Redemption, Right on Time - Wendy Wippel - http://www.omegaletter.com/articles/articles.asp?ArticleID=8238
Israel celebrates its 68th birthday Saturday, still holding on despite the fact that the vast majority of the world believes they have no right to exist--including a whole lot of people who call themselves Christians. Despite the fact that more than 150 verses promised that God would restore His people to their land. And some of the verses told us exactly when.
Isaiah recorded God's promise to bring His people back to the land He gave them:
For the Lord will have mercy on Jacob, and will still choose Israel, and settle them in their own land. The strangers will be joined with them, and they will cling to the house of Jacob. Isaiah 14:1-2 NKJV
As did Jeremiah:
The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: "Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.4 Again I will build you, and you shall be rebuilt, O virgin of Israel!...5 You shall yet plant vines on the mountains of Samaria; The planters shall plant and eat them as ordinary food.6 For there shall be a day When the watchmen will cry on Mount Ephraim, 'Arise, and let us go up to Zion, To the Lord our God.'" Jeremiah 31:3-6.
For thus says the Lord God: "Indeed I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. 12 As a shepherd seeks out his flock on the day he is among his scattered sheep, so will I seek out My sheep and deliver them from all the places where they were scattered on a cloudy and dark day. 13 And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land; I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, in the valleys and in all the inhabited places of the country. 14 I will feed them in good pasture, and their fold shall be on the high mountains of Israel. There they shall lie down in a good fold and feed in rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. Ezekiel 34:11-14
For the children of Israel shall abide many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar, without ephod or teraphim. 5 Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the Lord their God and David their king. They shall fear the Lord and His goodness in the latter days. Hosea 3:4-5
"Behold, the days are coming," says the Lord, "When the plowman shall overtake the reaper, And the treader of grapes him who sows seed; The mountains shall drip with sweet wine, And all the hills shall flow with it. 4 I will bring back the captives of My people Israel; They shall build the waste cities and inhabit them; They shall plant vineyards and drink wine from them; They shall also make gardens and eat fruit from them.15 I will plant them in their land, And no longer shall they be pulled up From the land I have given them," Says the Lord your God. Amos 9 2-4, 14-15
But on Mount Zion there shall be deliverance, And there shall be holiness; The house of Jacob shall possess their possessions. Obadiah1:17
The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing."18 "I will gather those who sorrow over the appointed assembly, Who are among you, To whom its reproach is a burden.19 Behold, at that time I will deal with all who afflict you; I will save the lame, And gather those who were driven out; I will appoint them for praise and fame In every land where they were put to shame.20 At that time I will bring you back, Even at the time I gather you; For I will give you fame and praise Among all the peoples of the earth, When I return your captives before your eyes, Zephaniah 3:19-20
I am zealous for Zion with great zeal; With great fervor I am zealous for her.3 "Thus says the Lord: 'I will return to Zion, And dwell in the midst of Jerusalem.
Jerusalem shall be called the City of Truth, The Mountain of the Lord of hosts, The Holy Mountain. Zechariah 8:7-8
God made pretty sure His people didn't misunderstand His plan for them. But He didn't stop there. He also told them clearly when these promises would be fulfilled. And through the same prophets.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves.
These same prophets had also been relaying to His people that God was unhappy with their disobedience and apathy towards him, and if they did not repent, He would bring judgment upon them by using their enemies to defeat them. (Jeremiah 5-7)
Jacob's descendants ignored the warnings still, and finally, as promised, God brought the nation of Babylon against them, particularly against their Holy City Jerusalem, in the form of three successive sieges.
1.Nebuchadnezzar, in 605, lays siege to Jerusalem and defeats the southern kingdom of Judah under Jehoiachin.
2.Egypt encourages Judah to rebel, and Nebuchadnezzar returns. He lays siege to Jerusalem again, and the city falls on March 16, 597, with King Jehoiachin and most of the laborers and craftsmen (including Ezekiel) taken captive to Babylon. II Kings 24:10-16
3.Puppet King Zedekiah rebels in 588 B.C and appeals to Egypt for help in throwing off Babylonian rule and rebels. Nebuchadnezzar returns and again lays siege, on January 15. The city was taken on July 18th, 586 (after 30 months) and the city was destroyed. Nebuchadnezzar and the remaining population (including Zedekiah) were taken to Babylon as slaves. Nebuchadnezzar plunders the temple, sets the city on fire, and carries his booty back home (including the Temple's bronze pillars). The city and the Temple were destroyed on August 13, 586 (Tisha b'Av on the Jewish calendar.)
While we're on the topic of marking time, it's important to this point out that in the beginning, mankind marked time by the movements of the sun and moon. The prophets lived hundreds of years before Christ and used the Jewish calendar, which marks time very differently than our modern Gregorian calendar. The calendar of the old testament had twelve months of thirty days; evidenced from Genesis (7:11, 7:24, 8:3-4) which define one month as 30 days to Revelation (12:6,14 and 13:5), which define three and a half years as forty-two months.
Hang on to that as we proceed.
