The Jews’ Christian champion

By WND Staff

Editor’s note: Mike Evans’ new book, “The American Prophecies,” topped best-seller charts even before its release, knocking Bill Clinton’s “My Life” off the No. 2 spot on Amazon before ascending to No. 1. In his book, Evans explores current events in the light of ancient Scriptures and America’s place in biblical prophecy. Today, WND presents Chapter 4 of “The American Prophecies,” which tells the remarkable story of one Christian’s persistence in seeing that a Jewish state was re-established in the Middle East.

That there seem to be many evidences to show that we have reached the period in the great roll of the centuries, when the ever-living God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, is lifting up His hand to the Gentiles … to bring His sons and His daughters from far, that he may plant them again in their own land … Not for 24 centuries, since the days of Cyrus, King of Persia, has there been offered to any mortal such a privileged opportunity to further the purposes of God concerning His ancient people.

–William Eugene Blackstone, in his letter to President Benjamin Harrison that accompanied Blackstone’s memorial for the re-establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine

I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments.

–Revelation 16:7, Abraham Lincoln’s Inaugural Scripture of 1865

Virtually every American president has in some way been impacted by prophecy. From Washington’s divine protection, to every other president’s decisions concerning the direction of our nation and its relationship to Isaac and Ishmael, our leaders have navigated the murky waters of foreign policy to decide America’s role in world affairs. As our domestic conscience has elected men into office, it has also directed how America will account for its stewardship of the power entrusted to us. It seems that though we were prophetically called on to be used of God in the world, we will also have much to answer for because of our sluggishness in responding to that call and taking our appointed place of leadership.

While the American heart seemed dedicated to helping the Jewish people find a place of peace and security on the earth as the second half of the 19th century dawned, its hands were occupied with westward expansion and solving its own greatest internal moral dilemma, namely the end of slavery and maintaining its Union through a bloody Civil War. While Jefferson had warned that God’s justice would not sleep forever concerning the issue of slavery, America would still be caught in its bloodiest conflict ever because of its moral relativism. It took a man with great moral resolve to see the U.S. through this time of division. History can only speculate how events may have turned out had it not been Abraham Lincoln who placed his hand on the Bible in 1861 to be sworn in as the 16th president of the United States. It is quite likely that a man of lesser moral fiber would not have seen his country whole again at the conclusion of his presidency.

“My great concern is not whether God is on our side,” Lincoln was quoted as saying. “My great concern is to be on God’s side.”

While Lincoln’s hands were full with the issues surrounding the Civil War, he did at least express sympathy concerning the establishment of a Jewish homeland. In fact, Lincoln even received a prophetic appeal from Henry Wentworth Monk in March 1863. When one of the president’s public addresses was opened for questions, from the back rows of the room Monk stepped forward, introduced himself as a visitor from Canada, and asked the president:

“Why not follow the emancipation of the Negro by a still more urgent step, the emancipation of the Jew?”

Lincoln faltered at this. “The Jew – why the Jew? Are they not free already?”

“Certainly, Mr. President, the American Jew is free, and so is the English Jew, but not the European. In America we live so far off that we are blinded to what goes on in Russia and Prussia and Turkey. There can be no permanent peace in the world until the civilized nations … atone for what they have done to the Jews – for their 2,000 years of persecution – by restoring them to their national home in Palestine.”

“That is a noble dream, Mr. Monk,” Lincoln responded, “and one shared by many Americans. I myself have a high regard for the Jews. … But the United States is at the moment a house divided against itself. We must first bring this dreadful war to a victorious conclusion … and then, Mr. Monk, we may begin again to see visions and dream dreams. Then you will see what leadership America will show the world!”

However, despite what intentions Lincoln may have had in his heart concerning this issue, he was assassinated before he could act on any of them. Yet God still held the U.S. in His hand as a tool to fulfill prophecy. A new call for American support of replanting Israel in its ancient lands would soon come from a Christian businessman of Oak Park, Ill., who would pick up the torch that MacDonald and others had lit.

Again the push toward a Jewish homeland came from a Christian and not a Jew, but given the Jewish perspective of the time, perhaps this is not so remarkable. From 1881 to about 1920, the United States saw the greatest period of immigration, among which were 3 million Jews from Eastern Europe. It was the time of America’s Open Door and the Great Melting Pot. It is not surprising that a Jewish poet, Emma Lazarus, would write the words emblazoned in bronze on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty:

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch
Whose flame is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles …
“Keep ancient lands your storied pomp,” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Palestine at the time was a desert wasteland in the hands of the unfriendly Turks – America held much greater promise to Jews than returning there. In fact, the Jews in the United States came to view America as their promised land. They were comfortable in America’s graces and felt no need to seek peace elsewhere. This great sentiment was not without its repercussions, however. As the poor Jews of Europe flooded to America, it not so much answered “the Jewish Problem” as brought it to America. The United States felt it could not hold them all, and sought some other answer.

