SPIRITUAL Israelites, who recognize that according to the Word of God natural Israel is yet to play an important part in the world's affairs, naturally watch keenly everything transpiring throughout the world affecting the Jews. Noting that the favor to Spiritual Israel meant the disfavor of natural Israel, and that the completion of Spiritual Israel would mean the return of natural Israel to divine favor (Rom. 11:25-32), we more than others were [R3855 : page 291] prepared to look for and to apply the prophetic promises which belong to fleshly Israel. Thus it was that thirty years ago we were preaching the regathering of natural Israel to Palestine before A.D., 1914. Others mocked, and even orthodox Jews assured us that they did not expect such things for several centuries. Not for fifteen years after that did Dr. Herzl and Dr. Nordau and others dream of and organize the Zionist movement for the reoccupation of Palestine by the natural descendants of Abraham, who, the Apostle says, are still "beloved for the fathers' sakes."
Just as the persecuted Jews of Russia were beginning to look for a place of refuge, and were debating colonies in South America, United States and elsewhere, some going to Palestine—the door to the Promised Land was suddenly closed by the edict of the Sultan of Turkey in 1892. That very prohibition led the Jews to look to the land of their fathers with greater intensity than ever, and the Zionist movement took form and took hold of the hearts of the Jews all the world over. The closing of the "door" led to the greater desire to enter it, and a Zionist fund was started, ostensibly to purchase the land. But only the poor Jews have faith in the promises of the Law and the prophets—the wealthy ones, generally unbelievers, refused their millions to the poorer Zionists and loaned it instead to the persecutors of their race.
As years rolled on and the Zionists became more and more enthused, their plans were laid before the Sultan by Dr. Herzl, and it was said that all of their funds were proffered for concessions in Palestine looking toward the establishing there of a Jewish State, but to no avail—Palestine remained closed. Then the British Government offered specially favorable terms for a subordinate Jewish State south of Palestine, in Africa, and this drew off the interest of some, but only the more whetted the desire of the others for the Promised Land. Then came the death of Dr. Herzl, their great leader, and no one seemed to fill his place, and Zionism began to faint by the way. Now, suddenly, without the influence of a great leader, without the cooperation of the millionaire Jews, without the expenditure of one dollar, the Sultan has lifted the embargo on Jewish emigration to Palestine as suddenly as he placed it, and without ado or explanation. To us who are watching, this all reads, "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit [power, influence] saith the Lord." God is behind the movement, and the Jews will yet realize this, and the meek among them will rejoice therein and learn to lean less upon the arm of flesh, and more upon the arm of the Lord.
Meantime the Jews are charged (no doubt justly) by the Russian autocracy with being largely responsible for much of the trouble of that revolution-shaken land. No doubt they will on this account be more and more made the scapegoat of the situation—the Government conniving at their persecution by the revolutionaries. If this persecution has gone on even when Jewish bankers loaned money to Russia, may it not be expected to be intensified when these shall refuse further loans, as is now generally anticipated? The intelligent opposition of the Jews to the present reign of legalized anarchy may lead to a forcible expulsion of the Jews as a popular remedy.
England, alarmed at the situation in Egypt, and by the efforts of the Sultan to encourage a "Holy War" by the Mohammedans, has viewed with alarm the building of a railway from the Sinaitic Peninsula into Palestine, lest it should give the Sultan a military advantage and endanger the interests and political value of the Suez canal. It is easy to believe that England therefore would be pleased to see the Jews, a friendly race, enter Palestine in considerable numbers. Some of the English people are manifesting a Jew-hatred, and saying that England has all the Jews she wants.
The Roman Catholic press, commenting on the [R3855 : page 292] verdict that Dreyfus was not guilty of treason, claims that he was acquitted because the Jews are in control of the French Government and responsible for the annulment of the Concordat, which for so long period has existed between France and the Roman Church. She too, therefore, would be glad to be rid of the Jews in France, and may some day connive at their persecution. The Scriptures declare that at this time God will not only drive Israelites out of all the nations whither they have been scattered; but also that hunting and fishing for them he will see that at the proper time they shall return to "their own land."—Jer. 16:15,16.
