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The Significance of Beer Sheva

This week in Israel, we marked the one hundred year anniversary of the British conquest of the town of Beer Sheba located in southern Israel. On October 31, 1917, the ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) Light Horse Cavalry made the surprise charge against the Ottoman Turkish forces that defended the city. The failure of the first two attacks on Gaza failed in pushing the Turkish forces back, but once Beer Sheba was taken, the Turkish forces in Gaza retreated in fear of being surrounded and cut off. This battle has been hailed as a key turning point in the release of what was known then as “Palestine” from Turkish control and a key event leading to the establishment of the State of Israel.

Our God is a God of perfect timing, and He often gives us hints to what He is doing by coordinating events so that we can see and understand. In the book of Exodus, we read the story of the release of the children of Israel from the bondage of the Egyptians. Their deliverer Moses, makes a point about the timing of God in the events he records:

“Now the sojourn of the children of Israel who lived in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years. And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years—on that very same day—it came to pass that all the armies of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt. It is a night of solemn observance to the Lord for bringing them out of the land of Egypt. This is that night of the Lord, a solemn observance for all the children of Israel throughout their generations.” (Exodus 12:40-42)

In light of what took place in Beer Sheva, there is a significance that on the same day the Balfour Declaration was signed in London making a commitment of the British Empire to work towards the establishment of a Jewish state on the land that was being conquered. We can see now in retrospect that God was putting together the pieces of a puzzle that would eventually lead to the establishment of the Jewish State and 50 years later the re-unification under Israeli sovereignty since Biblical times.

God had promised Abraham that He would give him this land as part of His covenant with him. Abraham may have had the promise, but Beer Sheba was the first land where he was given the ability to settle. Was it God’s sovereign hand that brought the release of Beer Sheva first as He had before? Was He letting us know that these events were leading up to the fulfillment of His promises?

This is the essence of our call in blessing Israel and her people. God is working in our time and His call is to come and join Him in what He is doing.

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