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West Houston Bible Church

by Robert Dean
Series:Israel - Past, Present, and Future (2006)
Duration:56 mins 7 secs

The Moslem invasion to 1839

 

We are developing a structure for remembering Israel's history. We see this as important because of Ezekiel 5:5, "Thus says the Lord GOD; This is Jerusalem: I have set it in the midst of the nations and countries that are round about her." This is not a technical geographical statement, it is a theological interpretation of history. The center of history is God's plan for the nation Israel and it is through Israel that he has provided the redemptive plan for all mankind through Jesus Christ.

 

Jews have lived in the land throughout the last 2000 years even though the majority has been scattered, as prophesied in Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 28-30. There is still a remnant that stays in the land.

 

We now look at the section dealing with the rise of the Moslem empire, through the Crusades, and the Ottoman Turks, and then what is going on in Europe at the same time. The Ottoman Turks take over from the Mamelukes in 1516 and that extends until their defeat at the end of World War I.

 

The Moslem-Arab period begins with Moslem conquest. The Arab conquest of the land of Israel came four years after the death Mohammed, which was in 632. It lasted for more than four centuries and they had Caliphs ruling from Damascus, then later from Baghdad and Egypt. The key word for the rulers of Islam at this point was Caliph. Out the outset of Islamic rule Jewish settlement in Jerusalem was resumed. They allowed the Jews to come back in. They gave them a certain degree of protection as non-Muslims under Islamic rule. They had safeguards for their lives and their property and they were heavily taxed. The Islamic conquest was militant and one of the things that we should remember is that Islam spread by violence. And that was consistent with both Mohammed's teaching and his practice. So violence is consistent with the standard modus operandi of Islam, where as people say, "Well, what about the Crusades?" The Crusades were an aberration in Christian history because of what had happened in the Middle Ages. Actually, what happened was that the Roman Catholic church was beginning to absorb ideas of holy war from the Moslems. So they were beginning to operate not like Christians but like Moslems. As the Moslems expanded out of Saudi Arabia they came into the land of Israel and dominated it until the Crusaders came in 1099.

 

Just a word about Mohammed, the prophet of Islam. His name means the praised one. He came from Saudi Arabia, his father and mother died when he was young and he was raised by his uncle. He became a merchant. He married an older woman who employed him as a camel driver. One day he went out into the mountains outside of Mecca and was meditating when he had a genie appeared to him. He went home and told his wife saying he thought it was a demon. She said it was an angel, Gabriel. He listened to his wife and went back up and listened to this apparition that appeared to him and gave him the Quran. In the Quran he establishes a new religion, a monotheistic religion based on one god, Allah. What he does basically is he goes into the pantheon of the 360 gods and goddesses that the Arabs had been worshipping for untold centuries and he gets rid of all but one of them. Allah was the moon god in the Arabic pantheon and was signified by a crescent moon. That is why Muslim countries have a crescent moon symbol on their flags.

 

In the Quran they deny that Jesus is God, that he was a prophet and that the Quran was a later revelation that was a superior revelation to anything that had been given before. However, it is inherently anti-Semitic because in Islamic eschatology, their view of prophecy, when Jesus comes back he will kill all the Jews and all the Christians. So when a Muslim says that they are worshipping the same God we worship that is not the same. We worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, they worship the god of Abraham and Ishmael. We worship the God who loves the Jews and will restore the Jews to the land and give them a glorious kingdom in the future, and the Muslims do not. So we can't allow people to come along and say it is the same God.

 

After Mohammed died there was something of a battle as to who would succeed him, and there was a struggle as to which of his relatives would be the leader. They had a council and none of his family was present, except for his father in law who was appointed the leadership and he was the founder of the Emiad caliphate.

 

Another important thing that happened during this period was that as the Islamic empire expands under the Emiads they cross over at Gibraltar and conquer Spain, cross the Pyrenees into France and there they are stopped at the battle of Tours on October 10th, 732, by Charles Martel. This is one of the most significant battles in all of history because it stopped the Moslem invasion of Europe. If they had succeeded then history would be radically different. They turned back the Moslems and eventually it led, though it took another 700 years, to their expulsion from Spain under King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella in 1492.

