Jewish Immigration to Israel: The Biblical Meaning of Aliyah

January 1st, 2016

Aliyah Return Boom

At the end of 2014, the Times of Israel reported that the Jews who had made aliyah reached a 10-year high, with French Jews topping the list of those returning. At the end of 2015, that number has increased another 10 percent making new immigration of 2015 at a 12-year high and the highest amount of French ever to make aliyah due to recent terrorism. But what is aliyah?

What is Aliyah?

The term the Israeli government uses to describe Jewish immigration to Israel from the nations is referred to as making aliyah. In Hebrew, “aliyah” means “to go up,” and actually refers to an upper room of a house — sound familiar? Ironically, the first time this idea is used in Scripture is in Exodus when it describes Moses going up to meet with God.

“The LORD came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain; and the LORD called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.” – Exodus 19:20

Moses went up to meet with God on Sinai where he received the Ten Commandments. The intention of aliyah is not just to go somewhere but to go up and meet with God. The Lord is bringing the Jewish people back to the land He promised to Abraham, not only to keep His promise, but to dwell among them as their God. His plan was always to live among His people, and He is bringing that plan to pass.

Why Aliyah matters to Christians

Why should it matter to Christians if Jews are returning to Israel? For those of us who love the Lord and His Word, we are watching ancient biblical prophecy being fulfilled before our eyes. The most repeated promise in the Old Testament is that God will return His people to the land.

“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

God is bringing his people back to Israel

Sometimes people will say “I could support Israel if they were living morally or if they all were Christians.” While these are noble aspirations, it is opposite of what the Scriptures foretell.

Ezekiel says that God will gather them from the nations and THEN He will sprinkle clean water on them for cleansing. But this is what the prophet said would happen! God is bringing His people back to the land who are primarily secular, forgetting their history and ignoring their God.

But that’s not the end. He is gathering them for a cleansing.

As Yeshua said, “it is not the healthy that need a doctor but the sick” (Matthew 9:12). In this case, it is not the clean that need a cleansing but the dirty. A national cleansing is coming and it begins by the people returning to the land.

The Spiritual Implications of Immigration Increase

News reports show a greater number of Jews making aliyah. This means we are that much closer to seeing Israel receive a new heart, new spirit and the revealing of the Jewish Messiah to Israel. But it starts with aliyah.

He is bringing the Jewish people back from the ends of the earth to be ready to live with Him in Jerusalem. From the very beginning, the Lord has always desired to dwell among men. He is working all of human history to this end — to be God to His beloved creation. With every new immigrant, the time gets closer.

To deny that the Bible is being fulfilled in our day is to deny the last 50 years of modern history. The most repeated promise in the Scriptures is that God will return Israel to the land of her inheritance.

The Return of Israel to Israel

It is easy to discuss and argue the validity of popular theologies. But it’s difficult to dispute hard numerical data and facts that are coming from present day Israel. Due to a few events in our lifetime, we can say what is sometimes said in business — “the numbers don’t lie.” Let’s look at two things Jeremiah wrote at a time when Israel was being taken captive. It is the promises of regathering.

In those days the house of Judah will walk with the house of Israel, and they will come together from the land of the north to the land that I gave your fathers as an inheritance. Jeremiah 3:18

Let’s look at a map of the Middle East and Asia. From Israel, the nation farthest north is Russia. If we follow the latitude lines going north of Jerusalem into Russia, we find that slightly to the right of that line is Moscow, the capital of the former Soviet Union. And still farther north, slightly to the right is St Petersburg.

Calev Myers of the Jerusalem Institute of Justice states that after the fall of the USSR, it was reported that between 1989 -1995, 1.2 million Jews immigrated to Israel. Many of these immigrants came from two of the largest Jewish communities in Russia — Moscow and St Petersburg.

Aliyah from Every Continent

With these numbers, the population of Israel increased by 20 percent. To put that in perspective, according to the the United States Census Bureau, the world annual rate of population growth during that time was between 1-2 percent. Israel grew 20 percent in six years time frame, simply by counting those who emigrated from “the land of the north” to the land of their fathers.

“Therefore behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when it will no longer be said, ‘As the LORD lives, who brought up the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt,’ 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 16:14-17

In essence, Jeremiah is saying there will come a day when the exodus from four corners of the earth will be considered greater than the exodus of Egypt. According to Jewishvituallibrary.org population charts, this happened in the 1960s when the Jewish Israeli population crossed the two million mark. And that is the estimated number of Israelites that left Egypt.

Prophesies Fulfilled

2014 marked the first year in over 2000 years that the nation with the largest Jewish population was Israel. Ask yourself, which is greater — that after 460 years God would bring two million people back to His land out of one nation? Or that after 2000 years, God would bring six million people from every nation to His land? We are experiencing the time of the greater exodus.

Friends, these are biblical prophecies being fulfilled in our lifetime, or our parent’s lifetime. Never before has any event occurred that could compete with these Scriptures. We are living in the days that the prophets’ spoke of. The numbers don’t lie.

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Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Doug Hershey
Doug Hershey shares from a perspective of historian and storyteller. He is the author of the best-selling book ISRAEL RISING. His new online video course, "10 Prophecies Fulfilled in Our Lifetime" connects bible prophecy with its fulfillments in Israel today. Doug is the founder of Ezra Adventures, a travel and education company, specializing in exclusive customized small group travel throughout Israel and the Middle East. For more info, go to DougHershey.co or keep up with Doug Hershey, Author on FB, IG and Youtube.
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