Welcome to the land flowing with milk and honey. Welcome to Israel one of the only countries to still post growth in 2008 during the great economic down turn! Welcome to another edition of the Bible in the News. This is John Billington with you this week.
2008 and 2009 were brutal years economically for most countries of the world, especially the US. It has been called by many the great depression. For Israel however the early 80’s were a disaster economically but those days are long gone, in fact in the last quarter of 2009 Israel’s economy grew 4.4%. Currently the Tel Aviv stock exchange is only 1% short of its 2007 all time high. And even though Israel has fought two wars over the last few years it seems to have little impact on the economic stability of the nation. In fact the Financial Times said “bombs drop, yet Israel's economy grows.” And this growth does not look like it will be short lived, a 3.5% growth is forecast for 2010.
This is all very exciting because when we open our Bibles to Ezekiel chapter 38 as we often do on the Bible in the News, we see that this is exactly what it tells us to expect. A prosperous Israel before the time of the end. Prosperous enough to rouse the attention of Russia to the extent that they come down to take a spoil.
Let's read Ezekiel together, chapter 38 starting at verse 10:
“Thus saith the Lord GOD; It shall also come to pass, that at the same time shall things come into thy mind, and thou shalt think an evil thought:
And thou shalt say, I will go up to the land of unwalled villages; I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates,
To take a spoil, and to take a prey; to turn thine hand upon the desolate places that are now inhabited, and upon the people that are gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell in the midst of the land.
Sheba, and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, with all the young lions thereof, shall say unto thee, Art thou come to take a spoil? hast thou gathered thy company to take a prey? to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to take a great spoil?”
Well there has been a new book published recently called “Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle.” The book was written by Dan Senor and Saul Singer and they look to Israel as an ideal model for other countries to aspire to and in particular the US. In a recent interview with CNBC Dan Senor had this to say:
"What's fascinating to us - Israel and the Middle East get a lot of coverage but one side of the story gets very little coverage. That is Israel is the fastest growing - one of the most dynamic entrepreneurial and innovation based economies on the planet that barely got hit by the global economic crisis in 2008.
"More Israeli companies are NASDAC than all of Europe combined; than all of India, China, Korea, Japan combined. More global venture capital each year of going into Israel on a per capita basis than the United States - 2 and a half times more than the United States; three times more than Europe. Even in 2008 when the global economy was melting down. And so this sparked our curiosity. How the Israelis pulled it off in the least likely of places, surrounded by enemies and a state of war since its founding. No oil, no access to regional capital or regional markets. And what can we in the West learn from it at a time that we are trying to reboot our own innovation economy and get real productivity gains, not credit bubble economic gains. And so we tried to look at the factors that have driven the Israelis and if there's anything driven their success and is there anything proscriptive for us."
When asked about the extraordinary innovation Senor has this to say (and for those that do not know what R & D is, it is short for research and development):
"We go through eight factors in the book. Let me just quickly focus on two or three of them. One of them is Israel's immigration and assimilation policies. The Israelis have very innovative policies and how they bend over backwards to bring people to the country from around the world.
"Israeli prime ministers run for office talking about how many immigrants they're going to get into the country. They don't view immigration as a burden and they have some very innovative policies for assimilating them.
"Civilian research and development - They spend more as a percentage of their economy - more R & D than any other country in the world. And they have some very interesting ways in how they actually make that R & D funding matter. It's not just about spending. It's about how you make it matter to the start ups and the companies using it.
"And the role of the military is like, amazing. These young 18 year olds go into the military when they finish high school. They all serve for three years. Females serve for two years. They get the most incredible leadership and entrepreneurial experience in the battle field. And the entire economy knows how to read a military resume - investors, CO's of companies. When these guys come out of the military they know how to integrate them and the battlefield experience, into the economy and the US does not know how to do that. And we look at how we could better integrate our soldiers, and our serving in places like Iraq and Afghanistan - re. coming back with incredible experience - and getting them to work. We don't know how to do that today."
On top of all this what is not mentioned is the natural gas that was found in Israel at the beginning of 2009, and as they say, where there is gas oil is often not far away! In fact a number of companies are drilling like mad to hit the black gold. The result of this is independence from Egypt for natural gas and if we can get some oil in the picture independence from the US, and they are going to need that the way Obama is aggressively pushing.
Well it is all certainly amazing and as the book calls it, Israel’s economic miracle. We must say however great the economic situation becomes in Israel it will never come close to the blessings that the Jews and the land will receive at the return of Christ.
Zechariah says the following in chapter 8 and verse 22:
“Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the LORD.
Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.”
And Ezekiel says the following in chapter 36 and verse 24:
“For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land.
Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.
A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.
And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.
I will also save you from all your uncleannesses: and I will call for the corn, and will increase it, and lay no famine upon you.
And I will multiply the fruit of the tree, and the increase of the field, that ye shall receive no more reproach of famine among the heathen.”
And in the prophetic Psalm 72 looking forward to the time of the restored kingdom of Israel it even speaks of nations coming and bringing gifts. It will be a very different time for the Jews and the land of Israel, a time of blessings await, physical blessings but even more importantly spiritual blessings. God says the nation will be cleansed and a new spirit will energize the nation, the sprit of truth.
Thanks for joining us again for another edition of the Bible in the News