It is almost unreal how some Christians, and especially those who practice Replacement theology, reject the fact that God still has a plan with Israel. Especially when taking the detail of prophecy into account. Sadly, they always choose to defend their unbiblical eschatology in a holistic way when confronted with detail. If only Christians would take heed of the warning in Revelation 22:18-19.
“For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”
This is an extract from my forthcoming book, “ON A DAY … LEAST EXPECTED.” This part of the book only covers the return of the Jews to their promised land.
The Jewish Diaspora
For 2000 years, the term Diaspora (with an upper-case D) was associated almost exclusively with Jewish history. The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary cites Deuteronomy 28:25 in support of its primary definition: “the dispersion of Jews among the Gentile nations; all those Jews who lived outside the biblical land of Israel.”
The Diaspora started with the dispersion of Jews among the Gentiles after the Babylonian Exile and then to the Jews scattered “in exile” outside present-day Israel. Although the term refers to the physical dispersal of Jews throughout the world, it also carries religious, philosophical, political, and eschatological connotations, as the Jews perceive a special relationship between the land of Israel and themselves.
The Diaspora started soon after King Solomon died (between 926 BC and 922 BC), as the ten northern tribes refused to submit to his son, Rehoboam, and revolted. Since then, there were two kingdoms of Hebrews, namely Israel in the north and Judah in the south. The northern kingdom of Israel immediately went into idolatry and turned away from worshipping God. After 200 years, in 722 BC, they went into national captivity at the hands of the Assyrian Empire. The ten tribes of Israel were scattered throughout the Assyrian empire. They then virtually disappeared from history and are known as “the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel.”
The tribes of Judah, Benjamin and a part of Levi stayed with Rehoboam and became the southern kingdom of Judah, with Jerusalem as its capital. The southern kingdom of Judah lasted more than a hundred years after the fall of the northern kingdom of Israel. Unfortunately, Judah also turned away from God and on several occasions, righteous kings instituted reforms. God also sent prophets to warn them but eventually they would no longer listen. The Jewish nation was taken into national captivity by the Babylonians, which started in 586 BC.
After 70 years of captivity in Babylon, some of the Jews returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. Jesus, the Messiah, would come through the tribe of Judah, but His own people rejected Him.
In 63 BC, Judea came under the control of Rome, and in 6 AD, it was declared a Roman province. The estimated 5 million Jews from the kingdom of Judah considered Judea as the centre of their religious and cultural life, but were outnumbered even before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Thereafter, the main centres of Judaism shifted from country to country (e.g., Babylonia, Persia, Spain, France, Germany, Poland, Russia and the United States – diasporas). While some lived in peace, others became victims of violent anti-Semitism.
When Hadrian became the Roman emperor in 118 AD, he was sympathetic to the Jews. He allowed them to return to Jerusalem and granted permission for the rebuilding of their Holy Temple. The Jews’ expectations rose but Hadrian quickly went back on his word. He also began deporting Jews to North Africa.
The Jews started a rebellion and in 132 AD, under the strong leadership of Shimon Bar-Kokhba, the Jews captured approximately 50 strongholds in Judea and 985 undefended towns and villages, including Jerusalem. The Bar Kokhba revolt was followed by violent despair and the Jews were crushed in the final battle of Bethar. In 135 AD, Jerusalem was turned into a pagan city called Aelia Capitolina where Jews were forbidden to live and the country’s name was changed from Judea to Syria Palestina.
During the Middle Ages, the Jews divided into distinct regional groups The Ashkenazi Jews immigrated to Central and later Eastern Europe, while the Sephardi Jews settled in Iberia and later North Africa. The Mizrahi Jews remained in the Babylon after the destruction of the First Temple.
Although this picture seems very dark for the Jews, God will never break His covenant, and those who deny this truth is making God a liar and abominate His character.
“For a brief moment I deserted you, but with great compassion I will gather you. In overflowing anger for a moment I hid my face from you, but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,” says the LORD, your Redeemer. “ This is like the days of Noah to me: as I swore that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth, so I have sworn that I will not be angry with you, and will not rebuke you. For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.” (Isaiah 54:7-10)
Aliyah is the immigration of Jews from the Diaspora to the Land of Israel. It is also referred to as “the act of going up,” towards Jerusalem. “Making Aliyah” is one of the most basic tenets of Zionism.
