“‘For I will restore the fortunes of the land as they were before,’ says the Lord.” (Jeremiah 33:11)
Last night at sunset, the Israeli flag was raised all over the Land of Israel as Yom Haatzmaut (Israel Independence Day) began, which for many Israelis is one of the biggest days of the year.
Today Israel is 64-years-old!
Israelis are commemorating Israel’s Declaration of Independence, which occurred on the Biblical Jewish calendar date of Iyar 5, 5708.
In 1948, this date coincided with May 14, 1948 on the Gregorian calendar (the calendar most of us use), but this year it falls today.
Yom Haatzmaut is always bittersweet as it’s always preceded by the more somber day of Yom Hazikaron (Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism Remembrance Day, or Memorial Day).
Before we rejoice over the miraculous survival of the nation of Israel, we first pay tribute to the young Israeli men and women of the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) and the innocent victims of terrorist attacks who paid a high price in order for Israel to exist today.
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13)
Joy Comes in the Morning
“For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5)
As Memorial Day ceremonies wound down at dusk last night, the Independence Day festivities began with an official ceremony on Mount Herzl.
On this mount at the entrance of Jerusalem lies the national cemetery of Israel where Israel’s past leaders, as well as soldiers and police who have fallen in the line of duty, are buried.
As part of the ceremony, twelve torches are lit to represent the twelve tribes of Israel.
This is followed by colorful fireworks, which are launched in parks throughout the Holy Land.
Israelis joyously celebrate with singing and dancing, especially the traditional folk song Am Yisrael Chai, which translates in English “The Nation of Israel Lives!”
Streets around public squares are closed to cars so that everyone may dance freely in the streets of Jerusalem.
“I will build you up again, and you, Virgin Israel, will be rebuilt. Again you will take up your timbrels and go out to dance with the joyful.” (Jeremiah 31:4)
The ancient Hebrew prophet Jeremiah foretold the coming of this day:
Yet in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem that are deserted, inhabited by neither people nor animals, there will be heard once more the sounds of joy and gladness…and the voices of those who bring thank offerings to the house of the Lord…. (Jeremiah 33:10-11)
Yom Haatzmaut: Joy Is the Flag Held High
Yom Haatzmaut is an official national holiday, and Israelis celebrate it outdoors.
Israeli families, regardless of religious observance, celebrate with annual picnics and barbecues in parks. The beaches are also packed, as it’s currently 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit) along the coast.
The Israeli flag also has a special place in today’s celebrations.
All over Israel, balconies, parks, schools, buildings, and boats are decorated with Israeli flags, and drivers are exuberantly honking their horns while an Israeli flag flies from their side-view mirrors or windows.
Many of these flags will remain up until after Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day), which occurs on May 20, 2012.
Many official events and observances are held on Yom Haatzmaut.
Today in Jerusalem, Shimon Peres will honor excellence in 120 IDF soldiers at a reception at the official residence of the President.
At a state ceremony in Jerusalem, the Israel Prize, which is the most important and prestigious award in Israel, is awarded to those who have exceptionally contributed to Israeli society or shown excellence in fields such as Jewish Studies, the Humanities, Natural Science or the Arts and Culture.
The International Bible Contest, an annual worldwide competition on the Tanakh (Jewish Bible) for high school students, is also held in Jerusalem on Yom Haatzmaut. The event is officially sponsored by the Israeli government, and the Prime Minister of Israel usually attends.
Reason to Celebrate: The Fulfillment of Bible Prophecy
“Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall a land be born in one day? Shall a nation be brought forth in one moment? For as soon as Zion was in labor she brought forth her children.” (Isaiah 66:8)
All Bible Believers should celebrate on Yom Haatzmaut.
The fact that Israel has been reborn and is thriving, despite the hostile nations that surround this tiny country, is undeniable evidence that God’s Word is true.
The Prophet Isaiah asked, “Can a nation be born in a day?”
The modern nation of Israel was reborn in a day on May 14, 1948!
In a ceremony that was recorded and broadcast live from the Tel Aviv Museum, David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister, read Israel’s Declaration of Independence.
God, who has faithfully kept His covenant promises to His people, is still keeping those promises.
“I will bring Judah and Israel back from captivity and will rebuild them as they were before.” (Jeremiah 33:7)
Although He scattered His people to all four corners of the earth, He vowed to one day gather them back to their own land.
“Hear the word of the Lord, you nations; proclaim it in distant coastlands: He who scattered Israel will gather them and will watch over his flock like a shepherd.” (Jeremiah 31:10)
That day is now. Am Yisrael chai! The people of Israel live!
The set time to favor Zion has come. Hallelujah!
“You will arise and have compassion on Zion, for it is time to show favor to her; the appointed time has come.” (Psalm 102:13)
The Covenant Behind the Miracle of Modern-Day Israel
While Israel’s Independence Day is celebrated by the Druze, Bedouins, Circassians, and some Arab Israelis, there are those who regard it as a tragic day.
Some Arab citizens don’t call the day Yom Haatzmaut, but al-Nakba (the catastrophe).
Even some Christians seem confused about the issue of Israel’s right to the Land, especially when the media presents such a biased and distorted perspective.
The media has no “spiritual” understanding as their views are based on this world, and not the Word of God.
According to God’s Word, Israel has a covenant right to the Land.
That covenant began with Abram, and it was for this reason that God called him out of Ur.
“The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.’” (Genesis 12:1, see also Genesis 15:7)
God sealed the covenant made with Abram in blood (Genesis 15).
“On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, ‘To your descendants I give this land.’” (Genesis 15:18)
That covenant for the Land is everlasting and based solely on God’s unconditional promise and not merit.
In Genesis 17:19-21 God said to Abraham:
Sarah, your wife, shall bear you a son and you shall call his name Isaac; and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.
As for Ishmael [from whom the Arab people have come] – I have heard you; behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall become the father of twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation.
But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you at this season next year.
When Isaac reached adulthood, God established the Abrahamic Covenant with him (Genesis 26:1-4).
Later God confirmed the covenant with Isaac’s son, Jacob (Genesis 28:10-14; 35:9-12; 48:3-4).
And in the story when Jacob wrestled all night with the Angel of the Lord, God changed Jacob’s name to Israel.
Although the Nation of Israel has been re-birthed physically after 2000 years of the Jews not having a homeland, we long to see it re-birthed spiritually.
Please pray for the spiritual rebirth of the nation of Israel!