Today marks 67 years since the founding of the state of Israel.
At 4 p.m. on the afternoon of May 14, 1948, officials of the developing Zionist government met at a theatre in Tel Aviv; David Ben Gurion read the declaration of independence for the Jewish state, over international radio, thus marking a turning point in modern history.
The Jews had been waiting since World War I for Great Britain and the Western powers to make good on a promise to establish a Jewish state in the ancestral homeland, then known as Palestine.
Now, in 2015, when one steps off the plane at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, sea breezes, palm trees, and a bustling, cultural, and industrious country greets the visitor. Actually, many millions of visitors each year. In addition, Israel’s economy is the envy of the world. That this tiny strip of sand could be transformed into “Silicon Valley 2” and is home to almost eight million people is a testament to the hard work and grit of the Jewish people.
It is mostly a testament, though, of God’s provision and faithfulness.
Time and again in the Bible, the prophets called out to a time far into the future, when the Lord would restore Zion’s fortunes.
At the same time, saith the Lord, will I be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people.
Thus saith the Lord, The people which were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness; even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest.
The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.
Again I will build thee, and thou shalt be built, O virgin of Israel: thou shalt again be adorned with thy tabrets, and shalt go forth in the dances of them that make merry.
Thou shalt yet plant vines upon the mountains of Samaria: the planters shall plant, and shall eat them as common things.
For there shall be a day, that the watchmen upon the mount Ephraim shall cry, Arise ye, and let us go up to Zion unto the Lord our God.
For thus saith the Lord; Sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations: publish ye, praise ye, and say, O Lord, save thy people, the remnant of Israel.
Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth, and with them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and her that travaileth with child together: a great company shall return thither.
They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble: for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn. (Jeremiah 31:1-9)
Truly, Israel is an astonishing miracle in our world today. Yet, most people do not see it that way, because they have not read the Bible, or been told about this remarkable fulfillment of prophecy. Nowhere in history has another people returned to their ancient homeland thousands of years after leaving (though there has always been at least a tiny Jewish presence in the land).
Ironically, Israel’s establishment also activated a prophecy that would follow: the world would increasingly have a problem with Israel and would finally move to attack Jerusalem (Zechariah 10-14).
By the time Ben Gurion read Israel’s declaration, and dancing commenced in the streets, five surrounding Arab armies massed at the borders.
The next morning, they invaded Israel.