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  • Writer's pictureMichael Filipek

Is the Modern State of Israel Prophetically Significant? (Part 2)

Updated: Jan 27

In "Part 1" of this article series, we examined the clear Biblical teaching regarding the two worldwide regatherings of Israel – the first being a partial regathering in unbelief prior to the Tribulation, and the second being a full regathering in faith after the Tribulation. The first regathering (the one we've witnessed over the past century or so) has been in preparation for the divine discipline of the Tribulation, while the future second regathering will be for the purpose of receiving blessings in the Millennial Kingdom.

By recognizing this clear teaching from the scriptures, it becomes obvious that the modern regathering we have witnessed is a divinely preordained event. Therefore, the logical conclusion we are brought to is that the modern State of Israel is prophetically significant. We will now examine a number of the Biblical passages that prophetically detail these two worldwide regatherings of Israel. As we examine each, you will begin to see this concept more clearly.

Israel's First Worldwide Regathering in Unbelief

Let’s begin by examining Israel’s first or initial worldwide gathering – which we will see is the modern-day regathering we’ve been witnessing over the past hundred years or so. Numerous passages appear to speak of this initial regathering in unbelief prior to the Tribulation period. One of the clearest examples is found in Zephaniah 2.

Gather yourselves together, yea, gather together, O nation not desired; Before the decree bring forth, before the day pass as the chaff, before the fierce anger of the Lord come upon you, before the day of the Lord’s anger come upon you. -Zephaniah 2:1-2

This passage depicts a regathering of the nation clearly described as taking place before the outpouring of God’s discipline upon Israel in the Tribulation – helping us to recognize this as a first regathering passage. As we continue to go through these examples, it will become clear that there is one regathering prior to the Tribulation and one directly after the Tribulation, as the Millennial Kingdom is being introduced.

It is also evident that when this first regathering takes place, the nation is still in unbelief, since they’re described as a “nation not desired” (Verse 1), or as the NASB puts it, a “nation without shame.” In other words, they are shamelessly in sin. Clearly, this indicates that they haven’t yet repented, and are in unbelief at the time of this regathering. For this reason, they are threatened with judgment when the Tribulation arrives (as we see in Verses 2-3). Therefore, this passage unmistakably shows a regathering of the nation in unbelief prior to the Tribulation – through which they will be brought to national repentance.

We should also note the contrast presented one chapter later in Zephaniah 3:11, which speaks of the later Millennial Kingdom, saying, “In that day shalt thou not be ashamed for all thy doings.” Rather than conveying a condition of shamelessness while in sin (as before), the nation at this point will have repented and been redeemed, thereby removing their shame. This further clarifies for us that this regathering in Zephaniah Chapter 2 was the regathering in unbelief prior to the discipline that would lead to their repentance and the removal of their shame. So, this first regathering is a regathering in unbelief in preparation for the judgment and discipline of the Tribulation.

This is just the first example, and we already see how clearly Biblical it is that Israel will be regathered first in a state of unbelief – which refutes the arguments of those who oppose the modern State of Israel on the basis of its formation taking place while in unbelief. Unbelieving Israel is part of God’s plan, according to these Scriptures! This is part of the process whereby God will bring them into faith. Before they can be brought to faith, they of course will be in a state of unbelief. Their unbelief does not mean God isn’t working to move them to a state of faith. This is exactly what we, as saved Christians also experienced. Before we came to faith, God was moving in our lives to draw us to Him in faith. And so, it should not be difficult to understand this same concept at work in the case of national Israel.

But let’s continue on to examine a second example. Another incredible portrayal of unbelieving Israel’s initial regathering for judgment is found in Ezekiel Chapter 22.

