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  • Writer's pictureMichael Filipek

Is the Modern State of Israel Prophetically Significant? (Part 1)

Updated: Jan 27


Jerusalem, Israel art

In our modern times, it has become fashionable for those in political, academic, and media spheres to attack Israel's right to exist as a sovereign nation. Unfortunately, similar sentiments are often expressed in Christian circles. For instance, some have taken the position that due to Israel’s current state of unbelief, the attitude of the Christian towards them as a nation should be one of opposition ("unbelief" meaning they still have not accepted their true Messiah, Jesus Christ). Some have gone as far as to say that their current state of unbelief makes even the State of Israel’s national sovereignty illegitimate in God’s eyes. They claim that since Israel’s return to the land in the 1900s took place while in this state of unbelief, then that return is not in any way connected to Bible prophecy. From this train of thought, they often deny that the modern State of Israel has any significance at all in terms of Bible prophecy.


What is the truth about this? Where does Israel fit into God’s future program for humanity and world events? Is the modern State of Israel prophetically significant? Does God have a future plan for national Israel? And if so, what does it include? Answering these questions will help us gain a perspective as to the proper attitude of a Bible-believing Christian towards Israel. As Christians today, one of the best ways we can gain further understanding concerning the proper perspective we should have towards Israel as a nation is by recognizing what the Bible has to say about their prophetic destiny.


First, we will explore the topic of whether Israel’s current regathering from worldwide dispersion (or in other words, the establishment of the modern State of Israel in the 1900s) has any connection to Bible prophecy. The answers we uncover will logically guide our perceptions going forward. In other words, if we do find that the modern State of Israel has prophetic relevance, and we recognize what Scripture tells us about Israel’s future in God’s plan, then those understandings must logically guide how we as Christians think towards modern Israel.


Israel's Two Worldwide Regatherings


In order to recognize how prophetically significant the current State of Israel actually is according to Bible prophecy, we need to first have an understanding of what the Bible says about Israel’s regathering to their ancestral homeland. The Bible is full of these prophecies. In fact, Bible scholar Thomas Ice notes:


Every Old Testament prophet, except Jonah, speaks of a permanent return to the Land of Israel by the Jews. [1]

The Biblical focus on the people of Israel being permanently regathered to the land is a pervasive theme throughout the Old Testament. But one of the most ignored topics of Bible prophecy is the awareness that Scripture plainly declares that Israel will undergo two different regatherings from worldwide dispersion (or if you prefer, two distinct phases of worldwide regathering).


Further, the Bible also declares that these two regatherings would take place under very different circumstances and for very different purposes. It turns out that these differences actually help us recognize just how significant the current State of Israel is within the Bible’s prophetic outline for Israel’s future.


We will begin by first stating our proposition. We will then thoroughly demonstrate the reality of this proposition as being a clear Scriptural teaching throughout the remainder of this article and the one to follow. Our proposition is that the Bible contains a number of prophecies indicating that Israel would be regathered first in a state of unbelief in preparation for judgment (the judgment that culminates in the Tribulation), and that afterwards, they would then be regathered a second and final time in faith (this taking place after the Tribulation), in preparation for blessings to be received in the Millennial Kingdom.


The Two end time worldwide regatherings of Israel

This is significant because many people overlook the distinction of these two regatherings and only recognize one regathering. Some only recognize or expect a regathering in faith – and because of this, they deny the prophetic significance of the current secular regathering (in unbelief) that has been taking place over the past hundred years or so. Let’s dive right into this and see for ourselves what the Bible has to say about it.


The first thing to take note of is that from the very beginning of Israel's history, God had promised to scatter them among the nations worldwide if they refused to keep the terms of the Mosaic Covenant and later refused to recognize Him as Messiah when He visited them. For instance, Deuteronomy 28:64 says God would:


Scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other... -Deuteronomy 28:64

From this passage, it’s clear that the dispersion would be global, as God had promised to scatter them from one end of the earth to the other. Predictions like this one are spoken of in a number of places throughout the Old Testament. Although the nation was somewhat scattered during the Assyrian and Babylonian invasions, in which many were brought captive into those lands, these events were only a local dispersion and cannot act as the ultimate fulfillment of these prophecies describing a worldwide dispersion.


Instead, these prophecies of worldwide dispersion find clear fulfillment in the events of 70 AD and following. At this point in time, God brought discipline upon unbelieving Israel through the invasion of the Roman general Titus Vespasian, whose armies would level Jerusalem and the Temple in order to quell the Jewish uprisings of the late 60s AD. During this time, many Jews were killed or sold into slavery and removed from the land. Then, during the 130s AD, the Bar Kokhba revolt would result in most of the remaining Jewish population of Judea being killed, sold into foreign slavery, or forced to flee the land. The area of Jerusalem was renamed Aelia Capitolina by the Romans. For the last two thousand years, the Jews have found themselves in this worldwide dispersion without a home country (this dispersion referred to as the Diaspora) exactly as foretold by God through the writings of Moses in Deuteronomy, and in many other places.


