While much has been said in modern times about the Jews fleeing to Palestine for safety from persecution, pogroms, and the Holocaust, Abram was certainly not a refugee running for his life when sent forth in search of God’s Promised Land. He had no need. He was wealthy and well respected in Ur. He went in faith only because God told him to go. It is important to note that the land given to Abraham and his descendants was a relatively small area when compared to that occupied by Arab tribes.
It is also notable that neither loss of their homes nor exile because of rebellion and disobedience had any effect on God’s promise of ownership of the land. The Bible does not indicate that the Jewish people had any desire to increase the area God had defined for them to occupy. The opposite is true: The annals of Zionism detail how the Jews have been willing to give up land again and again in an attempt to live at peace with their neighbors.
God renewed His covenant with Isaac and again with Jacob. The Torah—the first five books of the Old Testament and Moses’ record of the travels of Abraham’s descendants—shows their steady march toward the Promised Land. When Moses led the Exodus of the children of Israel out of bondage in Egypt, the group had grown from less than one hundred to more than 600,000 men, plus an untallied number of women and children.
Standing atop Mount Nebo in western Jordan, Moses reiterated the boundaries God had set for the Promised Land. The Torah is impregnated in the genes of the Jewish people—those who practice their religion and those who do not. The longing to return to Zion, the land from which they were exiled and to which they understood they belonged, is as innate as the need for food and water. It is their biblical, cultural, and political heritage.
When the nation of Israel was reborn on May 14, 1948, it was evidence of God’s fidelity to His Word and a clear statement that there is, indeed, hope and redemption available for this world. He said so in His Word and cannot lie: “God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?”
Down through the centuries, the Jewish people have cried and prayed for freedom. From the building of Solomon’s Temple to its destruction in 586 BC to the completion of the Second Temple in 516 BC, from exile in Babylon to the return of the Jews to Jerusalem under Cyrus the Great, Jews have yearned for their homeland and for Zion. Can this have been the very first, visible expression of Zionism—the return of the Jewish people to the land of the patriarchs?
It was toward Zion that the Jews prayed daily. It was of Jerusalem that the psalmist wrote: “If I forget you, O Jerusalem, Let my right hand forget its skill! If I do not remember you, Let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth—If I do not exalt Jerusalem above my chief joy.” I am a Zionist, a Christian Zionist. Everyone who takes the Bible seriously must be. We must stand with and for Israel.