Is God Finished with the Jewish People? (Part 5)
Tracing Israel’s Restoration
Around the turn of the last century, after almost 2,000 years of dispersion, God began to move very dramatically to initiate this process of restoration physically and, of course, spiritually. What happened? Let’s survey the high spots:
1897 – Theodore Hertzl convened the first Jewish congress in Basel, Switzerland. This unbelieving man predicted that within 50 years there would be a state in the land of Israel for the Jewish people.
1914-1918 World War I – God moved sovereignly and miraculously among the nations to give Great Britain control of the Palestinian Mandate. What had belonged to the Ottoman Empire now belonged to Great Britain. On November 2, 1917, Lord Balfour, the Foreign Minister of Great Britain, issued what is known as the Balfour Declaration: “His Majesty’s Government views with favor the establishment in Palestine of the national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavor to facilitate the achievement of this object.”
1920’s – 1930’s – Because of fear of Arab reprisals, Britain restricted immigration of the Jewish people to their homeland. European Jewry became trapped with no place to go.
World War II – This global struggle was a tragedy for the whole world, but especially for the Jews who suffered the unspeakable horrors of the Holocaust. Six million Jewish men, women and children were exterminated for no other reason than that they were Jewish. If God does not have a purpose for the Jewish people, then why is the enemy so set on their destruction? What other ethnic group has been so relentlessly pursued by enemies throughout history? I believe our evil adversary saw what most in the Church at that point did not see: God was beginning to move! The enemy knew about the conference in Basel. The enemy knew about the Balfour Declaration. The enemy could see what was coming, and he wanted to try to play an “ace,” and annihilate the Jewish people before they could ever be restored to the Land, thereby thwarting the fulfillment of God’s prophecies. The Lord God, however, is so great and so awesome. He is never taken by surprise. He trumps every ace. As horrible as the Holocaust was, it did grant the Jewish people sympathy in the eyes of the world, if only for a brief window of time. But God used that sympathy and favor to achieve His own purposes….
November 29th, 1947 – The United Nations voted to re-establish the State of Israel as a nation. In one day, at one moment in time, the UN “created” the modern state of Israel. I believe this decision was a fulfillment of Isaiah 66:8: “Who has ever heard of such a thing? Who has ever seen such things? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment?”
May 1948 through the present day – Israel declared her independence on May 14, 1948, and then the wars began. She fought a war for independence, against five Arab nations that surrounded her, just to secure her statehood. Since that time she has faced her enemies over and over again. Yet, God has miraculously preserved Israel in 1948, 1956, 1967, 1973, 1982, and in 1991. Israel has been preserved against overwhelming odds! A few million Jews, among a sea of hostile Arabs, bent on her destruction. Is her survival a coincidence? Or a miracle?
The Significance of 1967
Earlier I mentioned Jesus’ prophecy that Jerusalem would be in the hands of the Gentile powers until the time of the Gentiles were fulfilled. (Luke 21:24) What, if any, is the significance of June 7th, 1967, for the Jewish people and the world? The June 21st, 1971 issue of Time magazine featured an article on the “Jesus Movement.” Three times, the writer dates the beginning of the movement to 1967. It was during the Jesus movement that Jewish people began to come to know the Lord in larger numbers. In fact, many of the leaders in the Messianic Jewish movement today were saved during the Jesus Movement.
In 1967, there were an estimated 2,000 Jewish believers in Jesus, worldwide. A conservative estimate puts that number at 250,000 or more today. More Jewish people have come to know the Lord since 1967 than from the 4th century to 1967. Read that sentence again. Take a moment and let the weight of that statement wash over you. Is this a coincidence? Or is God beginning to move in a fresh way among His people?
An article in Charisma magazine in 1990 cited a survey that suggested that more than a million Jews in the U.S. alone express “some sort of faith in Y’shua.” (Y’shua is Jesus’ name in Hebrew.) Perhaps not saving faith, but some sort of acceptance of Y’shua. In 1967 there were no Messianic Jewish congregations in the world. There are now 81 in Israel alone, and according to Christianity Today, over 350 throughout the world.
Don Finto, in his book, Your People Shall Be My People, cites the following statistics: “We are told that over half the people who have ever lived on the earth since the days of Adam and Eve are alive today. The latest figures indicate that one out of every five of these is a believer – more believers today than in all the years preceding us. Millions of people on every continent are coming to faith – the greatest revival in the history of the world.”
Seventy percent of all those who have ever come to faith in Jesus have come since the first Zionist Conference in Basel, Switzerland in 1897…. [At that time] the ratio of believers to unbelievers [in the world] was 1 to 27. Today that number is 1 to 5….Over 50 percent of those who have ever come to faith, have come since the founding of the state of Israel in 1948.
We have witnessed not only a geometric increase in population, but also a geometric multiplication of the power of the Holy Spirit in saving the peoples of the earth. According to the Center for World Mission in California, the number of evangelicals is growing at a rate 3.5 times faster than the world’s population. More Muslims have trusted Christ since 1980 than in all the previous 1,000 years. The body of Christ is growing worldwide at a rate of 6.9% annually.
The Apostle Paul said in Romans 11:12, 15: “But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their fullness bring!…For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?” Is history not testifying to the fact that as God moves to restore Israel, there is also a mighty outpouring of the Spirit among the nations?
C.H. Spurgeon summed it up well:
I think we do not attach enough importance to the restoration of the Jews….But certainly, if there is anything promised in the Bible, it is this….The day shall yet come when the Jews, who were the first apostles to the Gentiles, the first missionaries to us who were afar off, shall be gathered in again. Until that shall be, the fullness of the church’s glory can never come. Matchless benefits to the world are bound up with the restoration of Israel, their gathering shall be as life from the dead. [Emphasis Added]
Is what we have witnessed over the last 50 years a coincidence? Is this unprecedented move of God among the Jewish people, the likes of which has not been seen for 1,500 years, a coincidence? Is it a coincidence that at the same time God has also been moving among the Gentile nations in a way such as has never been seen before? Or, is this convergence indeed part of the plan of God? I believe the answer is clear.
How do we respond? In awe and with prayer.