 

After the Battle of tours the Moslems dominate in the land of Israel. Jews continue to live in the land throughout this period of time. Tiberius, a city up on the Sea of Galilee, was the Jewish center. Other cities such as Lydda, Ashkelon, Ramalah, Caesarea by the sea, and Gaza were the major cities where there was a sizeable Jewish population. However, as the eight century progressed the Moslems introduced more and more restrictions against non-Muslims. They increased taxation and made it more and more difficult for them to have any real social and economic freedom. By the end of the eleventh century the Jewish community in the land had diminished considerably and had lost much of its organizational and religious cohesiveness. However, during the same time there was a period of religious revival in Judaism. It is during that time that the Massoretes are developing a system of preserving and copying the text of Scripture. Talmudic Judaism begins to be solidified. It is during this period in the history of the Jews that they begin to solidify in a solitary monotheism. Deuteronomy 6:4 was interpreted to be a unitary monotheism with no room for a Trinity. They finally developed arguments for that, but for much of this period up to the 6th-7th centuries there was still a plurality concept within Judaism as there had been in the Old Testament. But they have to answer the Christians who were encroaching on them and saying that Jesus is God and the Holy Spirit is God and saying the Old Testament has room for a plurality in the Godhead. So it is only in this period of about the 5th to 8th centuries that they began to solidify there solitary monotheism. It is also about this same time period that one famous rabbi solidifies an argument that Isaiah 53 isn't talking about an individual who is paying the penalty for sin but that the suffering servant in Isaiah 53 is the nation Israel itself. It is during this time that there is a rigorous intellectual revival under the Caliphs.

 

With all this going on the Jewish population in the land was still not very large. There were natural catastrophes. There was a huge earthquake in 757 that just devastated the entire area and destroyed cities so that they were no longer habitable. There were natural catastrophes, military catastrophes, the invasion of Islam, political problems, and all of this kept the number of the people in the land small. Once again it is just part of a broader empire.

 

It is also at this time that the temple mount begins to be developed by the Muslims. It was in 638 when the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem occurred, and it was 50 years in 688 that the Caliph built the Dome of the Rock in order to enshrine the place where they believed Abraham was going to sacrifice Ishmael. They built another mosque at the southern end of the mount. The Dome of the Rock is not a mosque, it is just a shrine. Later it became the third holiest place in Islam. Mecca is the primary holy place and Medina is the second.

 

The next period is the Abbasid caliphate. This was from 758 to 1258, but the last 200-300 years was very impotent and they didn't do much. Like the Emiad caliphate the Abbasid caliphate was based upon two disaffected populations, non-Arab Moslems and the Shiites. There was a rejection of the secularism and the degeneracy of the Emiad. The Abbasids were more Iranian than Arab.

 

Then came the Crusades. In 1099 was the first Crusade. It was called in 1096 but they don't conquer Jerusalem until 1099. The reasons for the Crusades were varied. They were political reasons. Europe was beginning to put together, they were on the verge of developing nations, and they were ready for territorial expansion. There were economic reasons. They wanted to establish protected inland trade routes to the far East to bring in spices and silks and various trade goods that were unavailable in Europe. There was a religious motivation. There was a sense of solidarity with the Byzantine church because was Christian even though they were separate at this time, but they were being attacked by Islam. So there was a sense of coming to their aid.

 

In 1096 a crusade was called to rescue the holy places from the Muslims. As the Muslims came in they failed to respect the traditional holy sites of the Jews and the Christians. As we go through history we notice that there is a pattern where every time anybody looks cross-eyed at an Islamic anything the Arabs riot. They have learned that if they riot and if they burn and pillage that western Europeans immediately try to calm them down and give them whatever they want. This has been going on for centuries. Part of the first crusade being called was because the Moslem in Jerusalem were destroying the holy sites.

 

Another reason for the crusades was the theology of the Roman Catholic church. And this was in error. Their theology since the fourth century to the fifth century had been one of amillennialism, which means there is no literal millennium, no literal kingdom. In amillennial theology the present age is the kingdom of God, the kingdom of Christ. So they interpreted this to mean that the church was God's kingdom on the earth and that they had a natural right to the land. The other things that comes in due to the influence of Augustine, who was the Bishop of Hippo, and earlier Origen and his introduction of allegorical interpretation, was the idea that the land promises to Abraham didn't refer to the literal land anymore. Once the Jews rejected Jesus as their Messiah God wasn't obligated to give what he promised anymore. The land moved from being literal land from the river of Egypt to the river Euphrates and the Mediterranean to being Paradise. In the Mediaeval church they had bought into this amillennial, allegorical interpretation. They felt they had a right to establish a kingdom in Jerusalem because that was where Christ had died and now it was under Islamic control and they were going to throw them out. It was that false theological base, and furthermore, because they had identified the church with the state, that the state can go and conduct war, they were picking up ideas that were inherent to Islam and not native to Christianity. Christianity has never been spread by the sword, it has been spread by word of mouth. Islam has always been spread by the sword.

