A Nation Born In A Day

by Joseph Hunting

Among the many nations on planet earth there may be several contenders for the title I have given this article. After World War I Iraq and Iran were created by the stroke of a pen. Boundaries were defined, but the people who had lived there for centuries remained unchanged for as far back as their history can be traced. For instance, Iraq was originally Babylonia and Iran was Biblical Persia. On the other hand parts of India were divided after World War II. East and West Pakistan were created by the stroke of a pen. East Pakistan later was changed to Bangladesh. Ceylon became Sri Lanka, and so the list goes on. The names changed, but not the people.

However, there is one exception. It is the nation of Israel. Admittedly, Israel was a nation in Bible times and right on up till 70 A.D. From that year and for the following half century the Romans did their best to wipe out any evidence of Israel. Their beloved capital city was utterly destroyed and rebuilt with a new name, Aelia Capitolina, and Jews were forbidden access.

Following the Romans the Byzantines left their marks, still evident today in churches and mosaics dotted throughout Israel. Mameluk invaders were followed by Moors and Crusaders. Finally the Ottoman empire controlled the Holy Land for four centuries until they were routed by the Allied armies under General Allenby. It is interesting that none of the foregoing established a nation as such. They were at best invaders and armies of occupation. The nation of Israel was scattered like chaff to the uttermost parts of the earth.

In the meantime men like Herzl, Ben Yehuda, Chaim Weizmann, Ben Gurion and Menachem Begin, as well as women like Golda Meir, led the Zionist dream for a national homeland on the very soil that their forefathers had possessed eighteen centuries earlier. With blood, sweat and tears they drained swamps, tilled the soil, planted forests and built settlements, towns and cities. Gentiles, too, had a role to play in the unfolding drama that was to become a miracle of a nation being born in a day. Lord Balfour issued the famous declaration on behalf of the British government that Britain would look favourably on the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. Robert McCheyne of the Church of Scotland voiced the same hope on behalf of many Bible-believing Christians.

Someone has said that God moves in mysterious ways His wonders to perform. The Holocaust and World War II plus the plight of tens of thousands of stateless Jewish survivors of those terrible years resulted in the UN decision to partition Palestine and create a Jewish national homeland.

Britain relinquished the mandate of Palestine on May 14th, 1948. As the last British troops boarded a warship in Haifa harbour David Ben Gurion proclaimed the rebirth of the Jewish state called Medinat Yisrael and formed a provisional government in Tel Aviv. Truly, Israel was a nation "born in a day".

Just as natural birth is preceded by travail so I believe the suffering of European Jewry under the Nazi regime which culminated with the Holocaust was the birth-pangs of the nation Israel.

No matter what may be said, never before in the history of mankind had a nation come to rebirth on the soil of its ancient homeland after nearly two thousand years of being scattered far and wide. Furthermore, they came from more than one hundred countries bringing their culture and languages with them. But there was another miracle that had never happened before. The language of Hebrew, the tongue of the prophets, was also reborn, albeit modified to cope with modern science, medicine and all the terminology used in a highly sophisticated society.

Could it be that the miracle of the rebirth of the nation in one day on May 14th 1948 foreshadows an ever greater miracle spoken of by Isaiah? I believe it does.

But first we need to recognize that God has laid down a principle which the Bible declares in 1st Corinthians 15:46: "the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual" -- in other words: first the natural, then the spiritual. In its context the Apostle Paul was referring to the resurrection from the dead. We are born with a natural body; we shall be raised with a spiritual body.

Israel had its natural rebirth forty-four years ago and has thrived in spite of all the adverse situations, including four major wars. Will this nation have a spiritual rebirth? I believe it will. Isaiah has this to say: "The voice of the LORD, who fully repays His enemies! 'Before she travailed she gave birth; before her pain came, she delivered a male child. Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall the earth be made to give birth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once? FOR AS SOON AS ZION TRAVAILED, SHE GAVE BIRTH TO HER CHILDREN'" (66:6-8).

Does this prophecy refer to the rebirth of Israel in 1948? Zion certainly travailed and gave birth to her children and a nation was born. But does the Bible have anything further to say about this amazing prophecy? In Revelation 12 John speaks of "a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. Then being with child she cried out in labour and in pain to give birth ... and she bore a male child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron" (12:1-5).

I believe the woman clothed with the sun to be Israel, and the male child to be the specially-sealed of Israel who number 144,000 mentioned in Revelation chapter 7, 12,000 out of each of the twelve tribes. This fulfils Isaiah's prophecy" "As soon as Zion travailed, she gave birth to her children." The travail of Zion could well be the "time of Jacob's trouble" referred to by Jeremiah (30:7) which is also referred to as the Great Tribulation by Daniel.

Most commentators believe that Jacob's Trouble or the Great Tribulation will be the last seven years of this age which terminate with the battle of Armageddon. That being so, then Isaiah's prophecy of Zion giving birth to her children and the nation of Israel being born in a day could also refer to a future spiritual rebirth as well as the natural rebirth which occurred in 1948.