A recent debate on TV between a high ranking Israeli government official and one of our presenters highlighted the prejudice against Israel in terms of the peace process. This is so because when the Israeli government official began outlining the historical steps taken by Israel to make peace with her Arab neighbors, the presenter promptly butted in and asserted that the history of the region should be ignored, and demanded an answer as to how Israel is going to solve its problems in the present. In short, he discounted the historical facts as if they had no bearing whatsoever on the issue.
One couldn’t help but get the feeling that he was afraid that the historical evidence may put Israel in the right! As a result he swept the conversation aside and endeavored to concentrate on the violence of the present, i.e., the Palestinian uprising.
Time and time again this desire to sweep historical fact under the carpet when discussing the so-called Arab-Israeli conflict is too apparent. One can only conclude that there is a persistent desire to put Israel down in this type of discussion or dialogue. Does this come from a crucible of latent anti-Semitism or is it simply a case of historical ignorance? In my opinion both apply to some degree.
THE ROLE OF HISTORY
No conflict can ever be resolved without discussing the historical facts pertaining to it. After all the past is merely the present behind us! It is therefore very much a part of our present decision making processes. To discount the historical evidence would be to deny something of the present and this is tantamount to deception, lying and moral decay. It also leads us down a pathway of delusion.
Strangely this is the position most chosen by those seeking to resolve the Middle East conflict. The demands of history would somehow seriously conflict with their present interests, alliances and agendas and therefore, given the vast oil resources of the Arab world and the apparent insignificant land mass of Israel, it has become expedient to sacrifice Israel on the altar of “wider political considerations.” Be assured history is well littered with the debris of political fools and because men strut from one part of the globe to another in fancy jets and with fancy titles this does not make them clever or qualified to tackle the issues at hand. No more has this been demonstrated than in the Middle East arena. Israel has been betrayed time and time again by her so-called friends who were really seeking to grasp resources beyond her borders.
For instance, in 1981 when Israel destroyed Iraq’s nuclear reactor at Osrak, it was George Bush and James Baker who spearheaded the international condemnation against her by referring to this prudent bit of peace keeping as “international terrorism”! History has since unearthed who the real fools were – or, should we also sweep this under the carpet and make out that it never happened?
THE VOICE OF HISTORY
So then, as we face persisting rounds of peace keeping deliberations as regards the Middle East, will the voice of history be heard? And... if it is not we need to ask ourselves why? Who or what is behind the persistent endeavor to “drop Israel” and by so doing cast her in the role of peace breaker and aggressor? For the record hereunder is a brief but historically correct overview of Israel Is peace initiatives through the years.
THE ROAD TO PEACE
1. Pre-Independence: Before 1948 Palestine and the wider Arab world were mainly under French and British rule. These powers sliced up the Middle Eastern arena according to their interests and in most cases without due reference to the interests of the peoples living in it. States were thus created by the mere drawing of a line across a map. Lebanon and Jordan are clear examples of this. The point we are making is this: These powers had the right to do with the Middle East as they desired. Crucial to this process was the Balfour Declaration of November 1917 issued by the British mandatory power that paved the way legally for the formation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. Just as Britain had the legal right to create the Hashemite Kingdom of Trans-Jordan, so she had the right to create the state of Israel. If Israel’s right to existence is challenged so must the right of existence of many Arab states be challenged as well.
Between 1917 and 1948 various models of the Jewish state were presented including one that approximated to the land mass and position of modern day Tel Aviv. All these were accepted by the Jewish Zionist leaders and finally a partition plan was decided upon by the United Nations – that gave Israel a reduced portion of the land mass west of the Jordan. The East Bank region became the Palestinian state of Jordan and the West Bank area of Judea and Samaria became an ‘undecided,’ Palestinian entity.
It is to be noted that Israel fully accepted this plan and declared her independence on the 14 May 1948. This she did with world approval including that of the USSR. She at the same time declared her intentions to live in peace with her Arab neighbors.
