Winston Churchill was one of the greatest statesmen of the 20th century. His piercing insight into the Nazi mind saved the Western world from becoming subservient to goose-stepping goons. Even when top leaders in Britain and America refused to hear his early warnings about Hitler’s Third Reich and his maniacal plans for world domination, Churchill stood against the tide of opposition, won support and snuffed out a sure-to-come global nightmare of suffering and human slavery. This is historical fact.
When I watched Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu give his short but impassioned speech before the United States Congress on March 3, 2015, I could not help but think of Churchill. Others thought the same way. Steve Forbes called Prime Minister Netanyahu “the Churchill of our time.” Charles Krauthammer called the speech “Netanyahu’s Churchillian warning.” Can we see that Mr. Netanyahu is walking in Churchill’s shoes? (Perhaps even moreso, now that he, like Churchill prior to World War ii, is out of office and ostracized.) Israel is still today facing a mind-bending crisis: the nuclear destruction of the nation and people at the hands of Iranian thugs who will never recant their plans to erase Israel off the map.
Like Churchill with the Nazi threat in the 1930s, Netanyahu could see that once Iran gets the bomb (which may now already be the case), it is sure not only to try to destroy Israel, but also to ignite World War iii. The survival of every man, woman and child on this planet is under dire threat. The tragic history of the 1930s is repeating itself, with just the same series of farcical negotiations and concessions to appease a maniacal regime.
In such a dire setting, Churchill and Netanyahu both put a spotlight on Moses. Why?
At the end of that speech, Mr. Netanyahu said with passionate hope to the American people, “You stand with Israel, because you know the story of Israel is not only the story of the Jewish people but of the human spirit that refuses again and again to succumb to history’s horrors.
“Facing me right up there in the gallery, overlooking all of us in this august chamber is the image of Moses. Moses led our people from slavery to the gates of the Promised Land. And before the people of Israel entered the land of Israel, Moses gave us a message that has steeled our resolve for thousands of years. I leave you with his message today [speaking in Hebrew]: ‘Be strong and resolute, neither fear nor dread them.’”
At the same time Mr. Netanyahu was completing his final thoughts—including those on Moses—the camera focused on a relief of Moses on the wall of the House Chamber in the U.S. Capitol. Having never toured that room when in Washington, d.c., I was surprised to learn of the portrait’s existence. And because I had just begun work on a series of articles on Moses’s life, seeing the portrait added a dramatic moment to the address. Yet I wondered, why is there a portrait of Moses, not only centered in the U.S. Capitol building, but with all other portraits around the building depicted facing toward him? I found out that there is a good reason.
Some time after this speech, I was told by one of my sons-in-law that Winston Churchill wrote an essay on Moses titled, “Moses: The Leader of a People.” This essay was first published in the Sunday Chronicle on Nov. 8, 1931, under the superhead, “Great Bible Stories Retold by the World’s Best Writers.”
It is interesting to note that Churchill wrote this essay near the start of the wretched period of his life that his biographer Martin Gilbert coined “the wilderness years.” In the decade from 1929 to 1939, Mr. Churchill was banished from political power and was out of favor with his countrymen even as he tried to rouse them to face the Nazi threat (does this sound familiar?). Of course, he was eventually brought back into power and favor and led the West from certain slavery to glorious victory in World War ii.
Could Churchill’s knowledge of Moses have provided him the inspiration and motivation to get back in the fight to save his country and people? Certainly, Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech proved that he drew strength from Moses’s history.
What about you and me? Is there an important educational thread that we can stitch between Churchill, Netanyahu and Moses? This world needs more rational, outspoken men like them. Without a Churchill, a Netanyahu or a Moses, we will succumb to history’s horrors currently standing on our doorstep.
Churchill on Moses
Those who know well the life of Winston Churchill recognize that he was a student of history—a true believer. “We reject, however, with scorn all those learned and labored myths that Moses was but a legendary figure upon whom the priesthood and the people hung their essential social, moral and religious ordinances,” wrote Churchill. Hypocritical Bible scholars and insincere intellectuals could not dupe him into believing that Moses was some mythical figure.
“We believe that the most scientific view, the most up-to-date and rationalistic conception, will find its fullest satisfaction in taking the Bible story literally, and in identifying one of the greatest human beings with the most decisive leap forward ever discernable in the human story,” Churchill continued. The West’s greatest statesman believed, without doubt, that Moses lived and accomplished exactly what the Bible states he did.
