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TODAY IN PROPHECY: MODERN EXODUS IN FRANCE
“But, As the LORD lives, who brought up the sons of Israel from the land of the north and from all the countries where He had banished them, ‘For I will restore them to their own land which I gave to their fathers” (Jeremiah 16:15 NAS).
Increasing numbers of French Jews are leaving for Israel, citing dim economic prospects combined with rising anti-Semitism. More than 5,000 are planning to leave in 2014, the most since after the Six-Day War in 1967.
In Western Europe, no nation has seen the climate for Jews deteriorate more than France, which is home to about 500,000 Jews, the largest Jewish community in Europe and the world’s third largest behind Israel and the United States. Demographers can only estimate the number of Jews in France because the law there prohibits official documentation of a person’s race, religion or ethnicity following the post-World War II shame of collaboration with the Nazis.
Anti-Semitic violence has increased 40 percent during the first three months of 2014 from the comparable period a year ago, with 140 incidents ranging from the beating of two youths walking to Synagogue in Paris to rattling of a baby carriage near the city’s Montmartre district accompanied by confrontational shouts of, “you Jews have too many children.”
Although there have been ebbs and flows of anti-Semitic behavior ever since the end of World War II, especially when the Israel-Palestinian conflict makes headlines, Jewish leaders in France now say there has been a fundamental shift, with many more homegrown incidents.
A recent survey by the New York-based Anti-Defamation League suggested that France now has the highest percentage in Western Europe — 37 percent — of people openly harboring anti-Semitic views. That compares with 8 percent in Britain, 20 percent in Italy and 27 percent in Germany. Jewish leaders attribute the increase at least in part to growing radicalization of youths in France’s Muslim population — the largest in Europe — as well as expressed hostility from French media and the general public towards Israel in general.
Those French Jews leaving for Israel acknowledge the French government’s efforts to make Jewish families feel welcome, but they believe the increase in acts of anti-Semitism by the public coupled with France’s stagnant economy make moving to Israel more attractive. The choice is also made easier by the fact that Israel’s youth unemployment rate is 11 percent compared to France’s 25 percent. Most that leave France find jobs easily in Israel.
The Attraction of Israel
Twenty-six year old French attorney Laurie Levy recently moved from Toulouse to Tel Aviv after an attack in her town by an Islamic radical on a Jewish school left seven dead. “Life is beautiful here. You work. You go to the beach. You see your friends. You’re not afraid,” she said of her new homeland.
Finding a job or even an ability to switch careers is much of Israel’s economic allure. One program brings 1,000 French youths to Israel for a year to work. Of those participating in the program, 70 percent decided to remain in the country permanently, according Ariel Kandel, who heads the Jewish Agency for Israel based in Paris. “Never would anyone have thought there would come a time when Israel would be more attractive than France,” he said, citing France’s strong social programs and high standards of living. However, the general mood among Jewish business people in France has declined since European elections in May installed the National Front party, whose founder has been convicted repeatedly of anti-Semitism. Students of the Bible who examine prophecy see this trend among French Jews as the latest in a long series of events that continue the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham’s natural seed and indicate the nearness of the time for the establishment of God’s kingdom.
God’s Promise to Restore Israel
“Also I will restore the captivity of My people Israel, And they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them; They will also plant vineyards and drink their wine, And make gardens and eat their fruit. “I will also plant them on their land, And they will not again be rooted out from their land Which I have given them,” Says the LORD your God (Amos 9:14-15).
Since the first established colony in Palestine in 1878, God has overruled in the earth to bring the Jewish people back to the land that he promised to the natural seed of Abraham as preparation for establishing the center of His earthly kingdom there (Acts 15:16-17).
During the 1880’s, Jews from Yemen packed their camels and walked across the Arabian Desert to make a new home in Palestine. They were followed by Russian Jews escaping the pogroms of the Czar in the early 1900s.
Hitler’s regime in World War II annihilated one-third of the world’s Jewish population. It was after the war that immigration to Israel rose significantly. In 1910, there were an estimated 55,000 Jews living in Palestine. Thirty-eight years later when Israel declared independence that number had grown to 600,000. Many were Holocaust survivors. The 1948 War of Independence cost one percent of the population their lives. Yet with three tanks and no fighting aircraft, Israel halted Egyptian tanks moving from the South and pushed back the Syrian army in the North.
Then came the 1950’s, when Jews were expelled from many Muslim countries and made aliyah to Israel. When the former Soviet Union collapsed in 1989, many Jews came to Israel rather than live in one of the fifteen newly formed countries. At the same time, more Jews from the U.S. began returning to Israel.
These waves of immigration led to a 2006 milestone for Israel: home to more Jews than any other country in the world. Immigration as well as a second generation of Israeli-born Jews resulted in a Jewish population of 5.6 million—some 400,000 more than the U.S. In 2014, sixty-six years after its nationhood, the Jewish population of Israel stands at 6.1 million—nearly 75 percent of the total Israeli population of 8.2 million. According to the census of 2012, 4.3 million (73%) of the Jewish population were “Sabras” – born in Israel – compared with just a 35% native-born population at the time of independence in 1948.
Jehovah to Restore Hearts
The prophet Ezekiel speaks of the Israel of our day, “For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from 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 be careful to observe My ordinances. You will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God” (Ezekiel 36:24-28 NAS).
Jewish immigrants from such places as the former Soviet Union knew little of religion. Although not a completely religious nation today, public lands are adorned by scripture, the Sabbath is observed and scriptures are discussed openly. Ezekiel says that God will not only bring Abraham’s natural seed back to the land but will redeem their hearts as part of the preparation for them to receive their forefathers such as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. These, along with others of the Ancient Worthies will help the nation become a channel of blessing for all the families of the earth. That redemption will involve severe trials for the nation prior to its full redemption (Ezekiel 38-39). After that time and through visual confirmation of God’s protection, the blessings given to that nation will illustrate divine providence operating on behalf of all those who would be influenced by Jehovah and His spirit. The prophet Zechariah says “then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King” (Zechariah 14:16). Israel will serve as a center of worship for all those entering the Kingdom of God. What a glorious day that will be!