2. The Liquidation Struggle: The Arab nations however flew in the face of the world community and immediately mobilized for a war of liquidation. This in spite of Israeli pleas for peace and co-operation in the region. These peace initiatives by Israel are well documented and need no further reference. In short, in terms of the historical record Israel was the victim of Arab aggression.
Jordan promptly swallowed up the undecided Palestinian entity of the UN partition plan and then illegally annexed the area including East Jerusalem. Another flagrant dismissal of matters relating to peace.
In 1967 another attempt was made to liquidate Israel. This time Abdul Nasser of Egypt spearheaded the attack and failed. The Arab armies were decimated and East Jerusalem and the West Bank fell into Israel’s hands. Note: These did not become “occupied territory” but “acquired territory” of no formal designation in the defense of Israel’s existence! After all, Jordan had illegally annexed them and prior to that their status had not been clarified by the UN. Israel has not annexed them and holds them to this day in the interests of her security.
After the Six Day war of June 1967, Israel did in fact offer to give them back on condition that the Arab world recognize her existence, guarantee her borders and make peace. The answer from every Arab capital was a resounding No! So who is not for peace?
Over the years to the present day the wider Arab world has continued to call for the total liquidation of the Jewish state. Hence the 1973 Yom Kippur war with the same goal as that of 1967 – the liquidation of Israel. This call to liquidate Israel has come repeatedly from the Palestinians as well. The Gulf War has yet again proved that given the opportunity the Arab world will endeavor again to destroy Israel.
3. The Peace Example: Israel’s successful peace negotiations with Egypt have proved that, if the Arab nations will sit down face to face with the Israelis and sincerely discuss peace, something positive can happen. In the final analysis Israel’s commitment to peace cannot be challenged. History proves it. The Egyptian example underlines it.
The concluding reality: Quite obviously the above clearly reveals that Israel has at no time stood in the way of peace. Indeed the facts reveal just the opposite. The Arab world so bent on Israel’s destruction has been in the way of peace. This is the clear testimony of history and it needs to be said.To be sure Israel has suffered more than any other nation as a result of war. She has no desire to perpetuate the conflict. She is tired of war and longs for peace. To be sure she may now be over cautious about Arab peace overtures since perpetual Arab rhetoric about destroying her give her every right to be. History has taught her this and events in the Gulf, but a year ago or so, have underlined it. Peace will only come to the region when the Arab world finally concedes that Israel has returned to the region to stay. Her presence is no threat to the Arab world but in fact a glorious prospect for regional development, uplift and prosperity.
Replacement theology is a misguided systematic approach to the Bible that has not only led millions of Christians astray over the years but it has in addition birthed evil of the most horrific proportions, i.e., it played a role in the persecution of Jews by the church through the centuries, including the Holocaust and it was the theological thinking behind the nightmare of apartheid.
Concisely put, Replacement Theology states that Israel, having failed God, has been replaced with the Church. As a consequence all the Biblical promises made to Israel are transferred to the Church. The Church is now the real Israel of God and Israel’s national destiny in God is forever forfeited. The restoration of the modern state of Israel is thus an accident enjoying no Biblical credential – and Christians who believe that it is an act of God, in faithfulness to His covenant cut with Abraham some 4000 years ago, are considered misguided. This is the basic position of those subscribing to Replacement Theology.
ERRORS OF THINKING
a. The Allegorical Method Of Interpretation: Replacement theology effectively undermines the authority of God’s Word in that it rests on the allegorical method of interpretation. That is, the reader of God’s Word decides to spiritualize the text even if its context is literal. This effectively robs the Word of God of its own authority and the meaning of the text is entirely dependent on the readers decision to spiritualize it or not. The problem with this approach is this: Man alone decides what he will spiritualize and what he won’t. The Word of God can thus be manipulated to say anything. So, replacement theology rests on a false basis of Biblical interpretation.
