Desolation and Reclamation of the Land of Israel: Promise of Hope
By Dr. David Reagan
The Promise of Hope
Fortunately for the Jewish people, Moses did not leave it there. He continued on to speak some words of hope. He assured them that if they were ever scattered all over the world, a day would come when God in His compassion would “restore them from captivity” by regathering them to their homeland (Deuteronomy 30:3). “If your outcasts are at the ends of the earth, from there the LORD your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you back” (Deuteronomy 30:4).
The prophet Ezekiel picked it up from there, prophesying what would happen to the land when the Jewish people were regathered to it (Ezekiel 36:34-35):
34) The desolate land will be cultivated instead of being a desolation in the sight of everyone who passes by.
35) They will say, “This desolate land has become like the garden of Eden; and the waste, desolate and ruined cities are fortified and inhabited.”
What an incredible panorama of future events that have been fulfilled precisely in detail!
After the Jewish people occupied their Promised Land under the leadership of Joshua, they immediately began to stray from God’s Word. They violated God’s command not to intermarry with the pagan peoples of the land. As they did so, they began to worship the false gods of these peoples.
God responded by sending prophets to call them to repentance. When they refused to repent, God began to afflict them with the very curses that Moses had outlined in his warnings. Finally, just as Moses had prophesied, they were taken into exile, first the northern kingdom of Israel (722 BC) and then the southern kingdom of Judah (586 BC).
After God allowed the Jews of the southern kingdom to return from their Babylonian captivity, they persisted in their rebellion, consummating with the rejection of the Messiah whom God had sent to them.
It was at that point that God allowed the Romans to destroy Jerusalem in 70 AD, including the Jewish Temple. This resulted in their ejection from the land and their worldwide scattering, a process that was accelerated after the Second Jewish Revolt in 132-136 AD.
Over the next 1800 years the Jews were literally scattered to the four corners of the earth, in fulfillment of Moses’ prophecy. And in further fulfillment of prophecy, they were persecuted wherever they went, and their homeland became utterly desolate.
The Nature of the Promised Land
Keep in mind that their homeland was one of great abundance when the Jewish people entered it some 1400 years before the time of Jesus. Here’s how it was described by Moses (Deuteronomy 8:7-9):
7) “…the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing forth in valleys and hills;
8) a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey;
9) a land where you will eat food without scarcity, in which you will not lack anything; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper.”
Moses further characterized the land as being very different from the arid land of Egypt because it “drinks from the rain of heaven” (Deuteronomy 11:10-11). Moses also described it as “a land for which the LORD your God cares; the eyes of the LORD your God are always on it, from the beginning even to the end of the year” (Deuteronomy 11:12).
Ezekiel affirmed this evaluation of the land many years later when he wrote that God swore to the Jewish people that He would bring them out of the land of Egypt into a land “flowing with milk and honey, which is the glory of all lands” (Ezekiel 20:6-7,15).
In the third segment of this series on the prophecies concerning the land of Israel, we’ll look at 19th Century Western explorers who documented in graphic description how bad off the land had become.