This is in contrast to extra-biblical prophecies, which are typically vague and inaccurate.
Consider the Sibyl prophetesses in the fourth century. When Maxentius consulted these before meeting Constantine in the battle on the banks of the Tiber, he was told, “On that day the enemy of Rome will perish.” This prophecy is so vague that it would apply to whoever won!
Consider astrology. The forecasts are usually very vague, such as, “Some friends may have the feeling that you’ve been ignoring them.” And when the astrological forecasts are more precise, they are usually wrong. Two famous astrologers in Britain predicted that Hitler would not start World War II. Edward Lyndoe said, “The Nazis attacking Britain? Don’t make me laugh! Not a sign in my charts” (June 25, 1939).
Consider Jean Dixon. She prophesied that the Soviets would beat the U.S. to the moon, that World War III would begin in 1958, and that a cure would be found for cancer in 1967.
Consider Edgar Cayce. He prophesied that China would be converted to Christianity in 1968 and that Armageddon would occur in 1999.
In contrast, Bible prophecy is clear and detailed, and it has never failed. For example, the prophecies about Christ’s coming 2,000 years ago described such details as the exact time of His coming, the exact place of His birth, the piercing of His hands and feet on the cross, the words that He spoke from the cross, the soldiers gambling for His garments, and His burial in a rich man’s tomb.
The prophecies about Israel are equally precise.
At the dawn of Israel’s existence as a nation, before she entered the Promised Land, Moses prophesied her complete history. God warned that if Israel turned from His Law, He would judge her.
“The LORD shall cause thee to be smitten before thine enemies: thou shalt go out one way against them, and flee seven ways before them: and shalt be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth. And thy carcase shall be meat unto all fowls of the air, and unto the beasts of the earth, and no man shall fray them away. The LORD will smite thee with the botch of Egypt, and with the emerods, and with the scab, and with the itch, whereof thou canst not be healed. The LORD shall smite thee with madness, and blindness, and astonishment of heart: And thou shalt grope at noonday, as the blind gropeth in darkness, and thou shalt not prosper in thy ways: and thou shalt be only oppressed and spoiled evermore, and no man shall save thee. Thou shalt betroth a wife, and another man shall lie with her: thou shalt build an house, and thou shalt not dwell therein: thou shalt plant a vineyard, and shalt not gather the grapes thereof. Thine ox shall be slain before thine eyes, and thou shalt not eat thereof: thine ass shall be violently taken away from before thy face, and shall not be restored to thee: thy sheep shall be given unto thine enemies, and thou shalt have none to rescue them. Thy sons and thy daughters shall be given unto another people, and thine eyes shall look, and fail with longing for them all the day long: and there shall be no might in thine hand” (Deut. 28:25-32).
“The LORD shall bring thee, and thy king which thou shalt set over thee, unto a nation which neither thou nor thy fathers have known; and there shalt thou serve other gods, wood and stone. And thou shalt become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword, among all nations whither the LORD shall lead thee” (Deut. 28:36-37).
“And it shall come to pass, that as the LORD rejoiced over you to do you good, and to multiply you; so the LORD will rejoice over you to destroy you, and to bring you to nought; and ye shall be plucked from off the land whither thou goest to possess it. And the LORD shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other; and there thou shalt serve other gods, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, even wood and stone. And among these nations shalt thou find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest: but the LORD shall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind: And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee; and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life: In the morning thou shalt say, Would God it were even! and at even thou shalt say, Would God it were morning! for the fear of thine heart wherewith thou shalt fear, and for the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt see” (Deut. 28:63-67).
“And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath driven thee, And shalt return unto the LORD thy God, and shalt obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul; That then the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered thee. If any of thine be driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven, from thence will the LORD thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee: And the LORD thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers. And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live” (Deut. 30:1-6).
This prophecy was written in about 1450 B.C., which was about 1,500 years before Israel’s destruction by Rome and her dispersal among the nations.
The prophecy describes Israel’s defeat at the hands of foreign powers, her eviction from the land, her dispersion to the ends of the earth, her trouble and persecution, and her return.
