Hebrew Highlights 144 – Independence Day
Shalom, this is Yuval Shomron coming to you from Jerusalem.
Independence Day in Israel is celebrated with the same fervor as it is in any country, which has a similar holiday, and perhaps with even more rejoicing than most. The re-establishment of an independent Jewish state after a devastating holocaust was a particularly mitigating victory.
You may have heard Israel’s national Anthem, “Hatikvah” sung at some event, but perhaps you’ve never heard a translation. Here’s how it goes:
“As long as within our hearts the Jewish soul sings, As long as forward to the East to Zion, looks the eye, our hope is not yet lost; It is two thousand years old, to be a free people in our land, the land of Zion and Jerusalem.”
I suppose that one could argue, even with scriptural backup, that the Jewish people lost their home two thousand years ago due to disobedience to God. Whether it was truly a spiritual loss, or a purely political one, it nevertheless happened.
However, God, through His prophets, proclaimed emphatically that the glorious return of the Jewish people to their homeland was inevitable, and was to be a milestone in end-time history.
Let’s look at a few of these promises. JER 30:10-12, “And fear not, O Jacob My servant,' declares the Lord,' and do not be dismayed, O Israel; for behold, I will save you from afar, And your offspring from the land of their captivity. And Jacob shall return, and shall be quiet and at ease, and no one shall make him afraid. For I am with you,' declares the Lord,' to save you; for I will destroy completely all the nations where I have scattered you, only I will not destroy you completely. But I will chasten you justly, and will by no means leave you unpunished. "For thus says the Lord, your wound is incurable, and your injury is serious.”
This mention of an incurable wound seems to speak directly about the holocaust. God specifically promises to bring the children of Israel back from the Diaspora, even in their still disobedient spiritual state. He will discipline His wayward children, but at the same time, He will begin the preparation for their ultimate salvation by giving them a land in which they can begin to heal from their tremendous pain.
Even though Israel is surrounded by enemies, and plagued by continuing terror, “no one can make them afraid”. Israel has been troubled, angered, and concerned, but never “afraid”. In fact, Israel’s steadfast hope in the face of terror is a beacon to the entire world.
Another apparent reference to the holocaust, and God’s redemptive promise, is seen in JER 31:15-17, “Thus says the Lord, "A voice is heard in Ramah, Lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; She refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more." Thus says the Lord, "Restrain your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears; for your work shall be rewarded," declares the Lord, "And they shall return from the land of the enemy. "And there is hope for your future," declares the Lord, "And your children shall return to their own territory.”
One of the most horrible aspects of the holocaust was the Nazi’s treatment of innocent children. They were separated from their mothers, used for slave labor and scientific experiments, raped and maimed. No one knows for sure how many children were killed but it is believed to be between 1.2 and 1.5 million Jewish children perished at the hands of their cruel captors.
There are those who say in hindsight that the holocaust could have been avoided. Some would even claim that God sent Theodore Hertzl, the founder of the Zionist movement, as a modern prophet to the Jewish people in the late 19th century. Had the Jews of Europe taken his advice to establish a Jewish homeland, they would not have been in Europe during Hitler’s reign. But even Hertzl himself was not sure a return to the physical land of Israel was possible. Instead, he suggested going to Uganda.
No one really believed that so great an evil could overtake “Christian” Europe, and bring about the deaths of 6 million Jews, and 7 million other people in gas chambers, and see a further 40 million people die during the long war.
Even today, after Israel has been prospering for well close to 60 years, many Jewish people in the Diaspora choose to linger in their land of captivity and capitalism, rather than obeying they many scriptures which call for the return both to the land of promise, and to God. Yet the scriptures suggest that all will eventually return, and without fear. JER 46:27, "But as for you, O Jacob My servant, do not fear, Nor be dismayed, O Israel! For, see, I am going to save you from afar, And your descendants from the land of their captivity; And Jacob shall return and be undisturbed And secure, with no one making him tremble.”
One of my personal favorite passages is found in AMO 9:11-15, "In that day I will raise up the fallen booth of David, And wall up its breaches; I will also raise up its ruins, And rebuild it as in the days of old; That they may possess the remnant of Edom And all the nations who are called by My name, "Declares the Lord who does this. "Behold, days are coming," declares the Lord, "When the plowman will overtake the reaper And the treader of grapes him who sows seed; When the mountains will drip sweet wine, and all the hills will be dissolved. "Also 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. "I will also plant them on their land, and they will not again be rooted out from their land which I have given them," Says the Lord your God.”
Independence day in Israel celebrates not only liberty, but also all the fulfillment of the other facets of this scripture. The most obvious realization of these verses is in the area of agriculture. Even with so little arable land, Israel is a major exporter of fruits, vegetables, and yes, even wine. People all over the Jewish people’s former inhospitable host, Europe, dine on delicacies from the Holy Land every day. Of course, it might have been difficult for the prophet Amos to express is his vocabulary the export of high tech, particularly in the medical field.
The Bible’s mention of the rebuilding of ruined cities and the dwelling therein, could not possibly be more understated. In 1860, the population of Jerusalem was 18,000 souls. It already had a majority of Jewish people even then. By 1948 it had grown to 160,000. Today, it has a staggering 680,000 residents. Although the numbers differ, the growth is the same for almost every town or village in Israel, many of them having been totally destroyed over the centuries. Some cities, which were resurrected from the dust only thirty years ago, now support over 30,000 thriving citizens.
Missed by many readers, the most significant implementation of the 9th chapter of Amos is the raising up of the fallen booth of David, or, in laymen’s terms, the raising up of hands to God in worship. Anyone can worship freely in Israel. And worship is happening in biblical proportions.
Take our small Messianic fellowship for example. Our congregation of 200 souls, sports some 30 musicians and singers, who take turns in rotated worship teams, just as was the case with the Levites in Solomon’s temple of old.
Free worship is not only a sign of true independence, but also the tent peg of Israel’s future salvation. Israel’s physical restoration is only a mirror of the burgeoning spiritual renewal soon to follow, even at the door.
Israel is actually the ONLY independent, democratic, and free country in the Middle East. But God has big plans for the area’s future. As the Jewish people return to their land and to their God, we will see a fulfillment of ROM 11:15, “For if their rejection be the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?”
As we proudly fly the blue and white flag of Israel this independence week, we remember that God’s banner over us is love. By His mercy and forgiveness, Israel has been reborn.
And as according to His promise, the children of Israel have returned to their homeland, so in a short time, we will see the return of the King of Jerusalem, Messiah Yeshua.
Shalom, Shalom from Jerusalem