As Christmas draws near, the gloomy prospects of Brexit proposals are somewhat overshadowing the bright lights of Britain.
Virtual civil war has broken out within the ranks of the political class, but there is a general blindness to the real cause of our troubles, which lies with our relationship – not with Europe – but with Israel.
Nations are trying to tamper with God’s dwelling place on earth, and are suffering serious injury as a result.
As writer and theologian Frank Booth reminded me, after Donald Trump moved the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in 2017 in recognition of the obvious, European leaders May, Macron and Merkel joined the voices raised against the decision. Look at them now!
Zechariah 12.3 says: “I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock (or heavy stone) for the nations; all who try to move it will injure (or grievously hurt) themselves.”
And Frank asks: “How can anyone who knows the slightest thing about the history of Israel deny Jerusalem as her natural historic capital?”
In the bleak midwinter, a popular carol, seems an apt description of the view ahead of us in the UK. But the hymn should also remind us of what life is really about, especially of how – 2,000 years on – we are still profoundly affected by the Christ child who came into the world to save us from our sin.
Bethlehem may have been his birthplace, but Jerusalem – just six miles away – was and is the key to the world’s future. It was there that our Lord died as the perfect sacrifice for sins, where he rose from the dead three days later, where he subsequently ascended to heaven after appearing to more than 500 witnesses, and where he will return, probably in the very near future judging by the many signs of his coming already being fulfilled.
The most obvious of these has been the re-birth and rise to prominence of the state of Israel, symbolised in the Bible as the fig tree (see Matthew 24.32-34). The blossoming of the fig tree has come about as a result of the return of Jews from every corner of the world to the land promised them some 4,000 years ago. All the world has witnessed this phenomenon, fulfilling an abundance of ancient prophecies (such as Jeremiah 23.7f, Jer 31.16f, Ezek 36.24, Isaiah 43.5-7).
But as the Scriptures also predicted, they would not be welcomed back to their homeland by their neighbours – hence the current upheaval in the Middle East.
So how does this affect the UK and why is this issue – and not Brexit – the source of our difficulties?
Britain has been granted the inestimable privilege (by God himself and through international treaties) of facilitating Jewish repatriation thanks to godly men like Wesley, Wilberforce and their evangelical successors whose influence caused the government of 1917 led by David Lloyd George to issue a promise to do all it could to make this possible through what came to be known as the Balfour Declaration (signed by Foreign Secretary Lord Balfour).
Despite later reneging on this pledge and betraying the Jews – even refusing entry (to then British-controlled Palestine) to thousands of would-be immigrants trying to escape the Nazis – we at least got the ball rolling which enabled a reborn Israel to rise from the ashes of the ‘Valley of Dry Bones’ (Ezek 37) that was the Holocaust.
But as we kept caving in to Arab intimidation, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict worsened and our great empire – on which the sun never set – began to systematically fall apart in direct fulfilment of Genesis 12.3, promising blessing to those who bless the seed of Abraham and cursing to those who don’t.
In addition, Joel 3.2 guarantees judgment on the nations that have scattered his people and divided up their land. All the talk now is of a ‘two-state solution’, carving up territory designated (both by God and international treaties) as belonging to the Jews.
Jerusalem is the key to all this. Plans for dividing the city into east and west in order to achieve peace are actually a recipe for further bloodshed as Israel’s enemies want all of it. The last great war, the Bible says, will be over the status of Jerusalem, not Europe or the Far East.
Australia’s lukewarm attempt to please both sides of the divide by only recognising West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and holding off acceptance of East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital until a two-state solution is found, will cut no ice with God, who spits such lack of commitment out of his mouth as English folk might do with tepid tea (see Rev 3.16).
While this position might be seen as a step in the right direction, Australia’s Pentecostal Christian Prime Minister Scott Morrison should note what has happened to Britain, Germany and France since Donald Trump’s brave decision to move his embassy to Jerusalem.
Taking their cue from the politically-correct secularists, May, Merkel and Macron defiantly refused to follow Trump’s example, and all three are now in grave difficulties.
Open warfare over Brexit threatens to bring further chaos to Britain including the distinct possibility of a government led by Jeremy Corbyn, an ally of terrorist groups wishing to obliterate Israel who shows no sign of lancing the boil of anti-Semitism within his party.
Merkel, meanwhile, has a fragile hold on power as Germans express great frustration with the problems caused by mass immigration, and deadly street riots – led by a movement reported to be grossly anti-Semitic – have erupted in Paris in protest at Macron’s ‘reforms’.
Such a triple calamity can be traced back, quite simply, to defiance of the God of Israel and of his commandments which have formed the basis of Western civilization.
We are reaping the whirlwind of anti-Semitism and godlessness after shamefully turning our backs on the God who bought our redemption when his Son was brutally murdered in his very own city (Psalm 48.1-3).
The Bible is clear that our security as nations and individuals depends on our attitude to Jesus, to the Jews and to Jerusalem (John 3.16, Gen 12.3, Psalm 122.6).
Charles Gardner is author of Israel the Chosen, available from Amazon; Peace in Jerusalem, available from olivepresspublisher.com; and A Nation Reborn, available from Christian Publications International