Luther at the Diet of Worms, by Anton von Werner, 1877.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Next week on October 31, the world will mark the 500th anniversary of a little-known Saxon professor posting his Ninety-five Theses to the door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg.
As the world, and Christians in particular, become more and more aware of recognizing Israel’s role in history, Martin Luther’s dissertations and disputes with the Catholic Church must be understood within the broader scope.
Kelvin Crombie of Christians for Israel - Australia, a historian who lived in Israel for almost a quarter of a century, saw the October 31, 1517 date as the start of something bigger. Three centuries later this same date would mark the visit of Kaiser Wilhelm II to Jerusalem, which gave the Zionist movement political legitimacy and on that same date 19 years later, the British War Cabinet approved the Balfour Declaration. In the Holy Land, the Allies defeated the Ottomans in Beersheba, which was the first step in the UK’s capture of the territory, and would later allow Britain to be given a mandate to fulfill the declaration, which called for the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.
Did God ordain that all these events would occur on the same day in the calendar, Crombie asked?
While not giving a straight answer, Crombie, who also helped make a documentary on the significance of the events of October 31, said that they are most definitely connected.
“Had there been no Reformation, then it is highly unlikely that the members of the British War Cabinet would have been favorable to a Jewish restoration to the land of Israel,” he wrote. “Additionally, had Germany and Turkey not been aligned as they were from 1898 onward and especially so in the First World War, there would have been no just cause for British and Anzac forces to be at Beersheba – and no possibility for a Balfour Declaration.”
But there is a greater significance to the Reformation than the date, especially considering that the Germans switched to the Gregorian calendar following the Reformation so the dates can’t be the same.
The Reformation, which began a string of events which ultimately led to the prophetic renewal and revival of the Land and Nation of Israel, shows how even in the darkest of times God’s hand is clearly directing history.
Despite the antisemitism associated with Luther, the most profound supporters of the establishment of a Jewish state in the Holy Land were denominational descendants of his presumptuous actions.
These descendants had long since cleaned up Luther’s antisemitic conclusions, with some denominations moving more quickly to do so than others, while some still remain wrapped up in a 21st century version of antisemitism.
Instead of looking down at the Jewish people as a nation cast off by God because of their refusal to accept basic Christian tenets and beliefs, these faithful Christians looked at the nation from a biblical perspective as the offspring of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob with whom God made eternal covenants and promises that he would restore them to their land and their good fortune. Today, these believers number more than 500 million, and in mere decades, that number is expected to swell to over the billion mark.
In other words, in a mere five centuries, on the issue of the Jewish people and what is now its firmly established country, the Christian religion has completely turned on its head.
Similarly, during the past half-millennia since the Reformation, the world has seen an explosion in technological advancements – innovations that have changed our lives so much that we can’t even imagine how citizens of the world survived without them only 25, 50 or 100 years ago.
Yet this amazement can’t be compared to how God can take a little seed planted deep in the dirt and turn it into a meters-tall blossoming fruit tree. This seed of gentile love for Israel, God’s firstborn son, who is so valiantly trying to bring all the families of the Earth closer to their Creator, was planted on an autumn day in the German city of Wittenberg.
Even more so is the amazing fact that this seed became buried underneath the dirt of an exceptionally vicious version of anti-Jewishness, with thorns, weeds and other undesirable growths sprouting up beside it.
This date is not only red-letter day for the protestant denominations, it is a day for all to realize just how great God's hand is, constantly sowing the seeds of the redemption, even in the darkest of ages. sign up to our newsletter