1. Desertification of the Land
Moses said Israel would become a desert. The rain would be powder and dust (Deut. 28:23-24), and the land would become “brimstone, salt, and burning” (Deut. 29:23).
When Israel entered the land in the 15th century B.C. it was fruitful like a garden, and God gave the land the early and latter rains. God described it as a land “flowing with milk and honey,” which speaks of a well-watered land full of cattle and flowering plants (Deut. 31:20).
Because of Israel’s sin and idolatry, God stopped the rains. Crops can be grown in most parts of Israel only through irrigation. 80% of the land is arid or semi-arid.
2. Dispersion and Persecution
Moses prophesied that Israel would “be plucked from off the land” and scattered “among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other,” and there she would “find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest: but the LORD shall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind; and thy life shall hang in doubt before thee; and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life” (Deut. 28:63-67).
The prophecy began to be fulfilled with the destruction of Israel’s First Temple and her 70-year captivity to Babylon in 586 B.C., but that was only the beginning. Moses said that the Deuteronomy prophecy would be fulfilled “in the latter days” (Deut. 31:29), which did not begin until the first coming of Christ.
In 70 AD Israel’s Second Temple was destroyed by Roman armies and in 135 AD Jerusalem was razed after Rome defeated the Bar Kokhba revolt. A pagan city was built on Jerusalem’s ruins and a pagan temple dedicated to Jupiter was built on the Temple Mount. The Emperor Hadrian changed Judea’s name to Syria Palestina.
Multitudes of Jews were slaughtered and most of the rest were carried away captive or fled to other parts of the world.
Rome was proud of her destruction of Israel and commemorated it.
In 85 AD the Arch of Titus was built in Rome to celebrate Titus’ destruction of the Jewish Temple. A bas-relief inside the arch depicts the spoils from the temple carried in a victory procession after Jerusalem’s fall. Clearly seen are the candlestick and the silver trumpets.
This 1900-year-old monument stands as a silent witness to the accuracy of Bible prophecy, as the destruction depicted on it was prophesied about a half century earlier by the Lord Jesus Christ.
“And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation” (Luke 19:41-44).
This is exactly what happened to Jerusalem in 70 AD when Titus’ armies besieged the city for five months and then destroyed it.
Rome also commemorated Israel’s destruction by minting coins inscribed with the words “Judea Capta” (“Judea is captured”).
The coins were minted for 25 years under the reigns of Vespasian and his sons, Titus and Domitian. Minted in bronze, silver, and gold, 48 types are known. No other Roman victory was celebrated by such a large number of coins.
Some of the coins depict Israel as a female captive sitting under a palm tree with her hands tied behind her. The coins are testimonies to the fulfillment of Bible prophecy.
“Thy men shall fall by the sword, and thy mighty in the war. And her gates shall lament and mourn; and she being desolate shall sit upon the ground” (Isaiah 3:25-26).
For 1,900 years Israel has been dispersed, and she has been persecuted wherever she has wandered, exactly as the ancient prophecy predicted.
She has been hated by the Romans, the Greeks, the Muslims, the Roman Catholic Church, the Byzantines, the Orthodox Church, the Spanish (the Jews were evicted from Spain in 1492), the Venetians (Jews were forced to live in the ghetto), the English (Jews were expelled from England in 1290), the Russians (Jews were driven out of Russia in the 1880s), the Germans, and many others. And anti-semitism is on the rise again today.
The holocaust of World War II was another fulfillment of the ancient prophecy in Deuteronomy 28. The holocaust museum in Jerusalem witnesses to the bitter sorrow that Israel experienced at the hands of the Germans. In his “Final Solution,” Hitler attempted to destroy the Jews from the face of the earth, murdering 6 million of them.
Yet Israel remained a distinct people through the long centuries of her dispersion. In 1754, Bishop Thomas Newton wrote of the Jews:
“Their preservation is really one of the most illustrious acts of Divine Providence. They are dispersed among all nations, yet not confounded with any. ... They can produce their pedigree from the beginning of the world. ... After wars, massacres and persecutions they still subsist; they are still quite numerous. What but a supernatural power could have preserved them in such a manner as no other nation on earth has been preserved?” (Dissertation on the Prophecies, VIII, section 2).
