When David Ben-Gurion named “the six outstanding Jews who, in his view, had contributed the most to the fulfillment of the Zionist ideal (the rebirth of the Jewish people in their historical homeland),” three of the six he named were founders of Petah Tikvah, the first Jewish farm village in the land in modern history.1 These men, along with many others from 1878 to 1948 did the heavy-lifting necessary to begin building a miraculous national infrastructure of all time.
Today, with a meager 20% of its land arable (435,000 hectares), Israel competes globally in the world’s agricultural and agro-technology markets by exporting 70% of its agricultural products and by providing technologically mature solutions for water conservation worldwide. Almost the entire agriculture sector in Israel uses science-based technology, a rich cultural heritage—born through extreme adversity—and a fledgling national infrastructure that’s only sixty years old.2
Of the three miraculous births in the Scriptures—Jesus, the Christian Church,
and Israel —Israel is the most visible to those watching today. Yet the
significance of the birth of Israel is invisible to today’s media-rich and
self-absorbed world. The increase of knowledge that began in 1874 greatly
accelerated in 1948 with the implementation of technological advances developed
during World War II. This frenetic pace of knowledge and specialization acted as
a narcotic, effectively keeping the world unaware of the divine workings of God.
During the world’s state of unawareness, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,
through the returned Messiah, constructed a body and breathed life into God’s
son, the modern-day Nation of Israel. By 1948, a comparatively small number felt
constrained to leave their countries to stake their claim in this improbable
land. A faithful few wanted to become God’s holy nation, forever (Hosea 11:1;
The human body is the most complete infrastructure of any closed system. It has the physical capacities to defend itself, provide shelter, make food, along with the spiritual capacities to reason, love, create, and worship. God used this body as a fitting metaphor of the rebirth of the Nation of Israel in Ezekiel 37. In this beautiful, self-interpreting Old Testament picture, the “dead” nation of Israel is pictured as a field of scattered and dry human bones. The first eight verses describe the bones coming together in a divine effort, forming a human body with joints, muscles, and flesh to sustain life. Just so, from 1874 to 1948, Israel came together as a scattered people to develop the physical infrastructure in the land of Israel (Eretz Yisrael), a platform for the birth of the Nation of Israel. The “breath” of life (verses 9 and 10) came into this body and animated it with political life and international recognition on the world’s stage. The vision of the Zionist fathers was finally realized. The infrastructure they worked so hard to develop was now crowned with the capacities of statehood. Israel had the ability, on the world’s stage, to think and act as one with self determination.
“Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army.”—Ezekiel 37:9,10
There are at least three important prophetic tracks in the study of the prophecies referring to the 1874-1948 time period in Israel’s pre-national history. These are: 1) the restoration of Eretz Yisrael, the land of Israel; 2) the restoration of the Jews to the land of Israel; and 3) the restoration of the people of Israel to God. For the sake of brevity, we will look at just the restoration of the Jews to Eretz Yisrael.
“I will bring back my exiled people Israel; they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will make gardens and eat their fruit. I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them, says the LORD your God.”—Amos 9:14,15, NIV
By 1948, the fulfillers of Zionism had reclaimed 165,000 hectares of arable land by forming four hundred agricultural communities from the wasteland of the Jordan Valley, the malarial marshes, and the Valley of Jezreel.4 It was a difficult task. The mosquito-infested swamps and Arab marauders claimed the lives of several of Israel’s faithful pioneers. In the early years, 9,260 Jewish Zionist pioneers began cooperative farming villages such as Petah Tikvah founded in 1878, Rishon L’Zion and Zichron Jacob founded in 1882, Rehobot in 1890, and others founded before 1893. They lost loved ones by the hundreds but they had the strength, determination, and great faith in the prophecies of God to stay, and to build. This unusual faith was exemplified by the father of an Israeli settler who, in 1914, when hearing of his son Moshe Barsky’s death by six Arab attackers, replied: “We neither wail nor weep. The dear sons of our people must strive hard to revive and strengthen our nation. We are sending you our second son, Shalom, to take the place of his brother who has fallen. Moshe’s death brings us all to the Land of Israel.”3
The rest of Moshe’s family including his parents eventually emigrated from Russia. The same power of God that brought these fulfillers of Zionism together in the land of Israel also provided an open door for them to colonize the land; they walked through that door with great faith. One of the most remarkable prophecies was fulfilled by these faithful few who founded Petah Tikvah, which in Hebrew means “Door of Hope.” They simply read Hosea’s prophecy, stepped out on faith, and forever intertwined themselves with their foretold success by beginning one of the most remarkable communities that still thrives today with 185,000 people.