As a result, in 1921 Congress passed a quota targeting mostly Europeans who were unskilled workers. Another law was passed in 1921 that limited each country to sending the equivalent of only 3 percent of its nationals already living in America in 1910. This law limited immigration to 357,000 people. Three years later, the Johnson-Reed Immigration Restriction of 1924 lowered this quota to 2 percent, while also lowering the base year to 1890 – when only 150,000 people were allowed in. The government’s restrictive immigration policy thus cut immigration from 800,000 in 1921 to 23,000 in 1933. Ellis Island’s role quickly changed from a depot to a detention center. In 1915, Ellis Island admitted 178,000 immigrants; by 1919 that number had fallen to 26,000. Something different would have to be done to solve the Jewish problem in Europe rather than shipping Jews to the United States.

However, before any of this even really started, God had appointed someone to step forward with a solution – William Eugene Blackstone. Blackstone was born into a Methodist home in upstate New York in 1841, but followed his fortunes west to Oak Park, Ill., after the Civil War. Though he was not an ordained minister, but rather the founder of a construction and investment company, Blackstone was an ardent student of the Bible from his boyhood. In 1878, he published a book called “Jesus Is Coming,” which sold more than a million copies (no small feat in a nation of only about 50 million – roughly a sixth of what America’s population is today). While the book was offensive to many who had grown comfortable in their American Christianity and were content to live the American dream, it was welcomed by such men as Dwight L. Moody and Cyrus I. Scofield, who appreciated his more literal interpretation of the Scriptures and welcomed a more active and evangelical, missions-minded Christianity. It so touched the American conscience that it “in a large measure set the tone for this period of history.”

Blackstone’s book was so well documented that it was actually more Scripture than commentary, listing hundreds of Bible passages for the reader to review on their own because of the limited space. It was a hard book for any true believer to ignore. Suddenly, once again, an American was becoming a beacon to the world pointing to Bible prophecy. The book was eventually translated into 48 languages, including Hebrew, and is still in print today.

Chapter 15 of the book is titled simply “Israel to Be Restored,” and starts with this passage: “Perhaps you say, ‘I don’t believe the Israelites are to be restored to Canaan, and Jerusalem to be rebuilt.’ Have you read the declarations in God’s Word about it? Surely nothing is more plainly stated in the Scriptures.”

From here he goes on to list 89 different Scripture passages that support this assertion. Later in the chapter he further states: “It would seem that such overwhelming testimony would convince every fair-minded reader that there is a glorious future restoration in store for Israel. … I could fill a book with comments about how Israel will be restored, but all I have desired to do was to show that it is an incontrovertible fact of prophecy, and that it is intimately connected with our Lord’s appearing.”

Perhaps Blackstone’s remarks seem somewhat overstated to us some six and a half decades after the birth of Israel as a state, but to those of his time, some six and a half decades before the event, the confidence of his statements was no less than prophetic. Few in America’s churches seemed to give any real credence to the possibility that the Jews would ever again have their own land and state, let alone in their ancient homeland with Jerusalem as their capital. For their part, the Jews overall had little interest in the idea themselves. By the outbreak of World War I, only about 20,000 of the 2.5 million Jews in the U.S. belonged to any type of Zionist organization. American Jews were quite happy where they were.

However, Blackstone looked on Israel as “God’s sundial.” He even went so far as to say, “If anyone desires to know our place in God’s chronology, our position in the march of events, look at Israel.” For Blackstone, it was the next milestone along the river of prophecy. In what light did the American churches interpret the Scriptures that Blackstone was quoting? How could they have missed the obviousness of these prophecies concerning the rebirth of Israel? They interpreted them as referring to “spiritual Israel” – as the church of the modern day. Wisely, Blackstone had a few things to say about this as well – a subject that would touch on some of the darkest episodes for the descendants of Isaac in the next century. He saw quite plainly that Israel and the church were separate entities with separate futures as applied to their different covenants. God had not forsaken one for the other, but rather had a unique plan for each.

However, by replacing literal Israel in the Bible with the church, Christians of the time no longer had to feel any responsibility to the Jews as God’s chosen people. This “Replacement Theology” would be exactly what would quiet the church in Germany during World War II as the death camps sped into full swing. They had no obligation to the Jews. They were “suffering for their sins of rejection of the Messiah.” It was as if Jesus’ death cut them free from these people rather than grafted them into their tree. However they saw it, this insidious virus – an invisible anti-Semitism – allowed the mainstream German church to look the other way as the most horrific and ungodly things were done.

