EZEKIEL’S PROPHECY OF ISRAEL’S RETURN

 

According to Bible scholar Dr. Grant Jeffrey, God had foretold in Scripture not only the return of Israel as a nation into her land in 1948, but the exact date of that event. Dr. Jeffrey claims that he was given the ability by God to piece together the items of Scripture by which that event was foretold, thus demonstrating two points: first, that Scripture is supernaturally accurate, and second, that God had everything to do with the return of Israel as a modern nation in bold opposition to those who would claim that Israel is no longer the apple of God’s eye.

Before addressing the specifics of Jeffrey’s research in this area, we note that his conclusions are corroborated elsewhere in Scripture. The Book of Hosea contains prophecies regarding Israel’s lengthy dispersion and her subsequent revival as a nation. While not as precise as the prophecies that Dr. Jeffrey investigated, they are quite remarkable in their own right as to the accuracy of the general timing of Israel’s revival after two millennia of dispersion. The dispersion itself is addressed in Hosea 4:4 and 5:

“For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim; Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord, their God, and David, their king, and shall fear the Lord and his goodness in the latter days.”

Hosea 6:2 addresses the general time frame of Israel’s return, in which a day is interpreted as a thousand years according to Psalm 90 and 2 Peter 3:

“After two days will he revive us; in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.”

Returning to Dr. Jeffrey’s work regarding Israel’s return as a nation, he received his first clue regarding the nature of Israel’s return from Ezekiel Chapters 36 and 37, in which the ‘dry bones’ connect together, are clothed with flesh, and are given life. Many eschatologists view these chapters as applicable to the Jews having been given new life and a return to their homeland after the Holocaust they suffered in Nazi Germany.

As to the timing of their return to their homeland, Dr. Jeffrey received his first clue from Ezekiel 4:4-6:

“Lie also upon your left side, and lay the iniquity of the house of Israel upon it; according to the number of the days that you shall lie upon it, you shall bear their iniquity. For I have laid upon you the years of their iniquity, according to the number of the days, three hundred and ninety days; so shall you bear the iniquity of the house of Israel. And when you have accomplished them, lie again on your right side, and you shall bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days. I have appointed you each day for a year.”

Here the Word of God specifically laid on Israel a judgment of a year for each day that Ezekiel was commanded to lie on his side. Adding 390 and 40 together, Dr. Jeffrey arrived at a total of 430 years of God’s judgment upon Israel. Ezekiel himself was a captive in Babylon, so Dr. Jeffrey assumed that the judgment was to begin at the beginning of Israel’s or Judah’s captivity. Israel was captured by the Assyrians in the eighth Century B.C., while Judah became captive to Nebudchadnezzar somewhere between 606 and 605 B.C. Dr. Jeffrey attempted to apply the 430 years directly to each of these dates, but came up with no historically meaningful end date.

Pursuing this topic in greater detail, Dr. Jeffrey came to an astonishingly relevant passage in Leviticus 26:17, 18, 27 and 28:

“And I will set my face against you, and you shall be slain before your enemies; they that hate you shall reign over you, and you shall flee when none pursues you. And if you will not yet for all this listen to me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins. . . And if you will not for all this listen to me, but walk contrary to me, Then I will walk contrary to you also in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins.”

Here is where Dr. Jeffrey demonstrates the power of the Holy Spirit and the depth of his knowledge of Scripture. He realized in connection with this passage that during Ezekiel’s time, the northern tribes of Israel had been under continuous captivity while Judah was undergoing a punishment that, according to Jeremiah 25:11, would last for precisely seventy years. Jeffrey also realized that the passage in Leviticus quoted above was conditional upon the Jews failing to turn back to God after an initial punishment. Judah’s captivity did indeed end after seventy years, when the Persian King Cyrus, who was called by name by Isaiah over a century before his birth (Isaiah 44:28), decreed at some time between 536 and 535 B.C. that Israelites could return to Jerusalem to rebuild their temple. The fulfillment of that prophetic message is recorded in the Book of Ezra. (This prophetic event is not to be confused with the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy in Daniel 9 regarding the appearance of Messiah 483 years after the commandment permitting the Jews to rebuild the city of Jerusalem. That prophecy was fulfilled in the beginning event by Artaxerxes Longimanus in 445 B.C. as recorded in the Book of Nehemiah and at the conclusion by Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem 32 A.D.)

Grant Jeffrey appreciated that the outcome of Leviticus 26 would depend on the behavior of the Jews following the termination of their captivity in Babylon, which meant that the 70-year period of their captivity must be subtracted from the 430-year period of Ezekiel 4 prior to the application of the sevenfold punishment of Leviticus 26. The resulting calculations are:

430 – 70 = 360

360 x 7 = 2520 (prophetic) years x 360 = 907,200 days

Applying a 907,200-day interval to the assumed earlier date of the end of the Babylonian captivity results, according to Jeffrey, in an end date of 1948, the precise year that Israel became a modern nation in fulfillment of Isaiah 66:7 and 8:

“Before she travailed, she brought forth; before her pain came, she was delivered of a man-child. Who hath heard such a thing? Who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children.”

This calculation may be roughly confirmed first by assuming that the Babylonian captivity ended sometime between 535 and 536 B.C., the two dates most commonly noted by Biblical historians. Multiplying 536 solar years by the number of days in a solar year of 365.25 results in 195,774 days between the end of the Babylonian captivity and the end of the B.C. era. Subtracting 195,774 from 907.200 results in 711,426 days remaining in the A.D. era to the completion of the prophetic time interval. In converting this to years it is noted that the A.D. era starts at A.D. 1 rather than A.D. 0, requiring the addition of 1 to the conversion:

Years A.D. = 1 + (711426/365.25) = 1 + 1947.7782 = 1948.7782

This roughly-calculated date of 1948+ is extremely close to the actual date of the beginning of the modern nation of Israel of May 15, 1948. differing from it at most by less than a year. Indeed, the difference may be brought to zero by assuming an initial day (Cyrus’ proclamation) of only a few days later in the year than the end date of May 15.

Dr. Jeffrey, in fact, makes that very claim, asserting that the precise date of Cyrus’ proclamation results in the foundation of the nation of Israel May 14, 1948, the exact day when she became a modern nation. Until I have been able to verify that claim, I will refrain from making the same assertion. Nevertheless, having a prediction actually come to pass within a year over 25 centuries after it was made is entirely sufficient to demonstrate beyond all doubt the supernatural origin of the prophecy.

Nevertheless, the rough verification made above, viewed in the context of the remarkable prophecy of Hosea 6:2 noted earlier and the equally remarkable prophecy of Israel’s return as a nation made in Ezekiel Chapters 36 and 37, is more than sufficient to demonstrate both the supernatural source of Scripture and God’s continuing love of Israel.

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