PROPHECIES OF ISRAEL’S RETURN TO THE LAND
Biblical prophecies are like history written before it happens. In many cases, hundreds of years before it takes place. Below is a partial list of Old Testament Scriptures relating to the Land of Israel and their fulfillment. There are approximately 365 prophecies recorded by Israel’s prophets who spoke for God stating that the land of Israel is to belong to Abraham’s descendents forever. A number of these verses are also related to Israel returning to God in connection with their return to the Land. Following some brief commentary is only a partial list of the many prophecies that exist in the Scriptures. After a period of almost 1800 years, despite repeated threats of annihilation and assimilation, the descendents of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob began returning to the land of their forefathers in the early 1900’s.
As was said above, no other nation in history has survived being conquered, banned from their own land, and dispersed throughout the world without losing their identity or disappearing altogether. It is worth mentioning that at about the same time, a group of Jewish believers in Messiah in England began to feel that they did not want to lose their Jewish identity and be assimilated into the church as would generally happen on the rare occasion that a Jew would come to faith in Messiah. So they formed the Hebrew Christian Alliance which would eventually become the Messianic Jewish movement of today. Through this movement many thousands of Jews have come to know their Messiah and the church has become more conscious of the Jewish foundation of their faith. It is not insignificant that these two events, the return to claim the land and the claiming or maintaining by believers in Yeshua of their Jewish identity, should coincide. In fact, we can trace events in Israel with events in the church.
The most meaningful took place in 1967 when all of Jerusalem, for the first time in 2000 years, was once again in Jewish hands. In the same year, an event not entirely unlike the Holy Spirit coming upon the disciples at Shavuot in the first century, the Holy Spirit came upon the believers as had not been experienced since the first century. It was the beginning of what is called the Charismatic movement. When the Jews were once again in Jerusalem, the Holy Spirit was once again moving in the same power He did among the first believers? There are too many of these kinds of “coincidences” for it to be other than God’s sovereign doing. We cannot over-emphasize the unprecedented sociological and historic uniqueness of Israel reemerging as the same people with the same identity, with the same God, the same religion, and the history and the same language. Only God could have accomplished this.
In fact, God proclaimed through the Hebrew prophet Jeremiah that the sun, moon and stars would have to disappear before Israel would disappear: Thus says the Lord Who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; the Lord of hosts is His name. “If this fixed order departs from before Me,” declares the Lord, “then the offspring of Israel also will cease from being a nation before Me forever”. Thus says the Lord, “If the heavens above can be measured and the foundations of the earth searched out below, then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel for all that they have done,” declares the Lord. “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when the city (Jerusalem) will be rebuilt for the Lord…” (Jeremiah 31:35- 38).
Though the world may not always appreciate that it is God who has done this, it is for many Bible-believing people a standard of God’s sovereign faithfulness to His word. “And He (God) will lift up a standard for the nations, and assemble the banished ones of Israel, and will gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.” (Isaiah 11:12) In actuality, this modern day return to the land was the second return. The first was after Israel had been conquered by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. “Then it will happen on that day that the LORD will again recover the second time with His hand the remnant of His people, who will remain” (Isaiah 11:11). This first return came about seventy years after Israel was captured by Babylon as prophesied by Jeremiah: “For thus says the Lord, ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place” (Jeremiah 29:10). When the prophet Daniel, who was living in captivity in Babylon, read Jeremiah’s prophesy that Israel would be in captivity for seventy years, here was his response: “in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, observed in the books the number of the years which was revealed as the word of the Lord to Jeremiah the prophet for the completion of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years. So I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes” (Daniel 9:2,3).
Even the fact that Daniel set himself to task to fast and pray for Israel’s return to their land after seventy years was prophesied by Isaiah: “For thus says the Lord, ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile” (Jeremiah 29:10-14). The Temple was destroyed in 586 B.C. Seventy years later, Cyrus, the king of Babylon (now Persia) got it in his mind that the Israelites whom Babylon had captured had to return to rebuild their temple in Jerusalem. “Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he sent a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying: “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, ‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and He has appointed me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. ‘Whoever there is among you of all His people, may his God be with him! Let him go up to Jerusalem which is in Judah and rebuild the house of the Lord, the God of Israel; He is the God who is in Jerusalem” (Ezra1:2-4).
