Saturday, December 2, 2023

Does Isaiah 66:8 Predict the 1948 Modern State of Israel? - BY GARY DEMAR

 I received an email from a pastor that stated the following: “I keep hearing … that Isaiah 66:8 is fulfilled in modern-day Israel. I have looked at these verses in every way and cannot get that reading even with a dispensational hermeneutic…. Can you tell me how they might see this verse to use it in this way and can you give me some help with what Isaiah is actually saying?” I would first note that the NT is the best interpreter of the OT, and the NT does not say one word about Israel becoming a nation again or the need for it to happen. If the reestablishment of the state of Israel is a fundamental doctrine, it seems to me that Jesus and the NT writers would have said something about it. “The subject of the land is conspicuous by its absence in the letters of Paul. He seems to show no interest in the land in the purposes of God.”[1]

Jesus is the focus of the NT as He was of the OT. The Apostle Paul could have saved himself a lot of trouble with his fellow countrymen if he had said that one day God will restore the temple and land to Israel making the state of Israel the center of the world. “If Luke and the early Christian church thought in terms of conquest [see the book of Joshua 11:2314:1521:4423:1], they were thinking of the conquest not of the land but of the whole world [Rom. 4:13]. The only sword that would be used for this conquest was the sword of the word of God which would enable those who believed it to possess the inheritance that God had promised them.”[2]

Last Days Madness

Last Days Madness

In this authoritative book, Gary DeMar clears the haze of "end-times" fever, shedding light on the most difficult and studied prophetic passages in the Bible, including Daniel 7:13-149:24-27Matt. 16:27-2824-25; Thess. 2; 2 Peter 3:3-13, and clearly explaining a host of other controversial topics.


It’s one thing to ask a question and study the topic. It’s another thing to say something like this popular pastor told his congregation to do: “In your Bible, right next to Isaiah 66:8, you can write down May 14, 1948.” No, you can’t! Take heed how the book of Revelation ends (22:18-19): The video that this statement is taken from has tens of thousands of views. Every wind of bad doctrine is blowing today when it comes to eschatology. Is modern-day Israel the topic of Isaiah 66 or is the final chapter in this rich redemptive book describing events surrounding the return from exile and extending to the NT work of Jesus and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in creating a new redemptive nation made up of Jews and Gentiles? The book of Isaiah was written in the 8th-century BC. The return from exile back to the land happened in the 6th-century BC. The temple was rebuilt around 516 BC (Ezra 6:15). A second return took place around 458 BC led by Ezra (Ezra 7-8; see Isa. 11:11). Nehemiah rebuilds the walls around Jerusalem in 445 BC (Neh. 1:1-7:73). The following is from Robert Cruickshank, Jr.

As one can see, all of the critical predictions and fulfillments, regarding the return to the land and the rebuilding of the temple, have been historically fulfilled. The only Old Testament prophet in the lineup after these events was Malachi, and one will search Malachi in vain for any mention of a return or a rebuilding. Why? Because these prophecies had been fulfilled by the time Malachi wrote. As William Cox noted, “When a vessel has been filled full (the literal meaning of fulfill) it is impossible to add more in that vessel.”[3]

It always amazes me that prophecy pundits skip over so much of biblical history to get to 1948 claiming modern-day Israel is the fulfillment of so many OT texts when the timeline from Isaiah to Malachi is the history we should focus on because of its proximity to the promises made. Here’s an example by someone named Chadwick Harvey who ignores the biblical timeline:

The prophecy of Isaiah 66 gives us great wisdom, knowledge, and understanding of specific events that will occur before Messiah’s Second Coming. This incredible prophecy is not only the foundation of all of the end of the age prophecies, but it also proclaims in summary, God’s prophetic timeline. Here is the order of events in Isaiah 66.

1.     Messiah’s birth – (Isaiah 66:7)

2.     Israel becoming a nation again – (Isaiah 66:8)

3.     The children of Israel recapturing Jerusalem as their capital – (Isaiah 66:8-9)

4.     Messiah’s Second Coming – (Isaiah 66:14-16)

5.     Messiah’s Millennial Reign on Earth – (1,000 years) – (Isaiah 66:18-21)

6.     The New Jerusalem (Eternity) – (Isaiah 66:22-24)

What’s missing from this timeline? Everything related to Israel returning from the exile, the fulfillment after the return from exile (see Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther), the redemptive work of Jesus’ earthly ministry outlined in four gospels, and the inauguration and growth of the NT ekklēsia (Acts 5:118:1-4) described in the book of Acts and the epistles. Harvey jumps from the incarnation, ignoring around 700 years of OT history, and lands in Israel in 1948. Absurd. Even the Scofield Reference Bible, from the 1909 to 1945 editions, does not apply Isaiah 66:8 to the return of Israel in the future. The Apologetics Study Bible does not have a note on 66:8, but it does have the following note on 66:21 dealing with the coming to “gather all nations and languages”:

These people could be understood as faithful Israelites who had lived dispersed among the nations for many years (see Acts 2:5-11). More likely, Isaiah saw God giving the non-Israelites in His kingdom equality with Israelite believers. That is certainly what the apostles believed and taught in the NT; Paul celebrated how Christ has broken down the division between Jew and non-Jew (Eph 2:13-16), who together make up the new temple of the Lord (Eph. 2:19-21).

