A Nation Born in a Day - The Miraculous Rebirth of Israel Part 1 - Israel's Dispersion and Regathering Foretold
TGP Prophecy Letter - May 16, 2022
On May 14, 2022, the reborn state of Israel turned 74 years old. The Jews did not celebrate it on this day, but did so on May 4th-5th due to their use of the Hebrew calendar. For us believers who were born after 1948, Israel turning 74 may not mean much to us. In our experience, Israel has always been a nation. What, then, is the big deal? It is imperative that we widen our view from our own experience and consider the many ages before us. Israel was not always nation. For many years, the Jews were in exile with no land of their own. Israel ceased to exist. Now, however, they thrive once again as a nation. Why does it matter? What is the significance of Israel reemerging as a nation, and what are the implications for us?
The rebirth of Israel is significant on multiple fronts, and its importance cannot be overstated. Foremost, it is an indisputable validation of the Lord’s prophecy. When presented with all of the facts of the case, only the greatest of fools can conclude that there was nothing Divine in Israel’s rebirth. Every step that led to its culmination teems with Divinity. As an indisputable validation of prophecy, it is therefore also an indisputable validation our faith; that “we have not followed cunningly devised fables” (2 Peter 1:16). On top of this, it also acts as a distinct milestone on the timeline of the Lord’s plan. The Scriptures show that the rebirth of Israel is a clear and glorious herald of the Messiah, telling us the season of Christ’s return!
In this series of articles, we will examine this miraculous event to perceive how the rebirth of Israel was foretold in the Scriptures of Truth and what it means for us as we await our Lord.
Israel’s Dispersion Foretold and Executed
The scattering of Israel occurred as a consequence for them having “crucified the Lord of glory” Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 2:8). In AD 70, the Roman armies besieged and toppled Jerusalem in what was the climax of tensions that had been building between the Jews and the Romans since Christ’s ascension. Then, in 135 AD, a further brutal scattering ensued as a result of the Jewish Bar Kokhba revolt. It was after this that the Roman emperor Hadrian changed the name of the land from Judea to Syria Palestina (Jewish Virtual Library). This destruction and dispersion of Israel was prophesied in numerous places in Scripture, and though we would like to expound upon these, we will merely refer to some of them as our main subject is Israel’s regathering. See Deuteronomy 28:49-51, Isaiah 5:1-7, Ezekiel 5, Daniel 8:22-24, 9:26-27, Zechariah 13:7-9, and Luke 13:34-35, 21:24.
As a result of the Roman siege, the Jews were scattered to the four corners of the earth. Israel, as a nation, was dead. Its destruction was so complete that, by all natural means and logic, Israel would never reemerge. No entity so small and so despised by man could be scattered so thoroughly for so long a time and ever hope to rise again. Consider the great empires of the world: The glorious Babylon reached heights unknown in its day, but where is it now? The great Roman empire was feared by the entire world, but where is it today? Such great powers have faded into history, never to resurface. If these great powers disappeared, how much more so would little Israel? And yet, as we write this article, there on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean sits the nation of Israel once again. After almost 1900 years of dispersion, Israel resurfaced as the same nation, with the same people, bearing the same name, in the same land. This is an indisputable fact. How on earth was it possible?
There is one critical difference between Israel and all other nations:
Isaiah 43:10 – Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.
Deuteronomy 7:6-8 – For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. (7) The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: (8) But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen…
The Jews are the Lord’s people, chosen for a specific, glorious purpose: to act as God’s witnesses and testify to His existence and the veracity of His everlasting Word. Such a people would not disappear forever, but, against all odds, would come to life again as a nation. Through His witnesses, the Lord would show His mighty hand!
Israel’s Regathering Foretold
While Israel was in dispersion, diligent Bible students were certain that Israel become a nation once again thanks to the “sure word of prophecy” (2 Peter 1:19). The passages foretelling this event are numerous and diverse in nature. Though we will not refer to all of them, here are a few for consideration (some of which we will expound upon): Psalm 147:1-2, Isaiah 11:10-12, 66:7-10, Jeremiah 23:1-8, Ezekiel 37, Micah 5:3, Zechariah 13:8-9, and Luke 21:24. These prophecies show, in clear terms, that Israel would one day be regathered to their ancient homeland. This eventuality was also perceivable from the latter-day prophecies. By this, we refer to prophecies that do not explicitly say that Israel will be regathered, but show them present in the scene as a sovereign entity. Take Ezekiel 38-39 for example when Gog and his bands come against Israel for a spoil. Can this occur if Israel is not a nation? Of course not! And so, Bible students from centuries ago knew that Israel must once again emerge from the ashes.
