As I have traveled around the world sharing about the miracle of Israel’s rebirth, I have encountered well-meaning Christians who claim that the modern State of Israel is secular, pagan, and against the will of God. They point to the fact that many of the founders of modern Israel weren’t believers, that the government is secular and not Torah-based, and that many Jewish Israelis returned to Israel because they felt they would have a better chance of security and success, not because of any biblical motivation.
So the question is raised: Is the modern State of Israel the work of mere men seeking survival, or is it the hand of God fulfilling His word to restore the land and people of Israel?
The word of God has a lot to say about how the restoration of Israel will take place. In the book of Deuteronomy chapter thirty, Moses prophesies that the children of Israel would go into exile. He says that they would remember the blessings and the curses and return to the Lord. It speaks of how they would be gathered back to the land and flourish in it, and that God would circumcise their hearts and cause them to walk in His ways. Verse ten repeats the statement that they would “return” to the Lord.
A careful look at the text provokes a question. In order to be restored, Israel has to bring to mind all of the blessings and curses, and then she has to return to HaShem and obey His voice. After receiving mercy, being gathered back, and becoming prosperous, God says He will “circumcise your heart.” If Israel has already “returned to HaShem,” why do they need their hearts to be circumcised?
It seems that there is an initial turning, and then a cleaning up after the return home. What’s more, is that in most of our English translations, verses two and ten both say “return to the Lord.” In the original Hebrew text, there are two different words used for “to.” The word used in verse two means “until,” or “up to,” while the word in verse ten means “to,” “towards,” or “into.” The difference in these two words also confirms that the initial turning that Israel will experience is not a full return. Much of the process of repentance and turning from evil back to God happens after the Children of Israel have returned home.
Let’s take a look at another prophecy about the ingathering of the exiles. Ezekiel 36:24-25 says: “For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.”
God says that they could even be worshipping idols when they come back! Does He leave them that way? No! He cleans them up after He brings them home!
These biblical examples clearly show that Israel will not be perfect and fully following God before the “greater exodus.” But, if this is true, we should see some indications that as the Jewish people are coming back they are continuing their “turning” process.
Let’s take a look at a few quotes from the founders of the modern state of Israel. David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, stated in the declaration of independence:
“The Land of Israel was the birthplace of the Jewish people. Here their spiritual, religious, and political identity was shaped. Here they first attained to statehood, created cultural values of national and universal significance, and gave to the world the eternal Book of Books. After being forcibly exiled from their land, the people kept faith with it throughout their Dispersion and never ceased to pray and hope for their return to it and for the restoration in it of their political freedom. Impelled by this historic and traditional attachment, Jews strove in every successive generation to re-establish themselves in their ancient homeland.”
“The State of Israel will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles.”
“Placing our trust in the Rock of Israel, we affix our signatures to this proclamation.”
It is important to note that this is the declaration of independence – a public document declaring to the world the intent of establishing this new state! You cannot help but notice the very strong biblical motivation for creating the State of Israel!
Prime Minister Ben Gurion appointed Rabbi Shlomo (Solomon) Goren as the first Chief Rabbi of the IDF. Rabbi Shlomo Goren was known as a brilliant Torah Scholar who had also served in the newly formed Jewish army. This begs the question, if the Prime Minister’s intentions were completely secular, why would he appoint a very observant, God-fearing leader to make decisions about it’s newly formed, fledgling army?
During Israel’s fight for survival, Rabbi Shlomo Goren was known for walking right into the thick of battle carrying a Torah Scroll and a shofar (as depicted in the pictures when he went in with the troops to liberate Jerusalem’s Old City). He would often quote Psalms 91: ”A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you. Only with your eyes shall you look, and see the reward of the wicked. Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place, no evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; for He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.” He would then walk into the most dangerous battle fronts, returning unscathed. He put his trust in the God of Israel and God honored him for it.
Rabbi Goren did his best to make sure his soldiers had kosher food to eat, time and places to pray, and he produced a tiny book of Psalms that the soldiers could take with them into battle. He knew that the IDF needed to be spiritually strong in order for God to bless them with success in battle. It’s no secret that God has blessed the IDF over and over again, against all odds, with victory over their enemies.
Probably the most significant point is that we are seeing things happen in today’s time that are unprecedented and impossible without divine assistance!
The Hebrew language was not spoken “on the street” for 2000 years. It is an absolute miracle that the nation of Israel is speaking it today. The Prophet Zephaniah prophesied that this would happen!
The Jewish people were scattered out to the four corners of the earth, exactly as prophesied. Now they are returning in huge numbers to their ancient homeland! This has not happened since the Romans exiled the Jews from Israel. It is miraculous that they maintained their identity while in exile, and it is miraculous that they are returning, exactly as prophesied!
The land of Israel lay desolate for 2,000 years. Today it is flourishing with trees, vines, and produce, exactly as prophesied.
The Torah has not been observed on a national level in 2,000 years. Today there is a chief Rabbi of Israel working to enable Israel to follow the Torah. Many Jewish people are embracing their biblical roots and responding to God’s hand as He turns them towards Him.
There has not been an Israeli army since the Maccabees. For an army of refugees, gathering right after the holocaust from many nations and languages to defeat enemies that greatly outnumbered them, was a miracle! And yes, the prophets also said that would happen!
Yes, there are Jewish Israelis who God has not turned all the way around yet. But to say that these incredibly significant events that lay dormant for two thousand years—that are taking place in our day exactly as prophesied—are all happenstance, is in my opinion, a very dangerous claim.
I believe it is time for us Christians to begin treating the Jewish people with the love and respect that is fitting for God’s anointed, chosen people. They are our brothers and our partners with God in bringing about the final redemption. Let’s recognize this ”hour of visitation” and partner with God as He restores the Land and people of Israel!