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The rebellion by the Jewish people against the domination of the Roman Empire reached a breaking point in 66 A.D.
Emperor Nero sent General Vespasian with two legions of soldiers to put down the rebellion. They quickly conquered the Galilee region and pushed toward Jerusalem.
Titus laid siege to Jerusalem in the spring of 70 A.D. and by August had breached the walls and destroyed the temple with over one million Jewish men and women and children losing their lives.
Emperor Hadrian came to Jerusalem in 130 A.D. He renamed the land of Israel Palaestina, a Latin form of the ancient Old Testament Philistine.
The city of Jerusalem was still in ruins from the first Jewish revolt sixty years earlier.
He renamed the city Aelia Capitolina Jupiter Capitolinus after himself and the superior Roman god, Jupiter. He also built a temple to Jupiter on top the ruins of the second Jewish temple located on the temple mount.
These grievous actions by Hadrian initiated a second revolt by Jews living in Israel.
Led by Simon bar Kohkba, the Jews were initially very successful. However, Hadrian sent six full legions into the region crushing the forces led by bar Kohkba.
- 580,000 Jews lost their lives and 1,000 towns and villages were destroyed.
- Jewish families were banished from their homeland. Reading the Torah was forbidden and public burning the Torah was carried out.
- Circumcision and Jewish religious practices were outlawed; and Jewish scholars were executed.
- The land of Israel was renamed.
- The City of Zion was renamed.
- The temple of the Living God was destroyed and replaced by a temple to an idol.
- Jewish families were banished from living in the land. Israel no longer existed.
The light went out in Israel
Over the next eighteen centuries the land would be possessed by Gentile forces alternately between Rome, Eastern Rome, Muslims, Crusaders, and the Ottomans.
The Ottoman Empire controlled Palestine and the city of Jerusalem four hundred years beginning in 1517.
Read Part One of this post: October 31 Is a Day of Restoration, Not a Day of Darkness
God made a covenant with Abraham establishing this land would be his and his descendants as an “everlasting possession.”
God also gave a very solemn warning at the very establishment of the nation Israel, through Moses.
“Then the Lord will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other, and there you shall serve other gods, which neither you nor your fathers have known—wood and stone. And among those nations you shall find no rest, nor shall the sole of your foot have a resting place; but there the Lord will give you a trembling heart, failing eyes, and anguish of soul. Your life shall hang in doubt before you; you shall fear day and night, and have no assurance of life. In the morning you shall say, ‘Oh, that it were evening!’ And at evening you shall say, ‘Oh, that it were morning!’ because of the fear which terrifies your heart, and because of the sight which your eyes see” (Deuteronomy 28:64-67 NKJV).
God also gave them assurance He would not forget His covenant with Abraham.
“Now it shall come to pass, when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the Lord your God drives you, and you return to the Lord your God and obey His voice, according to all that I command you today, you and your children, with all your heart and with all your soul, that the Lord your God will bring you back from captivity, and have compassion on you, and gather you again from all the nations where the Lord your God has scattered you. If any of you are driven out to the farthest parts under heaven, from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you. Then the Lord your God will bring you to the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it. He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers. And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live” (Deuteronomy 30:1-6 NKJV).
The lighting of a candle
At the close of the nineteenth century and the opening of the twentieth century, God began a dramatic work that would restore light to Eretz Israel, the Land of Israel.
An Austrian writer, journalist, and playwright became a lightning rod for establishing a homeland for the Jewish people.
Theodor Herzl published Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State) in 1896. He wrote the novel, Altneuland (Old New Land) in 1902.
Although the wealthy and political leaders of the Jewish community were not impressed, the general population of the Jewish community received his writings with enthusiasm.
The First Zionist Congress was held in Basle, Switzerland in August 1897 giving birth to the Zionist movement.
August 28, 1898 the Second Zionist Congress was held in Basel, Switzerland. Chaim Wiezmann was one of the four hundred delegates.
Dr. Chaim Weizmann was employed at Chemistry Department of the University of Manchester where he became friends with renowned British political leaders, Arthur Balfour and David Lloyd George.
These two British leaders were deeply committed Christians and students of the Word of God. They too became very committed to helping establish a homeland for the Jewish people.
David Lloyd George was elected Prime Minister of Great Britain in December 1916 and began to openly speak in favor of a homeland for the Jewish people.
Immediately following Britain’s declaration of war against the Ottoman Empire in 1914, the British War Cabinet started to consider a proper future for Palestine.
One of the cabinet members was a Zionist and presented the possibilities of creating a homeland for the Jewish people.
David Lloyd George was also a member of that Cabinet in 1916 and supported the Zionist proposal.
The first negotiations between the British War Cabinet and the Zionists took place in February 1917.
The negotiations continued until fall of that year. An agreement was reached following a significant event that took place October 31, 1917.
General Edmund Allenby was appointed to lead the British military forces in Egypt in the summer of 1917.
He began training his troops, gathering the necessary supplies, and preparing a strategy to drive the Ottoman forces out of Palestine.
He would not attack Gaza, as had been the strategy of his predecessor. A strategy that had failed miserably.
He would encounter the Ottoman forces at Beersheba, even though the odds seemed completely unfavorable. The British forces won a decisive victory and drove the Ottomans out of Beersheba establishing British control of that area.
News reached the British War Cabinet that same day, October 31, 1917.
The Cabinet immediately approved the establishment of a “national homeland” for the Jewish people. Forty-one days later, British forces defeated the Ottoman’s in Jerusalem, freeing the capital city from their control.
General Allenby entered the city and declared Jerusalem under British control.
A Day of Restoration
Why is the date October 31, 1917 so significant?
God had made a promise to Abraham that he and his descendants would possess the land “as an everlasting possession.”
Beersheba was the very first parcel of ground possessed by Abraham in the land promised to him by Almighty God
The British government was in favor of restoring a “national homeland” to the Jewish people and restore to them the land that had been promised to their father, Abraham; land that had been lost 1,800 years before.
Great Britain could not restore to the Jewish people what they did not rightfully possess.
October 31, 1917, General Edmund Allenby and the British army took possession of the first portion of the Land of Promise.
What was the first parcel of land they possessed?
It was Beersheba and the surrounding territory. The very same land that was the first possession of Abraham.
December 8, 1917, at sundown, the Ottoman forces began fleeing Jerusalem and by the morning of December 9, 1917, British forces had full control.
This is a direct fulfillment of the prophecy by Haggai.
“Consider now, from this day forward, from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month… from this day I will bless you” (Haggai 2:10, 15, 18-19).
Hebrew day goes from sundown to sundown. Sundown December 8, 1917 was the beginning of the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month.
Even more amazing, sundown on December 9, 1917, began the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month or the 25th of Chislev, the beginning of Chanukah.
Coincidence? No way!
These were the major steppingstones for the restoration of the homeland of the Jewish people and the rebirth of the nation of Israel that would take place in 1948.
God made a covenant with Abraham and his descendant promising this land was their “everlasting possession.” He keeps His covenants and His promises.
Let’s celebrate October 31st as the day of restoration not the day of darkness!!