If you look at a map of the world you could have trouble trying to find Israel if you did not know roughly where it is. Israel is tiny compared to surrounding countries in the Middle East being only 8,000 sq miles. It is 263 miles long and between 9 and 71 miles wide, the United Kingdom has 11 times the land area of Israel. So you may ask – why Israel? What is so special about this nation that draws so much international attention?
In the ancient world, this small land was the centre of the known world. Jerusalem (Israel’s capital) was at the very heart of three gigantic landmasses; Asia, Africa and Europe. Israel was located in an extremely important strategic position between the Mediterranean to the west and the Syrian Arabian desert to the east, forming a narrow bridge that connected the great powers of the Ancient Near East. This meant that any nation coming to or from Egypt, or travelling from the Mediterranean to the Gulf of Aqaba, had to go through this area. Therefore, for many years, this area was the crossroads for international economic development.
The establishment of the modern state of Israel can be considered a miracle in its own right. On 2nd November 1917, Britain issued the Balfour Declaration, viewed as an endorsement of a national home for the Jewish people. There was much opposition to a home for the Jewish people, especially from Arab nations, despite six million Jews being killed in the World War II holocaust. The 14th May 1948 finally saw the establishment of the State of Israel, but the problems for the Jewish people did not end here – in fact, they got worse…
Many people do not realise that Israel is the only country in the Middle East with a parliamentary democracy and a high standard of human care. Within Israel, Jews are a majority, but the Arab minority are full citizens who have equal rights under the law. Arabs in Israel have equal voting rights with Israel and it is one of the few places in the Middle East where Arab women may vote. When the state of Israel was established, there were only 806,000 residents – however, as of October 2019 there is a population of over 9 million, 74% of whom are of Jewish background. This figure will continue to rise as the worldwide Jewish population return to their homeland amid increasing persecution.
Jerusalem seems to be highly sought after
Jerusalem has become the most contested real-estate on earth. It has been completely destroyed twice (586 BC and 70 AD), besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times, and captured and recaptured 44 times according to Wikipedia. There is clearly very something special about this small patch of land.
The Middle East is regularly in the media with reports of disruption or violence of some kind. The surrounding nations are very vocal in their hatred for Israel and the Jewish people and this nation is constantly subjected to unjustified action from the international community. Below are a few examples of the kinds of threats Israel has to face:
Islamic State (IS) is an extreme Islamic group which has terrorised the populations of Iraq and Syria. They have been responsible for a number of atrocities in recent years which have attracted the military intervention of the US.
IS have already shown the intent to continue its reign of terror into other Arab countries which will lead Lebanon and Jordan will be watch nervously. If this group continues to grow in size, it can only be a matter of time before it turns towards Israel. Recent accounts of genocide against Christians, Yazidi’s and other groups are very disturbing – we can only imagine what they would do to Israel given half a chance.
Former Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was not one to shy away from his feelings for Israel. He is constantly saying Israel has “no roots” in the Middle East and would be “eliminated“. The current President, Hassan Rouhani, is no less vocal calling Israel a “festering Zionist tumor.” These thoughts are all backed up by Ali Khamenei, the Supreme leader, who would like to “kill all the Jews and annihilate Israel.”
Obviously the majority of recent media reports concerning Iran and Israel has been dominated Iran’s nuclear program and whether Israel will strike Iran to prevent completion. Any action of Israel or Iran in this area would play a very pivotal role in the stability of the Middle East and would have repercussions around the world.
Hamas emerged as the Palestinian wing of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and its main goal is to “liberate” Palestinian territories from Israeli “occupation”. They primarily operate out of the Gaza Strip. Nizzar Rayyan, the former Hamas leader has stated “The only reason to have a hudna is to prepare yourself for the final battle. We don’t need 50 years to prepare ourselves for the final battle with Israel.” Furthermore, he stated that true Islam would ever allow a Jewish state to survive in the Muslim Middle East. “Israel is an impossibility. It is an offence against God”. This Hamas sermon from Gaza shows their feels for Israel and the Jewish people stating “Our doctrine in fighting you (the Jews) is that we will totally exterminate you. We will not leave a single one of you alive…”
Israel has had to build huge concrete walls separating Palestinian territories from theirs because of deadly suicide bombings. Since 2005 Hamas has fired over 11,000 rockets into Israel with extra intensity during conflicts when Israel reacts. Hamas even fires missiles from heavily populated civilian areas to provoke Israel into striking back at these locations – they even tell civilians to ignore IDF warnings to leave and stay as human shields.
