Israel Independence Day – 5783

One of the greatest miracles of our time is the re-establishment of the State of Israel 75 years ago. The promise of the Creator to bring His people back from exile to their ancient homeland began to materialize before our eyes, and each year Israel celebrates that ongoing marvel.

There’s good reason for every believer in the world – not just the people living in Israel – to thank GOD for the nation’s existence, with the song: “Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; for His mercy is everlasting.… This is the day which the LORD has made; let’s rejoice and be glad in it.” (Ps. 118:1, 24)

But not everyone is glad about Israel’s reappearance in the world. The UN General Assembly, for example, publishes more condemnations against the Jewish state each year than against the rest of the world combined. These are usually approved by a large majority of member-nations, and with every passing year the “resolutions” become more extreme. At the end of 2022, the UN voted to remember Israel’s establishment in 1948 as a disaster (“Nakba”). As a result, this year on May 15, the UN will hold an event at their New York headquarters to officially promote the idea that Israel should never have been permitted to exist – within any borders. This outrageous proposal was adopted by a vote of 90 to 30, with 74 (cowardly) abstentions and no-votes.

Watching this growing opposition, we realize how miraculous Israel’s ongoing success really is. The LORD of all the earth has simply overruled the nations. Just as He moved King Cyrus to declare the end of the first Jewish exile in 538 BCE, He moved the UN in 1947 (against all odds) to declare an end to the second Jewish exile, and again in 1949 to accept Israel as a sovereign nation. He frustrated repeated attempts by Israel’s enemies to destroy the new state, and in 1967 He caused Israel to widen its territory – something that the IDF wasn’t even planning to do! Suddenly, the Biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria, all of Jerusalem, and the Temple Mount, were in Jewish hands again.

That was when the UN began its onslaught of condemnations against Israel, even to the point of ridiculously denying that the Temple Mount has any connection to the Jewish Temples that stood there for centuries and gave it that name.

But the Creator’s decree still stands, and the exiled people are still returning. “The LORD builds up Jerusalem, He gathers the outcasts of Israel.” (Ps. 147:2) “And the redeemed of the LORD will return
and come to Zion with joyful shouting,” (Isa. 51:11)

The “dry bones” (Ezek. 37) who were “completely cut off” were brought back to their own land, and despite opposition from their enemies, they were put back together “bone to its bone” as one recognizable people. While the world watches, the “breath / wind / Spirit” (the Hebrew word ruach means all three) is gradually filling them with a deeper and fuller life.

Sometimes it seems that Israel’s spiritual life is faltering or going astray. But GOD assures us that once His miracle has begun, it cannot be stopped. “Can a nation be given birth all at once? As soon as Zion was in labor, she also delivered her sons. ‘Shall I bring to the point of birth but not give delivery?’ says the LORD. ‘Or shall I who gives delivery shut the womb?’ says your GOD.” (Isa. 66:8-9)

In Ezekiel’s vision, the LORD spoke of bringing His people out of their “graves” to Israel. The Nazi death camps were the most obvious examples, but more subtle graves exist in the Exile… comfortable places where the Jewish people have lost touch with GOD, the Source of their life as Jews, and they don’t even know that they’ve died.

However, many Jewish people around the world, who never cared about their identity, report that when they visit Israel something “wakes up” inside them. Some feel an immediate sense of belonging, of “coming home”, even though they’ve never been here before. Others begin to think about GOD, perhaps for the first time in their lives.

“And I will attach tendons to you, make flesh grow back on you, cover you with skin, and put breath [or, spirit] in you so that you may come to life; and you will know that I am the LORD.” (Ezek. 37:6)

People who embrace Replacement Theology, which teaches that GOD has abandoned the Jewish people and the Christians are now “Israel”, have great difficulty explaining the rebirth of physical Israel. They have failed to consider the Creator’s solemn declaration:

“If this fixed order [of the sun and moon] departs from Me, then the descendants of Israel also will cease to be a nation before Me forever… If the heavens above can be measured and the foundations of the earth searched out below, then I will also reject all the descendants of Israel
for everything that they have done.” (Jer. 31:36-37)

Israel’s exile was punishment for our sins; it’s written clearly in the Scriptures. But this stage of restoration is written just as clearly. The Maker of Heaven and Earth, who scattered His people for disobedience, is a loving Father who takes pity on His homeless people.

Moreover, He has sent out a call to His people who belong to the nations, to partner with Him in this restoration program: “Behold, I will lift up My hand to the nations and set up My flag to the peoples; and they will bring your sons [Zion] in their arms, and your daughters will be carried on their shoulders.” (Isa. 49:22)

The promise goes all the way back to the Torah: “The LORD your GOD will restore your captivity…” (Deut. 30:3). But the Hebrew text says something even more amazing: The verb here is not yashiv (“bring back) but shav (“come back) – literally, “the LORD your GOD will return with your returning captives.”

The same thing appears in the famous verse, “When the LORD brought back the captives of Zion, we were like those who dream.” (Ps. 126) In Hebrew it reads: “In the return of the LORD with the return of Zion….” When the people come back to Zion, the Holy One comes back with them. No wonder it feels like a dream!

It is also written: “The LORD has chosen Zion; He has desired it as His dwelling place.” (Ps. 132:13) Some would argue that it doesn’t “look like” the LORD is dwelling in Zion, or anywhere in modern Israel. But as human beings, our view is limited to what’s visible in the present. This is why we need to rely on the Scriptures, which tell us of unseen things and things yet to come.

The Creator is well aware that His chosen city is not yet fulfilling its holy calling. That’s why He has called for His believers to pray for that day – and even to “nag” Him about it:

“On your walls, Jerusalem, I have appointed watchmen. All day and all night they will never keep silent. You who profess the LORD, take no rest for yourselves, and give Him no rest, until He establishes and makes Jerusalem an object of praise on the earth.” (Isa. 62:6-7)

Someday the world will no longer question the legitimacy of Israel or the holiness of Jerusalem:

“The LORD roars from Zion and utters His voice from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth quake! But the LORD is a refuge for His people, and a stronghold for the sons of Israel. Then you will know that I am the LORD your GOD, dwelling on Zion, My holy mountain. So Jerusalem will be holy, and strangers will no longer pass through it.” (Joel 3:16-17)

Now is the time for all His believers to praise Him for what is to come, to join with the regathered people of Israel as they celebrate His mighty work of resurrecting their nation:

“Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, for His mercy is everlasting. The redeemed of the LORD shall say so, those whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy and gathered from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south.” (Ps. 107:1-3)

Be blessed by the Most High, from Zion and Jerusalem,

Mordechai ben Yakov

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