“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her. And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.”—Hosea 2:14,15
Their efforts were augmented by the corresponding providences of our returned Lord. One of Jesus’ first works upon his return was prophesied to be the restoration of Israel (Jeremiah 16:14,15; 30:3; Zechariah 8:7,8, 23; Romans 11:26,27).
Our returned Lord Jesus Christ began restoring Israel to her land shortly after his return in 1874. Through his divine power, political and legal realities were instituted on the world’s stage that allowed Israel to re-colonize Eretz Yisrael. First, in 1878 the Berlin Congress of Nations gave full civil rights to Jews who were living in what was to be the future state of Israel. Then in 1917 when Britain took over the land of Palestine after World War I, the Balfour Declaration brought forth the legal right for the Jews to claim Palestine as their homeland. Finally in 1948, the United Nations accepted the Nation of Israel into full membership after their declaration of Statehood.
In 1870, the first Jewish agricultural settlement was established, Mikvah Israel, “the Hope of Israel,” as the forerunner of agricultural research. An agronomist from Mikvah Israel supervised many of the fruit and garden crops that were introduced in the cooperative farming villages. In 1921, through the political realities in Great Britain’s Balfour Declaration of 1917, the Agricultural Experiment Station was established to serve small farms with leading research into intensive agriculture. It specialized in mixed farming of fruit trees, cattle, chicken, vegetables, and cereals.5 By 1948, the agricultural success of Israel, in human terms, had been so successful that one agricultural employee could feed seventeen people. Today that number has reached ninety. This is an astounding fulfillment of Isaiah’s two prophecies:
“He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root: Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit.”—Isaiah 27:6
“The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing.”—Isaiah 35:1,2
Since 1874 the Jubilee Trumpet has been sounding, the land of Israel is being returned back to its rightful owner, and the Jewish people are being released from all nations of the earth to return from captivity. This glorious event is still invisible to the world at large.
“And it shall come to pass in that day, that the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the LORD in the holy mount at Jerusalem.” —Isaiah 27:13
The Jubilee Trumpet is the same sound that the prophet Ezekiel heard that brought the bones together: “There was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone” (Ezekiel 37:7). It is fitting that this great noise represents the work that is being conducted and supervised by the resurrected Jesus Christ who was crucified by Israel’s religious leaders 1,915 years earlier. It was this same Jesus who breathed life into the Nation of Israel in 1948, and it will be this same Jesus that the Jewish people will eventually look upon and mourn for when God’s spirit of grace is poured out upon them (Zechariah 12:10). Accepting Jesus as their Messiah will be the last step in removing the blindness from this returned people and resurrected nation, but it is not to be just yet.
The re-gathered body that God prepared for the rebirth of the nation of Israel was complete in every way and even included a head. These were the Jewish thought-leaders, the directors who added unique and powerful contributions.
Howard Gardner, author of twenty books and professor of cognition and education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, postulates in his book Five Minds for the Future that there are five different types of minds (thinking patterns) that will be required for future success. An examination of the rebirth of Israel reveals that God handpicked returning Jewish people who possessed them: Disciplined Minds, Synthesizing Minds, Creating Minds, Respectful Minds, and Ethical Minds to build, organize, invent, inspire, govern, and galvanize a nation. By the time the nation of Israel was born, it was already a full-grown “man” with mature cognitive abilities!