And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, the house of Israel is to me become dross: all they are brass, and tin, and iron, and lead, in the midst of the furnace; they are even the dross of silver. Therefore thus saith the Lord God; Because ye are all become dross, behold, therefore I will gather you into the midst of Jerusalem. As they gather silver, and brass, and iron, and lead, and tin, into the midst of the furnace, to blow the fire upon it, to melt it; so will I gather you in mine anger and in my fury, and I will leave you there, and melt you. Yea, I will gather you, and blow upon you in the fire of my wrath, and ye shall be melted in the midst therof. As silver is melted in the midst of the furnace, so shall ye be melted in the midst thereof; and ye shall know that I the Lord have poured out my fury upon you. -Ezekiel 22:17-22

Some have incorrectly attributed the fulfillment of this prophecy to the historical return of the Jews from Babylonian Captivity around 538 BC. But a careful reading of the context of this passage demands that this prophetic regathering is speaking of the current regathering we’ve witnessed in the modern State of Israel over the past hundred years or so.

For example, this can be seen in the fact that the Jews’ return around 538 BC was in belief, not unbelief, and was in restoration, not judgment. Ezra 1:5 makes it clear that those 49,897 Jews that participated in the return from Babylon were those “whose spirit God had stirred to go up and rebuild the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem.” By contrast, in the above passage in Ezekiel, it’s stated that the Lord will gather them in “anger” and “wrath” and will “pour out His wrath” on them. The purpose of this judgment, described by the imagery of smelting metal in a furnace or a foundry, is to bring Israel to national repentance and regeneration, as seen in the words “you will know that I am the Lord” (Verse 17, cf. Verse 22). In other words, at the time of this regathering, the nation was in rebellion and unbelief. But through God’s discipline of fiery wrath and judgment (here described as a furnace), they will be brought to faith.

So, we easily see that this is a return in unbelief prior to a time of God’s wrath being poured out upon Israel. This future period of wrath clearly refers most specifically to the last half of the Tribulation (the Great Tribulation). This is the time of the consummation of the outpouring of God’s wrath and indignation described throughout the Old and New Testaments. It is the time of unparalleled distress for national Israel, which Jeremiah 30:7 describes as being a time unlike any other, calling it the “time of Jacob’s trouble.”

It’s at this time that the invasion of Jerusalem by the international armies of the Antichrist will take place (Revelation 11:2; Zechariah 12:2-3, 9; 14:2a), and there will be a battle for the city, in which half of its Jewish population will be exiled, while the rest remain in a condition of siege (Zechariah 14:2). As a result of this purifying experience (cf. Zechariah 13:1), many Jews in Jerusalem will join in a national repentance (Zechariah 12:10-14). And so, going back to Ezekiel 22:17-22, we can see how that regathering depicts the first or initial regathering of Israel in unbelief in preparation for this time of discipline during the Tribulation.

In addition to these clear and specific passages, there are also many other passages that depict the Jews inhabiting Jerusalem towards the end of this present age. The prophetic corpus of Scripture takes this for granted. This is significant to our current discussion because the entire context of end-time events focuses around an unrepentant Israel in the land being cast into the fiery discipline of the Tribulation. This entire context logically requires an initial regathering in unbelief.

In other words, since we know they were dispersed out of the land in 70 AD and following, how could they be described as being in the land in these end-time passages, which we know take place before the final regathering that takes place after the Second Coming? It logically implies an initial regathering phase prior to all of this, while they are still in a state of rebellion.

So, to summarize our progress so far in this article series, we have seen from Isaiah 11:11-12 (discussed in "Part 1") that there can only be two worldwide regatherings of Israel. The next several passages we looked at in this article (Zephaniah 2:1-2 and Ezekiel 22:17-22) clearly depict the first regathering – a regathering of the nation of Israel in unbelief prior to the Tribulation, through which the nation will be brought to repentance. Therefore, if we have witnessed the Jews being regathered to the land of Israel for the first time in history since their worldwide dispersion among the nations, returning in unbelief to form the modern secular State of Israel, just as these texts have foretold, how can we not say that the modern State of Israel is prophetically significant?

Israel's Second and Final Worldwide Regathering in Faith

Let’s now begin to examine some of the numerous second regathering passages found in scripture. The far more frequent mentions of Israel being regathered do refer to her second and final regathering after the end of the Tribulation in preparation for entering the Millennial Kingdom. We will find that this ultimate regathering of the Jews around the time of the Second Coming of the Messiah is one of the most talked-about events in all of Bible prophecy. We will examine a handful of them.

