Weekly Newsletter – November 20, 2017
A MESSAGE OF HOPE FROM DR JACK VAN IMPE
World War I – The Threat to Survival
While traveling on a train the West, Leon Tucker spoke to a Jew about Israel. The Jew said he was perfectly satisfied in the United States. His home was here, his business was here, and his family had become established here. He was not interested in Jerusalem of the building of the nation of Israel.
“Stretch out your right hand,” Tucker said. The Jew held out his right hand and Tucker looked at it. Then he said, “Stick out your tongue, please.”
“Are you trying to make a fool of me?” the Jew asked.
“No,” Tucker replied, “but I would like to see your tongue.” The Jew stuck out his tongue.
Tucker looked at it and quoted from Psalm 137:5,6: “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.“
The Jew bowed his head and with tears said, “I have never been so rebuked in my life.”
The Young Idealists
The years following the founding of Zionism demonstrated that many Jews had indeed forgotten Jerusalem. Having become comfortable, especially in the West, most Jews preferred to stay in the nations to which they had wandered.
Just before the turn of the century, however, there was a wave of Jewish immigrants to Palestine. Moved by Herzl’s book and his eloquence, a number of young idealists came as pioneers to the land of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Many of these new arrivals were students. The education they were to receive in their chosen land was to be a difficult one. Palestine was under the control of Turkey, a nation hostile to Jews. The land was denuded of forests and most of it had returned to desert. Ancient terraces that had once protected the soil of Israel had long been destroyed, and erosion had conquered much of the are a. The vital partnership of soil and farmer, so needed for agricultural success, had been broken for centuries and conditions were deplorable.
Mark Twain, who visited Palestine in 1867, described it as:
…a desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds — a silent mournful expanse. …A desolation is here that not even imagination can grace with the pomp of life and action…. We never saw a human being on the whole route…. There was hardly a tree or a shrub anywhere. Even the olive and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country.
Even as late as 1913, the report of the Palestine Royal Commission quotes an eyewitness account of the Maritime Plain as follows:
The road leading from Gaza to the north was only a summer track suitable for transport by camels and carts. …No orange groves, orchards or vineyards were to be seen until one reached Yabna village…. Not in a single village in all this area was water used for irrigation…. Houses were all of mud. No windows were anywhere to be seen…. The ploughs used were of wood…. The yields were very poor…. The sanitary conditions in the village were horrible. Schools did not exist…. The rate of infant mortality was very high…. The western part, towards the sea, was almost a desert…. The villages in this area were few and thinly populated. Many ruins of villages were scattered over the area, as owing to the prevalence of malaria; many villages were deserted by their inhabitants.
But this hostile land would be tamed. The desert would yet blossom as the rose.
As the years passed, trained people would arrive — scientific farmers, irrigation experts, builders of factories and cities, educators, and thinkers. These immigrants of diverse abilities and interests would in the next three- quarters of a century bring the dead land to life a gain. But what a task lay before them!
By 1914 there were about 100,000 Jews in Palestine, mostly in the area of Jerusalem. Though Herzl was no longer living, his dream was beginning to materialize. Foundations were being laid. Preparations were being made for the birth of a nation. Then World War I broke out.
Caught in the Middle
World conflict was especially unwanted by the Jews. Being small in number and finding themselves caught in the middle of strategic territory held by Turkey and desired by Great Britain, many Jews feared the worst — death of their nation before its birth, the abortion of Israel, the destruction of Zionism.
Turkey’s alliance with Germany threatened disaster to Jews in Palestine. Work had to be halted on the homeland. Jews with citizenship in any of the Allied nations were deported. Some Jews were forced to accept Turkish citizenship. Dozens were executed, accused of spying for the Allies.
Another problem for Jews in World War I was a division of loyalties. Jews fought on both sides of the conflict, and with equal patriotism. Unlike World War II, when Germany was an enemy of all Jewish people and thus unified them, World War I offered no such clear-cut decision. Jews in Germany were generally loyal to that land and served with devotion.
War Does Not Take God by Surprise
Although World War I brought great difficulties to the Jews and made the development of their homeland precarious, there were some important positive results from that tragic conflict. Students of the Bible understand that all events work out God’s great plan. Even war does not take God by surprise. The working out of His program is not affected by the violence of man: “Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain” (Ps. 76:10).
The first positive spin-off from World War I was the issuing of what is known as t he Balfour Declaration. Eager to involve the Jews on the side of the Allies and being especially concerned about their strategic location near the Suez Canal, British foreign secretary Arthur James Balfour, on November 2, 1917, sent the following declaration to Lord Rothschild expressing British sympathy with the cause of Zionism:
His Majesty’s Government views with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.
