(Jerusalem, Israel) — It’s been an exciting and joyful week here as Israelis celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Jewish State’s modern existence. Fireworks. Dancing. Picnics. Air shows. And so much more!
I must say it’s been deeply humbling to move here with my wife and sons, to become Israeli citizens, to build friendships with Arabs and Jews and so many others, and in recent months to actually move to Jerusalem and live here in the capital city that King David established some 3,000 years ago. Sometimes, it simply seems surreal. It’s certainly a great place to raise a family — and write novels!
This summer, The Joshua Fund — the ministry Lynn and I founded in 2006 to mobilize Christians to bless Israel and her neighbors — will be hosting another “Prayer and Vision Tour” here in Israel, as well as our first-ever Epicenter Prayer Summit. It will be time to walk where Jesus and the apostle and prophets walked, study the Word of God, worship, fellowship with Israeli and Palestinian believers, and truly pray for the peace of Jerusalem and all those in the region. The tour is filling up fast. There aren’t many seats left. So, please register yourself and your family today before we have to close the registration!
On Facebook yesterday, I posted a short video on modern Israel’s 70th prophetic anniversary. I hope you’ll take a moment to watch and comment on it. Today, I also wanted to post this list of the 70 most fascinating facts I’ve learned about this Beautiful Land and her precious people. I hope you’ll find them interesting, too, and share them with family and friends. Thanks, and may the Lord bless you as you bless Israel and her neighbors!
- 82% of the nation’s citizens are proud to be Israelis, according to a new poll, and 81% believe the country is a good place to live.
- 73% of Israeli Arab citizens feel a sense of belonging, and 60% say they are proud to be Israelis, according to a 2017 poll.
- Wonder Woman is an Israeli — Gal Gadot, who played the superheroine in the film that has raked in $821 million at the box office worldwide, was born and raised in Israel. Gadot (pronounced “Ga-DOTE”) is arguably the most famous Israeli in the world today, eclipsing the Prime Minister.
- That said, the most famous Jewish Israeli of all time — followed and beloved by more than 2 billion people worldwide at present — is Jesus (Yeshua) of Nazareth. Indeed, recent studies find that between 25,000 and 30,000 Israeli Jews, and some 871,000 Jewish Americans, have become followers of Jesus, and the numbers are growing.
- Israel’s three greatest exports: The Bible, Judaism and Christianity.
- Ironically, the most famous and revered person in Judaism — Moses — was born and raised in Egypt and never stepped foot in the Land of Israel in his lifetime.
- Curiously, far more Christians than Jews believe in the Biblical statements and prophecies explaining that God gave the Land of Israel to the Jewish people and will restore the Land of Israel to the Jewish people in the “last days.” (for a partial list of such prophecies, see below, #57 through #70.)
- According to a survey by Pew Research, only 61% of Israeli Jews believe that God gave the Land of Israel to them.
- According to Pew, only 40% of American Jews believe that God gave the Land of Israel to the Jewish people.
- By contrast, fully eight-in-ten American Evangelicals believe that the Abrahamic Covenant that granted the Land of Israel to the Jewish people was a promise God made for all time, that it was unconditional, that it could not be revoked – a mere 5% disagree. (see Alliance for the Peace of Jerusalem survey by LifeWay Research)
- Fully eight-in-ten of American Evangelicals believe the rebirth of the State of Israel in 1948 is the fulfillment of Bible prophecy – only 20% think it was merely an interesting geopolitical event but unrelated to God keeping His promises. (see Alliance for the Peace of Jerusalem survey by LifeWay Research)
- Nearly eight-in-ten Evangelicals (76%) believe that Christians should support Jewish people’s right to live in the sovereign state of Israel. (see Alliance for the Peace of Jerusalem survey by LifeWay Research)
- More than seven-in-ten American Evangelicals (72%) say they want to know more about what the Bible teaches about Israel’s future. (see Alliance for the Peace of Jerusalem survey by LifeWay Research)
- That said, American Evangelical Millennials are sending the Church a sobering message — they’re not against Israel, not yet, not at all, but the survey makes it clear that many of them really don’t understand Israel’s place in the biblical narrative. Thus, their support for Israel is nearly 20 points less than their parents and grandparents. Extrapolate that going forward. Unless the Church gives younger believers a healthy, balanced, solidly biblical understanding of God’s love and plan for Israel, overall Evangelical support for the Jewish State could very well plummet over the next decade as Millennials represent an ever-larger percentage of the overall Church body.