Incredibly, we find that as early as Deuteronomy, this entire prophetic picture is revealed in detail. Deuteronomy Chapter 30 foretells in advance that Israel would disobey the Mosaic Covenant that had just been given to them (most ultimately by rejecting the Messiah to whom it was designed to lead them towards). They would then be scattered globally among the nations. But in the end, they would ultimately repent and God would then regather them in faith. Following this, He would then fulfill for them the promises of His many Old Testament unconditional covenants – one of which guaranteed their full possession of the Promised Land, stretching from the River of Egypt to the Euphrates River (Genesis 15:18). They will one day possess this land in its entirety. Israel will also receive spiritual restoration under the New Covenant at this time, although this final covenant wouldn’t be revealed until the later prophets (mainly Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Joel). But the entire canvas of this prophetic portrait is detailed all the way back in Deuteronomy, by Moses! Let’s see this in Deuteronomy 30.

And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations, whither the Lord thy God hath driven thee, And shalt return unto the Lord thy God, and shalt obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul; That then the Lord thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the Lord thy God hath scattered thee. If any of thine be driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven, from thence will the Lord thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee: And the Lord thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers. And the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live. -Deuteronomy 30:1-6

We know this refers to the final regathering because Verse 2 describes a worldwide regathering in faith (the Jews turning back to God) – or in other words, in repentance, finally acknowledging Christ as their true Messiah. Obviously, this would not be an accurate description of the first worldwide regathering in the 1900s. Furthermore, it describes a return from the uttermost parts of heaven, which points to a global regathering. This eliminates any possibility that the passage could refer to the return from Babylonian captivity. Further yet, Verse 6 (referring to circumcision of the heart, etc.) is a clear reference to the New Covenant later described in the prophets (cf. Ezekiel 36:24-28; Jeremiah 31:31-34; Romans 2:29), which Israel as a nation will receive in the Millennium.

Let’s look at another passage that describes this final regathering – this one being found in Isaiah Chapter 43.

Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west; I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth; Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him. -Isaiah 43:5-7

Again, this passage quite clearly refers to the final regathering, as the previous chapter (Chapter 42) describes the Tribulation in Verses 15-16, and the context of Chapter 43 involves the ultimate redemption and restoration of Israel – events that have no immediate connection to the modern-day regathering. We can also see this as depicting a global regathering (meaning it cannot refer to the return from Babylon), as the passage is clear in its reference to the four cardinal directions (east, west, north, south), and its description as a regathering “from the ends of the earth”.

Another important final regathering passage is found in Isaiah Chapter 27.

In that day from the river Euphrates to the Brook of Egypt the Lord will thresh out the grain, and you will be gleaned one by one, O people of Israel. And in that day a great trumpet will be blown, and those who were lost in the land of Assyria and those who were driven out to the land of Egypt will come and worship the Lord on the holy mountain at Jerusalem. -Isaiah 27:12-13 (ESV)

We can see that the second national regathering of Israel is accompanied by the blowing of a “great trumpet.” Although this passage only makes specific mention of Jews being regathered from Assyria and Egypt, there are a number of clues that positively identify it's context with the Day of the Lord, and therefore, the second and final regathering.

First, there is the double mention of “in that day,” which generally refers to the eschatological Day of the Lord, which more broadly encompasses the Tribulation period; but in the narrower sense, focuses specifically on the day of the Second Coming – the event that will occasion the second and final regathering. Second, this passage describes a regathering associated with faith rather than unbelief, as we can see from the mention of Israel worshipping the Lord on the holy mountain at Jerusalem. And third, the sound of the "great trumpet" is associated with the time of the final judgment. There was no trumpet associated with the modern regathering. This speaks of an eschatological event.

We see this same concept described in Matthew 24 as well, as Jesus states that at the blowing of a great trumpet, people would witness His return, and His angels would gather the elect (this being the second regathering of Israel – the righteous remnant who had survived the Tribulation and turned to faith in Christ as Messiah). They will be regathered and brought to Jerusalem in preparation for blessings in the Millennial Kingdom.