 

There were actually about ten crusades. The first in 1097 secured Jerusalem. Jerusalem became the capital in the "Christian kingdom" in the holy land in 1099. It was an extremely anti-Semitic campaign. They slaughtered Jews from one end of the land to the other end of the land. Then the second crusade was called for by the emperor of the holy Roman empire to deal with the Muslims and their pressure on Jerusalem in 1144, some 50 years later. Failures in Asia-Minor and Syria, their inability to get there because they were defeated by the Muslims, led to its failure, and eventually led to Jerusalem being captured by Saladin in 1187. Then the third crusade came along and it was called the crusade of the king. This included Richard the Lion Heart and Philip of France. They failed again to recapture Jerusalem but they were able to negotiate concessions from Saladin for Christians to visit Jerusalem. This was the end of the crusade period from 1099 to 1187.

 

The interesting thing at this time was that England had become open to the Jews and there has been the development of a Jewish banking class. Just before Richard comes to the throne under Henry II there is a deterioration in the relationship with the Jews. They have various riots against the Jews in England and there is oppression of the Jews.

 

From 1187 to 1193 Saladin was the primary figure among the Jews and then he dies in 1193 and there is a takeover in 1291 by the Mamelukes. They were slaves who came from the area between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. They were Muslims but they were not Arabs. Again, during this time the land of Israel was not very well populated but you could still find a number of Jews in small settlements throughout the land. It was also during this time of Mameluke rule, towards the end in the 1400s, that there was the rise of the Ottoman Turks. On May 29th, 1453 Constantinople fell to the armies of Islam. This was the end of the Byzantine empire and the beginning of the Ottoman empire. Then the Ottoman empire began to spread and by 516 they defeated the Mamelukes and the land of Israel came under the control of the Ottoman Turks. But even then throughout this period there is a continuous presence of Jews in the land with a constant trickle of Jewish immigration. In 1492 Ferdinand and Isabella expelled the Jews from Spain. Some went to England, some went up to Germany, and others went to the land of Israel. So there is a constant trickle of Jews back into the land. The Ottoman empire lasted until the end of World War I.

 

You don't see any autonomous country in the land of Israel. There is no nation there, it is just a regional administrative district of Syria-Palestine. In the 16th century with the rise of the Ottoman empire Sulamond the Magnificent became the leader and he is the one who rebuilds the walls around Jerusalem. He is the one who boarded up the eastern gate to make sure that the Jewish Messiah could not come in. It was during this period of history that there was a rise of Jewish mysticism.

 

In 1683 the Islamic hordes make their way to Vienna and lay siege to Vienna. They are defeated. They left their tents and belongings behind in the dead of night. Next morning the inhabitants of the city came out and found among the belongings little bags of beans. They discovered that of they roasted them and ground them up, and this coffee was introduced to western Europe. In order to celebrate having defeated the invading Moslems the bakers developed a special pastry in order to memorialize the defeat of the Moslem hordes outside of Vienna.

 

One thing we should see as we go through all of this is that there is always a presence of Jews in the land. They never left. There may be various empires that have come and gone but there is no sovereign state in the land of Israel. It may have been an administrative district in a larger empire but it is still just basically a land of desert, a land where not much is going on, there are just pockets of people who live here and there but there is always a Jewish presence.

 

What was happening to the Jews in the diaspora? What was happening in England? William the Conqueror conquered England in 1066 and he encouraged Jewish merchants and artisans in northern France and Normandy to move to England. Jews came from there, from Germany, Italy and Spain to escape the anti-Semitism there. Why? Because most of Europe was dominated by a Roman Catholic church that was amillennial. Amillennialism was a form of replacement theology claiming the church replaced Israel and it has always been a kind of seed bed for the promotion of anti-Semitism. That is not to say that it is anti-Semitic inherently but it is a seed bed for it because according to amillennialism there is no future for Israel in God's plan. So Jews came to England and established communities in London, York, Bristol and Canterbury and other key cities. They became bankers and money lenders because in the Roman Catholic church it was a sin to commit usury. So the Jews became the bankers and this made everybody else jealous because they were making money and becoming wealthy. They were taxed very heavily but nevertheless some of the kings of England recognized that they were a vital key element for the economy of England. Persecution definitely existed and in England the first blood libel charge was brought against the Jews in Norwich in 1144. The blood libel charge continues on down through the history of anti-Semitism, and that is, in order to make unleavened bread at Passover they have to take the blood of a sacrificed infant to mix it in with the flour to make the unleavened bread. This crops up all through the ages. Hitler promoted it, the Moslems today still promote it, but its origin was in England in 1144. As with the third crusade anti-Semitism increased in England. When Henry II died there were extensive riots in York that led to the massacre of the Jews there. Richard I was slow in responding but after a couple of days he ordered that the Jews be protected. When he left for the crusades the riots broke out again and many more Jews were killed. Anti-Semitism continued to grow in England until 1290 when Edward I expelled them. All Jews had to leave England in 1290. It wasn't until Oliver Cromwell in 1655, a Puritan, decreed that the Jews would be officially allowed to enter the land.

