One hundred years ago, on December 11, 1917, British commander Gen. Edmund Allenby walked through Jerusalem’s Jaffa Gate, ending 400 years of Ottoman rule of the Holy City.
It was two days prior that the Turks had officially surrendered Jerusalem to the British. That momentous occasion came on the 24th of Kislev – the ninth month – the date God told the Prophet Haggai that he would change the fortunes of the Jewish people, and as a result, through the promise that God gave Abraham in Genesis 12:3, so too would the fortunes of the entire world begin to change. This was the day before Hanukka – the festival of lights – which is always near the winter solstice.
Before heading to the Middle East on assignment, Prime Minister David Lloyd George had told Allenby to bring Jerusalem as a Christmas present for the British people in order to raise the morale of the troops and the nation after two and a half years of the Great War’s stalemate.
In a span of 40 days, Allenby defeated the Turks in the Battle of Beersheba (the day when the Balfour Declaration was approved), then hurried north and took Jerusalem without having to order a single shot be taken in the Holy City, thus opening the door to the restoration of the People of Israel’s political reign in the Land of Israel.
Lloyd George might have indeed only been thinking about the morale of his people, but his words rang much deeper than that, which are even so very relevant one hundred years after the fact. The British people – and the entire Christian population of the world, and every person in the world, for that matter – do indeed need Jerusalem, and it really is the best present that there is, and not just one for the December season.
For Jerusalem is the heart of Israel, and Israel is the heart of the world. In Jerusalem, it is always the festival of lights. In 1917 the lights shone brightly. In 1967, they were even greater. And in 2017, one can hope that they’ll continue to light all the places in the world that are still filled with darkness. Hopefully US President Donald Trump’s recent recognition of Jerusalem will go a long way in helping other nations become enlightened regarding the eternal capital of the Nation of Israel: Beginning from the Binding of Isaac on Mount Moriah to the seat of David’s kingdom and Araunah’s former threshing floor to the Prime Minister’s Residence on 9 Smolenskin Street, on the corner of Balfour Street.
After all, as Trump pointed out in his speech last week, he wasn’t doing anything special, he was only pointing out what was already known and what has been proven.
“But today we finally acknowledge the obvious,” he said. “That Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do. It’s something that has to be done.”
Trump is helping Israel take up its central role among the nations, which makes it possible to declare the word of God to the rest of the world without fear, without bias and with a tremendous amount of love.
“Jerusalem is the Light of the World,” the midrash says. So come bask in the light of Jerusalem. Have a look at all the light that Israel has provided the world in the short 70 years that it has existed. Just recognize the reality. Let there be light.
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