Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Marvelous Modern Origins of Zionism

A solid case could be made to say that Zionism began in 70 AD at the beginning of the Diaspora following the destruction of Jerusalem, because from that day the dream of every Jew has been to return to their homeland.  But, as Leon Pinkster explained in 1882, the belief in the intervention of the Messiah “to bring about our political resurrection and the religious assumption that we must bear patiently divine punishment, caused us to abandon every thought of our national liberation. 

  Consequently we renounced the idea of a nation and did so the more readily since we were preoccupied with our immediate needs.  Thus, we sank lower and lower.  ‘The people without a country’ forgot their country.”

In other words, the Jewish people had drifted deeper and deeper into apathy through the centuries, resigning themselves to their situation, giving up the hope that the Scriptures clearly held out as a certainty.

Theodor Herzl, an early leader in the Zionist movement, in one of the most extra-Biblical prophetic statements ever spoken, said, “Were I to sum up the Basel Congress in a word, it would be this:  ‘At Basel I founded the Jewish State.  If I said this out loud today, I would be answered by universal laughter.  If not in five years, certainly in 50, everyone will know it.”  He made that statement in 1897.  If you are not impressed, add 50 years to 1897 and see what year you get.

Admittedly there are those who believe that the nation of Israel is a humanly-conceived and man-made venture and that it is, therefore, not of God.  That is possible to accept, but only on one condition:  that one ignores that God always works through men.  To list them all would be impossible, men like Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, David, Solomon, Nehemiah, and Daniel.  It is, therefore, absurd to think that He would do anything different to bring the promised rebuilding of the nation of Israel through any other means.

To object to the work that these faithful men and woman committed to and have accomplished, to call it human rather than divinely conceived, is akin to calling Noah a fool because he built an ark.  Sure, God could have spoken the Ark into existence in a literal heartbeat, but He didn’t.  Instead it took Noah over 100 years to do it.  The problem is that some folks believe only what their eyes can see and their hands can touch.  Yet the Bible describes faith as “the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

To see the nation of Israel as it is today and to say that it is not a work of God is stunningly preposterous.  Zionism exhibits the rising faith of the Jewish people in the latter 19th and the first half of the 20th centuries that God, working through willing servants and leaders, would keep His promise that Israel would, indeed, return to the Promised Land.  As the sometimes disturbing scenario in the Middle East unfolds, it is possible for Bible scholars to see how the table is being set for prophecies concerning Israel to be fulfilled, such as the expansion of its territories and the rebuilding of the Temple.

In order for the Lord to do the things He has promised to do with and for Israel, it was necessary for Israel to be gathered together again as a nation.  Using men and women who longed for that day, people called Zionists, God has brought them into the land and has prospered them.  What a beautiful and blessed fulfillment of His promises we have been able to witness, and are witnessing still.  Pray with thanks when you pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6) and pray with faith, believing that God is who He says He is and that He will do what He has said He will do.

Source material for this article included the Jewish Virtual Library, and Zionism-Israel.

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