Yesterday marked the 60th anniversary of the founding of the modern nation of Israel, an event that seemed unlikely and even impossible a century ago. Yet well before 1948, and long before the two great world wars that dominated the 20th-century, and long before the current geopolitical crises in the Middle East, there was a man who foresaw a day coming when Israel would be reborn as a nation. That man, sometimes called the Father of Christian Zionism, lived for a time in Oak Park, Illinois. He lived in a home in what would become the parking lot of the First Presbyterian Church of Oak Park, on property that was purchased many years later by Calvary Memorial Church.
Convinced by his study of the Bible that the Jews must someday return to the Promised Land and the nation of Israel must be reestablished, William E. Blackstone (1841-1935) wrote one of the first great bestsellers on Bible prophecy, a book that is still in print 130 years after its initial publication, Jesus Is Coming
. You can read the original text online
Besides his book, he is best remembered for the 1891 Blackstone Memorial
, presented to President Benjamin Harrison and signed by leading clergymen, rabbis, business leaders, and other notable individuals (including D. L. Moody), calling for the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine.
Earlier this year, the Mideast Outpost carried an appreciation of his life and work
on behalf of the Jewish people.
Although Blackstone died 13 years before the founding of Israel, he would not be surprised to see the the 60th anniversary come to pass because he believed the Bible foretold the regathering of the Jewish people. For a further discussion of Israel’s place in God’s plan, see my sermon Does Israel Have a Future?