And so Israel returned to rebuild her temple and was reestablished in the land the LORD had promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. There are many other prophecies we could list here and of the history that fulfilled them over the centuries. Israel remained in the land until 70 A.D. when Roman troops burned the temple and destroyed Jerusalem. The Jews were banned from their own city for one hundred years. It was not until 1948 when, according to prophesy, Israel, the people of Zion, was ‘born again’ as a nation in one day. “Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Can a land be born in one day? Can a nation be brought forth all at once? As soon as Zion travailed, she also brought forth her sons” (Isaiah 66:8) One of the challenges of the new nation was that people spoke many different languages, of the countries from which they came. But a common language was necessary to build the nation. Through the impassioned efforts of one man named Eliezer Ben Yehuda, even before Israel was declared a nation again, he restored Israel’s language so that today Hebrew is again the national language of Israel, the language of their forefathers. Like with Ben Yehuda, it takes only one person with a vision from God to affect a nation. Ancient Hebrew, incidentally, which includes Biblical Hebrew, has no curse words in it.
It is, in fact, a pure language. “For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the Name of the LORD, to serve Him with one consent.” (Zephaniah 3:9) The miracle of the rebirth of the nation, however, was not without challenge by her Arab neighbors who immediately attacked her. Entirely outnumbered and without arms and tanks as a victorious army should have had. Nevertheless, Israel won the war and maintained her position. She continues to be threatened by her Arab neighbors, as we all know. But God has seen fit to be her Victor each time. While there are many stories to tell of prophecies coming to pass, one is of Egyptians leaving their tanks in the Sinai and running the other way. When captured and questioned, they all told the same story to the Israelis who then captured them: They saw more soldiers in white than they knew they could fight against, advancing toward them. But the truth is, there were only a minimal number of Israeli soldiers, who were certainly not dressed in white, and the Egyptians tanks far outnumbered the Israelis. The only accounting for this is the presence of angels fighting on Israel’s behalf as God fought for Israel in the past.
The battle looked like this: In that day the Egyptians will become like women, and they will tremble and be in dread because of the waving of the hand of the Lord of hosts, which He is going to wave over them. The land of Judah will become a terror to Egypt; everyone to whom it is mentioned will be in dread of it, because of the purpose of the Lord of Hosts which He is purposing against them” (Isaiah 19:16, 17). Now that Israel was in the land, they had a job to do—to turn the land of desert and malaria swamps into land that would produce food. Mark Twain had taken a trip to Israel in the 1800s and he remarked that there was nothing there but poverty and barrenness. Today Israel is green and lush and the cities are rebuilt. They produce not only an abundance of their own food but export large quantities of foods.
No doubt you’ve eaten oranges and avocadoes and other fruits grown in Israel. Excellent wines come from Israel’s vineyards. And beautiful roses from Israel’s gardens make up a huge export trade, all in fulfillment of prophesy: “I will restore the captivity of My people Israel, and they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them; They will also plant vineyards and drink their wine, and make gardens and eat their fruit.” (Amos 9:14). “The wilderness and the desert will be glad and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly” (Isaiah 35:1,2). Jews have been returning to the land of Israel from all the nations of the world. just as the prophets foretold. In the former Soviet Union, however, for many years it was considered treason to want to emigrate to Israel and the Jews were under terrible persecution. To even wish to speak Hebrew was enough to get you sent to Siberia or a Gulag.
But God promised through the prophet Jeremiah that the return of Israel to the land would eclipse the Exodus from Egypt. It would include the Jews from the north. If you look at a map, you will see that Moscow is due north of Jerusalem. Here’s what God said: “Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when it will no longer be said, ‘As the LORD lives, who brought up the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt, but, ‘As the LORD lives, who brought up the sons of Israel from the land of the north and from all the countries where He had banished them.’ For I will restore them to their own land which I gave to their fathers” (Jeremiah 16:14, 15 and 23:7,8). These verses above are but a smattering of the hundreds of verses in the Bible relating to Israel and her land. God will bring all of Israel back to the land at some point. It may be when He returns to set up His kingdom in Jerusalem, or before. We wait to see how these verses are all fulfilled. The following words were written by Moses, so they’ve been waiting quite a while to be fulfilled. We are seeing the fulfillment in the process of taking place today!
We can only be assured that one day these words will all be fulfilled according to the will of the Lord. “So it shall be when all of these things have come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind in all nations where the Lord your God has banished you, and you return to the Lord your God and obey Him with all your heart and soul according to all that I command you today, you and your sons, then the Lord your God will restore you from captivity, and have compassion on you, and will gather you again from all the peoples where the Lord your God has scattered you. If your outcasts are at the ends of the earth, from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you back. The Lord your God will bring you into the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it; and He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers.”