If anyone has ever doubted the authenticity and authority of God’s Word, then I have news for you: Israel is the confirmation of God making good on ancient promises. This week we celebrate 74 years of Israeli statehood! In Hebrew, this day is called, “Yom Ha’atzmaut,” which means, “Independence Day.”
But Israel wasn’t a newly formed nation in 1948—no, the history and legacy of the Jewish people’s indomitable spirit had lived prior to then for millennia. 1948 was just the revealing of a new chapter within the ever-continuing story of the children of Abraham, God’s chosen people.
In Numbers 33:53, God tells the nation of Israel, “You are to take possession of the land and settle in it, for I have given you the land to possess.” Wait, so if it’s free why do the people of Israel have to “take possession?” I believe God recognizes that the human spirit values what it earns much more than what it is freely given. When God commissioned the nation to take possession of the land of Israel, He didn’t say, “it’ll be easy” and “all you’ve gotta do is receive,” instead, He told the nation of Israel, as it says in Isaiah 41, “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will surely help you; I will uphold you with My right hand of righteousness.”
This has been God’s promise to Israel, “I am with you.” Over and over again, history has chiseled this fact into the bedrock of antiquity. God is with His people. And with 74 years of the state of Israel gracing the world with her presence, it shows to all creation: God is a covenant keeping, ever faithful, trustworthy King.
With 74 years of the state of Israel gracing the world with her presence, it shows to all creation: God is a covenant keeping, ever faithful, trustworthy King.
But as the saying goes, “Freedom is never free.” It works the same in the story of the rebirth of the nation of Israel. Right before the day of “Yom Ha’atzmaut—Israeli Independence Day,” comes the day of “Yom Ha’zikaron—Memorial Day.” In order to fully appreciate the Independence of Israel, one must remember the sacrifices of those who gave up their lives for the freedom and establishment of Israel. So many people want to “rejoice with those who rejoice.” And I get it, who doesn’t love a good, kosher party (esp. an Israeli one!).
What’s hard is to “mourn with those who mourn.” But Isaiah 61 tells us that the Spirit of the L-rd is given to those who will, “…comfort all who mourn, to console the mourners in Zion.” And though it can be difficult to see the worth of land in the face of human suffering, when blood is spilled for “Kedushat Hashem—the sanctification of God’s Name,” we pray it brings us all—the entire world—to a closer place of receiving God’s light. So, we thank God for restoring Israel, and we ask, as the Psalmist wrote, in Psalm 80:3, “Restore us, O God, and cause Your face to shine upon us, that we [and the whole entire world] may be saved.”