The battle of Beersheba

On Anzac Day we remember one of the biggest defeats the Australian armed forces ever experienced.  In contrast two years after this in 1917 we were involved in a remarkable, we could say a miraculous victory at Beersheba in southern Israel.  In another contrast, this victory was not often remembered until the centenary celebration of this battle.  The Australian Light Horse Brigade won an unlikely battle with relatively few casualties.  NZ forces were there on standby.  This battle is usually attributed by historians to being won by the British army.

Beersheba 1917

Australian Light Horse Brigade charged the Turkish and German Forces.  In comparison to the Australians, they were well entrenched, equipped with modern weapons.  They surprised the enemy by the speed of their charge which quickly moved the Australians under the range of their cannons.  These could not be lowered quickly enough.  This allowed the horses to leap over the trenches of the enemy giving the Australian an unexpected victory.

The charge of the Australian Light Horse at Beersheba, 1917, painted by George Lambert in 1920. By Bidgee, CC BY-SA 3.0 au, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21153956

The youngest nation in the world at that time defeated one of the oldest.  This was a turning point in the war in the Middle East during World War I.  A few days later the British signed the Balfour Declaration allowing the Jews to come back to the Promised Land.

Member of the Australian 2nd Light Horse on active duty in the Middle East ca. 1917 (Image courtesy of State Library of Queensland)

  This land God had given them as an everlasting possession.  This was a remarkable fulfilment of Bible prophecy.  The Jews have been absent from their land for nearly 2,000 years.   This was the start of this amazing prophecy still being played out in our days.  This resulted in an upsurge of interest in Bible prophecy.

This victory was a catalyst for the miraculous return of Jews back to the land of Israel.  They are now back in unbelief, but in a future time, those saved by the grace of God will enter into the Millennium Kingdom of God to be forever with Him.

I thought today we would look at some of the events that happened at Beersheba in the past that have a bearing on the above return of the Jews to their land.  In chapter twenty-one of Genesis Abraham made a covenant with one of his neighbours.  Then in chapter twenty-six, we see his son Isaac making a similar treaty.  It was here that the Lord appeared to Isaac and gave him this wonderful promise:

“The LORD appeared unto him the same night, and said, I am the God of Abraham your father: fear not, for I am with you, and will bless you, and multiply your descendants for my servant Abraham’s sake. 24 And he built an altar there, and called upon the name of the LORD, and pitched his tent there: and there Isaac’s servants dug a well” (Genesis 26:24-25).

I am always encouraged with promises like this because we have been given the same promises a number of times in Scripture.  The promise I am referring to is not to fear because He is with us.  This is a timely reminder of the dangerous days that we now live in.  In a special way, He is with us as we remember the Lord each Lord’s Day.  “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20).

The Lord reaffirms His covenant to Isaac’s son, Jacob but it was not at Beersheba but Bethel.  This is the story of Jacobs Ladder:

“He dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. 12

And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I am the LORD God of Abraham your father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to you will I give it, and to your seed; 13

And your seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in you and in your seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.  14

And, behold, I am with you, and will keep you in all places whither thou goest, and will bring you again into this land; for I will not leave you, until I have done that which I have spoken to you of” (Genesis 28:12-15).

When the Lord reaffirms His covenant to Jacob He also repeats His promise that He would never leave them.  This ladder reminds us that there is only one way to heaven.  It is the way the Lord provided for us by Christ dying on the cross for our sins.  It is not of works lest any should boast.  It is the only way He has provided.  Jesus referred to Jacobs’s ladder when he said:

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man” (John 1:51).

One day we too will see the glory of the Lord when He takes us home to be with Him and that day might not be that far away.  In the mean time let us remember him in simplicity, in spirit, and in truth as we worship Him who alone is worthy of our worship.

As Australians and New Zealanders remember their fallen heroes we remember our Lord and Saviour who suffered and died for our sin.  Our fallen heroes died so that we may live in peace.  In a great contrast, our Lord died in apparent defeat but arose again victorious over sin, hell, death, and the grave so that we can have peace with God.

Image by Jeff Jacobs from Pixabay

April 25, 2020.