As Israel celebrates her national birthday on May 14th, we acknowledge that one of the greatest miracles of the Bible is before our very eyes: the continuing existence of the Jewish people.
Again and again, throughout the many centuries and empires, attempts to wipe out the Jews have always failed. The Egyptians, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Crusaders, and the Nazis of Germany all failed in their aggressive attempts at genocide.
Bible prophecy is, indeed, history written in advance. Israel is the lens through which the Bible presents both the past and the future of the world itself. It is the means through which God’s program for the redemption of mankind will be performed.
The Israelites originally went down to Egypt as a family, were enslaved, and after four centuries, emerged as a nation. God referred to this emergent nation as His “firstborn” (Ex 4:22). And it was His plan to use them to bring forth the One who would be the Redeemer of mankind.
Their saga begins with God’s covenant and land grant to Abraham.1 Their prophets warned that the en-tire world would ultimately go to war over this land grant and that is exactly what is being challenged by the world today.
But there is much more at stake than simply Israel’s right to the land. God’s plan for the redemption of mankind is ultimately at issue.
Israel’s vicissitudes—both ups and downs—were continually predicted by the prophets throughout their entire history. After the civil war following Solomon’s death, the histories of both the Northern Kingdom and Southern Kingdom became astonishingly graphic. The dismal decline of the Northern Kingdom resulted in their being obliterated from existence.
The commitment of God to David’s dynasty is all that prevented the Southern Kingdom from a similar fate. Although the Kingdom suffered as a captive of the Babylonian Empire (prophesied in Deut 28:49-57), through the prophet Jeremiah it was promised deliverance after seventy years and a return to the land. And those seventy years were fulfilled to the very day!2
Though Israel’s Babylonian captivity was its first removal from the land, God restored and continued to woo the nation to faithfulness. Christ’s arrival, ministry, and ultimate rejection are well-known historically, but few people realize how much this led to the Jews’ later dispersions. Jesus Himself gave us His perspective when He said:
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chick-ens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.
The tragedy of all history—the rejection of Christ—led to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in A.D. 70. In fact, Luke 21:24 foretold that the Jewish people “shall be led away captive into all nations,” a statement that reflects the very language of Deuteronomy 28:64: “Then the Lord will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other” (NKJV).
The Diaspora simply cannot be understood without the background of Deuteronomy.
The regathering of the Jews into their own home-land—the second time—is the key to understanding the times in which we live.
And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.
Their first regathering was from their captivity in Babylon. The second time, prefigured in Ezekiel 37’s colorful “dry bones” prophecy, is one of the dramatic events of the twentieth century.
Many Bible scholars have felt that the Diaspora was a permanent judgment upon Israel for having rejected their Messiah. They felt that a literal return of the Jews to the land of Israel was fanciful and misinformed. It was a debate at the time between the “old-fashioned fundamentalists” and the modern “liberals.”
During World War II, many pundits were viewing the rise of Hitler as the “Antichrist.” However, there were a few radio commentators, M.R. Dehahn, H.A. Ironside, and others who pointed out that he couldn’t be: be-cause the nation Israel was not in its land.
A Litmus Test for Scholars
It was a dramatic day on May 14, 1948, when David Ben Gurion, using Ezekiel as his authority, announced on international radio the name of “Israel” as the new state and homeland for the Jews. It was a great day for the Jews. And it was a most significant day for Biblical scholarship as well. The debate about the literalness of God’s promises should have ended.
Immediately set upon by their Muslim enemies, Israel shocked the world by the miraculous victories in their War of Independence. Vastly outnumbered, they nevertheless established their fledgling state in the midst of impossible conditions.
In 1967, they again startled an astonished world with their miraculous victories in the Six-Day War. And again, in 1973, in the Yom Kippur War.
The saga of the Israeli Defense Forces has become a modern legend. And yet, the worse is still to come.
We continue to watch world events as they relate to the future of Israel, specifically the forthcoming “Time of Jacob’s trouble,” the climax of the current “struggle for Jerusalem”—one of the many strategic trends that we are witnessing now—and the ill-fated “Magog” invasion of Israel, predicted in Ezekiel 38-39.
These events are critical, yet-to-be-revealed moments in Israel’s ongoing history.