Last year, there was much hype around the 70th anniversary of Israeli independence, that the 71st birthday seems anti-climatic. The Culture Ministry had designed a special logo for the occasion and, of course, the United States moved its embassy to Jerusalem. From a Biblical perspective as well, 70 was a significant number as it represented the nations of the world at a time when Israel successfully was developing relationships with new countries and Gulf States for the first time. No new logo was revealed this year, no major diplomatic breakthroughs were achieved, yet, from a Biblical perspective, 71 is also a number with great significance.
The Book of Numbers describes the travails of the people of Israel in the wilderness. Following the exalted Exodus from Egypt, the nation quickly falls from their lofty perch. They are tired, hungry and thirsty, they complain to Moses.
God recognizes that Moses had reached his limit and instructs him, “Gather for me 70 elders of whom you have experience as elders and officers of the people, and bring them to the Tent of Meeting and let them take their place there with you.”
Moses, along with the 70 elders, form the first government of Israel according to the divine directive, and the next verse sanctifies the hallowed arrangement: “I will come down and speak with you there, and I will draw upon the spirit that is on you and put it upon them; they shall share the burden of the people with you, and you shall not bear it alone.” (Numbers 11: 16,17)
No one person can lead a nation by themselves and so God takes some of the spirit (ruach) that He had given to Moses and places it upon the elders so that all 71 members of this first government can jointly bear the burden of responsibility.
Moses and the 70 elders became the basis for the 71-member Sanhedrin which ruled over Israel for hundreds of years. During the period of the Second Temple, the Sanhedrin met on the Temple Mount since justice and governance were central features of the Temple.
THE 71ST year of Israel thus presents an opportunity to further incorporate Biblical principles into the governance of the Jewish state. Israel already has laws in place that safeguard Shabbat and kashrut, that uphold the language of Hebrew and the Jewish calendar and honor the sanctity of life based on Torah principles. As the only Jewish state in the world, these laws are entirely unique and a great source of national pride.
However, in this age of increasing Biblical illiteracy and secularization, there is a danger that Biblical values are eroding, both in Israel and the United States. In America, President Donald Trump formed a Faith Council that meets regularly to discuss governance according to Biblical principles.
Members of Trump’s Faith Council were in Israel this week and met with members of Knesset to encourage them to remain faithful to Biblical principles.
Pastor Jim Garlow and his wife, Rosemary Schindler Garlow, spoke at an event co-sponsored by Israel365 and hosted by MK Keren Barak (Likud) and addressed several new members of the Knesset, on behalf of President Trump’s Faith Council. “We want you to know that we believe strongly that God has elevated President Trump because of his fervent support for Israel. We know that God blesses nations that stand with Israel and we will urge the president to continue to stand with you and we will pray for the success of the new members of Knesset.”
I had the opportunity to share about the importance of the number 71 to the new members of Knesset along with the leaders from President Trump’s Faith Council who lobbied hard last year on behalf of the embassy relocation to Jerusalem and the recent recognition of the Golan Heights. This year has the potential of achieving even greater milestones in Israeli history, if we recognize that our national destiny is fundamentally linked to our Biblical heritage.
For 71 years, the Knesset has become the seat of power for the Jewish state, assuming a role of major significance according to the Bible.
“I will restore your magistrates as of old, and your counselors as of yore. After that you shall be called City of Righteousness, Faithful City.” (Isaiah 1:26)
May the 71st year of Israeli independence bring the same spirit of God onto today’s leaders of Israel so that Jerusalem can be recognized by the whole world as the “City of Righteousness” that helps bring peace and justice to this vital region and the entire world.
The writer is the director of Israel365 and editor of The Israel Bible, the first Bible to highlight the connection between the Land and the People of Israel.