Jeremiah 16:14, “Behold the days are coming,” says the Lord, “that it shall be no more said ‘The Lord lives who brought up the children of Israel from the land of Egypt,’ but, ‘the Lord lives who brought up the children of Israel from the Land of the North where He had driven them.’ For I will bring them back into their land which I gave to their fathers.”
Numerous Bible verses prophecy the Lord’s plans and purposes for the nation of Israel. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea, and Ezekiel all prophesied the scattering of the Jewish people. The same prophets subsequently followed that warning with the promise of a Divine re-gathering and restoration at the end of the age. The prophets also spoke of the Jewish people coming to faith in the Messiah.
The current restoration of the nation of Israel is the greatest miracle the world has seen since the resurrection of Jesus. This article will study the birth, the dispersion and the on-going restoration of Israel, and will culminate with the more recent restoration of the Messianic community in the Holy Land.
The Birth of the Nation of Israel
Israel’s dramatic history begins in Genesis 12. God chose a man in whom He accounted righteousness and in whom He elected to establish the future redemption of mankind. The Lord commanded Abram to leave his country and his family, and to go a land that He would show him. God promised Abram that one day he would become a great nation, and that in him all of the families of the earth would be blessed.
The Abrahamic Covenant
The God of Israel is a God of covenant. It is impossible to have a relationship with God without being in covenant with Him. In Genesis 15:8-21, the Lord makes a blood covenant with Abram. The normal procedure was that animals would be prepared (v 9-10), and both parties would walk backwards and forwards within the parts of the animals sprinkling the blood, as they spoke out the terms of the covenant. The blood was the sealing factor. Cutting a covenant usually took place in front of witnesses.
As we read in Genesis 15:18–21, this covenant involved the gifting of land. There is an interesting detail about this particular covenant. A blood covenant was made between at least two parties but this was a one-sided covenant. The Lord put Abram into a deep sleep. As God allocated the land to Abram’s descendants, Abram didn’t say a word. In Genesis 17 the Lord reconfirms His everlasting covenant promises and Abram’s name was changed to Abraham.
Many of Israel’s critics claim that this covenant has been annulled because the Jewish people were disobedient. The Jewish people, because of their disobedience, have twice been temporarily removed from the land of their forefathers, but this covenant is an unconditional God-given land title.
Miracles are not only a New Testament phenomenon. Just as Jesus’s birth was the result of a miraculous conception and virgin birth, Israel’s conception and birth was similarly miraculous. In spite of their advanced years, well beyond the age of childbearing (v19), God promised Abraham and Sarah a son. Isaac was born when Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah was 90. (Gen 21:1-7)
Israel’s Early History
2166 BC Abram Born
2091 BC Abram moves
2066 BC Isaac Born
2050 BC Isaac Offered to God
2006 BC Jacob & Esau Born
1991 BC Abraham dies
1898 BC Joseph sold to Egypt
1876 BC Jacob’s family in Egypt
1805 BC Joseph dies
1526 BC Moses born
1446 BC The Exodus
1406 BC Israelites enter Canaan
copyright: 1985 Zondervan Bible Corporation
Jacob Becomes Israel
Isaac married Rebecca, and fathered Jacob. Jacob’s birth and early life were a prophetic picture of Israel’s future. Jacob’s early life was not without drama and came to a point where the Lord engaged him in an all-night wrestling match. Jacob demanded that the Lord bless him (Gen 32:26). Jacob received his blessing, and his name was changed to Israel.
Jacob, or Israel as he was now known, fathered 12 sons. One of Jacob’s sons, Joseph, was destined for the Lord’s purposes. Joseph’s destiny and vision enraged his older brothers with
jealousy. Finally, they plotted to kill him, but opted to sell him to slave traders instead. As the story of Israel unfolds in the latter chapters of Genesis, Joseph’s destiny delivered him to
Egypt where he ultimately becomes Pharaohs’ right-hand man. Joseph’s prophetic vision many years before was fulfilled as he saved Egypt and much of the world from the effects of a severe famine.
In search of relief from the famine, Joseph’s brothers travelled to Egypt to buy grain. Joseph revealed himself to his brothers and invited them to return with their father to live in Goshen. From a family of 70 that made the journey to Goshen, Jacob’s descendants grew to more than two million that left Egypt 430 years later to become the 12 tribes of Israel.
Exactly as the Lord prophesied in Genesis 15:13, Abraham’s descendants found themselves living a life of slavery and affliction in a strange land. The Lord heard the cries of the Hebrews as the Pharaoh abused and tormented them. Moses was the Lord’s appointed vessel, and at the set time he led the Israelites out of Egypt and into Canaan, the land promised to Abraham.
The Jewish people were now a nation with a country, but it still didn’t come easy for them. There were already other nations living in the Land that God had given them. The only way Israel could possess her inheritance was to fight for it and fight they did. The Israelites fought and won, not in their own strength, but in the strength of the Lord who went before them.
The Jewish people have always had to struggle for their existence, we will see how God removed them from the land as a punishment for their disobedience. We will also see how the return of the Jews to their land in our time, mirrors their first entry. Again, other people were occupying the land that God had bequeathed to Abraham and his descendants. The day after the United Nations declared Israel a state in 1948, she was attacked and has lived under threat of war ever since.
Next: Part 2: The dispersions of Israel