Instituted In 1932

The National
Bible College

Teaching the Kingdom Gospel
with a National Responsibility to
The Covenants of Almighty God

121 Low Etherley, Bishop Auckland
Co Durham, DL14 0HA, United Kingdom

Tel: 01388 834395

Principal: Pastor David J Aimer
Registered Charity No. 211471

Motto: QUOD VERUM TUTUM - "What is true is safe"

Three British Empires

July 1453, September 1783 and June 1919 - what have those 3 dates got in common? The answer is that those are the closing dates of the 3 British Empires. July 1453 was the last battle of the 100 years war, the battle of Castillon. That is the one that we lost. We all know about Crecy and Agincourt, we perhaps prefer not to remember that in the end we lost the 100 years war and that was the end of the Angevin Empire, that great empire which had started with Henry the 2nd and which once had stretched from the Tweed to the Pyrenees. In 1453 it was all over. Perhaps the Lord was saying to us, if we had ears to hear, ‘You have learnt now how to become a nation You are no longer Normans and Anglo Saxons and a good admixture of Celts; you are all English now. You have found your way to be a nation, So have the French. It is not now your destiny to rule half of France’. It was some 44 years later when King Henry the 7th, that much under estimated English monarch, commissioned two Italian sailors John and Sebastian Cabot to sail in a little ship the ‘Matthew’ from Bristol. They found their way to Newfoundland. This was the first sign that the good Lord was saying to us ‘No your destiny is not on the other side of the Channel but on the other side of the Atlantic’. That was just the first step in the building up of the 2nd British Empire the prize of which was the 14 American colonies. Yes, 14 not 13. We tend to forget Nova Scotia remained loyal. Then in September 1783 in the Peace of Versailles, came the end of the American war, when as we see it, as Ephraim and Manasseh we agreed to go our separate ways. Europe at the time greeted all this with glee and said ‘Oh this is the end of Great Britain. She has lost her empire, now she is going the same way as Holland and Sweden’. How wrong they were! Only 10 years later we were leading the great resistance against revolutionary, agnostic France, and finally after 30 years we had in place the foundation of a new British Empire which was going to be the greatest empire the world had ever seen. Then we come to June 1919 and that other treaty of Versailles. Someone is going to say at this moment ‘Wait a minute; we had just won the war. Surely the British Empire was greater than it ever had been. We had just scooped up a few former German colonies. What about all those places in the middle east?’. Even the Holy Land and the Holy City of Jerusalem were under British rule. But blessed were those who could see signs of the time. The poet of the British Empire, Rudyard Kipling was the author of the Recessional hymn, the first verse of which reads: “God of our fathers known of old, Lord of our far flung battle line Beneath whose awful hand we hold Dominion over palm and pine - Lord God of hosts be with us yet Lest we forget - lest we forget.” There was also, the empire composer Edward Elgar who gave us the Pomp and Circumstance Marches; a very interesting lesson that it was they who could see what either the Politicians could not see or were unwilling to tell us. Rudyard Kipling in that poem he called “Recession”, which first saw the light of day in that year 1919. It was in that year Edward Elgar also produced his last and perhaps his greatest symphonic composition - the cello concerto. When people first heard that cello concerto it didn’t go down at all well. People said ‘Oh no we don’t want this, We want something with a triumphal air to it. Haven’t we just won a war!’ Looking back on it now we find that the opening of that Elgar cello concerto seems to express so perfectly the true mood of the time. Won a war? How could we possibly have won a war when we had lost a million men dead not to mention all the civilian causalities followed by a Flu epidemic. We were bankrupt as a nation dependant of the charity of the United States. Yet there were few who could see clearly or spoke clearly that this was perhaps not the end of the British Empire but at least its death knell. One more war would see the end of that great undertaking. Certainly there have been those in more recent years who have said that when we lost the British Empire we lost our way. We no longer had a clear view of what we were supposed to be about as a nation. So let us go on a spiritual journey; let us go along with our Israelite ancestors as they wandered in the wilderness or to be quite precise let us call on them on three stages of their epic journey: “So Moses brought Israel from the Red sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water. And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah. And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink? And he cried unto the LORD; and the LORD shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them, And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee. And they came to Elim, where were twelve wells of water, and threescore and ten palm trees: and they encamped there by the waters.” (Exodus 15:22-27) It was more than 50 years ago now, that I read a book called the “The waters of Marah” I can’t remember who the author was but I certainly can remember what