Today, many students of Bible prophecy see the return of the Jewish people to their ancestral homeland as one of the “super” signs, that our generation is living in the season of Yeshua’s return. There are some Christians today though, who believe that YHWH’s promises to the Jewish people were superseded by the Church and that the nation of Israel today is nothing more than a historical coincidence helped along by overzealous believers who take Bible prophecy too literally.
This past month I’ve had the privilege of reading two excellent books which address this subject. The first was written by Samuel Whitefield entitled – One King: A Jesus-Centered Answer to the Question of Zion and the People of God, the second was by Thomas Ice entitled – The Case for Zionism: Why Christians Should Support Israel. Both books were well written but from slightly different perspectives.
Mr. Whitefield’s book looked at the subject from a more theological and Biblically based perspective while Mr. Ice’s looked at the subject from a Biblical and a historically legal sense. Although, the authors come at the subject from slightly different theological perspectives, their books complement each other and together make a compelling case for the nation of Israel as a fulfilment of Bible prophecy.
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Today, I want to look at the subject of Zion and restoration of Israel in terms of the Bible’s chronology and the Jubilee cycles. As you will see, Israel’s restoration to the Promised Land as an independent nation was not coincidence, but happened right on schedule according to YHWH’s redemptive plan. In fact, Israel’s return to the Promised Land took place on a very special anniversary. That anniversary was a Jubilee of Jubilees. Let me explain, but first a little Biblical history about the jubilee.
In the Old Testament, YHWH’s gave instructions to Moses by which the Jewish people were to conduct their lives. One of those instructions was the jubilee law. In part, the jubilee law instructed Israel that on the 50th year following 7 cycles of 7 years the land would revert to its original owners and the captives would go free.
And thou shalt number seven sabbaths of years unto thee, seven times seven years; and the space of the seven sabbaths of years shall be unto thee forty and nine years. Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubile to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land. And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubile unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family. (Leviticus 25:8-10)
What is thrilling about the above verses is that our generations have lived to see the fulfillment of this jubilee law in the nation of Israel. To really appreciate this I need to take you back to 536 BC and the return of the Jewish people to the Promised Land after their first captivity and exile. Nearly 2500 years ago, YHWH used a secular Persian king named Cyrus to accomplish His will concerning the Jewish people and their homeland. Take a moment to read this famous declaration of return:
Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of YHWH spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, YHWH stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying,
Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath YHWH God of heaven given me; and he hath charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? YHWH his God be with him, and let him go up. (2 Chronicles 36:22)
The 70 years captivity mentioned in the passage above began with the first captivity of Judah as described in Daniel 1:1. This was the first of three different times that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up and took captives from Jerusalem. The third conquest of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar saw the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem and the final Judean captives taken. From those terrible events it was 49 years until Cyrus’ decree which allowed the Jewish people to return and build the temple and Jerusalem.
The following year (Cyrus’ 2nd), work began on the temple foundation marking the 50th year (a jubilee) from its destruction. Unfortunately, work on the temple didn’t get much further than the laying of the first temple foundation stones. For the next 16 years, reconstruction efforts of the temple were all but abandoned while the repatriated captives worked on their own houses. Then in the 2nd year of Darius ‘the Great’ Artaxerxes (520 BC), YHWH told the Jewish people His divine anger was over and He commanded them to return and build His house and Jerusalem.
As I described in Book II of my Prophecies and Patterns series this divine command to restore and build began the 70 Weeks countdown to the Messiah. Four years later in the 6th year of Darius, the temple was completed.
For the next 6 centuries, the Jewish people chaffed under the successive rule of gentile kingdoms, never quite realizing any lasting autonomy as a sovereign nation. Then in 70 AD history repeated itself and the 2nd Temple and Jerusalem were once again destroyed, only this time it was the Romans and their legions who razed the temple and broke down the walls of Jerusalem.
Many believed that these events marked the end of YHWH’s dealings with the Jewish people as a covenant nation. As mentioned above many gentile Christians believed that Israel had been replaced or superseded by the church.
