The Founding of Israel and Bible Prophecy

Do you think the formation of the modern state of Israel in 1948 was a fulfillment of prophecy?

Yes and no.

I really don’t mean to be evasive or waffling; it’s just that I’m not sure the question is capable of being answered without a number of important qualifications.

Let me explain.

On the one hand, I don’t believe the formation of the modern state of Israel was a fulfillment of prophecy in the sense that there is a particular passage or group of passages that specifically point to the events of 1948.

Some prophecy teachers point to Jeremiah 16:14-15 as a passage that prophesies the formation of the state of Israel.
The days are coming, declares the LORD, when it shall no longer be said, ‘As the LORD lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt,’ but ‘As the LORD lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the north country and out of all the countries where he had driven them.’ For I will bring them back to their own land that I gave to their fathers (Jer 16:14-15)
And there are a number of other passages in Jeremiah and Ezekiel in which God promises a re-gathering of Israel. However, we have to remember the historical context. Jeremiah and Ezekiel were both prophesying on the eve of the Babylonian invasion which resulted in the fall of Jerusalem and the exile of the Jews. This exile was to last for seventy years, as Jeremiah indicated, and then God would bring them back to the land.
For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place (Jer. 29:10).
All this happened just as God said it would. When Babylon was overthrown, Cyrus, the king of Persia, issued a decree allowing the Jews to return to their land and rebuild Jerusalem and the temple. And this is what we read about in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah.

And so the passages which are so often applied by prophecy teachers to the events of 1948 really were fulfilled many centuries earlier.

Now, having said this, I must quickly add that I do not believe what happened in 1948 is without significance. The Lord has promised a glorious future for the Jewish people, a future that includes them recognizing Jesus as the promised Messiah. Listen to what Paul says in Romans 11:
I want you to understand this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, "The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”; “and this will be my covenant with themwhen I take away their sins” (Rom. 11:25-26)
Could the re-establishment of Israel as a nation in 1948 be one of the precursors to this great ingathering of Jews into the fold of Christ? It may very well be. But it’s difficult to say. For all we know there may come another dispersion and another re-gathering a thousand years from now. I hope not. I hope that we are on the cusp of seeing at least the beginning of what Paul envisioned in Romans 11. But there is no way of knowing for sure.

Let me summarize: there are no prophetic passages so far as I can tell that speak specifically about the formation of the modern state of Israel. But there are a number of passages (chiefly, Romans 11) that speak in general terms about the Jews as a people turning in true faith to their Messiah before he comes again. The restoration of the Jews to the land in 1948 may be one of the means God will use to accomplish it. Their re-gathering to the land of Israel is certainly consistent with what is promised to them with regard to their spiritual restoration, though it is not necessarily tied to it.

In any event, one of the first and most fervent prayers of Christian people ought to be for the conversion of the Jews.

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