There is faith and there is unshakeable faith. Renowned Bible teacher Derek Prince once said of scripture, “Every word of it is true.” The creation story, the flood, the prophet Elijah’s ascension to heaven in a flaming chariot and Zechariah’s apocalyptic vision of mountains of bronze… All literally true in Prince’s eyes, no hedging or reliance upon symbolism, allegory or figurative language.
Throughout the centuries, there may be no Bible theme that has challenged men’s faith more than the Old Testament’s multiple and explicit promises of the restoration of Israel. “Thus says the Lord G-d,” one prominent example begins…
Behold, I will take the sons of Israel from among the nations where they have gone, and I will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel… (Eze 37:21-22)
As clear and unambiguous as this and many similar Old Testament verses may seem, consider the problem its promises eventually posed to men of good faith two millennia after they were recorded. In 1520, when Martin Luther launched the Protestant Reformation, the Holy Land was not only absent a restored Israel, but was part of the sprawling, Islamic, Ottoman Empire which spanned nearly a billion acres and included vassal states in Eastern Europe and North Africa.
In Luther’s time the Jewish people had been scattered throughout the earth as prophesied, but only scholars spoke Hebrew and the Jewish people seemed hopelessly disconnected. Luther’s towering, but imperfect faith, eventually led him to replacement theology, or Supersessionism, with roots dating back to the first century and Christian apologist Justyn Martyr, maintaining that the Christian Church, not Israel, is what the Bible means by Israel.
“Thus all the Gentiles who are Christians are the true Israelites and new Jews, born of Christ, the noblest Jew,” Hans Hillerbrand, in his book The Protestant Reformation, summed up Luther’s views. “There is no more promise for Israel. God is silent. Israel experiences the silence of God, which is his wrath.”
Today Luther is correctly recognized as having been a virulent antisemite, but he had once looked upon Jews empathetically. “If I had been a Jew and had seen such dolts and blockheads govern and teach the Christian faith, I would sooner have become a hog than a Christian,” Luther wrote in his essay, That Jesus Christ was Born a Jew, in 1523. “They have dealt with the Jews as if they were dogs rather than human beings; they have done little else than deride them and seize their property. When they baptize them they show them nothing of Christian doctrine or life, but only subject them to popishness and mockery…When we are inclined to boast of our position [as Christians] we should remember that we are but Gentiles, while the Jews are of the lineage of Christ.”
Had only Luther been born four centuries later, he would have witnessed the amazing, unequivocally prophesied rebirth of sovereign Israel. Had he lived to this day, he would have surely recognized the Restoration in full progress, including Jeremiah’s description of its future methodology.
“‘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.
“‘Behold, I am going to send for many fishermen,’ declares the Lord, ‘and they will fish for them, and afterwards I will send for many hunters and they will hunt them from every mountain and every hill and from the clefts of the rocks.’” (Jer 16:14-16)
It appears that now, as suggested by Jeremiah, Jews yet to return to the Land are much more likely to be hunted than fished. Antisemitism is again on the rise, worldwide, and future Aliyah, the immigration of Jews to Israel from the Diaspora, will likely arise more from necessity than inspiration.
Although, according to data released by Israel’s Immigration Ministry and Jewish Agency, total Jewish immigration to Israel dropped by almost 40 percent in 2020 compared to 2019 due to the coronavirus pandemic, French Aliyah has continued to soar since the 2015 terror attacks against Jews in Paris.
“The pandemic did not lower the motivation to make Aliyah, on the contrary,” Arie Abitbol, director of the Jewish Agency in France was quoted as saying by the global news agency, AFP.
“Despite the fact that…immigration has [been limited] due to the lockdowns, the number of [French] olim (immigrants) remained the same in 2020… We are overwhelmed by requests, especially from seniors and young people, families experiencing the uncertainty of an economic crisis due to the pandemic.” Many Jews in France fear that Aliyah may be closed to them “if they fail to make Aliyah a priority.”
Martin Luther, had he lived today, would not have only experienced a renewal in faith in the Bible’s literal accuracy based on what he had witnessed thus far, but would have likely also kept his ear to the wind in accord with the words of Zechariah regarding the continuing Restoration…
“I will whistle for them to gather them together, for I have redeemed them and they will be as numerous as they were before.
“When I scatter them among the peoples, they will remember Me in far countries, and they with their children will live and come back.” (Zec 10:8)