God had promised that the Jews would return from Babylon to their own land, and, sure enough, Babylon was eventually defeated by Cyrus the Great, who ruled in 553 that all of Israel's captives could return. We know that the Siege of Jerusalem began sometime between June 605 and August 605 because Neb was proceeding over the battle of Carcamesh in early June and he returned to Babylon after the siege on August 16 upon getting word that his father had died.
Here's where it gets interesting. Jeremiah made two prophecies about the nation's sufferings and release from Babylonian dominion:
And this whole land shall be a desolation and an astonishment, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. Jeremiah 25:11
For thus says the Lord: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place. Jeremiah 29:10
And if you do the calendar conversions, starting from the first siege in June 605, 70 years would take us up to June of 536 BC. (Remember that the Jewish year contains 12 months of 30 days, so is slightly different than ours). And, unfortunately, we don't know the exact dates on either end. But history records that the first group of Babylonian captives did return to Jerusalem in 536 BC, seventy years after the first exiles had been captured.
But wait, there's more. A lot more. And here's where it gets really interesting.
For this, we're going to look at some prophecies by analogy from the Prophet Ezekiel.
God gave Ezekiel a whole lot of verbal prophecies to share with us, but he also asked Ezekiel to act out some of his prophecies. In Ezekiel 4:2, Ezekiel is told to act out the siege of Jerusalem:
"You also, son of man, take a clay tablet and lay it before you, and portray on it a city, Jerusalem. 2 Lay siege against it, build a siege wall against it, and heap up a mound against it; set camps against it also, and place battering rams against it all around. 3 Moreover take for yourself an iron plate, and set it as an iron wall between you and the city. Set your face against it, and it shall be besieged, and you shall lay siege against it. This will be a sign to the house of Israel. 4 "Lie also on your left side, and lay the iniquity of the house of Israel upon it. According to the number of the days that you lie on it, you shall bear their iniquity. 5 For I have laid on you the years of their iniquity, according to the number of the days, three hundred and ninety days; so you shall bear the iniquity of the house of Israel. 6 And when you have completed them, lie again on your right side; then you shall bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days. I have laid on you a day for each year..
This tells us a lot if we pay attention. God starts the analogy (and thus the timeline) with the sieges of Jerusalem, and tells Ezekiel that each day that he acts out will predict a year of penance for the nation. 390 days for Israel and 40 for Judah for a total of 430 days total, meaning 430 years total years of punishment for God's chosen people.
Remember, again, you have to do the calendar conversion to get the exact date. But, Houston, we still have a problem. Because this prophecy says, no matter what calendar contortions you employ, the nation should be back in their land before the birth of Christ.
So what gives? We have to look at the whole counsel of God. And when we look back at the nation's disobedience under Moses, we find a clause that makes it all make sense. A clause, in fact, repeated four times. In one chapter:
And if you despise My statutes, or if your soul abhors My judgments, so that you do not perform all My commandments, but break My covenant,16 I also will do this to you: I will even appoint terror over you, wasting disease and fever which shall consume the eyes and cause sorrow of heart. And you shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it.17 I will set My face against you, and you shall be defeated by your enemies. Those who hate you shall reign over you, and you shall flee when no one pursues you. 18 'And after all this, if you do not obey Me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins. 19 I will break the pride of your power; I will make your heavens like iron and your earth like bronze.20 And your strength shall be spent in vain; for your land shall not yield its produce, nor shall the trees of the land yield their fruit. 21 'Then, if you walk contrary to Me, and are not willing to obey Me, I will bring on you seven times more plagues, according to your sins. 22 I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children, destroy your livestock, and make you few in number and your highways shall be desolate. 23 'And if by these things you are not reformed by Me, but walk contrary to Me, 24 then I also will walk contrary to you, and I will punish you yet seven times for your sins. 25 And I will bring a sword against you that will execute the vengeance of the covenant; when you are gathered together within your cities I will send pestilence among you; and you shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy.26 When I have cut off your supply of bread, ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and they shall bring back your bread by weight, and you shall eat and not be satisfied. 27 'And after all this, if you do not obey Me, but walk contrary to Me,28 then I also will walk contrary to you in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins.
God's chosen people did not change their ways, and in accordance with Leviticus, their punishment was multiplied by seven.
So let's try this again. According to Jewish historical records, the first group of Babylonian captives left Babylon to return home to Jerusalem on July 23, 537 B.C. The original punishment prophesied by Ezekiel was 430 years, but they already served 70 in captivity, so we subtract that. If we multiply the 360 years that are left by 7 times as God dictated in Leviticus, and do the calendar conversions, we end up with 2, 483 years, 9 months and 12 days, which added to July 23, 537 BC lands us on the date May 14, 1948. The exact date that the nation of Israel came into existence again.
But that's if we used the first siege of Jerusalem as the start date. What if we use the last one? (When the city and the temple were destroyed?)
We land on June 7, 1967. The exact date that Israel regained the Temple Mount.
It don't get no better than this, does it?!
Agnostic Israeli physicist Leon Lederman, once asked by Orthodox physicist Gerald Schroder if anything in history was unexplainable by science, finally replied that ''Israel back in the land is kind of spooky.''
Not spooky, Leon, Just evidence of a faithful God.