It was on this day in the year 1948 – May 14th, 1948 to be exact – that Israel was proclaimed to be a free and independent state. Technically, the British mandate didn’t expire until after midnight, which would have been May 15, 1948. Against all odds the nation of Israel rose from the ashes of the Holocaust and, today, is one of the most powerful nations on earth.
In Hebrew today is called Yom Ha’atzmaut. It’s interesting that the root of the word atzmaut – עצם atzam – is the word for “bone” or “bones.” When you consider the rebirth of Israel being connected to the word for “bones,” the first thing that comes to mind is the prophecy in Ezekiel 37 about dead, dry bones coming back to life and forming a nation.
Thus says the Lord God to these bones: “Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live; and I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the Lord.”… And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them and the skin covered them above … and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. Then He said unto me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel.”
Some people believe that this prophecy was fulfilled when Israel became a nation after World War II. Personally, I feel that what we’ve seen, so far, is a partial fulfillment. I believe that the nation of Israel is being restored and will come to fruition in the Messianic age. To bolster that argument, consider that, in the same week Israel became a nation in 1948, the weekly haftarah (usually taken from the prophets) was taken from Amos 9:
“In that day I will raise up the tabernacle of David, that has fallen, and close up the breaches, thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old … and I will turn the captivity of My people Israel, and they shall build the waste cities and inhabit them.” (Amos 9:11, 14)
This prophecy in Amos is about the restored Kingdom of Israel under the Messiah, the Son of David. This obviously has not happened in its entirety, therefore the prophecy concerning the dry bones, mentioned in Ezekiel 37, has been fulfilled partially but there is more to occur. I’m also of the opinion that the bones spoken of may allude to some particular bones. Specifically, the bones in Ezekiel 37 may allude to Joseph who, before he died, left instructions that, when Israel left Egypt, they were not to leave his bones there. When Israel did leave Egypt, they obediently brought his bones with them and, eventually, buried them in a place that is now called the West Bank – that part of Israel that is claimed by others to be theirs and not part of Israel.
And so, it would seem that this day acknowledges the rebirth of the nation of Israel and also highlights the fact that there are still many of God’s people scattered across the globe who have yet to return to the land of their fathers. Today reminds us that we are witnessing prophecy being fulfilled and, yet, awaiting its ultimate fulfillment with the coming of the Messiah. Therefore, considering the times in which we live, we must remain diligent and sober minded. He is breathing on dead, dry bones and bringing them back to life – may He breathe upon us all.