The moment was so dramatic, one wonders exactly what it was like if he was not yet born to witness it.
My mentor, David Lewis, was alive when it was announced over radio that the Jewish state had been established.
He was 12 in 1948, and when he and his mother heard the news, it was pure joy. Bible-believers in those days had been anticipating the famous last-days ingathering of the Jewish exiles, to Palestine, their ancestral home of Judea.
The state of Israel this month has been celebrating 70 years of statehood. The first time I visited Tel Aviv’s Independence Hall, it felt like an out-of-body experience.
The chairs near the dais are arranged as they were that day, at 4 p.m., May 14, 1948. David Ben Gurion stood at a microphone and read the declaration of independence, from a parchment scroll…written in Hebrew. Nearby were allies like Golda Meir and Moshe Sharett. Ben Gurion stood under a large portrait of Zionist leader Theodor Herzl.
It had been decided by Ben Gurion and his cabinet in the preceding few days that it was now or never. The UN had voted to partition Palestine six months before; naturally the Arabs loudly rejected it.
The Jews took the deal.
Across the ocean, U.S. President Harry Truman listened to the reports. He had a decision to make, as Ben Gurion had sent envoys to ask the superpower leader for his support after Israel’s statehood was declared. Neck-deep in the Cold War, Truman had little time for the Jews.
(A story exists that Bess Truman would not allow a Jew in her Missouri home. If true, it is reflective of a stain of anti-Semitism that has existed and exists now throughout the world. What follows is all the more remarkable, given Harry Truman’s experience at home.)
All of Truman’s advisors, save for White House Counsel Clark Clifford (later a good friend of President Kennedy), advised him against recognizing the new Jewish state. Secretary of State George C. Marshall—that George C. Marshall—basically threatened Truman politically if he did so.
Hours after Ben Gurion’s voice was heard on the staticky airwaves, Truman sent an aid out into a hallway to read a short statement to reporters:
“This Government has been informed that a Jewish state has been proclaimed in Palestine, recognition has been requested by the provisional government thereof. The United States recognizes the provisional government as the de facto authority of the new State of Israel.”—signed, Harry Truman, approved May 14, 1948.
In his own hand, Truman had drawn a line through “Jewish state” and wrote “State of Israel.”
And that was that. Israel held off five Arab armies for several months and then established its foothold, which today of course is the Jewel of the Middle East.
Most incredibly, this year’s 70th coincides with the official move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. A U.S. Presidential delegation will attend.
All this—all of it—should be a clear reminder to us that the Lord of History is the Timekeeper. Not us.
Only two years ago, coming off the diabolical Obama—and many felt an eight-year Hillary Clinton run—that Israel was somehow doomed. How could things get better?
But then a new American president stepped into the biblical role of Cyrus, and the modern role of Truman, and stood with Israel. All in the blink of an eye.
When will we learn that God is sovereign and is not bound by the evil of an Obama, or the fecklessness of a John Kerry? Even today, people are wringing their hands that Iran has stockpiled missiles in Syria, to go along with their stockpile in Lebanon. Bomb shelters have opened in Israel.
Many believe Isaiah 17 is imminent. Along with Ezekiel 38-39. Perhaps Psalm 83. I hear a lot of that.
The plain truth is, we don’t know.
What we do know, looking in the rear-view mirror, is that God has surprised us again.
The world has hated the Jewish state for a long time. But she grows stronger.
And one day, when the international community foolishly strikes Israel and Jerusalem, the Lord is really going to give’em hell.
Reprinted with author’s permission from Rapture Ready