Ezekiel 37 is a beautiful prophecy of this event. In this chapter, the prophet is shown a spectacular illustration of the revitalization of the dead nation. We recommend examining the entire chapter, but will here merely reproduce the first six verses:
Ezekiel 37:1-6 – The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, (2) And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry. (3) And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest. (4) Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. (5) Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: (6) And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.
Verse 11 tells us the representation of the bones in clear terms: “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel...” From this prophecy, Ezekiel learned that the nation would be utterly destroyed and scattered. They were likened unto bones strewn throughout a field and valley. It is also possible to perceive the general duration of this dispersion, for the prophet remarks that the bones “were very dry” (verse 2). At the time in which the vision takes place, the nation had been dead for a long time – nearly 1900 years!
We believe that this prophecy is in partial fulfilment. On May 14th, 1948, the Lord revived the nation of Israel. It is certain that the bones have been gathered and rejuvenated, now standing as a great multitude. Some are still gathering to the land as Jews from all over the earth continue to make aliyah, but we believe this process will continue even into the reign of the Lord. In any case, Israel is alive once again, and that is a fact.
Israel, however, has yet to recognize the Lord as verse 6 states, “ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.” As a nation, they have not accepted their Messiah and are still largely secular. Perhaps to our surprise, most of the ruling parties in Israel do not see the Israel’s rebirth as the Lord’s doing. Israeli President Isaac Herzog recently gave a speech where he pointed out the fulfillment of Ezekiel 37, but this belief is apparently a rarity among Israeli politicians (All Israel News). The world believes that Israel’s rebirth and success is merely the result of a strong-willed and crafty people. The Lord, they defiantly say, has nothing to do with it.
To any naysayers in this regard, we need only to present the facts of the case:
It is a fact that the Lord prophesied Israel’s destruction and scattering by the Romans long before it occurred. The earliest foretelling of AD 70 was through Moses and is recorded in Deuteronomy 28:49. This was written somewhere around the 1400s BC. This means that the event was foretold almost 1,500 years before it occurred, before even Rome itself was even a thought. Consider, too, that the Jews of Christ’s day had long had access to the book of Deuteronomy, so there is no possibility that it was written after the fact as many like to claim.
It is a fact that this dispersion lasted almost 1,900 years; a significant time period that is perceivable in Scripture.
It is a fact that Scripture foretold the rebirth of Israel long before it actually occurred. We have not searched to see which was the first and earliest prophecy of this, but we will use Ezekiel 37 as we have already referenced it. Ezekiel began prophesying around 590 BC. From that time to Israel’s 1948 rebirth is a span of over 2,500 years. That, Brethren, is a fact.
When faced with these facts of history and the ancient black and white text of the Bible, we have an irrefutable witness to the omniscience and omnipotence of God. Though Israel is presently ignorant of their Lord, the time will come when not only Israel will have their eyes opened to the truth, but the rest of the world too; for it is written, “behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that they shall no more say, The LORD liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; But, The LORD liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land” (Jeremiah 23:7-8).
Part 2 - How Israel Would Be Reborn
TGP Prophecy Letter - May 27, 2022
It might surprise us as to how much information the Creator revealed to man concerning this landmark event, particularly how it would come to pass. There are two aspects of this that we would like to examine. The first regards the means of the return and details what would cause the regathering of the Jews and the formation of Israel. The second relates to how long it would take for the nation to be formed.
The Means of the Return
Jeremiah 16 is perhaps the most descriptive passage of how Israel would return and be regathered:
Jeremiah 16:14-18 – Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that it shall no more be said, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; (15) But, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither he had driven them: and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers. (16) Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith the LORD, and they shall fish them; and after will I send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks. (17) For mine eyes are upon all their ways: they are not hid from my face, neither is their iniquity hid from mine eyes. (18) And first I will recompense their iniquity and their sin double; because they have defiled my land, they have filled mine inheritance with the carcases of their detestable and abominable things.