b. Inadequate Understanding of Covenant: Replacement Theology is only held by those who have not properly understood the nature of the Abrahamic Covenant. This covenant, first mentioned in Gen 12:1-4 and thereafter repeatedly asserted and confirmed to the patriarchs is in fact the covenant of grace in Scripture, for it underlines God’s intention to bless the world with redemption. Such blessing however, is through the nation of Israel. God says to Abraham: “In you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” So the Abrahamic covenant is one covenant having three vital elements:
1. It declares a strategy – to reach the world through the nation of Israel.
2. It bequeaths a land – as an everlasting possession to Israel... and —
3. It gives a promise – those who bless Israel will be blessed, those who curse her will be cursed.
It is important for us to note here that if one element of the covenant fails then all fails. The covenant is like a coin having three elements, e.g., a rim, a head side, a tail side. However, it remains one coin and one cannot retain one element of the coin and give away another. The Abrahamic Covenant is just the same, it is one covenant. if one element of the covenant fails then all the elements fail. Thus if God’s promises to Israel have now failed then equally His promises to bless the world have also failed.
In short if Israel’s national destiny has been forfeited, through her disobedience, then the Church is also finished. It must be remembered that the Church’s disobedience has been as great as that of Israel over the last two thousand years. No one can deny this! So if Israel is finished because of failure then the Church is as well! There is no way that we can get around this. Moreover, Paul underlines this very point in Galatians 3 where he writes, years after Israel’s rejection of Jesus the Messiah, that the Abrahamic Covenant cannot be annulled.
“What I am saying is this; the Law which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise. For if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise.” (Gal. 3:17,18)
According to replacement theologians this Covenant has been annulled. Only a superficial, inadequate grasp of a covenant can lead to such a misguided conclusion.
THE PROPHETIC TESTIMONY
God’s promises to national Israel are constantly reaffirmed by the prophets. In this way He underlines the nature of His character and confirms the Abrahamic Covenant. An example of this is Jeremiah 31:35-38:
“Thus says the Lord, Who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night; Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; The Lord of hosts is His name: If this fixed order departs from before Me, declares the Lord, then the offspring of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before Me forever. Thus says the Lord, if the heavens above can be measured and the foundations of the earth searched out below, then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel for all that they have done, declares the Lord.”
So again the fact that the sun, moon and stars are still with us confirms the ongoing validity of the Abrahamic Covenant and as a result, Israel’s national destiny. For replacement theology to be valid the sun and moon must also be vanquished. There is no way that replacement thinkers can get around this!
Moreover, replacement theology makes a mockery of God’s character for it rests upon the premise that if you fail God in any way He will discard you... even though initially He asserted that His commitment to you is everlasting. This sounds like a typical human response to the world and not like that of the God of the Bible. Which of course it is since replacement theology is but the thinking of men!
According to the writer of the book of Hebrews we know that God will be faithful to us because in spite of Israel’s disobedience He has kept faith with her. Speaking of the Abrahamic covenant he says:
“In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, in order that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we may have strong encouragement, we who have fled for refuge in laying hold the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” (Heb. 6:17-20)
Note again that we know God to be faithful because He has been faithful to Israel in all that He promised her through Abraham. In fact this knowledge, says the writer, is the anchor of our soul (v.19). According to replacement theology this is not true!
In the final analysis replacement theology is but the mere thinking of men unable to stand up to the test of Scripture. It contradicts Scripture everywhere and by so doing robs thousands of Christians from understanding God’s redemptive purposes. The truth is:
1. God has not cast off national Israel.
2. Canaan to this present day is Israel’s national homeland.
3. The Church has not replaced Israel, she has only enlarged her. (Eph 2:11-13; Rom 11:17-18)
4. The modem restoration of Israel is evidence of God’s faithfulness to His Word and promise and strong encouragement to the Church.
5. The restoration of Israel will culminate in the coming of the Messiah. Therefore the church in the world is able to make herself ready and bless Israel as much as she can.
6. The restoration of Israel to her homeland in Canaan – including the West Bank – is the first step towards Israel’s national redemption. (Rom 11:25-27)
In closing, it would be good for us to note a quote that came from the pen of the now famous and very godly Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt. Rev. J. D. Ryle.
