Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things?
Can a land be born in one day?
Can a nation be brought forth all at once?
As soon as Zion travailed, she also brought forth her sons.
Israel is about to turn 70 years old. Against all odds, this tiny Jewish nation is still here after fighting for its survival since the very day she was reborn in May 1948. While Israel is often likened to a phoenix, rising from the ashes of the Holocaust, that is only part of the whole story. Israel today is a promise fulfilled; she is the fulfillment of numerous prophecies made to the Children of Israel to be reestablished in the Land of Promise (Ezekiel 36:24; Jeremiah 16:14-15 to name a few). In much the same way that the Almighty brought the Hebrew slaves out of Egypt, He has also done with the severely persecuted Jewish people over the past hundred plus years. In fact, Jews of all nations have been immigrating en masse to the Promised Land since 1867. Today, Jewish people have an established Jewish nation to run to and seek refuge. In fact, Israel is a beacon of hope for all people that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is faithful to keep His word, and His plan will never be thwarted.
Yet just as Almighty God is at work, so is the enemy. The people of Israel have suffered greatly since becoming a nation in 1948, and continue to pay a heavy price for inhabiting the Land that God gave to them. As T. Afriat duly noted in her article written to commemorate Israel’s 60th Independence Day, “On May 14, 1948, David Ben-Gurion declared an independent Jewish state within the area designated by the United Nations’ Partition Plan that mandated a division of the territory of Palestine into two separate states, one Jewish, one Arab. On that same day, the armies of five Arab nations, with superior firepower and an Air Force at their disposal, attacked the seriously outgunned fledgling Jewish state. On the eve of the Arab invasion, the secretary general of the Arab league, Azzam Pasha, described the coming fate of the Jews: ‘This will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacre and the Crusades.’ It is nothing less than a miracle of God that, within eight months of fighting, the little Jewish settlement of less than 600,000 defeated five Arab armies and even expanded the territory allotted them by the UN Partition Plan. Since Israel’s establishment in 1948, Arab armies have twice attacked Israel with the intent of “exterminating” the Jewish state, without success: in the 1967 Six Day War and again in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. To this day, Israel faces the constant threat of annihilation from all sides; whether Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza, or Syria and Iran whose leader has promised another Jewish holocaust.” (60 Years for the Land of Israel) It is amazing how little has changed in 10 years! Israel still faces the very same threats, as well as a plethora of new ones, both from outside and within.
As we look to celebrate Israel’s miraculous 70 years as a nation reborn, we in Israel know that it has not come to us without a heavy price. We have paid for this independence with our blood, and the blood of our sons and daughters. For this very reason, we first remember our fallen loved ones before any celebration occurs on Independence Day (YomHaAtzma’ut in Hebrew).
Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day) begins at sundown on April 17th, 2018; all of Israel will stop to remember those who have lost their lives in the decades of war and terror. The entire nation stops as a siren sounds throughout the Land; we stand in remembrance of the fallen for a full two minutes of the siren’s duration. All regularly scheduled television programming stops, and the radio stations play a full twenty-four hours of memorial songs. Many of us visit the graves of loved ones who gave their lives to defend Israel, or who have been murdered in terror attacks, and we sit with those who continue to mourn their fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters whose lives were tragically cut short by the years of war and terror.
This day serves as a sobering reminder that freedom is never free. Yet, while we remember with heavy hearts, we also look forward to celebrating the miracle of Israel’s independence the next day. Yom HaAtzma’ut begins at sundown on April 18th. Israelis celebrate by gathering with friends and family for BBQs and festive meals, remembering what a great gift it is to once again have a place for all Jewish people to call “home”. Many non-Jewish citizens also celebrate – yes, even Israel’s Arab citizens – as this is also their country.
It is more crucial than ever in our modern history that the Jewish people have Israel to call home. The rise of anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel throughout the world make Israel’s existence all the more vital for the millions of Jewish people still living among the nations. We cannot think this will resolve soon, and must continue to support Israel in all arenas, so that Israel will be strengthened to endure the difficulties ahead.
Knowing that there are more difficult times ahead makes this year’s Independence Day celebrations all the more sweet. The Lord has graciously brought us to this point in time, and as a nation, we are grateful. Without His covering over Israel, there is little chance that she would survive today. But He is faithful and just to bring His word to pass! This is a great hope to all who know Him and love Him, because we can trust in His faithfulness!
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