Churchill viewed the Bible as accurate history. “We may be sure that all these things happened just as they are set out according to Holy Writ,” he affirmed. “We may believe that they happened to people not so very different from ourselves, and that the impressions those people received were faithfully recorded and have been transmitted across the centuries with far more accuracy than many of the telegraphed accounts we read of the goings-on of today.”
Churchill’s faith in Bible history made the history and work of Moses relevant to his own experience. For Churchill, Moses’s life was that of a statesman grappling with the same problems common to mankind in every age. Ancient history came alive for him and pointed the way out of crisis.
Winston Churchill believed the Bible to be more accurate than the news reports, political speeches and government written communications of his day. Here is the deep insight of an experienced government leader. Many government leaders and even the news media know that the American public is being misled about many things—including the Iran deal. To use Churchill’s words, there are some abominable “goings-on” happening in our government and nation. Yet few will stand up and say anything about it.
Churchill’s thinking on the Bible and Moses is inspiring and refreshing. While many today scoff at his kind of thinking, imagine what our world would be like if today’s leaders thought more like Churchill. What if world leaders studied Moses’s life and let him speak to their situation? What would happen if more leaders imitated Moses and Churchill? Leaders like Benjamin Netanyahu would not be alone in attempting to stop World War iii.
Moses: The Great Liberator
Churchill looked at Moses as a people’s leader dealing with “grim times.” Churchill had his share of black times. Netanyahu and the tiny state of Israel—descended from biblical Judah—are having theirs. Grim times require great leadership.
“[The] closing words of the book of Deuteronomy are an apt expression of the esteem in which the great leader and liberator of the Hebrew people was held by the generations that succeeded him,” Churchill wrote, himself sharing the same esteem for Moses that the Hebrews had (Deuteronomy 34:10-12). “He was the greatest of the prophets, who spoke in person to the God of Israel; he was the national hero who led the chosen people out of the land of bondage, through the perils of the wilderness, and brought them to the very threshold of the Promised Land ….”
Many know the Exodus account of Moses’s history—even young children can rehearse it. It opens with the knowledge that the days were passed when Joseph, the firstborn son of Jacob and Rachel, ruled Egypt. A new king, with the title pharaoh, came to power. This despotic leader no longer considered the Israelites and their continually expanding families to be the guests of Egypt. He took violent control of the Hebrews. He oppressively exploited their inherent talent for maximizing agricultural productivity, constructing and designing awe-inspiring artistic architecture and establishing high culture in dance and music. Pharaoh enslaved them to his own selfish, self-centered will.
Pharaoh worked the children of Jacob to skin and bones. Yet the harder he worked them, the more their numbers increased. He perceived a major problem: The Israelites came to outnumber the native Egyptian population. A wave of anti-Israelite sentiment spread within the Egyptian population and its government. Pharaoh instituted government policy forcing a sadistic type of birth control on Israelite families: He required midwives to murder newborn boys (Exodus 1:16). When that plan didn’t work, he went to the next heinous step by legally demanding rank execution of Israelite boys—drowning them in the river.
When Moses was born, his hapless, oppressed and work-weary parents saw that he was a special child. They ignored Pharaoh’s law and hid him for three months. When they could no longer safely protect him from execution, they devised a plan. They floated the baby in a little boat past Pharaoh’s childless daughter. The Egyptian princess took him in, and Moses was brought into the government mansions and raised as a prince of Egypt.
The Bible history opens again when Moses had grown to a mature man of 40. He knew he was not Egyptian, but Hebrew. His heart and conscience were turned toward the plight of his people. Seeing one of his countrymen being beaten to death, he defended and avenged the slave by killing the Egyptian taskmaster. Once Moses’s deed was discovered among the Israelites and the Egyptians, he fled Egypt to escape execution. Moses lived the life of a simple shepherd. Another 40 years passed. All those Egyptians who lusted to take Moses’s life died.
Then the God of Israel sent Moses back to Egypt to rescue Abraham’s descendants from the slave pits of Egypt. Through a series of God-sponsored miraculous plagues, God decimated the economy and agriculture of Egypt, ensuring that Pharaoh would finally “let the people go.” Yet, when Pharaoh realized that he had just released one of the greatest labor forces in the world, he decided to fight to get them back. At that point, with one final bombshell of a miracle at the Red Sea, God decimated Pharaoh and his army, and Moses and the Israelites were set free. For the next 40 years, God used Moses to weld the often unruly Israelites into His own nation.
