Whatever else you may say about Israel – though the cradle of Judeo-Christian civilization, they are clearly now as secular as the rest of us in the West – they are currently being blessed by a leader who believes in the importance and authority of the Bible.
And whereas former British Prime Minister Tony Blair trumped education as the all-important issue of his tenure, Israeli PM Binyamin ‘Bibi’ Netanyahu has been more specific.
At the start of the school year, he announced to his cabinet that “excellence and Zionism”, with an emphasis on Bible study, were at the root of an education “revolution” his government wanted to bring about.
“First of all the study of the Bible,” he said. “We must make a major effort; this is the basis for why we are here, why we have returned here, why we stay here.”
What a contrast to the way things are run in Westminster, seat of the British Parliament. Of course there’s much talk about raising educational standards, but we have cast the Holy Scriptures to the margins of our schools, and there are even efforts by humanists to wipe out their influence altogether. Yet without the Bible, our knowledge is incomplete. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge…” (Proverbs 1.7)
St Paul wrote: “Love never fails… But where there is knowledge, it will pass away.” (1 Corinthians 13.8) And he is not talking about gushy love, but the ‘agape’ (Greek) love that is unique to those who have experienced a personal encounter with Jesus.
It was in holding to the authority of the Bible and proclaiming its truth that Britain became a great nation whose influence covered the globe, and it was because we believed in its literal veracity that we were privileged to help pave the way for Jewish restoration – both to their ancient land and to their Lord.
Our spiritual forefathers such as William Wilberforce, John Wesley, Charles Spurgeon, Charles Simeon and Bishop J C Ryle saw from the Scriptures that Christians should pray for and facilitate Israel’s return. And they played a crucial role in the modern-day re-birth of the Jewish state.
But our Jewish brethren also need the “new heart” Ezekiel prophesied (Ezek 36.26) if they are to fulfil their God-given role as “a light for the Gentiles” (Isaiah 49.6).
Mercifully, Mr Netanyahu is paving the way for this by his declaration of intent on the spiritual front.
Tragically, however, neither church nor state in Britain is following this kind of lead, as they once did, caving in on all sides to politically correct pressure undermining the Bible’s authority. The result is increasing breakdown in society with all too few children growing up under the love and discipline of a mother and father.
Key to Israel’s restoration was an Anglican society called CMJ (the Church’s Ministry among Jewish people) who are still doing a great work among God’s ancient people. But the Church of England, with whom they are linked, is literally at the point of breaking up. And the issue is… the Bible’s authority!
A dozen evangelical parishes in the South-East – including representation from the Diocese of Canterbury, the ancient heart of Anglicanism – are currently in discussions toward what could lead to a formal split over the ‘watering down’ of biblical teaching on issues of marriage amid talk of ‘blessing’ services for same-sex couples. They are setting up ‘embryonic’ structures that could be used were a split to take place.
The Rev Dr Peter Sanlon, Vicar of St Mark’s Church in Tunbridge Wells, said: “If senior leaders of the Church of England water down the [church’s] teaching on key issues like homosexuality, then this synod could easily evolve into a new Anglican jurisdiction.”
Disagreements over sexual issues have already caused schisms within the wider Anglican body – in Canada and the United States, for example.
It was on the Bible’s authority that a Judeo-Christian civilization was built that became the envy of the world. And Israel’s future – their protection from enemies and hope of a Messiah – is bound up in the authority of the Bible. Pray for Mr Netanyahu.
Charles Gardner is author of Israel the Chosen, available from Amazon, and Peace in Jerusalem, available from olivepresspublisher.com