Hezbollah is a radical Shi’a muslim organisation based in Lebanon who have the backing of Iran. Like Iran they are vocal on their hatred for Israel saying that have 70,000 rockets aimed at Israel in case of any action is taken against Iran.
These are just a few examples of the nations/organisations that openly admit their intentions towards the Jews. This pattern is evident throughout the world, although in a less overt manner. Antisemitic attacks continue to rise within Western nations in a problem which appears to be spiralling out of control – no wonder, many within the Jewish population feel that their only option is to relocate to Israel where at least there is safety in numbers.
So why is there so much attention on Israel?
What is it about Israel, this tiny nation, that attracts so much hostility from others?
The simple answer is that the Bible teaches that Israel is God’s chosen land and the Jews are His chosen people. History has proven this to be true – they have miraculously survived millennia of sustained aggression whether they exist as a nation or nomadic community. Any nation that is hostile to the Judea-Christian God will also be hostile to Israel.
For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession. (Deuteronomy 7:6 NIV)
you his servants, the descendants of Israel, his chosen ones, the children of Jacob. (1 Chronicles 16:13 NIV, emphasis added)
A discussion on the reasons for God choosing the Jews and this particular parcel of land would miss the point – the fact remains that God did choose them. This fact was cemented forever when God made everlasting promises (covenants) with Israel as laid out in the following two passages:
When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless. Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.” Abram fell facedown, and God said to him, “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.” (Genesis 17:1-8 NIV)
He remembers his covenant forever, the promise he made, for a thousand generations, the covenant he made with Abraham, the oath he swore to Isaac. He confirmed it to Jacob as a decree, to Israel as an everlasting covenant: “To you, I will give the land of Canaan as the portion you will inherit.” (Psalm 105:8-11 NIV)
This covenant clearly concerned a literal piece of land and was not dependant on any action of Israel – furthermore, this covenant still applies today as it was unconditional and everlasting. David also clearly understood this promise as referring to a literal land and confirmed it was an “everlasting” covenant. Moments before Jesus ascended into heaven, even the disciples understood the timeless condition of this covenant and that the kingdom of Israel would be restored in fulfilment of this covenant. Jesus did not deny the truth of this (He would have corrected them otherwise) – he simply told them they did not need to know when it would happen, however – it will happen!
Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. (Acts 1:6-7 NIV)
God has made these promises to Israel and He will never forget these promises and will regather His people to His land:
‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land. I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms. (Ezekiel 37:21-22 NIV)
and 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,” says the LORD your God. (Amos 9:14-15 NIV)
It is also worth noting that the land promised in the covenant is much larger than the current State of Israel:
On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants, I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates– (Genesis 15:18 NIV)
The land part of the covenant as in the above verse (shown in the map on the right) stretches from the Nile River in Egypt to the Euphrates River in modern-day Iraq and is known as Greater Israel. Obviously Israel does not possess all this land presently but there will come a time when God will restore all the land He gave in His covenant to the Jewish people.
However, it is vital to recognise that there is also a serious spiritual dimension to the world’s animosity towards Israel.
Satan knows the Bible and will desperately try to prevent God’s prophetic Word from coming to pass at any cost. Satan knows the prophecies concerning the Jews and that a remnant will come to recognise Jesus as their Saviour.
And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. (Zechariah 12:10 NIV)
He does not want this to happen and is desperately using nations to try to wipe out the Jews to prevent this. After the covenant was made with Abraham, Satan went to great lengths to get the Jews away from the land and tried destroying them.
Furthermore, Satan is also aware that there remains unfulfilled prophecy concerning events in the land of Israel and more specifically Jerusalem. This is resulting in a futile attempt to remove the Jews from this land to prevent his own judgment. Satan is well aware that Scripture describes the re-gathering of the Jews to their land as synonymous with the last days. As he has not been able to prevent it (despite many attempts!) he is now intent on destroying the Jews completely as history demonstrates has always been the case.