- At the same time, American Evangelical Christians are deeply concerned about the need for Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace with one another. Indeed, 59% of Evangelicals believe Christians should do more to love and care for Palestinian people, and fully 66% of younger Evangelicals believe this. What’s more, 73% are concerned for the safety of Christians in areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority. And 41% agreed with the statement: “Jewish people have a biblical right to the land of Israel, but also have a responsibility to share the land with Palestinian Arabs.” Only 28% disagreed with this statement, while 31% said they weren’t sure. (see Alliance for the Peace of Jerusalem survey by LifeWay Research; see also my column in the Jerusalem Post, “Are Evangelical Christians Anti-Palestinian?”)
- The United States was the first nation in the world to recognize the State of Israel on May 14, 1948 — and President Harry Truman, a devout Bible believing Christian, made his decision to stand with the Jewish state despite intense opposition within his own administration, including from his Secretary of State. Truman’s decision was announced to the world 11 minutes after Israeli Prime Minister David Ben Gurion declared the nation’s independence.
- Israel currently has diplomatic relations with 161 countries, an extraordinary development given thousands of years of anti-Semitism and the efforts of many in modern times to isolate and shun the State of Israel.
- The current President of Israel’s Supreme Court is a woman — her name is Esther Hayut. The U.S. has never had a woman serve as a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
- Five of the seven newly appointed Israeli Supreme Court justices are women.
- Salim Joubran, an Israeli Arab citizen, served as a Justice on Israel’s Supreme Court from 2003 until 2017. Joubran was the first Israeli Arab to serve on the High Court. Indeed, he also served for a time as Deputy Chief of the Supreme Court. He stepped down last year at the mandatory retirement age of 70. (Learn more about his judicial legacy.)
- 18 Arab Israeli citizens currently serve as Members of Knesset, Israel’s national parliament, the highest number in the nation’s history.
- Ayoob Kara — an Israeli Arab (Druze) politician in the Likud Party — as served as a Member of Knesset since 1999. He currently serves in the cabinet as the Minister of Communications.
- Raleb Majadele — an Israeli Arab politician in the Labor Party — became the first Arab Muslim ever to be appointed an Israeli Cabinet Minister. In 2007, he served as Minister Without Portfolio. Then, in part of 2007 through 2009 he served as Minister of Science, Culture and Sport.
- In 2017, a record 3.6 million tourists visited Israel — a 25% increase over the previous year.
- Of all tourists to Israel in 2017, a stunning 54% were Christians.
- Of all tourist to Israel in 2017, only about one-fifth were Jews.
- Of the 7,000 languages in the world, Hebrew is the only dead language in history ever to have been revived from effective extinction. (Learn more how this came to pass.)
- Today, there are 9 million Hebrew speakers in the world today.
- The population of Israel in 2018 is ten times larger than in 1948 — 8.842 million now, compared to 805,000 then.
- Some 6.589 million Jews are citizens of Israel today.
- Some 1.849 million Arabs are citizens of Israel today.
- Of Israel’s entire population, 3.2 million are immigrants while the rest are “sabras,” born here in the Land.
- The international legal legitimacy for the modern State of Israel comes from U.N. Resolution 181, what is more commonly known as the “Partition Plan.” The resolution “was approved on November 29, 1947 with 33 votes in favor, 13 against, 10 abstentions and one absent.” These are the countries who voted for the resolution, and thus for the creation of the State of Israel: Australia, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Byelorussian S.S.R., Canada, Costa Rica, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, France, Guatemala, Haiti, Iceland, Liberia, Luxemburg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Sweden, Ukrainian S.S.R., Union of South Africa, U.S.A., U.S.S.R., Uruguay, Venezuela. (click here to read the resolution in full and to see the full list of how countries voted.)
- On March 26, 1979, Israel signed an historic peace treaty with Egypt, following intense negotiations at Camp David in September 1978.
- On October 26, 1994, Israel signed an historic peace treaty with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
- On September 13, 1993, Israel signed an interim peace agreement with the Palestinians, an accord known as “Oslo I.”
- On September 28, 1995, Israel signed a second interim peace agreement with the Palestinians, an accord known as “Oslo II.”
- Of all the countries in the world, Israel is ranked #2 for venture capital funds flowing into the country, second only to the United States.
- “Israel has more companies listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange than any country outside the U.S.,” reported Forbes magazine — “The [Israeli] Ministery of Economy released a statement [in 2017] saying 94 Israeli-founded companies are currently traded on the NASDAQ, for a combined worth of $70 billion.”
