Miraculous is the only way to describe the modern rebirth of the State of Israel.
Seventy years ago, in what could only be considered divine intervention another clear sign to the nations appeared before our eyes, at least to those who were watching and understood the unction of the Prophets, reserved for such a time as this.
The uniquely dire circumstances under which Israel’s re-emergence took place shocked the world but its resurrection is no surprise to the Believer. The prophet Isaiah alludes to these travails when he asks: “Shall the earth be made to give birth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion was in labor, she gave birth to her children.” (Isaiah 66:8)
In 1948, the Jewish people were still reeling from the tragedy of the Holocaust. The enormous scope and depravity of the Nazi genocide against the Jews was still being uncovered. Two-thirds of European Jewry had been gassed or gunned down en masse. Most of the surviving remnant were on the brink of starvation. Few wanted to return to their homes, even if they had one.
Such calamities were nothing new for the Jews. For centuries they had faced pogroms, blood libels, forced conversions, expulsions and other forms of religious persecution. But this was the lowest point. The anti-Semitism of the Nazis had reduced them to sub-human status, like vermin slated for extermination.
The prophet Ezekiel spoke of just such a time, when Israel would say as a people: “Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!” Yet God declared that all was not lost; that at that very lowest moment He would assuredly “cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.” (Ezekiel 37:11-12)
The great miracle of Israel’s rebirth in May 1948 is that it happened just three years after the Holocaust ended. From the ashes of the Shoah, the Jewish people suddenly arose and re-established sovereignty in their ancient homeland. Somehow at their time of greatest weakness, they were empowered in a way that had alluded them for centuries.
When the national founder and first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion declared independence on 14 May 1948, Israel was immediately attacked by five invading Arab armies. These Arab forces were armed, trained and in some cases even commanded by officers from some of the world’s major powers. In contrast, the international community placed an arms embargo on the fledgling state of Israel, and only one small nation – Czechoslovakia – dared defy it by supplying weapons to the desperate Jewish fighters. In many instances, frail Holocaust survivors arriving from Europe were thrown straight into battle without even shoes on their feet. Arab leaders had vowed to “drive the Jews into the sea”, but miraculously Israel prevailed.
A year later in 1949, the United Nations voted to admit Israel as a full member state. It was an era when numerous nations were securing their independence and joining the international community. Many were also born out of the widespread suffering of the First and Second World War. Like Israel, there was great sympathy for these nations and their struggles and sacrifices for freedom.
The Jews are the only people who have been thoroughly uprooted from their homeland, only to return to that land and re-establish their national sovereignty. The Scriptures prophetically revealed that there would be two scatterings and two returns of the Jewish people – first from Babylon and then from all the nations of the earth.
The Apostle Paul relies on these passages when he speaks of a promised future restoration for Israel in the Book of Romans. He teaches that even Israel’s scattering had a redemptive purpose, in that it was the means for the Gospel to go out to all nations and thereby reconcile many to God. Yet when it finally comes time for Israel’s ingathering, Paul says we can expect no less than “life from the dead!” (Romans 11:11-15). That is, the resurrection power of God will still be at work in the earth when the Jewish nation is finally restored in their ancient homeland.
It’s a mystery to the world how important it’s been to tribes and nations throughout history to destroy the Jewish people. A Christian exegesis makes clear that hostile spiritual forces have recognised the plan of redemption streaming through this land and people and it will never end, until the trumpet sounds and the age of our King and Messiach arrives.