Israel, Then And Now

by Joseph Hunting

Recently I re-read the book of Ezra with much spiritual benefit as I pondered the Lord's dealings with His people so long ago and compared them with the return of Israel to its homeland in our time.

It is interesting to read that only a remnant returned to the land in Ezra's time, but that remnant was made up of some of all the twelve tribes of Israel. In like manner only a remnant (about a quarter of world Jewry) has returned to the land of their forefathers during this century.

And in like manner this present return is made up of some of each of the twelve tribes.

In Ezra's time they were continually harassed by their non-Jewish neighbours. Not only was there physical violence, but there was also political intrigue waged against them by their enemies.

Similarly in our time the returning remnant of Israel has undergone harassment, terrorism and even war in an all-out effort to hinder the rebuilding of the modern state of Israel. And in like manner, as of old, there has been political warfare waged against Israel, this time oil being used to blackmail otherwise friendly nations into imposing trade restrictions against Israel, even where in many instances, as in the case of a number of African nations, Israel has bent over backwards in an effort to give assistance in harnessing natural resources, agricultural development and water harvesting.

In spite of this, during Kurt Waldheim's term of office in the U.N. this world forum sank to fresh depths in declaring Israel 'racist', and calling for its expulsion from the U.N.

In Ezra's time the newly returned nation soon forgot the reason for their dispersion into Babylon. They quickly slipped back into their old ways of secularism and married strange wives in direct contradiction to the Word of God.

But the similarity with conditions in the modern state of Israel doesn't end on this gloomy note. Admittedly, the modern state of Israel is largely secular and non-religious; however, in Ezra's time there was a spiritual revival that swept through the nation. It was the result of Ezra's prayer and the fearless preaching of God's Word that brought the people to repentance.

In recent years something totally new has been happening. There has begun a ground-swell of solidarity with Israel among many Christians of all nationalities. There is world-wide prayer offered daily for Israel and for "the peace of Jerusalem" , and the day may not be far distant when Israel shall fulfil its destiny promised so long ago to Abraham, 'IN THEE SHALL ALL THE NATIONS OF WORLD BE BLESSED."