British support for the establishment of the State of Israel was now on paper and declared to the world. If the aim of that move was to gain Jewish participation in the war, it was successful. The publication of the Balfour Declaration produced Jewish volunteers for service from Great Britain and other nations, especially the United States. It appeared now that instead of destroying Zionism, as had been feared, World War I would actually play an important role in establishing the Jews in their land.
Freedom for Jerusalem!
The second important development in the wartime drama was the arrival there of British General Allenby. The conquest of Jerusalem became one of his first objectives, and the success of his effort is well known.
The Balfour Declaration had been issued on November 2, 1917. One month later, General Allenby freed Jerusalem from the Turks. On December 9, 1917, Allenby’s forces liber ated Jerusalem without firing a shot. When the Turks had discovered that a general was on the way whose name was Allenby (to them “Allah Bey” — the Prophet of God), they had taken this to mean God was against them and they evacuated the city. It is also said that seeing airplanes in battle for the first time panicked the Turks because they were aware of Isaiah’s promise of Jerusalem’s deliverance: “As birds flying, so will the LORD of hosts defend Jerusalem; defending also he will deliver it; and passing over he will preserve it” (Isaiah 31:5).
Whatever the reasons, Jerusalem was free and the Jews rejoiced. And what a great occasion that victory must have been for General Allenby! He later told how as a boy as he knelt to say his evening prayers he had been taught by his mother to pray: “And O, Lord, we would not forget thine ancient people, Israel. Hasten the day when Israel shall again be Thy people and shall be restored to Thy favor and to their land.” At a reception given for him in London, Allenby said, “I never knew that God would give me the privilege of helping to answer my own childhood prayers.”
FROM THE HEART OF DR. REXELLA VAN IMPE
Who Is Mary?
It seems to me that most Christians today – especially Protestants – spend little time thinking about Mary.
Oh, once a year she shows up on a Christmas card, shown either riding on a donkey’s back or keeping a silent vigil beside the newborn Christ child in the manger.
Even then, she may be scarcely noticed amid the animals, shepherds, and wise men.
On those occasions when we do think about Mary, our main concern may be maintaining the proper balance between reserve and respect for this remarkable woman. Yet we can’t fully understand the miracle of the Christmas story if we fail to consider Mary’s role. She’s really the central human figure in one of the most important events in the history of mankind.
Who was Mary? What relevance does her life have to our personal faith?
I am astounded by her comprehension and calm acceptance of the monumental miracle the angel Gabriel announced would happen. Imagine a poor, uneducated peasant girl being told she would conceive and give birth to a great king, the Son of God! Yet Mary understood … and she believed.
Perhaps one of the few people Mary could confide in during this time was her cousin, Elisabeth, who was to be the mother of John the Baptist. Elisabeth confirmed that what was happening to Mary was divinely ordained and encouraged her. Blessed is she that believed, said Elisabeth, for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord (Luke 1:45).
In the midst of today’s relaxed (collapsed?) moral standards, it may be difficult for us to realize the sacrifice Mary had to make to agree to yield herself to the Holy Spirit. In her culture, for an unmarried woman to be found with child could have resulted in a death sentence! At the very least, she faced misunderstanding by most people, probable rejection by her betrothed, and scorn and shame in the eyes of her contemporaries.
Which of us would have the courage and strength to subject ourselves to such an ordeal? But Mary’s strong faith moved her to cooperate with God’s plan. Her simple, humble response was, Be it unto me according to thy word (Luke 1:38).
Mary stands out in the Gospel story as the symbol of the true humanity of Jesus. She is the link between the divinity of Christ and the humanity of all mankind. Jesus could not have been completely God and completely man without Mary’s role.
Without question, Mary and her husband, Joseph, played an important role in shaping and influencing the developing years of the young Jesus. As a youngster, Jesus was taught the scriptures and the laws of God. When He amazed the learned scholars in Jerusalem at age twelve, one can say that His divinity shone through … but He also had been taught and trained to do His homework.
And it may well have been at home that Jesus learned the words He cried in Gethsemane — "Not my will, but thine be done!" Certainly His mother had set an example before Him of humble submission to the plan of God.
The character exemplified in the life of Mary is an inspiration and challenge to every believer. She was courageous, committed, compassionate, and concerned.
I envision Mary having great strength and durability, yet remaining complete and perfect femininity. She was courageous, going calmly and with dignity where few others would have been willing to go. She faced hardship, opposition, even danger, with no complaints. She was willing to let God’s Will be done in her life.
After facing the ostracism and personal humiliation of being pregnant without a husband, Mary had the strength and courage to mount a donkey only a few days before giving birth and make the long, hard journey to Bethlehem.
