by: Nathan Williams, BFP Staff Writer
Jews around world will soon be recounting the miraculous story of Hanukkah. The actual miracle of Hanukkah, however, depends on which historical source you consult. The extra-biblical Books of the Maccabees opt for the miracle of the military victory over the Seleucid Empire. Yet the Talmud (rabbinic commentary) relates another miracle. When the Temple was reclaimed from the Hellenists, the Hasmoneans searched and found only one sealed jar of pure oil with the impress of the High Priest stamped on it. Yearning to restore the Temple service, but with barely enough oil to keep the Temple menorah (seven-branched candelabra) alight for a single day, the lamps were lit and are said to have burned for eight days.
Whichever story you choose to ascribe as the miracle of Hanukkah, there is an undeniable history of supernatural events in the story of ancient Israel. Even so in modern day Israel divine providence is crafting miraculous outcomes to seemingly impossible scenarios. Miracles are happening in our time, right before our eyes.
A nation was phenomenally born in a single day in May 1948, as prophesied in Isaiah 66:8. Isaiah further declared that God would gather the dispersed Jewish people from the four corners of the earth (Isa. 11:12) and that Israel would be set up as an ensign to the nations. What greater sign than a minority group being internationally recognized and supported to regain the right to live in their ancient homeland?
Over the last 100 years, in fulfillment of the promises of God, Jews have returned to Israel from Asia, Russia, Europe, North America, South America, Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Astoundingly, in our day, more lost tribes have been identified and have begun their return from India, Burma and even China.
Hebrew is one of the world’s oldest languages. It ceased to be spoken around 250 BC, yet ahead of time Zephaniah prophesied that God would return to His people a “pure language” that they may serve Him with one accord. Hebrew was amazingly reborn as a language in the 19th century and today it is the primary language of the reborn State of Israel. Never before in recorded history has a nation been scattered across the face of the earth for over two millennia and then returned to their land with their ancient national language fully restored.
The modern-day State of Israel has defeated her enemies in no less than four major wars since 1948. On more than one occasion Israel was outnumbered in soldiers, enemy aircraft, tanks, artillery and missiles. Yet Israel has inexplicably won war after war against insurmountable odds.
Even more recently an article in the British newspaper The Jewish Telegraph related the testimony of a soldier working with the Iron Dome missile defense system during the last Gaza operation. According to his account not one, but three attempts of the Iron Dome failed to bring down a Hamas rocket aimed at the Azrieli Towers—three iconic skyscrapers in Tel Aviv. Disaster was imminent. Then out of nowhere came what was described as a “huge” wind, undetectable to military radar systems, but yet it blew the rocket off course all the way into the sea. Thereafter, the wind simply vanished again into thin air. The soldier solemnly declared, “I can no longer deny the existence of God.”
The prophet Amos foretold the promises of God to rebuild the waste cities, the planting of vineyards and wine making, of establishing gardens and eating the fruit thereof. Israel’s waste cities are now expanding metropolises and ports. The capital city, Jerusalem, is constantly evolving into a modern cosmopolitan hub with the upcoming addition of a high-speed rail link between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, that will reduce travel time to only twenty-eight minutes. Haifa Port is undergoing a major expansion, including the construction of a new terminal. With 36 million bottles of wine being produced annually on 35 commercial wine farms and over 250 boutique wineries, Amos’ words are a living reality in Israel.
When the Jewish people started to return to Israel, they found malaria-ridden swamps in the Jezreel valley and the parched barren deserts of the Arava. Isaiah declared that “the wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose” (Isa. 35:1). Not only is Israel one of the world’s leading fresh citrus producers and exporters, but it has also become a major exporter of fresh-cut flowers.
The nation produces enough food for their own citizens, but exports about 20% of its agricultural produce. Agricultural technology and knowledge is exported to third world countries as well as to advanced nations in Europe and even to the United States. Israel is the most water-efficient country in the world, creating oases in the desert through the marvel of desalination, drip-irrigation and even using salty water to irrigate their crops.
The fulfillment of not only the judgment of exile pronounced on the nation of Israel, but also the promise of regathering and blessing, is testament to the faithfulness of God. According to the Jewish sage, Maimonides, the greatest mitzvah (commandment) of Hanukkah is “to proclaim the miracle and to add praise to God and gratitude for miracles God did for us” (Laws of Hanukkah 4:7). Israel is certainly a living proclamation that miracles are happening to this very day. As prophecy after prophecy comes to fulfillment, one cannot deny the existence of the supernatural and acknowledge that God has given us a sure prophetic word in the Bible—a testament in these modern times that God is alive and watches over His word to perform it (Jer. 1:12).
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