Israel Celebrates 64 Years
The Divine Fingerprint upon the History of Israel and the Jewish People
Saturday, April 28, 2012
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It is Israel's 64th birthday and another milestone for the modern state. Israel has made leaps and bounds as a nation in those 64 eventful years of struggle, blood and sacrifice. When one visits Israel today it is quite incredible to consider that the state has only been around for 64 years and even more incredible when one considers the many inventions, technology and medical advancements which the young country has produced. Not only has Israel advanced to become a modern nation, but they have and continue to help third world countries with medical and farming assistance. All this is even more incredible when we remember that the bleeding remnant of European Jewry only emerged from Hitler's ovens a few years before the state was established.
Whether one looks at the modern history of the nation of Israel and the Jewish people or the ancient history, they will be brought to a moment when they ask the question, "Is this a coincidence?" Does the return of the Jewish people to their ancient land bear a divine fingerprint or is it simply a coincidence of history? A person may dismiss this and continue on without giving it much thought, or they may research further and begin to accumulate more and more evidence of a divine hand.
If we turn to the Bible, we may then discover that God directs us to the Jewish people and his work with them as a witness to his truth. In the prophecy of Isaiah, God through the prophet says to the Jewish people:
"Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west; I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth; ...Let all the nations be gathered together, and let the people be assembled: who among them can declare this, and shew us former things? let them bring forth their witnesses, that they may be justified: or let them hear, and say, It is truth... ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, that I am God.”
According to the Bible then, the Jewish people are a witness to the existence of God and that he is the God of Israel. It has been claimed that the prophecies regarding the return of the Jewish people to their land were only made after the regathering back to the land, after the exile to Babylon. This however is a very selective and limited look at the prophets. It disregards one of the earliest and greatest of the prophets of Israel, the man Moses. Before Israel was even established as a nation, at the dawn of their national existence, Moses prophesied concerning their dispersion amongst the nations and their regathering. Lets consider just a few of the events which Moses prophesied, at this distant point at the beginning of the nation.
1. The nation that would scatter the Jewish people would be from far away, speak a foreign tongue and would be fierce. (Deuteronomy 28:49,50)
2. The siege would be renowned for its severity and cruelty. (Deuteronomy 28:52-57)
3. The Jewish people would be scattered among all people, from "one end of the earth even unto the other". (Deuteronomy 28:64)
4. In these nations the Jews would be forced to serve other Gods, that were foreign to what they had previously known. (Deuteronomy 28:65)
5. Among the nations to which they would be scattered, they would not find a resting place, only fear and sorrow. (Deuteronomy 28:65)
6. In the dispersion the Jewish people would be in fear for their very lives. (Deuteronomy 28:66)
7. While dispersed they would be a proverb and a byword among the nations. (Deuteronomy 28:37)
8. Despite being scattered all over the earth, suffering persecution, expulsion, fearing for their lives and being forced to serve other Gods; the Jewish people would remain a distinct people and would not be assimilated into the local populations. (Leviticus 26:44)
9. God would regather his people, even from the most distant nation to which they had been scattered and bring them back to their own land again. (Deuteronomy 30:3,4)
All these things came to pass upon the nation of Israel, yet the LORD was very longsuffering and waited hundreds of years before bringing these judgments upon his people. He sent prophets to plead with them, until there was no remedy (2 Chronicles 36:15, 16). When Judah was scattered with second time in AD 70 by the Roman armies, it was after they rejected the son of God, who was a great prophet like Moses. (Deuteronomy 18:18,19)
The siege that took place in AD 70 is aptly described in the prophecy of Moses - Deuteronomy 28. As prophesied it was renowned for it ferocity, carried out by a nation from afar, who spoke a completely different language. After this the Jewish people were scattered to the four corners of the globe, to every nation. While in dispersion the Jewish people were forced to convert to Catholicism and worship Christian idols which their fathers knew nothing of. Yet as prophesied, they did not reside in one country, but were forced from one to another, down through the centuries the Jews were expelled from almost every country in Europe. They were a proverb and a byword, they feared for their lives; the time of the inquisition, the pogroms in Russia and Hitler's Nazi Germany and just some examples. Yet despite all this they remained a distinct people and eventually made their way back to the land of Israel from the four corners of the earth.
