Two of the most interesting days of the year come in late April-early May. Israel usually goes by the Gregorian calendar for much of her activities, but holidays go by the Hebrew calendar.
It was on May 14th, 1948, that Israel declared independence. So, we use that day on the Hebrew calendar, which sometimes is actually May 14th, to celebrate our independence. And the day before that is Memorial Day.
Like many Americans, it was many years before I understood that Memorial Day was more than that fun holiday at the end of May when the swimming pools open. And of course, in America, there’s volleyball, hotdogs, and hamburgers. But, no one ever told me that we were mourning soldiers who had given their lives for our nation.
The way they observe this holiday in Israel is quite different. It is the saddest day of the year. For 24 hours, there are ceremonies all over the country. The day begins at 8 PM the night before with a one-minute siren, whereby people stand in silence and remember. Then, there’s another siren the next morning at 11 AM for two minutes. In the past few years, they have also added the category of those who have died at the hands of terrorists. You are not a martyr if you blow yourself up in the hopes of killing others, but you are if you are killed by that maniac.
The observance ends at 8 PM the next day with a closing ceremony. But no sooner has it closed than we are celebrating Independence Day.
You see, 74 years ago in 1948, with five Arab nations already attacking us, even as the British were leaving, against all odds, God did a miracle. Just as He spoke through the prophets over and over again that He would reestablish Israel as a nation by bringing back the Jewish people from all over the world.
There is no other example in world history of a people group being separated from their homeland and remaining an identifiable ethnicity for more than two or three generations. The Jewish people lost independence over 2,000 years ago and were exiled 1,900 years ago by the Romans. Yet by the hand of God, we remained a people—even with 52 attempted genocides, institutional antisemitism in both the Church and the State, not to mention the growing animosity towards the Jews within the Islamic world, we remained a people.
Who has ever heard of such things? Who has ever seen things like this? Can a country be born in a day, or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children (Is. 66:8).
Give glory to the God of Israel today!
The restoration of Israel is the greatest prophetic fulfillment since the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE.
This is good news for the nations!
“Frederick the Great is supposed to have asked his physician Zimmermann once whether he could give him a single completely certain proof for the existence of God, and he is said to have received the laconic answer, ‘Your majesty, the Jews!’ The man was right. The Jew reminds us through his very existence that we are not Jews and therefore really ‘without Messiah, alien and outside the commonwealth of Israel and alien to the covenants of promise, without hope and without God in the world’ (Eph. 2:12). The Jew reminds us that it really is something special, new, and wonderful if we ‘are no longer guests and strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God’” (Eph. 2:19).
So, we have much to celebrate. Sadly, only a fraction of the country is giving glory to God, but we are all celebrating.
This past Independence Day, Elana and I enjoyed an amazing airshow. You can see the video below. Then, we went to the home of one of our team members at Shelanu TV. The whole team gathered there with their families, and we had a wonderful picnic. Evan, our station manager, did Al ha aish. Literally, that is on the fire, but it is how we say barbecue. And unless you have seen an Israeli barbecue, you really can’t understand. Waves and waves of meat just keep coming, all different kinds. Chicken, beef, lamb, and every part of the animal.
It’s definitely one of the most enjoyable days of the year, and it is celebrating one of the greatest prophetic fulfillments in history.
 Stroud, Dean G. Preaching in Hitler's Shadow: Sermons of Resistance in the Third Reich (pp. 81-82). Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.