By Divine Authority

In 1948 the State of Israel was reborn on the very soil that God had promised, as an everlasting possession, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and to their seed after them. Yet in spite of the UN resolution in 1947 which sanctioned the establishment of a Jewish homeland, the surrounding hostile states immediately launched an all-out war to crush this infant nation.

The revival of a nation with its ancient language after two thousand years of dispersion will surely compare with the great miracles recorded in the Bible. When we consider this against the backdrop of pogroms and persecutions for over nineteen centuries, and capped by the Nazi era, we get a glimpse of the magnitude of the God by whose authority Israel has returned to the Land.

Only once in their recorded history had the people of Israel voluntarily left the land God had promised them in order to live elsewhere. This had occurred when God sent Joseph into Egypt to succour the infant nation of seventy souls when a severe famine impoverished, not only Canaan where they lived but also Egypt as well. "God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance" (Genesis 45:7).

During the fourth generation of Israel's sojourn in Egypt, God raised up an Egyptian ruler "who did not know Joseph" (Exodus 1:8), and he was satanically inspired to wipe out the Hebrews. They had prospered and multiplied in his land, and "lest they multiply . . . that they also join our enemies" (Exodus 1:10), he made them "serve with rigour . . . and they made their lives bitter with hard bondage" (1:13, 14).

It is ironic that the Hebrews' future deliverer, Moses, was raised for forty years as a prince in the royal court of this anti-Semitic Pharaoh, and the great drama of his people's deliverance from their bondage is an epic in the history of the human race. Instead of an eleven-day journey from the Red Sea to their future homeland, a further forty years dragged on as Israel wandered in the wilderness because of their rebellion and disobedience at Kadesh Barnea.

After the death of Moses, and with Joshua Divinely appointed as their leader, Israel finally possessed the land of Canaan, the land that God had marked out for them. No doubt there are some who would question Israel's right to possess Canaan in those days. Were they not invading a land already possessed by seven kingdoms?

The question may be a valid one, but so too is the answer. It is God who, "set the boundaries of the peoples according to the number of the children of Israel" (Deuteronomy 32:8), and it was by Divine authority that Israel should dispossess the Canaanite nations. Indeed, "It is not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart that you go in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD your God drives them out from before you . . . " (Deuteronomy 9:5).

God's Revelation Through Shem

It was not by chance that the descendants of Noah migrated north, south, east and west to occupy territories that later became the nations and empires on the stage of human history. Genesis chapter ten supplies us with the clues as to the founders of the tribes, which ultimately became nations, some now extinct, others still in existence today.

It was through Noah's third son Shem and the Hebrews, who are Shemites ( shem in Hebrew means name), that God revealed to mankind His holy Name and His Word – the Law, the Covenants and the Promises. And ultimately, it was through the Hebrews that God revealed the New Covenant, ratified in the blood of the Messiah, through which He offers forgiveness of sin, and everlasting life to all who accept the terms of this covenant.

Israel possessed the Land for nine hundred years. During this time Jerusalem became the nation's capital, and in the reign of Solomon it was the spiritual and cultural centre of civilization. Four hundred years later, because of idolatry, Jerusalem and the Temple were totally destroyed by the armies of Babylon and the people taken into captivity. The ten northern tribes called Israel, had already been taken away captive by the Assyrians.

A vital factor governing the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple is that it was by Divine authority, as Moses had warned of the penalty for disobeying God's commandments – that this would mean dispersion. The warnings contained in Deuteronomy 28 are an awesome reminder of the shocking price Israel has paid over the centuries for this folly.

"And it shall be, that just as the LORD rejoiced over you to do you good and multiply you, so the LORD will rejoice over you to destroy you and bring you to nothing; and you shall be plucked from off the land which you go to possess. Then the LORD will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other . . . " (28:63, 64).

The First Regathering

It was by Divine authority that God raised up the Persian king Cyrus who commanded the captives to return after the seventy-year captivity: "All the kingdoms of the earth the LORD God of heaven has given me. And he has commanded me to build him a house at Jerusalem which is in Judah" (2 Chronicles 36:23; Ezra 1:2).

Although the people returned to Jerusalem, the Temple was rebuilt, and the worship of the Lord re-established, no king sat upon David's throne, nor has there been for 2,500 years.

The regathered nation was then ruled by the Persians, Greeks and Romans, until 70 AD when the final dispersion commenced which spanned almost two thousand years. The nation was warned of this terrible fate by the Messiah, but they utterly failed to heed His words: "Now as he drew near, he saw the city and wept over it, saying, 'If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.

'For the days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation'" (Luke 19:41-44).

The Second Regathering

In spite of two dispersions due to disobedience, Israel's tenure of the Land is still by Divine authority, as is also the extent of the area and location of the borders. This area includes, not only the disputed West Bank, Jerusalem, Gaza, and Golan Heights, but much of Lebanon and Syria as well, even to the Euphrates River.

Now that Israel is back in the Land promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, she now lays claim to what is rightfully hers on two counts. Firstly, the territory in question belongs to them by Divine authority; and secondly, much of it was taken as the result of wars of aggression against her, in 1948, 1956, 1967 and 1973.

There was no hue and cry over the transfer of territories by the Allies after two world wars, so as far as Israel is concerned, why would the victim of a robbery, after regaining possession of the stolen goods, be expected to hand them over to the thief again?

There has always been Satanic opposition to Israel's possession of the Land, and this perpetual struggle has extended over four thousand years. The first return to the Land was to prepare the nation for the Messiah's first coming, the timing of which Daniel teaches in chapter nine, verses 24-27.

It was no coincidence that precisely at the end of this period to the very day, the Messiah fulfilled Zechariah's prophecy: "Behold, your King is coming to you; he is just, and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey" (9:9).

Similarly, several of Israel's prophets have graphically described the events that have surrounded the present regathering of Israel to the Land as the prelude to the Messiah's return in glory.

Never before has there been such global opposition to Israel's right to occupy the Land which has been promised to them by Divine authority. Let all Bible-believing people lift up a standard in recognizing Israel's right to live on the soil that has a strange affinity with Jewish husbandry.

When separated from its rightful owners, the Land has always degenerated into a desolate wilderness, but when the Land and the People are united, this same soil fulfils Isaiah's prophecy: "You shall no longer be termed Forsaken, nor shall your land any more be termed Desolate; but you shall be called Hephzibah (My delight is in her), and your land Beulah (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" (62:4, 5).

The Word of the Lord will be fulfilled, and God will indeed rejoice over His people in the day when they are reconciled to Him in repentance and faith.