Israel is once again on display before the eyes of the world.
The board has been set, and the pieces are moving. Throughout the ages, it seems as if God has been waiting for His strategic moment. He is positioning His intercessory knights and prophetic bishops together for a sweeping move—one that all the world will observe closely. No eye will miss the mysterious and fascinating day on God’s prophetic calendar when He once again steps into the world of space and time. It is time for the unveiling of the mystery of Israel as the apple of God’s eye (see Zech. 2:8), the crucial piece on God’s chessboard.
Although modern Israel is only a little over 70 years old, the Jewish nation is actually one of the oldest on earth. These people and their land reach back to the time of Abraham’s prophetic pilgrimage and the covenant promise of God to him and his descendants (see Genesis 17:4–8). After what many considered to be a silence of 2,000 years, this land has been reborn.
A Brief Overview
How could a remnant of scattered and persecuted Jewish people, who went through their darkest hour in Hitler’s Holocaust, suddenly regain their sovereign nation within their ancient territory? Not without divine intervention, for sure, although many Israelis today believe they did it all on their own. Let’s take a brief look at the modern history of this region.
On Nov. 29, 1947, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a resolution requiring the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine. The following is a portion of the Proclamation of Independence read by David Ben-Gurion on May 14, 1948:
The land of Israel was the birthplace of the Jewish people. Here their spiritual, religious and national identity was formed. Here they achieved independence and created a culture of national and universal significance. Here they wrote and gave the Bible to the world. Exiled from the Land of Israel, the Jewish people remained faithful to it in all the countries of their dispersion, never ceasing to pray and hope for their return and the restoration of their national freedom.
Our call goes out to the Jewish people all over the world to rally to our side in the task of immigration and development and to stand by us in the great struggle for the fulfillment of the dream of generations for the redemption of Israel. With trust in Almighty God, we set our hand to this Declaration on the Sabbath eve, the fifth of Iyar, 5708, the fourteenth day of May, 1948.
And thus one of the greatest fulfillments of biblical prophecy came into being. Israel is the apple of God’s eye, and it needs to be ours as well.
God’s promise to once again gather and protect the nation of Israel is a declaration of His faithfulness and greatness, not Israel’s perfection. With this in mind, let’s look at some significant Old Testament prophecies regarding Israel’s dispersion and regathering.
Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, glimpsed through time and saw that Israel’s faithful, covenant-keeping God would once again offer divine protection to His people in the Promised Land:
“Hear the word of the Lord, O nations, and declare in the coastlands far off, and say, ‘He who scattered Israel will gather him and keep him as a shepherd does his flock'” (Jer. 31:10).
We find three truths contained in this one verse from Jeremiah. First, it was God Himself who scattered Israel from her own homeland. Second, the same God who scattered Israel will regather her to her own land. And third, God will put a divine hedge of protection about her during the process.
Two Regatherings Predicted
With the theme of God’s grace and His faithfulness in mind, let’s back up and look at the diaspora (the dispersion) of the Jewish people in history.
The First Regathering
It is my understanding that Scripture tells us the Jews would suffer two major dispersions, or scatterings, followed by two regatherings.
The first scattering occurred in the years when the prophets Daniel and Ezekiel were exiled in the land of Babylon. This was also the period in which the Jews of the Judean kingdom were displaced from their country after Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the temple, Jerusalem and the commonwealth (see Dan. 1:1-6). Daniel and his associates were kidnapped around 605 B.C. The Jews began to return to the land in 538 B.C (see 2 Chron. 36:22-23; Ezra 1:1-4), and the Temple remained flattened until 515 B.C. (see Ezra 6:15), about seventy years after its destruction.
The prophet Daniel was held captive in Babylon—a foreign land with foreign gods and culture. In about their 63rd year of captivity, while meditating on the Word of God (see Dan.9:2), Daniel received a revelation from the prophetic promises of Jeremiah:
“This whole land shall be a desolation and an astonishment, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years.
It shall come to pass when seventy years are finished that I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, says the Lord, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations (Jer. 25:11-12).
“For thus says the Lord: When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place” (Jer. 29:10).
Daniel believed the word and declared it as revealed to Jeremiah—that at the end of 70 years of Babylonian captivity, the children of Israel would be released to return to their own land. Daniel also sought the Lord to reveal any obstacles to the prophetic promise being fulfilled (see Dan. 9:3-19). Daniel then responded to the prophetic word by confessing the sin of his people as his own. The verse that summarizes his confession is Daniel 9:19:
“O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act! Do not defer, for Your own sake, O my God. For Your city and Your people are called by Your name.”
The fact that Jeremiah spoke accurately and Daniel later knelt on those words is an example of prophetic intercession at its best. God did precisely what His prophets said He would do. At the end of 70 years, the Israelites fulfilled the prophecy of their first return to their covenant land. They began to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
Israel continued in many more years of faith, sin, repentance, revival and restoration, but the word of the Lord had been fulfilled and God had shown Himself true to His promise.
The Second Regathering
That was not the only dispersion and regathering prophesied by God’s watchmen. Isaiah 11:11-12 states that the Lord would set His hand a second time to recover a remnant of His people:
In that day the Lord shall set His hand again the second time to recover the remnant of His people, who shall be left, from Assyria, from Egypt, from Pathros, from Cush, from Elam, from Shinar, from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.
He shall set up a banner for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel,
and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth (Isa. 11:11-12, emphasis mine).
Let’s make it simple. The Scriptures explain that there would be a regional dispersion followed by a regional regathering. Then there would be a worldwide dispersion followed by a worldwide regathering. When did the second dispersion occur? It began around A.D. 70 under the Roman general Titus, when the Jewish people once again fled their homeland and ran for their lives. For approximately 1900 years, they had no political autonomy and were scattered to the four corners of the earth.
I love it when the purposes of God unfold right in front of our eyes! That is exactly what I see occurring in the Middle East today.
Proclaim, Praise and Pray
Little keys open big doors! Then what are the keys needed to unlock the promises of God? Jeremiah 31:7 perhaps summarizes better than any other verse the believer’s practical response to God’s prophetic invitation:
“For thus says the Lord: Sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations; publish, praise, and say, ‘O Lord, save Your people, the remnant of Israel'” (Jer. 31:7).
This verse points out three important and distinct actions. They are the words “proclaim,” “praise” and “say.” The word “say” in this context refers to prayer, since we are exhorted through “saying” to talk to God. God gives us three successive keys to insert into the prison door on behalf of the Jewish people, to help deliver them into God’s destiny. These keys are the power of proclamation, the power of praise and the power of prayer.
Israel is God’s prophetic calendar that we need to watch, observe and pray over. Great truths are contained in these ancient prophesies of Scripture with fulfillment in modern day times. And as we look to the great Feasts of the Lord, harvest time is upon us. Let’s pray to the Lord of the harvest for the greatest out pouring of His Spirit upon all of the descendants of Abraham. Come again, Holy Spirit!
Let the Holy Spirit tune your heart to heaven right now. May Elohim, the Creator and supreme being, give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation concerning His prophetic calendar for Israel, and may His heart for Jerusalem beat in your own as we help give birth to God’s purposes through prophetic intercession.