Zionism Prophesied in the Bible: Part 1
Nov 15, 2006
When the Israeli state was founded in 1948, it was hailed by many Christians as the fulfillment of Bible prophecy. They were right, but they were often looking at the wrong set of prophecies. It was not the fulfillment of the prophecies regarding the regathering of the House of Israel, for Israel had been "lost" and dispersed in the Assyrian captivity from 745-721 B.C.
There is a biblical distinction between Israel and Judah, ever since Jacob gave his name "Israel" to the sons of Joseph (Gen. 48:16). As part of the United Kingdom of Israel in the days of Saul, David, and Solomon, the tribe of Judah was considered to be part of Israel; but when the kingdom split after Solomon's death, the name remained with the sons of Joseph in the north. Judah and Benjamin had to settle upon the official name of the dominant tribe, Judah, and became known as the House of Judah.
The name of Judah's citizens, Yehudi, or Judahites, was later shortened in English to "Jews." This is the origin of Jews, as distinct from Israelites.
The Israelites were captured and deported by the Assyrians. Scripture tells us that they were taken to the area near the Caspian Sea. Their records call them Bit-Humria, or Beth-Khumri, or simply Ghomri or Gomera. Thus, they also lost their name, Israel, and this caused them to be lost to historians for many years. But one thing is clear: They were not "Jews," neither before nor after their dispersion.
The Bible prophesies the regathering of those lost sheep of the House of Israel (Ez. 34). But the Jews are unable to fulfill that set of prophecies, because they were of Judah and were never lost. The prophets give them a different set of prophecies, all addressed to Judah or Jerusalem.
See, for instance, the contrasting prophecies between Jer. 18:1-10, given to Israel, and the prophecies given to Judah in Jer. 18:11 through chapter 19. Israel is a potter's vessel that was destroyed and rebuilt, because it was like wet clay. Judah, on the other hand, was pictured as an old earthen vessel, hardened clay portraying their hardened hearts. The prophet was led to smash it in the valley of Ben-Hinnom (gehenna in the New Testament), saying in Jer. 19:11,
". . . Just so will I break this people and this city, even as one breaks a potter's vessel which cannot again be repaired."
What a contrast! Israel was to be made into another vessel, but Judah and Jerusalem was to be destroyed in such a way that it could never be repaired. Jerusalem was certainly destroyed by Babylon in 586 B.C. It was repaired in the days of Nehemiah. The city was again destroyed by Rome in 70 A.D. It was later repaired. There is a day coming when it will be destroyed in such a way that it will NEVER AGAIN be repaired.
This will be the day that we see the "bondwoman" (Jerusalem, Gal. 4:25-30) fully cast out, as Paul tells us.
The question is this: Why did God allow Jerusalem to be repaired after being destroyed twice? Simply because Jerusalem yet had a prophet role to fulfill. Likewise, when the Zionists created their state in 1948 and later took control of Jerusalem in 1967, God allowed it, not because He favored the Zionists, but because He intended that they control Jerusalem at the time of its final destruction.
The nation of Judah was pictured symbolically in Scripture as a fig tree. Jeremiah saw two fig trees, each having very different kinds of fruit (Jer. 24). There were two types of Judahites, or Jews. Some were good, some were evil. The prophet gives us the chief characteristics of each. The good figs from the good fig tree are those who submit to the judgment of God, who had given the nation into the hands of the king of Babylon. The evil figs, however, would fight the judgment and be destroyed in the process.
In Jesus' day, the same principle held true under the rule of Rome. Most of the people in Jesus' day wanted to fight the Romans as well, and they were severely judged for it. Ultimately, the city and nation was destroyed because of their spirit of revolt. These "fighting Jews," as Menachem Begin eulogized them, were not heroes of God, but were evil figs who did not know God and refused to submit to divine judgment for their sin.
Meanwhile, however, the "good figs" followed Jesus' example and submitted to Rome. They even allowed themselves to be scattered into the Roman Empire when the Jewish priests persecuted them in Acts 8. In this scattering, they were shown to be good figs. They were the true inheritors of the Tribe of Judah. Today we know them as the early Church, but in fact, they were the Tribe of Judah, to which were added all those who came to follow the King of Judah, Jesus Christ.
The remnant of evil figs who survived were dispersed by force, but not for their good, as Jeremiah prophesied in 24:9. Over the years, certain of them repented and came to know Jesus as Messiah. They joined the good figs and came to be part of the true Tribe of Judah, along with many others of differing genealogies.
But the point is this: those who call themselves Jews today are not Jews in the eyes of God. If they want to become Jews, they must have a heart change and follow the King of Judah, Jesus Christ. This is why Paul tells us in Romans 2:28, 29 that a true Jew is one with the heart circumcision, while, by contrast, those with a mere outward circumcision is NOT a Jew. It is a heart matter, not a genealogical matter.
Yet Jesus prophesied also about this company of evil figs. In Matt. 22:1-7, He prophesied that God would send His army of Romans to destroy the city. This was fulfilled in 70 A.D. In Matt. 21:19, He cursed the fig tree that had no fruit on it, saying, "No longer shall there EVER be any fruit from you." Later, however, He qualified this in Matt. 24:32, 33, saying that the fig tree would again bring forth LEAVES as a sign that the end was near.
The evangelical prophecy teachers are correct that this was fulfilled in 1948. Yes, the unfruitful fig tree did come back to life and bring forth leaves. The question now is whether or not it will bring forth FRUIT. Jesus said it would never again bring forth fruit. The prophecy teachers beg to differ, saying that the Zionists will soon be converted to Christ, and Jerusalem will become the capital of the Kingdom of God. They may disagree with Jesus, but we do not have to agree with them.
It really does come down to the question of who is a Jew in the eyes of God. We know who a Jew is in the eyes of men. Men define Jews in terms of the evil figs; God defines Jews in terms of the good figs. Men define Jews in terms of outward circumcision; God defines Jews in terms of inward circumcision. In my view, it is better to believe God, rather than men.
Of course, there is another issue set before us. It is the dispute over who an Israelite is. Most Jews understand that they are not of the House of Israel, even if prophecy teachers are trying to transform them into Israelites in order to fulfill prophecy. For thousands of years, Jews have prayed in their synagogues to be reunited with the House of Israel. Yet in 1948 they suddenly became Israel.
Wow! What happened? Were the lost tribes suddenly found? Did they all suddenly convert to Judaism? Did they all immigrate to Palestine? No, the leaders of the new Zionist state decided to call their nation Israel in order to trick Christian prophecy teachers into thinking they were fulfilling the prophecies of the regathering of the House of Israel. It worked like a charm, and evangelicals have been rabid about supporting Zionism ever since that time.
But once again, we have the option of not believing the big lie. We can actually believe the Scripture, the prophets, Jesus, and Paul.
This is the first part of a series titled "Zionism Prophesied in the Bible." To view all parts, click the link below.