From this passage, it is clear that Israel would be regathered after her dispersion. Before this happened, however, the Lord would “recompense their iniquity and their sin double.” A final punishment would be administered before the Jews came back and Israel reemerged. This time of recompense is therefore integral to our subject. We believe it is spoken of in at least two other places in Scripture:
- In Jeremiah 30:4-11, it is called “the time of Jacob’s trouble”.
- In Daniel 12:1, it is described as a “time of trouble such as never was”. We acknowledge that this verse has been commonly used to refer to the troubles that would immediately precede Christ’s return, and we have previously taken this position. However, our studies have strongly suggested that this phrase is more focused in its scope and refers to Daniel’s people the Jews and not the entire world.
As much as we would like to, we will not illustrate all of the correlations between these three passages in this article. We highly encourage all to examine them at their own convenience. Nevertheless, bearing in mind the message of Jeremiah 16 concerning the hunters, fishers, and double recompense, we will examine these other two passages to create as clear of a picture as we can. Let us first consider Jeremiah 30 regarding “the time of Jacob’s trouble”. Here we will merely cite verses 7-9:
Jeremiah 30:7-9 – Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob's trouble; but he shall be saved out of it. (8) For it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD of hosts, that I will break his yoke from off thy neck, and will burst thy bonds, and strangers shall no more serve themselves of him: (9) But they shall serve the LORD their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up unto them.
Firstly, note that the passage uses the family name “Jacob” instead of “Israel”. We suggest this potentially indicates that the trouble would befall the Jews before “Israel” existed. Though it is not necessarily incorrect to refer to the dispersed Jews as “Israel”, one can plausibly say that it is imprecise since the title “Israel” most often refers to the nation. The Lord is precise in His prophecies, and this degree of precision is seen in Isaiah 11:1 in relation to the Messiah – “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots.” Why does it say that Christ would arise out of the line of “Jesse” instead of the much more familiar, regal name of “David”? We believe it is because the branch of Christ did not spring up at a time when the line of David was royalty, but when the lineage had returned to the civilian state and was again subject to the powers that be. Such turned out to be the case, for there was no King of David’s line reigning in Israel when Jesus first appeared. The Romans governed the land. Thus, the family name Jesse is used instead of the royal name David. It is this incredible detail that we suggest is present in this prophecy of Jeremiah 30. “Jacob” in this instance might refer to the stateless, scattered condition of the Jews since the nation did not yet exist.
Whatever the time of Jacob’s trouble is, it is clear that
a) the Jews would be saved out of it. It would not result in their complete destruction.
b) their bondage to other nations would cease after this trouble. The “yoke” of the nations that rested upon their shoulders would be lifted. They would not serve other people and nations any longer.
We believe, then, that the overall meaning of Jeremiah 30 is that the Jews would be in dispersion, suffer a time of intense trouble, and afterward become their own sovereign nation. We carry these thoughts with us over to Daniel 12:1. Recall that of the time of Jacob’s trouble, it is said, “that day is great, so that none is like it” (Jeremiah 30:7). Consider this in relation to what we find in Daniel 12:
Daniel 12:1 – And at that time shall Michael (the Archangel) stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.
Both Jeremiah 30 and Daniel 12 refer to a time of great trouble for the Jews that would be unequaled by any other, but they would be “saved” or “delivered” from it. Further correlating the trouble in these two passages is the fact that the word itself is the same: Strong’s H6869 – tsârâh (pronounced tsaw-rah). We again emphasize that these troubles are in relation to the Jews, not the entire earth. The earth will, no doubt, suffer great tribulation by Christ’s hand once he returns, but the Jews will not be the subjects of his wrath. The trouble we now speak of refers to a completely different time period.