- In 2013, Google bought the Israeli company, Waze, for a cool $1.15 billion — Waze invented a state-of-the-art GPS navigation app.
- Cell-phone technology was invented in Israel — “It was at Motorola’s Israel R&D center that Israeli engineers first developed original cell-phone technology. Most of the technology in your mobile phone can be traced back to Israeli engineering. From the tool that guards your mobile identity to a new keyboard solution, Israeli expertise keeps your phone from getting bigger yet staying cutting edge.” (Israel 21c)
- Voice mail technology was invented in Israel.
- Amazon’s Kindle was invented in Israel — “The Java platform inside Amazon’s best-selling Kindle was developed in Israel. Some four years ago, Amazon contacted Sun, later acquired by Oracle, and asked the company to develop a customized platform to run the software in a new e-book reader device under design. Sun handed the project on to its Israeli R&D office in Herzliya, and it was designed and developed there. After several years, a prototype was created to Amazon’s satisfaction, and manufacturing began. Amazon is now the undisputed leader in the e-reader category.” (Israel 21c)
- PlayStation was invented in Israel — “Circuit technology engineers at the IBM Haifa Development Lab played an integral role in developing the cell broadband engine chip controller that powers the Sony Playstation3 introduced in late 2006. The idea for the powerful chip came from Sony-Toshiba-IBM and was turned into an actual product through the collective efforts of 30 researchers working in Israel. The Playstation3 sold 197,000 units on the first day of its debut on the market, and one million within the first six weeks. IBM R&D Labs in Israel was established in 1950 and now encompasses about 1,000 employees at the Haifa Research Lab, the IBM Israel Systems and Technology Group Lab and the IBM Israel Software Lab. Locations include Haifa, Tel Aviv, Herzliya, Rehovot and Jerusalem.” (Israel 21c)
- The first USB flash drive was invented in Israel.
- One of the world’s most advanced early microchips — the Intel 8088 — was invented in Israel.
- The world’s first instant-messaging system was invented in Israel.
- “Microsoft’s two most popular operating systems, NT and XP, were developed primarily in Israel. Microsoft has had a strong presence in Israel for many years and has two R&D centers in Herzliya that employ 600 people. In 2008, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said that the American software giant is as much Israeli as it is American.” (Israel 21c)
- “Semiconductor chip maker Intel was one of the first multinationals to come to Israel. It set up a small chip design center in Haifa in 1974 — Intel’s first outside of the United States. Today, Intel Israel employs 7,800 people, and is the corporation’s headquarters for global R&D for wireless technology. The 8088 processor was designed and developed here, as was the Centrino and the SandyBridge, powering millions of laptops worldwide. In March, Intel Israel’s general manager, Maxine Fassberg, announced that the SandyBridge processor accounts for 40 percent of the chip giant’s revenue. In 2011, Intel Israel’s exports totaled $2.2 billion.” (Israel 21c)
- Drip irrigation was invented in Israel — “Amazing to think that the huge worldwide industry of modern drip irrigation all began when Israeli engineer Simcha Blass noticed a tree growing bigger than its neighbors in the Israeli desert, and found that it was fed by a leaking water pipe. Today, Netafim, the company founded in 1965 to commercialize his idea, is recognized as the worldwide pioneer in smart drip- and micro-irrigation. It has revolutionized the agricultural industry, operating systems in 112 countries with 13 factories throughout the world and 2,400 employees.” (Israel 21c)
- The world’s leading desalinization system was invented in Israel — “Israel’s IDE Technologies is the leading company worldwide in desalination — the process of turning seawater into drinking water — with 400 desalination plants in 40 countries producing 2,000,000 cubic meters of water a day. IDE Technologies operates the world’s two largest desalination plants in Israel and is now building China’s largest and greenest desalination plant. The new plant uses runoff steam from a power plant to help run the desalination machinery — producing water for the power plant, drinking water for the community and salt to sell.” (Israel 21c)
- The Pill-Cam was invented in Israel — “Founded by Dr. Gavriel Meron in 1998, Yokneam-based Given Imaging revolutionized the world of gastrointestinal diagnosis by developing a miniature camera in a pill, called the PillCam, to visualize and detect disorders of the GI tract. The PillCam is now the gold standard for intestinal visualization and is sold in more than 60 countries around the world.” (Israel 21c)
- One of the world’s leading instant-messaging systems — Viber — was invented in Israel.
- The world’s leading collision prevention and driverless car-technology — MobileEye — was invented and created in Israel.