Furthermore, Matthew 24 also gives the same “directional” language as many of the regathering passages we’ve already read, which allude to the four cardinal directions – north, south, east, and west. Let’s review this parallel passage in Matthew 24 and observe the obvious language that places this event after the Tribulation, at the Second Coming of Christ.

Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. -Matthew 24:29-31

We can see here the same language that was used in the last several Old Testament passages we've examined that also describe this final regathering of Israel: a great trumpet blast and a worldwide regathering of the elect (Israel) from the four cardinal directions under heaven. And when will this final regathering occur? It occurs “immediately after the Tribulation." After the Tribulation, Christ returns, and then the regathering occurs.

Many people misunderstand this statement of Jesus in Matthew 24 to refer to the rapture of the Church. But if you know your Old Testament, and understand the concept of the two end time worldwide regatherings of Israel, it should be easy to recognize that this statement in Matthew 24 speaks of Israel’s second and final regathering in faith after being brought to repentance through the divine discipline of the Tribulation. At this time they will be led into the Millennial Kingdom that has been promised to Israel throughout the Old Testament.

Another passage, Ezekiel 20:33-38, describes a future judgment of national Israel (during the Tribulation) that will lead a remnant of Israel to national repentance and restoration – in connection with a regathering.

As I live, saith the Lord God, surely with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out, will I rule over you: And I will bring you out from the people, and will gather you out of the countries wherein ye are scattered, with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out. And I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and there will I plead with you face to face. Like as I pleaded with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I plead with you, saith the Lord God. And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant: And I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against me: I will bring them forth out of the country where they sojourn, and they shall not enter into the land of Israel: and ye shall know that I am the Lord. -Ezekiel 20:33-38

Here, we can see that the Lord will regather Israel in connection with the outpouring of His fury and wrath (the Tribulation), as He purges the rebels from the people. Zechariah 13:8 says two thirds of the Jews will perish at this time. He will then bring a repentant remnant into the bond of the New Covenant and will rule over them during the Kingdom Age. Everything about this describes the final regathering as Christ initiates the Kingdom. We see this same sequence being consistently repeated throughout the Bible when speaking of these events.

These same prophetic themes are further detailed in Jeremiah 31.

For thus saith the Lord; Sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations: publish ye, praise ye, and say, O Lord, save thy people, the remnant of Israel. Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth, and with them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and her that travaileth with child together: a great company shall return thither. They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble: for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn. Hear the word of the Lord, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock. For the Lord hath redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of him that was stronger than he. -Jeremiah 31:7-11

We can see that this is a worldwide regathering, as it references the north country and the coasts of the earth. We also see that this is a regathering in faith, as those being gathered are described as the righteous remnant returning with much weeping and supplications, or repentant prayers. This account is then elaborated on for the next twenty verses. Following this, we’re then shown the prophetic promise of the outpouring of the New Covenant upon Israel in Verses 31-34. So, the context reveals that Israel will receive this New Covenant after their second and final regathering in the Kingdom Age. Verses 31-34 say:

Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. -Jeremiah 31:31-34

God would continue to give more details about this through the inspired insights of other prophets. For instance, we see that Ezekiel Chapter 36 also foretells the worldwide regathering of Israel in preparation for receiving this New Covenant.

For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God. -Ezekiel 36:24-28

Again, the ultimate redemption and spiritual restoration of Israel in the Millennial Kingdom is the clear context of this passage, helping us to understand that this prophecy speaks of the regathering that occurs directly prior to it. Notice how this regathering implies a newly-repentant Israel, which is a scriptural requirement for the outpouring of the New Covenant (in the context of national Israel). Scripture tells us that God will not pour out the New Covenant upon an unrepentant Israel – but will pour it out upon the repentant remnant when they are regathered at Christ’s Second Coming (as all of the other verses clearly agree).

And so, the prophetic timeline laid out in scripture is consistent and clear. It is repeated over and over, as we see from this examination. When we're aware of Israel’s two worldwide regatherings, their significance as a modern and future national entity in God’s program becomes abundantly clear. We get all of this straight from the actual and literal meanings of the scriptural text. We did not have to change or allegorize anything in order to insert a new meaning. Instead, when we let God's Word speak for itself, we can only conclude that modern Israel is prophetically significant!

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