Was It Foretold in the Bible?
EARLY in June the news headlines proclaimed the swift developments of the war in the Middle East: “Israel Sweeps Ahead on All Fronts,” “Israelis Rout Arabs; Approach Suez.” Within a few days it was over. Israeli troops occupied all of Jerusalem, all Jordanian territory west of the Jordan and the whole Peninsula of Sinai.
Meanwhile there was widespread speculation about the significance of these happenings. Could it be that the ancient prophecies of the Bible are being fulfilled? many are asking. For example, these words of Jehovah God written down more than 2,500 years ago: “I will bring them back to the land that I gave to their forefathers, and they will certainly repossess it.”—Jer. 30:3; see also Ezekiel 37:21.
Not insignificant on this subject are the views and attitudes of the Israelis themselves. Has the dispersion of Jews ended? Do the Israelis claim to have in any sense a theocratic or God-ruled state, and do they depend upon God for protection? Consider some of the facts.
In the year following the declaration of Israel’s independence as a state, a prominent German rabbi, Ignaz Maybaum, made this pertinent admission: “Zion is not yet. We must still pray for it to be established. The Messiah has not yet come, only a Jewish State has been established. The world is not yet redeemed. We must still wait, hope and pray. We are still in the galut [exile]; the citizens of Israel as well.”—The Christian Century, April 3, 1963.
Former premier David Ben-Gurion has always opposed the idea of forming a modern theocratic state. And it is noteworthy that in his review of the first ten years of Israeli statehood he had nothing to say about the direction and help of God. He declared: “Israel is determined to strengthen her military preparedness and to persevere in her work of rebuilding and redemption; to bring in Jews from the lands of oppression and misery; to conquer the desert and make it flourish by the power of science and the pioneering spirit.”—New York Times Magazine, April 20, 1958.
The active, militant segment in Israel have no faith in the Bible accounts of God’s miraculous dealings with their ancestors. They do not accept them as historical. They insist that theirs is a secular state governed by secular laws enacted by their own Knesset (parliament) and not by the laws of the Torah. They disagree with the Scriptural principle: “Unless Jehovah himself builds the house [or state], it is to no avail that its builders have worked hard on it.” (Ps. 127:1) They trust in their own strength and ability for success.
But what does the Bible, God’s written Word, say about the matter of God’s dealing with the Jews? It reveals that he permitted their dispersion in 607 B.C.E. when the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and carried the Judean population into exile. After seventy years, and in harmony with Jeremiah’s prophecy, the Jews experienced a restoration to their land.—Jer. 29:10; Dan. 9:1, 2.
But is it possible there is still to be a larger fulfillment of restoration prophecies, this time upon the modern state of Israel? What do the Scriptures and the facts show? Certain it is that when the foretold Messiah arrived 1,900 years ago the Jews rejected him, and he, in turn, declared of them: “Look! Your house is abandoned to you.” “The Kingdom of God will be taken from you and be given to a nation producing its fruits.” (Matt. 23:38; 21:43) The final blow came in the year 70 C.E. when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem’s temple and dispersed the Jews.—Luke 19:43, 44.
God is no longer, since that time, dealing with a Jewish system of things. (Col. 2:14; Gal. 3:24, 25) Indeed, from and after the outpouring of God’s spirit on the followers of Jesus Christ at Pentecost of 33 C.E., he has been dealing with the Christian congregation, concerning which the apostle Paul wrote: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor freeman, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one person in union with Christ Jesus. Moreover, if you belong to Christ, you are really Abraham’s seed, heirs with reference to a promise.”—Gal. 3:28, 29.
The apostle Paul identified those who would receive protection and salvation when he wrote: “If you publicly declare that ‘word in your own mouth,’ that Jesus is Lord, and exercise faith in your heart that God raised him up from the dead, you will be saved. For ‘everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will be saved.’”—Rom. 10:9, 13.
It is obvious today that modern Israel neither confesses Jesus Christ as Lord nor calls upon the name of Jehovah. It is not a religious, but a political state. Though individual Jews may accept Christ and be brought into the congregation of his followers, it is evident that God is no longer dealing with the Jews as a nation. Nor is the literal city of Jerusalem any longer significant in connection with true worship, for in all parts of the earth there are those who serve God and Christ, his appointed King.—John 4:21.
How, then, are we to view the current developments in the Middle East? As part of a global condition, foretold by the Bible, in which international strife, crime and violence would mark these as “the last days” of this wicked system of things. (2 Tim. 3:1-5) Yes, these events constitute definite evidence of the closeness of the end of this system of things. As all nations vainly seek for peace while at the same time they arm for war, they ignore the decree of the Sovereign Ruler of the universe giving Christ the power and authority to trample them all down in utter defeat. (Dan. 2:44; 1 Cor. 15:24, 25) ‘Submit to God’s Son!’ is the urgent appeal to men of all nations who would survive that greatest of all tribulations.—Ps. 2:12.