God’s Prophetic Clock
Israel can be viewed as God’s prophetic clock. We can determine where we are in Gods plan of salvation for mankind by looking at the current status of Israel as a nation. We have now reached a time in history where Israel is returning to the land which God promised to give them (as predicted would be the case in the last days). Political events are shaping up in a way that could well lead to the battles that are described in Scripture concerning Israel that have not yet come to pass. The world is poised in numerous ways for Christ’s return. Our article Are we living in the end times? goes into greater detail of these signs.
A key passage in understanding WHY God’s attention will return to Israel
The passages in this article (and many others not listed) make it crystal clear that Israel will be, and are being, regathered back to their land. In the passage below, we are given the main reason:
Therefore say to the Israelites, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: It is not for your sake, people of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone. I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Sovereign LORD, when I am proved holy through you before their eyes. ‘For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. (Ezekiel 36:22-24 NIV)
God WILL fulfil every promise made to Israel for His name’s sake – His own reputation for faithfulness is at stake! It has nothing to do with the righteousness of Israel, far from it. God will demonstrate that He keeps EVERY promise so that His name is “sanctified” and His people can be 100% certain that God Word is trustworthy and steadfast. This will prove that our Lord God is the ONLY God as events that are written in ancient times by God’s prophets unfold exactly as predicted. This will happen as God PROVES His Word is true and should result in mankind drawing towards Him.
Israel is blessed!
When Israel was founded May 1948, it was a barren country with no natural resources, not much water, over half of the land desert. Seventy years later, Israel is an oasis of technology being one of the leading players in the world of high-tech innovation that attracts international giants to the land. Israel is home to some of the most advanced medical research and leading the way in treatments for many diseases. Israel plays a considerable role in the most important challenges facing our planet, from health breakthroughs to technology, agriculture, the environment and the arts – innovations which as are transforming and enriching lives everywhere. Of the over 800 individuals who have been awarded Nobel prizes, 187 are of Jewish descent – the Jews have clearly contributed much to the world!
Here are some other amazing recent statistics showing how much Israel is blessed:
- LONGEVITY IN ISRAEL AMONG THE WORLD’S HIGHEST: A new report shows longevity in Israel is among the highest in the world and ranks in fifth place for life expectancy among OECD countries – higher than Sweden and France, for example.
- ISRAEL IS THE SECOND-MOST EDUCATED COUNTRY: Israel is the second-most educated country among OECD member countries, according to a new report. The study found that 46% of all 25-64 year-olds in Israel have a higher education. Israel also has the highest ratio of university degrees to the population in the world and it produces more scientific papers per capita than any other nation by some degree.
- JEWISH BIRTHRATE HIGHEST IN 34 YEARS: The Jewish birthrate was higher in 2011 than it has been since 1977, the Central Statistics Bureau reported.
God really is blessing His land and people despite the sustained aggressions of neighbours. There have been three major wars directed at Israel since it’s establishment:
1948 – Arab-Israeli War (War of Independence)
On the day of Israel’s independence – May 14th – armies of Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq attacked Israel. At the time Israel’s army only numbered 100,000 and with the size of the forces attacking many gave Israel any chance of survival. However, the Israeli forces, which were under joint command, were able to gain the offensive and overcome the opposition for their military victory. This war claimed 6,000 Israeli lives – 1% of the nation’s population.
1967 – Arab-Israeli War (Six-Day War)
The Six-Day War was fought between June 5th and June 10th against Syria, Jordan and Egypt. It has been said that for Israel this war was a question of sheer survival; for the Arabs, it was one of credibility. The Arabs refused negotiation attempts and Egypt made highly provocative moves (sending military forces in the sensitive Suez zone and enforced a naval blockade which closed the Gulf of Aqaba to Israeli shipping and stopping the flow of oil from its main supplier, Iran). Israel saw this only one way – Egypt was preparing to attack.
Egypt had 210,000 troops ready (100,000 with 930 tanks). Egyptian Air Force has the largest and most modern of all the Arab air forces, having 450 combat aircraft, all Soviet-built and relatively new. Syria had 63,000 troops and Jordan 55,000 – giving 328,000 troops ready to fight Israel. The Arabs had double the number of tanks compared to Israel (2,330 against 1000) and far more combat aircraft (682 compared to Israel’s 286). A fully mobilized Israel could gather 250,000 men so Israel would need to rely on the training and motivation of this largely civilian army against the superiority of the Arabs in manpower and weaponry.