In 1910, Walter Scott wrote:
“The once mighty monarchies of Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome have risen, flourished, and fallen, leaving no permanent results behind. But the Jews, whose reliable history goes further back than any of those ancient kingdoms, are with us today. In physiognomy and national characteristics the Jew is unchanged in a history of nigh four thousand years. ... The Jews as a people cannot be destroyed. God is their keeper and preserver, even while under His governmental judgment as they are today. The Jews, without a home, without a country, without a government, without a head, are yet a people as distinct from the Gentiles in national faith, feeling, and hope, as in the days of David and Solomon” (Walter Scott, At Hand, Or, Things Which Must Shortly Come to Pass, 1910)
3. The Return to the Land
Ancient Bible prophecy not only described Israel’s dispersion and trouble, it foretold that Israel would be brought back into her land, as we saw in Deuteronomy 30.
Many other Bible prophecies describe Israel’s return.
Bible believers knew that Israel was going to be restored because the prophecies required it. In 1910, for example, when the Ottoman Empire still ruled the land of Israel and only a few Jews lived there, Walter Scott wrote:
“The Restoration of the Hebrew Commonwealth is the first and indispensable necessity for the arrangement of the situation to suit the requirements of the prophetic orderly system mapped out in the Word. The whole prophetic future depends on that primary fact. The Jew, and not the Gentile, is the centre of God’s government of the earth; hence all take shape and colour from the settlement of Judah in her land. This will be the great political event of the centuries, and one which will attract universal attention. ... whenever, and by whomsoever, the return of Judah is effected, the result will be to change the whole political government of the world. ... The Restoration of Israel to Palestine is the first and fundamental necessity demanded by prophecy” (Walter Scott, At Hand, Or, Things Which Must Shortly Come to Pass, 1910).
What Walter Scott and other Bible believers long envisioned because of their faith in Bible prophecy, happened in 1948. Israel was not only restored to the Holy Land, but she announced the establishment of a modern state.
4. Restoration in two stages
Israel’s return is described in the amazing prophecy of Ezekiel 37.
“The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry. And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest. Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the LORD. So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them. Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts. Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD” (Ezekiel 37:1-14).
Here Israel is described as a valley of dry bones. Verse 11 gives the interpretation: “these bones are the whole house of Israel.” Dry bones well signify Israel’s condition for the past 2,000 years. She was scattered to the ends of the earth, and it appeared that she was dead and finished.
Ezekiel is told that Israel will be brought to life and restored in two stages. First, she will be brought back to the land but in a spiritually dead condition. Verse 8 says the dead bones were raised but “there was no breath in them.” Then, she will experience spiritual revival. This will happen during the Great Tribulation just prior to Christ’s return.
The first part of Ezekiel’s prophecy is where Israel stands today. At midnight on May 14, 1948, the new state of Israel was announced. The official declaration said:
“We hereby proclaim the establishment of the Jewish State in Palestine, to be called Medinath Yisrael (The State of Israel). ... The State of Israel will be open to the immigration of Jews from all countries of their dispersion ... Our call goes out to the Jewish people all over the world to rally to our side in the task of immigration and development and to stand by us in the great struggle for the fulfillment of the dream of generations for the redemption of Israel. With trust in Almighty God, we set our hand to this Declaration, at this Session of the Provisional State Council, on the soil of the Homeland, in the city of Tel Aviv, on this Sabbath eve, the fifth of Iyar, 5708, the fourteenth of May, 1948.”
Eleven minutes later U.S. President Harry Truman, a Baptist who believed that Bible prophecy was being fulfilled, announced his recognition of Israel.
The Jews celebrated throughout the world. Thanksgiving services were held in synagogues everywhere.
