FrontLine: November/December 2016 | VOLUME 26 | NUMBER 6
No doubt you have seen the ads in FrontLine over the years for Pastors’ Tours to Israel. Many pastors who have taken tours with us in conjunction with Shalom Ministries have followed up with Shalom tours sponsored by their churches. In January 2018, Lord willing, those who have already been to Israel will have the opportunity to participate in an Advanced Tour, visiting sites that they have not seen before. Please contact us for a brochure! However, whether you have or ever are able to visit Israel or not, you will benefit from this issue of FrontLine.
November 2, 2017, was the centennial of the Balfour Declaration, a letter from British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour to Lord Rothschild making public British support of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. Balfour, a Scottish statesman, had served as prime minister of Britain from 1902 to 1905. Having represented Great Britain in the first meeting of the League of Nations in 1910, he returned to the British government in 1916 to serve as foreign secretary. Because of the 1917 Balfour Declaration, the League of Nations entrusted the United Kingdom with the administration of the region then called “Palestine.”
Although the origin of the term “Palestine” is debatable, it is first seen in a fifth-century Greek document, which describes the region south of Syria as “Palestina,” or the Land of the Philistines. In fact, it is hardly possible to pronounce Palestine in Arabic, which explains why Arabic speakers pronounce it “Filistin” (unless they are English-speaking Christians, who call it Israel!). The Greek term “Philistine” refers to an Aegean people we know by that name in the Bible. Under the original British mandate, the area included all of modern Israel, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights, and all of what is now modern Jordan.
The “Palestinians,” or Arabic people living in that region, were first given the land mass which is now called Jordan, and after 1948 they began to claim the areas disputed today as stepping stones to claim the entire region. In fact, on Palestinian maps there is no land of Israel at all, and even when their writings do mention the area that most would still call Israel, they refer to it as “occupied territory.” But the political conflict surrounding Israel did not begin in 1948; it began at the first mention of a Jewish state. The British had thought that because there was much American sympathy for the Jewish people, the Balfour Declaration might cause world Jewry to pressure the United States into entering World War I. Later, when British sympathies for the Jews were diminished, they announced in 1939 that a Jewish state was no longer British policy, with the result that many millions of Jews in Russia and Europe were unable to flee to their homeland during the pogroms and the Holocaust. The history of the early twentieth century and the post- World War II era is rich with the story of how Israel became and survived as a nation.
Here, you will read some of that history. You will learn how the Jewish state was born in Israel instead of in Uganda, where some British statesmen and some early Zionists were willing to place it. You will learn some of the intriguing story of British scientist and leader of the Zionist movement Chaim Weizmann, who gave his process for the fermentation of acetone to the British government so they could produce enough gunpowder to keep the Kaiser’s army at bay until the Allies were strong enough to win the war. It was largely Weizmann’s relationship with Balfour that caused the final location chosen to be the ancient biblical homeland given to the Jews by God. Knowing something of the history of the British mandate and the ill-fated decision by Great Britain in 1939 (when it was already evident that Hitler was determined to destroy the Jews) will help the reader understand why the Israeli War for Independence had to be fought and why Israel has been attacked repeatedly by her Arab neighbors ever since. Tragically, just as liberalism a century ago laid its allegorical hermeneutic and amillennial foundation as the justification for “Christendom” to oppose the Jews in favor of the recently minted “Palestinians” (even chiming in with the antisemitism that equates Modern Israel with Nazi Germany [!]), so today are some Evangelicals, particularly those who have embraced Replacement Theology, loath to stand with Israel.
Authors included here are careful not to insist that the modern state of Israel is the absolute fulfillment of end-time prophecy, but none of them deny that it very well could be and certainly seems to be. All of them would agree that we are under a biblical mandate to love the Jewish people, and anyone who has ever had the privilege of visiting Israel as well as all who will carefully read this issue of FrontLine will very likely join us in saying enthusiastically, “Thank God for Israel!”
Thank God for Israel
The miracle that is Israel today is a fulfillment of prophecy given long ago by Moses.
The Making of a Nation
Why did God’s people wait so long to return to their divinely appointed land?
Robert Murray McCheyne: “A Lover of Israel”
Jewish missions in Scotland can be traced to the earnest prayers and persistence of burdened believers such as Robert Murray McCheyne.
History, Theology, and the Nation of Israel
All history is theological, because all of life is theological.
When War Broke Out on My Mission Field
Growing up, I had never seen a missionary slide show that mentioned a war and was thus ill prepared for my mission field.
Satan knows God’s purposes are invested in Israel, so he will do what he can to intensify hatred and opposition to Israel.
On the Home Front
Wit & Wisdom
At a Glance: The Story of David, Part 9
On Language & Scripture
Mark L. Ward Jr.
Guard Your Heart
Our sincere thanks to Dr. Craig Hartman for coordinating this issue of FrontLine magazine.
(Originally published in FrontLine • November/December 2016. Click here to subscribe to the magazine.)