And it must have taken courage of another kind to deal with the throngs of strangers who came to visit her newborn son —shepherds, wise men from the East, and doubtless other curious onlookers.
Later, when Herod sought to kill all babies in the land, she helped save Jesus from the slaughter by journeying to Egypt with Joseph and the child to live among foreigners. Did this take courage? Absolutely!
And let’s not forget the courage demanded of Mary to take on the responsibility for rearing and nurturing Jesus through His childhood and into manhood. It takes great courage to be the parent of any child — how much more to be the mother of the Son of God?
Once Mary heard and responded to the angel’s announcement that she was chosen for a divine commission, she was committed.
From that moment on, she never wavered or looked back.
Her commitment was complete — she set aside any personal ambitions and dreams to make herself available to God’s plan. Her whole life was dedicated to carrying out the diving mission to which God had called her.
So seriously did she take her responsibility that the crisis of losing and finding her Son again in Jerusalem when He was twelve prompted her to scold Him for causing her such concern. And Jesus gently rebuked her by reminding her that He must be about His Father’s business.
And a few years later at Calvary, her commitment kept her at the foot of the cross while almost everyone else fled. Even in the face of what must have been tremendous anguish to see her Son’s suffering, she remained committed to God’s plan.
From the beginning of her adult life, Mary lived her life for others. She put the needs of others before her own and ministered to those around her — husband, family, and friends.
I imagine Mary as being the perfect embodiment of all the marvelous qualities of the virtuous wife described in Proverbs 31. She was humble, but supremely capable and efficient in her efforts to serve.
Can you imagine this woman going around very arrogantly, saying "Treat me special – I am the mother of the Son of God"? Of course not.
Surely Jesus patterned part of His life after her example. When He promised rest to those who labor and are heavy laden, He said, I am meek and lowly in heart (Matthew 11:29). I am sure as a child He must have observed the qualities of humility and compassion in her daily life.
Mary’s concern for others
The story of Christ’s first miracle in turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana provides a very telling insight into the character of the mother of Jesus. Even in a situation where providing the refreshments was not her responsibility, Mary was concerned for others. When it became obvious that there was not enough to drink at the wedding feast and the host was about to be embarrassed, she got involved.
She was aware of what was going on around her … and was concerned about the problems of others. But more than feeling sympathy for them, she had a solution. "I know my Son can take care of this," she said.
After making Jesus aware of the problem, she told the servants of the house, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it (John 2:5). And, of course, the Lord did meet the need and the beverage He provided was recognized as the best of the evening!
Truly Mary’s life is an inspiration to us — her courage, commitment, compassion, and concern. Her Christ-like character and devotion is an eloquent witness that, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can be strong enough to withstand any test, even the crucifying tensions of modern life.
Perhaps the key to Mary’s spiritual life is found in that beautiful Bible passage known as the Magnificat (see Luke 1:46-53). In those wonderful verses it seems one can hear her opening her innermost heart as she cries —
"My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior… holy is his name. And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation."
Thank you, Mary, for the inspiration and Godly example of your faith-filled life! May God help us to magnify the Lord, rejoice in our spirits, and receive His mercy…today, and until His perfect plan is fulfilled around the globe.
CHANGED LIVES-one at a time
Hello my name is Kyle and I have watched your show since 1996. I want to thank you for decades of teaching me about our Lord Jesus. You are my pastor Mr. Impe, I have tried churches, I have worked for them as well, and I never could get into it. Your words are truth and it resonates as truth and I only trust you about the word. Mrs. Impe you are amazing, I watched the show for years as you ran it alone and you absolutely rocked it, thank you for keeping it going. My family and I watch you on YouTube now and it is so great to see the two of you together again. I wanted to write you for years, to only say this, I love you guys, you are family and this world would suffer so much more if your light was not shining so bright! God bless you and please never stop teaching this world about our beautiful Lord! So much love from my family, thank you again!
I’m so very blessed to have the opportunity still to learn from your ministry. I’ve been saved since I was a young teen, now in my 30’s, I KNOW I’ve been living a worldly life and not had the relationship with the Lord that I long for. My life is empty right now, I want God back in control of my life and I want to be able to bring others to know Him and His precious love and sacrifice He gave for us. God bless you all. I love you so very much!
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Soul Food: Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread
Dr. Jack Van Impe’s wonderful year-long devotional, Soul Food: Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread is the perfect daily reading to keep you growing in God, looking forward to His return, and finding peace, comfort and hope for each new day, every day of the year. There’s a daily memory verse to help you keep learning new Scriptures throughout the year, plus powerful insight from the man called “The Walking Bible.” This is great devotional material for you, and it makes a wonderful gift for a loved one.