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The Great Ingathering

Prophetic Scripture Fulfilled

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Publish Date: 
Thu, 02/27/2014
The Great Ingathering

The Jews are a remarkable people. Consider, for instance, that they are the only people who have been violently uprooted from their homeland not once but twice, only to return to that land each time to re-establish their national sovereignty. You could search far and wide and still not find another people who have managed to do this even once, and yet the Jews have done it twice!

Now what makes the Jews all the more remarkable is that they have given us a book which tells us all this was going to happen even before it started to take place. The Bible declares beforehand that there would be two scatterings and two returns of the Jewish people - the first from Babylon and the second from the ends of the earth.

And indeed, this has been the testimony of history. The ancient Israelites were first exiled to Babylon and began to return home some two generations later. Then the Romans forced a second Jewish dispersion out into all nations, where they wandered for nearly 2,000 years before their second return to Eretz Israel in modern times. Over the past 120 years or so, more than 3.5 million Jews have immigrated to the land of Israel from all over the world – from the north, south, east and west, in literal fulfilment of God’s promises like that in Isaiah 43:5-6.

"Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your descendants from the east, and gather you from the west; I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ And to the south, ‘Do not keep them back!’ Bring My sons from afar, and My daughters from the ends of the earth."

So the Bible is a truly amazing book which tells the story of a truly remarkable people. It is not a collection of fables and fairy tales. Rather, the Bible is the proven Word of God! And the modern-day return of Israel is proof of its reliability, as well as of God's faithfulness to His promises and His sovereignty over the affairs of men.

Precise Promises

Now when we look at some of the prophetic passages in Scripture about the great Ingathering of the Jewish people in the last days, we see that it is being fulfilled with great accuracy and detail.

For instance, Jews have come home from more than 100 nations speaking dozens of languages, but in Zephaniah 3:9 we have the promise of God to restore to them their ancient Hebrew language. This revival of a dead language by a once-dispersed nation is unique in human history.

The very next verse in Zephaniah specifically mentions Jews coming home from Ethiopia, while Isaiah 49:12 foretells of Jews coming back from "the land of Sinim", or China. Incredibly, no Jews lived in either country when these words were written 2700 years ago, yet both are happening in our day.

In Jeremiah 31:8-9, it says that among the returnees would be "the woman with child and the one who labours with child, together". Interestingly, during the emergency airlift of nearly 15,000 Ethiopian Jews in May 1991, there were five mothers who gave birth while abroad the planes on their way to Israel.

The Bible also tells us exactly how the Jews would return in the last days. Isaiah says they would come home first by sea and then by air...

"Who are these who fly like a cloud, and like doves to their roosts? Surely the coastlands shall wait for Me; And the ships of Tarshish will come first, to bring your sons from afar..." (Isaiah 60:8-9).

The Age of Ships

In context, Isaiah chapter 60 speaks of the great Ingathering of Israel at the end of days and the central role it plays in ushering in the Messianic kingdom. We see this clearly in verse 4, which states: "Lift up your eyes all around, and see: They all gather together, they come to you; Your sons shall come from afar, and your daughters shall be nursed at your side."

Then Isaiah 60:9 says the "ships of Tarshish will come first" (some translations say they are "in the lead").

The phrase "ships of Tarshish" is a reference to the ancient Phoenicians, who were considered a great seafaring people. They built ships which could ply not only the entire length of the Mediterranean Sea but also beyond. Their expertly-crafted boats would stop at the port of Tarshish in southern Spain before venturing past the Straits of Gibraltar into the mighty Atlantic Ocean. So, it simply means large sea-worthy vessels.

And indeed, as the great Jewish Ingathering has taken place over the past 120 years, for the first 60 years or so the majority came home by ship. In the beginning many came through the old port of Jaffa, the same small harbour from antiquity where Jonah set sail while running from the Lord. Most were being driven out by pogroms in Russia and Eastern Europe and sailed to Israel via the Black Sea. Later, the British developed a larger port in Haifa and more Jews continued to stream home from all parts of the earth.

But to appease the local Arabs, Britain eventually imposed a strict quota on the number of Jews that could enter Mandate Palestine each year and later enforced it with a naval blockade just as many Jews were trying to escape the rising Nazi threat in Europe.

Underground Aliyah ship runs aground
An underground aliyah ship manages to run the british blockade
and offload 537 jewish holocaust survivors on Naharia beach in spring 1948

In response, ships laden with Jews fleeing Hitler's genocide would dash for shore under cover of darkness, deliberately shipwreck on the rocks and sandbars, and the Jews would desperately swim for land. So the era of Jews returning mostly by ship winds down in this dramatic fashion, just as the nation is about to be reborn.

