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Friday, 19 April 2013

First steps in Zionism - Part 3: 1967 and all that!

These are my memories of what it was like to be 14, at school, discovering a personal faith, discovering the Bible and being confronted with the amazing feat of arms that was the Six-Day War. It's my history as I remember it. I will try to be accurate but it's not journalism or general historical analysis. It's about how I became/discovered I was a Christian Zionist.

It's worth remembering that in 1967 many people still had personal memories of WW2. Grandparents and some parents had served in the Forces. Most had done National Service and nearly all had lived through the War. We knew what the Germans had done. Back then we were less fussy about German /Nazi distinctions. We knew that the Jews deserved a homeland and we knew, to some extent, the Bible.

The Four 'Rs were reading, 'riting, 'rithmetic', and religious instruction. This latter meant Christianity and, because Christians revere the Old Testament/Tenach, there was some familiarity with Judaism and with the Geography etc. of the Holy Land. We knew things that these days some people actually question, such as the reality of the Temple in Jerusalem until AD 70. I'll post later on the change in terminology and the undermining of Christian Education in the latter half of the 20century. (Not a thesis, just a blog-post!)

For those who want a timeline and a history of the build-up to the war, I suggest that you go here . It's quite amazing how different political attitudes were then.

I vaguely remember Nasser taking the straits of Tiran (Gulf of Aqaba). Everyone knew that a regional war was was imminent. What no-one expected was a different kind of Jew.

The school I attended had a Combined Cadet Force. The best in the North-East, then and now. US reader, please do not make the mistake of interpreting this as being the same as your ROTC. It's very part-time, more fun, more relaxed, less intense, in short, more British. It's not full-volume, buzz cuts, calling sergeants 'sir' (good grief!!!) etc. Voice of command, yes on parade, hair - just above the collar, and our lot were so arrogant ( I'm sorry to say) that we never saluted anyone under the rank of Major. I'm not sure how we got away with it. The point being we appreciated the feat of arms that was the Six-Day War.

Instead of Saul cowering in his tent, or the dreadful images of the Holocaust, we had an army of Davids, young, fit and victorious.

Some of us thrilled to see this, and when we saw those same soldiers reunite Jerusalem and praying at the Western Wall, it felt like we were watching the Bible come to life.

And then, as part of my growth as a Christian, I discovered Obadiah. to be precise 1:20 . Zarephath, half-way between Tyre and Sidon. I wondered if we might see conflict in the Lebanon in that area? Obadiah got that one right, but possession is yet to come. Given the persecution of non-muslim Arabs, I still expect to see them look to Israel for protection.

To summarise, at this point I believed that:

The Jews had a right to live in their historic homeland;
They had a right to self-determination - rule themselves;
And they had a right to self-defence.
This made me a Zionist, if I but knew it.
It also made me a patriot as every nation has these rights.

I also believed that I was seeing the fulfillment of prophecy .
This made me a religious Zionist.

Finally, it seemed to me that this heralded the return of the Messiah.
And this made me a Christian Zionist.

Nothing, that I have learned since, has changed these basic convictions.
There is much more to come, but these are still my first steps in Zionism.

Learn more about these pictures here.

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