“Who are these that fly along like clouds,
like doves to their nests?” — Isaiah 60:8
The book of Isaiah is filled with amazing prophecies about the messianic era, including the return of the Jewish people to Israel. But not all Jews will return in the same way. Some will come out of love and with great joy. Others will be pushed there, some against their will. The prophet Isaiah put it this way: “Who are these that fly along like clouds, like doves to their nests?”
Tradition teaches that this verse is referring to two different sets of people. There are those who will come to Israel like clouds and doves – they may be pushed there by the storm of anti-Semitism and war. Then there are those who will go “like doves to their nests.” They will come out of their own volition and a desire to return home, like a Jewish dove. These fortunate ones won’t be running away from something bad – they will be running toward something good.
Like many of the messianic prophecies in the book of Isaiah, the return of the Jewish people to their homeland has come to pass in our days. And just as Isaiah foretold, the ingathering of the exiles has come about in two different ways.
Jews around the world have found refuge in Israel, many of them arriving just after World War II when they were shut out from most of the world. Today, Israel continues to be the destination for Jews escaping oppression in countries around the Middle East, Africa, and even some parts of Europe. But these are not the only Jews immigrating to Israel and it is not the only function of the Jewish state. Israel is far more than a life-vest for Jews in danger.
The State of Israel also is the living manifestation of a 2,000-year-old dream for the Jewish people to return to their ancient homeland. Today, Jews from all four corners of the earth, including the most affluent countries in the world, are choosing to leave everything behind in order to begin again in a new land. Because Israel is where a Jew belongs. Israel is home.
You don’t need to be Jewish to have a promised land. Everyone has an ideal place that they can get to in their lifetime, and it is more likely a spiritual space than a physical one. And they will get there in one of two ways. Some people will be pushed there like clouds and doves, by the storms in life, or some can choose to go peacefully on their own.
I know which I prefer. How about you?