Desolation and Reclamation of the Land of Israel: Prophetic Promises
By Dr. David Reagan
As we saw in our first segment of this series, when the Jews started returning to their homeland in the 1890s, they did not find a land “flowing with milk and honey.” Instead, they were faced with trying to eke out a living in a desolate wasteland plagued with malaria-infested swamps. They paid exorbitant prices for the land, and the Arabs who lived there (people who considered themselves to be either Syrians or Turks) laughed all the way to the bank.
But God had promised that when the Jews returned, He would cause their land to be rejuvenated, transforming it from desolation to abundance.
The Prophetic Promises
Isaiah foretold that a day would come when the “Lord will comfort Zion” by restoring her “waste places” and making “her wilderness… like Eden and her desert like the garden of the LORD” (Isaiah 51:3). Isaiah proceeded to wax eloquent by saying that when this occurs, “joy and gladness will be found [in the land]” together with “thanksgiving and the sound of a melody” (Isaiah 51:3).
Isaiah also prophesied specifically about the replanting of the forests and the provision of water to the desert. Quoting the Lord, he wrote (Isaiah 41:18-19):
18) “I will open rivers on the bare heights and springs in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water and the dry land fountains of water.
19) “I will put the cedar in the wilderness, the acacia and the myrtle and the olive tree; I will place the juniper in the desert together with the box tree and the cypress…”
And for what purpose will the Lord do this? Isaiah states it will be done so that the Jewish people “may see and recognize and consider and gain insight… that the hand of the LORD has done this, and the Holy One of Israel has created it” (Isaiah 41:20).
The most detailed prophecy concerning the reclamation of the land is to be found in Ezekiel 36:8-12 where the Lord tells the prophet specifically to “prophesy concerning the land of Israel:”
8) “But you, O mountains of Israel, you will put forth your branches and bear your fruit for My people Israel; for they will soon come.
9) “For, behold, I am for you, and I will turn to you, and you will be cultivated and sown.
10) “I will multiply men on you, all the house of Israel, all of it; and the cities will be inhabited and the waste places will be rebuilt.
11) “I will multiply on you man and beast; and they will increase and be fruitful; and I will cause you to be inhabited as you were formerly and will treat you better than at the first. Thus you will know that I am the LORD.
12) “Yes, I will cause men — My people Israel — to walk on you and possess you, so that you will become their inheritance and never again bereave them of children.”
Ezekiel sums up his prophecies concerning the restoration in two verses that are astounding (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.’”
“Like the Garden of Eden”! And just like Isaiah, Ezekiel says the result will be that both Jews and Gentiles will come to realize that the Lord is faithful to fulfill His prophetic promises (Ezekiel 36:36).
In the sixth segment of this series on the prophecies concerning the land of Israel, we’ll witness how the Jewish National Fund played a vital role in reforesting Israel.