Back in the winter of 1984, Pope John Paul II was scheduled to visit an Italian hospital. The pope was running late that day, so the hospital staff waited patiently for his arrival in the lobby. A doctor with a handful of paperwork took a seat in a wheelchair and busied himself writing notes. He was so caught up in his scribbling that he failed to notice when the pope finally entered the hospital. The pope walked over to the doctor and blessed him. The doctor immediately stood up and walked forward. Believing they had witnessed a miracle, everyone in the pope’s entourage let out an audible gasp and crossed themselves.
Truthfully, I have never witnessed the miracle of a man confined to a wheelchair regaining his ability to walk, but I have walked in a miracle nation. I have been to Israel. The reestablishment of Israel in May of 1948 is a modern miracle.
Since most end-time prophecies have to do with the nation of Israel, scholars before 1948 struggled to make sense of those prophecies. Writing in 1909, C. I. Scofield said, “According to the prophets, Israel will be a regathered nation restored to her own land.” When Scofield wrote those words, Israel did not exist and there was no expectation that the nation would ever exist again.
In 1946, the founder of Southwest Radio Church, E. F. Webber wrote, “I cannot explain how, but at the end of this age Israel will be a nation again.” Five years later, he wrote, “I visited Palestine in 1950 and saw the Jews returning to their promised land from every nation.” Imagine how excited Webber must have been to see Bible prophecy being fulfilled before his eyes.
First among the signs of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ is the miraculous restoration of Israel in their land after more than twenty-five hundred years of being scattered among the nations. A remnant did indeed return around 500 b.c. under Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah. However, Israel was never an independent nation. They were ruled by the Persians, later by the Greeks, and then by the Romans. When the Zionist movement gained momentum at the beginning of the last century and Jews began to immigrate back to Palestine, the region was controlled by the Ottoman Empire. In 1917, the British conquered the Ottomans. Then the region was ruled under the British Mandate for Palestine. However, on May 14, 1948, when Israel declared independence, that all changed.
Israel’s rebirth was the most momentous prophetic fulfillment in recent history. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and other prophets predicted that in the last days, after many years of exile, the Jews would return. Isaiah even predicted that they would be born in a single day:
Before she travailed, she brought forth; before her pain came, she was delivered of a man child. Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children.
In these verses, Isaiah prophesied that the final restoration of Israel will be astonishing, and that the nation will be “born at once.” In other words, the nation of Israel would be reestablished in a day. Then, like a woman who gives birth before she has labor pains, the nation’s birth pains will occur after it is restored. This prophecy found partial fulfillment on the fourteenth day of May in 1948 when Israel declared independence and will find its final fulfillment when Christ returns.
On May 15, 1948, the day after the nation was born, the birth pains started when five Arab nations attacked Israel. The birth pains have continued ever since with one war after another. The 1948 and 1949 War of Independence was followed by the Suez Crisis of 1956. Next was the Six-Day War in June of 1967. That was followed by the War of Attrition (1967–1970), the Yom Kippur War (1973), the Palestinian Insurgency in South Lebanon (1971–1982), the Lebanese War (1982), the South Lebanon Conflict (1982–2000), the First Intifada or Arab Uprising (1987–1993), The Persian Gulf War (1990–1991), the Second Intifada (2000–2005), the Hezbollah War (2006), the Gaza War (2008–2009), and Operation Pillar of Defense (2012). Despite war after war, and terrorist attack after terrorist attack, Israel has amazingly withstood the onslaught because Israel’s fate is not in the hands of its enemies. Israel’s fate is in the hands of the God of miracles.
The prophet Jeremiah predicted that in the last days the regathering of the Jews in their land would come to be known as an even greater miracle than the Exodus (Jer. 16:14–15; 23:7–8). The Jewish people were dispersed to the four corners of the world for over two thousand years. During that time, they were hated, persecuted, and oppressed. Many, from Haman to Hitler, tried repeatedly to exterminate them. However, despite all those efforts, they never perished, nor did they lose their identity as a people. There were less than forty thousand Jews in Palestine in 1900. Today, there are more than 6 million who have come from all over the world. That is nothing short of a miracle.
Again, many prophesied events of the end times occur in Israel. These events could not take place if Israel did not exist. However, the miraculous nation does exist. On the seventy-third anniversary of Israel, everything appears to be falling into place for Israel’s date with destiny at the end of this age. Time is winding down.
Jan Markell, host of the national radio program “Understanding the Times,” said in a recent interview that the restoration of the nation of Israel is the “super sign” that the Lord is coming back soon. Author David Reagan agrees with Markell and calls the Jews “God’s prophetic time clock.” Regan explained, “What I mean by this is that the Scriptures will often tie a prophesied future event with something that will happen to the Jews. We are told to watch the Jews, and when the prophesied event concerning them occurs, we can be sure that the other prophesied event will also occur.”
Occasionally, I will hear someone say something like, “Wouldn’t it have been incredible to be alive in the times of the Bible and witness all of those miracles?” I submit to you that we are living in the times of the Bible and we are witnessing miracles. The miraculous rebirth of the nation of Israel is proof that Bible prophecy is being fulfilled, and the stage is being set for the grand finale of history. The Return of the Lord Jesus Christ is closer than ever.
Are you ready?