Ezekiel’s prophecy of the rebirth of Israel in 1948 and its precise fulfillment in our generation on May 15, 1948 is one of the greatest fulfillments of Bible prophecy in history. Twenty-five centuries ago, while he was a slave during the Babylonian Captivity, (606 – 536 BC), the Lord revealed to the prophet Ezekiel, the precise year – 1948 – when Israel would finally be restored to the Promised Land.. The Jew’s eternal relationship to the Holy Land is a major theme of Bible prophecy. In the Bible, times were specified in precise detail regarding the duration of the time when the Jews were to be exiled from the Promised Land and when God will allow them to return to the Holy Land
The First Captivity – (Egyptian) – 430 years
The Lord prophesied to Abraham precisely when the Jews would return from Egypt from their First Captivity that lasted 430 years of captivity in Egypt (Genesis 15:13; Exodus 12:40-41).
The Second Captivity (Babylonian) – 70 years
Similarly, the Second Captivity of 70 years in Babylon, as prophesied in Jeremiah 25:11, ended precisely in 536 BC when the Jews returned to Jerusalem as decreed by the Persian king Cyrus the Great.
The Third Captivity (Worldwide)
The Scriptures contain numerous prophecies about the final return of the Jewish exiles to their Promised Land in the “last days.”These Bible prophecies were fulfilled in 1948 when Israel became an independent, united nation for the second time in history, and for the first time in 2,900 years.
Ancient Prophecies in the Bible that promised the Rebirth of Israel in the “Last Days”
Jacob’s descendants would regain control of Israel
Bible passage: Amos 9:14-15
Written: about 750 BC
Fulfilled: Since 1948
In Amos 9:14-15, the prophet said that there would come a time when the exiles of Israel would again have Israel as their own land and that they would never be uprooted again. Amos lived about 2700 years ago, during a time when the people of Israel were being forced out of their homeland by a succession of foreign invasions. Despite many centuries of exile, many Jews returned to Israel and reclaimed sovereignty over a portion of their ancient homeland. This declaration of independence, in 1948, triggered a war with the surrounding countries, which objected to the presence of a Jewish state. On May 15, 1948, the day that armies from the surrounding countries invaded, Azzam Pasha, the Secretary General of the Arab League, said “This will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades.” Similar quotes were uttered by others during the war of 1948-49 and during the two major wars that followed. Despite its tiny size, Israel prevailed in these wars, preventing its people from being uprooted again, as they had been in ancient times.
I will bring back my exiled people Israel; they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will make gardens and eat their fruit. I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them,” says the Lord your God.
Israel would be brought back to life
Bible passage: Ezekiel 37:10-14
Written: between 593-571 BC
In Ezekiel 37:10-14, the prophet receives a vision in which Israel was seen as a scattering of dried-up bones. In this vision, God tells Ezekiel that the bones (Israel) would be brought back to life. Just as Ezekiel had prophesized about 2600 years ago, the Jews were brought back to the land, and the country of Israel was brought back to life. Israel re-established sovereignty in 1948, a mere three years after the end of the Holocaust, during which the Nazis killed about one-third of the world’s Jewish population.
So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet–a vast army. Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: O my people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.’”
Isaiah spoke of a Israel being reborn in one day
Bible passage: Isaiah 66:7-8
Written: perhaps between 701-681 BC
In Isaiah 66:7-8, the prophet foreshadowed the re-birth of Israel in 1948. Isaiah describes a woman giving birth before going into labor, and he speaks of a country being born in one day. This accurately describes what happened on May 14, 1948 – when the Jews declared independence for Israel as a united and sovereign nation for the first time in 2900 years.
During that same day, the United States issued a statement recognizing Israel’s sovereignty. And, only hours beforehand, a United Nations mandate expired, ending British control of the land. During a 24-hour span of time, foreign control of the land of Israel had formally ceased, and Israel had declared its independence, and its independence was acknowledged by other nations. Modern Israel was literally was born in a single day.
Isaiah said the birth would take place before there would be labor pains. And that too is precisely what happened. A movement called Zionism began in the 1800s to encourage Jews worldwide to move to Israel, which at that time was called Palestine. Within hours of the declaration of independence in 1948, Israel was attacked by the surrounding countries of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
When reading Isaiah 66:7-8, keep in mind that Israel’s status as a sovereign nation was established and reaffirmed during the course of a single day, and that it was born of a movement called Zionism, and that its declaration of independence was not the result of a war but rather the cause of one.
