November 2, 2017 marked the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, a British government public statement, issued during World War 1 that led to the 1922 British Mandate for Palestine. The mandate was issued by the League of Nations and gave Great Britain temporary administrative control of Palestine. The Mandate terminated on May 14, 1948, the day that proclaimed the creation of the State of Israel was proclaimed.
The Balfour Declaration laid the groundwork for the Jews to return to their homeland. While many know of this document, there’s a story of great interest that preceded and influenced the issuance of it. It’s a story of the Jewish people and one man in particular.
World War I
At the turn of the 20th century, the Jewish people had been living outside their homeland more than 1800 years, having been driven out by the Romans when the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD. After the 1894 Dreyfus Affair in France, the Jews had become keenly aware of the dangers of antisemitism and they began to build a new movement of political Zionism aimed at returning them to their homeland. It became a popular movement by the time WW I had started. One of the leaders in this movement was a scientist by the name of Chaim Weizmann. His contributions to the war effort had a direct impact on the Jewish nation that would come to be in 1948.
During the war, Great Britain found itself in great need. Their enemy, Germany, controlled the production of acetone, an ingredient necessary for the production of weapons, and Great Britain was without this important resource. Chaim Weizmann invented a fermentation process that allowed Great Britain to manufacture its own liquid acetone and continue to produce weapons. Had this not happened, the British forces would have been seriously impaired and the nation likely would have lost the war.
Weizmann’s contribution drew the attention of David Lloyd George, Great Britain’s minister of ammunition, and Arthur James Balfour, a former British prime minister and the first lord of the Admiralty at that time. Weizmann’s influence, along with that of other Zionist leaders (such as Nahum Sokolow), pressured Great Britain’s leaders to support a Jewish homeland in Palestine. Their pleas were heard, and in 1917, one year after Lloyd George became prime minister and Balfour was transferred to the Foreign Office, Balfour issued the declaration to British Jewish community leader Lord Walter Rothschild for transmission to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland. It was published by the press on November 9, 1917.
The Balfour Declaration
November 2nd, 1917
Dear Lord Rothschild,
I have much pleasure in conveying to you, on behalf of His Majesty’s Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet.
His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.
I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.
Arthur James Balfour
In 1917, at the time the declaration was issued, Palestine was part of the Ottoman Empire. In 1922, Great Britain took authority of the land. Sadly in 1939, Great Britain reneged on the Balfour Declaration by issuing a White Paper stating that creating a Jewish state was no longer a British policy. The declaration simply set the stage for God to work in His time to regather the Jews to their homeland and fulfill His prophecies. Thirty-one years later, on May 14, 1948, the nation of Israel was “born again” and in June 1967 they won a six-day war to regain control of God’s Holy City, Jerusalem.
The fulfilled prophecies of God, in regathering His people into their land and restoring the nation and their language, set the stage for the next great event on the prophetic calendar — the Rapture of the Church, which will be followed by the the seventieth week of Daniel, known as the seven years of tribulation, and finally the return of the Lord Jesus Christ.
We live in a very exciting time. The anticipation of Jesus’ return for His Bride and God’s fulfillment of all promises to Israel that are yet to be fulfilled. There are many signs that our world is growing darker and darker, but we KNOW that one day our Lord will return and His glory will light the whole world.
It’s been 100 years since the Balfour Declaration was issued, the document that “paved” the way for the Jews to return to their homeland. Use this bit of history to share with someone about how God preserved His people and then regathered them into their homeland. Let it be a testimony to God’s presence and to His faithfulness. When all the other “-ites” have perished — the Hittites, the Jebusites, the Amorites, Amalekites, Moabites, etc. — the Israelites remain. How can that be? Because God promised that they would one day be a great nation, that one day they will have all the land from the Euphrates to the Great Sea, and they will live in peace. These are promises of God that are yet to be fulfilled, but they will come to pass when King Jesus returns and reigns.
Tell someone about Jesus. Everyone needs to hear about His amazing love and saving grace. Jesus is our Hope. The only true Hope for all the ages.
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