What the Bible Says about the Rebirth of Israel

From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. 33So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 34Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 

[Matthew 24:32-34]

For nearly 1,900 years, the land of Israel was a desolate place, devoid of life and cursed to the core. Roman legions laid siege to Jerusalem and burned down the Temple in A.D. 70, and then almost 70 years later (135 A.D.) the entire city of Jerusalem was plowed over and salted by the Romans following the disastrous revolt of the false messiah Simon bar Kochba.

Like the prophets before Him, Jesus Himself prophesied concerning the destruction of Jerusalem. The Babylonians were the first to lay siege to Jerusalem and exile the Jews in 586 B.C., and Jesus warned the leaders of Israel that a similar judgment would come upon them as well for rejecting Him at the time of His visitation.

And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side 44and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.

[Luke 19:41-44]

After Jesus was rejected by men and cut off for the sins of the world (Daniel 9:26), His prophecy came true and both Jerusalem and the land of Israel was left desolate for nearly 1,900 years.

In 1867, famous author Mark Twain took a private tour of the holy land and was astonished by its condition. Consider how Twain described the sheer desolation of the entire land of Israel at that time.

Pin by Israel Alvites on People | Mark twain quotes ...
Samuel Clemens — aka Mark Twain

 A desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds… a silent mournful expanse…. a desolation…. we never saw a human being on the whole route…. hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even the olive tree and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country.

[Mark Twain — Innocents Abroad — 1867]

However, when one visits Israel today, it is a rich and fertile land, inhabited by nearly 10 million citizens and teeming with life.

Something obviously happened between Mark Twain’s notorious visit and what we see in the modern state of Israel today?

Jesus told us about that too, and it has everything to do with God’s prophetic clock and the lesson of the fig tree.

The Lesson of the Fig Tree

The Mystery of Israel the Fig Tree | An End-Time Sign
Fig Tree in Israel

As the ministry of Jesus was coming to a close and His appointment with the cross was drawing near, our Lord used a powerful object lesson from nature to teach us about God’s prophetic clock concerning the nation of Israel.

As Jesus and His disciples were making their way to Jerusalem just prior to Passover, they came upon a fig tree, and Jesus took advantage of this opportunity to teach His disciples about the judgment of Israel and ultimately about the rebirth of the nation in connection to His return.

The fig tree was used in the Hebrew Scriptures as an illustration of God’s favor and blessing over Israel. In Solomon’s day when the Kingdom of Israel was at the zenith of peace, the fig tree was a symbol of prosperity (1 Kings 4:25). The prophet Hosea likewise associated the fig tree with Israel’s birth as a nation coming out of Egypt.

Like grapes in the wilderness,
I found Israel.
Like the first fruit on the fig tree
in its first season,
I saw your fathers
.
But they came to Baal-peor
and consecrated themselves to the thing of shame,
and became detestable like the thing they loved
.

[Hosea 9:10]

When Jesus came upon this fig tree outside of Jerusalem, He found it to be fruitless and pronounced a curse on the tree. The tree leaves immediately withered, eventually down to the very roots (see Mark 11:20). The object lesson, of course, was that the national leadership of Israel — represented by the fig tree — was faithless and therefore fruitless at the time that their Messiah had arrived. Because of their unbelief and subsequent rejection of Jesus as Messiah, God brought a curse on the nation and the land of Israel. The fig tree served as a symbol of God’s judgment.

In the morning, as he was returning to the city, he became hungry. 19And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves. And he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once.

[Matthew 21:18-19]

Jesus wept over Jerusalem one last time and made a sobering promise to the people of Israel. They would not see His face again until they experienced a national repentance and recognized their grievous sin of rejecting God’s one and only Son.

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 38See, your house is left to you desolate. 39For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

[Matthew 23:37-39]

Once again, this curse became a reality after the Roman legions left Jerusalem desolate and scattered the Jews to the four winds of the earth. Just as the fig tree withered and died, the land of Israel was left desolate for generations. By all accounts, Israel was never to be a nation again and the Jews would never again return to the land.

Yet God never breaks a promise.

Summer is Near

Immediately after weeping over Jerusalem, Jesus began to teach His disciples about the signs of the end of the age and of His 2nd coming. Tucked right in the middle of His famous teaching on the Mount of Olives, Jesus used the fig tree once again as an illustration for the future rebirth of Israel. Calling attention to the same fig tree He just finished cursing, Jesus made a profound promise.

