To non-EndTimesey C'tians- the significance of the State of Israel...

Many C’tians who view the End Times as near put a lot of emphasis on the 1948 founding of the State of Israel & its 1967 retaking of Jerusalem as being major signs (tho the JW’s & 7th Day Adventists are exceptions).
For the non-EndTimesey C’tians here, how do you regard the spiritual significance of the regathering of the Jews to their ancient land?

Catholic here–as much as we were taught about it (never in several years of CCD) we were told about it as a historical thing due to the Holocaust. We don’t think much about the End Times anyway and I never heard Israel mentioned as playing a part in them one way or another.

Then again, there were so many Jewish people in NYC that it was just another ethnicity, no more significant then being Swedish or something. Lots of actual Israelis, too. Just another funny-accented country that had more violence than even the violence-prone NYC of the '70s. My friends would go to visit Israel the same way some of them went to Ireland or Italy to see relatives and reconnect with their roots. Simpatico people, brusque and beleagured, just like us.

So, some political but no religious discussion IIRC.

Okay, is this question for Christians who are not EndTimesey or is it for folks who aren’t EndTimesey Christians?

Because for this agnostic, there’s no spiritual significance whatsoever to it. It’s a historical fact, like Mehitabel posted, caused by general world outrage over the Holocaust. There had been Zionists in Palestine since before the turn of the 20th Century, well before they ever got enough world sympathy to have a renewed Israel recognized. It’s not as if the entire country just poofed into existence in 1948 in a burst of spiritual significance.

It’s the consequence of Zionism, the movement to re-establish Eretz Israel as the homeland for the Jewish people. It has no particular consequence in the metaphysical scheme of things. Certainly the extant Israeli republic is not the refounding of the Kingdom of Israel that the prophets foretold. I see it as very much a reading of consequences into events that may well have no particular reference to the metaphysical grounds on which the consequences are founded.

Exactly. Pre-Israel Zionism was at its heart a purely secular movement; almost all of the nation’s founding fathers and mothers were non-observant or even openly atheist, and saw Judaism in terms of race, culture and heritage, not religion. The religious aspects - Jewish and Christian - of Israeli existence only came to the fore much later.

I’d also like to note that in my opinion, the Holocaust was not as important a factor in the creation of Israel as is widely believed. I’m pretty sure the country would have come into being regardless as a result of the post-war dissolution of the British Empire. It might have happened a decade or so later, but it still would have happened.

Would you elaborate on that? I thought Jews fleeing Europe was rather important.

That’s a common misconception. Jewish immigration to the country started in the 1880’s and continued in a series of waves throughout the first half of the 20th century. By the begining of WW2, the Jewish population stood at something between 500,000 and 750,000. While there was a fairly large burst of immigration from Germany after the passing of the Nuremberg Laws in the mid-1930’s, the British shut down all Jewish immigration soon after and didn’t open the gates until after the Israeli decleration of independence in 1948. Between those points, the only refugees fleeing Europe to reach Mandatory Palestine were those few who managed to sneak into the country clandestinely. The Zionist project started long before the Nazis, and plans for an independent state had been laid decades before Hitler came into power.

I’m not denying that public sympathy for the post-Holocaust plight of the Jews helped the cause of Israeli independence. The existance of hundreds of thousands of Displaced Persons sitting in camps in Europe and Cyprus was also a factor. But the fact of the matter is, Palestine already had a sizeable Jewish population - approaching a majority - and the British were about to abandon their overseas holdings anyway. Maybe the Holocaust acted as a catalyst, forcing events to come to a head. But think of this - if the slaughter hadn’t happened, there would have been six million more potential immigrants.

I’m a “not necessarily end-times”-ey Christian, an amillennialist. (Which goes with your earlier thread I couldn’t get to. I believe that Jesus will return at the end of time, which could be soon or not soon.)

I believe that most* of Matt. 24, especially v. 34 (“this generation shall not pass away until all is fulfilled”) refers to events surrounding the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. This is the basis for most of the dispensationalist excitement around the present state of Israel. When we hit 2007, it will be 40 years since the 1967 taking of Jerusalem. If nothing eschatological happens by them, some people are going to have some problems.

That said, I do believe, however, that the re-establishment of Israel is not without spiritual significance; it is too much of a coincidence and could be a sign. My eschatology simply is not as totally Israel-centric as dispensationalism.

Sorry for the not-so-coherent post. Those of you who do, please pray that I get my DSL soon so that I can participate on this board more (and not have to pay the phone company twice for every minute I’m online).

*I’m not a preterist, however, in that I believe the coming of the Son of Man in that passage is still future.