But just as Israel’s disciplinary dispersion is prophesied in the Old Testament, so is her eventual restoration. As we already stated, the Bible specifically predicts two worldwide regatherings for national Israel. First, there would be a regathering in unbelief when Israel returns to part of her original land promise – a return in preparation for the eventual judgment of the Tribulation, through which the nation will be brought to faith. But this regathering will be followed by another future regathering in faith, after the discipline of the Tribulation leads the Jewish remnant to cry out unto Christ in their time of trouble – prompting His response. After He returns to save this righteous remnant and destroy their enemies, He will then regather the global outcasts of Israel and bring them back to the land in preparation for blessings in the Kingdom Age. In this final regathering, Israel will be restored not only to part of her land, but to all of her land, according to the original boundaries promised by God to the Patriarchs and reiterated to Joshua in the Old Testament (Genesis 15:18 and Joshua 1:4). These boundaries have never yet been completely under Israel’s control, but they will be in this future Kingdom Age.


But here’s a key point to recognize: We know that there are only two worldwide regatherings of Israel, and that this second and final one will occur after the Tribulation, prior to the beginning of the Millennial Kingdom. We learn all of this from Isaiah 11:11-12.


And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. -Isaiah 11:11-12

The setting of this passage is clearly eschatological, referring to the final regathering in faith after the Tribulation as the Millennial Kingdom is being established. Verses 1-5 of this chapter describe the Second Coming of Christ in judgment to rule the earth. Verses 6-9 depict the peaceful conditions of restoration under the New Covenant, and Verse 10 introduces Israel’s national repentance and return to their true Messiah. Verses 11-12 (which we just read) continue this theme, helping us understand the context of this final worldwide regathering. You will see this clearly in the other parallel passages we will examine in Part 2.


But let’s recognize the important marker given to us in Verse 11 – the phrase “the second time.” In light of what we just discussed, it becomes clear that if this final worldwide regathering is the “second one,” then that means there was an earlier worldwide regathering – “the first one”. The Hebrew-Christian scholar Arnold Fruchtenbaum explains this further.


[Isaiah] is speaking of the final worldwide regathering in faith in preparation for blessing. Isaiah numbers the final worldwide gathering in faith in preparation for the Messianic Kingdom as the second one. In other words, the last one is only the second one. If the last one is the second one, how many can there be before that? Only one. The first one could not have been the return from Babylon since that was not an international regathering from the four corners of the world, only a migration from one country (Babylonia) to another (Judea). The Bible does not allow for several worldwide regatherings in unbelief; it allows for one worldwide regathering in unbelief, followed by the last one, the one in faith, which is the second one. This text only permits two worldwide regatherings from the four corners of the earth. [2]

Let’s take note that this “second time” regathering as a time of repentance indicates that national Israel must have existed in a state of unbelief prior to this (cf. Zechariah 12:10-14; 14:4; Romans 11:25-27). If this was not the case, then there would be nothing for Israel to repent of! Therefore, the “first time” regathering, which must be identified as taking place before this, must have involved Israel's regathering to the Land in unbelief. If there are only two regatherings, then this “first time” regathering of the Jews to the Land of Israel must be the modern one we’ve witnessed over the past hundred years or so – and it certainly has been a return in unbelief.


Further yet, since the Bible describes Israel dwelling “in the land” throughout the end-times, and if there are only two regatherings, then there cannot be another dispersion before the future “second time” regathering. Logically then, this requires that the modern State of Israel will remain in possession of the Land perpetually from now until the fulfillment of end time prophecy. Otherwise, there would be more than two worldwide regatherings.

Although the first regathering has already been occurring within modern times, we of course can recognize that many Jewish people will remain scattered among the nations awaiting the future “second time” regathering, according to prophecy. In other words, there have to be Jews still in worldwide diaspora who do not return during the first regathering, in order for a final worldwide regathering to occur later on. Another way of putting it is there must be Jews living both in Israel and in the worldwide diaspora among the nations throughout the end times. That of course is what we see currently taking place. The first regathering has been gradual and partial. The final regathering will be a full regathering of all remnant Jews, and seems to be more of an immediate event.


So, the logical conclusion of all of this requires us to accept that the modern return of Israel to the Land (even while in a state of unbelief) is a divinely ordained event – and therefore, the modern State of Israel must be part of God’s prophetic program. Clearly, it is part of God's plan to bring the nation of Israel to future repentance and spiritual restoration. Fruchtenbaum arrives at the same conclusion.


Therefore, the present Jewish state is relevant to Bible prophecy. [3]

And so, from this key passage in Isaiah 11 that tells us of this second and final regathering, we can recognize the logical conclusion we are brought to: the modern State of Israel is prophetically significant!


 

[1] Mark Hitchcock and Thomas Ice, Breaking the Apocalypse Code, Costa Mesa, CA: Word for Today, 2007, pp. 136-137.

[2] Arnold Fruchtenbaum, Footsteps of the Messiah: A Study of the Sequence of Prophetic Events, rev. ed., Tustin, CA: Ariel, 2003, pp. 102-103.

[3] Ibid.


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