Hello this Nick Barnes with this weeks Bible in the News.
This Anglo-French (Sykes-Picot) agreement appears, on the face of it, to be a direct contradiction of the assurances given, by McMahon to Hussein. However, the reality is that it deals with “spheres of influence” NOT with direct rule. These areas were subsequently ratified, at the Paris Peace Conference, as “mandates” granted to these great powers.
And as Wikipedia tells us that “The objective of the League of Nations Mandate system was to administer parts of the defunct Ottoman Empire, which had been in control of the Middle East since the 16th century, "until such time as they are able to stand alone."”
So instead of the Anglo-French Agreement being in direct opposition to the commitments made to Hussein, it was intended, at least by some, to be the means of putting them into practice.
Of course, Hussein (above) didn’t get everything he wanted. But then neither did anybody else. Neither the French, nor the British, and especially not the Jews got what they expected, what they thought they had been promised, and definitely not all they had hoped for. However, Hussein did get a great deal.
Firstly, in 1921, Britain created a protectorate for Abdullah (above), Sharif Hussein’s son, and he became the Emir of the Emirate of Transjordan, where he reigned as autocrat. In 1946 Transjordan became fully independent, and Abdullah became its 1st king – and his line reigns in Jordan to this day.
Also, in 1921, the British made Faisal (above), Abdullah’s brother, king of Iraq. Faisal had wanted to rule from Damascus, but the French objected. However, while he may been unhappy at losing Syria, McMahon had always warned that his assurances applied only to “those regions lying within those frontiers wherein Great Britain is free to act without detriment to the interest of her ally, France” and Hussein himself understood this, and agreed that to avoid “injur[ing] the alliance of Great Britain and France”, “as regards the northern parts and their coasts [ie Syria/Lebanon]… we now leave to France in Beirut and its coasts”, whilst still protesting that “at the first opportunity after this war is finished, we shall ask you [for these territories]”. And, of course, Faisal did subsequently ask for these territories, there was no commitment, or ability, on Britain’s part to grant the request.
Nevertheless, these two, adjacent, kingdoms of Jordan & Iraq, given to Hussein’s sons, stretched from Egypt to Iran. This left only the Arabian Peninsula to make up the vast majority of Hussein’s dream kingdom. And had Hussein’s claims that all Arabs would follow him, been true, it would have been his for the taking. However, not all Arabs would follow him, and in fact the Arabs of Arabia fought against him - and the House of Saud took the Arabian Peninsula - so Hussein’s homeland became part of what is now Saudi Arabia.
Hussein’s promise (which had persuaded the British to grant him so much), was a lie – or at least untrue. He was never in any position to unite the Arabs – nobody could unite the Arabs. Instead, he and his sons led a few hundred, camel-riding, Bedouins to sabotage Turkish railway communications (with the assistance of a certain Colonel T E Lawrence). At their peak they fought with a few thousand, ill-trained, Arab troops, in a war which involved over 400 million soldiers.
Nonetheless, God’s will was fulfilled. Revelation 16v12 says
And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared.
This symbol, of “the great river Euphrates”, is also used in Rev 9v14-19, where it symbolises the advance of the Muslim empires in the centuries following Mohammed’s death. The last of these, the Ottoman Empire, is finally dried up that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared.
These “kings of the east” or literally “kings of the sun’s rising” are not the British or Hussein’s proposed kingdom, but are Christ and his glorified saints, who will come to rescue Israel from their enemies at the battle of Armageddon – and in fact it is here in Rev 16v16 that we find the battle given that name “Armageddon”.
However, what Rev 16v12-16 makes clear, is that the stage for that battle was not ready, until the Ottoman Empire had passed away; for while the Ottoman power was corrupt and economically stagnant, it did provide stability for that area of the Middle East for 400 years. Its demise was necessary for the next stage, which we read of in Rev 16v13-14 which says
13 And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs [come] out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. 14 For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, [which] go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
These frog-like demon spirits signify a madness that will draw the great powers, of the dragon, beast & false prophet, to the “battle of that great day of God Almighty”. And that drying up of the Ottomans has allowed the birth of twenty two, divided, squabbling, Arab nations, and one Jewish one – the state of Israel – and the madness, proceeding from the mouths of these great powers, will cause them to intervene in the Middle East; and descend upon the mountains of Israel (Eze 38) to fight against Jerusalem (Zech 14) to destroy Israel. But Christ will save his people and overthrow their enemies’ power.
And this madness is already at work. It is a madness which causes the nations to condemn Israel at every turn; to blame them for terrorism, of which they are the victims not the perpetrators; and to delegitimise them, for the supposed sins of the now defunct British Empire, some 100 years ago.
But Rev 16v15 Jesus says
Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.
Let us ready ourselves for that day, that we not be found naked, but clothed and ready for his coming, so that at that battle of the great day of God Almighty, we may be there to see Israel rescued from their tormentors.
And so we pray for Christ’s coming, but if God wills that we have a few more days of opportunity, then see you again next week for another Bible in the News.