The Jet Age

Once Israel won its independence in 1948, the nation was free to bring back as many Jews as it could. And for the past 60 years or so of the great Ingathering, the majority of Jews have come home by airplane... just as the prophet Isaiah foresaw when he asked: "Who are these who fly like a cloud, and like doves to their roosts?"

The main port of entry during this time has been Ben-Gurion Airport, and thousands of Jewish olim (newcomers) pass through it every year. In addition, there have been several distinct waves over recent decades when tens of thousands of Jews returned at once. This has included many of the 800,000 Jews expelled from Arabs lands in the early 1950s, the Ethiopian mass airlifts, and the one million Russian-speaking Jews who have arrived since Soviet communism fell in 1989.

There has been the 'quiet return' of Jews from sensitive nations like Iran, Yemen and Cuba. Today, there is also an increase of Jews coming from Europe due to rising anti-Semitism and Muslim agitation. Jewish return from some Western countries is also being spurred on by the global economic downturn and the prospects of better jobs in Israel.

Yemenite Jews arriving in Israel
Yemenite Jews arrive in Israel

Finally, the Jews of the "East" have also started to return, such as the Bnei Menashe from India and the Kaifeng Jews from China.

Members of all these diverse Jewish communities worldwide are landing at Ben-Gurion year round. Nearly every single day, friends and relatives are waiting in the Arrivals Hall to welcome them back to the land of their forefathers.

So how astounding it is that the Bible says the last-days return of the Jews would straddle the transition from the great age of travel on the high seas to today's jet age. No one travels by ship anymore; we just hop on a plane and fly wherever we want in a matter of hours. So God has been precise even in His timing of the great Ingathering of Israel.

The Heart of Aliyah

Israelis have adopted a special term from the Hebrew Bible to describe this process of returning to the Land. They call it aliyah, which means "to ascend". It was used in ancient times in reference to Jewish pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem for the three great biblical feasts of Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles.

Thus, the process of making aliyah is seen by many Jews as having spiritual meaning as well, beyond just the physical act of returning to their homeland. Many also view it as an act of teshuva (repentance) and return to God. They truly believe He is drawing them back to the land and to Himself.


The great Ingathering of the Jewish people in modern times holds great promise for Israel and the world, as it heralds the soon coming of the Messianic kingdom. It also is irrefutable proof of the veracity of God's word. It shows God's faithfulness to His promises, which are being fulfilled with great accuracy and precision. And we see in it His goodness and favour, as described in passages like Isaiah 54:7-8...

"'For a mere moment I have forsaken you, but with great mercies I will gather you. With a little wrath I hid My face from you for a moment; But with everlasting kindness I will have mercy on you,' says the Lord, your Redeemer."

Finally, the great Ingathering demonstrates that He is the God of history and He remains sovereign over the affairs of men. Even when much of the world has resisted the return of the Jews to their homeland, it is still coming to pass just as He said:

“Hear the word of the Lord, O nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, ‘He who scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him as a shepherd does his flock.'" (Jeremiah 31:10)

This means we live in amazing times. It is both exciting and rewarding to be engaged in the great Ingathering of the Jewish people in our day. God invites us to be involved, to help bring the Jews home.

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem has been doing just that for over three decades now. In that time, we have assisted more than 115,000 Jews in making their way home to Israel.

Right now, we are helping to bring Jews to Israel from Europe to escape anti-Semitism and Muslim agitation. We currently are sponsoring flights for Jews from the Ukraine seeking to flee the growing crisis there. And we are bringing home the Bnei Menashe from India and the Kaifeng Jews from China, in fulfilment of their deep longing to reunite with their land and people.

So please join with us as we work to gather the Jews back to their land and their God! Today, it is as simple as sponsoring an airline seat for a Jew to fly home "like a dove to its nest".

Support ICEJ AliyahHelp Us Bring More Jews Home
Since 1989, we have assisted over 115,000 Jews in making the journey home to Israel, including our sponsorship of over 75 chartered aliyah flights. You can play a part in this wonderful unfolding of God's prophetic plan for His people.
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ICEJ Word from JerusalemWord from Jerusalem - June 2014 Edition
This issue focuses on the return of the Jewish people back to their homeland. I pray that these pages will serve as a banner to encourage you about God’s covenant faithfulness with Israel. This is a call to action to get involved with God’s prophetic ingathering of the Jewish people in these last days.
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