In Rome the Jews paraded under the Arch of Titus, which memorializes the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. They were saying, “We’re back from the dead!” They marched under the Arch in the opposite direction from that used for triumph marches into Rome in ancient days. They thus signified that though Rome had marched them out of their land and into captivity 1,900 years ago, they are now marching out of captivity and back to their land.
This was a most dramatic fulfillment of Ezekiel 37. The ancient Roman Empire with all of its glory is gone, but Israel remains.
Immediately the new Jewish state was plunged into the War of Independence as the Jews were forced to defend itself against large, well-supplied Arab armies. The Arab League was composed of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq. Britain had done everything it could to arm the Arabs and to disarm the Jews. Israel’s enemies not only attacked from outside the country; they were already entrenched within the country when the fighting started.
Israel won the War of Independence against all odds, but that was only the beginning of her struggle.
In 1956 the Suez War was fought to force Egypt to allow access for Israel’s ships through the Suez Canal.
Then there was the Six-Day War in 1967 against the coalition of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Iraq, with Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, Morocco, and Algeria contributing troops and arms.
The Six-Day War was followed by Egypt’s War of Attrition against Israel from 1968-70.
Then there was the Yom Kippur War of 1973, when Israel was attacked on her holiest day, Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement, by Egypt from the south and Syria from the north. These two Muslim nations were joined in a support role by Lebanon, Iraq, Kuwait, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Sudan, Uganda, Cuba, Morocco, and Pakistan. The Soviet Union provided planes, tanks, and armaments of all sorts, including thousands of missiles targeting Israel’s air force. Israel was caught off guard and massively outgunned, but she beat back the Muslim armies.
These major wars against Israel are only the tip of the iceberg. There has been continual military conflict with Muslim groups such as the Palestine Authority, the Palestine Liberation Organization, Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Islamic Jihad.
Thus, it is in the face of great opposition that Israel is back in the land, and her continued presence there has been a constant miracle.
But Israel is spiritually blind and dead, just as Ezekiel prophesied.
“And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: BUT THERE WAS NO BREATH IN THEM” (Ezek. 37:8)
The signs are all too evident.
Israel’s spiritual blindness is evident in her stubborn rejection of the Messiah. The Jewish guide on our first trip to Israel exemplifies the frightful spiritual condition of the vast majority of Jews today. When we tried to talk to him about Jesus the Messiah, he refused to listen, curtly ending the conversation with the statement, “That is your opinion.”
Israel’s spiritual blindness is evident in Israel’s overweening pride. For the most part, Israel does not glorify God even for the miracle of her restoration and the winning of her modern wars. While throwing a few crumbs of thanksgiving and acknowledgment to God for these great miracles, the bulk of the credit typically goes to her leaders, military heroes, and technology. Nothing has changed since Gideon’s day, when God had to take away the vast majority of Israel’s army and leave only 300 fighting men so that she would not glorify herself for the victory.
Israel’s spiritual death and blindness is evident in that a large percentage of Jews today are “secular,” meaning they care little or nothing about the Old Testament Scripture. They follow a few religious traditions and rituals, but their hearts are far from God. They talk about God, but they don’t obey Him.
Most of the founders and most prominent leaders of the modern state of Israel are secular Jews.
Theodor Herzl, father of the Zionist movement, stated in his diary that he was an “agnostic.” He wasn’t motivated by religion but by nationalism.
In the proclamation of Israel’s new state in 1948, there was no mention of God because many refused to sign such a statement. Aaron Zisling of the Labor Party said, “I cannot sign a document referring in any way to a God in whom I do not believe” (Golda Meir, My Life, p. 223).
David ben Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister, had a vision of “a new type of Jew emancipated from religion” (Motti Friedman, “The Making of the State,” The Jewish Agency for Israel, July 1998). He entered a synagogue only one time in all his years in Israel (Rabbi Shlomo Goren: Torah Sage and General, p. 32).
Golda Meir said, “I wasn’t at all pious” (My Life, p. 104). Her autobiography gives no glory to God for the restoration of Israel and no faith that God’s promises to Israel will be fulfilled. Her “vision of our future” was merely that Israel “remains a flourishing democracy and a society resting on social justice and equality” (My Life, p. 460).