That is the short version. The long version of Moses’s history—located in the last four books of the Pentateuch (Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy)—is the premier textbook of statesmen.
Moses: The Lawgiver
Most scholars and many people think that Moses was a Jew and that he was their leader only. But Moses was not Jewish. A Jew is a member of the tribe of Judah. Judah was the fourth son of Jacob and Leah. Moses was a descendant of Levi, the third son of Jacob and Leah. Moses should be known as a Levite. As a descendant of Levi, he was actually a member of Israel’s priestly tribe.
Reading Churchill’s essay on Moses, it is clear that he had the big picture view of this great man. “[Moses] was the supreme lawgiver, who received from God that remarkable code upon which the religious, moral and social life of the nation was so securely founded,” stated Mr. Churchill. For Churchill, Moses’s life was not the stuff of cartoons or poorly directed and badly scripted movies. He fully understood that God used Moses to establish a code of law and form of government that allowed the Hebrew nation to thrive and become great. From Moses’s life, Churchill learned that no nation could live securely without high standards of morality based on a spiritual law, a benevolent social life, and a civil government that serves its people.
Later in his essay, Churchill clearly explained the universal lessons of Moses’s long life. Discussing Israel’s encampment at Mount Sinai, he stated: “Here Moses received from [God] the tables of those fundamental laws which were henceforth to be followed, with occasional lapses, by the highest forms of human society.” Referring specifically to the Ten Commandments, Churchill wanted his readers to view Moses as leader for all Earth’s peoples. Even more, Mr. Churchill also wanted the citizens of the world to recognize that the law God gave to Moses was intended to be a law to be obeyed by all people. Do we see the timeless wisdom given us by Winston Churchill? This world needs such wisdom—desperately!
After Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech, I did some research on why a portrait of Moses hangs on the wall of the House chamber. I discovered that the artist Jean de Marco designed the plaque. It was mounted to the wall in 1950. Why?
“The 23 marble relief portraits over the gallery doors of the House chamber in the U.S. Capitol depict historical figures noted for their work in establishing the principles that underlie American law,” states the website Architect of the Capitol (aoc.gov; emphasis added). The plaque’s overview states: “Moses (c. 1350-1250 b.c.) Hebrew prophet and lawgiver; transformed a wandering people into a nation; received the Ten Commandments.” I found this information to be truly awesome but equally chilling.
Restoring Security to Nations
Some 70 years ago, government leaders in America believed that American law—the Constitution—was based on the work of Moses. Apparently this fact has become controversial in recent years, but America’s Founding Fathers largely based the Constitution on the Ten Commandments. Our nation was greatly blessed to have such law—in that sense, similar to the days of Moses. But how many top leaders in America believe that or even care about that today?
“The Constitution is the foundation of our republic. And the Ten Commandments were, in many ways, the foundation of the Constitution,” writes Watch Jerusalem editor in chief Gerald Flurry in his booklet No Freedom Without Law. “Our forefathers believed that if we didn’t keep God’s Ten Commandments, our republic would collapse!” (This powerful booklet is free to you upon request.)
Many of our people are confused about how important law is today. Our top leaders want to change our laws, including our constitutional law. “The Constitution is being altered dramatically. And it is the foundation of our republic! We are experiencing a constitutional earthquake, and most of our people don’t even know it—yet. Your future is being changed for you, and often you have no input,” Mr. Flurry wrote. “This process is sure to lead to anarchy! That is why you and I should be deeply concerned.” Yet few seem to be able to make the connection between this world’s growing lawlessness and its growing chaos, violence and tyranny!
Is there any hope for this world? Yes! There is great good news—right from the mouth of Moses.
Deuteronomy 33:1-3 record the final words of this great man: “And this is the blessing, wherewith Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel before his death. And he said, The Lord came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of saints: from his right hand went a fiery law for them. Yea, he loved the people; all his saints are in thy hand: and they sat down at thy feet; every one shall receive of thy words” (King James Version). These words are a dramatic vision of the imminent coming of the Messiah.
Even though this world’s immediate future looks bleak, in just a short time, the Messiah and his servants will usher in a new era of peace, security and freedom to the people of this world. The Kingdom of God, administered by God’s loving government, will never end (Isaiah 9) because that government will be based solely on God’s immutable, “fiery law.” What a time of individual, national success—and final peace—that will be.