A Land Not Forsaken
By: David R. Parsons, ICEJ Vice President & Senior Spokesman
“You shall no longer be termed Forsaken, nor shall your land any more be termed Desolate; but you shall be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah; for the Lord delights in you, and your land shall be married. For as a young man marries a virgin, so shall your sons marry you; and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.” (Isaiah 62:4–5)
The news out of Israel these days is filled with negative stories about the IDF’s painful, protracted fight against Hamas in Gaza. There is overall progress being made, but most headlines tell of more dead Israeli soldiers, hostages still suffering in dark tunnels, rising dissent inside Israel, and even greater threats looming on other fronts.
In such times of crisis, we long for any positive news about Israel. Well, even though this war with Hamas has triggered waves of antisemitism worldwide, it also is generating a surge of interest in Aliyah. Reports indicate that Jewish applications to immigrate to Israel have risen sharply in some countries, including by 500 percent in France.
It also was encouraging to see the swift return of tens of thousands of Israelis living abroad when war erupted last October. Inbound flights were packed as Israeli airlines added extra seats to fit everyone on board. Many returnees were IDF reservists, including some who had not been called up for duty but reported anyway.
That indeed was another very positive sign. When the IDF called up 300,000 reserve soldiers, over 360,000 showed up to fight. It is unheard of for any army to see a 120 percent rate of reporting among reservists. They all knew the seriousness of the battle ahead but came anyway.
One IDF reservist who reported for duty was Idan Amedi. Born into a family of Kurdish Jews, he won a song contest on Israeli TV back in 2010 and soon recorded five studio albums. Idan then joined the cast of Fauda, a successful TV drama on the gritty struggle between Israeli security and Palestinian terrorists. The series was even picked up by Netflix and now has a huge following in the Arab world.
Despite being a star singer and actor, Idan answered the call to serve in Gaza with his combat engineering unit. But in January, he was seriously wounded in a tragic incident while helping prepare a Hamas tunnel for demolition.
Idan is now recuperating. Given his fame, he probably could have skirted off to Hollywood or somewhere else and avoided this vicious war. Yet he represents a whole army of young Israelis—including doctors and lawyers and hi-tech innovators—who have left behind successful businesses and lucrative careers to fight in the cramped alleyways and tunnels of Gaza. Many IDF reservists also left behind wives and children, but they know they are fighting for their homes and for the very existence of Israel.
This all bodes well for Israel. Another wave of Jews from around the world are preparing to come home to Israel, even though they have safer options elsewhere. We should salute every Jew who chooses to come live in this land of conflict, as well as those who refuse to leave but stay to defend their homes. The enemy wants to chase them out, but they are devoted to the Land of Israel. God surely “delights” in these acts of faith and courage by His people.
Isaiah 62 inspires us to be vigilant watchmen on the walls of Jerusalem, to pray for the city to shine forth and become “a praise in the earth,” and for the children of Israel to become deeply attached—yes, even “married”—to their ancestral homeland.
God once asked the Jewish people to forsake all other gods and to worship and serve Him alone. Today, He is asking them to forsake all other lands and come wed themselves to the Land of Israel, even by putting their lives on the line for its sake. Thankfully, many are answering that call. For too many centuries, Jews in the Diaspora had no way of protecting themselves and would flee in the face of danger. But not anymore! They are standing their ground. In fact, the most popular battle song in this present war is the Hebrew tune “Am Yisrael Chai” whose lyrics proclaim: “We have no other land.”
There is a lesson here for Christians, as well: to wed ourselves to God’s prophetic purposes over Israel—and over our own lives in these challenging days.