William Edward Biederwolf’s The Millennium Bible does not include a note on Isaiah 66:8 (1924). 

There is no note on Isaiah 66:8 by J. Barton Payne, who was a premillennialist, in his comprehensive Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy (1973). You won’t find a comment on the verse in John F. Walvoord’s The Prophecy Knowledge Handbook: All the Prophecies of Scripture Explained in One Volume (1990). In his 1991 book Major Bible Prophecies: 37 Crucial Prophecies that Affect You Today there is no mention of the 1948 reestablishment of  Israel in 66:7-8. Walvoord was a dispensationalist.

There is no mention of Israel and 1948 in the Prophecy Study Bible (2000) where Tim LaHaye is the General Editor. Contrary to these and other works, The Popular Bible Prophecy Commentary edited by Tim LaHaye and Ed Hindson does apply Isaiah 66 to “The Rebirth of Israel” (148-150) as does the dispensational Bible Knowledge Commentary (1985) skipping the return of the Jews to their land after the Babylonian exile. It would be interesting to check all the published commentaries on Isaiah to see how many of them mention 1948. There is a list of Isaiah commentaries here.

Dispensationalists have at least one problem on their hands claiming that Israel becoming a nation again at any time prior to the “rapture of the church” is a fulfillment of Bible prophecy. Dispensationalism clearly teaches that there are no signs prior to the “rapture.” If there are signs, then the “rapture” is not an any-moment event like dispensationalists have always claimed. You can’t believe in a pre-trib rapture and believe that Israel becoming a nation again in 1948 is a prophetic sign. The late John R. Rice (1895-1980), a Baptist pastor and founder of The Sword of the Lord, a bi-weekly publication, and a traveling evangelist, had this to say about Israel’s national status: “Thus the trouble in Jerusalem, and the dispersion of Jews among all the nations of Jerusalem throughout this whole age, is simply a continuation of the punishment of God upon the whole race of Jews.”[4] He went on to write the following:

Some Christian writers regard the atomic bomb, the rise of Russia, the founding of the new Israel state, the last world war (as they regarded the first world war), as evidence that we are in the very last days before Jesus comes.”[5]

See my book 10 Popular Prophecy Myths Exposed and Answered for more details on the any moment “rapture” premise and how it does not fit with any of the “signs” prophecy pundits claim as proof that the rapture, or as David Jeremiah calls it, “The Great Disappearance.” This means that anything happening today cannot be tied to Bible prophecy. But to say this out loud would mean that prophecy book sales would plummet. 

Ten Popular Prophecy Myths Exposed and Answered

Ten Popular Prophecy Myths Exposed and Answered

As a result of many failed predictions, many Christians are beginning to take a second look at a prophetic system that they were told is the only one that takes the literal interpretation of the Bible seriously. Gary DeMar has taken on the task of exposing some of the popular myths foisted upon the public by prophetic speculators.


If “born in a day” is taken literally, then the prophecy wasn’t fulfilled May 14, 1948. The process of establishing a national homeland for the Jews goes back to Theodor Herzl who was the founder of the Modern Zionist movement. In his 1896 pamphlet Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State), he envisioned the founding of a future independent Jewish state. Then there is the 1917 Balfour Declaration. Here’s the original letter from Arthur Balfour to Walter Rothschild November 2, 1917:

His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.

Statehood was a long process. Furthermore, there is nothing in the context of Isaiah 66 that gives any indication that what is described refers to events 2600 years in the future from the time the prophecy was revealed to Isaiah. There are more immediate events that fit the context. For example:

  1. The next eight verses [7-12] use birth and child imagery to describe the emergence of the new city. The suddenness of the events is portrayed in this verse: Before … labor, she gives birth. Jerusalem’s destruction in 587 B.C. had left marks on the city which were not removed until Nehemiah rebuilt the walls in 437 B.C. (see Bright, HI,[6] 381). After that long wait of well over a century, it took only two years for Nehemiah to complete the wall. It was an unbelievable feat. The metaphor picks up imagery from 49:20-21 (See Rev. 12:5).
  2. Who ever heard of such a thing? … Zion has gone into labor and birthed her children. The achievements of Ezra and Nehemiah were memorable. They accomplished more in a short period than anyone else in the century before and century after them. The children of Zion are at the new covenant community of faithful servants of Yahweh. This passage develops the theme of 65:8-10, 13:25; Deut 8:5Jer. 31:20Hos 11:1. The reference to children could also be to the new inhabitants (see Neh 11).[7]

Zionism is secular. Compare the return of Jews in 1948 to what is now called “Palestine,” where many Jews were living when Jews migrated before and after 1948, to the return of the Jews from the Babylonian captivity:

Then Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the lord your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people were weeping when they heard the words of the law. Then he said to them, “Go, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the lord is your strength.” So the Levites calmed all the people, saying, “Be still, for the day is holy; do not be grieved.” All the people went away to eat, to drink, to send portions and to celebrate a great festival, because they understood the words which had been made known to them (Neh. 8:9-12).