I dunno, are we speaking about the jeweler in Ship of Fools who proudly shows the dwarf his medal from WWI and says how proud he is to be a German? At which point the dwarf says, “You’re the most German person I ever met”, but that’s another thread. My point being had the Shoa not happened, I don’t think they would have an reason to immigrate.

Most of the Jews we’re talking about - those who died - were from Poland and Russia, and were generally less integrated into their respective non-Jewish societes than the Yekkes. Besides, Jewish immigration started long before the Holocaust - why should it have stopped?

Look, it’s easy to say that Israel was founded as a result of the Shoah, but that’s as gross a simplication as they get.

I agree that it is an oversimplification, but your presentation also ignores the strong (if vacillating) presence of the United Nations. Without some outside group to provide recognition for an Israeli state (before, during, and after the partition), it is also possible that the immigration to the Levant would have been more forcibly resisted by the indigenous population with less external support for the immigrants. That certainly does not mean that there would never have been an Israeli state, but it makes the whole alternative history just a matter of speculation with so many unknown variables that we can “reasonably” create scenarios ranging from the re-establishent of the legendary united kingdom all the way across to the annihilation of all the Jews in the region simply by varying which things that never happened might have.

Back to the OP: I see no religious significance to the establishment of the state of Israel.

I see it has having exactly as much spiritual significance as Zimbabwe achieving independence, i.e. none at all. Now, I’ll be the first to admit I’m not into reading deep meanings in Biblical prophesy; I also distinguish between the spiritual Truth of the Bible and the secular truths of history, physics, etc. I always figured Jesus dealt more with spiritual Truth than literal, and in matters of faith Israel, to me is as much a metaphor as it is a reality. Wasn’t one of the goals of the Crusades that of taking back Israel so that Christ would return? I seem to recall that back then if Jerusalem wound up in Christian, rather than Jewish hands, that would be a sign of Christ’s imminent return. So, a thousand years have passed; men still long for the end of all things; and to know that it’s coming, so the founding of Israel becomes significant. Me, I remember that Christ said he would come “like a thief in the night” and no one would know the hour of His coming. I’m content with that. I serve God out of love, not fear (I’m not saying you do serve out of fear, Friar Ted, lest anyone get the wrong impression) and, if Christ does return during my life time, I hope the service I’ve given Him will suffice. Someone a lot wiser than I am once suggested the trick is to live life both as if you will live forever and you will die tomorrow. I hope to get that right one of these days.

By the way, I mentioned this thread to a coworker of mine, a devout Lutheran. He, too sees no signicance to the founding of Israel. He also said something which I think bears repeating. He told me he does believe we’re living in the End Times. They’ve been going on for about 2,000 years, give or take 25 or so.


My view.
I beleive that the most Jews never much left their ancient land, most of them that stayed became Christians or Muslims though over the centuries. Of course semites may be a better term for the Jews who converted to other faiths.


what, you didn’t know that Golda Meir was the archangel raphael in drag?

Didn’t the Babylonians and Assyrians carry us off?


If that’s the best drag ol’ Raph could manage, he needs to look up Ru Paul. Please.

Well I can’t cite a beleif very well, and my beleif comes more from the lack of seeing a cite to the contrary, and quite possibly lack of knowledge. It just seems unlikely to me that the majority of the tribes of Abraham left the fertile areas of river Jordan. Most often when an area is conquered by outsiders the native population remains and intermarries somewhat with the conquerors. I have seen no evidence that the semetic Arabs living in the regions of Israel, Jordan, Lebanon etc. aren’t descendants of anscestors from the time of Moses and before. I don’t know if the majority of people in the Holy Lands are Semites but I see no reason to susspect that Semites haven’t been a major population in that area throughout recorded history.

Hey! No dissin’ my girl, Golda. Was a time when she was quite cute. Wish I could find that picture American Heritage published of her conducting a patriotic pageant back in Milwaukee.

Just an added note here: I was recounting the "Middle East for Li’l Kids and Teens " version of history we got in the 70s and 80s in public schools here; we were told about Herzl a little bit and the early Zionists, but the Holocaust was also very important (we had survivors give us talks and everything) and a rather callow Christian youth like me would have come away with the impression that the Shoah pointed out why Israel felt it needed to exist and how it looked at the world. Looking back, I am amazed at how casually, thoughtfully, and non-judgementally we were taught about historical controversies and different cultures back then. But of course it wasn’t complete.

Anyway, to this day I still don’t hear anybody making the link between Israel and the end times in my church. There might be a mild feeling that, since Jesus was Jewish, that Israel is a more fitting custodian of the holy sites than the Hashemites were, but that’s it. And I’ve only heard that said once.

BTW, everybody knows that Golda really looked like this.