Moshe Dayan gave no glory to God in his autobiography Moshe Dayan: Story of My Life. His vision for Israel was purely secular and humanistic. “But our foremost duty is to live up to the vision of ourselves, to fashion a pioneering state, a creative society that flourishes from the fruits of its own labor, a courageous state prepared to fight to the death to defend itself, a people of ideas and ideals striving to achieve their national and historic purpose--the revival of the Jewish nation in its homeland” (Moshe Dayan: Story of My Life, 1976, p. 621).
Benjamin Netanyahu says that Bible prophecy doesn’t tell us what to expect for the future (A Place Among the Nations, 1993, p. 372). For Israel’s military victories, he gives glory to the military rather than to God (pp. 274, 371, 397). He attributes the modern rise of the Jewish state to “a human spirit that refuses again and again to succumb to history’s horrors” (p. 401).
Israel’s spiritual death is evident in that she has exalted rabbinic tradition to an authority above God’s Word. Even the ultra-orthodox are no better than the Pharisees of old. They pray, but their prayers are showy rituals. They still enlarge their phylacteries as in the days of Jesus. “But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments” (Matthew 23:5). They keep dietary laws (kosher), but they go far beyond what the Bible commands. For example, the Bible says you must not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk (Deut. 14:21). Jewish tradition adds to this by concluding that it is wrong to mix meat with any dairy product such as cheese. God’s Law does not require this. It is human tradition that has been added to God’s holy Law. As in Jesus’ day, the Jews still strain at gnats and swallow camels (Mat. 23:24).
Israel’s spiritual blindness is evident in the field of archaeology. Jewish archaeologists are among the Bible’s fiercest enemies. Adam Zertal, who has excavated Joshua’s Altar at Mt. Ebal, told Steve Rudd that “the most anti-Biblical forces in archeology are the professors in the various universities in Israel” (“Joshua’s Altar,” http://www.bible.ca/archeology/bible-archeology-altar-of-joshua.htm).
In spite of her blindness--yea, by her very blindness--Israel is fulfilling Bible prophecy. She is back in the land, but she is without spiritual life.
Further, Israel is preparing for the building of the Third Temple, which is prophesied in Scripture. The Temple Institute, established in 1986, has the objective of creating all of the articles necessary for operating the temple. They have constructed the table of shewbread, the golden incense altar, the laver, the silver trumpets, the Davidic harps, the priestly garments, the high priest’s garments, including the crown of gold and the breastplate with the 12 precious jewels. They have built a large menorah from $2 million worth of gold. It sits just across from the Temple Mount, waiting for the Third Temple, as mute witness to the divine inspiration of the Bible. The Bible says this temple will be occupied by the Antichrist (Matthew 24:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:4).
The revival of Israel, the fulfillment of the second half of the prophecy of Ezekiel 37, will occur during the Great Tribulation after the Rapture of church-age saints, when Israel will repent of her rebellion and turn to Jesus as the Christ.
1. In contrast to pagan prophecies, Bible prophecies are clear and detailed and unfailing.
2. The great prophecy in Deuteronomy 28 described Israel’s entire 3,500 year history before she even entered the land of Canaan. It says that she would disobey God’s Word and be evicted from the land and be dispersed among the nations where she would have continual trouble. It says her fertile land would become a desert. It says she would eventually return to the land and be restored to the place of God’s blessing, but her return would occur in two stages: first in unbelief, then in spiritual revival.
Every part of this ancient prophecy has been fulfilled except for the final revival.
For a nation to be destroyed by a world empire, as Israel was by Rome, and for the small remnant to be scattered among the nations and persecuted for 1900 years, and then return to her land, recover it, and become a nation again even though surrounded by enemies -- is a mighty miracle for those who have eyes to see!
Frederick the Great, atheist king of Prussia, asked one of his ministers, “Can you give me one single irrefutable proof of God? The minister replied, “Yes, your majesty, the Jews.”
Bible faith is not blind religious faith. It is based on “many infallible proofs” (Acts 1:3).
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