The prediction of Moses concerning the rebirth of Israel and their gathering back to the land poses an interesting question (see Deut. 30:1-4). Given that Moses definitely says Israel will become a nation again only after they repent and after the Lord returns to regather them, we are forced to ask a question that has enormous consequences for the prophetic significance of our generation. That question is this: Why was Israel allowed to become a nation again on May 14, 1948, seeing that they have not yet repented and believed in Christ; nor has the Lord returned to regather them? The nation of Israel clearly represents Jews gathered in unbelief, which is the opposite of these prophecies.
For the first time in almost 2000 years the Jews have regained complete control over the land of Palestine, including the city of Jerusalem. These events should not be underestimated. In our generation, Israel has again been established as a self-autonomous nation in the Middle East—beginning to exist soon after World War II as a totally independent state free from any foreign domination—a situation that has not been true for centuries.
But how could this have happened? The Bible clearly states that Israel will remain under the judgment of God for rejecting the Messiah until they repent, and yet the fact of the modern-day state of Israel is something that simply cannot be ignored (see previous section, The Regathering of Israel. What’s going on? Is our twentieth-century Israel really a fulfillment of prophecy or just a blip on the pages of history?
Many authors writing on end-times prophecy have quoted similar passages to those mentioned in previous sections (see Israel) and have attempted to interpret all of them as finding fulfillment in the Israel of today. Extreme care must be taken in how these scriptures are applied, because misinformation can be worse than remaining ignorant.
The current state of Israel which remains very antagonistic to Jesus and Christianity cannot be made by any stretch of the imagination to fulfill the prophecy of Moses in Deuteronomy. The nation has by no means repented, and obviously Jesus has not returned to regather them. Christians who simply apply Biblical prophecy ad hoc to any current situation regardless of the details which may or may not fit are just confusing people and inviting valid criticism.
In fact, several books have been published over the years by authors who have realized this serious deficiency in interpreting prophecy. Unfortunately, they have used the numerous incorrect prophetic interpretations about Israel as ‘proof’ in their attempt to refute the nearness of Christ’s coming altogether. In the book “Israel Today: Fulfillment of Prophecy?”, Louis DeCaro states in no uncertain terms that…
“…only a misunderstanding of the prophetic tradition, or a deliberate disregard for that tradition’s true standing, can lead one to believe that the power politics and military posture of Israel today are an integral part of prophecy…”
From Israel Today: Fulfillment of Prophecy?, by Louis Decaro, p.15, 1974, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co.
DeCaro’s description of the political situation in modern Israel was perfectly accurate and remains true today. It is only by their strong military resolve, which yields no ground to potential adversaries that the small Jewish nation has managed to survive at all. The faith of its people rests not in the true God of the Bible, but in tanks, missiles, and jet fighters—exactly the opposite of what the Lord wants. There can be no doubt that the political and religious life of twentieth-century Israel is diametrically opposed to the ways of their Creator. William Hendriksen also realized this fact when he wrote,
“It has now become clear that the establishment of the state of Israel, May 14, 1948, in unbelief—for those who established it are still rejecting the Christ—has nothing whatever to do with divine prophecy. This is true for two reasons: a) Prophecy says nothing about a twentieth-century return and restoration; and b) even if it did, it speaks about a return of a believing remnant”.
From Israel in Prophecy, by William Hendriksen, p.25, 1979, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Mich.
Renald Showers writing in the magazine “Israel My Glory” published by The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, Inc., also recognized additional problems in trying to fit modern-day Israel into these prophecies. He says,
“The present restoration of Israel to the homeland which began in the middle of the twentieth century is not the fulfillment of these prophecies. Several things indicate this. First, these prophecies foretell a total restoration of the Jews to their land from all the nations of the world. By contrast the twentieth century restoration has not been total. …Second, the prophetic passages indicate that, when this future restoration of Israel to the homeland will take place, all the Jews will be righteous. …By contrast none of these things is reality for the Jews in the present state of Israel”.
From Israel My Glory by Renald Showers, Apr/May, 1985, p.28-29, The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, Inc.
In addition, Morris Glen Bowers in his book Israel: The 51st State…the Unspoken Foreign Policy of the United States of America (2005), says,
“Some believe that the modern state of Israel is somehow deeply involved in the “end times prophecies”. It is not so. The modern state of Israel is not the subject of the prophecies. It was old Israel that was. The modern state is not the extension of the ancient state. It is not the ancient state reborn. It is a completely new state founded by men.”
Bowers, Israel: The 51st State, p. 131
Many other authors have spoken out against the possibility of the current nation of Israel being a fulfillment of prophecy by claiming that most of the Old Testament predictions related to a Jewish return to the land already have found fulfillment in the rebirth of Israel after the Babylonian captivity. However, while there are indeed prophecies which predict a return of the Jews after the Babylonian period, they are extremely specific and only a complete misunderstanding of their focus could confuse them with those relating to a return at the end of the age.
For instance, both Jeremiah and Daniel prophesied that the Lord would allow the Jews to return to Palestine exactly seventy years after Nebuchadnezzar’s invasion (see Jer. 25:11 and Dan. 9:2). Isaiah was so enlightened concerning that event that he even went so far as to predict the name of the Persian king (Cyrus) who would eventually let his people go (Isa. 44:28).
While we cannot deny that the reestablishment of Israel after the destruction of Judah by Babylon was a very significant event in Biblical history, it does not however totally fulfill the numerous prophecies which relate to the ultimate ingathering and blessing of the nation as a whole. Moses’ prophecy in Deuteronomy clearly speaks of conditions quite different from those known to have been present after the return of the exiles in Ezra’s and Nehemiah’s day. Deuteronomy tells of a complete regathering where God’s people will no longer be scattered among the nations but will
“…obey the voice of the Lord, and do all his commandments…”
If this repentant condition was true of the return allowed in the fifth and sixth centuries B.C. under Persian rule, then the scattered state of the Jews would not have continued to the time of Christ and the people certainly would have received Jesus as their Messiah when he appeared. Obviously, Moses must be talking about a yet future rebirth of the nation, one that will be followed by the fulfillment of all the blessings promised to Abraham.
So how should we view the modern state of Israel that is gathered in unbelief? Is the nation that was born on May 14, 1948, a fulfillment of Biblical prophecy or is it just a temporary anomaly of history without any supernatural significance, similar to the brief revolt of the Maccabees during the second century B.C.? If we hope to make any sense out of end-times prophecy these questions must be answered.
Curiously, throughout the history of the church there have been always some that believed that Israel’s rebirth would preface the Return of Christ. While it is true that some had written off the rebellious Jews as never figuring into God’s plan again—applying their promised blessings totally to the church—the expectancy of a regathered Israel never completely perished, particularly among the Jews.
The confusion that may have resulted from wrong interpretations or from just plain denial of Israel’s significance must not deter us from discovering the End Times Truth. There are just too many prophecies that deal with a regathered Israel in the last days to simply ignore the importance of the nation’s existence today. There must an explanation within the Bible for the rebirth of Israel in our time, even if that rebirth has now occurred in unbelief and is not total in scope. Some people may think that because the nation exists today either the Lord’s judgment of scattering somehow must have mysteriously ended (even without Israel’s repentance) or that God has some other plan in mind which no one has yet understood.
Whatever your opinion on this matter, one thing soon will become clear: The rebirth of the nation of Israel in our generation is no fluke. The Lord has not overlooked what is happening, but is in full control of every event. In fact, we will soon see that Israel is heading for a day of destiny that is racing at them at an accelerating pace.
Next: Prophecies of 1948