Can Israel survive?
On the eve of Israel’s 75th year of existence as a sovereign nation, it’s heartbreaking to even ask the question if Israel can survive, but that was the essence of a recent article which appeared in our local newspaper.
The writer mentioned that former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett had once said that “our ancestors blew it, explaining that they couldn’t keep it together for more than 80 years.”
He said that “a review of our own history might suggest that, as Jews, we haven’t been able to run our own country for more than 80 years.” There had only been 79 years of Jewish sovereignty and a Jewish state, once King David died, ending in a split kingdom during the time of his grandson’s reign. Even at a later period, the Maccabees ruled for less than 80 years, with all of these events causing article's writer, Moti Kahana, to speculate that perhaps the Jewish nation is incapable of living sovereignly into the future.
In an attempt to suggest we look into Plan B, Kahana wonders if, instead, “our destiny is to wander around the world and promote positivity, Jewish values and strengths.”
But as long as we’re looking back at the history of the Jewish people, this might be an appropriate time to remember another important question concerning the survival of the Jewish people.
The time was between 592 B.C.E and 570 B.C.E. The place was The Valley of Dry Bones. The question was posed by God to Ezekiel the prophet: "Can these bones live?” But Ezekiel, unable to answer, responded by saying, “O Lord God, You know.”
It was in that very moment of uncertainty that God told him to prophesy over the dry bones, letting them know that He would cause breath to enter them so they would come alive. And so they did, after the four winds came and breathed life into them, enabling them to stand on their feet as an exceedingly great army.
Those bones, for those who don’t know, were the whole house of Israel, accompanied with the promise that God would place them in their own land (Ezekiel 37).
So how is it that more than 2,500 years later, someone is essentially wondering whether or not there is an impending expiration date on that promise? And what a promise! Not only would we be gathered from the nations, as foretold in that same chapter but also, as a people, we would “no longer be two nations, divided into two kingdoms (vs. 22). Yet, the facts on the ground would say that we have strayed so far from coming close to living out that reality.
We are so far off the mark that someone is brazenly suggesting that we might as well just chalk up another failing attempt at peoplehood and go back to the nations from which we came. If that’s not the ultimate wake-up call to Israel, then what is?
How is it possible that anyone would doubt the promise of this exquisite chapter, which says that “they, their sons and their son’s sons will live in this land forever?”
So, what’s the secret potion that is holding back this prophetic-miracle-success story from happening right before our eyes? It is the part where God says that He will cleanse us; and that is precisely what is needed at this moment of time, when we are incapable of unity, solidarity, harmony and oneness.
It’s glaringly apparent that we can’t get there alone. Without God’s cleansing shower in the mix, we are, indeed, doomed to fail as a people and as a nation, but the good news is that a solemn promise was made, which cannot be broken, because the Almighty never does!
That promise started long before 1948, as events were unfolding to bring about the greatest comeback the world has ever seen – dry bones coming to life and becoming a great army.
From that time, every promise, every covenant and every heavenly contract was put into effect, for such a time as this, when doubtful speculators would offer a Plan B, just because Plan A looked as if it was about to unravel and suffer a terminal demise.
But it’s worth remembering that through every one of Israel’s wars, beginning with the 1956 Suez Crisis to the massive Gaza rocket attacks of 2021, God has neither slumbered nor slept (Psalm 121:4). He has been by our side, fighting for us and helping us to win against all odds; showing the nations that His promises are still in effect and have not passed their shelf life, because they don’t have one.
He did that, in spite of our present soiled state, so imagine how much more He will do when we finally become clean! That is the key to Israel’s survival – a good bathing, in the presence of a holy God, who will rinse off strife, ego, self-glory, dishonesty, anger, bitterness and all the other fleshly attributes which represent a sure path to our destruction.
It is only through that cleansing process, where our character is changed from the inside out, that we will finally be a light to the nations and an attractive walking advertisement for what God’s chosen people really look like.
Anyone who suggests another plan or exit strategy simply does not see beyond the momentary failures to grasp the immense potential which is waiting for Judah – the people who were meant to be a praise in all the earth. It is that kind of shortsightedness which shouts out to throw in the towel and give up, because the task before us is too great.
Israel can survive because she must survive. And she must survive because she was destined to survive. She will not do so alone, but the moment that she understands her own limitations of strength and resolve, she will look to the heavens and cry out for help. It is then that she will get it, because that, too, was prophesied!
It’s not all lost – not by a longshot. God’s not done with the people He has loved with an everlasting love. As Israel celebrates her 75th year as a sovereign nation, just as the traditional gift of diamonds given on a 75th wedding anniversary, we can be assured that this nation, as diamonds, will be forever!
A former Jerusalem elementary and middle-school principal and the granddaughter of European Jews who arrived in the US before the Holocaust. Making Aliyah in 1993, she is retired and now lives in the center of the country with her husband.