HISTORY OF ALIYAH
Up to Jerusalem
Jerusalem is the city built on a hill, and is referred to as such by the writers of the Tanach (Old Testament) such as Isaiah (10:32) and Joel (3:17). To get to Jerusalem one had to “go up” or “ascend” to the Holy Hill.
Aliyah three times a year
The Bible tells us that the Jewish people were commanded to “go up” (make Aliyah - עלייה) to Jerusalem three times a year to appear before the “Sovereign Lord,” the “Lord [their] God.” (Deuteronomy 16:16, Exodus 23:17, Exodus 34:24)
Aliyah in Biblical Times
As the Jews “went up” to meet with their God in the Jerusalem Temple, their Aliyah was not only a physical “going up” but also a spiritual ascension. It was a glorious experience whereby they would go up and worship the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Creator of the Universe, the great El Shaddai, the Almighty.
The Aliyah of Biblical times brought glory to the God of Israel.
Modern Aliyah- The Regathering of the Jews to the Land of Israel
Today the word Aliyah refers not only to a “going up” to Jerusalem, but also to the “return of the Jewish people to Eretz Yisrael, the Land of Israel.”
I believe that today's Regathering of Jews back to their Biblical homeland, Israel, is called Aliyah
because it is not only a physical return to Israel, but also the beginning of the Jews’ spiritual return
to their God, through their Messiah, Yeshua (Jesus).
The Word of God tells us in both the Tanach and the New Covenant (The Old and the New Testaments) that "all Israel will be saved" (Romans 11:26) and "... they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest." (Jeremiah 31:34)
It will happen once all the Jews are back in the Land of Israel that God will open their eyes (Ezekiel 39:28-29), and they will say, "Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord." (Matthew 23:39; