Israel 75 Years Later
This extraordinary event seemed impossible just a few decades previously. Despite the Zionist movement that had developed at the end of the 1800s, very few nations supported the Jews returning to Palestine. Britain famously did, at the zenith of its empire, in 1917.
However, it took the atrocities of WWII to convince the rest of the world the Jews needed a homeland and to agree it could be part of Palestine. As a result, on November 29, 1947, the United Nations voted to adopt a newly drawn-up partition plan, dividing the land of Palestine, then controlled by the British, into a Jewish and Arab state.
very few nations supported the Jews returning to Palestine
Christadelphians had long expected this seemingly impossible event to happen. Dr. John Thomas, when writing Elpis Israel a century before, stated:
“The pre-adventual [before Jesus returns] colonisation of Palestine will be on purely political principles; and the Jewish colonists will return in unbelief of the Messiahship of Jesus, and of the truth as it is in him. They will emigrate thither as agriculturalists and traders, in the hope of ultimately establishing their commonwealth, but more immediately of getting rich in silver and gold.”1
Dr. Thomas went on to show another key part of the Biblical prophecies regarding the return of the Jews, that they would return home “under the efficient protection of the British power.”2 He further wrote:
“The decree has long since gone forth which calls upon the Lion of Tarshish to protect the Jews. Upwards of a thousand years before the British were a nation, the prophet addresses them as the power which at “evening-tide” should interest themselves in behalf of Israel.”3
For the Christadelphian community, the excitement would have been incredible to witness Britain taking the lead in supporting the Zionist movement to return to the land. The eager anticipation would have reached feverish levels for them to see the ancient Biblical prophecies explained by Dr. Thomas come to fruition when on Friday, May 14, 1948, the new Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion, declared the establishment of the new state of Israel.
What is rarely commented on, but is of significance, is that in the weeks leading up to May 14, debate had raged in the newly convened Jewish council about the wording of the Declaration of Independence.
Religious members of this Jewish assembly insisted that this declaration mention the God of Israel, while many secular Zionists felt any mention of God would be blasphemy. David Schwartz, the Director of Education at Temple Har Zion, writes in Exploring the Israeli Declaration of Independence:
“David Ben Gurion realized that to succeed, any declaration of Jewish statehood required all the stakeholders to agree. He proposed that rather than refer to God, Israel’s Declaration would end with a mention of placing trust in Tzur Yisrael, The Rock of Israel, a Biblical term used as a synonym for God but one that could be interpreted differently by members of the assembly possessing a more secular outlook.”4
This highlights the unbelief so many of the returning Jews had. Many could hardly acknowledge God, let alone the Messiahship of the Lord Jesus Christ. 75 years later, the nation has only become more secular.
Given the history of the last 75 years, it seems barely believable that those of us watching the Jews and the Land, let alone those living in it, could not acknowledge the hand of God in the events that have unfolded.
There have been numerous wars in and around the newly formed state, which against all odds, the Jews have won. Perhaps most famous was the 1967 Six-Day War, which saw all of Israel’s Arab neighbors come against them. Remarkably, the Jewish state survived and took the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, the Golan Heights from Syria, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem from the Palestinians. The status of these territories subsequently became the major point of contention in the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Although much of the territory gained in 1967 was returned to the neighboring nations, Israel kept control of key areas, including the West Bank and East Jerusalem. As a result, the United Nations has brought resolution after resolution against Israel, demanding they give back the land they annexed in the war to the Palestinians—returning to the lines of the 1947 UN partition plan. Resolution 242, passed by the UN security council on November 22, 1967, stated:
“The fulfilment of Charter principles requires the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East, which should include the application of both the following principles:
(i) Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict;
(ii) Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries, free from threats or acts of force.”5
Whatever accusations the UN throws at Israel, as Christadelphians, we do not expect Israel to give back these territories. We should make clear it is not that we don’t feel an enormous amount of sympathy for the plight of many of the Palestinian people. It is also not because we think the Jews are correct in their policies. As noted, so few believe in God and still less in the Lord Jesus as their Messiah. Yet, the events we have witnessed, and will continue to witness, are signs of the times and the fulfillment of ancient prophecies.
Being back in the land, although an extraordinary sign, was not in itself enough. The prophets clarified that the people of Israel would be living in Jerusalem and the West Bank at the Time of the End.
Joel 3, a prophecy of the events leading to Armageddon, begins:
For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem. (Joel 3:1).
This prophecy makes clear that the captivity would return not just to Judah but also Jerusalem itself.
In addition, in Ezekiel 34:12-14, we read:
The gathered Jews would be brought onto the “mountains of Israel.” The term “mountains of Israel” is enormously significant. It refers to the Judean hills stretching along the length of the West Bank (see map).6 This is the very territory Israel gained in 1967.
It is helpful to have a brief history of the territory to appreciate the work of the angels in bringing about the fulfillment of the Biblical prophecies and bringing the territory under Israel’s control:
“From 1517 through 1917, the area now known as the West Bank was under Turkish rule as part of Ottoman Syria. At the 1920 San Remo conference, the victorious Allies of World War I allocated the area to the British Mandate of Palestine (1920-1948).
The United Kingdom proclaimed Abdullah I, as emir of the Emirate of Transjordan, on April 11, 1921; he declared it an independent Hashemite Kingdom on May 25, 1946.
Under the United Nations in 1947, it was subsequently designated as part of a proposed Arab state by the Partition Plan for Palestine. Resolution 181 recommended the splitting of the area of the British Mandate into a Jewish state, an Arab state, and an internationally administered enclave of Jerusalem; a broader region of the modern-day West Bank was assigned to the Arab state.
The resolution designated the territory described as “the hill country of Samaria and Judea” (the area now known as the “West Bank”) as part of the proposed Arab state, but following the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, this area was captured by Transjordan.”7
The term West Bank has only been used in the last 70 years or so. It was named so by Jordan when they had control over the territory following the Arab-Israeli war of 1948 until 1967, when Israel took it from them. The Jordanians simply called it this as it was on the western bank of the River Jordan!
The fact Jordan had control before 1967 was in itself a remarkable part of Ezekiel’s prophecy. In chapter 36, when the prophet deals specifically with “the mountains of Israel,” he talks of the enemies of the Jews having control of the territory:
The prophet makes it clear God will take the territory from the enemies of his people, and return it to the Jews to be theirs, ultimately as an everlasting possession. The prophet goes on, however, to tell us which nation would have it before God would take it back for the Jews:
Idumea is modern-day Jordan. In 1948 they “appointed the land into their possession.” However, God did not designate it in their possession for long. In 1967 the Jews took control of the mountains of Israel, and so the ancient prophecies were fulfilled. The mountains were for God’s people, the Jews. This is His sign for all time to show that He is working on the earth:
The language Ezekiel is inspired to use is remarkable. The Jews would be brought back to “settle” in the mountains. They would multiply from a small group of settlers to many people who would build the old wastes and farm the land.
The mountains were for God’s people, the Jews.
This, of course, is exactly what we have seen since 1967. Three major points come from these verses:
1. The Jews would multiply on the mountains. Have we seen this? Yes. They have grown exponentially as a group, much to the international community’s ire (see chart below).8 This is exactly what Christadelphians would have expected to see. Bro. Thomas, when remarking on this section of Scripture, stated:
“It may be remarked here that there will have been a considerable gathering of Israelites upon the mountains of Israel before the invasion of the country by Gog and his capture of Jerusalem.”9
Can you imagine how excited he would be to see the events we see in front of us? “A considerable gathering of Israelites.” Perhaps Bro. Thomas might have anticipated a few thousand Jews on the mountains. There are now approximately three-quarters of a million Jewish settlers in the area!
2. God said through Ezekiel that they would build the old wastes, and He would settle them on the mountains. How ironic that today they are continually building, and those living in the settlements are called “settlers.” The headline above from the Al Jazeera news network10 highlights the commitment of the Israeli government to keep building, despite the fury of the international community.
3. The third point is that the Jews would farm the land. On March 31, 2023, the French news outlet, Le Monde, ran this headline: “In the West Bank, pastoral farms are a new tool for settler expansion.”11 The article went on to say:
“Israeli settlements are now using sheepfolds to expand their land to the detriment of Palestinian villages, which are increasingly hemmed in and deprived of their pastures. This situation has accelerated since 2017, bolstered by the arrival of the far-right Benjamin Netanyahu’s new government.”
The details of the fulfilled prophecies are a sure sign that God is at work among the nations today to bring about His purpose. We shouldn’t presume that the international community will ever accept the Jews’ actions. In fact, we expect the very opposite. Ezekiel continues:
This is exactly what the world says to Israel. They have “devoured up men and bereaved nations.” Much of the world hates Israel for its actions since 1967. This antagonism will only grow before the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. The government of Israel is not looking for Jesus. The Jews will believe the peace and safety (of sorts) they will create in the land by their building work and continued annexing of land is simply their own doing. However, it is the angels working in the background to bring about the very purpose of Almighty God.
When Gog drops down from the north parts into Israel, we are told in Ezekiel 38 that it will be onto the mountains. The international community, led by Gog, will gather together for the battle of Armageddon to deal with this nation they say, “devourest up men, and hast bereaved thy nations.”
The nations will eventually come against Israel with a plan to destroy these arrogant people for good. When all seems lost, the Lord Jesus Christ will intervene. The Jews, who for millennia have ignored the Lord Jesus as their Messiah, will suddenly look on him who they crucified and mourn for him, instantly realizing their foolishness. Zechariah prophesied that not only would the Lord come and stand upon the mount of Olives, but that “all the saints” will be with him.12
If we are among the saints, it will be our privilege to work under the direct leadership of the newly crowned King in Jerusalem, the Lord Jesus Christ, to change the world and make it a place filled with blessings for all men everywhere.
When all seems lost, the Lord Jesus Christ will intervene.
We ask, do we want to see a world that is fair, equitable, free from war, free from the climate crisis, free from corruption, and filled with the very character of God Himself—“merciful, gracious, longsuffering and abundant in goodness and truth”?13
As we see the milestone of Israel being back in the land for 75 years, we should not allow ourselves to wonder if “The Lord is slack concerning his promise, as so many men count slackness.” (2 Pet 3:9). No! We should be looking up, knowing that our redemption will soon draw nigh.
As we wait for his return, we keep watching the sign of the nation of Israel—the great witness to all the world that our God is indeed God. We keep holding fast to His Word, ensuring it is the lamp to our feet and the light to our paths to get us through these last dark days.
Mumbles Ecclesia, UK
- Thomas, John, Elpis Israel, page 254.
- Thomas, John, Elpis Israel, page 254.
- Thomas, John, Elpis Israel, page 255.
- Schwartz, David, Director of Education at Temple Har Zion, sefaria.org.
- UN Resolution 242, https://peacemaker.un.org/sites/peacemaker.un.org/files/SCRes242%281967%29.pdf
- Thomas, John, Eureka, Volume 5, page 246.
- Zechariah 14:5.
- Exodus 34:6. noted.