New Covenant Ministries
OUR AMAZING BIBLE
The Bible is the most amazing book ever published. To those who don't really know it, it is no more than a collection of fairy tales not unlike the myths of many other nations. I was once of that opinion. A proud scientist who thought he knew everything, God humbled me whilst I was studying at Oxford University in England when he led me to a lecture on the Bible being given in the city by a visiting preacher. In one evening I was convinced that the Bible was the most amazing prophetic book ever written.
"AS BIRDS FLYING"
It is an amazing book. Thousands of books have been written about it. My contribution is an article by a man called J.M.Sears who writes about the liberation of Jerusalem by the British in 1917. What is remarkable about this historical event is that it was predicted in the Bible centuries before it happened, and down to the very day. There are hundreds of similar prophecies. I choose this one because it means something special for me: it convinced me that no man or group of men wrote the Bible -- it was given by God through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. There is no other book like it.
Jerusalem, the most famous city in the world, was delivered from its centuries-long domination under the Turks, on 9 Decmeber 1917 by a British army under General Allenby. That Deliverance undoubtedly constituted the most amazing event of our times, since it fulfilled in minute exactness Bible prophecies given more than two thousand years beforehand.
The present writer had his attention drawn to the matter five months before it took place. He was at that time a mechanic in the Royal Flying Corps, being transferred from No.20 Training Squadron, stationed at Grantham, to No.35 Squadron at Farnborough, which was shortly going to France. This was on a Sunday in June 1917. My wife and small son had been lodging in Grantham (our home was in London; so we travelled back to London on the same train). We arrived at King's Cross Station about 8 p.m. This was, of course, too late to go to church, but we remembered the church of St.james, Pentonville, not far away, where we had been members, and where it had been the custom in summer to hold an open-air service in front of the church, after Evening Service, so we walked up to the churchyard and joined in the service being conducted by the Revd. John Hilton. In conversation after the service, the clergyman, having noted the Flying Corps uniform said, "Do you know, I believe Jerusalem is soon going to be delivered, and aeroplanes are going to have a lot to do with it. I am watching events and reading my Bible side by side with my newspaper." Opening his Bible at Isaiah 31:5 he pointed out God's promise, "As birds flying so will the Lord of Hosts defend Jerusalem, defending it also He will deliver it, and passing over he will preserve it." Much of that conversation was forgotten, then it was brought back sharply to mind, by the wording of a despatch published in the newspapers: The General commanding the Egyptian Expeditionary Force reported that his planes were "doing good work, 800 feet below sea-level". (This was, of course, the Dead Sea valley). Here was a reminder that the men "as birds flying" were certainly at work. Eventually, within five months of the conversation referred to, Jerusalem was indeed delivered.
Soon after being demobilized in 1919, the writer came across the works of the late Dr. Grattan Guiness.
In his book, Light for the Last Days, written in 1886, Dr.Guiness pointed out (p.343) that the 1335 days of Daniel 12:12 (on the prophetic scale given in Numbers 14:34 and Ezekiel 4:6 -- a day for a year) were due to expire in 1917. Turning to the Book of Daniel we find that chapter 9 records Daniel's prayer concerning his home-town Jerusalem, and his own people of Judah. Therefore the "blessing" evidently indicated something good for Jerusalem and the Jews in 1917.
Here we have fulfilment indeed. The city as we know was delivered. The oppressor was driven out, and a new epoch for both city and people commenced in A.D. 1917 (Moslem 1335) as had been foretold nearly 25 centuries before.
After the publication of the first two editions, the writer felt led to apply the prophetic scale "a day for a year" to the other two time measures given in verses 7 and 11 of Daniel 12. Commencing with the rise of the desolating Moslem power (A.D. 622) and using the lunar year measure, the complete result was as follows:
v.7: time, times and a half (i.e. 1260 days) = A.D. 1844
v.11: 1290 days = A.D. 1873
v.12: 1335 days = A.D. 1917
The year A.D. 1844 is as once recognized as being the year in which the Powers compelled the Sultan of Turkey to sign the Decree of Toleration, abolishing the death penalty from conversion from Mohammedanism. This was a definite stage in the breaking of the power of the desolator (the drying-up of the symbolic waters of Euphrates, Revelation 16:12).