But something miraculous happened in the 50th jubilee cycle from Cyrus’ famous decree of return. A new secular nation decreed that the Jewish people should be allowed to return to the Promised Land once again. That nation was Great Britain. As explained by Thomas Ice, it began with evangelical premillennialists of Britain and America. I quote Mr. Ice:
“The wave of premillennialism is what produced in Britain a crop of Christian Zionists that led to political activism that culminated in the Balfour Declaration.” (The Case for Zionism: Why Christians Should Support Israel, Kindle loc. 4001)
Mr. Ice goes on to show how the influence of men like Edward Bikersteth, Lord Shaftsbury, and America’s William Blackstone laid the groundwork for Lord Balfour’s famous declaration of November 2, 1917. Five years later, in 1922, the sentiments expressed in the Balfour Declaration were codified in the British Mandate for Palestine. This mandate was confirmed by the Council of the League of Nations on July 22 of that year and went into effect on 29th September of 1923.
Consider this for a moment. All of the events in the years between 1881 and1931 took place in a Jubilee of Jubilees from Cyrus’ famous decree allowing the Jewish people to return to the Promised Land. As I explain in my forthcoming book The Jubilee Code: Prophetic Milestones in YHWH’s Redemptive Plan, these momentous events surrounding the return of the Jewish people to their Promised Land and the subsequent declaration of national sovereignty in 1948 all happened according to an identifiable plan which clearly shows YHWH’s hand working in the affairs of mankind.
The following chart shows the chronology as described above. This chart comes from my upcoming book The Jubilee Code: Prophetic Milestones in the YHWH’s Redemptive Plan, Chapter 8 – National Israel and the Jubilee.
And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a ubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.
…In the year of this ubilee ye shall return every man unto his possession. (Leviticus 25:10, 13)
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But there is more to this story than the chronology above. It was no accident that Britain was the nation which was responsible for returning the Jewish people to Israel. To understand why, we need to look back in history to the origins of “Britain”.
The name Britain came from the Roman Britannia which was the Latin name for the region we know today as Great Britain and Ireland. The Romans made London the capital of their Britannia province. Historian Mary Beard explains the influence of Rome on Great Britain in the following quote from here book SPQR:
“The layout of the roman imperial territory underlies the political geography of modern Europe and beyond. The main reason that London is the capital of the United Kingdom is that the Romans made it the capital of their province Britannia – a dangerous place lying, as they saw it, beyond the great Ocean that encircled the civilized world. Rome has bequeathed to us ideas of liberty and citizenship as much as of imperial exploitation, combined with a vocabulary of modern politics, from ‘senators’ to ‘dictators’.” (SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard p. 15)
It’s also worth noting, that Rome often designated their conquered territories with the names of goddesses. So in the centuries following conquest, Britain became synonymous with the Roman goddess Britannia. This goddess was often represented sitting on a rock or cliff surrounded by water.
The following Roman coin, a sestertius of Antoninus Pius (138-161AD), is a good example of how the Romans represented their British conquest. Notice Britannia sitting on the rock with a shield and scepter.
Over the centuries Britannia became one of the national symbols of Great Britain’s power and influence. They kept the goddess sitting on a rock surrounded by water, only instead of being represented as the conquered, the goddess Britannia became the conqueror with a trident and shield.
This Britannia from 1797 and half penny from 1936 shows the transition from Roman conquered to the British conqueror.
Images from (http://coinoftheworld.eu5.org)
Finally, take note of this 50 pound British Silver Britannia bullion coin from 2015. The obverse of the coin shows the Queen mother. The reverse depicts the Roman goddess Britannia with ancient helmet, trident, and shield standing next to the lion in front of a globe.
In any case it seems strangely appropriate that the people once responsible for destroying Jerusalem and scattering the Jewish people to the four corners of the earth, would also play an instrumental role in the formation of a new nation at the Western frontier of their empire, a nation which centuries later would nearly conquer the known world and would also be responsible for restoring the Jewish people to their ancestral homeland. This restoration as we’ve just learned coming 50 jubilees after Cyrus, one of the most celebrated secular rulers of Biblical history, gave a Persian mandate for the same.
Now you know the rest of the story.
Finally, I leave you with a quote from William Blackstone who was one of the most ardent and influential Christian Zionists of 19th century. An American who’s book Jesus is Coming (1908) sold over a million copies. A man who saw himself as a descendant of ancient Rome.
“We believe this is an appropriate time for all nations, and especially the Christian nations of Europe, to show kindness to Israel. A million of exiles, by their terrible suffering are piteously appealing to our sympathy, justice, and humanity. Let us now restore to them the land of which they were so cruelly despoiled by our Roman ancestors.” – (William Blackstone (as quoted by Thomas Ice, The Case for Zionism, kindle loc. 4311)
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