In 1897 Theodor Herzl invited 204 Jewish leaders to Basel, Switzerland, for the First Zionist Congress. He opened the conference with these words: “There is a land without a people, there is a people without a land; give the people without a land to a land without a people.” Then he made an astonishing prediction: “In five years or fifty years, we will have a homeland of our own.”
His purpose was to put in place an organization that would legally secure a homeland for the Jewish people in what had formerly been the land of Israel. Herzl concluded the conference by saying, “If you will it, it is no dream.”
Twenty-five hundred years earlier, Ezekiel had prophesied a national resurrection for Israel. In Ezekiel 37:1-2 we read that the Spirit of the Lord brought him to a huge, open valley full of dried up human bones and made him circle them. The Lord told Ezekiel, “These bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, ‘Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!’” (v. 11).
Clearly, these bones do not represent a general, physical resurrection from the dead or a resurrection of the church or a physical resurrection of individual Jews, but “the whole house of Israel”— both Israel and Judah (v. 19). Israelites who survived the Babylonian Captivity of Ezekiel’s day—and Jewish people down through the centuries—saw themselves as “cut off” from all hope of a national identity in what was once Israel. They saw themselves with no hope of ever being resurrected and regaining nationhood status.
The Lord asked Ezekiel, “Son of man, can these bones live?” Ezekiel answered, “O Lord God, You know” (v. 3). The prophet knew it was impossible to answer the Lord’s question, realizing that resurrecting the bones would take a miracle. Only God knew the answer.
Clearly, these bones do not represent a general, physical resurrection from the dead or a resurrection of the church or a physical resurrection of individual Jews, but “the whole house of Israel.”
God instructed Ezekiel, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD !’” (v. 4). Ezekiel was to be God’s voice and speak life back into the bones; that is, he was to be God’s agent to bring a life-giving message to Israel (vv. 5–6).
Ezekiel obeyed; and while he prophesied, there was a noise, and rattling, and the bones came together! Then flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them; but they were missing something. There was no breath or life in them. A mighty miracle took place when Ezekiel prophesied. No longer were the bones disconnected skeletons, but an entire body of Jewish people. The coming together represents the resurrection of the sons of Jacob as an entity in their own land in the latter days. Yet the lack of “breath” means they do not possess spiritual life (v. 8).
In the 19th century, Jewish people began returning to Israel. Russian Jews founded the city of Tel Aviv and Deganiah (the first collective settlement that was called a kibbutz ). Before the State of Israel was founded, thousands of Jewish people returned to settle in the land; and by 1948, about 657,000 Jewish people resided there.
On November 29, 1947, Theodor Herzl’s dream became a reality. The United Nations voted 33 to 13 (with 10 abstentions) to partition what was then called Palestine into two independent states: one Arab and one Jewish. Great Britain, which had administered the land since 1920 under a mandate from the former League of Nations, did everything in its power to hamper statehood for the Jewish people. But on May 14, 1948, the British evacuated; and Israel declared independence for the first time in 2,500 years. Share this Post
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Today Israel’s Jewish population numbers 6.5 million. In the past 69 years, those returning have rebuilt and cultivated the land, bringing it back to life and beauty. But they do so in unbelief. Some people question whether today’s Israel is the Israel referred to in the dry bones passage and believe the prophecy will not be fulfilled until the Messiah’s return.
However, other prophetic passages show that Israel must be in its land as a recognized nation before the Messiah returns:
(1) Scripture clearly teaches that at the beginning of Daniel’s 70th week (the seven-year Tribulation), Israel—as a nation—confirms a binding agreement with a man who turns out to be the Antichrist (Dan. 9:27).
(2) Immediately prior to the midpoint of the Tribulation, a specific group of nations will attack Israel (Ezek. 38:5–6).
(3) At the end of the Great Tribulation, the entire world will attack Israel before the Messiah’s return (Zech. 14:2).
(4) If Israel were destroyed today, how many centuries would it be until the Jewish people were brought back to the land and established as a nation? Probably many, if ever.
An analysis of the world today in light of what Scripture teaches and that Israel’s rebirth in 1948 seems to us living today, the very one predicted in Ezekiel 37.
We will continue part two of this blog next week.
Parts of this blog were taken from the January/February 2007 Israel My Glory magazine
To continue reading part two of this blog, Click Here.