restoration to their God-given ancient homeland would be supernatural in nature and a sole act of God in the affairs of man—a thing recently witnessed some 62 years ago with the rebirth of Israel in 1948! Furthermore this restoration of Israel from the graveyard of the Gentile nations would be by the supernatural power of the Spirit of God. Thus we further read in Ezekiel 37:4-5, “Again He said to me, Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! ‘Thus says the Lord God to these bones: “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live.” Here we see from the opening of Ezekiel chapter 37 that the Spirit of God reveals (vs. 1-2), predicts (vs. 4,7), and brings to pass that which concerns Israel’s physical restoration as a nation and their spiritual regeneration (as predicted in verses 13-14) as a redeemed nation under the future reign of the King Messiah (verses 24-28). The breath of God mentioned here (who is revealed in the New Testament as the third Person in the Triune Godhead) is called Ruach in the Hebrew text of Ezekiel 37:5 and is variously translated in Scripture to mean “breath,” “wind,” and “spirit,”. The same Hebrew word used for the breath or Spirit of God here is also found in Genesis 2:7 when God made man a living, spiritual being and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and now the same Spirit is found again in Ezekiel 37 to be the very agent and Person involved in the resurrection and regeneration of the nation of Israel. The Spirit of God is the One who gives life to both the physically dead and the spiritually dead (see John 6:63; Romans 8:11, respectively) through the Word spoken and given to man. For when God speaks it is done as witnessed by the creation of the cosmos (Genesis 1) and is now currently being seen with the restoration of the Jewish people back to the land of Israel—a thing spoken and predicted by God some 2,580 years ago through the prophet Ezekiel presently witnessed and fulfilled in our day with the Jews continuing to return to Israel since they became a nation again in 1948!
But observe from verses 5-8 that this national restoration currently happening in the last six decades will be progressive and gradual in nature as the bones first come together on the skeletons, and then flesh forms on them with the skin to cover them following after to complete the physical process. For God goes on to say about this gradual restoration of Israel, “I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live…So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone. Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over…” This at once shows the regathering and restoration not to be a sudden and completed event, but one that will be gradually fulfilled over an extended period of time and then will finally culminate in a complete restoration when the King Messiah Jesus returns to Israel to establish His universal kingdom over all the earth as the closing verses of Ezekiel 37 clearly predict (read Ezekiel 37:21-28). Failure to recognize the particular feature of this prophecy concerning Israel’s gradual restoration to the land before Messiah Jesus returns has caused several Bible teachers (the late Dr D. James Kennedy with all his misled signatories of “The Open Letter” of Knox Seminary to Evangelicals and other interested parties) and noted Seminaries (like Moody, Dallas, and Talbot to name a few), that were known for supporting Israel in the past, to question and doubt if present day Israel is a fulfillment of End-Time Bible prophecy. They apparently do so in ignorance of not carefully looking at the verses of Ezekiel 37:1-12 that predict the gradual restoration of the Jews back to the land of Israel in the last days before the return of Christ and therefore fail to rightly correlate it with what is presently being fulfilled today with the modern state of Israel restored and reborn right in front of their very eyes! One can only tragically conclude about them by their refusal to see and believe this what Jesus said of the Sadducees: “You do err, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God” (Matthew 22:29).