My Evven’s ancient temple mount stones were rescued from a forgotten pile of debris and preserved for what they really are- a piece of sacred history.
In this series of articles My Evven and ALL ISRAEL NEWS wish to rediscover forgotten events, traditions and places in Israel.
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Israel will celebrate its 74th annual Day of Independence (Yom HaAtzmaut in Hebrew), commemorating the establishment of the Jewish nation in 1948. Israel’s Declaration of Independence was the climax of an ongoing process that began about one hundred years earlier and still continues to this day.
Christians, as well as Jews, argue mostly among themselves whether the State of Israel is indeed the fulfillment of dozens of biblical passages that predict an end-time regathering of Israel back to its land. Christians who dismiss the present state as a fulfillment of prophecy do so because they are bothered by the fact that the Jews returned in unbelief with regard to the person of Jesus. Both Christians and Jews debate the fact that the majority of Jews who returned were not Orthodox Jews but rather atheists or agnostics and, therefore, Israel does not fit in with biblical passages that deal with the return and redemption.
However, the history of the nation of Israel, as well as the current State of Israel, does undeniably fulfill numerous biblical prophecies.
Sadly, we don’t have to dig too deep into Israel’s 1,950 years of history since the destruction of the second temple to find the fulfillment of the biblical exile prophecies. Less than 80 years ago, we saw the horrific prophecy of Deuteronomy 28 come to fruition:
“… if you do not obey the Lord… all these curses will come on you and overtake you: You will be cursed in the city and cursed in the country… you will become a thing of horror to all the kingdoms on earth. Your carcasses will be food for all the birds and the wild animals, and there will be no one to frighten them away… The sights you see will drive you mad… You will become a thing of horror, a byword and an object of ridicule among all the peoples where the Lord will drive you… you will eat the fruit of the womb, the flesh of the sons and daughters… You who were as numerous as the stars in the sky will be left but few in number… You will live in constant suspense, filled with dread both night and day, never sure of your life. In the morning you will say, “If only it were evening!” and in the evening, “If only it were morning!”—because of the terror that will fill your hearts and the sights that your eyes will see…”
The Holocaust was the climax of numerous horrific occurrences that took place during the long exile of the Jews. One might expect that under these terrible conditions in the diaspora – without a state of their own – Jews would have assimilated into their hosting countries and disappeared, but they haven’t.
However, this unique phenomenon that surprised many, such as Arnold Toynbee, Jean Paul Sartre and Blaise Pascal, is explicitly stated in the Bible: “Yet in spite of this, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them or abhor them so as to destroy them completely, breaking my covenant with them” (Lev. 26: 44); “Only if these decrees vanish from my sight, declares the Lord, will Israel ever cease being a nation before me” (Jer. 31:36).
THE STATE OF ISRAEL AND ITS FULFILLMENT OF BIBLICAL PROPHECY
Worldwide Gathering and Regaining the Land of Israel
Fundamental prophecies of the worldwide gathering of Jews can be found scattered throughout the Bible.
The Jewish population in the land of Israel at the beginning of the nineteenth century was merely 6,000 people. Eighty years later, an Ottoman census counted 27,000. This number grew to 650,000 in 1948 upon the establishment of the State of Israel, was doubled by 1951 and has now reached about 7 million, nearly 74% of the total population, in 2022.
The numbers above represent a clear realization of the biblical prophecies for the State of Israel: “Then the Lord your God will bring you back from captivity and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you. Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the Lord your God will gather you and bring you back” (Deut. 30:3).
As we continue reading this prophecy, we discover that the gathering will be followed by a regaining of the land of Israel: “He will bring you to the land that belonged to your ancestors, and you will take possession of it” (Deut. 30:5). This part is also fulfilled by the State of Israel.
Prosperity and Agriculture Abundance
The prophecy continues: “He will make you more prosperous and numerous than your ancestors” (Deut. 30:5)
The State of Israel fulfills this prophecy as well. During the last decade, Israel's gross domestic product (GDP) per capita doubled, which was unprecedented and surpassed well-established countries like Britain and France.
The Bible promises that during the exile the land of Israel will be desolate: “I myself will lay waste the land, so that your enemies who live there will be appalled. I will scatter you among the nations… your land will be laid waste, and your cities will lie in ruins” (Lev. 26:32).
This is exactly how Mark Twain found it in 1867: “Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes. Over it broods the spell of a curse that has withered its fields and fettered its energies… Palestine is desolate and unlovely. And why should it be otherwise? Can the curse of the Deity beautify a land? Palestine is no more of this work-day world. It is sacred to poetry and tradition – it is dream-land” (“The Innocents Abroad”, Ch. 56)
In Ezekiel 36:8, we read that this desolation will completely change upon the return of the nation to its land: “But you, mountains of Israel, will produce branches and fruit for my people Israel, for they will soon come home.”
Two-thirds of the land of Israel is semi-arid or arid and much of the soil is of poor quality. There is a shortage of natural water resources and precipitation is seasonal and scarce. Despite these challenges, Israel has managed to create a remarkable agricultural transformation, achieving national food security and emerging as a global leader in agriculture and water management.
Israel holds the world record of 13,000 liters of milk per cow, produces 262 tons of citrus fruit per hectare, 300 tons of tomatoes per hectare and has only 0.5% of grain storage loss.
This is an exact fulfillment of prophecies from Amos and Ezekiel: “And I will bring my people Israel back from exile. They will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will make gardens and eat their fruit” (Amos 9:14) and “The desolate land will be cultivated instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass through it. They will say this land that was laid waste has become like the garden of Eden” (Ezek. 36:34).
Road Construction and the City of Jerusalem
The destruction of roads is a sign of the destruction of the land, as we read in Lamentations 3:9: “He has barred my way with blocks of stone, he has made my paths crooked.”
By contrast, the construction of roads is a sign of redemption: “Pass through, pass through the gates! Prepare the way for the people. Build up, build up the highway, remove the stones. Raise a banner for the nation.” (Isa. 62:10)
The length of paved roads in Israel tripled from 4,100 miles in 1961 to 12,400 miles in 2019, reflecting Isaiah’s prophecy.
Jerusalem is itself the jewel in the crown of the redemption prophecies. In one of Zechariah's prophecies, he said, “Run, tell that young man Jerusalem will be a city without walls because of the great number of people and animals in it.” (Zech. 3:2)
For many years, Jews were banned from living in Jerusalem. By the beginning of the twentieth century, there were 35,000 Jews living within the ancient city walls. This changed altogether in subsequent years: By 1948, there were 83,000 residents, mostly living outside the city walls and this number surpassed 580,000 as of 2021.
So many of the redemption prophecies seen in the bible describe a multi-stage process; one that will commence with “gathering” and will then develop into “belief.”
Because so many biblical prophecies for Israel have been fulfilled – including the large immigration of Jewish people from the diaspora into Israel – it is clear that the process of gathering has already begun. And it is only a question of time until the next stage – belief – will follow.
On this 74th birthday of the State of Israel, we have much to rejoice!
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Uri Steinberg is a former Israeli Tourism Commissioner for North America, Israel Ministry of Tourism, and currently serves on the ALL ISRAEL NEWS advisory board.