Balfour Declaration: When Political Leaders Were Biblically Literate
By Christine Darg, Jerusalem Channel
[Photo: The Jerusalem Channel’s Christine Darg meets Lord Balfour, the fifth earl of Balfour, at the Royal Albert Hall]
The Jerusalem Channel gives thanks to the Almighty for the decision of His Majesty’s Government on 31 October 1917 which resulted in a letter, commonly known as the Balfour Declaration, pledging support for the establishment of a national homeland for the Jewish people.
The Declaration was incorporated into international law as part of the Mandate for Palestine and was agreed unanimously by the League of Nations. It remains valid to this day, despite the many misgivings of people who are biblically illiterate.
But the generation that conceived of the Balfour Declaration was Biblically literate. One of the cries of any genuine intercessor is for God to raise up men and women in public service who know and honour the Bible. Perhaps we are observing the apostasy of the Last Days. Yet in every generation it is the duty of intercessors to believe God for righteous leaders.
Last night at the “Balfour 100” celebration at the Royal Albert Hall, we were treated to a great Christian-Jewish smorgasbord of music and Israeli dancing as well as actors portraying past Christian Zionists, including Liverpool Bishop R.C. Ryle, Baptist preacher Charles Surgeon and the Rev. William Hechler, advisor and confidant to Zionist visionary Theordor Herzl. Hechler had declared, “It is the duty of every Christian to love the Jewish people.”
A highlight of the evening was when the present Lord Balfour, Roderick, recited the 67 historic words of the Balfour Declaration, written by his ancestor, to a packed-out house of thousands of cheering Christians and Jews.
The Royal Albert Hall was built on the estate of the home of William Wilberforce, a Christian advocate for the return of the Jews to their Promised Land. Wilberforce became the first vice president of the London Jews Society, now the Church’s Ministry Among Jewish People (CMJ). Arthur Balfour himself addressed a meeting of the English Zionist Federation in 1920, saying that the British people were “partners in this great enterprise” of hope and confidence that there would be a home once again for the Jewish people in the Mideast.
On the same day that the decision was made by the British cabinet in London to recommend a homeland for the Jewish people, British and ANZAC forces secured Beersheva, opening the way for General Edmund Allenby to liberate Jerusalem a little more than a month later. The whole of Palestine came under British control in September 1918, upon the defeat of the Ottoman Empire.
Last night’s celebration was a presentation of the “Imperial War Cabinet of Believers.” In 1916 David Lloyd George became Britain’s only Welsh Prime Minister; he was raised by a Welsh Baptist pastor and never wavered from his commitment to the restoration of Israel. Arthur Balfour, who was also brought up by a Scottish Presbyterian mother to follow a strong Christian faith, became the foreign secretary. Many members of David Lloyd George’s War Cabinet hailed from an evangelical Christian background. South African Commonwealth statesman Field Marshall Jan Smuts regarded Jewish repatriation as an act of “moral reparation due from Christendom to the Jewish people.”
Tragically, Britain did not live up to its Mandatory obligations regarding the establishment of a Jewish homeland and at times actively frustrated that goal. Many hundreds of thousands were prevented from immigrating to the Holy Land during the Nazi era and were condemned to die in the Holocaust.
Nevertheless the Balfour 100 committee rejoiced last night that the Jewish people were able to declare statehood on 14 May 1948, against much opposition. “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” was the hymn sung last night in honour of the Lord’s covenant-keeping power.
We give glory to the Lord “who watches over Israel neither slumber’s nor sleeps.” (Psalm 121: 4) and he continues to fulfil his covenant as recorded in Genesis 15.
To echo the words of Lord Arthur Balfour, we are “Partners in this Great Enterprise” as we await the fulfilment of all the Scriptures regarding the end of this age.