Albert Einstein was typical of the intellectual European Jewish community which had been fully assimilated into host countries. This intellectual giant was born in 1879 and came on the scene at just the right time to assist in the rebirth of Israel. At the age of 25 Einstein developed his general theory of relativity, still recognized as the most profound scientific theory of the universe. In the early 1920s Einstein’s scientific fame was useful to Israel beyond his science—-he became a fundraiser and an icon for Israel at a critical stage in its regathering. Albert Einstein helped raise much needed cash to power the economy of a struggling people in the promised land. In addition, he helped establish the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, eventually leaving his intellectual property including his literary estate to the University which now earns over a million dollars per year in royalties. Einstein’s secular work mastered a domain and honed a discipline like many other Jewish intellectuals of his day. But his avocation was developed through sharp disappointment with earthly governments and ruthless nationalism on the one side, and his love for the concept of Israel in which he, like many others, found new life in supporting the Zionist ideal. Late in his life, he said to Abba Eban, “My relationship to the Jewish people has become my strongest human tie.”6
One of the things that made Albert Einstein great is that he realized his part of the whole and he did not venture beyond the limitations of his mind. As brilliant as Albert Einstein was, he turned down Abba Eban’s request to serve as Israel’s Prime Minister. He recognized that as an intellectual, governing people was not his gift. Einstein went on to play an important part in scuttling Adolf Hitler’s efforts to secure uranium to manufacture an atom bomb. Einstein’s unique relationship with the Queen of Belgium and his influence with American President Franklin D. Roosevelt provided him with many opportunities to guide and direct Israel and become an early fulfiller of Zionism. He was indeed part of the head of the regathering body of Ezekiel 37.
Several other visible leaders contributed as part of the head through their efforts to create Israel from 1878 to 1948. These included David Ben-Gurion, Golda Meir, Dr. Chaim Weizmann, Moshe Dayan, and many others who directed Eretz Yisrael to greatness. They stood on the shoulders of the founders of Petah Tikvah, and laid tracks for others to follow. They found sluices of opportunity amongst the geopolitical realities and used their enlightened minds to navigate the turbulent environment which witnessed the ending of the Gentile dominion of the earth. In all that they did, perhaps their greatest accomplishment was their development of the faith of others to follow them. They blew the “Jubilee trumpet” to hefty decibels, commanded the world’s respect and even its admiration but, more importantly, through their efforts, they brought the bones together with the muscles and skin that made Israel ready for 1948.
As much as 1948 was the beginning of this great nation, it was also the beginning of great troubles. Since 1948, over 19,000 Israeli soldiers have died protecting the nation from those trying to destroy it. The same resolve that inspired the early fulfillers of Zionism continues to be required of those who followed after 1948 to keep the dream alive and stake their claim to fulfilling prophecies dating back to ancient times.
In Israel’s rebirth, we see a template for the world during the Millennial age. Isaiah tells us that Israel will lead the nations (Isaiah 2:2-4). Through their great faith and intense trials as a regathered people from all over the world, they will lead people from all nations to rebuild one nation of humanity to worship the Lord in Sion. The resurrected billions of mankind will look back on this time period of Israel’s history and be in awe of God’s creating power. They will see the faint tendrils of faith scratched out by the early fulfillers of Zionism in the 1870s, and they will see those efforts of faith seconded by the providences of God. Through hindsight, the world of mankind will see how God took a disorganized and disheartened people, organized them, and breathed in them the breath of life. The world of mankind, at the beginning of their own turbulent restitution, will see how the faith of this people resulted in a worthy purpose and an enduring destiny. They will see it as a template for their own purpose and destiny.
As Christians, we have the miracles of Jesus to show us how, through faith, Jesus multiplied even meager efforts such as the presentation of just two loaves and five fishes to feed over five thousand people. The world in the Millennial age will look back on the miracle of the faith of the early fulfillers of Zionism with the same inspiration that we now feel toward the miracles of Jesus. They too will thus be constrained to worship God with a full and a contrite heart.
