"Afterward Shall The Children of Israel Return" (2)

by Joseph Hunting

I am convinced that in our lifetime we are witnessing the fulfilment of one of the most exciting prophecies in the Bible. It concerns the return of the Jewish people to their ancient homeland.

If we didn't have the news media distracting our attention from the miracle of the rebirth of the State of Israel and its equally miraculous survival against impossible odds we would be more aware of the Divine programme concerning Israel that is rapidly drawing to its climax.

Hosea was contemporary with Isaiah. He prophesied at a time when both the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah had forsaken the Lord for the worship of Baal and Molech.

It was during this period of spiritual declension and apostasy that Hosea prophesied: "For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim: afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; and shall fear the Lord and his goodness in the latter days." (Hosea 3:4-5)

The "many days" that Israel has been without a king have spanned two and a half millennia. The reigns of the Herods were not of the royal house of David and as a political expediency were not recognized as fulfilling Hosea's prophecy. Nor has the nation of Israel had a prince of the Davidic dynasty in line for the throne since.

After Judah and a remnant of the ten northern tribes had returned to the land following the seventy-year captivity the Temple was rebuilt and sacrifices were once again offered.

There was a short period when worship and sacrifices were terminated during the invasion of the land by Antiochus Epiphanes. Following the heroic stand by the Maccabees and the rededication of the Temple to the worship of Jehovah sacrifices were reintroduced until the Temple was again destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.

Thus, as Hosea foretold, Israel has continued "many days ... without a sacrifice". For nineteen centuries there has been no Passover lamb slain. There has been no blood sprinkled on the Mercy Seat on the Day of Atonement. And for nineteen centuries no priest has worn the ephod!

Hosea also prophesied that there would be two other items that Israel would be without "for many days". They are images and teraphim (probably small household gods) that were worshipped prior to the Babylonian captivity.

But something happened during those seventy years in Babylon that finished forever idol worship for Israel. Was it that they were so sickened by the total depravity of their captors? The Scripture is silent on the matter and we can only conjecture the cause of their change of heart.

Although Hosea doesn't designate the length of Israel's dispersion, he does prophesy their return that will be accompanied by a great spiritual revival "in the latter days".

There is a supernatural homing impulse implanted in the innermost being of Jewish people. This deep longing is expressed in Psalm 137: "How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land? If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy."

In the course of history there have been other peoples that have been up-rooted and scattered but they have eventually been assimilated and have melted into their new environment. But not so with Israel. Though scattered like chaff to the four corners of the earth, persecuted and hounded from one country to another and even surviving genocide, they have never severed their links with Zion nor lost their longing to return to the home of their forefathers.

Indeed, the flames of the Holocaust that engulfed Europe with such devastating effect had barely been extinguished when the Star of David was unfurled over the soil of Israel, the gates of Zion were flung wide open, and the miracle of Hosea's prophecy came to pass.

This miracle is all the more amazing as there was no Moses or Joshua to take them triumphantly into their land. Neither was there a command such as was given by Cyrus that they should return and rebuild their land. In our day it took two world wars and the decree of the United Nations to pave the way. And in spite of determined efforts by the combined might of the surrounding Arab countries to oppose them, Israel has returned and has possessed the land.


An integral part of the national revival of the State of Israel is the promise that they "will seek the Lord their God ... in the latter days". The New Testament provides us with an important clue concerning the Divine order which governs spiritual revival. It is first the natural, then the spiritual. (1st Corinthians 15:46).

The natural birth of the State of Israel was accomplished on May 14th, 1948. The birth pangs commenced with the rise of Hitler's Nazi oppression of the Jews of Europe in the '30's and culminated with the travail of the Holocaust. Even after its birth the infant State had to fight desperately for its survival. "Before she travailed she brought forth; before her pain came, she was delivered of a man child. Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion travailed she brought forth her children." (66:7-8).

The Bible makes numerous references to the travail that will accompany Israel's spiritual rebirth. Suffice to say that this period known as "the time of Jacob's trouble" or "the Great Tribulation" will result in the greatest spiritual revival the world has ever seen. Indeed, so far-reaching will this event be that it results in the coming again of the Messiah and His reign of peace, equity and justice on this pain-racked planet.

The blessings of God in that day will be universal even as Isaiah prophesied, "For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither has the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he has prepared for him that waits for him." (64:4).