As Victor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor, wrote: “The gas chambers of Auschwitz were the ultimate consequence of the theory that man is nothing but the product of heredity and environment – or, as the Nazis liked to say, ‘of blood and soil.’ I’m absolutely convinced that the gas chambers of Auschwitz, Treblinka and Maidanek were ultimately prepared not in some ministry or other in Berlin, but rather at the desk and in the lecture halls of nihilistic scientists and philosophers.”

Blackstone’s words did not fall on deaf ears in the United States, however. As his popularity rose, so did his activity. In 1888, he and his daughter, Flora, visited Palestine and concluded their trip in London. The trip took about a year.

When he returned, he was more zealous for the cause of re-establishing the state of Israel than ever before. Shortly thereafter, the burden of his heart was to initiate a conference between Jews and Christians to discuss this very topic. The “Conference on the Past, Present and Future of Israel” took place Nov. 24–25, 1890, at the First Methodist Episcopal Church in Chicago. It was attended by some of the best-known Christian and Jewish leaders. The assembly passed resolutions of sympathy for the oppressed Jews living in Russia, and copies were forwarded to the czar and other world leaders. However, Blackstone knew that it was not enough to beg mercy from these leaders – the Jews needed a land to call their own within whose borders they could find peace and security. He wanted these world leaders to grant the Jews permission to return to Palestine and establish just such a state. Out of these meetings came the inspiration for the document that would eventually be known as “The Blackstone Memorial.”

On March 5, 1891, Secretary of State James G. Blaine introduced William Blackstone to President Benjamin Harrison. Blackstone personally handed the president his memorial, originally titled “Palestine for the Jews.” President Harrison seemed like a man who would favor Israel as well, since he chose Psalm 121:1–6 as the Scripture on which he would place his hand as he took the oath of office as the 26th president of the United States:

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber. Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand. The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.

The first paragraph of Blackstone’s memorial began simply, “What shall be done for the Russian Jews?” and the second, “Why not give Palestine back to them again?”

It was signed by 413 prominent Americans including John D. Rockefeller, J. P. Morgan, Cyrus McCormick, the chief justice of the Supreme Court, heads of several major newspapers, the Speaker of the House, among other members of Congress, the mayors of Chicago and Philadelphia, and several other businessmen, ministers and clergy. It called for a conference to discuss the possibilities of a Jewish homeland – a first step on the road to a Jewish state – and copies were also sent to the head of every European nation.

The letter that accompanied Blackstone’s memorial ended with these words:

That there seem to be many evidences to show that we have reached the period in the great roll of the centuries, when the ever-living God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, is lifting up His hand to the Gentiles (Isaiah 49:22), to bring His sons and His daughters from far, that he may plant them again in their own land (Ezekiel 34, &c). Not for 24 centuries, since the days of Cyrus, King of Persia, has there been offered to any mortal such a privileged opportunity to further the purposes of God concerning His ancient people.

May it be the high privilege of your Excellency, and the Honorable Secretary, to take a personal interest in this great matter, and secure through the Conference, a home for these wandering millions of Israel, and thereby receive to yourselves the promise of Him, who said to Abraham, “I will bless them that bless thee,” Genesis 12:3.

While most Americans have probably never heard of William E. Blackstone, the same could not have been said of American presidents from Harrison through Truman. As Blackstone believed that the church could well be raptured at any moment, he became increasingly preoccupied with “God’s sundial” – the Jewish people and their promised return to Palestine. He kept the issue before the eye of every U.S. president until his death in 1935. Blackstone not only handed the memorial to Harrison, but would also see it presented to Presidents William McKinley, Grover Cleveland, Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson – William McKinley even signed it. Blackstone’s words so saturated these presidents that in 1949, some 14 years after Blackstone’s death, Harry Truman, who made the U.S. the first nation to recognize the newborn state of Israel, virtually quoted Blackstone’s letter. When he was introduced to some Jewish scholars that year as “the man who helped create the State of Israel,” Truman responded with, “What do you mean ‘helped create’? I am Cyrus, I am Cyrus!”

Blackstone’s memorial was written five years before the father of modern-day Zionism, Theodor Herzl, published his book “The Jewish State” and founded the Zionist movement. In fact, when Blackstone discovered that Herzl’s book was practical and political, not prophetic, he marked all the prophecies in the Old Testament concerning Israel’s rebirth in a Bible and sent it to Herzl. Blackstone informed Herzl that his proposal to have the Jewish state in Argentina, Uganda, or any other country was unacceptable – it had to be in the promised land of Palestine with Jerusalem as its capital. Blackstone so greatly influenced Herzl that the Bible containing those marked prophecies is displayed in Herzl’s tomb in Israel.