Bearing these three passages in mind (Jeremiah 16:14-18, 30:7-9, and Daniel 12:1), we now look back on history and ask, Was there a time of great trouble that befell the Jews before Israel became a nation? Can we think of a time when the Jews might have received double for their iniquity and sin? Were the Jews ever hunted and fished in such a way that resulted in their regathering to the land? To all, we say YES. We firmly believe that all was accomplished through the Holocaust – a dreadful attempt of genocide wrought by Nazi Germany from 1933-1945 that resulted in the death of over 6 million Jews. Under the helm of Adolf Hitler, the Nazis hunted and sought to exterminate the Jews in every plot of land they acquired.
It is critical to understand that it was specifically the Holocaust that caused the nations of the world to vote in favor of a Jewish state at the UN General assembly in November 1947. The Jews had tried fleeing from the Nazi terror, but they had no place of refuge. Thus, once the world learned of the atrocities committed by the Germans, they reasoned, “If such a persecuted people are to continue on, they must have a land of their own.” It was therefore this dreadful attempt by the Germans to hunt and exterminate the Jews that turned the heart of the world in favor of the Jews, allowing them to return to the land of promise in vast numbers. Israel then declared itself a nation in May of 1948 and has been its own sovereign entity ever since. The Jews were delivered from the trouble, the yoke was lifted from their neck, and nations no longer served themselves of them. Thus, precisely as the Lord spake, the words of Jeremiah 16:16 were fulfilled: “I will send for many fishers, saith the LORD, and they shall fish them; and after will I send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks.”
The Holocaust, therefore, was the “time of Jacob’s trouble” and “the time of trouble such as never was” (Jeremiah 30:7, Daniel 12:1). It acted both as the double-recompense for Israel’s sins and the means of regathering the Jews “from all the lands whither he (the Lord) had driven them (Jeremiah 16:15,18). And think, dear Brethren: these prophecies in Jeremiah were uttered around 600 BC. They were spoken over 2,500 years before their fulfillment. It is no wonder that Peter calls such divine forecasts “the sure word of prophecy” (2 Peter 1:19). Truly, time has no bearing on the God of Heaven.
Some might be wondering, “How could God bring such a terrible thing upon the Jews? Was the Holocaust really the Lord’s doing?” This is an understandable reaction, but it must be remembered that the Lord is just and right in His judgments, neither is this the first time He sorely reprimanded His people’s wickedness. In 597 BC, the Lord punished His people by means of the Babylonians. Jerusalem was bitterly destroyed and the Israelites were banished to a strange land. In 70 and 135 AD, the Lord punished them again through the Romans and Jerusalem was again toppled, resulting in the greatest scattering of the Jews that has ever occurred. One can read about the terrors of these judgments in Ezekiel 5. No student familiar with Scripture will deny that the Lord brought these two judgments upon the Jews, for Scripture clearly says so.
Knowing the nature of these divine judgments, is it difficult to see how the Lord would have orchestrated the Holocaust as a DOUBLE recompense? Just like the Babylonian and Roman destructions, the Holocaust too was described in detail. This judgment differs, however, in that it would result in a blessing: the regathering of the Jews to their land. If there is a great gulf in our minds that separates the Holocaust and the Babylonian and Roman destructions, we suggest that it is largely due to the fact that the Holocaust is much nearer to our day and was documented through video and photographs. We can therefore see and hear what happened, whereas we must imagine these things with Babylon and Rome. Perhaps we subconsciously omit those terrible images in our minds when we think of the first two judgments, but as Ezekiel 5 describes, similar atrocities certainly occurred. Consider too that the Jews are the Lord’s people. Can anything happen to them without God knowing or allowing it to happen? It is much more in the way of God to orchestrate such reprimands for a designed purpose than to let them occur by chance.
It is written of the Lord, “just and true are thy ways” (Revelation 15:3). And again, “there is no unrighteousness in him” (Psalm 92:15). What is man, who often has so few facts of the case, that he should protest the intellect and judgment of the eternal and omnipotent? To borrow the words of Eliphaz the Temanite, “Shall mortal man be more just than God? shall a man be more pure than his maker?” (Job 4:17) What God does, He does for a just and righteous purpose. The intensity of punishment is directly correlated to the degree of wickedness it is designed to reprimand.
Though the Lord’s judgments are mighty, the time of judgment will give way to that of blessing. At some point in the near future, our Lord will comfort and console His people personally. Isaiah prophesied that when Christ returns to the Jews, it will be “to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified” (Isaiah 61:2-3) And again, “As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem” (Isaiah 66:13).
