If you know the story of Israel’s history, you know there’s no way it should still be alive today. Yet not only has it survived—it’s become a hugely successful country!
This nation, which has been targeted, attacked, and oppressed for thousands of years, was reborn in 1948 and has since become the home of millions of happy Israelis. The only democratic nation in the Middle East, Israel has made social, medical, and technological advancements that rival the most successful countries on Earth.
Have you ever wondered what some of the most famous Bible heroes would think if they saw their thriving homeland today? How would the patriarchs respond to Israel’s blooming society? How about the judges? Kings? Prophets?
Let’s take a look at a few notable heroes of ancient Israel and see if we can guess how they might think of modern Israel.
If anyone could believe a nation that would face such persecution and obstacles to growth would find success thousands of years after its origin, Abraham would be that one.
Of all of Israel’s key figures listed here, I believe Abraham would probably be least surprised at the current success of Israel. After all, God had promised to bless him (Genesis 12:3) and make him a great nation of descendants as countless as the stars (15:5). Abraham “believed the Lᴏʀᴅ, and He credited it to him as righteousness” (15:6). His unwavering faith in God’s will to do what He said He would do was the hallmark of Abraham’s character. If anyone could believe a nation that would face such persecution and obstacles to growth would find success thousands of years after its origin, Abraham would be that one.
Abraham’s thoughts: “No surprise! Just as God said.”
Jacob, Israel’s namesake, endured plenty of troubles in his role in God’s plan for His people. He had only himself to blame in many instances—deceiving his father and brother, wrestling with God, allowing violence and chaos among his children. It would make sense for him to fear that his failures might catch up to him one day, perhaps through his descendants when he had passed away. Yet the nation of Israel breathes almost 4,000 years after Jacob’s life. Though Jacob never had the text of 2 Peter 3:9, he witnessed firsthand that “the Lord is not slack concerning His promise,” as God preserved the nation on a large scale through his son, Joseph, and physically through his son, Judah.
Jacob’s thoughts: “Despite all my failures, God kept His promise. This could only be God!”
Samuel bridged the gap between two particularly ugly periods of Israel’s history. He served as the last judge of Israel and anointed Saul the first king of Israel. The judges acted as a stopgap for periods of nationwide sin, but Israel’s sin was perpetuated all throughout this period. Saul did little to improve the spiritual heart of Israel. His sin essentially brought the Israelites no closer to God than the judges did. Samuel saw some encouragement before his death when he anointed David to succeed Saul as king, but he would clearly have mental hurdles to clear before believing Israel could taste the success it enjoys today. Regardless, his steadfast faith in God means he would believe and take joy in what God has done for His nation.
Samuel’s thoughts: “God turned this mess into success? It sounds crazy, but I believe it.”
David saw it all, from the lows—King Saul’s attacks, his public sin of adultery and murder, his children’s sin and rebellion—to the highs—deliverance from danger, favor with God, prosperity for Israel under his leadership. His rule was the first godly kingship Israel experienced after Saul’s largely faulty tenure. It was also essentially a flash in the pan, as a line of evil kings soon followed and culminated in the nation being taken captive and dispersed. Like Abraham, David undoubtedly would believe God would cause His people to thrive thousands of years later. God made a covenant with David in 2 Samuel 7, promising him “[his] house and [his] kingdom shall be established forever” (v. 16) and “[God] will appoint a place for [His] people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own and move no more; nor shall the sons of wickedness oppress them anymore” (v. 10). David took God at His Word, and modern-day Israel falls in accordance with this promise.
David’s thoughts: “God was faithful to His promise. How wonderful to know that time doesn’t change His mind or stop Him from keeping His Word!”
Daniel was a model of godliness in one of Israel’s darkest periods. As a young man he was ripped from his home and taken to Babylon with the rest of his people. Though the Babylonians tried to force the Jewish people to worship false gods and conform to ungodly standards, Daniel in particular emerged as a pillar of faithfulness to God. His civil refusal to defile himself with the king’s delicacies demonstrated his willingness to follow God even when temptation looked its best. But Daniel knew the spiritual condition of the rest of Israel was nowhere near righteous, and the restoration of Israel would not be seen in his lifetime. Living in complete subjection to foreign rule, it would be as hard for Daniel as anyone in Israel’s history to believe they could return to the Promised Land and rebuild a healthy society. But Daniel had a front-row seat to the future. When the angel Gabriel revealed the prophecy of the 70 weeks to him, Daniel was given a timetable for the rebuilding of Jerusalem, Jesus’ life and sacrifice on the cross, and the Tribulation yet to come in the end-times. As he anticipated the end of days, he could be assured by the Lord’s promises. He knew God would protect His people as He said He would.
Daniel’s thoughts: “It seemed impossible that we’d ever see our land again. Only God could have made this happen!”
I think Israel’s heroes would be amazed by what God has done for their nation for many generations. Despite persecution and pogroms, the promise of God that Israel’s leaders held dear has endured from the Old Testament to modern times. Rejoice in God’s faithfulness to His chosen nation and rest in the knowledge that He is faithful to all those who love and trust Him!