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I have heard that the restoration of the state of Israel is a fulfillment of one or more Biblical prophecies. But I cannot find any explicit reference to it.

Is this really a fulfillment of prophecy, if so which one(s)?

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4 Answers 4

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Genesis 13:14-17 King James Version (KJV)

14 And the Lord said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward:

15 For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever.

16 And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered.

17 Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee.

As seen in the Old Testament books, God repeatedly judges Israel, and temporarily removes His people from the land, but when they repent, He keeps that original promise and restores them to their land. It was still their land in God's mind, they were simply temporarily removed from it.

Unless God lied, or was mistaken in verse 15 above, the land is promised to them forever.

Israel's restoration is implied in perpetuity via the promise above. No further revelation is needed

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Interesting, thank you. Now I'm curious about the words "for ever" and the "new earth". –  Wikis Nov 9 '12 at 14:00
The next verse reconciles it: 2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. Still Jerusalem, but remade anew, and still promised to God's chosen people. And since Jerusalem is renewed, there's no reason to doubt the nation is renewed as well. ;-) –  David Stratton Nov 9 '12 at 18:35
Good answer...! –  Wikis Nov 9 '12 at 19:51

In Ezekiel 36, the prophet has a vision of a valley of "dry bones." When asked if these bones could yet live, Ezekiel wisely says, "You alone know, O Lord." After this, the Lord miraculously makes the bones come together and come alive.

It is explicitly stated that this refers to Israel. Ezekiel, speaking for the Lord says:

“‘But you, mountains of Israel, will produce branches and fruit for my people Israel, for they will soon come home. 9 I am concerned for you and will look on you with favor; you will be plowed and sown, 10 and I will cause many people to live on you—yes, all of Israel. The towns will be inhabited and the ruins rebuilt. 11 I will increase the number of people and animals living on you, and they will be fruitful and become numerous. I will settle people on you as in the past and will make you prosper more than before. Then you will know that I am the Lord. 12 I will cause people, my people Israel, to live on you. They will possess you, and you will be their inheritance; you will never again deprive them of their children.

Hal Lindsey, (The Late Great Planet Earth), for instance, explains how he sees this as the restoration of Israel in this video Note: Hal Lindsey is a controversial figure, to say the least, but he is the direct inspiration for many premilennial dispensationalists, such as Tim LaHaye (Left Behind), John Walverood, Ed Whisenant, and others.

Ed Whisenant's well-known work 88 Reasons why the Rapture will occur in 1988 was fundamentally based on the conflation of this event, Jesus' parable of the fig tree (not a generation shall pass away until these things occur) and the restoration of Israel in 1948.

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Wait, wasn't Ezekiel in exile? So isn't this referring to the end of the Babylonian exile? –  Wikis Nov 9 '12 at 12:20
Ezekiel was written during the Exile - and it was a prophecy that Israel would return to the land. Whether or not it was fulfilled under Nehemiah or in 1948 is, of course, a subject of eschatalogical debate. –  Affable Geek Nov 9 '12 at 12:23
Note: This isn't my eschataology, but it is very, very popular amongst many evangelicals, baptists, and fundamentalists. –  Affable Geek Nov 9 '12 at 12:27
Well, it was certainly fulfilled after the exile. The question is, is this referring to one event or two? –  Wikis Nov 9 '12 at 12:36
I think the 1948 date is not in line with the bible prophecies, I would post an answer but I cannot remember all the verses, I may look later if I am not too busy. –  Monkieboy Nov 9 '12 at 14:06

Your question can be answered in two ways:

  1. Chapter and verse to a specific prophecy that clearly has a 1:1 correspondence to the nation of Israel today.

  2. The sum of biblical teaching and how it evolves from OT prophecies and NT affirmative and clarifying statements.

In a matter like this one I think the 2nd option clearly is the best one. I would build my case along these lines:

