What was the source of the heated argument among the National Council on the morning of May 14th, 1948, just hours before the declaration of the state of Israel? The name of the state and the final wording of the declaration had been agreed upon, but the inclusion of a reference to God in the text was the last obstacle for the council.
Ben-Gurion felt that as the concluding sentence of the declaration, this phrase would satisfy both religious and secular Jews: “With trust in the Rock of Israel (Tzur Yisrael), we set our hands in witness to this Proclamation…”
The spokesman for the religious parties, Rabbi Fishman-Maimon threatened to not sign the declaration unless the words, “and its Redeemer” were to follow the “Rock of Israel.” Aaron Zisling of the left wing of the Labor Party was equally determined in the opposite direction. He said, “I cannot sign a document referring in any way to a God in whom I do not believe.”
It took Ben-Gurion most of that morning to convince both sides that the “Rock of Israel” could be interpreted both as “God,” and also symbolically as the “strength of the Jewish people.” In the end the Rabbi Fishman-Maimon consented.
The rift between religious and secular Jews has continued to this day, and probably is the greatest source of division among the Jewish people. This subject is a sore spot in Israeli politics, and it seems each Prime Minister in turn must act like a pin-ball, bouncing from side to side trying to appease everyone, but never fully succeeding.
Unfortunately, such serious rifts are nothing new among the Jewish people―just think back to the time of the split kingdom after Solomon, or the severe divisions that existed among the Jewish sects during the time of Jesus and his disciples—Sadducees, Pharisees, Zealots, Essenes, etc.
After the splitting of Israel and Judah just after King Solomon, Israel had 19 consecutive bad kings who did not please God, and they were eventually sent into exile. Even though Judah had 9 good kings who sought to please God and 11 bad kings, they also were taken into captivity.
On a number of occasions, righteous Judah fought against wicked Israel―their own brothers―as a form of God’s punishment (I Kings 15:9-16). There were also times when they made alliances together, but these usually didn’t end well due to corruption and compromise. Immediately before Judah was taken captive by the Assyrians, God spoke through Ezekiel the prophet saying that the day would come when he would join Judah and Israel, and they would be one in His hand (Ezekiel 37:15-28). The context of this joining includes God gathering the Jewish people into their own land, cleansing them of their sin and setting one King over them forever. Of course, this has yet to happen.
Recently, in prayer, I’ve sensed the heart of the Father longing to unite His sons again. This also includes all of Abraham’s sons of faith, Jews and Gentiles who have put their trust in Yeshua as King and Messiah. A unified people is unstoppable (Genesis 11:5-6). Imagine what God would do through a unified righteous people from every tribe and tongue. We live in a day when this joining together is under much attack, and therefore the call to pray for unity is urgent.
Let us continue praying for Israel’s division to be healed through union with their Messiah. And let’s keep agreeing and cooperating with Yeshua’s prayer in John 17 for oneness in His global body. May we not cease until what He has desired and asked for comes to pass!