The Forgotten Past

2014 is an important year for many across the world, as many people—principally in Europe, the United Kingdom, and British Commonwealth countries—are remembering the centennial or centenary of The Great War or World War I. Earlier this year, 888, 246 ceramic poppies, to commemorate the British and Empire war dead, were placed around the Tower of London. The Great War totally changed our world, not just in terms of the technology and tactics of warfare—but because when it started, four of the five empires who were belligerents were gone (Russian Empire, German Empire, Austro-Hungarian Empire, Ottoman Empire), dominions in the British Empire like Canada, Australia, or New Zealand began to assert a wider degree of independence, and an emerging world power in the United States began to wield its influence. When the war was over, and Britain and France demanded that Germany pay heavy reparations, and inflation hit the German mark at unfathomable proportions, extremist groups like the National Socialist or Nazi party were able to feed on the resentment of the people. The Russian Empire had become the new Soviet Union. At the same time, with the liberation of the Holy Land from the Ottoman Empire, the Balfour Declaration gave an impetus to the growing Zionist movement and world attention was focused to some degree on the need for a Jewish homeland and state.

It is not difficult to deduce how understanding World War I, and its aftermath, is important for the succeeding conflict of World War II, the rise of the United States as the principal Western power, as well as the Holocaust and birth of the State of Israel, and even the Cold War to follow. But many of you who are reading this are Americans who do not know that much about World War I, because it was mainly a European conflict.

As a student of history, as well as a Bible teacher, not understanding World War I and how it radically changed Planet Earth—is very much like not understanding the Maccabean crisis of the Second Century B.C.E. I do not have direct experience as to what it might be like when Jewish people either in Israel or in the Diaspora gather to remember Chanukah or the Feast of Dedication. But, I suspect that not a huge amount of attention is given to the historical record, and more attention is given to the traditional lighting of the menorah, eating fried foods, and giving presents to children. This is what most of the Messianic community does… A group called the Maccabees cleansed the Temple from a defilement, it was believed that the menorah stayed lit for eight days via a miracle, and without the Temple having been rededicated there would have quickly been no Jewish people and hence no Messiah.

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