For my birthday in 2015 my husband took me to the Titanic Artifact Exhibition in Orlando, Florida. When we arrived, they gave us each a ticket. On our ticket was the name of a real passenger who was aboard Titanic when it sank. My husband received the ticket of a passenger named Benjamin Hart. (See picture) He was a real passenger aboard Titanic. I was curious about my husband’s ticket and decided to research the passenger on it when I got home. What I found out made me shiver. It sounded like a warning. By the way, I am posting this blog on the anniversary of when Titanic hit an iceberg 106 years ago. Titanic hit the iceberg on April 14, 1912, sinking into the ocean on April 15, 1912. Ironically, the U.S., along with France and the UK just launched missiles into Syria, coinciding with this anniversary.
Now, let’s learn about the man on my husband’s ticket: Benjamin Hart. Benjamin and his wife Esther were second class passengers aboard Titanic. They were of Jewish descent. They boarded Titanic with their seven year old daughter Eva. Their final destination was Canada. Ben was sailing to Canada with the hopes of starting a new career as a builder. He was actually a very skilled carpenter and hoped his skills would prove to be a real asset in his new career. One of the statements he made to his wife regarding his new venture was, “I’ll sink or swim”. The “sink” part ended up being eerily prophetic.
From the moment she boarded Titanic Esther Hart had an ominous feeling of dread. When she was on the ship she counted the lifeboats on board and realized there were not enough for everyone. Her husband Benjamin was not worried and even laughed at her fears. But Esther could not shake the feeling. She stated the feeling was so strong she could not sleep at night. In fact, she refused to sleep at night! She would simply “sit up” in bed, so she could be more alert. She even refused to wear her nightclothes. Instead she stayed fully dressed. If something happened she did not want to be caught off guard in her bedclothes. She made a statement that she was “fully dressed and fully prepared”, in case something happened.
One night Esther dozed off and was awakened when she felt what she described as a “powerful push” on the boat. She says she felt this “push” three times. Frantic and fearful, she woke up her husband, who was sound asleep. She begged him to find out what was happening. He was upset at first, but did what she asked. After investigating, he told her the seas were calm and there was nothing to worry about.
Esther’s husband Ben thought the whole experience was an overreaction on her part. He believed his wife was so anxious she “imagined” the whole “push” incident. He even told several passengers the story and joked about it. Esther defended her fears by saying she believed the three “pushes” she felt were warnings from God. She went on to say she wished she had told the operators of the ship about her feelings of doom, but she knew they would not believe her. She said the people in authority would have dismissed her fears. She added if she knew there were icebergs in the area that time of year she would have gone straight to the Captain with her fears, especially after feeling three “pushes and jerks” of the ship that night. As it was, she had no idea it was the time of year when icebergs were at their peak, so she did not go to the Captain.
The next part is rather chilling. Esther says her husband Ben was a man who could easily handle temperatures of extreme heat and cold. When most people were burning up in the heat, it did not bother him. When it was extremely cold and everyone else was shivering, he would walk around without a coat. Extreme hot or cold weather just didn’t phase him. However, on that fateful date of April 14, the night Titanic hit the iceberg, he told his wife and child he was feeling cold. He said there was not a single drop of warm blood in his body! Though Esther didn’t know it at the time, she later said perhaps God was giving a warning through her husband. He had never been bothered by cold till that fateful day. This was the very day they were sailing right through an area infested with icebergs. What were the chances of that?
The night of April 14 Esther’s husband Ben did not spend extra time on deck looking at the ocean like he usually did. Instead he went straight to bed and fell fast asleep. Not long after this Esther heard an awful “tearing” sound. She knew something horrible had happened. She explains most of the passengers were sleeping and did not hear the “tearing sound”, but she doesn’t understand how they slept through it. To her it was very obvious. She had to wake up her husband since he was still sleeping. It took some time to wake him, but when he did awaken, he was upset and scolded his wife. Nonetheless, she fervently told her husband to get up because there was something wrong. She asked him to go on deck to see what was happening. He reluctantly did this, wearing only his nightshirt and no shoes.
