Israel And Prophecy

by Joseph Hunting

Israel 's role in the fulfilment of prophecy is one of the most fascinating topics for discussion. And of course, depending on one's background, viewpoints may vary. In this regard the Bible itself has something to say on the subject. "We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto you do well that you take heed, as unto a light that shines in a dark place ... knowing this first that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation. FOR THE PROPHECY CAME NOT IN OLD TIME BY THE WILL OF MAN: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." (2nd Peter 1:19-21)

The Bible also has a good definition of a prophet: "When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken ..." (Deuteronomy 18:22).

As the Bible is a book that highlights both the past and the future history of Israel, a good place to begin is with one of the prophets, Ezekiel. Chapter 36 may well have had reference to the restoration of the land that took place following the return from the Babylonian captivity, but it also goes beyond the events that were fulfilled at that time and reaches across the centuries to a more complete fulfilment.


"But you, O mountains of Israel, you shall shoot forth your branches, and yield your fruit to my people of Israel, for they are at hand to come." (verse 8) For eighteen centuries the land of Israel was closed to the Jewish people as a national homeland. Moses had prophesied: "The Lord your God shall scatter you among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other ... And among these nations you shall find no ease, neither shall the sole of your foot find rest." (Deuteronomy 28:64-65)

During this long dispersion the once beautifully wooded hills of Judaea and Galilee became denuded of trees and pitifully eroded from neglect. This was further compounded by a tax on trees imposed on land-holders during the Ottoman occupation of the Holy Land.


One can only marvel at the tremendous change that has taken place in the Land over the past fifty years. Once again the sycamore, tamarisk and myrtle trees have been planted in their millions in the very areas where they flourished during Bible times. Today magnificent forests now clothe the once barren Judean hills.

Tree nurseries have played a very important role in this vast programme of reafforestation which has no equal anywhere else in the world. Some 150,000,000 have been planted by hand! Not only are the mountains of Israel shooting forth their branches they are also "yielding fruit to My people of Israel." Israel exports citrus fruits, as well as bananas, pineapples and tomatoes, and they find a ready market on the fruit stalls of London and Paris and many other continental cities.

"I am for you, and you shall be tilled and sown".
(verse 9)

Come with me to the heights overlooking the Sea of Galilee in early spring. The scene is breathtaking in its beauty. As far as the eye can see the lovely hills and valleys of Galilee have been "tilled and sown" creating a vast patchwork of rich browns and greens bordered by stately cypresses.

In the northern Negev a similar transformation has taken place. Where desert and desolation reigned for centuries the entire landscape has been sown with crops.

This miracle of transformation of much of Israel has been brought about by blood sweat and tears coupled with Divine providence. Isaiah confirms this dual role by God and man.

"You shall no more be termed forsaken, neither shall your land any more be termed desolate. But you shall be called Hephzibah (meaning My delight is in her); for the Lord delights in you; and your land shall be married. For as a young man marries a virgin, SO SHALL YOUR SONS MARRY YOU: and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, SO SHALL YOUR GOD REJOICE OVER YOU." (Isaiah 62:4-5)

Surely, the secret of this miraculous response by the soil after so many centuries of neglect and desolation is due to two things: the fulfilment of prophecy, "You shall be tilled and sown" and the return of the Jewish people to the land of their forefathers also according to prophecy, " ... my people Israel, for they are at hand to come."


"I will multiply men upon you, all the house of Israel, even all of it: and the cities shall be inhabited, and the wastes shall be builded". (verse 10)


The rebirth of the State of Israel is, when everything is taken into consideration, a miracle that matches those of Bible times. A people scattered like chaff before a mighty wind to the uttermost parts of the earth for nearly two thousand years rebuild their homeland against almost insurmountable odds.

Not only did the ravages of World War II and the Holocaust attempt to exterminate the Jewish race, but the immediate hostility of the British during the closing years of the Mandate made it almost impossible for Jewish refugees to reach their loved ones and families already in Palestine.

Remember, there was no Moses to lead them, and instead of being a people united with one language and singleness of purpose to make an eleven day journey to the Promised Land, they had been scattered to the uttermost parts of the earth.

The magnitude of the rebirth of Israel in our time matches any of the great miracles of past ages. And yet, I believe that the prophecy I have quoted above is not yet fulfilled in its entirety. Nevertheless, some of ALL the tribes of Israel are back in the land.

This integration of people from more than a hundred different cultures and languages, and yet whose roots go back to a common ancestor, has no parallel in human history! And not only so, cities and settlements, scores of them, have been rebuilt and inhabited, and the work of building up the waste places by pioneers is just part of the on-going miracle that is Israel today.