That was the challenge levelled at historian Tom Holland on The...
When evidences are overwhelming, do we always reach the correct solution?
To those who believe that God has finished with Israel, one last challenge for you. Let’s remind ourselves of these historical facts before you lay the matter to rest.
- The continued existence of the Jewish people – contrasted against the disappearance of every other ancient people - after 2000 years of severe persecution.
- The continued existence of Jewish culture – despite concerted efforts of assimilation into Gentile culture - after 2000 years of severe persecution.
- Despite constituting 0.19% of the world’s population, since the 19th Century around 25% of scientists have been Jewish.
- The three main architects of the 20th Century were Jewish – Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud and Albert Einstein (who was also declared man of the 20th Century by Time magazine Dec 31st 1999).
- The re-emergence of Hebrew, a dead language, as the spoken language of Israelis (Do Italians speak Latin?).
- The formation of the State of Israel in 1947 by majority vote despite the fact that the majority of UN members were by inclination against the idea.
- The survival of Israel after the 1948 War of Independence with more land than actually agreed upon in the UN Partition Plan.
- Jerusalem returning to Jewish hands in the 1967 Six Day War, virtually by accident.
- The continued existence of the State of Israel despite being surrounded by 21 hostile neighbours bent on its destruction.
And finally we return to J.C. Ryle, our 19th Century English Bishop. If you can cast your mind back to an earlier article, you’ll remember that he wrote a sermon entitled, ‘Scattered Israel to be gathered’.
He made four points and the first three were, ’Who is Israel’, ‘The present condition of Israel’ and ‘The future prospects of Israel’. His fourth and final point was, ‘The duty which the Gentile churches owe to Israel.’
He urges them to pray for and work towards the spiritual conversion of Israel. Then he commands them to take stumbling blocks out of the way of Israel. He teaches them not to follow the way of their forbears, by doing nothing to disgust Jewish people with Christianity or hinder their conversion. Also, he reminded them of the special blessings which God has promised to all who care for Israel. Everyone wants to be blessed, don’t they? He quotes Psalm 122:6, concerning Jerusalem, ‘They shall prosper that love thee’ and Numbers 24:9, concerning Israel, ‘Blessed is he that blesseth thee and cursed is he that curseth thee’. We would do well to meditate on these words.
I am very wary of debates, whether on TV, or radio or in a packed hall. This is because, like many, I am easy prey for a silver tongue or an argument put forward with eloquence, authority and skill. On some issues, my views are so influenced by whichever articulate person I heard or read last, that I can change my mind a dozen times a day. This is both laziness on my part and an acknowledgement that others are so much better informed than I, that I’m happy for them to do my thinking for me. Now the arguments in this book may (or may not) be convincing to you. Equally you could read books that promote the opposite viewpoint and be equally convinced. Now, as I’ve said many times, the issue of Israel is too important for us to waste our time in endless debates rather than positive action, which is why I have laboured the point in these articles.
I propose that we now move our attention away from these debates and, if you are still unconvinced by my arguments or if you are the type of person who needs more than words to convince you, then read on. Let us, instead, look at the evidences, the historical facts.
The evidences for the new life provided for those who have embraced the Christian Gospel are plain to see – it is in the new attitudes and actions inspired by their new birth. Equally we can look at evidences for Biblical teachings concerning the Jewish people and look again at the two hypotheses that I stated earlier.
If, according to some, God has utterly rejected the Jews because of their sins and have abandoned them, demoting them from ‘favoured nation’ state to being just one people among many, where is the evidence?
If, according to others, the Jews were exiled from the land as punishment from God, who still held up the promise of restitution to the land in the future, where is the evidence?
The fact is that Jews have survived 2000 years of extreme prejudice, returning to their ancestral land, a return accompanied by incontestable miracles. Does this point to a people cursed and abandoned by God, or a people returning, for whatever reason, into God’s favours?
If you are still unconvinced just spare a thought for the most ardent enemies of the State of Israel – militant Islam and secular humanism (man-centred philosophy). Now spare a thought for the most ardent enemies of Biblical Christianity in today’s World. I would suggest the same two – militant Islam and secular humanism.
Is this co-incidental or significant?
Where now do you think God is in our debate over Israel and for which of our two hypotheses do you think these facts provide evidence for? I’ll leave you to answer that question.
For the previous article in this series, click here.
For the next article in this series, click here.
To find out what is my favourite book of the Bible, click here.
You can reach Steve with any comments or questions at the Saltshakers Web Community website.