Does the Church still have issues with the Jews?
Does God still act in nations today?
(EXCITING NEWS: Have you heard our radio programme on PREMIER RADIO yet? You can hear past episodes here.)
Miracle One: The time: November 29th 1947. The place: United Nations General Assembly. The occasion: Voting to decide on the UN Partition Plan to create a Jewish State and an Arab State.
Fifty seven nations voted. Naturally the Moslem countries - Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, Yemen and Afghanistan - voted against the plan, not wanting any official declaration of a Jewish nation in their midst. Britain, to its shame considering its century-old relationship with the Jews, abstained; wounded pride at its failure in the area (Its desire to cultivate oil-fields - sorry, I mean, relationships - with their Arab friends were contributory factors here).
The biggest mystery concerned the attitude of Russia, which actually saw the Jewish Zionists, with their socialist leanings as potential allies in the Middle East. So Russia and its allies joined with Europe and most of the free World and voted for the partition plan. Without this unexpected support, the United Nation partition plan would never have been accepted, as it needed a two thirds majority to be carried through. It was carried through, and the State of Israel was born into the international community.
Israel was once again a nation, after centuries of exile and the words of Isaiah 66:8 seemed to speak volumes: ‘Who has ever heard of such a thing? Who has ever seen such things? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion in labour than she gives birth to her children.’
But the birth was not an easy one. We fast-forward to May 14th 1948, the date of the declaration of the State of Israel. A nation was born. Miracle two.
The odds were 200 to 1; seven Arab nations with population of over 140 million, against one fledgling Jewish nation with 650,000 people. The Arabs were driven by hatred and pride, the Jews driven by the need for survival and the desire to put the Holocaust behind them. The Jews had no backing from any other country. The Arabs had, amongst other advantages, a British-sponsored army called the Arab Legion. Israel was fighting on four fronts; Transjordan to the east , Syria and Lebanon to the north, Iraq and Syria in the north east and Egypt in the south. It was 1948 and this was Israel's War of Independence.
The Jews had little military equipment, especially arms and ammunition - at times two soldiers had to share a single rifle. During the war they used weapons foraged and specially created, such as improvised armoured cars and molotov cocktails. They also had a mixture of small arms leftover from World War II, light artillery and machine guns, some anti-tank bazookas, and jeeps and half-tracks with mounted machine guns. The Arab armies, on the other hand, were heavily armed with the latest equipment from Britain.
But God hadn't brought His covenant people, the Jews, this far just to leave them in the lurch. The war lasted over eight months, punctuated by the occasional truce. The Israeli victory was such that only a quick intervention by British delegates in the U.N. saved the Arabs from a more disastrous defeat.
The war that was provoked by the Arabs to annihilate the new State of Israel not only brought a pride-thrashing defeat for them, but rewarded the Israelis with an increase of more than 40% of extra land, over and above that promised to them through the U.N. Partition Plan, including West Jerusalem! It was only thanks to the effectiveness of Sir John Glubb and his Arab Legion that the Israelis didn't take the whole of Jerusalem, including the Western (‘Wailing’) Wall, the holiest site in Judaism.
Let us forget the politics, though, and think of what it was really all about. Do you honestly think that God wanted Jerusalem, His city, to be governed by an international committee? Do you really think that it was going to be easy for His people to be resettled in their ancient land? Of course not. As Christians, we must forget politics and human rights where God is concerned. He plays His own tunes. When the Children of Israel under Moses and Joshua were driving all before them, God instructed them to completely 'ethnically cleanse' the pagan villages, man, woman and child. This is the same God today, though such barbaric means are not on the agenda. We're tempted to say, if we're honest, 'Thankfully He's more civilized now', but we must stop and think about the human consequences of divine actions.