Monday, May 14, marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel in 1948. Craig Blaising, executive vice president and provost at Southwestern Seminary, says that Southern Baptists should rejoice on this anniversary of Israel’s independence and pray for the peace of Jerusalem. 

“Israel’s existence as a nation is in keeping with the promise of God to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that He would make their descendants into a nation and give them a land that He Himself specifically identified,” Blaising says. “The Bible tells the story of God’s first formation of Israel as a nation when he took them out of Egypt and brought them into that land. It tells the story of how they lost their national identity and were exiled from the land due to sin. 

“And yet, because of God’s love and because of His promise, he brought them back. The modern return is in keeping with God’s love for the Jewish people and with His promise to constitute Israel as a nation in that land.

A commemorative ceremony is held each year on Mount Herzl on the evening of Independence Day. The observance includes a speech by the speaker of the Israeli Parliament, artistic performances, and the ceremonial lighting of 12 torches, one for each of the tribes of Israel. Each year, a dozen Israeli citizens who have made a significant social contribution are invited to light the torches. 

“It is important to understand that, in Scripture, the only way the people of Israel come into existence as a nation in that land is by an act of God,” Blaising says. “Both Israel and the nations of the world are obligated to recognize the Lord as God. There are severe warnings in Scripture against those who take a hostile posture of seeking to harm or destroy Israel.”

Blaising says it is also important to recognize that the current situation is not the final fulfillment of God’s promises concerning the nations. “The Bible speaks of a worldwide kingdom of peace in which there is the forgiveness of sins and the renewal of minds and hearts by God,” he says. 

“These blessings and participation in the kingdom are given as a gift from God. They are based on the atonement that has been offered by His Son, the One who was prophesied to bear the sins of the people, the One who brings both Jews and Gentiles to God, the One to whom the kingdom has been given as an inheritance and who will rule it forever.”