“Before she goes into labor, she gives birth; before the pains come upon her, she delivers a son. Who has ever heard of such a thing? Who has ever seen such things? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children.”
Israel would be re-established as a united nation
Bible passage: Ezekiel 37:21-22
Written: between 593-571 BC
In Ezekiel 37:21-22, the prophet said that God would one day bring the people of Israel back to Israel, as a united nation. This might have been a shock for Ezekiel. He lived about 2600 years ago. At that time, the people of Israel had already divided themselves into two separate kingdoms. And, both kingdoms had been conquered by foreign invaders, who forced many of the people, including Ezekiel, into exile. But, when Jews reclaimed sovereignty in 1948, they did so as a united people, creating one nation – Israel.
and say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land. I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms.
The second Israel would be more impressive than the first
Bible passage: Jeremiah 16:14-15
Written: sometime from 626 to about 586 BC
In Jeremiah 16:14-15, the prophet said the second Israel would be more impressive than the first. In many regards, it is. The first time that Israel was established as a country was after Moses led the descendants of Jacob (typically referred to today as Jews) out of Egypt, where they had been enslaved for 400 years. They then conquered Canaan and established Israel about 3400 years ago. But the second time that Israel was established was after the Jews had been scattered far and wide for a few thousand years. This time the Jews had to return from as far away as the United States, China, Russia and South Africa.
“However, the days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when men will no longer say, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the Israelites up out of Egypt,’ but they will say, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the Israelites up out of the land of the north and out of all the countries where he had banished them.’ For I will restore them to the land I gave their forefathers.
Ezekiel predicted when Israel would be re-established
Bible passage: Ezekiel 4:3-6
Written: between 593-571 BC
In Ezekiel 4:3-6, the prophet said the Jews, who had lost control of their homeland, would be punished for 430 years. This prophecy, according to Bible scholar Grant Jeffrey, pinpointed the 1948 rebirth of Israel. Here’s a summary of Jeffrey’s theory:
Ezekiel said the Jews were to be punished for 430 years because they had turned away from God. As part of the punishment, the Jews lost control of their homeland to Babylon. Many Jews were taken as captives to Babylon.
Babylon was later conquered by Cyrus in 539 BC. Cyrus allowed the Jews to leave Babylon and to return to their homeland. But, only a small number returned. The return had taken place sometime around 536 BC, about 70 years after Judah lost independence to Babylon.
Because most of the exiles chose to stay in pagan Babylon rather than return to the Holy Land, the remaining 360 years of their punishment was multiplied by 7. The reason is explained in Bible’s book of Leviticus. (Leviticus 26:18, Leviticus 26:21, Leviticus 26:24 and Leviticus 26:28). In Leviticus, it says that if the people did not repent while being punished, the punishment would be multiplied by 7. And, by staying in pagan Babylon, most exiles were refusing to repent.
So, if you take the remaining 360 years of punishment and multiply by 7, you get 2,520 years. But, Jeffrey says those years are based on an ancient 360-day lunar calendar. If those years are adjusted to the modern solar calendar, the result is 2,484 years.
And, there were exactly 2,484 years from 536 BC to 1948, which is the year that Israel regained independence.
(In this Bible passage, Ezekiel is asked by God to symbolically act out the 430 years of punishment)
… Then take an iron pan, place it as an iron wall between you and the city and turn your face toward it. It will be under siege, and you shall besiege it. This will be a sign to the house of Israel. “Then lie on your left side and put the sin of the house of Israel upon yourself. You are to bear their sin for the number of days you lie on your side. I have assigned you the same number of days as the years of their sin. So for 390 days you will bear the sin of the house of Israel. “After you have finished this, lie down again, this time on your right side, and bear the sin of the house of Judah. I have assigned you 40 days, a day for each year.
The people of Israel would return to “their own land”
Bible passage: Ezekiel 34:13
Written: between 593-571 BC
Fulfilled: after May 14, 1948
In Ezekiel 34:13, the prophet said that God would gather the people of Israel scattered throughout the world and bring them back to “their own land.” After many centuries of dispersion, hundreds of thousands of Jews returned to their ancient homeland beginning in the late 1800s. But, millions more returned after Israel declared independence in 1948. In other words, millions of exiles returned to their ancient homeland which was now truly “their own land” in the sense that it was now a sovereign Jewish state.
