The Promised Land in Scripture
The roots of the Promised Land stretch back to the days of Abraham, when God made an everlasting covenant with him and his descendants. Numerous passages in the Old Testament, including Genesis 12:7, Genesis 17:8, and Deuteronomy 30:5, reveal God's promise of the land of Canaan to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This covenant forms the foundation for understanding the significance of the British Mandate in Bible prophecy.
The Diaspora and Return
The Israelites' history is marked by periods of exile and diaspora, a consequence of their disobedience to God's commands. In the law that God gave to Israel through Moses it stated:
“…if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God… all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee:.. …and ye shall be plucked from off the land whither thou goest to possess it. And the LORD shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other... And among these nations shalt thou find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest: but the LORD shall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind:” Deuteronomy 28:15, 63-65.
This prophecy was fulfilled. The Babylonian exile in the 6th century BC and the later Roman dispersion in AD70 led to the scattering of the Jewish people across the world. There they wandered. Seeking to make homes and lives for themselves. Remarkably for 2000 years they retained their identity as a people - never quite fully being able to assimilate themselves into the societies which they found themselves in. Often they were persecuted, ostracised and blamed for things. Often they were banished and had to move on. The wandering Jew was indeed homeless. This eventually led to the terrible persecutions and horrors of the Holocaust.
Nevertheless, the prophets of old, including Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, foretold a future restoration of Israel, a theme that provided hope and comfort to the exiled community.
British Mandate over Palestine
The early 20th century saw the rise of the Zionist movement, which aimed to establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine. The pivotal moment came with the issuance of the Balfour Declaration in 1917, in which the British government expressed support for "the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people."
Britain was instrumental in pushing out the Ottoman empire from the territory of Palestine in World War 1. They came from the territory of Egypt answering to the prophecy of “The King of the South” in Daniel 11:40. As the Ottoman power and influence shrunk students of Bible prophecy saw another prophecy being fulfilled. Namely the symbolic prophecy of the drying up of the Euphrates in Rev 16:12. The Euphratian Ottoman power indeed evaporated in World War 1.
Following the end of war, the League of Nations granted Britain the mandate over Palestine in 1920, further fuelling Jewish aspirations of returning to their ancestral land which they have been fulfilling ever since - particularly after the horrors of the holocaust.
The Jewish Virtual Library has this to say:
“On July 24, 1922, the League of Nations entrusted Great Britain with the Mandate for Palestine. Recognising "the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine," Great Britain was called upon to facilitate the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine-Eretz Israel (Land of Israel). Shortly afterward, in September 1922, the League of Nations and Great Britain decided that the provisions for setting up a Jewish national home would not apply to the area east of the Jordan River, which constituted three-fourths of the territory included in the Mandate and which eventually became the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
The British Mandate authorities granted the Jewish and Arab communities the right to run their internal affairs; thus the yishuv (The Jewish community in Palestine) established the Elected Assembly and the National Council. The economy expanded, a Hebrew education network was organized, and cultural life flourished.
The Mandatory government did not succeed in maintaining the letter and spirit of the Mandate. Under Arab pressure, it withdrew from its commitment, especially with respect to immigration and land acquisition. The White Papers of 1930 and 1939 restricted immigration and the acquisition of land by Jews. Later, immigration was severely restricted by the 1940 Land Transfer Regulations.
After the UN General Assembly adopted the resolution to partition Palestine on November 29, 1947, Britain announced the termination of its Mandate over Palestine, to take effect on May 15, 1948. On May 14, 1948, the State of Israel was proclaimed.”
The British Mandate therefore was a significant step toward fulfilling Bible prophecy and the restoration of the Jews to their ancestral homeland as God’s prophets had dictated. We see in these events the unfolding of God's plan which has ensured the scene is set for further prophetic events to unfold. Namely the invasion of Israel by a confederacy of nations (as prophesied in Ezekiel 38, Joel 3 and Zechariah 12-14) and the return of the Lord Jesus Christ who will re-establish the Kingdom of Israel on the earth.
The British Mandate over Palestine stands then as a significant chapter in the interplay between history and Bible prophecy. For Christadelphians, it holds deep theological meaning as a tangible step towards the fulfilment of God's covenant promises to Israel. While the Mandate has its share of challenges and controversies, its impact on modern geopolitics and religious beliefs remains undeniable. As we reflect on these events, we are reminded of the enduring power of faith and the intertwining threads of prophecy that continue to shape our world. Join us again next week, God willing, for another Bible in the News.