Israel Rejoicing

By Pastor Teck Uy

Of all the nations of the world, there is only one nation that was established by God – the nation of Israel. All other nations were established by men as they fought for their rights to exist as a nation. In the case of Israel, it was God himself who established her through a promise, or a covenant. He promised Abraham, “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing” (Gen. 12:2). This covenant was reaffirmed by God with Isaac, and eventually Jacob whose name was changed to Israel. Having been established by God, the life of Israel as a nation should have been smooth sailing, but this was not the case. Because of their sins, God banished them and, for millennium, the people were scattered all over the world – away from their land.

The scattering of Israel would have been their end. However, since their establishment as a nation was based on God’s covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, they have endured to this day. Just as had been prophesied, there would come a time when God would regather them. After having been banished for millennium, God did a marvelous thing in fulfilment of the word of the Lord given through the prophet Isaiah. He said, “Who has ever heard of such a thing? Who has ever seen such things? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children” (Isaiah 66:8). On May 14, 1948, David Ben-Gurion declared the establishment of the new State of Israel.

And how did the Israelites respond? Acknowledging that their rebirth was an act of their God, they rejoiced in the manner described by King David. He said, “Let Israel rejoice in their Maker; let the people of Zion be glad in their King. Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with tambourine and harp” (Psalm 149:2-3). After the proclamation of their independence, the Israelites, young and old, filled the streets and they rejoiced with songs and dances. It was a repeat of the celebration they had when the captives were brought back to Zion. The Psalmist said, “Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them’” (Psalm 126:2).

But the underlying reasons why Israel must rejoice were highlighted by the prophet Zephaniah (v3:15), namely:

The Lord has taken away their punishment. Because of the sins of Israel, the Lord inflicted on them their due punishment. Their punishment included their being sent away into captivity. But God himself promised to be very forgiving if they would only repent. He promised: “I will save my people from the countries of the east and the west. I will bring them back to live in Jerusalem; they will be my people, and I will be faithful and righteous to them as their God” (Zechariah 8:7-8).

The Lord has turned back their enemies. While they were surrounded by their enemies, the Lord fought the battle for them. Time and again, the Lord delivered Israel from the hands of their enemies even without them lifting a hand. The Lord himself promised to the Israelites, “Do not be afraid of them, for the LORD your God Himself will fight for you” (Deut. 3:22).

The Lord, the King of Israel, is with them. The fact that God is with them has been their joy and encouragement. And if God is with them, who can be against them. God himself promised Jacob, “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you” (Gen. 28:15).

Never again will they fear any harm. Because of the Lord’s unfailing love, there is no more reason to fear any harm. King David said, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging” (Psalm 46:1-3). Today, the Jews are going back to live in Israel, unafraid of the threat of their enemies.

Just as Israel has a good reason to rejoice, we too should rejoice for these very reasons. While we have sinned, God has taken away our punishment through the death of our Lord Jesus Christ. His sacrificial death rescued us from the sting of sin which is death. The Lord also promised that he will be with us until the end of the age, and that whoever calls on his name will be saved. Hallelujah!