Instead of waiting to be attacked, Israel launched a hugely successful military campaign and by 5th June the air forces of Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Iraq were all but destroyed. In the next couple of days, many Egyptian tanks had been destroyed, the whole of the west bank of the Jordan River had been cleared of Jordanian forces and the Golan Heights were captured from Syria.
By the end, Israel had conquered enough territory to more than triple the size of the area it controlled, from 8,000 to 26,000 square miles. The victory enabled Israel to unify Jerusalem. The war was a disaster for the Arab world, four of the strongest Arab nations systematically defeated by just one small nation.
1973 – Arab-Israeli War (Yom Kippur War)
Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement, the holiest day of prayer and fasting in the Jewish calendar. It started on Saturday 6th October with a surprise Arab attack by Egyptian and Syrian military forces knowing the Israeli military would be celebrating and unprepared. On the Golan Heights alone, 150 Israeli tanks faced 1,400 Syria tanks and in the Suez region, just 500 Israeli soldiers faced 80,000 Egyptian soldiers.
During the first few days of the war, Egypt and Syria secured victories in the Sinai and the Golan but by 9th October, Israeli forces were able to contain the threat on both fronts. With help of extra military equipment, supplied by the US, Israel then retook most of its territorial losses, even gaining more ground against both the Egyptians and Syrians. On 24th October, a cease-fire was organised by the United Nations.
Any person looking at these wars would never have given Israel a chance – on all accounts Israel should not exist given the size and weaponry of their attackers. In each of these wars the Israelis were fighting for their own existence and there have been countless miracles documented during these battles as God protects His land and people.
What is Israel’s future?
Israel has a glorious future – in the Millennial Kingdom Israel will be given centre-stage as Jesus Christ reigns over a restored world. Until then, Israel will have to go through very perilous times as the Jews continue to be re-gathered in their land in unbelief as end times events continue to unfold.
Israel is the epicentre for Bible prophecy and there are two major battles against Israel clearly described in Scripture which have yet to be fulfilled:
This Psalm describes Israel’s neighbours launching a combined attack. The nations mentioned in Scripture are named with their ancient names but the modern equivalents are Jordan, parts of the West Bank, Lebanon (Hezbollah), Gaza (Hamas), Syria / parts of Turkey and Iraq. All of these are sworn to the destruction of Israel and it is Israel’s Defence Force that defeats these nations. Watch events in the Middle East as everything is in place for the fulfilment of this to begin
Israel needs to be in a certain state for this battle to begin where Ezekiel describes the Jews dwelling safely without walls. This certainly is not the case now, the Psalm 83 battle could be the bridge that sets up conditions for the fulfilment of this prophecy. Again the modern names of these nations mentioned by Ezekiel are: Russia, Turkey, Iran, Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. On this occasion, the Lord himself will divinely intervene to rescue His land from it’s attackers.
Stand Up for Israel
The Jews currently live in unbelief and have unprecedented tough times ahead of them in their present state of unbelief (See Matthew 24:21-22). We recognise that in their present state of unbelief their actions are far from perfect and their leaders make many mistakes – however, surroundings nations, international bodies (e.g. the UN), the world media, “human rights” groups and almost every level of society across the planet have an irrational and disproportionate animosity to Israel. Saved believers in Christ have a duty to stand up for Israel’s right of existence and to defend them in any way they can – no-one is described as the apple of God’s eye (Zechariah 2:8)! We believe we will be accountable to God specifically for our treatment of the Jews (see Matthew 25:31-46 where Jesus “brethren” could apply exclusively to the Jewish people) when we meet Him on the day of judgment.
The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:1-3 NIV)
This passage is timeless and that it applies both nationally and individually. When you appear before your Creator God to give an account of your work on earth, will you be able to confidently say you were a blessing to Israel and the Jews?
The Lord made an oath that as long as the sun, moon, and stars exist so will the nation of Israel – it is therefore set in stone…
This is what the LORD says, he who appoints the sun to shine by day, who decrees the moon and stars to shine by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar–the LORD Almighty is his name: “Only if these decrees vanish from my sight,” declares the LORD, “will Israel ever cease being a nation before me.” This is what the LORD says: “Only if the heavens above can be measured and the foundations of the earth below be searched out will I reject all the descendants of Israel because of all they have done,” declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 31:35-37 NIV)