It was on this day in 1492 that King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain signed a decree expelling all Jews from Spain giving them about five months to leave the country. This expulsion culminated on August 2nd of that same year which was, on the Hebrew calendar, the 9th of Av. August 2 of that year also happened to coincide with the preferred date of departure for the explorer Christobal Colon, also known as Christopher Columbus. But when Columbus realized the port was clogged with thousands of Jews trying to leave the country, he decided to delay his departure until the next day.
It’s fascinating to consider that the discovery of the New World and the eventual establishment of the United States is linked with the forced evacuation of the Jews from Spain. As unfortunate as the latter event was, it doesn’t seem coincidental that persecution of the Jews coincided with the launch of Columbus’ expedition. It’s almost as if someone was working behind the scenes and orchestrating these historical events. In fact, it seems obvious that Columbus’ journey was ordained by Heaven to bring about the birth of America which, in turn, would play a significant role in the fulfillment of prophecy as it relates to the regathering of Israel. Once such prophecy is found in Isaiah chapter 11, which says:
“It shall come to pass in that day that the Lord shall set His hand again the second time to recover the remnant of His people who are left, from Assyria and Egypt, from Pathros and Cush, from Elam and Shinar, from Hamath and the islands of the sea. He will set up a banner for the nations, and will assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.” (Isaiah 11:11-12)
This edict of expulsion in 1492 is one example, among many, where God’s people were forced out of countries they had settled in, and were made to wander. Eventually, many of those Jews forced out of Spain found their way to the New World. Yet, according to Scripture, there’s only one homeland for His people and, according to Isaiah, the day will come when all of His people will be regathered to the land of Israel. According to multiple prophecies, Israel will return to God and will be gathered back into the land promised to Abraham and to his seed. One such prophecy is found in Ezekiel 36 which says:
“For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. (Ezekiel 36:24-27)
This prophecy states very clearly that the God of Israel is faithful to keep His promise and will gather His people into the Land of promise. It also states that He will bring this to pass even though He considers His people to be unclean. That fact leads us to the most important point in this prophecy – God performs His Will in us and through us, oftentimes, in spite of us. Anything that is accomplished through us is, in reality, wrought by the Spirit of God, including our obedience. In other words, we can’t truly fulfill His Will for us unless we have a willing heart and are guided by His Spirit. Christopher Columbus was certainly convinced that his expedition to the Indies was something the Spirit of God had birthed in him. Considering what came about as a result of that expedition, who could argue with him?
So may it be our prayer, today, that the Creator would replace all stony hearts with hearts that are sensitive to His voice and that He would fill us with His Holy Spirit.