the book was all about. It was about somebody who had discovered the great Greek Orthodox version of Christianity. Any of you who have had any contact with Orthodox religion, and I expect most of you have in some way or other, know perfectly well that the initial encounter with all those icons and people kissing them and incense all over the place and the strange chanting that the congregation don’t join in and which sounds like nothing that we are use to in western Christendom and all those magnificent robes and so on that the clergy wear, is not quite to restrained English taste. It even perhaps leaves a bitter taste in the mouth. Well so the author had first found it until as it were a sweetening of the waters occurred. Underneath all those outward trappings it was possible to penetrate to the real spirituality, the real heart of Orthodox Christianity and find there a spirit which quite rightly we can term evangelical and which may even put ourselves to shame. We all have a great deal we can learn from one another now, if I suggest, that what our Israelite nation needs at this time is a “Waters of Marah” experience, I hope you understand me. What has still not gone down very well with the palate of most of the British in our Israelite nations is the British Israel message. It is something that sticks in the throat of many people, and some may even spew from their mouths. Something is needed to sweeten that taste to make that message palatable so that our nation gets the full message and gets the benefit of that full message. What it is that will sweeten the waters of Marah at this time is only guesswork. Is it going to be some great archaeological discovery? After the discovery of the Staffordshire hoard we think anything is possible. Who knows what the spade is going to turn up in our own country, in central Asia or in the Holy Land. Is it going to be some super DNA test? What wonderful possibilities have been opened up by the development of the science of DNA! It can only be between ourselves and the Sephardim, the true descendants of the house of Judah. All this is hypothesis. I think it quite likely that it will be quite simply a lifting of the veil from the hearts of our fellow citizens. Gradually the message will get through and the veil will be lifted and we shall all recognise one another as the children of the kingdom. If that is the way then our greatest weapon without question is prayer. A further stage in Israel,s journey is recorded in the book of Numbers: “Then came the children of Israel, even the whole congregation, into the desert of Zin in the first month: and the people abode in Kadesh; and Miriam died there, and was buried there. And there was no water for the congregation: and they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron. And the people chode with Moses, and spake, saying, Would God that we had died when our brethren died before the LORD! And why have ye brought up the congregation of the LORD into this wilderness, that we and our cattle should die there? And wherefore have ye made us to come up out of Egypt, to bring us in unto this evil place? it is no place of seed, or of figs, or of vines, or of pomegranates; neither is there any water to drink. And Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and they fell upon their faces: and the glory of the LORD appeared unto them. And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink. And Moses took the rod from before the LORD, as he commanded him. And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock? And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also. And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them. This is the water of Meribah; because the children of Israel strove with the LORD, and he was sanctified in them." (Numbers 20:1-13) In the national gallery in London there is a pair of paintings by the renaissance Florentine painter Filippo Lippi. Not the greatest of artists and not the greatest of paintings but they are a particularly interesting pair because of the message they convey. They certainly are meant to be a pair because they are exactly the same size and the composition of the paintings clearly parallels one with the other. The one which we see first because it stands on the left is a representation of that scene as described in the book of Numbers. Moses striking the rock with his rod, water flowing forth from which the people of Israel and their cattle drink and refresh themselves. The other painting I’m sure everyone will find much more baffling, it is of the ancient Egyptians worshiping Serapis the sacred bull. What is it all about and why particularly are these two painting a pair? The answer comes from St Paul and if these words of St Paul. At the beginning of Chapter 10 of his first letter to the Corinthians Paul writes: “Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.” (1 Corinthians 10:1-4) Those 5 key words ‘and that rock was Christ’ holds the key to all this. The worship of Serapis was practised when Egypt was under Greek rule and was a variant of the ancient worship of their god Osiris, a god who they believed annually died and was brought back to life again:- a mystery that was associated with the rise and fall of the river Nile on which their whole way of life depended on, including the death and resurrection each year of the crops particularly the corn crop. If we are tempted to dismiss all this as heathen superstition we ought