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Monday, March 29, 2010

God Superintends History

It was my turn to teach the ladies Sunday school class yesterday. As soon as I saw the title of the lesson was "God Superintends History" I knew it would be fun to teach. The lesson was taken from Psalm 90 and the lesson scope in verse 2 was "from everlasting to everlasting." That threw open the door to talk about anything from before creation into eternity future. The problem was in deciding which part of history to focus on and what examples to give. Here is recap of one of the examples I chose.
The assassination of Austria's Archduke Francis Ferdinand by Serbian nationalists on June 28, 1914, was the match that set fire to "The Great War" (WWI) in Europe. Serbian nationalists were infuriated by the annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina to Austria-Hungary, because they considered Bosnia-Herzegovina to be part of Serbia. Ferdinand and his wife. Sofie, were in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina, in an attempt to improve relations between their two countries when he was assassinated. Later, Winston Churchill blamed World War I on an incompetent chauffeur. Although that was an oversimplification, it was true that the chauffeur made a wrong turn which took them into a dead-end alley where Gavrilo Princip was standing. He jumped on the running board of their limousine, pulled out a pistol, and killed the royal couple. Tensions increased through the month of July and war was officially declared on August 8, 1914. The fighting lasted until 1918 and it became the second bloodiest conflict in recorded history.
What was World War I all about? Politics aside, what was GOD doing in World War I?
Historically, WWI brought about more than one change in the world. One of the most important was the break up of the Ottoman Empire which had been in control since 1299. At the height of its power in the 16th-17th centuries, the Turks (Ottoman Empire) were in control of much of the world from Asia to Africa. During WWI, the Turks lost control of Palestine to the British.
Enter Chaim Weizmann into the picture. Who was he? Chaim Weizmann was a German Jew who moved to London and was elected President of the World Zionist Movement in 1905. This was an organization of Jews whose dream was to return to Palestine and revive the nation of Israel. Mr. Weizmann became friends with Arthur James Balfour who had been elected Prime Minister of England in 1902. This friendship influenced Balfour to write the Balfour Declaration in 1917, soon after Palestine came under British control. The Balfour Declaration granted Jews the right to settle in Palestine and promised a homeland in the future. The Jews started going back to Palestine but it took another World War and Holocaust before Jews poured into Palestine and Israel officially became a nation in 1948.
God used an incompetent chauffeur making a wrong turn on a dead end street to crack open the door to Palestine and begin fulfilling His promise to return His people to their homeland after 1900 years of dispersion. He put Chaim Weizmann in the right place at the right time to move His plan along. God Superintends History.

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