The first re-gathering of the Jews took place after the Babylonian captivity.
Although some Jews returned to Israel in the early 1900’s, the second re-gathering officially began in 1948. Approaching the 20th century, many Jewish groups wanted to return to their ancient homeland, Judea.
Great Britain’s support of a Jewish homeland in Palestine was already made public in the 1917 Balfour Declaration, but it only become a reality on May 14, 1948. The Law of Return is an Israeli law, passed on 5 July 1950, which gave Jews the right to live in Israel and to gain Israeli citizenship.
The first returning Jews came primarily from eastern Arab countries. Then followed a major movement from the western countries of Europe, especially Germany. Then they came in great numbers from Russia (north) during the end of the 1980’s. The last great migrations of Jews returning to Israel came from Ethiopia in the south. The order of return was accurately predicted by Isaiah.
“Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, `Give them up!’ and to the south, `Do not hold them back.’ Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth…”
“… the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise.” (Isaiah 43:5-6,21)
“Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy, And gathered out of the lands, From the east and from the west, From the north and from the south.” (Psalm 107:2-3)
The establishment of the Jewish state on 14 May 1948 is undoubtedly the biggest sign to date, of end-time prophecies being fulfilled, that would lead to the imminent return of Jesus Christ.
Prophecy in indicates that the Jews will resume animal sacrifices before the return of Christ, for which they need their own homeland to enable them to do so.
“For the Israelites will live many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred stones, without ephod or idol. Afterward the Israelites will return and seek the LORD their God and David their king. They will come trembling to the LORD and to his blessings in the last days.” (Hosea 3:4-5)
“And from the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away, and the abomination of desolation is set up, there shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety days.” (Daniel 12:11)
After 2000 years, God’s people will return home from the Diaspora and will once again be a single Kingdom for the first time since 900 BC. Surely, this must be a miracle from God.
“Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall a land be born in one day? Shall a nation be brought forth in one moment? For as soon as Zion was in labor she brought forth her children. Shall I bring to the point of birth and not cause to bring forth?” says the LORD; “shall I, who cause to bring forth, shut the womb?” says your God.” (Isaiah 66:8-9)
“He will set up a banner for the nations, And will assemble the outcasts of Israel, And gather together the dispersed of Judah, From the four corners of the earth.” (Isaiah 11:12)
Isaiah 11 and 14 also indicates that the so-called “Palestinians” and other enemies of Israel will cease to be a problem for God’s people.
“For the LORD will have compassion on Jacob and will again choose Israel, and will set them in their own land, and sojourners will join them and will attach themselves to the house of Jacob. And the peoples will take them and bring them to their place, and the house of Israel will possess them in the LORD’s land as male and female slaves. They will take captive those who were their captors, and rule over those who oppressed them. “I will rise up against them,” declares the LORD of hosts, “and will cut off from Babylon name and remnant, descendants and posterity,” declares the LORD.” (Isaiah 14:1-2,22)
“you whom I took from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest corners, saying to you, “You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off”;” (Isaiah 41:9)
“And now the LORD says, he who formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him; and that Israel might be gathered to him— for I am honored in the eyes of the LORD, and my God has become my strength. Thus says the LORD: “In a time of favor I have answered you; in a day of salvation I have helped you; I will keep you and give you as a covenant to the people, to establish the land, to apportion the desolate heritages, Behold, these shall come from afar, and behold, these from the north and from the west, and these from the land of Syene.” Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I will lift up my hand to the nations, and raise my signal to the peoples; and they shall bring your sons in their bosom, and your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders.” (Isaiah 49:5,8,12,22)
“And the ransomed of the LORD shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” (Isaiah 51:11)
“Lift up your eyes all around, and see; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from afar, and your daughters shall be carried on the hip. For the coastlands shall hope for me, the ships of Tarshish first, to bring your children from afar, their silver and gold with them, for the name of the LORD your God, and for the Holy One of Israel, because he has made you beautiful. (Isaiah 60:4,9)
“I will bring you from the nations and gather you from the countries where you have been scattered — with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with outpoured wrath.” (Ezekiel 20:34)
With the return of the nation, the ancient Hebrew language has been revived and become the official language of the state. Prior to this happening, the Jews spoke an impure form of the language called Yiddish. The return to a pure common language was also predicted in Zephaniah 3:8-10.