to pause just for a moment. We are told in the 12th chapter of St. John’s gospel that certain Greeks came to the apostles and said, 'We would see Jesus'. And Jesus tells them in a parable: “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit” (John 12:24). Jesus was speaking to them in their own language. These Greeks were almost certainly Alexandrian Greeks and it is a reference to the kind of thing with which they were already familiar. The idea of the corn crop dying and coming to life again, symbolised by the death of Osiris and his coming to life again. Somewhere along the line there they were feeling towards the true faith, they were looking for a God a real God who really died and really rose again. God was speaking to them in their own language as God always speaks to us and everyone in our own particular language. One of the things we have to grasp from that pilgrimage of our Israelite ancestors through the wilderness was that Christ was with them on their journey. Even the unknown Christ. He was there with them and we must grasp that with all the temptations, difficulties, problems and possibility of catastrophe, we too have that assurance, that Christ is with us. That rock is with us and as Paul says in another context: “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31) Or, who, that matters, can be against us? In this last section there are two lessons particularly that I want us to pick up. The first is that in the darkest hour the first rays of dawn begin to appear. And the second lesson not less important is that God is never in a hurry. Returning to my starting point; 1453, and the end of the first British Empire. Something else happened that year of European wide significance. It was the Fall of Constantinople to the Turks. Well, I dare say somebody will comment that was the end of yet another empire, the last remnant of the Roman Empire. Well so it was, but something else important sprang from the fall of Constantinople. It was the flight of Greek scholars from that city initially to Italy, and the beginning of the revival of Greek learning in Western Europe which had been practically lost for a thousand years. Thirteen years later in 1466, four men were born. One was a Dutchman whom we know as Erasmus, the other three were Englishman; William Grocyn, John Colet and Thomas Linacre. What did these four men have in common? They all set out to master the Greek language – why? Because they wanted to know what our blessed Lord had really said, and what St. Paul had really said, and what St. John had really said. They started coming up with some very interesting discoveries. They found for instance that the angel Gabriel had not said to Mary ‘Hail Mary full of grace’. What he had actually said was ‘Hail thou that art highly favoured’ which is not the same thing. They found that John the Baptist had not said ‘Do penance’, they found that he said ‘Have a change of heart’ or in single word ‘Repent’. They found that the word Petros did not mean 'rock'; it meant 'a stone', and 'the rock', the Petra of Jesus’ famous saying, was not Peter but was our blessed Lord himself. They found that there was no reference in scripture to the papacy. Thus began that great criticism of the medieval church, that great desire for reform. I would call those four men, including the Dutchman Erasmus, (because he had a tremendous influence on scholars in this country and virtually started the study of Greek at Cambridge University) the Godfathers of the English reformation. But God is not in a hurry. It was 80 years from 1453 and the arrival of those Greek scholars in Italy, to 1533 when Henry 8th broke with Rome, and it was another 25 years again until the English reformation was consummated with the accession of Queen Elizabeth 1st. So, if 90 years seems a long time since the foundation of the British Israel Federation, let us remember God is not in a hurry. He will compel no one. He will lead, He will persuade, but it will happen in God’s good time. When we move on to 1783 and the fall of the second British Empire what do we find that year? It was the year that Charles Simeon was appointed vicar of Holy Trinity Church in Cambridge, the most significance single event, as people see it, of the evangelical revival in the Church of England. Not the first and certainly not the only one. Another great evangelical Henry Venn had already arrived as vicar of Huddersfield before him. Further back in time, 1738 was the year when John and Charles Wesley were converted; the start of the Wesley’s great evangelical campaign. Charles Simeon as vicar of Holy Trinity Cambridge inspired whole generations of clergy, many of whom came from Cambridge University to go out and do what he was doing; preach the plain gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ to the people of this nation. He was vicar of Holy Trinity for 50 years an incredible space of time and on the day of his funeral in 1833 Cambridge University and Cambridge town came to a stop. But the work of the Holy Spirit did not come to a stop. 1833 was the start of the Oxford movement. And do not be surprised if I include the Oxford movement in our context here. The Oxford movement began with a sermon that John Keeble preached before the assize Judge at Oxford in which he dared to ask the question ‘What is happening to our nation?’