Have you ever considered that no Hittites are still with us today? There are no Philistines, Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, or Amalekites. These ancient peoples of Bible times have been absorbed into present-day nations and their cultures destroyed. At one time, the Mesopotamians (the people Abraham was called out of), were the most advanced civilization on earth. They have long ceased to exist. Who doesn’t know about the Egyptian hieroglyphs, mummification, the pharaohs and the great pyramids constructed by a proud people of antiquity? Yet, the mighty nation of Egypt is no more! Of course, there are many living in the land of Egypt today, but they are mostly Muslim Arabs. All traces of Egyptian society have been decimated by conquerors of ages past.
Empires come and go, nations rise and fall, religious practices appear and fade away, but God’s chosen people remain! Israel is the only ancient civilization that continues to exist in its true, historical form, in spite of severe persecution over thousands of years. Why are the Jews still with us today unless God is preserving them for a purpose? Thankfully, we don’t have to make any assumptions about the matter because God’s word clearly shows us his plan to save Israel, honoring the covenant he made with their forefathers and richly blessing the entire world through them. Among the promises God has made and confirmed to Israel is the land promise, that all the land of Canaan would belong to Abraham and his offspring as an “everlasting possession” (Gen. 17:7 & 8). The beginning of Israel’s return, on May 14th, 1948, was the first indication of the fulfillment of this promise (cf. Isa. 66:8).
There never has been another instance of an ancient civilization being spread all over the world for nearly two millennia, maintaining their faith, traditions, customs, racial heritage and national identity, and then returning to the land they were scattered from. It is no coincidence that the only nation to experience such a regathering is the only nation to be promised said regathering, prophesied in Holy Scripture hundreds of years before their dispersion. We need to understand that God’s plan to restore Israel and exalt her over the nations was foretold long before they were scattered into the nations of the world and the present regathering into the land of Canaan, unfolding before our eyes, is the fulfillment. Additionally, this serves as an authentic sign of the soon return of Jesus Christ to save both Israel and the Church he bought with his precious blood.
Let us examine some of the Old Testament prophecies of Israel’s restoration to the land. For their eventual obedience to God, Moses told the people of Israel that they would be made “head” of the nations. They will not be under threat of their enemies, they will lend and never borrow, they will receive bountiful blessings from God, and they “shall only go up and not down” (Deut. 28:1 – 14; comp. Jer. 30:8 – 10). Of course, we know this does not really describe the condition of Israel at present. Israel is surrounded by her enemies, constantly under threat from Muslim countries, political turmoil abounds, and the nation stands in lockstep rejection of Jesus Christ, thereby rejecting her God. This should not surprise us since it was also prophesied that Israel would begin regathering into the land in a state of unbelief and, harmoniously, confess the Savior as King before he comes in glory (cf. Deut. 30:1 – 10; Zech. 12:10).
God himself calls this regathering a “second” recovery, because the first recovery occurred after only 70 years of captivity in Babylon (Isa. 11:11; Jer. 29:10). Unlike the first recovery, “the whole house of Israel” will be restored (Ezek. 37:11). Many misguided Bible commentators have explained away Israel’s restoration as a thing of the past. They claim that every prophecy of Israel’s regathering was fulfilled after the Jews returned from Babylon. This is impossible and the prophecies do not allow it! Only about 50,000 Jews returned from Babylon, but all Israelites will return from their scattering among the nations, many of whom have already returned (Ezek. 39:28 – 29). Ezekiel says, “the whole house” will also receive the outpouring of the Spirit (Ezek. 37:14a). We know this has not happened since only 3,000 souls received the Spirit on Pentecost, and no more than a remnant of Jewish believers did so afterward (Acts 2:37 – 41). Both Ezekiel and Amos tell us “they shall know the Lord” and “never again be uprooted” after they have been regathered (Ezek. 37:14b; Amos 9:11 – 15). In plain contrast, we know Israel returned from captivity, rejected Messiah and the entire nation was subsequently scattered by the armies of Titus in A.D. 70, as Christ also foretold (Matt. 23:37 – 39; Lk. 21:20 – 24). Notably, Zechariah’s prophecies of the regathering were written after Israel returned from captivity in Babylon (Zech. 8:1 – 8, 13; 10:8 – 12; 14:9, 11). Therefore, they are not fulfilled. No, the first recovery does not fit the bill!
Israel will be recovered from “the nations among whom I scattered you” (Jer. 30:11). The recovery from Babylon was from a single nation, not from “the nations”. Jews presently returning to Palestine are migrating from north, south, east and west, in accordance with specific prophecies made (cf. Isa. 43:5 – 7; Jer. 32:37; Ezek. 11:16, 17; 34:12 – 14; 37:21, 22). Upon repentance, they will also receive their king and he will reign over them in the land (Ezek. 37:12, 24, 25; Jer. 23:5 – 8). Repentance of rejecting Messiah is the key to their final restoration. His return is in connection with the regathering work of God and it will commence the millennial reign of Christ (Matt. 24:30 & 31; Rev. 20:4 – 6).
Let us add some final thoughts to our study on Israel. In Romans 9 – 11, Apostle Paul shows us that Israel’s unbelief does not invalidate the promises of God to her nor does it violate his plan. “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people” (Rom. 10:21). God will accomplish his plan for this rebellious nation and so, “all Israel will be saved” (Rom. 11:26). God chose and elected them for this very purpose: To reveal his glorious power to change even the most obstinate people by his transforming Holy Spirit. Consider the result if God would have chosen to redeem the world through a submissive and faithful nation, rather than through Israel. That nation’s obedience would have meant the absolute destruction of all other nations by their exclusion, but God chose to use the willful sin of Israel to save people from every tribe on earth, including a remnant of Israel in the present (Rom. 11:11 – 16). Although their national rejection means great blessings for us, they will finally repent and be fully included in God’s fold, “when the fullness of the Gentiles has come in” (Rom. 11:25). Therefore, God’s great purpose in election stands. Israel will finally embrace his Son and all nations will look to her in order to know God’s Law (Isa. 2:1 – 4; Mic. 4:1 – 4; Zech. 8:20 – 23).
Many say that God’s work to regather Israel is a thing of the past but, as we have seen, nothing could be further from the truth. We see the regathering of Israel happening right now. Therefore, Christians denying God’s dispensational plan to restore Israel, and establish his Son on David’s throne in Jerusalem, are without excuse. The geopolitical evidences are too earth-shattering to contradict, and the Bible’s teaching is consistent and unambiguous. By finally melting the hearts of the Jews, God will bring in “everlasting righteousness” and cleanse them from their sin (Ezek. 36:24, 25; Dan. 9:24 – 27). May we continue to bless God’s people, Israel, and pray for their repentance and their protection in the land he has promised to them. – MAH