We must make one more comment on these passages before moving on. We note that Jeremiah 30 spoke about a time when the children of Israel would no longer serve the nations of the world, but “they shall serve the LORD their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up unto them” (verse 9). Israel is presently a sovereign nation, and thus the yoke of the nations has been lifted. However, they do not recognize or serve the Lord. Israel is still in blindness (Romans 11:25). Yet, we know from the tried and proven testimony of prophecy that they will serve the Lord, and all the signs indicate that it will be soon!
The Swiftness of Israel’s Rebirth
In Isaiah 66, we are given a striking metaphor regarding the duration of Israel’s rebirth:
Isaiah 66:7-10 – Before she travailed, she brought forth; before her pain came, she was delivered of a man child. (8) Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children. (9) Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth? saith the LORD: shall I cause to bring forth, and shut the womb? saith thy God. (10) Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all ye that love her: rejoice for joy with her, all ye that mourn for her.
One of the illustrations the Lord uses is that of a woman giving birth before even feeling pain. Obviously, we cannot speak from personal experience, but we’re fairly certain that any mother would attest to that being a quick birth! Israel, then, would be born very quickly!
Here, we must mention one more intricate detail. The illustration does not say that there was no intent for the woman to have the child. She knew that she would give birth, she just did not know precisely when or how long it would take. These same things are perceivable with Israel’s rebirth as shown from the pages of history.
Israel being “born at once” does not mean that there was no previous intent for a Jewish state and that it all came “out of the blue”, for the first big step in this direction occurred in 1897 with Theodor Herzl and the First Zionist Congress. The phrase “born at once” refers to swiftness of the valid nation of Israel; when the nation entered the world. Any group of people can call themselves their own nation, but it is of no significance whatsoever if the world does not recognize it. This process can take time. For instance, the United States declared its independence on July 4, 1776. It was not, however, until December 20, 1777 - a year and five months later - that another nation (Morocco) recognized and therefore validated that independence. But of Israel’s declaration of statehood, we read,
“On May 14, 1948, David Ben-Gurion, the head of the Jewish Agency, proclaimed the establishment of the State of Israel. U.S. President Harry S. Truman recognized the new nation on the same day” (Milestones: 1945–1952 - Office of the Historian - state.gov).
This recognition by the world’s leading superpower gave Israel’s declaration validity, and so fulfilled this prophecy with pinpoint accuracy. Israel’s rebirth was not a long, drawn out, painful process, but was incredibly swift!
The UN vote of the previous year showed support for the partition of “Palestine”, but Israel had not been formed. When one reads the history of the events leading up to Israel’s sovereignty, it is clear that the entire world, the Jews included, were in constant doubt as to whether they could form a valid, lasting state or not. The obstacles were endless! The Arab opposition was fierce and unrelenting! By all natural means, no Jewish state could be formed, much less last for any significant time. But these were not natural means at work. The Lord had decreed long ago, “Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth? saith the LORD: shall I cause to bring forth, and shut the womb? saith thy God” (Isaiah 66:9). As certainly as it was spoken, so would it be performed.
We can only imagine the rejoicing of the Household of faith in seeing such a clear fulfillment of prophecy, and that an incredibly significant one as we hope to show later on. The prophetical scene for the centuries prior was relatively quiet and dark, but the rebirth of the state of Israel was a brilliant and shimmering burst of light! Perhaps we might dream, “If only I had been alive to see it happen with my own eyes!” The profit, however, was not limited only to that generation. You and I who were born after the fact can receive similar, actually greater benefit as we will shortly see. We must merely make the effort to acquaint ourselves with the Word and the facts of history. Then, we can look across the world to that hotly contested, ancient strip of land and see the visible, tangible, indisputable work of the Lord with our own eyes. To this day, even in its temporal ignorance, existence of Israel remains a stubborn fact, and therefore an unshakable foundation for our faith! Its present existence is proof that current days of cold darkness are numbered and will soon give way to the warm, soothing rays of the Sun of righteousness! (Malachi 4:2) “Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all ye that love her: rejoice for joy with her, all ye that mourn for her” (Isaiah 66:10).
To be continued…