May 2018 saw the 70th anniversary of the Declaration of the State of Israel on the 14th May 1948. It was a hugely signiﬁcant moment for the Jewish people who were returning to their original homeland of Israel nearly 2000 years after being removed from that land by the Romans.
Last year saw the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, and Britain’s inﬂuential hand in initially facilitating the return of the Jews to what was then Palestine. Then followed the Nazi persecution and the Holocaust, prompting an exodus of Jews from Europe to Palestine, at the time opposed by Britain with its Mandate to govern Palestine. The end of this Mandate, and subsequent Declaration of the State of Israel, was a controversial move which infuriated the Arab nations of that area and immediately sparked oﬀ the 1948 Arab-Israeli war in which ﬁve neighbouring countries launched an assault on the brand-new state of Israel, in an unsuccessful attempt to wipe it oﬀ the map.
During the seventy years, there has been many conﬂicts including the politically momentous Six Day War in 1967, the Yom Kippur War in 1973, wars in Lebanon and the Gaza strip. Despite the involvement of the United Nations and World powers such as the EU, the US and Russia, peace initiatives have come and gone. Tensions between Israel and its neighbours continue unabated and our news routinely includes coverage of the often violent clashes that result. Indeed, the eyes of the world are on this country the size of Wales.
What is less well known is the way in which so much of this was predicted in the Bible thousands of years ago by the prophets who described in advance both the scattering of the Jews around the world and their eventual regathering to the land of Israel which continues to this day. The prophet Ezekiel who himself was taken captive from Israel to Babylon, modern day Iraq, almost 600 years before Jesus was born:
Therefore say, So says the Lord GOD: Though I have sent them (the Jews) far oﬀ among the nations, and though I scattered them among the lands, yet I will be to them as a little sanctuary in the lands where they had gone. Therefore say, So says the Lord GOD: I will even gather you from the people and assemble you out of the lands, in those where you were scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.Ezekiel 11v16-17