Jewish memorial statute
This article is a reflection on the following: The United Nations in 1948 voted for the establishment for the State of Israel because of the guilt many countries felt after the effects of the Holocaust became known, which had caused much suffering of the Jews throughout Europe.
Although the Nazis would have allowed Jewish immigration from Germany prior to 1939, many nations did not accept the refugees at that time. Many countries felt guilt about the subsequent great suffering felt by the Jews throughout Europe.
The Jews have suffered a history of Anti-Semitism wherever they settled. Some examples are:
Christians throughout the ages have unfortunately referred to them as Christ killers. Yes, the Jewish leaders did say that the blood of Jesus would be on their shoulders (Matthew chapter 27 verse 25), but Jesus forgave them for ‘they knew not what they did’, (Luke chapter 23 verse 34).
From the Middle Ages in Europe, Jews were forbidden to work in many trades as the Guilds (forerunners of Trade Unions) kept them out. As a result the Jews tended to live together and dress alike which created fear of them as ‘foreign’, and led to some vilification of them as a group.
One of the trades they were ‘allowed’ was clothes-making, and many fine tailors in London and Europe until recent years came from generations of Jewish tailors. Interestingly, they were ‘pushed’ into the financial industry because it was considered un-Christian to charge interest on money, so the Jews were encouraged into those areas. Their brightest young men were suited to business and finance, as the culture encouraged education and study.
However, because they were money-lenders (and Christians were forbidden from being money-lenders), Jews were often vilified once again – this time gaining a reputation for being greedy and ‘tight’ with money. From there, many branched out into the jewelry trades, particularly the large numbers that later migrated to South Africa to flee the persecution elsewhere in the world.
As the education systems in Europe became more open to wider participation, this fostering of education led many Jewish people into studying medicine, the Law and the sciences; and the migration and ‘saving’ of top-level scientists from Germany kick-started the American (and British) explosion in scientific and technological knowledge that was so obvious, and well-funded by the 1960s.
The most famous of these refugees was Albert Einstein, but there were dozens of others who later worked closely with scientists who came together from all over the world.
Mark Tronson with a Rabbi in the Ukraine
As western European societies became more industrialised and the political systems became more democratic, all citizens gradually became freer to find accommodation and employment and education. Many Jewish people (and many migrant communities, and many other religious denominations and sects) just became assimilated into the society and ceased to be regarded (or to regard themselves) as ‘separate’, apart from the fact that they may have practised a minority religion (if they chose to maintain the traditions).
This happened all through western Europe, including – significantly because of what happened in the 1930s – in Austria and Germany. It is to be noted that Jewish people migrating to Australia in the 1700s and 1800s or coming as convicts were never isolated or treated separately, and this reflects their position in English society at the time. Our first Australian-born Governor General, and a Knight of the British Realm, Sir Isaac Isaacs, was Jewish.
Many Christians affirm another reason for Israel’s re-establishment. This is the conviction of Bible prophecy, such as Isaisah chapter 11 verses 11-12; which states that God would reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the remnant of His people, and gather the exiles of Israel, from the four quarters of the earth.
No-one who takes the Bible at face value would see any thing other than the hand of God in that political decision of 1948. It required gaining sufficient ‘yes’ votes on the floor of the United Nations, although the proposal was bitterly opposed by the Arab Islamic world.
In my view, there is a theological answer in that God had prepared the Nations for this very decision. To add weight to his conclusion, he looks at the Scriptures then turns his mind to history; and in doing so, he summarises all six articles in this series.
Both 2 Thessalonians 2 and Matthew 24 carry key components of End Times messages. What is important to note, is the mystery of it all.
The Apostle Paul does not give here the detailed version that he gave in person, - see verse 5 - “Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things?” But Paul provides in his Letter to the Thessalonians as much as the Lord allowed him to write in his letter on this matter. It is a mystery as to the additional things Paul taught them, and as such, exact chronological timelines of End Times are not provided.
Jewish memorial plaque
All Christian theologians who spoke of End Times, from the end of the New Testament era all the way to Dionysius Exiguus, have held differing positions as to the detail. As Solomon said, there is nothing new under the sun.
Examples of some of these differing opinions are found in the following Christian writings: Didache 80AD, Epistle of Barnabas 90AD, The Shepherd of Hermas 150AD, Justin Martyr 165AD, Irenaeus 190AD, Tertullian 200AD, Lactantius 280AD, Hippolytus 305AD .
All these writers right up to 317AD were experiencing what might easily have been understood to be “many great tribulations”. There was a sense in which they felt as though they were living in and experience the End Times.
Throughout Christian history, teaching on the End Times has experienced, like most doctrines, low and high periods of interest. Spanish Jesuit, Ribera in 1590 identified the Papacy as the Anti-Christ. Catholic Priest, Lucunza’s book titled, “Coming of the Messiah” published in 1603, was the best seller of the era.
History reveals the Spirit of God comes afresh from time to time in specific areas, and various ‘themes’ emerge from the thinking and writings of theologians.
For example, the Reformation writers professed the doctrine of “Justification”; Wesley in the seventeenth century emphasised “Holiness”; and theologians in the century from 1830 to the 1930’s in both the United Kingdom and America, talked of “Futurism”.
So, in the Oxford Club of the seventeenth century, Christian men met to pray for Holy Living in the age of discontent and reason, while in the nineteenth century men met for prayer in the new world, in New England, for a fresh anointing.
Out of this came a fresh understanding on End Times, in the doctrine known today as “Dispensations” (eras). There was the Old Testament era; The Church era; The Secret Rapture; The Great Tribulation era; the New Millennia era.
The word 'Rapture' is based on this theological view of the Church Age. The idea behind the Rapture is that there will be a generation that will not see death, but will be 'snatched' away by the Lord. This, in effect, initiates the seven-year tribulation of this Dispensation era. The book of Daniel in this Dispensational theology sets out the nature of the tribution is so great that God cuts it short by one half, to three and a half years.
The 1902 Schofield Bible with its explanatory notes gave this Dispensational theology much prominence, and crucial to this theology was the return of the Nation of Israel, which in turn gave rise to fervent End Times literature.
History reveals that what was behind the seminal United Nations vote to enable the State of Israel in 1948 was that 100 year period of theological debate on End Times (Futurism).
'Dispensational' theology was in some large measure promulgated to every nation and as it was preached and taught fervently.
As in the Holiness movement that John Wesley initiated which historians acknowledge saved England from a bloodbath similar to the French Revolution, so too 'Dispensational' theology created an environment where many felt that were part of a fresh encounter of the Spirit of God in the affairs of men.
In my view, when that 1948 vote came along, there was this 100 year theological movement that was somehow part of the process.
This was God's people influencing history, in so far that when the United Nations took that vote to establish the Nation of Israel, there was a developed underlying theological presupposition that this was the right thing to do and it was in the hands of God.
The final point of these articles: the point where theology and history intersect; the point where I feel the ‘mystique’ of Israel has meaning; the point where prophecies are being fulfilled.
When history and theology coincide in this remarkable way, then it points to the ongoing story that started with the Old Testament, continued with the witness embodied in the New Testament, and is continuing to unfold today as seen by the Mystique that is modern Israel.
Shindler's List statute
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html