When he returned from the deck he told his wife he saw all the men standing near the lifeboats. He told Esther they must be having a lifeboat drill. But Esther knew better. She said nobody has lifeboat drills that time of night. At that point her husband started getting worried. He began saying his Jewish prayers.
After this Esther says all chaos broke loose. She, along with her husband and daughter, made their way to the deck, where they witnessed sheer horror. She heard the sounds of panic and crying all around her as people struggled to claim their place on a lifeboat.
Esther and her daughter were loaded into a lifeboat in the midst of all this chaos. Ben, since he was a man, was not allowed to board. It was women and children first. The sad thing is that Esther and her daughter were loaded so quickly they didn’t have time to say goodbye to Ben. There were no hugs and kisses, or even words exchanged. It was too fast. Esther knew it was the last time she would see her precious husband.
Esther and her daughter would witness the Titanic splitting in two, and then sinking into the depths of the water. After the entire ship slipped below the water she said the water was smooth and still. It was as if the surface turned to glass. But not long after this she heard the dreadful sounds of moaning, screaming and crying. The sounds of panic and death abounded from the frigid water.
The amount of people in Esther’s boat totaled 55 souls. Keep in mind back in those days passengers were referred to as souls. She said at some point all of the 55 people in her one boat were transferred to other boats. This, in turn, left the original boat she was sitting in empty. It was now free to hold any survivors in the water. Yet, at this point it was too late. All the passengers in the water had froze to death. It was then Esther realized there were 55 people who could have been saved. Sadly, most of the boats were not loaded to full capacity. Some boats carried less than half their capacity. What a tragedy!
Eventually the rescue ship Carpathia arrived. Esther and her daughter were relieved to be aboard, yet they were in horrible condition. Esther could not relax or sleep once aboard the Carpathia. Instead, she paced back and forth without end. These actions led to the sailors aboard the ship calling her “The Lady of the Watch”.
Finally Esther and her daughter arrived in New York City. Once there, they were treated with great kindness. They were given clothing, food and lodging free of charge. Before returning back to England, Esther’s daughter received a letter from some children in New Jersey who had heard about the Titanic tragedy. Oddly enough she received a one dollar bill with this letter. Having sentimental value, the little girl never spent the dollar and cherished it like a treasure.
From that day forward Esther could never forget her experience. She lost her husband in an instant. Now it was just she and her daughter Eva. She realized how precious life was and how quickly it could be taken. She devoted her life to providing for her only child. She was all she had left.
When I read the biography of Esther Hart and her husband Ben I could immediately see parallels to the end times. The first detail that struck me was the part that describes how Esther warned her husband about the ship. Her husband, however, brushed off the warnings, saying she was anxious. Yet, the warnings ended up being true. The ship ended up sinking.
The second thing I took note of is when Esther stated she could not sleep and she went to bed fully alert and fully dressed. It made me think of what the Bible says about being “awake”.
“So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour you do not expect him.” Matthew 24:44
“Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. It would be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night, or toward daybreak.” Luke 12:35-38
“So then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober.” 1 Thessalonians 5.
Esther Hart went to bed fully dressed, ready for anything that could happen, even in the middle of the night. When Titanic hit the iceberg, most were asleep. It makes me think of the return of Jesus. How many people will be spiritually asleep and not ready for his return? How many people will be found without their shoes on? Benjamin Hart did not heed the warnings and when the ship hit the iceberg he was not ready. He was barefoot. The feet carry the gospel of peace, the good news of Jesus. How many people will know Jesus as Lord when he returns? Being void of the message of Jesus will be like having no shoes on a cold, icy night.
When the time came to get into the lifeboat, Esther and her daughter had no time to say goodbye. Everything went quickly. When Jesus returns it will be quick. He will return with the sound of the trumpet, and in the blink of an eye we will be changed. For those who don’t know Jesus it will be a rude awakening. There will be no time to say goodbye to missing, raptured loved ones. They will be gone to glory in a split second. There will be no turning back.