Because of his zeal, Blackstone is perhaps the most famous American in Israel today. While righteous Gentiles such as Corrie ten Boom and Oskar Schindler have a tree dedicated to them for saving lives in the Holocaust, Blackstone has a forest named after him and is mentioned in most textbooks discussing the history of Israel.

Despite his presence before these presidents and his popularity, however, Blackstone would be to these presidents what Moses was to Pharaoh – a voice calling from God, “Let My people go!” but also one that, for the most part, would be unheeded. As Pharaoh vacillated in his decision to release the Jews to go to Canaan (ancient Palestine) after the plagues, so would the American presidents. However, it was not God who hardened presidential hearts as He had done with Pharaoh; it would be the State Department. It was the State Department that incited U.S. protests against the murder of Jews in Damascus in 1840, but now the State Department would silence the U.S.’s response to Blackstone’s plea, and eventually welcome America’s apathy toward the murder of Jews during the Holocaust.

The death knell that sounded over the Blackstone Memorial came in a penciled note from Alvey A. Adee, who was the assistant secretary of state from 1886 to 1924, an incredible 38-year stint in the office that left his fingerprints everywhere in America’s foreign policy throughout his tenure and beyond. If Adee felt one way, then it was a good indication of the way any up-and-coming young State Department officers should feel if they hoped for advancement. His note read:

For 30 years and I know not how much longer, Turkey has writhed under the dread of a restoration of the Judean monarchy. Every few months we are asked to negotiate for the cessation of Palestine to the Jewish “nation.” The whole project is chimerical [fanciful].

While, in fact, the project was not an impossible and foolish fancy as Adee suggested, his note was enough to infect the State Department with the idea that any action toward helping Israel become a nation again was not only a waste of time, but also not in the interest of peaceful relations with the powers that controlled the region at the time – namely the crumbling Ottoman Empire. A tone was also set in these intellectual halls that the simplistic, black-and-white values and ideas of evangelical Christians such as Blackstone were naive and quixotic. Well-informed diplomats knew more about the values and cultures of the regions involved, so they were in a better place to make policy regarding the issues concerning them.

Slowly the State Department was starting to make its decisions based more on what other nations thought than using the values on which our country was founded. This trend away from the moral clarity of our forefathers and toward the relativism of humanistic secularism is what has turned the State Department into the friend of the United Nations and globalization – more than the friend of their own nation – that it has become today.

A further prophetic insight was realized when William Blackstone’s friend Cyrus Scofield published his famous study Bible in 1909. It was greatly inspired by Blackstone’s interest in Bible prophecy and his simple, straightforward interpretation of Scripture. In his notes, Scofield interpreted Ezekiel 38 and 39 to mean that Russia would invade Israel during the end times. That interpretation was challenged and even mocked. Many said, “How can you possibly say that? Russia is a Christian Orthodox nation, and Israel doesn’t even exist … nor is there any possibility that Israel will exist.” Scofield answered simply, “I don’t understand it, and I can’t explain it, but the Bible says it, and I believe it.” Today no one doubts that Russia would attack Israel – especially since it has been known to regularly target Israeli cities with nuclear missiles – and Scofield’s interpretation is almost taken for granted.

William Blackstone was God’s voice to a generation. He raised the call for Zionism before the Zionist movement was even founded. Through Blackstone, God was calling on the conscience of America, which had called on Him to save it from the tyranny of the British and from its own divisive internal strife over the issue of slavery. God answered us willingly and faithfully, in both instances keeping America whole through each of these as well as other conflicts.

Now God was calling on America to act on behalf of His chosen people, the Jews – and for more than 50 years, His call went ignored. The fact of the matter was, had any of the presidents who received Blackstone’s memorial acted on it – in other words, if they had acted on prophecy instead of disregarding it – it could well have saved the lives of the 6 million Jews who died in the Holocaust, as well as the lives of those persecuted in Russia and elsewhere in the world. America’s inaction during this time is as responsible for the Holocaust as the silence of the German church in the 1930s and 1940s.

Order your copy of “The American Prophecies” now.

From the book “THE AMERICAN PROPHECIES: Ancient Scriptures Reveal Our Nation’s Future” by Michael D. Evans. Copyright (c) 2004 by Michael D. Evans. Reprinted by permission of Warner Faith. All rights reserved.