Ancient Israel was defeated by her enemies and taken into captivity in foreign lands, first to Assyria and then to Babylon. This would never had happened had the people not forsaken their God and His law. When they did, He withdrew His blessings and protection, just as centuries before He had warned He would. But the prophets He sent to urge the people to repent also said that a remnant of the nation would return and reestablish the nation of Israel. Many think that in the latter 1940's, this was fulfilled by the establishment of the modern state of Israel. But the Bible clearly teaches that such is not the case at all. The prophecies were fulfilled many centuries ago when under Ezra and Nehemiah and others some of Israel were permitted to return and rebuild their towns, capital and temple.
As we witness the horrible shedding of blood in Israel and Palestine today, we are saddened by the loss of life, by the immense human suffering and loss of every kind and by the obvious hatreds and bitterness. And unfortunately, while some of the leaders and most of the people on both sides say they want peace, there seem to be too many on each side that only want it at the expense of the total destruction of the other side.
Some believe that the modern state of Israel is somehow deeply involved in the "end time prophecies". It is not so. The modern state of Israel is not the subject of the prophecies. It was old Israel that was. The modern state is not the extension of the ancient state. It is not the ancient state reborn. It is a completely new state founded by men. I personally believe it has every right to exist, as does a Palestinian state. But these are political beliefs, not Biblical ones.
Note some differences between the modern state of Israel and ancient Israel:
1. Ancient Israel was established and given the Law of Moses. But the Law of Moses is no longer in force today (Gal. 3:19-29; 4:21-31; Eph. 2:14-16; Col. 2:14-15; Rom. 7:4). However, when the remnant of Israel returned from captivity about 5 centuries before Christ, the Law of Moses was still in force (Ezra 7:10), and that was their law. It is that reestablishment of Israel that fulfilled the prophecies, not the modern state.
2. Ancient Israel had a central place of worship. First, it was the tabernacle, and then the temple built in Jerusalem. (1 Kings 8:1-10). That temple was destroyed in the captivity, but then rebuilt in the return of the remnant about five centuries before Christ and worship was restored. Modern Israel has no such temple, and therefore cannot be the fulfillment of the ancient prophecies of restoration.
3. Ancient Israel had a priesthood taken out of the descendants of Levi. When the remnant returned from captivity about five centuries before Christ, the priesthood was restored, thus fulfilling the prophecies. Modern Israel fulfills no such prophecies.
4. When ancient Israel worshipped, they offered animal sacrifices. When the remnant returned from captivity, this practice was restored, thus fulfilling the prophecies about five centuries before Christ. No such sacrifices are being offered today, therefore the modern state of Israel is not the fulfillment of these prophecies.
5. In ancient Israel, there was tribal identity. It continued after the return of the remnant about five centuries before Christ. But there is no tribal identity today with the modern state of Israel. It is not the fulfillment of these prophecies.
So, again, the modern state of Israel is not the extension of the ancient state. It is not the ancient state reborn. It is a completely new state founded by men. There are certainly things for us to be concerned about with regard to the troubles in that part of the world. But it is not productive to speculate about how the modern state of Israel and it's troubles fit into the scope of the Bible message. It does not, at least any more so than any other state of men lost in sin and in need of a Redeemer.
By Jon W. Quinn
The Final Page
From Expository Files 9.5; May 2002