“I warn you, that unless you interpret the prophetical portion of the Old Testament in a simple literal meaning of its words, you will find no easy matter to carry on an argument with a Jew. Will you dare tell him that Zion, Jerusalem, Jacob, Judah, Ephraim, Israel do not mean what they seem to mean, but mean the church of Christ.” (Christian Action for Israel Newsletter, Second Quarter 1992, Malcolm Hedding, Editor, P.O. Box 5242, Cape Town 8000, South Africa)
It’s certainly a joy to share with you this copy of a report by Brother Kenneth Rawson – a glowing account of his many, very successful meetings and contacts, before Jewish and mixed audiences, etc. May the Lord be praised and Ken be blessed for this important out-reach to His ancient chosen people.
It reminds me of the same kind of grand experiences and responses Casimir had to his many lectures before Jewish people and Christian groups all over the U.S., in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, Canada, etc. – for a period of 30 years.
It reminds me too of the fine friendships Casimir made with Jewish leaders – Golda Meir, Presidents Ben-Zvi and Katzir, and many others.
I am sure you can understand how thrilled I am to know that Brother Rawson is doing a similar work. Just think how many years were lost when Bible Students could have been taking advantage of such golden opportunities.
The children of Israel still need and deserve all the comfort and inspiration that we can give them. There is, by the way, a brother in France, Gilbert Hermetz, who has been zealously working on behalf of Israel and the Jewish people for many years.
We should be prayerfully aware, as well, of the thousands of Christians of other backgrounds who are really giving of themselves wholeheartedly, time and money, to bless Israel. Our responsibility in this regard is more awesome because we have been blessed with greater light concerning His plan of the ages.
Faithfully, Elva Lanowick
ARIZONA SHOWINGS OF ISRAEL A.V. SURPASSES ALL EXPECTATIONS
Although it is considered a poor time by the Arizona Jewish community, we arranged a series of five showings during the week following New Years because Brother Richard and Sister Shirley Evans would be available in the area with their A.V. equipment. All we had to bring were the slides and computer tape of the sound track. Brother Zyg and Sister Verna Roguski took good care of the temporal needs of the Evans and Rawsons during our week of service.
Jewish organizations did all the advertising, provided the halls and the audience. There were five showings in six days in which 900 viewed, ISRAEL: APPOINTMENT WITH DESTINY despite the heavy rains for much of the week. We sold over 130 videos and have been getting more orders by mail.
Friday evening, January 3, we had 130 present even though it rained hard. This was a prestigious Reform Synagogue with some notables present. The State Chairman of the Republican party was very appreciative. His wife wanted 8 videos. Rabbi Plotkin, a noted name nationally, said the showing was superb. Later in the week, in a phone conversation the Temple Administrator asked many questions about the present Messianic times and said she would aliyah (emigrate to Israel).
Sunday morning, January 5, we had a showing at Temple Chai (Reform) where the president chose our showing to revive their Adult Education Program. The most they could hope for was 150, but were delighted with a turnout of 300. The response was very enthusiastic. They couldn’t believe Christians could give a message like this. One said it took a Christian to make a production that a Jew should have made long ago. Many parents said their children made aliyah (emigrated to Israel). The president of PARENTS OF NORTH AMERICAN CHILDREN WHO ALIYAH came up and said – “Every Jew in the United States should see this production.” One man introduced himself as a professional multi-media producer for 12 years. His productions utilize up to 14 projectors. He said this was one of the best he has seen, the selection of slides and music was superb. In telling him we were a group of amateurs, he replied, “The difference is you have a vision.”
Monday evening, January 6, we had a showing at a small Orthodox Synagogue. The Rabbi expected 50, but with torrential rains an hour before the showing, 40 came out. A Polish Holocaust survivor told us of an experience he had in Poland when a Priest lured him and other Jews into a building. The Priest slammed the door and shouted Christ killers while others beat them with clubs. Many said, we can’t believe you are Christians because the spirit of your message is so loving. One man went on to say, “If it turns out that Jesus is Messiah, that would be wonderful.” He was crying.
