“In Israel, in order to be a realist, you must believe in miracles.” –David Ben-Gurion, first Israeli Prime Minister
This year, the modern State of Israel celebrates its 75th anniversary, a truly monumental event. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob has once again shown immense favor to His people, and it is only by His hand that Israel exists today. But can this revived Jewish nation continue to expect God’s blessing and protection?
Since the destruction of the Temple in AD 70, the Jewish people have been in dispersion—cast out, persecuted, mistreated, converted, assimilated, and massacred. This history notwithstanding, they have continued to keep their identity and heritage for nearly two thousand years. What other people group could maintain their distinction for so long in foreign lands, even without persecution? And yet, the Jews are still here, despite almost the whole world wishing for their demise. God has preserved His people just as He promised: “For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed” (Malachi 3:6, esv).
In 1947, on the heels of the Holocaust’s horror, the UN unexpectedly passed a plan to partition the land of Palestine, ending the British occupation and creating a Jewish State in its biblical homeland. Tensions in the region quickly flared, and Arab militias began skirmishing against the Jews, who were preparing for the official British withdrawal. But God was with them all the way.
In April of 1948, a miraculous encounter took place. The Arab Liberation Army (“ALA,” a militia of Syrians, Lebanese, Palestinians and more) attacked a kibbutz in Northern Israel and attempted to seize it as a strategic forward staging post. About 300 poorly prepared Jews—many of whom were little more than boys—with one machine gun and not enough rifles for all the men, dug in and weathered the first artillery barrage. A thousand ALA soldiers then descended upon them but, amazingly, were repelled by the defenders’ fire. They held out for days, eventually turning the tide and going on the offensive. The gravely outnumbered Jewish forces attacked and captured five surrounding Arab-controlled villages, engaging and defeating nearly all of the fighting force of the ALA.
And many more miracles followed. The next month, when Israel officially declared her independence, all the surrounding Arab nations swiftly declared war. Tiny Israel, with a fledgling government and a military that was little more than a militia, prepared to defend herself against massive armies that were supplied, surprisingly, with British weapons and even some British officers. But against all odds, through battle after battle, the Jewish fighters drove them all back. There is no logical reason why Israel should have been able to win her independence and secure her statehood, yet it still stands to this day—even through many more wars since. How could such a thing come to be? According to Golda Meir, the first female Prime Minister of Israel, “This country exists as the fulfillment of a promise made by God Himself.” Indeed, as Jeremiah 16:14-15 says,
“[The] days are coming… when it shall no longer be said, ‘As the Lord lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt,’ but ‘As the Lord lives who brought [them] up… out of the north country and out of all the countries where he had driven them.’ For I will bring them back to their own land…” (esv)
God is eternally faithful to keep His promises and preserve His covenants. The State of Israel is proof of this. But just as God preserves His people, so also does He judge them. Sadly, today’s Israel is a largely secular nation. They do not live by God’s commands, and they reject their Messiah. It is by her own actions—even more than by the surrounding nations—that Israel puts herself in danger every day. For the very covenant which promises God’s protection also says:
“If you obey the commandments… by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways… [then He] will bless you in the land that you are entering…. But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear… you shall surely perish. You shall not live long in the land…. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live… for He is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers….” (Deuteronomy 30:16-20, esv)
Though the Jewish people have failed to follow their Messiah and to keep Adonai’s covenant, He is merciful and has promised them a new covenant, declaring, “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (Jer. 31:33b, esv). Only through the blood of the Messiah Yeshua can the Jewish people enter into this new covenant, and finally be able to live out the requirements that will permanently keep them safe in their Land. While we rejoice at Israel’s anniversary, let us especially pray that all Jewish people everywhere will come to know their true Savior—that they will choose life, so that they may live!
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