Inside View May/Jun 2023
On our tours to the Holy Land, I teach each group about modern Israel. Many Christians don’t realize what it took to bring a country into existence in one day on May 14, 1948, and to create a functioning government. The War of Independence that began the following day further complicated this challenge.
Today, Israel is a flourishing country, celebrating 75 years of existence. Getting to this point has not been an easy path, and the hand of God has been evident throughout the years—even before 1948.
One stop on our tour is the Ayalon Institute Museum, which tells the remarkable story of the secret, underground ammunition factory in Rehovot that operated from 1945 to 1948. Its workers manufactured bullets that were critical to Israel’s ability to defend itself in its War of Independence. The factory operated under the noses of the British. Had it been discovered, it would have meant death for all involved.
The historic Jewish Agency for Israel in Jerusalem is another destination on our tour. Here we learn the foresight Israel’s Founding Fathers had to form a quasi-government to prepare for the day when Israel would become a nation again. Established in 1929, the agency developed the infrastructure and experience necessary to set up a new government. It did so with the approval of the British high command, which controlled the land from 1918 to 1948.
The Ayalon Institute Museum and the Jewish Agency are only part of the story of how God prepared the way for this nation to be born in one day (cf. Isa. 66:8). God’s hand reached around the world to reestablish the nation of Israel.
In the days leading up to the formation of the Jewish state, most foreign ministry and military officials believed it was a mistake to let Israel become a nation, expecting it would be immediately destroyed by its Arab neighbors. They strongly lobbied President Harry Truman not to recognize the new Jewish state, fearing the United States would have blood on its hands when Israel was wiped out.
But President Truman had a longtime Jewish friend, Edward Jacobson. In the spring of 1948, before Israel’s rebirth, Jacobson visited President Truman and explained why establishing the State of Israel was necessary to allow the Jewish people a homeland where they could defend themselves. His words resonated with the president.
Hanging on the wall of my office is a facsimile of President Truman’s announcement of the United States’ recognition of the State of Israel. He issued his proclamation 11 minutes after Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion read Israel’s Declaration of Independence in the late afternoon of May 14, 1948, in Tel Aviv. The president was in such a hurry to issue the announcement to the press that he released it with handwritten changes, rather than waiting for it to be retyped.
Truman was motivated to recognize Israel before his advisors arrived at the White House to stop him. A Southern Baptist from Missouri, he later reflected that he felt God had placed him in the presidency for “such a time as this” (Est. 4:14) to give sanction to this reborn nation. Shortly after Truman released his statement, other major countries followed suit.
Even though Israel has fought many wars over the years and faced continuous terrorism from those who oppose its existence, it has prospered. No other nation experiences the international community’s ongoing hostility and double standard like Israel. And yet, Israel is the economic envy of the world. It is recognized as the incubator for innovation, and millions of visitors flock to Israel each year.
Israel is a modern miracle of God! There is no other way to explain its rebirth and prosperity in the face of constant opposition.
On behalf of all of your Christian friends, happy 75th birthday, Israel!