On Tuesday, January 7, the Jewish Federation of Tucson planned a luncheon showing. There was a $5. charge which went to the caterer. The reservations more than doubled the Federation’s expectations. Over 140 were present. All the leaders of the Jewish community were there along with other notables, such as college professors, etc. They were amazed that a message so Biblical could be so factual yet inspiring. Others said it was the first time they heard their Scriptures explained so clearly. It was the most intellectual audience we have had. What was so thrilling was these people really believed the message.
On Wednesday, January 8, we had a dinner showing at a Reform Temple in Sun City. There was a $15. dinner for the Temple members. The general community was invited free for the showing which followed. While 146 of us were enjoying the dinner, the foyer was filling up with the general public, some Christians but most were Jewish. There was a total of 300 for the showing. One said he learned more about the Jewish Bible in one night than he did in a whole lifetime. Many said they never knew their Bible taught so much about the new State of Israel. others said we gave them a hope they never had. Several said they came very skeptical but now have more confidence in us than in their Rabbis.
After the question period, the Rabbi gave the closing remarks. He seemed to be sensitive over the great enthusiasm for our showing. He said, “The film was very messianic but remember Jews are more messianic than Christians.” Then he said, “When Messiah comes, he will not be seen riding on a donkey or seen descending from heaven, but everyone will know he is here by the conditions on the earth.” When told we agree with that, he was speechless.
Before leaving for Phoenix, a reporter from Sun City interviewed us for 3/4 hour by phone. To avoid being confused with the Society, we stated the Bible Students were founded in the early 1870s by Pastor Charles Taze Russell but had their roots in the Second Adventist movement of the early 1800s. The icing on the cake was that a Christian couple came out because of the Second Adventist reference in the newspaper article. Their church originated in the Second Adventist movement. They have since attended several Bible Student meetings.
Since the beginning of 1990, we have had 51 showings of the Israel production. Three of which were public meetings. The remainder were for Jewish organizations whose special events calendar is generally from November 1 to May 15. The overwhelming majority of these were synagogues. The attendance generally ranges from 40 to 300. The average attendance is about 100. The response is always very enthusiastic. The comments after each showing are quite similar to those above. Since the message is very Biblical, we are gratified for this enthusiastic response.
Selling videos after the presentation has greatly expanded the scope of the message. The videos are shown to family and friends who in turn write us to order videos. In addition to videos the brethren possess, we estimate that there are 1,100 to 1,200 of our videos circulating among Jewish people. Additionally we know of two individuals who have duplicated over 100 each and are circulating them.
We have had showings in Reform and Conservative synagogues from the start. In the last year the Lord opened the door into Orthodox synagogues. The Lord has opened doors we never dreamed of for giving this message of comfort. By the Lord’s grace, we have commendations and cooperation from Israeli Government leaders, the former Russian refusniks, secular leaders, prominent Rabbis and leaders of the three segments of Judaism, publishers, editors and academic leaders in the Jewish community. We need your continued prayers. If anyone has any questions or suggestions about our message of comfort to the Jewish people, we will be happy to consider them. Your fellowship in this service is much appreciated.
Your brother in Christ, Kenneth W. Rawson, 60 Jersey Avenue, Edison, NJ 08820
QUESTION OF GENERAL INTEREST
QUESTION – Does the Bible teach a return of the Jews to Palestine, and is that country large enough for all Abraham’s descendants?