When all the factors are compiled the list of coincidences is just too big. As the Almighty said through his prophet, "...ye are my witnesses". In fact, intelligent people believed in the Bible before there was any sign that the the Jews should return to the ancient homeland. One such writer in the mid 1800's, named Alexander Keith, in his book, "Evidence of the Truth of Christian Religion" comments on these points.
"That the people of a single state (which was of very limited extent and power in comparison with some of the monarchies which surrounded it) should first have been rooted up out of their own land in anger, wrath, and great indignation, the like of which was never experienced by the mightiest among the ancient empires, which all fell imperceptibly away at a lighter stroke; and that afterwards, though scattered among all nations, and finding no ease among them all, they should have withstood eighteen centuries of almost unremitted persecution; and that after so many generations have elapsed, they should still retain their distinctive form, or, as it may be called, their individuality of character, is assuredly the most marvellous event that is recorded in the history of nations; and if it be not acknowledged as a "sign," it is in reality, as well as in appearance, a "wonder," the most inexplicable within the province of the philosophy of history."
Since Alexander Keith wrote the Jewish people have returned from every nation of the world, to come to the land promised to Abraham. How much more evidence do we now have, that these things are certainly true!
Since the Jewish people have returned and the state of Israel established, there has been an almost constant state of hostility and war - peace has been elusive. This too could be expected, for Isaiah says in chapter 32 verse 17: "And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever." It therefore follows that today Israel does not have peace, because they are not counted to be a righteous nation in the eyes of God.
Yet this is not all. For we are told by the prophets how that this time would be a time of great controversy among the nations in regards to the things of Zion. Isaiah calls this the "controversy of Zion". "For it is the day of the LORD’s vengeance, and the year of recompences for the controversy of Zion."
Commenting upon this almost 150 years ago, in 1868, John Thomas wrote some rather incredible words: " Judah has been broken, but their “breakers” have not been “ground to powder” by the Stone. The time, however, fast approaches; and the nearer it arrives, the more important do all questions become bearing upon Judah’s land, and Zion, the city of their king.""
This is exactly what has happened. As time goes on the situation in Israel is growing more and more controversial. The questions bearing upon Judah's land and Zion the city of their king, make prime-time programming and newspaper stories on a regular basis. Just this past Wednesday, Netanyahu the Israel prime-minister is taking international pressure and criticism for legalizing a few Jewish settlements built upon Judah's land. This reported on the UK Independent news website. The current Israeli government also faced criticism of a different kind, from the former head of Israel's Internal Security Agency, Yuval Diskin. As quoted by Reuters, in relation to the situation with Iran, Diskin said: "I really don't have faith in a leadership that makes decisions out of messianic feelings." This gives an interesting perspective of the current Israeli leadership - although it is secular. As we have considered in the past on Bible in the News, Israel is becoming a much more religious nation and is a far cry from the secular socialist utopia proposed by Theodore Herzl in his book "The Jewish State", and a very different country than the one founded 64 years ago.
The modern state of Israel is merely a stepping stone to the restoration of the kingdom of God (Luke 1:30-33; Acts 1:3,6,11; 3:21), when Israel will blossom and bud and fill the face of the world with fruit (Isaiah 27:6). This is God's practical scheme for filling the earth with his glory (Numbers 14:21) and accomplishing his purpose. The dispersion, scattering throughout the earth and desolation of the Jewish people, their remaining a distinct nation, their regathering and restoration, the controversy of Zion and changes to Israel since its birth 64 years ago prove beyond a doubt that there is indeed a divine hand guiding the course of this nation - for they are God's witnesses.
This has been The Bible in the News with David Billington. See you next week God willing.
Printed: Saturday, April 28, 2012
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