The land of Israel was known to be fertile for millennia. It was part of, “The Fertile Crescent.” The Middle East was strategically important. It controlled the trade routes from Europe, Asia, and Africa. All of ancient civilization wanted to possess it and keep it flourishing.
But we see a very strange thing. As long as the Jews are living in the land, the land remains fertile. As soon as the Jews leave, the land becomes a desert and no other nation is able to cultivate it.
“I have come down to rescue them from Egypt’s power. I will bring them out of that land, to a good, spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey” (Exodus 3:8).
The whole area is excellent for crops or pasturage and is rich in trees of every kind, so that by its fertility it invites even those least inclined to work on the land. In fact, it has been cultivated by the inhabitants and not a parcel goes to waste. It is thickly covered with towns and, thanks to the natural abundance of the soil, the many villages are so densely populated that the smallest of them has more than fifteen thousand inhabitants.
But when they were exiled, it became barren and desolate: “So devastated will I leave the land that your enemies who live there will be astonished… Your land will remain desolate, and your cities in ruins” (Leviticus 26:32-33).
During the two thousand years of Israel’s exile from its land, numerous empires have conquered the Land and countless wars were fought for its possession. Yet, astonishingly, no conqueror ever succeeded in permanently settling the land or causing the deserts to blossom.
There is a fascinating quote from Mark Twain, who visited Israel in 1867.
“We traversed some miles of the desolate country, whose soil is rich enough but is given wholly to weeds, as silent, mournful expanse. A desolation is here that not even imagination can grace with the pomp of life and action. We reached Tavor safely. Tavor is in the north, in the Galilee, the most fertile part of the land.. We never saw a human being on the whole route. We pressed on towards the goal…, renowned Jerusalem. The further we went, the hotter the sun got, the more rocky and bare, repulsive and dreary the landscape became. There was hardly a tree or a shrub anywhere. Even the olive and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country. No landscape exists that is more tiresome to the eye than that which bound the approaches to Jerusalem. Jerusalem is mournful, dreary and lifeless. I would not desire to live there.”
If you have been to Israel recently, does this sound accurate to you? Once again, a startling and strange phenomenon, completely defying the laws of nature: When the Jews are not in the land, the land becomes a desolate wilderness.
Has this ever happened anywhere else in the world? The white men came to America and took it over from the native Indians. It had amber waves of grain. Did the land suddenly become a desert? Of course not! It doesn’t make a difference who’s living in the land. If a land is fertile, it’s fertile; if it’s a desert, it’s a desert.
Not so with the land of Israel. Only there does the land become uninhabitable when the Jews are exiled.
“And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 12:3). This is what the Lord has promised His children in Israel. It just doesn’t get any plainer than that. Let us pray for Jerusalem, that there will be peace and protection for her people” (Psalm 122:6).