It’s interesting to note that Esther recalls the lifeboat she was in was not filled to capacity. She realizes more people could have been saved. It reminds me of the verse from the Bible which says, “the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” Surely there are millions and millions who can be saved, but do we have enough workers to reach out to them? Are we willing to spare a lifeboat and turn around to get them? Esther comments there were 55 souls on her lifeboat. Five in scripture points to grace. There are so many “souls” in need of the grace of Jesus. Are we willing to reach out to them and provide a lifeboat? Or do we want to stay in our “safe zone”.
The sailors aboard the Carpathia (the rescue ship) call Esther “The Lady of the Watch”. She couldn’t relax. She couldn’t let her guard down. She was watching before Titanic sank, and she was watching after as well. It seems to me the people of God need to be on watch at all times (spiritually). I’m not saying stay up all night and do not get any sleep! I’m saying be watchful of the signs and times in front of you. Keep up with God’s plan. Talk to him and be in tune with what he wants you to do. I guarantee you have a job. But if you fall asleep on the job you will not be able to do what God has planned for you. We all have a part in his plan.
I find the names Benjamin and Esther Hart quite intriguing. After all Esther is the name of the great heroine in the Book of Esther. This amazing Jewish woman helped save her people from complete annihilation. Interestingly enough, Esther was warned by her cousin Mordechai, who hailed from the tribe of Benjamin. She heeded the warning, and at great cost to her own life, she followed God’s plan. She could have ignored the warning and stayed “safe”, but she chose to follow God. This ended up saving the entire race of Jewish people in the kingdom.
Benjamin is another prophetic name. In the story of Joseph it is the youngest son Benjamin who holds the silver cup in his bag. This cup is placed there by Joseph on purpose. The silver cup leads to the redemption of Joseph’s brothers at the end of the story, bringing the entire family back together again. Thus, Benjamin is a symbol for redemption. Benjamin means “son of my right hand.”
It’s interesting that Benjamin and Esther Hart were Jewish. It makes me think of God’s plan of redemption for Israel. And it reminds me of the warnings God is sending regarding the Jewish nation. We need to keep our eyes on Israel and be on the alert. We need to be ready to make a stand when the time comes. This could simply mean being a voice for Israel. It could be signing petitions, or voting for leaders who will support Israel. It could be witnessing to Jewish people, or blessing them. It could be speaking the truth about God’s plan for redemption for all people, and for Israel. Whatever it is, we need to do it.
Another key idea pops into my mind when I look at the story of Benjamin and Esther Hart. Benjamin and most of the other passengers had a false sense of security. They had been told Titanic was unsinkable. The builders/owners of the ship believed this as well. That’s why there weren’t enough lifeboats on board. Who needs lifeboats on an unsinkable ship?
J.P. Morgan, one of the richest men in history, funded the Titanic. By the way, do you have a credit card? If it’s owned by Chase Manhattan Bank, or affiliated with Chase, that means it is tied to JP Morgan. JP Morgan Chase and Co is the largest bank in the United States! So, a lot of American money is tied to good old JP Morgan, Titanic extraordinaire! JP Morgan was going to be a passenger on Titanic and even had his own suite on board, but at the last minute he backed out of the maiden voyage.
On board Titanic was one of the richest men in the world- John Jacob Astor. In fact, he was the richest passenger on Titanic, with a net worth of 87 million (equal to 2 billion in today’s money). Astor ended up dying, and Morgan’s investment ended up at the bottom of the ocean. Money couldn’t save the ship or the people on it. The Titanic had been advertised as unsinkable and people believed it (but not Esther Hart). The truth is, nothing in this world is unsinkable. Money, fame, power- they can all sink in a moment’s notice. The only unsinkable thing we have is JESUS CHRIST. In him we have eternal life. The Bible says trusting in money and the things of this world is futile. Those “treasures” fade away -much like the Titanic, which continues to rust at the bottom of the ocean.
