The Beginnings of Modern Israel

How, after 1800 years of the disbursement of Jews all over the world, did that re-birth come to be? The short answer, of course, is God willed it. Pretty much nothing happened in the land formerly known as Israel until about 1850.

Authors Herman Melville (Moby Dick) in 1857 and Mark Twain (Tom Sawyer) in 1867 visited the Ottoman Empire-controlled Palestine. Both reported the same desolate landscape where virtually nothing and no one lived, just as God had foretold. (Deut 4:26-27; Lev 26:43; Jer 9:11; Ez 15:8; Zk 7:14). There’s an interesting theory that God, in addition to punishing the Jews, deliberately made the land desolate in order to keep anyone from desiring it. Thus the promised land was preserved for the returning Jews.

At the same time this was going on, God put it in the heart of some European Diaspora (exile) Jews to start wandering back to their ancient homeland and creating collective farms, towns and industries. He also put it into the hearts of some wealthy Jewish benefactors (Baron de Rothschild, Moses Montefiore and others) to begin purchasing (Jer 32:44) chunks of barren land in Palestine from the Ottoman Empire (HQ in Turkey) who’d captured it in 1517.

Ironically, it was anti-Semitism that God used to really propel the re-establishment of Israel. In 1896 Jewish Alfred Dreyfus, a Captain in French Army, was falsely accused of treason and publicly stripped of his medals. Theodore Herzl, an assimilated Jew and Viennese journalist was assigned to cover the story. Prior to the Dreyfus Affair, as it is now referred to, Herzl had believed that Jews were accepted in their European societies. He was appalled at the blatant anti-Semitism oozing from the ugly mob as they screamed, “Kill the Jew. Death to the Jews”.

In 1897 Herzl commenced the First Zionist Congress and urged the creation of a Jewish state, believing that only when Jews had a home of their own would they be safe from pogroms and anti-Semitism. The attendees agreed, returned to their own countries and started raising money to buy land. Small blue collection boxes were placed in synagogues, and pennies became dollars. Gradually additional land was purchased from absentee Syrian and Lebanese landlords willing to sell, usually at exorbitant prices. Herzl wrote in his diary, “Today I have founded the Jewish state. If I were to say this today, I would be greeted by universal laughter. In five years, perhaps, and certainly in 50, everyone will see it.”

Exactly 50 years later God moved the United Nations to vote for the partitioning of Palestine into separate Arab and Jewish territories. The Jewish response: “We don’t like it but we’ll accept it.” The Arab response: “Hell no, we’ll push Israel into the sea and take it all.”

At the same time this was going on, God allowed a significant increase in the anti-Semitism persecutions in Europe, especially in Russia and Poland. Jews rightfully feared for their lives, knowing that another streak of anti-Semitic violence was just around the corner. (Deut 28:67) For many, the pogroms were the impetus needed to get them to pack up what little they were allowed to take with them and make the daunting trek to Eretz (the land) Israel.

At the same time this was going on, God woke up many Evangelical Christians, who concluded from prophetic scripture, that the Jews must be returned to the land and that Israel must be re-established in order that prophecy could be fulfilled. They correctly recognized that the Messiah could only return if there was an Israel to return to. And these were not just any old Evangelical Christians, but Christians highly placed in Great Britain’s government. From them in 1917 was born the Balfour Declaration, supporting the founding of a Jewish homeland in Palestine.

At the same time this was going on, God liberated the lands of Palestine from the Turkish government. In 1917, during World War I, British General Allenby liberated Jerusalem from the Ottomans just as predicted. (Is 31:5; Haggai 2:15,18) This Jewish homeland was affirmed by the 1920 San Remo Conference, supported in 1922 by the League of Nations and recognized as an independent nation by the United Nations in 1948.

When God decides it’s time to move, He moves.

The Bible shows us over and over again how important Israel is in God’s plan of redemption and in the time leading to Christ’s Second Coming. Because Israel is so misunderstood by very many Christians and most non-Christians it warrants a lot of this blog’s attention. It’s unlikely that there is a single book about the end times that doesn’t point out the overwhelming significance of Israel. Next time we will talk about how God moved history from the theoretical homeland to the actual State of Israel.

Please, neither offhandedly accept nor reject what is said in this blog. Check it out. Look it up for yourself in the Bible. If you are a child of God, you are in good hands and there is the most wonderful eternity waiting for you. If you are not a Christ follower, now is a really good time to honestly explore the truth claims of the Bible,

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