Continuing the story of the Jews’ return to their homeland and Israel’s revival as a nation, consider two more prophecies that are being fulfilled in Israel today:
5. The Jewish military will be rebuilt. Zechariah 12:6 predicted that when the Jews returned to Israel, their military strength would become overwhelming like “a flaming torch among sheaves.” Today that has happened against all odds. The moment Israel declared its independence, it was attacked by 5 Arab armies much larger than theirs and far better equipped. At the time, Israel had an army of 20,000 men and women and an arsenal of one cannon and an assortment of WWII army surplus weapons because when Britain controlled Palestine, they would not permit the Jews to have weapons. Any firearms the Jews possessed had to be smuggled into the Promised Land. Yet wonder of wonders! In spite of their inferior army and the inadequacy of their munitions, Israel survived! One example from the war for independence is Yad Mordechai, a kibbutz in southern Israel which, with just 130 men and women armed with rifles, one machine gun, and an anti-tank weapon, held off an Egyptian column of 2500 troops supported by air and artillery for 5 days until reinforcements arrived from Tel Aviv.
Today things are different in Israel. Military preparedness is Israel’s number one priority. It has the only operational anti-ballistic missile system on earth, an air force of 368 fighter jets, over 1,000 tanks in their army with 178,000 active personnel and 565,000 reserves. Every high school graduate must serve in the Israeli Defense Forces—3 years for men and 21 months for women—all of which combines to make them one of the strongest military powers on earth.
6. The Jews will reoccupy Jerusalem. Jesus referred to this in Luke 21. After predicting the fall of Jerusalem, He promised that its destruction would only be temporary. He said in verse 24, “And they (the Jews) will fall by the edge of the sword and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” That was the history of the Jews for 1897 years. Driven out of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 A.D., they lived in exile for over 1800 years. And then, even when they were allowed to return to their homeland, they did not have free access to the holy places like the Wailing Wall and the Temple Mount because Jordan had control of the old city of Jerusalem. Then something amazing happened on June 5, 1967! Egypt and Jordan planned to attack Israel again. But Israeli intelligence learned about it, sent fighter jets to make a lightning strike on Egypt’s air force, and destroyed all their planes while on the ground. Jordan then attacked from the east, and the Israelis responded with such fury that they drove them out of the Holy City, and for the first time in 19 centuries, Israeli soldiers wept as they took possession of Jerusalem and worshiped in the holy places again.
Israel had no plan to recapture Jerusalem. It was only after the battle was well underway that the thought came to their minds, and then it was as if God Himself gave it into their hands. Which means what according to Jesus? You and I are living on borrowed time, for Jesus said Jerusalem would be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. But those times are past. Jerusalem is again in Jewish hands which means the times of the Gentiles are coming to an end and Jesus is about to return from heaven.
Why should that matter to you? The first reason is your future. If you are a follower of Christ, the Bible says you are a child of Abraham by adoption and heir to all the blessings promised to Israel, which means even if you never visit Jerusalem in this lifetime, that’s where you’re going to live forever—in the New Jerusalem that is about to descend from God in heaven (Rev. 21:2). That’s the place Jesus went to prepare for us. So pray for the peace of Jerusalem, as Psalm 122 tells us to do, because when we pray for Jerusalem, what we are praying for is Jesus to return from heaven and set up His kingdom. The second reason is your forgiveness. If God hasn’t given up on His people who have rejected His Son as their Messiah for 2,000 years, how can we doubt His ability to forgive us? If He could overcome all the forces of Hades to bring His people back to their homeland and still has plans to make of them a kingdom, He will have no trouble forgiving you and rebuilding what sin has broken in your life.
Next time we’ll look at the prophecies that are about to be fulfilled in Israel as a final countdown to Christ’s return—What’s next for the nation of Israel?