Jesus says when he returns he will come like “a thief in the night.” What did he mean? He meant he would come at a time when people would not expect him. He is also speaking in “remez”. This means he is referring to a concept the people of the time would understand. Jesus is Jewish and much of his audience and disciples were Jewish as well. When he refers to the thief in the night he is referencing what they already knew about temple guards in the Jewish culture. The temple had hundreds of guards that were responsible for keeping watch. Guards on the night shift had to stay awake and be careful not to “fall asleep on the job.” The high priest would sometimes come to the Temple in the middle of the night to check on the guards to be sure they had not fallen asleep on the job. If he caught one asleep he would place a burning ember on his clothes and then the guard would wake up with his clothes on fire! The guard would have to rip off his garments and at that point he would be naked! Do you see the parallel about being awake and fully dressed? Do not be caught naked. Be ready. We are to be on watch always- Jesus is the Temple! He is also our High Priest now that the Temple veil has been torn. He was crucified and defeated sin and death for us. He tore down the veil.
Another example of remez regarding the thief in the night is the concept of the ancient Jewish wedding. In a Jewish wedding the Groom is called the thief in the night. This is because the Groom would come to fetch his Bride at a time she didn’t know. He would often come in the middle of the night and “abduct” his Bride- he would steal her away like a thief!!! The Groom would arrive with the sound of a trumpet (shofar), signaling the Bride he had arrived. The Bride did not know the day or hour he would come, but she always had to be ready!!! Some Brides slept in their wedding dresses- talk about fully dressed!!! Keep in mind, back then a Bride may have to wait up to a year to see her Groom after the initial marriage contract was made. During that time the Jewish Groom would be preparing a place on his Father’s property for the Bride. When that secret place was ready the Father would signal his son to go fetch the Bride. Does any of this sound familiar to you? Jesus is Jewish! He has said he will return like a thief in the night. He has said he will return at the sound of the shofar (trumpet). He says you do not know the day or the hour, but only his father in heaven knows. But, you must be ready. Were the people aboard Titanic ready? NO!!! Was Esther Hart ready? YES. Jesus is preparing a place for you on the Father’s property in heaven! When the father gives the signal, Jesus will be on his way. We need to have our oil ready- the Holy Spirit- and be ready for his arrival.
When the rapture occurs, the Bride of Jesus will be taken by the Groom to heaven in the blink of an eye. But on earth the Titanic will be sinking. The Tribulation will set sail. It will be dark, icy and frightening. But not for the Bride of Christ. She will be fully dressed and rescued by her Groom. Some believe the Bride will go through some of the tribulation. I personally think it will play out like the ancient Jewish wedding- the Bride is taken to the hidden place in heaven for seven years while the tribulation plays out. Then the Bride will return with Jesus at the Second Coming, which occurs at the end of the tribulation. I am basing this on remez, and by studying lots of scriptures and the writings of biblical scholars. Ultimately that is up to God of course! Regardless of the timing, I believe the rapture is imminent and a lot of people will be caught off guard.
There’s going to be many warnings in the future. There are many warnings now. Are we going to be awake and heed them? Are we going to stay safe in our ordinary world, or are we going to go out on a limb and do something? That something is different for each person. God knows what your something is.
I certainly do not know when Jesus will return. But I live my life like any day could be the day he will return. Live your life “fully dressed”. Don’t be caught in your nightclothes, or worse yet, don’t be caught naked! Sit up, be alert and get ready for what’s coming. Keep your shoes on and be ready to share the gospel, as well as God’s plan. Check the water for icebergs. Get ready to be part of the rescue!
This blog post comes from my book What are the Chances, which ties our nation to Israel. I used Titanic as a metaphor for what will happen to the United States if we reject God (Jesus), and his plan for Israel.
Not long after I wrote this my husband and I ended up eating at a great little Mediterranean place called King of Falafel. We had never been there before. When I saw the address I did a double take- note Hart Street on the pic of the map where the restaurant is located. I thought about Benjamin Hart. What are the chances?