Let me let one cat out of my overcrowded cat-bag first. As an Historical Premillennialist (not Dispensational) I do believe the Bible teaches that there will be a tremendous ingathering of the Jews to faith in Christ before Jesus’ return – if not in some way concurrent with it. Preaching through Romans convinced me God has something yet in store for His original “chosen people” – and that, in conjunction with masses of ethnic Jews coming to saving faith in Christ. Even some Amillennialists like Eric Alexander and others would argue that as well.
That said and out of the way, my question as stated in the title remains: Was Israel’s establishment of statehood in 1948 significant – in terms of being some sort of fulfilled prophecy?
So on to cat #2 – I don’t think so. Despite the tsunami in recent years of Biblical-Prophecy mavens to the contrary. In reading Deuteronomy afresh this week, I was struck by God’s address the to the Israelites in the closing chapters – and a specific condition He speaks to – in terms of defining an eschatologically significant return of the Jews to the Promised Land. If indeed one is to be had at all.
To put it mildly, a LOT gets said to Israel in Deuteronomy’s recapitulation of God’s instructions for His people once they enter and settle Canaan. And there is a powerfully pervasive atmosphere of warning throughout. The warning centers on fidelity to singular devotion to God. When that is abandoned, disaster is inevitable in judgment. Lack of fidelity to the Lord will result in their being prey to their enemies.
But what caught my eye recently, is the very specific statements in Chap. 30. On the heels of 3 massively conditional “if”s in 28, and the revelation that they still have a “heart” problem in 29:4 (But to this day the LORD has not given you a heart to understand or eyes to see or ears to hear.), is the promise of forgiveness and restoration in Ch. 30. But it is a conditional restoration. It runs like this…
“When you have experienced all these things, both the blessings and the curses I have set before you, you will reflect upon them in all the nations where the Lord your God has banished you. Then if you and your descendants turn to the Lord your God and obey him with your whole mind and being just as I am commanding you today, the Lord your God will reverse your captivity and have pity on you. He will turn and gather you from all the peoples among whom he has scattered you. Even if your exiles are in the most distant land, from there the Lord your God will gather you and bring you back. Then he will bring you to the land your ancestors possessed and you also will possess it; he will do better for you and multiply you more than he did your ancestors. The Lord your God will also cleanse your heart, and the hearts of your descendants so that you may love him with all your mind and being and so that you may live. Then the Lord your God will put all these curses on your enemies, on those who hate you and persecute you. You will return and obey the Lord, keeping all his commandments I am giving you today. The Lord your God will make the labor of your hands abundantly successful and multiply your children, the offspring of your cattle, and the produce of your soil. For the Lord your God will once more rejoice over you to make you prosperous just as he rejoiced over your ancestors, if you obey the Lord your God and keep his commandments and statutes that are written in this scroll of the law. But you must turn to him with your whole mind and being.“
My point is this: The return to the land which has eschatological significance (as best as I can see in this text) is one predicated upon the people en mass turning to the Lord with their “whole mind and being.” As the portion closes: “But you must turn to Him with your whole mind and being.” (Emphases here and above, mine)
Now unless someone can point me to something which indicates this whole-heartedness after God was the case with the re-creation of the State in 1948, and the flow of ethnic Jews back into the land, I cannot see how that event is the fulfillment of what we have here. And thus I think it lacks any true eschatological importance. For all intents and purposes, Israel is in fact a secular state not one born out of national repentance. Now that IS something I hope and pray to see. I believe it IS in God’s prophetic plan. But I do not believe we can safely establish that such is the case given the current circumstances. And thus I think the current view of many in the way they are responding to Israel – as though this is the case – is in error.
Will Israel be gathered in in due time? I firmly believe the Bible says it is so. Is the current State of Israel that ingathering? I don’t believe so. And to look for all sorts of end-times signs around Israel’s 1948 establishment, especially as a means of determining where we are in God’s prophetic timetable is probably a pretty large error.
Nevertheless – let us all continue to pray and work for the conversion of these dear folk in our generation.
Now, let the arguing begin!