Germany is trembling with fear that what is now being enacted in Russia may ere long be her portion. The Socialists of Germany are expressing their sympathy with their brethren of Russia as loudly as prudence will permit. The German Emperor fears that the success of the Russian revolutionists in forming a Republic, or even the formation of a very liberal monarchy, would endanger his own autocratic powers, if not encourage the overthrow of the Empire. There is a serious Jew question in Germany, too; and possibly the Kaiser may make himself further illustrious by taking some public step favorable to the disposition of the Jewish question—in harmony with prophecy, though entirely ignorant thereof.
A little longer and the plan of God will be complete, and we shall know as we are known. But, meantime, the "watchers" will take comfort from the evidence we have, that all these and other matters of prophecy are reaching fulfilment, and that on time.
The death of Dr. Herzl, the acknowledged leader of the Zionist movement, was surely a great shock thereto. However, we should look for the Lord's providence in the matter, and now it appears. Dr. Herzl was bent on the formation of a Jewish State with chartered rights, which the Sultan of Turkey, the ruler of Palestine, was not willing to grant. Synchronously with the death of Dr. Herzl conditions in general changed: the Jews, under a new leader, Dr. Warburg, have abandoned present political aspirations almost at the same moment that the Sultan issued his edict permitting the settlement of Palestine by Jews. This is in full accord with the prophecy, which shows that a Jewish State cannot be restored until the gathering of Spiritual Israel beyond the vail—"until the fulness from among the Gentiles be brought in."—Rom. 11:25.
"There are three important subjects that will ever be linked with this convention—practical work in Palestine, financing the Federation and official antagonism toward Territorialism. The scholarly address of Professor O. Warburg and the report on Palestine came as an entire surprise. It was like a thunderbolt from a clear sky, or I should say a sunbeam from an otherwise cloudy and threatening heaven. Yesterday the Zionist forces were in utter despair; the idea of a Jewish State in Palestine seemed but a forlorn hope, which had died with its originator.
"Today a new leader has arisen. Dr. Warburg showed them this land, almost in their grasp. There was no need of a tramp in the wilderness, there was no need for a shower of miracles. They could go in and possess the land immediately. Yesterday they could only see their hopes realized through 'the Jewish State.' Chovevi Zionism, much as they favored it because it kept them occupied, was distasteful to them; it gave them but the faintest hope. Today they see their Zion through 'Practical Work in Palestine.' Dr. Warburg cast aside the Herzlian doctrine; he tells them, first develop the country, then you are worthy of the State. Nor is this plan one of mere lesser colonization, one that proposes merely to plant little agricultural communities until the land shall overflow with their members. It proposes a thorough commercial, industrial and cultural, as well as agricultural development of the country. Its scope is only limited by a lack of political acknowledgment, and this it considers of least importance, even though Herzl laid the greatest stress on it.
"Political recognition shall merely adorn this edifice, whereas Herzl demanded it as the pillar of his State. Though the declaration of the Federation orders the 'Actions Committee to watch and take advantage of political opportunities,' yet it cannot be denied that political Zionism has been subordinated to 'the principle of active and immediate work in Palestine,' whereas the direct opposite was true with Herzl at the helm. No matter what future events this change may bring, whether it be disastrous or beneficial, time alone will judge; but the immediate effect of the change is already apparent. It has blown new life into the movement.
"The new impetus it has given Zionists for renewed effort can hardly be overestimated. It will require some time for a general realization of the stupendous effect of this change. During the coming year our forum will be occupied with discussions on the Palestine Society, the Palestine Industrial Syndicate, the Bazalel and kindred movements. Our press will echo with questions of museums, art galleries, colleges, olive trees, Palestine railroads and mines and weaving industries. The keynote of this whole new phase of Zionism is, 'Go in and possess the land.'"