The question immediately arose: What was the significance of the year 1873? The answer was found in a book entitled, A Short History of the Jewish People, 1600 B.C. - A.D. 1935, by Cecil Roth (Macmillan 1936). This book was written by a Jew, from an entirely secular point of view. Chapter 29 is entitled, "Anti-Semitism and the New Diaspora". Writing of the origin, towards the last querter of the nineteenth century, of the modern anti-Jewish movement in Germany, he says, "The Jews were held to be responsible for every trouble or misfirtune...even the leaders of thought joined in the craze, led by the historian Treitschke, who spoke of the Jews as 'German's misfortune'; ultimately there even developed a movement of opposition to Christianity, as being essentially Jewish and non-Aryan in origin." Then follow these striking words: "The movement in its new form ows its inception to the year 1873." The author goes on to tell how Bismarck joined in, and continues: "Thus the anti-Semitic movement was born."
The Exact Day
Even more remarkable is the fact that the actual day of the month on which the Holy City was delivered is very definitely marked in the inspired message of the prophet Haggai. God sent Haggai to deliver a prclamation to the civil and ecclesiastical representatives of the Jewish people, the Governor of Judah and the High priest at Jerusalem. The prophet had to reprove the people through their leaders. They had been brought back from their 70 years' captivity to the city where God had placed His name, and part of their first duty should have been to rebuild and restore His house, in reverent thankfulness to Him for His mercy and grace. Instead of this they were building fine houses for themselves and neglecting the ruined Temple. Haggai has to remind the people of the "bad luck" that seems to dog them in every department of life. Their sowing does not produce good crops; neither food nor drink gave satisfaction; their clothes did not seem to keep them warm; money had lost its proper purchasing power. Haggai has to tell them that the reason for this is that God has withheld His blessing from them. Haggai has to tell the people that if they change their ways, and begin to rebuild the Temple, God will restore to them His Blessing.
Both leaders and people did heed the message, and commenced the rebuilding of the Temple to the glory of God. As a result, a second message, a message of BLESSING, is brought to them from God by Haggai: it was given on the four and twentieth day of the nineth month, and the importance of the date is strongly emphasized; three times over the word "consider" is repeated. Unquestionably, therefore, a special significance is meant to be placed on this date (Haggai 2:15,18). The nineth month of the Hebrew year is Kislev (corresponding to part of November-December) and the Hebrew calendar being lunar the date varies in relation to our calendar, just as Easter does and for the same reason. Therefore we may recognize here again the finger of God in the deliverance of Jerusalem, when we find that it occurred on the exact date of the blessing foretold through Haggai 24 centuries beforehand, for in 1917 the 24th Kislev fell on 9 December. Furthermore, all Jewish days begin at the previous sunset, and from the beginning of 24th Kislev (sunset on 8 December 1917), and all through the night, Turkish troops were evacuating the Holy City. By early morning all had gone, and soon after 8 a.m. on 9 December (24th Kislev) the Mayor of Jerusalem and a small party, under a white flag, were seen coming from the Holy City, to surrender the keys of the city of the British commander. Divine foreknowledge alone can account for these facts.
To realize how wonderfully the threefold manner of this deliverance of the Holy City (as prophesied 26 centuries beforehand) tallies with the actual event, it is only necessary to look at the authentic records of the event itself.
A. "As Birds Flying"
Whether one reads the record from the pen of the journalist on the spot, W.T.Massey, or the staff officer, Colonel A.P.Wavell, C.M.G., M.CV. (afterwards Field-Marshall Lord Wavell), or the terribly realistic book, With Allenby in Palestine by Lowell Thomas (Cassel, London) -- quite apart from the official Air Force records -- the fact stands out with striking clearness that the secret of the success which crowned Allenby's achievement was domination in the air, secured by the British airmen "as birds flying". Even Major Vivian Gilbert, writing in The Romance of the Last Crusade (Appleton, New York & London) from a machine-gunner's point of view, has reference to the airmen's work. Lowell Thomas points out that the first Turkish attack on the Suez Canal would have been far more serious had not our airmen gained vital information beforehand, although at that time, and even subsequently, our machines were much inferior to those of the enemy; he indicates later, in his reference to the 'Bristol Fighters' and the 'SE.5s' something of the vast improvement in air work that followed. Lord Wavell states in his book, The Palestine Campaigns (Constable, London), that General Allenby, a fortnight after his arrival in Palestine, cabled home his list of requirements in men and materials, which included five squadrons of aeroplanes. The wisdom of this was fully demonstrated, for his narrative goes on to record that by the time the Palestine advance began, the enemy airmen had been "almost driven out of the skies". Our airmen, "as birds flying", rendered incalculable service by reconnaissance work, photography, machine-gunning, bombing, abd spotting for the artillery both of the Army and Navy. "As Birds Flying" was indeed a new and outstanding feature of that historic campaign, demonstrating God's faithfulness and His overruling power, and indicating to those with "eyes to see" that now was the time, and in this manner.
