The fact that it has taken until 2018 to finally have the first royal visit may have come to a surprise to some. Well it certainly is not that historically the royals have been dis interested in the holy land. It was in 1862 that Queen Victoria sent another young Prince of Wales on a tour of the Middle East, 21 year old Albert – who would later become King Edward VII. And only three years later under the royal patronage of Queen Victoria in the Palestine Exploration Fund was founded which would begin to shake the dust off the old city of Jerusalem under the hand of the archeologist Charles Warren. And the British did not stop there, it was they themselves who were principally involved in the idea of the homeland for the Jewish people, of course through the issuance of the Balfour Declaration.
So with all this interest and history why would it take so long for a visit to the State of Israel? Well if you know your history, British support for ‘a national home for the Jewish people’ did not last even though it was reaffirmed in the White Paper of 1922, known as the ‘Churchill White Paper,’ and received international support at the San Remo conference and the Treaty of Sèvres. Unfortunately, as time went by and oil became an important commodity appeasing the Arabs who were instigated by the Vatican became increasingly British policy. In fact, the British government would appease the Arabs to the point of outright hostility to the Jewish population in Palestine as it was called at that point. Plain and simple Britain would go against its word and it would destine countless Jews to die in Europe during WWII.
Over the decades since the founding of the State of Israel its ties to Britain have increased, and it has been argued that Britain really needs Israel more than Israel needs Britain. The following was written in Haaretz in an analysis piece asking what has changed to bring about the royal visit now:
“For a start, the United Kingdom – on what seems an irreversible course to leave the European Union following its Brexit vote – is trying to carve out a new niche for itself in international diplomacy.
With diminished clout on the world stage, it must utilize whatever assets it has. And the one unique thing Britain has is a young generation of royals who are instantly recognizable across the globe.
The relationship between Israel and the United Kingdom is currently slanted in Israel’s favor. Britain relies on Israel for intelligence on terror threats emanating from the Middle East much more than Israel needs the U.K.’s assistance.
Britain purchases Israeli high-tech and advanced weapons on a far larger scale than Israel buys similar “Made in Britain” products. And, no less crucial for U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May, Netanyahu enjoys a far stronger personal relationship with both Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin than she does. But Britain still has princes.”
However with all that said Britain and the royal family have not really changed its policy of appeasement with the Arabs. This became apparent when William’s itinerary was released. The following was written by Caroline Glick:
“William is also scheduled to visit his great-grandmother’s grave during his trip. And that is where the trouble starts.
The Duke of Cambridge could have referred to his visit to Jerusalem’s Old City as a private visit, as his father and grandfather did before him. Both President Donald Trump and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz referred to their visits to the Western Wall and other religious sites in Jerusalem’s Old City as private visits.
Instead, Yediot reported, Kensington Palace has insisted that William’s visit to Jerusalem is part of his official visit to the Palestinian Authority (and what it calls the “Occupied Palestinian Territories”). That is, rather than finesse Britain’s position on the most explosive issue in the Arab conflict with Israel, Britain decided to use Prince William’s visit to do what no government, other than Pakistan, ever did: claim, in an official act, that these sections of Jerusalem belong to the Arabs, not the Jews.”
Coming from the supposed future King of Britain, a nation that was founded on Biblical principals is well simply sad. Well, we may not have heard the last of the Prince in the Middle East as reports are now coming out upon his return home that he is claiming that “middle east peace will be his lifelong mission.” We can hope that eyes will be opened when they are confronted with the reality of who they are asking Israel to make peace with.
There is no doubt true and lasting peace will come in the land of promise. It will not however involve denying Jewish heritage to Jerusalem. It will not involve removing Jews from the mountains of Israel, and it will not fully come until Christ returns. Will Britain be involved in the temporary peace that is established in Ezekiel 38? This is certainly reasonable and has even been expected.
What we know for certain is that Britain will continue to build her presence in the Middle East as she is the Tarshish of Ezekiel 38, as we have looked at many times on this program (Should you want to explore this further please refer to the Bible Magazine Vol 20, issue 3 and Vol 26, issue 4 which you can find in the back issues on the www.biblemagazine.com)
However further than just being antagonistic to the northern alliance in Ezekiel 38, Tarshish is also seen as one of the Gentile powers that have submitted to Christ upon his return, due in part to his judgments. Judgments due to the fact that the vast majority of the nation has turned its back on God and his word. Consider the following passages:
“The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.”— Psalm 9:17
“For the day of the LORD of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low... And upon every high tower, and upon every fenced wall, And upon all the ships of Tarshish, and upon all pleasant pictures. And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low: and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day.” – Isaiah 2:12-17
In Britain's current ungodly state prior to God’s judgments, Prince William brought a gift to Israel’s President, Reuven Rivlin. The gift was a football jersey. To be honest this encounter made me smile because it will not be long before Tarshish will be bringing gifts, not to the President of the State of Israel, but to the King of the Kingdom of Israel:
“He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.
They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before him; and his enemies shall lick the dust.
The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents: the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts.
Yea, all kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve him.” – Psalm 72:8-11
That word for ‘presents’ is often translated ‘tribute.’ But when we look up the Hebrew word it is ‘minchah’ which is the word for the meal offering in the law. The beautiful thing about the meal offering was that it was not a compulsory law. It was an offering that was given to God as an act of appreciation, like a gift (Thus why it is sometimes translated ‘present’). This is also one of the offerings that we find in the last chapters of Ezekiel in the time when the temple is rebuilt. So the picture of one bringing Tarshish bringing up an offering to the Lord is beautiful and clearly a time much different spiritual situation than a gift of a football jersey!
It was actually Queen Victoria that said regarding the second coming of Christ – “I should so love to lay my crown at His feet.” We can be sure that that spirit will return as we read in the following from Isaiah 60:9-11
“Surely the isles shall wait for me (shall hope for me - ESV), and the ships of Tarshish first, to bring thy sons from far, their silver and their gold with them, unto the name of the Lord thy God, and to the Holy One of Israel, because he hath glorified thee.
And the sons of strangers shall build up thy walls, and their kings shall minister unto thee: for in my wrath I smote thee, but in my favour have I had mercy on thee.
Therefore thy gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor night; that men may bring unto thee the forces of the Gentiles, and that their kings may be brought.”
Well, Prince William signed the guestbook with the following: "May the God of peace bless this region and all the world with peace.” And he will, maybe just not as soon as dear William realizes.
Join us again next week for another edition of the Bible in the News