“‘And in any locality where survivors may now be living, the people are to provide them with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with freewill offerings for the temple of God in Jerusalem.” — Ezra 1:4
The year 2018 is important for Israel and the Jewish people as we celebrate the modern State of Israel’s 70th Birthday. You can be part of this momentous milestone with Rabbi Eckstein’s 70 devotions offered now through April 19, Israel’s Independence Day. These devotions are tied to our Keys to Israel – six fundamental principles underlying God’s covenantal relationship with His chosen people and His Holy Land using the acrostic I.S.R.A.E.L.
This devotion is part of ten devotions focusing on the letter “A” — Aliyah, or immigration to Israel —exploring the fulfillment today of biblical prophecy and God’s promise that He would bring back His children to their ancient homeland, Israel.
Theodor Herzl was the father of the modern State of Israel. Like many great men, he kept a diary. Herzl recorded the journey that he underwent trying to birth the State of Israel into being, and he spoke about those who helped him along the way. One name, in particular, is mentioned more than any other in the entire account.
That name is Reverend William Henry Hechler. The greatest ally of the Jewish journalist from Vienna was an English priest. Hechler’s partnership with Herzl played a fundamental role in the re-establishment of the State of Israel and the return of the Jews to their homeland.
Partnership between Jews and Gentiles for the sake of Israel goes back thousands of years to biblical times. The book of Ezra opens with a monumental declaration by Cyrus, King of Persia. Seventy years after the Jewish nation had been exiled from their homeland by the Babylonians, the Persians had taken control and initiated the Jewish return to their land. Not only did Cyrus grant permission for the return and rebuilding of the Temple, he also urged local residents to donate to the cause. It was with the help of these Gentile friends that the Jewish people were able to return to their homeland.
The time period that we are living in today shares many similarities with the time period in which Ezra lived. While his generation saw the first people in history to re-establish a homeland after being exiled from it, today’s generation is witnessing the only nation in history to return to its homeland twice! And just as the initial return to Israel was only possible because of the partnership between Jews, Gentiles and Christians alike, today’s return to Zion is the product of a Jewish and non-Jewish alliance once again.
I don’t think that’s an accident. God wants to give all people a chance to be involved in the rebuilding of the Holy Land. Israel may be the homeland of the Jewish people, but Israel is for everyone. The Holy Land contains everyone’s past and also their future. The Scripture tells us that the third and final temple will be a house of prayer for all nations. So it is only fitting that every nation should have the opportunity to contribute to its making.
We are witnessing the fulfillment of ancient prophecies before our very eyes! The children of Israel are returning to their land, and we invite you to become a part of it through prayer, through visits, through your voice, and your support of The Fellowship’s many programs and ministries.
Join the celebration and get the entire Keys to I.S.R.A.E.L. curriculum for free — for you, your small group, or even your church.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President