Ezekiel (and several other prophetic books of the Old Testament) predicted that Israel would become a nation again and that the land of Israel would spring back to life after existing as a wasteland.
Ezekiel 36:24—For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land.
Ezekiel 36:34-35—The desolate land will be cultivated instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass through it. They will say, “This land that was laid waste has become like the garden of Eden; the cities that were lying in ruins, desolate and destroyed, are now fortified and inhabited.”
After 1800 or so years, there were very few Jewish people still living in Israel. During that entire period there was a miraculous drought and no one there with a passion to care for the land or work to make it inhabitable. From AD 70 to the early 1900’s (the same period of Israel’s dispersion) there was almost no rain and Israel became a vast wasteland.
We read this prophecy in Deuteronomy 28:23-24, “The sky over your head will be bronze, the ground beneath you iron. The Lord will turn the rain of your country into dust and powder; it will come down from the skies until you are destroyed.”
By the 20th century it’s estimated there were only 17,000 trees left in all of Israel and there were no trees south of the Sea of Galilee. If the drought were not bad enough, the Ottoman-Turks taxed trees so people cut them down to avoid paying taxes. Erosion and stagnant water led to swamps which produced widespread malaria. Nobody wanted this land. In 1800 years no one settled in the land in any large-scale or intentional way.
The American author Mark Twain was also a world traveling author before he wrote the books he’s most famous for. He visited Israel’s ancient homeland in 1866 and stated in his journal that he rode a horse for three days and never saw a single person, tree, or animal. He described it as the most desolate wasteland imaginable. There were an estimated 350,000 people there in the early 1800’s. Today there are almost 9 million living in Israel with more people streaming to Israel every year (also a fulfillment of prophecy). Israel is a small country—about the size of New Jersey—yet it is in the news daily. Once a dead wasteland, today Israel is a lush and fruitful land that exports crops, cutting-edge technology, and soon—gas and oil.
This is one of many prophecies directly related to the miraculous rebirth of Israel that should cause us to pay attention to prophecy and understand the season of church history in which we live. No man knows the day or the hour, but we are expected to understand the season or general time frame. The prophecy of Israel’s rebirth in Ezekiel 36-37 is followed by the Gog/Magog War in Ezekiel 38-39 which I have highlighted in another recent post.
Fulfilled prophecy assures us that God’s hand is still on the wheel (including weather patterns and breaking news) even when the world seems to be falling apart around us. He is sovereign and in control. He is directing our attention to our glorious future which may be closer than most think. In the mean time, we are to be salt and light as we live out our faith daily and intentionally. We have nothing to fear and need to remember this is not our final home.
If you do not know Christ and want to know more about how to become a Christian, read this.