  • The promises given to Abraham and his descendants over the line of Isaac and Jacob do retain a geographic significance, even if there are many spiritual and typological/allegorical interpretations that will provide further knowledge. God does not back-peddle on his promises (Rom 11:29). Thus, the church fathers in the 2nd century and later, that substituted the literal meaning for allegorical meanings, were (IMO) wrong, thanks to their general anti-judaism.
  • The promises of restored nationhood given by prophets to Israel, while in exile, where not completely fulfilled upon their immediate return, nor were they completely fulfilled in the Maccabean era. This is evidenced by the question to Jesus in Acts 1:6-8, when Jesus is asked post-resurrection, if the time has come to restore Israel. Jesus dismisses the question while not invalidating its basic premise. It is not for the disciples to know the time and manner, but it will happen.
  • Thus, any eschatological scheme must be viewed with great suspicion! A thought corroborated by other words of Jesus. And by the enormous amount of failed claims throughout church history. This is my basis for being weary of making 1:1 claims between specific historic events and single pericopes in Scripture.

It would be impossible to provide all details of how my thinking has evolved on this issue, but the end result is that I view present day Israel as the probable fulfillment of biblical prophecies in an embryonic form. I do not think that such belief warrants political support for repressing the Arab population, e.g. as in advocating forced transfer from the west Bank. Ethics must be a consideration, as well as eschatology.

However, if events occurred that would prove today's nation of Israel as just another Maccabean-like era, my faith in God would not be severely shaken, although any such event would surely be the result of a disastrous war or collapse, that would probably ensure a 2nd holocaust. Thus, it should be avoided, anyway, for simple ethical reasons. That means I support the basic tenant of Zionism - that it is a good idea for the Jewish people to have a national home in their ancient homeland - even if its present day manifestation is not necessarily the product of biblical prophecies.

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There are two related but distinct biblical issues here. The first is whether the land belongs permanently and unconditionally to the Jews. The second is whether the creation of the modern state of Israel fulfils a prophecy. One does not necessarily follow from the other, since it need not have been God's intention that a Jewish state be set up in the Middle East in 1948.

Genesis 17:8, with its promise to Abraham, appears to support the contention of Israel being forever the possession of the Jews, but it is arguable whether this passage is relevant to the current situation:

And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.

Abraham's first-born was called Ishmael, and he is traditionally considered to be the ancestor of the Arabs:

Genesis 16:15-16: And Hagar bare Abram a son: and Abram called his son's name, which Hagar bare, Ishmael. And Abram was fourscore and six years old, when Hagar bare Ishmael to Abram.

On a biblical basis, this would give the Arabs a strong claim to the land of the Canaanites, but a later passage clarifies this, ensuring that the covenant accrues to the Israelites only.

This article claims the land never unconditionally belonged to Israel, but to God and is at his disposal. Presumably, since Jesus came to fulfil the law, Christian Palestinians also have a strong New Testament claim to the land.

Many evangelical Protestants see a connection between Israel and the fulfilment of biblical prophecy and/or believe that God gave Israel to the Jews in 1948. What no one seems to have been able to identify is exactly which prophecy or prophecies point clearly to the current state of Israel.

If the covenants with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were permanent and unconditional, the Bible does not explain why the Jews were strangely absent from the land for nearly two thousand years. If it was God's will that the Jews did not occupy the land for so long, it could well be that it is still God's will that they remain abroad. In the absence of a direct link between a prophecy and the current state of Israel, we can not be sure that God intended a Jewish state to be set up at this time.

Ezekiel chapter 36, in which God says that the mountains of Israel will grow branches and bear fruit for his people Israel, who will soon return, is not a prophecy of modern Israel. It is a prophecy of the return of all the Israelites scattered by the Assyrian conquest in 722 BCE and, when read carefully, can only have that meaning. Ezekiel several times prophesied the imminent return of all the Israelites scattered by the Assyrian conquest, but this never happened and, after intermarriage and assimilation, can never happen.

There is no explicit reference to the establishment of modern Israel in the Bible.

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