- The game Rummikub was invented in Israel.
- The game MasterMind was invented in Israel.
- BIBLICAL PROPHECIES ABOUT ISRAEL — The most famous of the Bible prophecies about the rebirth of Israel are found in the book of Ezekiel, chapters 36 through 39. Here, the Hebrew prophet Ezekiel, writing more than 2,500 years ago, describes in great detail, in chapter after chapter, how “in the last days” (Ezekiel 38:16) the Lord will remember the Jewish people, resurrect the “dry bones” of the Jewish people who seemed left for dead (Ezekiel 37:1-14), remember the land of Israel, bring the Jewish people back to the land, cause the land of Israel to flourish again, and help the Jewish people rebuild the ancient ruins of Israel. The prophet also describes how the Lord would help the Jewish people survive and multiply and be blessed again in a resurrected land of Israel—which Ezekiel describes as “the center of the world” (Ezekiel 38:12)—even though their enemies would repeatedly seek to destroy them. Consider some of these and other passages in more detail.
- Ezekiel 36:8-10—“But you, O mountains of Israel, you will put forth your branches and bear your fruit for My people Israel; for they will soon come. For, behold, I am for you, and I will turn to you, and you will be cultivated and sown. I will multiply men on you, all the house of Israel, all of it; and the cities will be inhabited and the waste places will be rebuilt.”
- Ezekiel 36:22-24—“It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy name. . . . For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands, and bring you into your own land.”
- Ezekiel 37:1, 11-14—“The hand of the Lord was upon me, and He brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; and it was full of bones. . . . Then He said to me, ‘Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel; behold, they say, “Our bones are dried up and our hope has perished. We are completely cut off.” Therefore prophesy and say to them, “Thus says the Lord God, ‘Behold, I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves, My people; and I will bring you into the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves and caused you to come up out of your graves, My people. I will put My Spirit within you and you will come to life, and I will place you on your own land. Then you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken and done it,’ declares the Lord.”’”
- Ezekiel 38:8, 12—“After many days you [Gog, a key enemy of Israel] will be summoned; in the latter years you will come into the land that is restored from the sword, whose inhabitants have been gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel which had been a continual waste; but its people were brought out from the nations, and they are living securely, all of them. . . . the people who are gathered from the nations, who have acquired cattle and goods, who live at the center of the world.”
- Ezekiel was by no means the only Hebrew prophet who foretold Israel’s miraculous rebirth and the Jews’ return to the Holy Land after centuries of exile. Consider these additional key passages of Scripture.
- Isaiah 66:8-9—“‘Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Can a land be born in one day? Can a nation be brought forth all at once? As soon as Zion travailed, she also brought forth her sons. Shall I bring to the point of birth and not give delivery?’ says the Lord. ‘Or shall I who gives delivery shut the womb?’ says your God.”
- Jeremiah 16:14-15—“‘Therefore behold, days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when it will no longer be said, “As the Lord lives, who brought up the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt,” but, “As the Lord lives, who brought up the sons of Israel from the land of the north and from all the countries where He had banished them.” For I will restore them to their own land which I gave to their fathers.’”
- Jeremiah 31:3-9—“The Lord appeared to him from afar, saying, ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness. Again I will build you and you will be rebuilt, O virgin of Israel! Again you will take up your tambourines, and go forth to the dances of the merrymakers. Again you will plant vineyards on the hills of Samaria; the planters will plant and will enjoy them. For there will be a day when watchmen on the hills of Ephraim call out, “Arise, and let us go up to Zion, to the Lord our God.” . . . Behold, I am bringing them from the north country, and I will gather them from the remote parts of the earth, among them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and she who is in labor with child, together; a great company, they will return here. With weeping they will come, and by supplication I will lead them; I will make them walk by streams of waters, on a straight path in which they will not stumble; for I am a father to Israel.’”
- Amos 9:11-15—“‘In that day I will raise up the fallen booth of David, and wall up its breaches; I will also raise up its ruins and rebuild it as in the days of old; that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations who are called by My name,’ declares the Lord who does this. ‘Behold, days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when the plowman will overtake the reaper and the treader of grapes him who sows seed; when the mountains will drip sweet wine and all the hills will be dissolved. Also I will restore the captivity of My people Israel, and they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them; they will also plant vineyards and drink their wine, and make gardens and eat their fruit. I will also plant them on their land, and they will not again be rooted out from their land which I have given them,’ says the Lord your God.”
