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-- God’s Promise and the Restoration to the Land of Israel - 10/25/14
-- Why Israeli Girls don't wear burkas - Posted 10/5/2014
You know who seems really happy right about now? Benjamin Netanyahu -- Wouldn't you be?
Published by: Dan Calabrese on Wednesday November 9th, 2016
Promise and the Restoration to the Land of Israel
10/25/2014 Chose People Ministries
Even if we concede for the moment that the continuing presence of Jewish people is evidence for the reliability of the Bible, we are well within our rights to raise other concerns. What, for example, is the connection between the Jewish people and the highly-contested real estate of the Middle East? For some, the relationship of God’s covenant promise to preserve the Jewish people and the equally-emphasized “Promised Land” is highly problematic. Today, even committed Jews and Christians may wonder what, if any, relationship the present-day State of Israel has to with it. Although it is not often remembered, in 1948 many Orthodox Jews were horrified that a Jewish state based upon modern notions of nationality could even be contemplated in place of a kingdom under the reign of Messiah.
Yet, politics aside, it cannot be denied that not only have the children of Israel endured despite the harsh treatment they have received, but against all likelihood, after 2,000 years of exile, the Jewish people have once again returned to the Land of Israel just as the biblical prophets promised they would. The Hebrew prophets foretold a day when God would draw His people back to Israel. Although centuries of dispersion caused this aspiration to retreat into the far background of Jewish life, it never fully disappeared. If nothing else, the hope that was voiced every year at the Passover—“Next Year in Jerusalem”—would serve as an annual reminder of their lost heritage.
So unlikely did a realistic restoration of the Jews to their land seem, that throughout church history, Christians for the most part could not conceive of a literal fulfillment of this promise. Most, therefore, interpreted these prophecies figuratively or historically—if they thought of them at all. However, some believers in the nineteenth century did indeed take the promise of a return literally and, therefore, began to anticipate a Jewish return to the Land of Israel. Thus it may be said that Christian Zionism was birthed at the same time, or even earlier than the Jewish aspiration for modern statehood.4
The existence of the modern State of Israel a further validation of Scripture’s reliability, along the same lines as that of the continuing presence of the Jewish people in the world? Consider the following conditions set out in the scriptural record.
First, contrary to the views of some, a national spiritual regeneration occurring prior to the Jewish return to the Land is not a biblical prerequisite. In fact, the prophet Zechariah indicates the Jewish people will turn to God only after returning to Israel (Zech.12:10;13:1). Likewise, the prophet Ezekiel states God’s promises, “I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands, and bring you into your own land” (Ezk. 36:24). However, he continues,
“Then I will sprinkle clean water on you and you will be clean…Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezk. 36:25-26).
Note that the spiritual regeneration of Israel follows the restoration of the Jewish people to the Land. Thus reborn, Israel will, as a nation, turn in faith to the promised Messiah.
Second, the Bible predicts Israel would return to the Land in stages. Ezekiel 37 contains the stark and unforgettable vision of a valley of dry bones. The bones come to life in stages: first sinews on the bones, then flesh, then skin and finally, the breath of life (Ezk. 37:6–10). Then God tells Ezekiel, “These bones are the whole house of Israel” (Ezk. 37:11). This vivid depiction of the restoration of the Jewish people to their Promised Land is well in keeping with what is actually occurring. The re-gathering does not occur instantaneously; rather, it is a process culminating when the nation as a whole receives the Messiah according to Jewish expectation.
The dry bones represent Israel in exile, without hope. The process of the bones coming together with sinew, flesh and skin refers to the successive waves of returning Jews before Israel’s rebirth. This is, in fact, how the Jewish people have returned to the Land. There were the five separate aliyot (immigration waves) from 1881 to 1939, returning Jewish people from Europe to the Promised Land. Then, after the birth of Israel in 1948, some one million European Jewish survivors came to Israel, followed by 800,000 Jewish people, driven from their homes in Arab countries. More recently, 1.5 million Jewish people fled the Former Soviet Union and immigrated to Israel. These immigration waves show how the Jewish people have returned in stages. The body without breath represents unbelieving Israel, restored but not yet regenerated. Finally, according to this passage, God breathes life into these bodies, representing the day when all Israel turns to the Messiah.
Third, the Bible predicts Israel would return to her Land through persecution. The Hebrew Scripture says of Israel,
“I will return them to their land that I gave to their ancestors” (Jer. 16:15).
God will use “fishermen” and “hunters” to pursue His people back to Israel (Jer. 16:16). This metaphor for persecution has been literally fulfilled in Israel’s rebirth. Since the birth of modern Zionism, the primary motivation for return to the Land of Israel has been anti-Jewish persecution. In the last hundred years, God has used Czarist pogroms, Polish economic discrimination, Nazi genocide, Arab hatred, Soviet repression and now an alarming rise in European antisemitism to drive Jewish people back to their homeland.
Fourth, the Bible predicts that after a period of exile, the children of Israel would return to reestablish national identity, thus setting the stage for the arrival of Messiah and the consummation of history as we know it. At that time, the Messiah will deliver Israel from her enemies (Zech. 14:3).
Ask yourself, do the facts of history—particularly the emergence of modern Jewish nationality—line up sufficiently with the predictions of the Hebrew Bible to form a credible connection? Since Israel has returned in unbelief, in stages, through persecution, it is likely that the modern State of Israel fulfills the predictions of the ancient Hebrew prophets, setting the stage for events yet to come.
The return to Zion is powerful evidence of the truth of Scripture. Would you not agree that it is beyond remarkable that a dispersed and despised people have been restored to their Land after two thousand years of exile? Given the relationship between these events and the predictions of the Bible, would you say it is more or less likely that this has truly come about by the hand of God?
And if the above is true—what impact might this have on our lives? It is a good question to ponder.
4. As cited in Halvor Ronning, “The Land of Israel: A Christian Zionist View,” Immanuel 22/23 (1989): 132.
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|”a free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government.” George Washington.|
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