In 1948, Iyar 5 on the Hebrew calendar, and May 14 on our western calendar, the nation of Israel was born. David Ben-Gurion, Israel's first prime minister, stood in a Tel Aviv art gallery to read the nation's Declaration of Independence and declare that the Jewish State would be called "Israel." Long ago, God chose the Jewish people to demonstrate His promise-keeping character to the world.
If we look back to the time when the Israelites crossed into the Promised Land and drove out the unrighteous nations, we see that they forgot the way God provided for, empowered, and protected them. They quickly rebelled and angered the Lord to such a degree that He declared, "I will scatter you among the nations..." (Leviticus 26:33) Indeed, this is what happened several times. AD 70 was known for a huge dispersion when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and scattered the Jews around the world.
The Jewish people are tenacious and clung to the promises of God through their years of exile. Amos 9:14-15 was one of these promises. "I will bring my people Israel back from exile. 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..." For centuries, the Jews made aliyah (immigration to Israel). When Germany initiated World War II, aliyah came to a holt and six million Jews were killed before the war ended. The importance of having a homeland for the Jews became obvious. So it was, in 1948, that the Jewish dream of having their homeland restored became a reality.
The young nation would immediately face a battle as five surrounding Arab nations with well-trained soldiers and abundant equipment came against them. It was only through a miracle of God that Israel prevailed. The question asked in Isaiah 66:8 was answered with a resounding "Yes!" "Can a country be born in a day, or a nation be brought forth in a moment?" Since 1948, Israel has been challenged by enemy forces on several occasions. With God's help they have prevailed and built Israel into one of the most prosperous nations in the world.
Israel's first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, said it well: "In Israel, in order to be a realist, one must believe in miracles!" And the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is just that--He has been their consistent help and deliverer. He has guided them and helped as Israel transformed a once inhospitable region into a garden. According to the book Israel, 75 Years of Miracles, this small nation has "become a world leader in science and technology and in health and medicine."
We should celebrate this 75-year anniversary with the people of Israel as this nation is God's demonstration of His faithfulness and love for a people He calls His own. God continues to gather His people back from the lands where they were scattered. The covenant He made with Abraham has been kept, and the land and people will continue to thrive beyond this Diamond Jubilee.
Joan E. Mathias