- In the New Testament era, Jesus of Nazareth repeatedly reaffirmed the teachings of the Hebrew prophets. Indeed, he challenged people for not having read or understood or believed the Hebrew Scriptures. By reaffirming the truth and the value of the Old Testament Scriptures, Jesus reaffirmed the truth and the value of God’s promises to resurrect the people and the land of Israel in the last days. Matthew 5:17—“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.” Matthew 19:4 (NLT)—“‘Haven’t you read the Scriptures?’ Jesus replied. Matthew 22:29 (NLT)—“Jesus replied, ‘Your mistake is that you don’t know the Scriptures, and you don’t know the power of God.’”
- What’s more, Christ specifically spoke of the rebirth of Israel in Matthew 24:32-33. “Now learn the parable from the fig tree,” he said. “When its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door.” What is the “parable from the fig tree” to which Jesus referred? The fig tree repeatedly symbolizes the nation of Israel throughout the Old Testament. In Jeremiah 24, for example, the Lord referred to the Jewish people as figs—some good, some bad—as he promised to bring them back from captivity to the Promised Land. Hosea 9:10 says, “I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your forefathers as the earliest fruit on the fig tree in its first season.” In Micah 4, in a passage specifically about the last days and people coming to Jerusalem to visit the Lord’s Temple, Micah writes that when it comes to the Jewish people in the last days, “each of them will sit under his vine and under his fig tree.” When Jesus spoke of the “parable from the fig tree” in Matthew’s Gospel, he was referencing these and similar passages. He was saying that when you see the State of Israel reborn, and Jews coming back to the Holy Land, and the land of Israel turning green and flourishing again—and when you see this happening in the context of all the other signs, all the other “birth pangs”—then you should know we are in a special and distinctive moment in history, a moment unlike any other. At that time, while we won’t know the day or hour of Christ’s return, the Lord Jesus told us to “recognize that He is near, right at the door” (Matthew 24:33).
- The apostles certainly believed the ancient prophecies about the rebirth of Israel would one day come to pass. In Acts 1:6, they asked the Lord Jesus after his resurrection if he was now going to bring the prophetic promises to fulfillment, end the Roman occupation, and rebuild the kingdom of Israel. It is reasonable to believe they expected Israel to be reborn as a politically independent state at any moment. “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” they asked. Jesus did not say that theirs was a stupid question. He did not say those prophecies about Israel’s future rebirth were inaccurate or irrelevant or canceled by Jewish unfaithfulness to God, or that his followers were misinterpreting those passages. Rather, he said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority” (Acts 1:7). For Christ and his apostles, it was not a matter of if the Father would fulfill his promises to Israel and the Jewish people, but when. And since the Lord Jesus knew the promises would not be fulfilled for more than 1,900 years, he mercifully chose not to give the disciples any details, for it may well have discouraged them.
- The apostle Paul also repeatedly affirmed the truth and value of all the Hebrew prophecies in the Scriptures. In so doing he reaffirmed the rebirth of Israel and the re-gathering of the Jews in the last days. In 2 Timothy 3:16, for example, Paul writes, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching.” That certainly covers all the prophecies in the Old Testament, including those describing the future resurrection of Israel. In Romans 9:3-4, Paul writes about his deep love for “my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites” and explains that to the children of Israel “belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises.” When he speaks of “the covenants,” Paul speaks of all the covenants. He does not exclude the Abrahamic covenant, in which the Lord unconditionally promised the land of Israel to the Jews, his chosen people according to Genesis 12 and 17, among other passages. What’s more, when Paul speaks of “the promises,” he speaks of all God’s promises to the Jewish people. He does not exclude the promises of Ezekiel 36, 37, 38, or any of the other promises of resurrecting the nation of Israel or re-gathering the Jewish people to Israel.
Happy Birthday, Israel — may my people turn to the God of Israel, His Word, His prophets, and His beloved Son!
- Learn all about The Joshua Fund’s Holy Land tour in July and the 2018 Epicenter Prayer Summit in Jerusalem — come meet Israelis and Palestinians and pray for the peace of Jerusalem and the region!
- Would you like to make a secure, tax deductible investment in The Joshua Fund (www.joshuafund.com)? This is the non-profit organization that my wife, Lynn, and I founded in 2006 to educate and mobilize Christians to bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus, to care for the poor and needy in Israel (both Jews and Arabs) with food and other humanitarian relief, care for Holocaust survivors, care for Syrian and Iraqi refugees, and strengthen the Church in the epicenter. The Joshua Fund is a member in good standing of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. Please click here to learn more. Thanks so much!
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