ANSWER - The Bible answer is YES to both questions: (a) “I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves, and will bring you again into the land of Israel.” “Ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be My people, and I shall be your God.” “And they shall say, this land that was desolate is become like the Garden of Eden.” (Ezek. 37:12; 36:27-35) (b) What is known as the land of Palestine is but a small part of the promised land, which is to stretch from the River of Egypt to the Euphrates (Gen. 15:18), and appears to include Arabia and other territories equal to the half of Europe. Much of this is now desert land, but “the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.” Isa. 35:1) There will be ample space and abundant provision made for the Israelites in the promised land – promised for an everlasting possession to Abraham and his descendants – when God’s favor will be returned to them as foretold by the prophets. (Rom. 11:25-27)
(Question Book, p. 792)
LETTERS OF GENERAL INTEREST
Dear Sister Hoefle: Christian greetings
Thank you for your letter with enclosures. They are fine! I am single and live with my grandmother. I have and aunt who used to send me literature from the Jehovah’s Witnesses, so I am acquainted with their beliefs.
I have the Studies in the Scriptures, which are marvelous aids to Bible study. I don’t have the book on Pastor Russell, but I would love to get it and read especially answering charges about him by his critics.
Since I have the older literature of the Studies in the Scriptures I would be interested in the more recent up-to-date publications as well as any articles analyzing the JWs as well as those of Pastor Russell’s critics. I would contribute for such.
Sincerely, ------- (NEW YORK)
Dear Mrs. Hoefle:
By the way of thanks for the papers you are sending me I am sending you an article about vital energy and vital force.
Some years ago I talked with a Lutheran bishop about human vital energy and force. He said I approached the question in the spirit of Isaac Newton. In the English Bibles the “breath of life” is used; but the bishop told me that in eastern Bibles the word “energia” is used. The name of the bishop is Krister Stendahl. He is now retired and lives somewhere in the U.S.A.
I read with much interest in one of your papers a notice about Noah’s Ark. It had appeared in the Orlando Sentinel October 2, 1989.
In 1960 Willard Libby, U.S.A., got the Nobel prize for the process of dating with radiocarbon. And as far as I can remember, he once dated a piece of wood from Noah’s Ark, but I cannot find any information of this matter in the books with articles of Libby in our libraries. You can perhaps find information about a dating with radiocarbon of a piece of wood from the Ark in the U.S.A.
I am invited to an international convention of Bible Students in France August 8-14, this year. May I ask, Are you interested in this convention?
Sincerely yours, Anders Karlen (SWEDEN)
Dear Sr. Hoefle,
Thanks very much for your letter. I am very happy to answer your questions: Yes, I am searching for the Truth. I was born a Presbyterian, but since my childhood I have found the doctrine of the immortality of the soul unbiblical. I had decided to become a minister when 18, but the Theological College was too liberal. I have tried all the evangelical churches in Paris but they are all wrong in their teaching.
I’m 25 years old and am married. I am a teacher in history, but this year I am working in urban planning.
You asked why my grandfather left the Bible Students. I don’t know exactly. Perhaps because of dissent with the new Rutherfordian doctrines, or perhaps just because he left Germany to France, a few years after he left his hometown (a small industrial town in the mountains near the German border). He had a small factory. I know it was a time of crisis in the movement of Bible Students. Judge Rutherford was changing the doctrines of the Society. All my knowledge of the history of the Bible Students came mainly from reading books about the Jehovah’s Witnesses and their history.
I made a mistake when I said we only have the LHMM in France. We have the Dawn Bible Students and perhaps others. What is the difference in these Bible Student movements?
No, I don’t have the Divine Plan of the Ages. I just read it in the National Library. It was very difficult to get it. I think I was the first to read this book in the National Library in fifty years. I would be interested to receive it. Also, I would like to receive the book by Mr. Horowitz about Pastor Russell. Just tell me the price of these books. I am happy to write to Christian people like you.
Sincerely yours in Christ, ------- (FRANCE)
Thank you for your reply to my letter. My mother and brothers have been receiving the Dawn many years, and three of my brothers still do. My mother passed away 10 years ago. We like what we have read so far from your association. We don’t need more than one copy. My oldest brother is the one you have been mailing to. Take him off.
I would like to know if you have any books or booklets we could obtain. I live on SS but I know it costs to print and mail these papers, so I am enclosing a check for your use anyway you wish.
Please continue mailing your papers just to me.
Thank you, ------- (MISSOURI)