B. "So will the Lord of Hosts defend Jerusalem"
Observe the paradox! The enemy hold Jerusalem; British troops were attacking the enemy, yet never at any time were our troops attacking Jerusalem. General Allenby had issued very strict orders that there must be no fighting of any kind in Jerusalem or its near suburbs. W.T.Massey, in his book, How Jerusalem was Won (Constable, London), records for us General Allenby's instructions to General Sir Philip Chetwode on 26 November 1917: "I place no restrictions upon you in respect of any operation which you may consider necessary against Lifta, or the enemy's lines to the south of it, except that on no account is any risk to be run of bringing the City of Jerusalem or its immediate environs within the area of operations." He also points out that the spirit as well as the letter of that order was scrupulously carried out. Lowell Thomas tells of the days of maddening delay, solely caused by not attacking Jerusalem itself. Allenby's aim was to attack the Turks at Lifta, to the north-west of Jerusalem, to encircle the enemy, and at the same time to leave him a way out, so that the Turk would find himself forced to evacuate the city, without it being damaged by fighting. This plan was entirely successful and, during the night of 8 December, the Turks evacuated the Holy City, thus fulfilling the next clause of Isaiah's prophecy. Surely such protection of an enemy position is unique in warfare, and just so surelyt was this God's foretold defence of His chosen city, which was to take place when
C. "Defending it He will deliver it"
As the Divine forecast had stated, this manner of "defence" coincided with the city's deliverance; here again we have exact fulfilment, for after being oppressed by the Ottoman empire for hundreds of years, Jerusalem was "delivered" and gladly surrendered to the British forces.
8-9 December. Until 8 December 1917, the whole of the fifth verse of Isaiah 31 had been prophecy, but during the night the Turks evacuated the city, and very early in the morning of the 9th practically every Turkish soldier had gone. From that date onwards two-thirds of the verse had become history. About half-past eight on the morning of the 9th, as we have stated, the Mayor of Jerusalem with a small party under a flag of truce, was seen by the British outposts on the road about Lifta, coming to surrender the city.
9-11 December. The formal surrender was accepted by general O'Shea, on behalf of the Commander-in-Chief, who himself took the official ceremonial surrender two days later.
D. "And passing over He will preserve it
This last clause of Isaiah's prophecy was carried out as definitely, and as fully, as the previous ones. The battle had passed over, so also did the sign "as birds flying". Our airmen became the city's protectors: this was necessary, for when eventually the Turks found out they could not recapture Jerusalem, they trained their guns on the city to lay it in ruins, and it was the Royal Flying Corps which prevented them carrying out the destruction. Wherefore, you who have "eyes to see", behold this amazing phenomenon: One City, and ONLY one, on the whole world-wide battle front, which came though the war untouched, without being knocked about by shot and shell. What a deliverance! W.T.Massey tells of the joyful "clapping of hands"; "shrill cries of delight"; women throwing flowers into General O'Shea's car; and (repetition of sacred history) "they spread palm leaves on the road". Major Vivian Gilbert relates how "some of the older people kissed the guns and gun-carriages".
The Deliverer WALKS in
On 11 December, General Allenby, the leader of the delivering forces, WALKED into Jerusalem through the "Gate of the Friend" (Jaffa Gate), outside which military guards were drawn up, ready to join the procession into the city. The guard on the one side was formed by soldiers from Great Britain, and on the other side by Australian and New Zealand troops, for it must be remembered that this deliverance was carried out entirely by forces of the British "nation and company of nations" (Genesis 35:11). General Allenby officially accepted the surrender of the Holy City from the foot of David's Tower, and a comforting proclamation was read in seven languages, telling the people that they could go quietly and undisturbed about their ordinary business, and all their holy places would be respected. Jerusalem was no longer "trodden down of the Gentiles" (Luke 21:24). The Turks, however, made up their minds to get Jerusalem back at any cost; they attacked the British line furiously. Massey tells us that on 27 December they made 13 determined attacks during the morning, but failed to pierce the defence. Prisoners taken revealed that they had been promised as an inducement that when they recaptured Jerusalem, they should have one day in the city to do just as they liked. Meanwhile, during this fighting, the inhabitants of the "delivered" city were on the roofs of their houses, praying that their British deliverers might have strength to withstand the attacks. We all know the result: the Turkish oppressor was driven off, and Jerusalem came under British protection.