. He dared to make the observation that the spirit of the time was not the Holy Spirit. How right he was. The spirit of the age was a spirit that blew across the channel from agnostic rationalistic France. When we remember the glories of the Victorian age, for which we should be everlastingly thankful, let us remember that it was the spirit of the Methodist movement and the spirit of the evangelical movement and the spirit of the best of the Oxford movement which was battling successfully against of the spirit of the times, which came from elsewhere. We move on now to that golden year 1919 on which our thoughts are so much focused. If indeed that first sign of the dawn was the foundation of this federation, our reflection must be what a tremendous responsibility rests upon our shoulders. Are we worthy of it? Of course we are not. We are only here because of God’s grace and because we depend on God’s grace. Be assured of this, as I have indicated to you with those other great events in history, God acts but he doesn’t act by a single act. Many things happen and come together and one of the greatest assurances we have is that we are not alone. God is calling others to tasks which in the end will converge and meet together. ‘Behold I send you prophets and wise men’ God says, and surely one of the prophets in the right sense of the word which God has sent us in our time is Billy Graham. There is no man whose hand that I have ever shaken of whom I am more proud than that of Billy Graham. How many people in this country have been brought to the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through his ministry and the ministry of other evangelists who are our fellow labourers in the work to which God has called us. Enoch Powell was not, I think, a prophet but he was certainly a wise man. Did we listen to him? We don’t use stones any more to shut up the prophets and the wise men we use more subtle means. I believe He is still sending us wise and righteous men and women and prophets. Thank God we can identify at least a few of those who serve us as being righteous and in their way wise. One of those certainly for whom we should give thanks is Frank Field the Labour MP for Birkenhead a good Christian and a good man. There are many who I know would add the name of Anne Widdecombe, the Conservative member for Maidstone, a Roman catholic, a good woman, a woman of convictions. But I come in a moment to someone who is perhaps one of God’s greatest gifts to us in our time. Let’s go back, to the death knell of the British Empire sounding as early as 1919. I am old enough to have grown up in what was, we can see now, the twilight years of the British Empire. I’m old enough to be able to remember when we had maps on the wall with all those countries coloured pinkie -red; when we were told rightly that a quarter of the land surface of the earth was part of the British Empire and a quarter of the world’s population was under the British crown; when we had what we called Empire day when we sang Jerusalem, and when we waved our union jacks and were thoroughly proud of the British Empire. We didn’t apologies for it in those days because we believed quite rightly that we were bringing civilisation and law and order to many countries of the world. I think it was only when India and Pakistan gained their independence after World War II, that the truth of the matter really came through to us that this was the end of the old British Empire. But as the British Empire died the new British Commonwealth was born. When the new British Commonwealth was initially formed there were 8 member states. Now there are 58; and who is it who has acted as mother to this ever growing family? It is our gracious sovereign lady Queen Elizabeth. One of the things that we must be profoundly thankful for is that in this dark age God has sent us, as our queen, a woman in 10 million or 10 thousand million; one of the greatest and wisest of monarchs to have reigned on our throne or any throne. Let us also remember King George, her father, a man who never wanted to be king, who never sought to be king and yet when the kingship was thrust upon him he grew into that part year by year. And when he died prematurely people wept in the street – what privileged people we are! It is an ever expanding British Commonwealth. The latest member to join the British Commonwealth was Mozambique, the latest one to apply is Rwanda. But there is a queue of applications to join this community of equal nations. Yemen, Palestine and Israel are currently applying for membership. (there’s a possibility, the two parts of the holy land coming together in peace as part and a new commonwealth.) Others include: Algeria, Timor Leste, (formerly East Timor) and Somalia. Also applying is the Republic of Ireland. Here is another golden prospect, the whole of the British Isles united again as part of this new commonwealth! To conclude, the following Old Testament lesson is read year by year on the anniversary of the Queen’s accession: "But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it. And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the LORD of hosts hath spoken it. For all people will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever. In that day, saith the LORD, will I assemble her that halteth, and I will gather her that is driven out, and her that I have afflicted; And I will make her that halted a remnant, and her that was cast far off a strong nation: and the LORD shall reign over them in mount Zion from henceforth, even for ever" (Micah 4:1-7)