A significant centenary will be marked with a reception in London next month which will no doubt stir passions for and against Israel.
Forever the hot potato, the Jewish state will once more come under the microscope as supporters celebrate 100 years since Britain acquired its Mandate for what was then known as Palestine.
It was from this Mandate, approved in London by the League of Nations (the UN’s predecessor) in 1922, that the modern State of Israel inherited its contested legal foundations.
In peace negotiations following World War I, the indigenous inhabitants of the defeated Turkish Ottoman Empire were recognised for the first time, and the victorious Allied powers were ‘mandated’ to prepare them for independent self-rule.
Among those benefiting were the Jewish people, always present in small numbers in their only ancestral land, but already returning in increasing waves after nearly 2,000 years of exile.
It was the Balfour Declaration of 1917 that set the ball rolling to this end, with the British Government pledging to do all in its power to establish a homeland for the Jewish people in their ancient territory. And it just so happened that Allied forces captured Jerusalem from the Turks within weeks of this promise, thus gifting Britain the privilege of restoring the Holy Land to its original owners.
This was followed by the San Remo Treaty of 1920 which formally recognised Britain’s role in this regard, spelling out the nature and boundaries of the allotted land, which far exceeded the dimensions of present-day Israel.
However, political compromise and appeasement in the face of growing threats from Arab neighbours meant the re-born Jewish state was significantly smaller than originally intended.
The world’s leading nations still insist on a ‘two-state solution’ through which Palestinians are granted self-rule in the so-called West Bank — that is, Judea and Samaria — alongside their Jewish neighbours.
But this makes no sense as a two-state solution was effectively created the year before the Mandate was approved when Colonial Secretary Winston Churchill signed off a vast tract of land east of the Jordan River — originally earmarked as part of Israel — for Arab settlement.
Unfortunately, the creation of Jordan set a precedent for ongoing territorial compromise aimed at smothering the fires of growing resentment over Jewish immigration. And the cauldron smoulders on to this day.
But let’s look at the facts. Israel is not only entitled to all the territory from the Mediterranean to the Euphrates River (Genesis 15:18), according to the Bible (God’s Word), but her existence is also in perfect fulfilment of international law!
The problem with which we are forever grappling — and which most politicians and journalists don’t get — is that the moment we try to re-order the world along biblical lines, especially where God’s chosen people are concerned, we become engaged in spiritual conflict.
So as Jews — persecuted, bullied and tortured for millennia — return to the relative safety of their ancient land, all hell is let loose. For Satan and his cohorts are implacably opposed to their presence there… or anywhere, in some cases. Iran and their terrorist proxies Hamas and Hezbollah have repeatedly called for Israel to be wiped off the map!
But God’s plan will stand. No amount of hell-fire will stop Him fulfilling his purposes for His ancient people.
And here’s an important point worth mulling over: if it hadn’t been for Pentecost (or Shavuot), which we are celebrating this week, the Mandate would not have been given to Britain, and Israel would not have been re-born!
For it was through Pentecost that the gospel spread to the Gentiles who, in these latter days, have played a hugely significant role in Jewish restoration. In particular, the 19th century influence of Holy Spirit-inspired British evangelical leaders was incalculable. Preachers like Charles Spurgeon and Bishop J C Ryle, along with politicians such as William Wilberforce and the Earl of Shaftesbury, clearly understood from the Scriptures the importance of Jews returning to their ancient land in the days immediately preceding the Second Coming of Christ.
One Israeli academic even describes the State of Israel as a “Jewish-Christian project.”
It was in this way that our government became convinced of the need to facilitate their return, along with supporting the cause of Zionism as a whole.
Pentecost changed the world, through emboldening Jesus’ disciples to proclaim the gospel even at the cost of their lives. And Pentecost is still changing the world — in Jerusalem, Judea and to the ends of the earth.
Believers need to hold their nerve as they proclaim Jesus as the soon coming Messiah-King, who will reign from Jerusalem over a people who have returned both to their land and their Lord.
Have you noticed how Israelis always seem to be celebrating something? We have just had Jerusalem Day, rejoicing each year over the city’s reunification in 1967. Before that we had Independence Day, marking 74 years of the modern state, and this week we have Shavuot, celebrating the world-changing Law of Moses, fulfilled in Jesus who has poured out his Spirit in such a way that God’s laws are no longer just written on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts (2 Corinthians 3:3).
Be baptised (i.e. immersed) with the Holy Spirit, and change the world by witnessing to the power of Jesus, who has brought his people back to their land and, increasingly, back to himself, their Lord and Messiah.
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.