He prophesied that the same fig tree that had withered and died will one day come back to life and produce fruit again. The illustration could not be more clear. Although Israel would be desolate and fruitless for a season, God had not fully rejected His people. The fig tree — Israel — would come to life in the future. Furthermore, Jesus connected this amazing rebirth of Israel with the unique generation that would live to see His return.

From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. 33So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates34Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 

[Matthew 24:32-34]

As God would have it — in the wake of arguably the worst time of suffering the Jewish people have ever experienced (the Holocaust) — the nation of Israel was reborn against all odds. In May of 1948, the United Nations narrowly passed a resolution to officially recognize Israel as a sovereign nation again. The Jews were able to return to their homeland for the first time in over 18 centuries, and the fig tree began to put forth leaves of life.

After defending their land from at least three hostile enemy invasions (1948, 1967, 1973), Israel stands today as a living testimony of God’s faithfulness and as an undeniable witness to the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy. The rebirth of the state of Israel remains as one of the most unexpected prophetic fulfillments in human history.

Was Israel Under Existential Threat in June 1967?
Israeli Soldiers on the Temple Mount after the 6-Day War of 1967

A Return in Unbelief

Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.

[Romans 11:25]

Countless Biblical prophesies describe the Day when Messiah will return to gather all His people — Jew and Gentile — and restore the fortunes of Israel and establish the Kingdom of Israel on the earth (Isaiah 11, Jeremiah 30-33, Zephaniah 2, Ezekiel 39). This final gathering is connected to the deliverance on the Day of the LORD when Messiah comes to crush the antichrist and his armies.

Other passages clearly speak of a national turning of Israel and the Jewish people in faith after enduring the horrors of the coming great tribulation. Out of the fires of affliction Israel will cry out in faith to Jesus and finally acknowledge Him as Lord and Savior and a remnant will be saved (Joel 2:30-32, Hosea 5:15-6:3, Zechariah 12:10-12).

The lesson of the fig tree, however, is not describing this final gathering and restoration of Israel at the end of the age, but rather it is a prophesy about the nation of Israel being gathered back to the land primarily in unbelief. The overwhelming majority of Jewish people today are either secular — holding no “religious” beliefs — or orthodox, yet only a remnant of Jewish people embrace Jesus as Messiah today. Most still are in a hardened state of unbelief toward Jesus as Lord.

The fig tree prophecy, however, was essential because without the Jews first returning to the land and Israel becoming a nation again, God’s prophetic word could not be fulfilled. Let me explain.

Passages like Ezekiel 38-39, Zechariah 12-14, Luke 21, Matthew 24 and Revelation 16-19 depict the final battle for Jerusalem and the coming of Messiah to crush the Beast and his armies that have invaded Israel and laid siege to Jerusalem. Up until 1948, there was no state of Israel and Jerusalem certainly was nothing to fight about, yet once Israel returned to the land and reclaimed Jerusalem in 1967, everything changed!

For the first time since A.D. 70 these prophecies now have the potential for being fulfilled because Israel is a primary player on the world stage and the center of controversy for the entire world. Jesus was trying to tell us that when Israel was back in the land — the fig tree was just beginning to bud — and the generation that sees Israel in the land again can expect His return to be very near — even at the very gates!

If we are interpreting the words of Jesus correctly, He says that the generation to see all these things take place — including the rebirth of Israel in 1948 — will not pass away until all is fulfilled and He returns in power and great glory to take vengeance on the wicked and redeem His people, reclaiming His rightful place once and for all!

Many have attempted to determine what is meant by a “generation,” claiming it could 100 years or even 70 years, but one thing is certain. The coming of Jesus is near. Even so Lord Jesus, come!

Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and He will reign wisely as King and will administer justice and righteousness in the land. In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is His name by which He will be called: The LORD Our Righteousness.

[Jeremiah 23:5-6]

Published by Marcus Walker Van Every

I am ... A sinner saved by the grace of God A son of my Heavenly Father A servant of the LORD Jesus Christ A husband to my beautiful bride Abigail A father of three amazing sons A son A brother An ambassador for the kingdom of God A herald of the good news A preacher of the gospel A shepherd of God's people A worship leader A Student of the Bible A surveyor of the prophetic word A co laborer in God's mission An apologist for the faith A chronicler of the times A writer A lover of music A singer/songwriter A coach A baseball purest A Dallas Cowboys and St. Louis Cardinals fan

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