As the Western world commemorates the centennial of the end of World War One, we are reminded of the Scriptural promise of God’s protection of His chosen people. We are comforted and inspired by the Gospel promise of deliverance uttered so long ago: “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; The oath which he sware to our father Abraham, That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.” (Luke 1:68-75)
Books of the World War-One period included British-Israel authors, Marr Murray, “Bible Prophecies and the Present War” (1915), and “The More Sure Word of Prophecy” (1917), as well as G.H. Lancaster, “Prophecy, the War, and the Middle East” (1916). In addition, British-Israel journals of the pre-war period had much to say of the prospect for war. The Banner of Israel in 1901 predicted with a certainty that a European war was coming: “In the terrific conflict which will soon engulf Europe, Britain will side with Germany.” (p.82) This assumption was based, the author said, on the British public’s feelings of racial affinity to Germany which would cause them to side with the Kaiser against France and Russia. Such an alignment never happened.
A more perceptive prediction was made the following year in the same journal, which predicted that Russia would try to take Afghanistan (xxvi:193). This however, was an event that took place much later in the twentieth century in December 1979 under the Soviet Communist regime.
The Russian revolution and persecution of the Jews was foreseen as early as 1891: “The Jew’s position in Russia may become acute at any time. A Russian Revolution, which is said to be inevitable, would precipitate such a crisis at once. The mob, if they got the upper hand, would assault the Jewish women, beat the men, and destroy their little remaining property. An exhaustive war, in its end, might bring about the same state of affairs. Great, and Greater, Britain could not stand by and see the Russian Jews done to death. Our position would be serious. The Jews would be sure to swarm to this country. How could Great Britain make room for perhaps a million Jews, who, if they reached our shores, would crowd into our large towns, and particularly to London, and flood it with cheap labour, to the serious detriment of our own work-people.” (Banner of Israel, xv:89) This same concern about foreign immigration helped lead Britain out of the European Union in 2016.
Later in 1891 this journal predicted, “Nationally and individually we have this blessed hope before us; though now the nations are perplexed and in doubt, as it were, on a precipitous mountain, in an impenetrable fog, and without a guide; the groaning of nature increasing their fears. They are hoping for, and crying, Peace, peace, when there is no possibility of peace. All the time the great powers, both Roman and Greek, are preparing for the most destructive war of all time; millions of soldiers are armed with the most deadly and destructive weapons and nearly all their able-bodied men can be drawn upon.” (xv:180) Little did the author know that not one, but two increasingly destructive world wars lay ahead.
The Great Pyramid was used prophetically to envision the future as well. “By one method of calculation, the low, dark exit beyond the south wall of the Grand Gallery was reached in May, 1882. This is the month and year…that saw the birth of the Russian edict against the Jews. It will be sad indeed if they have already entered, and are now passing through, this low passage of trouble, without turning or mode of escape. Yet it is hard to understand how prophecy will be fulfilled without some such event occurring, much as it seems out place in so-called Christian Europe, at the close of the nineteenth century. Yet Judah will be saved out of it, and Israel shall dwell safely. Hence the probability that the national recognition of the oneness of the British with Israel will synchronize with Judah’s trouble, both being apparently near at hand to come.” (xv:237) Indeed, the Golden Era of British-Israel belief in Britain took place during the era of Jewish persecution in Europe.
“Probably there are more great nations existing at present than there have been at any former time. The number of fighting men they can produce is very large, and their engines of destruction are more terrible than those formerly used. When the looked-for European war begins it will be a war of Titans. It will be the most destructive of human life and property that has ever been known.” (ibid.) Sadly, that would indeed prove true!
“The preparations for this great European conflict have been going on for years. Far-seeing statesmen behold it approaching. The longer it is in coming the more terrific it will be. All the great Continental Powers will take part in it. Probably Britain will have no share in it. The contending hosts, as far as appearances now indicate, will be France and Russia on one side, and Germany, Austria, and Italy on the other, the smaller nations joining either the one side or the other. After these nations have destroyed each other, Russia will probably emerge from these Titanian wars less prostrate than the others. Though she will have suffered heavily yet from her immense territory she will be able to bring in new hosts of men to fill the ranks of those who have fallen.” In fact, Russia fared worse than the other nations involved in the war, with the overthrow of the Czar and his government.
“Those continental nations which now hinder the ambitious march of Russia will then lie prostrate and bleeding. Russia will then have no rival in the continental Powers of Europe.” (xv:335) This was very prescient, although it was after the Second World War that the Soviets controlled all of Eastern Europe.
Evangelical journals prior to the World War looked to the Bible for validation of their prophetic schemes, and chiefly focused on two particular passages: Daniel 11 and Ezekiel 36, seeking to make these prophecies fit events of the early twentieth century.
Daniel 11 is still regularly linked by modern Dispensational Futurists to events of our own day, although Biblical scholars instead assign it to the second century, B.C. era of Greek general Antiochus IV Epiphanes. Even the Complete Jewish Bible titles this chapter, “Detailed prophetic description of the Persian and Græcian world-kingdoms,” which is also the view of the Christian Historicist school to which we adhere.
Ezekiel 36:2 was often quoted in the pre-WWI era and applied to Turkey, because they were then in control of Palestine: “The enemy is boasting over you, ‘Ha! Even the ancient high places are ours now!'” It is Israel’s ancient antagonist, Edom, who is rhetorically speaking here, for in verse 5 God responds, “In the heat of my jealousy I speak against the other nations and all of Edom, since, rejoicing with all their heart, they have arrogated my land to themselves as a possession and, with utter contempt, seized it as prey.” (Ezek. 36:5) Christian pulpits began ignoring this verse after Turkey lost control of Palestine to Britain in 1917. Neither the British, nor the Turks fit this prophecy; Turkish tribes first arrived in the Mideast almost a millennium after Christ and have no racial connection with ancient Edom. Instead, the Edomite nation was conquered by Judean general John Hyrcanus about 129 B.C. and the Edomites were forcibly converted to Judaism. Today the Jews and Palestinians share the ancient high places.
It is also important to note that British-Israel journals at least as early as the 1860’s had consistently forecasted that Britain would gain control of Palestine. British-Israel founder, John Wilson, had predicted about 1868 that this would take place within 25 years and sent his son to Palestine to prepare the way. His prediction did indeed see fulfillment a half century later with the British liberation of Jerusalem under General Edmund Allenby on December 11, 1917.
World War One ended with a continuing enmity on both sides, which was among the factors leading to the Second World War two decades later. British author, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, observed, “History has shown that it is the fights which are fought to an absolute finish which leave the least rancour.”
Was the victory of the Allied forces in two world wars simply due to force of arms, or owing to God’s overruling hand? Late Nineteenth century British Cardinal Manning, wisely remarked, “The [British] empire had not been built up by us, but for us.” This cleric was unknowing of Britain’s connection with Israel and the prophecies concerning God’s people, but still could see the Divine plan being worked out in his own day. But it was Prime Minister of Cape Colony South Africa and Rhodes scholarship benefactor, Cecil John Rhodes, speaking of Great Britain, who said it best: “The fault of the greatest people the world has ever seen is that they do not know their strength, their greatness, and their destiny.” Amen!