Is the 70th Anniversary of Modern Israel a Fulfillment of Biblical Prophecy?
This week, Israel celebrates the 70thyear of its rebirth as a modern nation. On May 14, 2018, the exact date of Israel’s return as a nation, the United States opened its embassy in Jerusalem, recognizing the city as Israel’s capital.
While these events have garnered much attention in recent days, many have also asked questions regarding the spiritual significance of these events. Is the 70thanniversary of modern Israel a fulfillment of biblical prophecy? A look at the Bible offers at least four ways in which modern Israel specifically fulfils Scripture’s predictions.
The Return of the Jewish People to Israel
More than 2,500 years ago, the Jewish prophet Ezekiel foretold that God would “bring them [the Jewish people] out from the people and gather them” (Ezekiel 34:13). This return, known in Hebrew as the Aliyah, has unfolded over the past generation. In 1950, the Israeli Law of Return granted all biological Jews the right to settle in Israel and receive citizenship.
Just last year(2017) more than 27,000 Jews resettled in Israel from other nations. Israel’s population is now over 8.8 million, 10 times the population as the time it was restored as a nation in 1948.
The Rebirth of the Literal Nation of Israel
The prophet Isaiah predicted 2,700 years ago: “The Lord will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the Lord.” His words are reflected in the modern state of Israel, reborn after 1,900 years of desolation following the land’s Roman conquest in the first century.
In addition to the rebirth of Israel in 1948, additional restoration of land continued through 1967. Still today, some parts of Israel’s land remain in dispute, with the Palestinian people seeking its own nation within the land of Israel, including parts of Jerusalem. Yet the rebirth of Israel as a literal nation marks a direct fulfillment of biblical prophecy.
The Restoration of the Hebrew Language
In the nineteenth century, the Hebrew language was nearly non-existent, used almost solely in religious services. Rabbi Eliezer Ben Yehuda (1858-1922) decided“in order to have our own land and political life it is also necessary that we have our own language to hold us together.”
The reestablishment of modern Israel greatly increased the usage of Hebrew: “When the state of Israel was proclaimed in 1948, Hebrew was a functioning modern language, fully established as the living language of the growing Jewish community in the country.” Today about nine million peoplespeak Hebrew, including 90% of Israeli Jews. In addition, biblical Hebrew is taught in universities and seminaries worldwide.
The Redemption of God’s People
While the previous three fulfillments arise from the Old Testament, the redemption of God’s people reveals the need for a reestablished nation of Israel regarding yet unfulfilled predictions in both the Old and New Testaments. Both Daniel (Old Testament) and Revelation (New Testament) speak of a seven-year period known as the tribulation.
Though some interpreters suggest this tribulation has been fulfilled in history, it is more likely the events associated with this period are yet future. If so, this tribulation time speaks of a season when Israel exists as a nation living in relative peace. Ezekiel 38:14-16 reveals:
In that day, when my people Israel are living in safety, will you not take notice of it? You will come from your place in the far north, you and many nations with you, all of them riding on horses, a great horde, a mighty army. You will advance against my people Israel like a cloud that covers the land.
These unified nations will seek to destroy Israel (Ezekiel 38:1-6). However, God promises to supernaturally protect the nation and destroy its enemies (Ezekiel 38:22-23). Of course, for these predictions to take place, Israel will need to exist as a nation, something that was not true from the first century until 1948.
While the exact date of Israel’s 70thanniversary as a modern nation may not be predicted in the Bible, many of the details connected to this time are. The return of the Jewish people to the land of Israel, the rebirth of the nation of Israel, the restoration of the Hebrew language, and the redemption of God’s people all depend upon Israel existing as a nation. Israel, now 70 years old as a modern country, stands as both a fulfillment of past predictions and as a milestone in God’s unfolding plan for the future redemption of His people.