The Mystery of the Birds
The year 1917
Significance in World History: World War I
It was a time of innovation and first widespread uses in warfare. Among them were: Poison Gas, Steel Helmets, Tanks, Flamethrowers,
and most importantly fr our study: Airplanes
General Edmund Allenby was not a man who was bound by tradition, nor was he afraid to try innovative new approaches.
The situation when he arrived in the Holy Land was not good for the British forces. They were fighting an enemy who knew the land far better than they did. In addition the enemy forces (German pilots supporting the Ottoman troops) had total supremacy in the air.
In the summer of 1917 the revitalization of the British Airforce was well underway. New brigades and squadrons were formed, new planes were being deployed and new pilots were trained, commissioned and ready for battle.
Allenby sent word that he needed as much air support as possible. The reconnaissance done by the airplanes and the intelligence gathered helped to offset the enemies familiarity with the terrain. But Allenby went beyond that. He integrated his land and air forces in a way that became a model for future warfare as he used his planes to provide cover for ground troops as well as going on bombing missions and driving the enemy air forces from the skies, forcing the Ottoman and German land forces to fight blindly.
Allenby’s air force played a key role in a more specific objective: The liberation and protection of Jerusalem. Having driven the enemy from the skies meant that the danger of damage to the city was greatly minimized. On December 9, considered the central day of Jerusalem’s liberation, despite bad weather the Number 14 Squadron patrolled the skies and ran missions against the enemy. Use of air power also helped to protect the city and drive the enemy from the area surrounding Jerusalem. The city of Jerusalem, correctly called “the most fought over real estate on the face of the earth”, came through largely undamaged.
There was an ancient prophecy that spoke of Jerusalem being kept safe, preserved and delivered in a time of war. As is the case with many prophecies it had both an immediate and a long term fulfillment. It’s immediate fulfillment was in relation to a threat from the Assyrian Empire. Remembering that the restoration of Israel to it’s land takes place “in the latter days”, it could also be said that it was a prophecy for that time as well. A prophecy that the British Airforce helped to fulfill.
The Scripture is Isaiah 31:5 which says:
As birds flying, so will the LORD of the hosts defend Jerusalem; defending, delivering, passing over, and saving it.
It’s important for us to notice what the Scripture says and doesn’t say.
It does not say with birds flying, but as birds flying, denoting a similarity or an illustration that people could understand.
As birds flying, so will the LORD of the hosts defend Jerusalem; defending,
In addition to the parashas, the Jewish Scriptures assigned for each day, the Anglican Church also had assigned Scripture readings for each day of the year, taken from The Book of Common Prayer, originally written in the 16th Century. Please keep in mind that the vast majority of soldiers in the British Army at this time would have been of the Anglican Faith and in all probability would have had this prayer book with them. Many of the soldiers would have read from them faithfully.
The assigned Scripture from it for December 8, 1917, the day before Jerusalem being liberated from the Ottoman Empire was Isaiah 31:5
The assigned Scripture from it for December 9, 1917, the day before Jerusalem’s liberation Isaiah 33:20:
Look upon Zion, the city of our solemnities: thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall not be taken down; not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken.
In addition, the motto of the British Aircrop’s 14th Squadron,the squadron that delivered Jerusalem was: I spread my wings and keep my promise
December 10 was a day of rejoicing and comfort because Jerusalem had been delivered
and her warfare ended. The Scripture for that day was Isaiah 40:1-2 which said
“Comfort ye, comfort ye My people,” saith your God.
2 “Speak ye comfortingly to Jerusalem, and cry unto her that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned; for she hath received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.”
The Lord’s hand had delivered Jerusalem, the city that He loves in both ancient and modern times.