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Living in Bible Times

October 26, 2008
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Clearly, when the prophets spoke of a regathering of the Jewish people from the four corners of the earth, their eyes were not fixed on first-century Israel. Isaiah highlighted the first return of the Israelites from their captivity in Egypt when about 1.5 million people were relocated to the Promised Land over a 40-year period, but he said, “Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing…” (43:18–19a). Jeremiah described the “new thing” as a second exodus that would profoundly overshadow the first (16:14–16).

We have seen that prophecy partially fulfilled over the past 60 years when nearly five million Jewish people have come into the Land from over 100 nations, speaking over 80 languages. And as they have done so, they have brought countless other Scriptures to life. They have rebuilt the waste places (Isa. 61:4), caused the desert to bloom (Isa. 35:1), and filled the streets of Jerusalem with sounds of bustling commerce (Jer. 33:7, 11) and children’s laughter (Zech. 8:5). They have brought blessing to all the nations of the earth as Israel has taken first place in scientific, technological, and medical advancements that have improved the quality of life for literally billions of people the world over.

A Time that Mingles Ancient with Contemporary

To the western eye, there is much in modern Israel that seems untidy, disorderly, even chaotic. But even in this, God’s presence is seen. His relationship with the Jewish people has always been one of dynamic exchange, based on His miraculous leading and their obedient following―a relationship that was never quiet, never languid, never dull, but whose hallmark was action. The very nature of the Jewish people was forged within this paradigm, creating a culture today that is marked by vibrant family relationships and righteous action, with a focus on what works rather than what might look good.

The Hebrew word olam means “eternity.” It appears about 440 times in the Bible and has several connotations, from “remotest time” to “simple duration of time” to “continuity and unchangeability.” However, when one walks about the city of Jerusalem, the “eternal” capital of the nation of Israel, the very air speaks of the deepest meaning of olam: from the most distant past time to the most distant future time, without beginning or end, ever-continuing. The streets teem with taxis, buses, private cars, and scooters; the sidewalks are filled with pedestrians and bicyclists; helicopters and airplanes buzz overhead; corner coffee shops are filled with students, shoppers, and busy executives on their way to high-rise offices. In every way, Jerusalem is a thoroughly modern metropolis. And yet, somehow, the city remains anchored in the most distant past. The sounds of contemporary life seem to mingle mysteriously with the echoes of the ancient, a constant reminder that the City of God is somehow, incomprehensibly like Him…eternal.

Today, to walk the streets of Jerusalem is to become a part of images glimpsed by the prophets millennia ago. Around every corner, voices of the past echo through the streets, reminding all who will listen of the faithfulness of the God who, through unconditional and eternal covenant, promised this Land to the Jewish people. Everyday life is seasoned with indescribable excitement as the palpable presence of that same God continues to fill the highways and byways of the country.

A Time to Be Responsible

Many biblical scholars say that there has been more prophetic fulfillment in the past 60 years than in any other period in human history, except, say Christian scholars, during the first century AD. What a blessing it is to be alive today to see with our own eyes what the prophets could only imagine! Those prophets, by the way, would have us know that, in Jewish thought, there is never a blessing received without an attendant responsibility.

So, as we are blessed to behold this amazing panorama that is modern Israel, as we watch the ongoing fulfillment of biblical prophecy, as we witness God’s final preparations for the redemption of all the earth, we must be mindful of our responsibilities: to pray for the peace of Jerusalem; to champion and support the nation of Israel; to love and comfort the Jewish people; to cleave to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and to be outspoken messengers to those around us, proclaiming that these exciting days in which we live are, most assuredly, Bible times.


Photo Credit: Photoby Johan Schutte

Photo Credit: www.israelimages.com/Israel Talby

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