After nearly 2,000 years the shekel has been reinstated as the common monetary unit in Israel, again, just as predicted in Ezekiel 45:12-16.
There are many cities in Israel that bear the ancient names of previous Biblical Jewish cities, such as Cana, Nazareth, Jericho, Nain, Bethany, Bethlehem, Hebron, Gaza, etc. Again, as the ancient nation was in the process of being destroyed, Ezekiel predicted that many of the ancient cities would be re-inhabited and settled in the exact locations.
“And I will multiply upon you man and beast; and they shall increase and bring fruit: and I will settle you after your old estates, and will do better [unto you] than at your beginnings: and ye shall know that I [am] the LORD…. For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land.” (Ezekiel 36:11; 24)
The restoration of the agriculture and of the trees and forests of Israel has been another remarkable miracle, as prophesied. Almost 75 years ago, the land was a desolate waste, full of malarial swamps and deserts. Today the replanted forests are flourishing and the Israeli agricultural production is one of the great wonders of the world. This tiny country exports quality produce around the world.
“Those who come He shall cause to take root in Jacob; Israel shall blossom and bud, And fill the face of the world with fruit.” (Isaiah 27:6)
“The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them, And the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose; It shall blossom abundantly and rejoice, Even with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, The excellence of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the LORD, The excellency of our God.” (Isaiah 35:1-2)
Final return of the Jews (Ezekiel 39:21-29)
The second re-gathering will be completed after the Battle of Ezekiel 38.
“Then they will know that I am the LORD their God, for though I sent them into exile among the nations, I will gather them to their own land, not leaving any behind” (Ezekiel 39:28).
Though God caused the Jews to be scattered all over the world, He will now bring them back, not leaving any behind. Having witnessed His defeat of their enemies, Jews from all over the world will flock to Israel and to Him, yearning for a reinstatement of their Old Covenant relationship.
“Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds.” (Hosea 6:1)
And so this battle will mark the beginning of Daniel’s 70th week, the last 7 years of human history before the Lord returns.
The third temple
Today, many orthodox Jews long to re-establish the temple and its ancient systems, including the sacrifices. Soon the Jews will build the third temple, which is the temple that will be made desolate by the Antichrist and later cleansed at the beginning of the Millennium, just as the second Temple was first made desolate and then cleansed in the time of the Maccabees.
The third temple will exist during the Great Tribulation. Daniel refers to this temple when he says that “the prince who is to come” (the Antichrist) will enter it and stop the sacrifices in the middle of the Tribulation (Daniel 9:27). Paul mentions it when he declares that the “man of lawlessness” will profane the temple by entering it and declaring himself to be God (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4). The Third Temple is also mentioned in Revelation 11:1-2 when John is told to measure it — a symbolic way of telling him to assess its spiritual condition.
Isaiah said, “In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains. . . . Many peoples will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, To the temple of the God of Jacob’ ” (Isaiah 2:2,3).
Amos said: “In that day I will restore David’s fallen shelter—I will repair its broken walls and restore its ruins—and will rebuild it as it used to be” (Amos 9:11).
Solomon had constructed the original temple over a period of seven years, which by all accounts was a wonder. But the Babylonians invaded and burned it to the ground.
Isaiah predicted that the Persian monarch Cyrus would rebuild Jerusalem (Isaiah 44:24–28). God called Cyrus by name more than a century before Christ was born. He gave orders to rebuild the edifice, and he returned all the temple valuables that had been looted by the Babylonians.
The second temple lasted until AD 70, when it was destroyed by Roman soldiers under Titus.
(Extract from the forthcoming book “ON A DAY … LEAST EXPECTED” by Gerhard Woest)