There is a stark difference between the two returns. They remain stark today. Modern-day Israel did not come into existence in a way as described in Nehemiah and that the NT requires. Compare it to the events surrounding Pentecost. Hal Lindsey wrote, “This dispersion began to draw to a close in May of 1948 when, against all odds, Israel was reborn as a nation.”[8] As a secular nation, yes, but not in terms of what Jesus said to Nicodemus: “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God’” (John 3:3). In terms of what the Bible requires, the Jews are no different from the Muslims when it comes to who Jesus is. What counts is “a new creation” (Gal. 6:15; see 2 Cor. 5:17).

It’s important to note that Isaiah was written before the events of the Babylonian exile and return. The natural or “literal” interpretation would apply the prophecy to more immediate events of those living under the Old Covenant. If not then, the NT is the next option rather than the modern-day Zionist movement to Israel. Matthew Poole explains Isaiah 66:7-8 as applying to the New Covenant:

The prophecy … seems rather to refer to the coming of Christ, and the sudden propagation of the gospel. The popish interpreters applying it to the Virgin Mary bringing forth Christ, is like other of their fond dreams.

As soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth children;as soon as the church of the Jews began to move out of the captivity of Babylon, God put it into the hearts of multitudes to go up, Exodus 1:5 Isaiah 2:12, &c. Or, as soon as the voice of the gospel put the church of the Jews into her travail, in John the Baptist’s, Christ’s, and the apostles’ times, it presently brought forth. In John Baptist’s time, the kingdom of heaven suffered violence, and the violent took it by forceMatthew 11:12; and it continued so, as three thousand were converted at Peter’s sermon, Ac 2. The Gentiles were the children of Zion, being planted into their stock, the law of the gospel first going out of Zion.

The NT is filled with examples of a new nation being established. Listen to what Jesus said to the unbelieving religious leaders who wanted to destroy Him:

“Therefore I say to you [those in Jesus’ audience], the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation [ἔθνει/ethnei], producing the fruit of it. And he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust.” When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard His parables, they understood that He was speaking about them. When they sought to seize Him, they feared the people, because they considered Him to be a prophet (Matt. 21:43-44).

E.W. Bullinger’s The Companion Bible (1909) has this note on Isaiah 66:8: “nation: i.e. the righteous nation of [Isa.] 26.2 [‘Open the gates, that the righteous nation may enter, The one that remains faithful.’] referred to in v. 7 [of Isa. 26: ‘The way of the righteous is smooth; O Upright One, make the path of the righteous level’]. Matt. 21.43.” In  terms of biblical theology, especially when evaluated by Deuteronomy 26-28 and the NT, modern-day Israel is not a righteous nation.

Take note of the Parable of the Landowner (Matt. 21:33-41). There is no indication in these and other passages that the modern state of Israel is a fulfillment of any prophecy, OT or NT.

It’s important to read Matthew 21-25 to get the entire context, especially Jesus cursing the fig tree (Israel) and the mountain (where the temple stood) cast into the sea (21:18-22), the burning of the city (Jerusalem) (22:7), their “house [the temple] left to [them] desolate” (23:38), and the prophecy of the temple’s destruction before that Apostolic generation passed away (24:1-3, 34). See Wars and Rumors of Wars, Last Days MadnessMatthew 24 Fulfilled, and Matthew 23-25 for a discussion of these prophetic texts. These physical outward types of the coming kingdom referred to Old Covenant Israel that was remade in Christ. A drastic change took place. Physical Jerusalem (Gal. 4:21-31) and Zion were of no redemptive consequence in the NT (Heb. 12:18-24).

• For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and one by the free woman. But the son by the slave woman was born according to the flesh, and the son by the free woman through the promise. This is speaking allegorically, for these women are two covenants: one coming from Mount Sinai giving birth to children who are to be slaves; she is Hagar. Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is enslaved with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother (Gal 4:22-26).

• But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel (Heb. 12:22-24).

This “nation producing the fruit of it” was not a new geographical physical land nation any more than when Paul told the Corinthians “we are the temple of the living God” (2 Cor. 6:16) was a new physical temple.

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[1]Colin Chapman, Whose Promised Land?: The Continuing Crisis Over Israel and Palestine (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2002), 164.

[2]Chapman, Whose Promised Land?, 163.

[3]William Cox, Biblical Studies in Final Things (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1966), 63.

[4]John R. Rice, The King of the Jews: A Commentary on the Gospel According to Matthew (Murfreesboro, TN: Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1955), 369.

[5]John R. Rice, We Can Have Revival Now (Wheaton, IL: Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1950), 41.

[6]John Bright, A History of Israel, 3rd ed. (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1981).

[7]John D. W. Watts, Isaiah 34-66, Word Biblical Commentary(Waco, TX: Word Books, 1987), 25:363.

[8]Hal Lindsey, “Who Owns the Holy Land?,” WND (May 1, 2002):