 

It is interesting to see how God uses these leaders in history to bring about the return of the Jews to the land. This is where it begins, in the post-Reformation period in England. When we come to the Reformation, the Reformation began on October 31, 1517. When the Reformation came in there was initially a return to biblical literalism in understanding salvation, but as their theology solidified it began to gradually expand the way they applied literal interpretation to all areas of the Scripture, including prophecy. Amillennialism was out and pre-Millennialism was in—the belief that God had a future kingdom that he was going to establish on the earth whenJesus returned, a kingdom that would be centered in Jerusalem, a kingdom that would be primarily Jewish based. Thus there was a future seen to Israel. Now all of a sudden Israel has a significance and meaning. As Bible study increased in the Reformation period, and as, especially in England, as pre-Millennialism began to take hold, then people began to realize that the Jews had a future, and they began to think about restoring the Jews to their native homeland. The seeds of restorationism began in England in the 17th century.

 

Historian Michael Pragey tells us that "the growing importance of the English Bible was a concomitant of the spreading Reformation, and it is true to say that the Reformation would never have taken hold had the Bible not replaced the Pope as the ultimate spiritual authority. With Bible as its tool the Reformation returned to the geographic origins of Christianity in Palestine."

 

So the Bible took center stage, and as they studied the Bible it changed the way they viewed history. Barabara Tuchman, a world-class Jewish historian, has written a very well-researched book called "The Bible and the Sword," the story of the relationship of Britain and the Jews down through the centuries. In it she writes, "Starting with the Puritan ascendancy the movement among the English for the return of the Jews to Palestine began." She goes on to tell us, "They began to feel for the Old Testament a preference that showed itself in all their sentiments and habits. They paid respect to the Hebrew language, but they refused the language of the Gospels, i.e. Greek and the epistles of Paul. They baptized their children with not Christian names but Hebrew names, and they venerated the Hebrew patriarchs and the stories of the Old Testament. This led to an increased study of Hebrew and an understanding of the Old Testament stories. It led to a translation of the Bible into English from the Hebrew and it is that translation of the Bible from the original languages that fueled the Reformation. They learned Old Testament stories and all of this created in their minds the importance of the Jews and Israel in God's plan." This is important because as this begins to be bred into the mainstream of British society in bears fruit by the end of the 19th century. 

 

The Puritans then began to develop a Judeo-Christian philosophy of life related to law, history, politics, everything. Bible study produced Millennialism. They realized there was a future kingdom that would be centered in Jerusalem. Then they began to, rightly or wrongly parallel the struggles of Israel to the struggles in England. As the Puritans read Romans 9-11 they discovered God's faithfulness to Israel, that Paul said that to Israel, the Jews, still belonged the covenants and the promises of God and that God was not through with Israel and would restore the Jews to the land and fulfill His promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

 

As the 1600s arrived a flurry of books arrived advocating Jewish restoration to the land that God had promised them.

 

John Owen was one of the most well known Puritan theologians. He was a high Calvinist and was chaplain to Oliver Cromwell and was an advocate of Jewish restoration. He wrote: "The Jews should be gathered from all parts of the earth where they are scattered and brought home into their homeland."  Others were John Milton who wrote Paradise Lost, John Bunyan who wrote Pilgrims Progress, Oliver Cromwell, and others all promoted the idea of Jewish restoration to their land.

 

The point being made here is a transition point. In Europe among non-Jews there is beginning to be a revival of the biblical idea that the Jews have a future in their national homeland. Jews don't believe that! We will see how God begins to use different people in different countries with different religious backgrounds, some who are Christians, some who are non-Christians, some who hate the Jews, some who love the Jews. And we start seeing things happen all over the world that God begins to orchestrate, pull together, and we will see how it all comes together and flows up to the Balfour Declaration in 1917 where the British declared that there should be an established homeland for the Jews in Israel.