1. Moshe Dayan, Moshe Dayan: Story of My Life, p. 440.}
2. JewishVirtualLibrary.com, Israeli Agriculture: Coping with Growth, John Fedler, 2007.
3. Moshe Dayan, Moshe Dayan: Story of My Life, p. 22.
4. JewishVirtualLibrary.com, Israeli Agriculture: Coping with Growth, John Fedler, 2007.
6 Walter Isaacson, Einstein, p. 291.
On the Other Hand
The preceding article suggests that Israel’s re-birth as a nation in 1948 completely fulfilled the “Valley of Dry Bones” prophecy found in Ezekiel 37:1-14. It proposes that Israel’s becoming a secular nation fulfilled the prophecy that God will breathe into the slain and bring them back to life: “Then he said to me, Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live. So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army” (Ezekiel 37:9,10, NIV).
Nearly all will agree that the re-birth of Israel is a modern-day miracle orchestrated by the Lord. In fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy God brought many Israelites out of the land of the north and out of all the countries where he had banished them: “But now I will send for many fishermen, declares the LORD, and they will catch them. After that I will send for many hunters, and they will hunt them down on every mountain and hill and from the crevices of the rocks” (Jeremiah 16:16, NIV).
God sent the fisherman of the Zionist movement to lay the groundwork for and stimulate the initial return of the Jews to Canaan. Then God sent the hunters who through the Holocaust prompted a flood of Jews to return to the promised land and organize the current nation of Israel. Their current stituation is reflected in Ezekiel 37:7-8 with the bones having come together with tendons and flesh and covered with skin. However, from God’s standpoint there is no breath or life in them. Modern-day Israel is not a holy nation. It is a secular nation with a prime minister as their national leader and a parliament elected by the people as their government. They are not in covenant relationship with God nor with our risen Lord. Most do not recognize God as their head nor do they recognize God’s hand in their re-gathering. In fact there is no mention of God in their Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel (see p. 51). The phrase “Rock of Israel” in the final sentence is as close as it comes. Israel as a nation does not acknowledge Jesus as Messiah nor accept his ransom sacrifice as atoning for their sins and providing for their salvation.
From God’s standpoint, Israel remains dead. They are still in their sins as is the rest of mankind. Blindness in part is still their national condition; their Deliverer has not yet come out of Zion and turned away ungodliness from Jacob (Romans 11:25,26).
What brings life to the slain according to Ezekiel 37:9? Breath or life comes from the four winds. Winds are often a symbol for war in the Scriptures and four winds would suggest a world-wide conflagration. Was World War II the fulfillment of the four winds of this verse? A better fulfillment would be “the battle of that great day of God Almighty,” called Armageddon (Revelation 16:14,16). That battle revolves around Israel and their delivery by God from destruction by Gog and his allies. By that deliverance, God will be sanctified in Israel’s sight. Then will he pour his spirit upon the nation of Israel and then shall the nation live. The prophet Ezekiel makes this plain: “Then you, my people, will know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the LORD have spoken, and I have done it, declares the LORD” (Ezekiel 37:13,14, NIV).
Ezekiel links God putting his spirit into the Jews with their becoming alive. God has not yet poured his spirit upon the Jewish people. That awaits the completion of the deliverer (Christ and the church) and the application of Jesus’ blood on their behalf to release the Jews from Adamic condemnation and seal the New Covenant. Then God will pour his spirit upon the Jewish people and the vast army mentioned in Ezekiel 37:10 will live.
Ezekiel’s prophecy of Israel’s restoration in chapter 36 is consistent with this interpretation. In Ezekiel 36:24 the current re-gathering to their own land is mentioned. Then verses 25 to 27 say God will sprinkle clean water upon them, give them a new heart, and put a new spirit within them. The sprinkling of the clean water of truth, giving a new heart, and putting God’s spirit within their hearts is still future. It awaits their deliverance in the battle of Armageddon and the second sprinkling of Jesus’ blood, on their behalf and on behalf of all mankind. Then will the Jewish people be truly alive.