I came across another example of the latter this week in the teacher’s edition of Wm. Smith, LLD’s Bible Dictionary. Published in 1884, its pages may be yellowed, but they reveal some very interesting things about the Bible and its people, places and messages.
Most of it seems to be just what we learn today, although of course many details have been filled in, especially in the field of archeology. But there has been one obvious and enormous change since 1884: the restoration of the nation of Israel, just as predicted in great detail in the Bible thousands of years ago.
As we know now, that restoration has been astoundingly complete, encompassing everything from attacks and victories to language and currency. Astonishing, really!
But Mr. Smith and his editors did not foresee this amazing series of events. In fact, it seems that they had given up on these prophecies ever being literally fulfilled. Here in part is what they said on the subject:
Even these [gleanings of the ten tribes of Israel] were gathered up by the conqueror and carried to Assyria, never again, as a distinct people, to occupy their portion of that goodly and pleasant land which their forefathers won under Joshua from the heathen. Schaff Bib. Dic. adds to this summary that “after the destruction of the kingdom of Israel, B.C. 721, the name ‘Israel’ began to be applied to the whole surviving people.” No doubt many of the kingdom of Israel joined the later kingdom of the Jews after the captivity, and became part of that kingdom.” (emphasis added)
In other words, no, of course the nation of Israel was never restored as a geopolitical entity, but hey, that’s not what God meant. He meant that the kingdom of Israel would morph into the kingdom of the Jews, that’s all.
I have no idea if Mr. Smith and his editors were still alive in May of 1948, when Israel became a nation again and good ol’ Harry Truman kicked off the fulfilment of a slew of prophecies by recognizing her. But I’ll bet they would have been at least a little embarrassed to have doubted the inevitability of some of God’s most wonderful prophecies.
It’s a lesson we should all take to heart: If the Bible says it’s going to happen, it will!