In my last post, I discussed with you a subject that is very dear to my heart…God’s Word. We discussed the elapsed time involved in the writing of this magnificent Canon of scripture. We discussed the fact that God’s Word is divinely inspired, and because of the importance of God’s words, the Bible has been divinely preserved throughout history. We discussed the fact that God has left His Word for our benefit, to teach us, to direct us, and to fortify in a us a hope that can only come from seeking an understanding of the very heart of God through Scripture. We also discussed the infallibility of scripture and the stunning historical accuracy contained in it’s message.
This one aspect of God’s Word continues to amaze me, and it should give a long moment of pause and reflection to those who would seek to diminish the worth of Scripture. The predictive power to accurately foretell the future is held on this earth by God’s Word alone. It is only in the Bible that we find very specific prophecies concerning future events...prophecies that all seem to be coming true.
There are 26 ‘books’ that claim to be scripture…books like the Hindu Vedas, the Book of Mormon, and the Muslim Quran. Specific prophecies of future events are definitively, and conspicuously, absent in all of these other ‘books of scripture.’ That is a point that may be purposely overlooked by skeptics of the Bible, but their intentional oversight could lead to their peril. If there were more than one God (and there’s not), I would feel much better about myself if I chose to follow the God who could accurately predict the future! Wouldn’t you agree?
In the book of Isaiah, God’s Word sets forth a defining standard for ‘gods.’ This particular chapter is discussing the foolishness and futility of idols, and the verse simply says this…
“Tell us what is to come hereafter, that we may know that you are gods…” – Isaiah 41:23
Predicting the future…something only God’s Word can do!
I believe the greatest prophecy that has been fulfilled in Scripture up to this present day concerns God’s own people, a group of grumpy, misbehaving, and hard-headed Israelites. For their lack of obedience and open rebellion against God, they proceeded through life without a homeland for 1,900 years. God promised them this fate for their bad behavior in Deuteronomy 28:64. He said that He would ‘scatter them from one end of the earth to another,’ and He certainly did just that. Not only were they scattered for almost two centuries, they remain hated, despised, and they live under the constant threat of annihilation. However, God did not just promise to scatter them; He also promised to protect and restore them.
In this century, God honored His promise to His people, and He restored the Jews to their homeland. This was a long journey, but it was a trek that God was controlling from the very beginning. To give you a clearer understanding of how remarkable this restoration of Israel really is, it’s important to know the history of the journey…
Let’s begin around 70 AD and Roman Rule…
The Romans destroyed the Temple and leveled Jerusalem. They rebuilt Jerusalem as a Roman city and renamed it Aeolian Capitolina. The land of Israel was renamed Palestine (a name derived from the extinct Philistines who were mortal enemies of the Jews in ancient times). At this time, Jews were prohibited from living in their homeland.
638 AD: The Muslims Assume Control…
Throughout the next 568 years, Roman control of the Jewish homeland went from the old Roman Empire to the Byzantine Empire (the Christian version of the old Rome) who still did not allow Jews to enter Palestine (the renamed land of Israel). In 638 AD, the Muslims conquered the Byzantines and kept the same anti-Jewish policy, with the brief exception of the period during the ‘Crusades.” Within this period, the Turkish-Ottoman Empire held onto the longest continuous rule of the Jewish homeland, from 1518 to 1917. The old Jerusalem was forgotten, and it’s infrastructure began to crumble and waste away. Jerusalem was virtually neglected, and it was completely occupied by Arabs.
Early Migrations Back to the Homeland…
In 1210, following the end of the Crusades, about 300 Rabbi’s resettled in Israel.
In 1263, the Rabbi Ramban established a community on Mount Zion outside the walls of Jerusalem. In the 1400’s, this community moved inside the walls and established the Ramban Synagogue which still exists today.
In 1492, Jews were expelled from Spain, and many of those Jewish families moved back to their homeland.
In the 16th century, more Jews migrated to the city of Safed, making it the largest Jewish population in Israel at the time.
The 19th Century…
By 1880, there were about 40,000 Jews living in Israel among 400,000 Muslims.
In 1882, Jews in Russia formed an organization called ‘Bilu.’ In short, this was taken from Isaiah 2:5, and it meant ‘House of Jacob, come, let us go.’ Bilu was integral in the early settlement movement from Russia and Romania back to Israel. This movement was known as the ‘First Aliyah.’ In antiquity, the term ‘Aliyah’ referred to Jews making a trip to Jerusalem to visit the holiest place on earth- the Temple.
Between 1882 through 1891, around 30,000 Jews made the ‘Aliyah’ migration back to their homeland.
The Homeland Regained…
On May 14, 1948, the impossible happened. The State of Israel was founded following almost 2,000 years of exile. God’s people were scattered all over the earth (the fulfillment of one prophecy), and after 2,000 years, they were restored together as a nation, which fulfilled another prophecy.
“For behold, days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will restore the fortunes of my people, Israel and Judah, says the Lord, and I will bring them back to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall take possession of it.” – Jeremiah 30:3 (ESV)
This has probably been too much history for most of you, but it’s important to know that God’s promises are not just true, but they are coming true. In the middle of the impossible, we see the prophecies contained in the Bible materializing before us. The above is simply one example. There are others, and there will continue to be others until the day that Christ puts an end to the nonsense of Satan in our world.
Let me give you another prophecy and promise of God to think about as I leave this post…
“I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” – Revelation 22:18-20 (ESV)
He’s coming soon…even so, Lord, come!
Keith Beatty is a Worship, Missions and Media Pastor living in North Alabama. He's excited and very humbled to be a follower of Jesus Christ!