As calls were made for increasing co-operation between Britain and Israel at a Parliamentary reception last week, both governments were falling apart at the seams.
Perhaps this was a signal for them to call on the God who made both nations great – to return to Him in penitence, faith and humility; to stop relying on horses and chariots and human wisdom, and to start trusting in the Lord again.
Amidst much uncertainty, Israel is preparing for its fifth election in three years. And though treasured by God forever (2 Samuel 7:16), even over the years when they have largely forsaken him, the Lord longs for the prodigal to return. In Britain’s case too, we have a choice: to choose this day whom we will serve (Joshua 24:15) and turn our backs on the darkness of disobedience to his commands.
I was privileged to attend the aforementioned reception, held to mark the centenary of the British Mandate, but somewhat distracted by news of Boris Johnson’s cabinet colleagues deserting him.
One of them, former Health Secretary Sajid Javid, initially among the many candidates to replace Mr Johnson as Prime Minister before pulling out of the race, had attended a parliamentary prayer breakfast only the previous day at which he made the decision to quit the government in response to a sermon on integrity. I’ll come back to that, because I believe it’s highly significant.
Johnson’s final capitulation came on July 7th, the anniversary of the 2005 terror attack on London’s commuters which brought carnage to the capital, with my own brother among the many victims. We are once again in the midst of a major shaking of our institutions in fulfilment of many ancient prophecies, including Haggai 2:6 and Hebrews 12:26.
Will we continue to rely on our own resources, or will we return to the God who raised us up to exert global influence for good through great men who loved and served our Lord Jesus Christ?
On my way to the parliamentary reception, I wandered through the beautiful Victoria Embankment Gardens where you will find majestic statues of godly men like Robert Raikes (founder of Sunday Schools), General Gordon of Khartoum and William Tyndale.
As the last mentioned was about to be burnt at the stake for daring to translate the New Testament into English, he prayed: “Lord, open the King of England’s eyes.” And within a year, a Bible was placed in every parish church of the land by command of King Henry VIII.
It was Evangelical Alliance leader Gavin Calver, speaking at the annual conference of the Church’s Ministry among Jewish people (CMJ), who alerted me to Sajid Javid’s explanation of what had triggered his departure from government in the wake of Mr Johnson’s promotion of a colleague despite being made aware of earlier misconduct.
Referring to the prayer breakfast ‘sermon’ by Rev Les Isaac, Javid told the BBC’s Sunday Morning Show: “I was listening to him talking about the importance of integrity in public life and, just focusing on that, I made up my mind.”
Could this be a turning point in the life of a nation which has, for decades, largely kept God out of its affairs? In Rev Calver’s words, it was surely indicative of “the power of prayer and our message in the midst of chaos in our nation”.
Addressing the closing session of the CMJ Conference in Staffordshire, Calver revealed that he had spent most of his 7-mile early morning run praying for Israel.
Leading a body representing around a million UK Christians, Calver was greatly impacted by the infectious enthusiasm and passion for Jewish people of the delegates.
As it happens, CMJ represents part of the answer to our current dilemmas, both in Britain and Israel. For the ministry is dedicated to the spiritual restoration of Israel, and God has promised that all who bless the seed of Abraham will themselves be blessed, while those who curse them will come under judgment (Genesis 12:3).
Our current woes surely relate to how we have forsaken the God of our fathers. Carved in Latin on the floor of the Houses of Parliament are the words of Psalm 127: “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labour in vain.”
As I wrote last week, it was in 1922 that Britain was handed the inestimable privilege of preparing the Jewish people for statehood. We made a good start, but stumbled badly (in 1939) when severely restricting immigration to the Holy Land just when the Jewish people, under threat of extermination, needed it most.
Jeremy Hunt, among the candidates to replace Mr Johnson, admitted when he was Foreign Secretary that it was a ‘black moment’ in British history. A full acknowledgement of our betrayal would go a long way towards recovering our position of being a nation blessed due to our love and support for God’s chosen people.
For it was the influence of 19th century evangelical giants, along with the aspirations of Zionists like Chaim Weizmann, that led to the issuing of the 1917 Balfour Declaration, which set the ball rolling for the creation of modern Israel.
Evangelical leaders like William Wilberforce, Charles Spurgeon and Bishop J C Ryle knew that the Scriptures spoke repeatedly of a latter-day return of the Jews to their ancient land, followed by a return to their Lord and Messiah, whom they would welcome back to ‘tabernacle’ (or live) with them.
Jesus is coming back – not to London, New York or Paris – but to Jerusalem where he longs to embrace his brothers in the flesh, along with all who have followed him through thick and thin.
Governments come and go, but the call of Jesus is for eternity. Pray that you and I will be able to stand before him who said: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” (Luke 21:33)
Charles Gardner is author of Israel the Chosen, available from Amazon; Peace in Jerusalem, available from olivepresspublisher.com; To the Jew First, A Nation Reborn, and King of the Jews, all available from Christian Publications International.
Israel Today Membership
Save 18% Per Month.
Six Months Membership
Save 9% Per Month.