I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land.
God would watch over the people of Israel
Bible passage: Jeremiah 31:10
Written: sometime from 626 to about 586 BC
Fulfilled: 1948, etc.
In Jeremiah 31:10, the prophet said that God would one day gather the Jews back to Israel and that He would watch over them like a shepherd. Believe what you wish, but there is evidence that God indeed has watched over the re-established nation of Israel. Hours after Israel declared independence in 1948, the surrounding countries attacked, hoping to replace the Jewish state with an Arab state. These countries are much larger than Israel. But tiny Israel prevailed in that war and was able to capture additional land, increasing the land size of Israel by 50 percent. Israel also prevailed in the two other major wars that followed.
“Hear the word of the Lord, O nations; proclaim it in distant coastlands: ‘He who scattered Israel will gather them and will watch over his flock like a shepherd.’
Israel’s army would be disproportionately powerful
Bible passage: Leviticus 26:3, 7-8
Written: perhaps around 1400 BC
Fulfilled: 1948-49, 1967, etc.
In Leviticus 26:3, 7-8, the Bible says that the army of Israel would have a supernatural power to prevail during times of conflict, if the people are obedient to the Lord. This Bible passage says that 5 people would be able to chase away 100 people, and that 100 would be able to chase away 10,000. Is there any proof to this incredible claim? Judge for yourself:
Example 1: Within hours of Israel’s declaration of independence in 1948, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, and Lebanon invaded Israel. The combined population of those countries was at least 20 million at that time. Israel had fewer than 1 million Jews. Even so, the Jews won the war and expanded the size of Israel by 50 percent.
Example 2: During the War of 1967, Israel attacked the air force bases of the surrounding countries and took control of Jerusalem for the first time in about 2000 years. They also seized additional territory. That war lasted a mere 6 days.
Example 3: On Oct. 6, 1973, Israel was attacked by Egypt and Syria. Other countries later joined the attack. But the Jews were able to push back the attacking armies and occupy land outside of Israel’s borders.
Leviticus 26:3, 7-8
“If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, … You will pursue your enemies, and they will fall by the sword before you. Five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand, and your enemies will fall by the sword before you.”
The fortunes of the people of Israel would be restored
Bible passage: Deuteronomy 30:3-5
Written: perhaps 1400 BC
Fulfilled: 1948, etc.
In Deuteronomy 30:3-5, the Bible said the Jews would be scattered worldwide and that they later would return to their homeland and have their fortunes restored. This prophecy began to be fulfilled in modern times during the late 1800s when many Jews returned to Israel, from as far away as China and the United States, Russia and South Africa. Israel declared independence in 1948. Today, Israel is among the world’s most prosperous countries. In 1999, for example, Israel’s per capita Gross Domestic Product was twice as prosperous than the neighboring countries.
then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you. Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the Lord your God will gather you and bring you back. He will bring you to the land that belonged to your fathers, and you will take possession of it. He will make you more prosperous and numerous than your fathers.
The Most Significant End Time Prophecy
The “end time” events described in the Olivet Discourse and the book of Revelation could not take place without Israel back in their land. Israel’s return to the land of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the 20th century is the most important event that signals the soon return of Jesus Christ.
Israel’s rebirth as a nation has also served as a catalyst for other “end time” prophecies that are beginning to converge on the world scene (Dan 2:42-22; Ezek 38-39). The Apostle Paul told us “…that in the last days perilous times shall come” (2 Tim 3:1-7). Jesus said there would be a time of worldwide conflict and wars that would be “the beginning of sorrows” (Mt 24:8). Christ said, “except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved” (Mk 13:20).
Christians who take the Bible seriously should be actively watching the prophetic shadows that are appearing in today’s headlines. And as we entertain the possibility that we may be the generation Jesus was talking about in the fig tree parable nearly 2000 years ago, we are admonished by the Scriptures to watch and be prepared (Mt 24: 37-51).
One day there will be a generation of Christians that will escape the grip of death and be ushered into Heaven, the “final frontier” for believers (1 Thess 4:13-5:11). The generation that is “left behind” will face the ruthless tyranny of a global dictatorship (Rev 13:11-18). The world stage is now being set for the closing act of this dispensation, and the climax of world history (Christ’s return) is drawing near. As God’s children, we may very well be the generation that is chosen to “escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man” (Lk 21:34-36). That possibility is certainly worth pondering!