"Britain and Spain have set a timescale of until next summer to resolve their 300-year-old territorial dispute over Gibraltar and hope by September to have reached an agreement on all outstanding issues including sovereignty." This recent Times feature article (Nov. 21, 2001, issue) said a mouthful. And reactions have begun to emerge.
These intentions have raised a storm of protest on Gibraltar itself and somewhat less so back on the mainland in Britain. The Rock has long been a symbol of British security and stability. One famous financial and savings institution was named after it. The saying still goes that something is "as solid as the Rock of Gibraltar."
The continual Spanish claim
Ever since Spain ceded the Rock to Great Britain by the Treaty of Utrecht (1713), the Spanish nation has periodically laid claim to this small land area situated on a narrow rocky promontory on its border.
Currently Gibraltar is classified as a crown colony or dependency of Britain. The Rock has been a strategic naval and air base and, in the strong view of some observers, it still is. The Rock contains a NATO underground communications center and it is honeycombed by largely concealed defense works and arsenals.
But why is the current British administration so willing to discuss its sovereignty and other thorny issues with Spain? The simple explanation is that since both Spain and Britain are members of NATO and both countries are part of the European Union, Gibraltar is ostensibly now obsolete in terms of military defense. Besides that, the British seem weary of defending their historic role on the Rock.
Trouble is, the views of Gibraltar's indigenous population are not in accord with the apparent aims of the British foreign office.
Gibraltarians consider themselves British
The overwhelming majority of Gibraltar's current population is staunchly, even obsessively, pro-British. The locals simply do not want to become a part of Spain, notwithstanding their close geographical proximity.
As The Daily Telegraph put it, "The 30,000 residents of Gibraltar are intensely suspicious about the talks the British and Spanish governments will be holding about the colony later this month" (Nov. 10, 2001).
Writing from the Rock itself, author and columnist Peter Hitchens minces no words in articulating his intensely patriotic views. "The people of Gibraltar are as British as roast beef. They drink bitter [beer], play cricket and proudly fly our flag. So why is the [British] government so very keen to hand over their home to their bullying neighbours [British spelling] in Spain?" (The Mail on Sunday, Nov. 25, 2001). Gibraltarians want to remain British.
The vital historical perspective
What makes the fate of Gibraltar so significant for us today? First and foremost, consider the Rock's important historical role. Even though this strategic small territory played an important military part in World War II (1939-1945), its true historical roots actually take us back to the time of the biblical patriarch Abraham. The Bible shows how the fulfillment of national prophecies became the centerpiece of the Rock's long-term significance.
God promised that certain descendants of Abraham would "possess the gate of their enemies" (Genesis 22:17). There can be no doubt that Gibraltar's strategic position at the mouth of the Western Mediterranean qualified it as a bona fide sea "gate" in the true biblical sense of the term.
When we come to understand the ethnic origins of the Anglo-Saxon peoples of Britain and the United States, this biblical passage comes alive in today's world news. If you do not yet have our brochure, The United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy, please request your free copy. It explains the background of why certain strategic sea gates around the world have either been lost to Britain or their status is in imminent danger.
Hong Kong is already back in Chinese hands, Argentina still desires the Falkland Islands and Gibraltar's fate is beginning to hang in the balance.
A potentially dangerous future
In spite of recent military successes in Afghanistan, because of our national sins, the United States and Britain are still in jeopardy of losing their joint influence in the world.
Britain has already come some way down that road, no longer being the influential imperial power it once was. America will soon follow if its citizens do not thoroughly mend their ways and begin to govern their lives in tune with the Ten Commandments (see Jeremiah 7:3-7; 21:11-12; Exodus 20:1-17).
Recent events have clearly demonstrated that the famous special relationship between Britain and America is still very much alive and well. They are in fact brothers with the same progenitor, the patriarch Joseph. But biblical prophecy shows that both nations, if they do not repent of their national sins, are in danger of meeting the same fate as the ancient houses of Israel and Judah.
God does not change! He holds any nation responsible for its national behavior and moral conduct. WNP