On this day, June 7th, 1967, after nearly 2000 years, Jerusalem returned to the people of Israel.
I want to reflect on that in this post, because it helps me remember how good God is and that he still keeps his promises.
When the IDF troops entered the Old City of Jerusalem and approached the Western Wall, General Shlomo Goren sounded the shofar to mark the historic moment.
First-hand accounts of the miraculous event are numerous. The late Yitzchak Rabin records,
“I felt truly shaken and stood there murmuring a prayer for peace. Motta Gur’s paratroopers were struggling to reach the Wall and touch it. We stood among a tangle of rugged, battle-weary men who were unable to believe their eyes or restrain their emotions. Their eyes were moist with tears, their speech incoherent. The overwhelming desire was to cling to the Wall, to hold on to that great moment as long as possible.”
–Chief of Staff Yitzchak Rabin
Approaching the Western Wall in Jerusalem in 1967, General Goren announced,
“I am speaking to you from the plaza of the Western Wall, the remnant of our Holy Temple. ‘Comfort my people, comfort them, says the Lord your God.’ This is the day we have hoped for, let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation.
The vision of all generations is being realized before our eyes: The city of God, the site of the Temple, the Temple Mount and the Western Wall, the symbol of the nation’s redemption, have been redeemed today by you, heroes of the Israel Defense Forces. By doing so you have fulfilled the oath of generations, ‘If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its cunning.’
Indeed, we have not forgotten you, Jerusalem, our holy city, our glory. In the name of the entire Jewish people in Israel and the Diaspora, I hereby recite with supreme joy,
‘Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who has kept us in life, who has preserved us, and enabled us to reach this day. This year in Jerusalem – rebuilt!’“
–General Shlomo Goren
“The Wall was before us. I trembled. There it was as I had known it—immense, mighty, in all its splendor...overcome, I bowed my head in silence.”
–General Uzi Narkiss, Head of Central Command
This was – and remains – a joyous and miraculous event for Jews around the world, as well as many Christians like myself.
But we’ve already seen a great miracle, and it’s been witnessed by the entire world: the restoration of the land of Israel, the end of the Jewish exile after 2000 years of dispersion, and the liberation of Jerusalem after 2 millennia.
It’s a miracle, because no other nation or people has ever done this. The return of Israel is a unique event in all of human history. Most civilizations in exile die out or assimilate within a hundred years. Not so for the people of Israel; even after 2000 years, Israel returned. This is the hand of God.
It’s from God because God told us this would happen in the Bible, and anyone can read it for themselves to verify this fact.
Thus says Adonai: “Yet again in this place—which you are saying is a waste without man or beast, in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem the desolate, without man, without inhabitant and without beast—there will be heard the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voice of them who say:
‘Give thanks to Adonai-Tzva’ot,
for Adonai is good,
for His love endures forever!’
as they bring offerings of thanksgiving into the House of Adonai. For I will restore the land from the exile as it was at first,” declares Adonai.
This happened once before, after the Babylonian exile some 2700 years ago. And it happened again in 1948, when the people of Israel returned to the land of Israel.
Jerusalem’s liberation some 20 years later served as the crown of this restoration.
Christians and Messianics should celebrate too
I was glad when they said to me,
‘Let’s go up to Jerusalem, to the house of God’
Our feet are standing within your gates, Jerusalem
Jerusalem: a city built in harmony
All the families of Israel ascend to it
To give thanks to God
In Jerusalem, God installed thrones
Thrones for David’s descendants
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem
May all who love her prosper
For the sake of my brothers and my friends,
I now say, ’Shalom be within you!’
For the sake of the house of our God,
I will seek Jerusalem’s good
God exists and is still at work in the world. Israel, Jerusalem, and the Jewish people are evidence of this.
As Christians, we can acknowledge this reality without compromise: In the New Testament we are told that God has neither forgotten nor rejected the Jewish people.
Christians don’t replace Jews as God’s people. Rather, God – the God of Israel – made himself known to the whole world through the Messiah of Israel. God appointed Messiah to rule the earth, so that all will be in submission to Messiah, and Messiah in submission to God. In this way, the whole earth comes in submission to the God of Israel.
As Christians, our faith is Israel-centric: it’s based around the central idea of a messiah – an idea that predates Christianity and originates in ancient Judaism and remains so to this day.
Our faith is centered around a Jewish Messiah who was born in Israel of Jewish parents, lived in Israel, taught in Israel, died in Israel.
Our faith is centered around a Messiah who lived the life of a Torah-faithful Jew who taught in synagogues and at the Holy Temple when it was standing.
Our faith demands we accept Israel’s Bible as divine instruction and guide for holy living.
Our captors demanded we sing songs,
Our tormentors asked for joy, saying,
“Sing us one of the songs of Zion.”
How can we sing a song of the LORD in a foreign land?
If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
let my right hand wither.
May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth
if I cease to remember you,
if I do not set Jerusalem above my chief joy.
And as for the writings that comprise the rest of the Christian Bible, these are written almost entirely by Jews: John, Matthew, Paul, James, Peter and several others were all Jews. ~90% of the books of the New Testament were written by Jewish people. And these books testify about events that happened in Israel, pertaining to the Messiah who originated in and ministered to Israel.
Christianity is, at it’s core, an Israel-centric faith. We follow a Jewish Messiah who brings the entire world to the God of Israel through the Scriptures of Israel.
Given these truths, it’s right for us believers, too, to celebrate the restoration of Jerusalem on this day in 1967.
It’s been just 49 years since that miraculous day.
Happy Yom Yerushalayim, fine Kineti readers.