Breathes there the man with soul so dead
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land!
Whose heart has ne’er within him burn’d,
As home his footsteps turn’d
From wandering on a foreign strand!
— Sir Walter Scott [“The Lay of the Last Minstrel”]
Can you imagine the emotions of a young Jewish man when his plane landed in Israel, and he put his foot down on the same piece of land where his people had left 2000 years earlier? Of course, he knew the story of how his forefathers had tried to drive the Roman rulers out of their country and failed. Many lost their lives; their temple was destroyed, and a harsher rule began. Many sought refuge in other countries and did something no other people have ever done; they hold tenaciously to their religion and culture. Because of this, they were subject to constant threats.
No group of people on the planet has endured more systematic, heavily resourced attempts to wipe them out than the Jews.
Not only is it a miracle that Jews exist today, but to think that their nation was re-established as modern Israel in 1948. That, however, did not come cheap; as soon as the Israelis began to form a government, the Arabs attacked. Five Arab nations (Egypt, Syria, Transjordan, Lebanon and Iraq) joined forces and attacked on a wide front. The Israelis were being pushed into the sea. They knew it was a matter of life or death. Azzam Pasha, Secretary-General of the Arab League, declared, “It will be a war of annihilation. It will be a monstrous massacre in history that will be talked about like massacres of the Mongols or the Crusades.”
After a year and a half of fighting, at great cost in lives, the defenders finally pushed the Arabs out of their land. Some people never seem to learn, as Israel was attacked two more times, once in 1967, which was called the “Six Day War,” and the “Yom Kippur War” in 1973. They were victorious each time and gained a little more land.
When Israel started, there were about 600,000 people in the country; today, there are 7 million. They are cramped into a tiny piece of real estate you can hardly find on a map. They have flown in from all over the world, to find a place to call home.
Today, Israel has no standing army, but everyone, male or female, must sign up for two years of service in the army. While you are there, you will be required to learn Hebrew, a language that was already dead at the time of Jesus.
Their logic was very simple: The returnees came from all parts of the world and spoke different languages. A nation should have a common language. What would be more appropriate than the language of Moses? No dead language has ever come back to life. Latin, once the universal language, is now spoken by a few scholars. If Moses returned to Israel today, he could enter a restaurant and order a meal. Of course, he might get a little confused when he saw pizza and Pepsi.
That young man that came to Israel by plane is now 80 years old. He has witnessed all three wars and the emergence of a new and strong nation. Today, Israel’s air force is larger than that of England or France. It has tanks and field equipment sufficient for its reserve army. However, I believe they also know that there was something more involved in their survival than their own strength. Some might even say it was a miracle.