by David Parsons, ICEJ Vice President & Senior Spokesman

The modern-day rebirth of the nation of Israel seventy years ago is such an unprecedented act in world history, it has to be considered an outright ‘miracle’ in the most classic sense of the word. That is, it could only have been achieved by divine intervention.

This is especially true in light of the uniquely dire circumstances under which Israel’s re-emergence among the family of nations took place. The prophet Isaiah alludes to these travails when he asks: “Shall the earth be made to give birth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion was in labor, she gave birth to her children.” (Isaiah 66:8)

In 1948, the Jewish people were still reeling from the tragedy of the Holocaust. The enormous scope and depravity of the Nazi genocide against the Jews was still being uncovered. Two-thirds of European Jewry had been gassed or gunned down en masse. Most of the surviving remnant were on the brink of starvation. Few wanted to return to their homes, even if they had one. They knew their neighbors had never really accepted them, and likely never would.

Such calamities were nothing new for the Jews. For centuries they had faced pogroms, blood libels, forced conversions, expulsions and other forms of religious persecution. But this was the lowest point. The racial anti-Semitism of the Nazis had reduced them to sub-human status, like vermin slated for extermination. As a people, the Jews felt they had reached a dead end.

The prophet Ezekiel spoke of just such a time, when Israel would say as a people: “Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!” Yet God declared that all was not lost; that at that very lowest moment He would assuredly “cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.” (Ezekiel 37:11-12)

The great miracle of Israel’s rebirth in May 1948 is that it happened just three years after the Holocaust ended. From the ashes of the Shoah, the Jewish people suddenly arose and re-established sovereignty in their ancient homeland. Somehow at their time of greatest weakness, they were empowered in a way that had alluded them for centuries. It was nothing less than the resurrection power of God at work.

This miracle is even more astounding when you consider that Israel faced another very serious threat of annihilation even as it was reborn. When its founding leader David Ben-Gurion declared independence for the Jewish state on 14 May 1948, it was immediately attacked by five invading Arab armies. These Arab forces were armed, trained and in some cases even commanded by officers from some of the world’s major powers. In contrast, the international community placed an arms embargo on the fledgling state of Israel, and only one small nation – Czechoslovakia – dared defy it by supplying weapons to the desperate Jewish fighters. In many instances, frail Holocaust survivors arriving from Europe were thrown straight into battle without even shoes on their feet. Arab leaders had vowed to “drive the Jews into the sea”, but somehow Israel prevailed.

THE FOLLOWING year of 1949, the United Nations voted to admit Israel as a full member state. It was an era when numerous nations were securing their independence and joining the international community. Many were also born out of the widespread suffering of the First and Second World War. Like Israel, there was great sympathy for these nations and their struggles and sacrifices for freedom. But Israel still stands out for the way it overcame the greatest of odds and rewrote history.

The fact is that the Jews are the only people who have been thoroughly uprooted from their homeland, only to return to that land and re-establish their national sovereignty. You could search far and wide and still not find another people who have managed to do this even once, and yet the Jews have done it twice! Now what makes this all the more remarkable is that the Bible which they gifted to the world tells us all this was going to happen even before it ever started to take place. The Scriptures declared beforehand that there would be two scatterings and two returns of the Jewish people – first from Babylon and then from all the nations of the earth.

It was this very Bible which kept the Jews together as a people during their long centuries of exile. And the same Bible planted in them a prophetic hope of return and national restoration one day, which became the driving force that brought them back – quite literally – from the grave.

The Apostle Paul relies on these prophetic passages when he speaks of a promised future restoration for Israel in the Book of Romans. He teaches that even Israel’s scattering had a redemptive purpose, in that it was the means for the Gospel to go out to all nations and thereby reconcile many to God. Yet when it finally comes time for Israel’s ingathering, Paul says we can expect no less than “life from the dead!” (Romans 11:11-15). That is, the resurrection power of God will still be at work in the earth when the Jewish nation is finally restored in their ancient homeland.

We live in a day when we have witnessed these things coming to pass. Seventy years after Israel’s miraculous rebirth, will we align with those who are trying to put the Jewish people back in their graves? Or will we be among those who are found rejoicing in the incredible way God has brought the nation of Israel back to life?