There is a curious fact concerning this event, which emphasizes God's overruling power. The Turks had a saying which seems to remind us of the incident recorded in 2 Kings 7:1-18 where the "impossible" happened. In their boast that the sword of Islam should hold sway over the land, they used the words to imply the impossibility of overthrowing their domination, saying, "When the waters of the Nile flow into Palestine, then will a prophet of the Lord come and drive the Turks out of this land", signifying that as surely as it was impossible for the waters of the Nile to flow across the many miles of desert to Palestine, so it was impossible that men could drive them out.
The "impossible" happened those centuries ago at the gate of Samaria and the "impossible" happened in this case. In order to supply our troops crossing the desert, the waters of the Nile were brought by our engineers through a pipeline, which they laid under the Suez Canal and across the desert, and the "waters of the Nile flowed into Palestine" at the rate of many thousands of gallons a day. Not only so, but the great leader who drove the Turks out was named Allenby, which in its Arabic version became Allah-en-Nebi ("Nebi" means prophet, and as everyone knows, "Allah" means God in Arabic), and by this Arabic name was he known throughout Palestine.
So the waters of the Nile did flow into the Holy Land, and the leader named "Prophet of God" did drive the Turks out of the land. The deliverance of Jerusalem was accomplished in 40 days (31 October - 9 December), a familiar period in the history of that country. Just about then, however, things were in a bad way on the Western front, and the cream of Allenby's army was brought back to serve in France, so that Allenby had to wait until new reinforcements were trained and organized into an efficient fighting machine. On 18 September 1918, the next advance began, and again in 40 days the objective was achieved, the Turks being driven right out of the land. So exactly to date, the Gentile dominion of the Holt Land had ended; the seven "times" (i.e. 2520 years) had run its course as foretold in the Bible. Britain did not annex the conquered territory, but administered it, under mandate from the League of Nations, for 30 years, until 1947, and then gave notice that she would lay down the mandate and hand it over to the United Nations the following 15 May, when British forces and administration were withdrawn. In 1949 the Jewish, or Israeli State, was recognized by the British Government.
A Sign of the Times
The setting up of the new Jewish (Israeli) State is regarded by many a most significant sign of the times. In both the Old and New Testaments the fig and the fig tree are used to symbolize the Jews. For example, Jeremiah (chapter 24) speaks of the good and evil figs. Verses 5-7 concern the good figs, and the closing verses of the chapter the evil figs. Of the evil figs the prophecy declares: "And I will deliver them to be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth for their hurt, to be a reproach and a proverb, a taunt and a curse, in all the places whither I shall drive them. And I will send the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, among them, till they be consumed from off the land that I gave unto them and to their fathers' (24:9-10). This prophecy clearly portrays the fate of the Jewish nation and their dispersion, following the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus in A.D. 70. Employing the same symbolism, Christ likened the Jewish nation to a barren fig tree (Luke 13:6,9). It was this barren fig tree, with leaves but no fruit, which at the close of His ministry He cursed so that it whithered (Matthew 21:18-20). Under this age-long curse the Jew has remained. But in His Olivet discourse (Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21) He prophesied that during the generation which should witness the freeing of Jerusalem from Gentile oppression (that of the Turk) and which should experience a time of distress and perplexity without parallel, the barren fig tree would put forth leaves. "Now learn a parable of the fig tree; when its branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: so likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors" (Matthew 24:32-33). (Notice, no mention is made of fruit).
Just as in 1917, the deliverance of Jerusalem by a British Army was a most significant sign of the approaching end of this age and the nearness of the Second Coming of Christ, so also the events of these days foreshadow that that event, for which all who love the Lord Jesus Christ most earnestly look, is "even at the doors". The words "and ALL THE TREES" (Luke 21:29) seem to point the application of this prophecy to OUR generation, as we see MANY peoples bursting out into new nationhood. Will our generation witness the triumphant RETURN of Christ in Power and Great Glory? The story of Jerusalem is not yet finished; there is still some way to go before perfect peace and holiness are established, but that end is certain.
"The zeal of the Lord of Hosts will perform this" (Isaiah 9:7).
As we long for real peace and righteousness on earth, let us look forward to the keystone of that peace, and "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem" (Psalm 122:6).
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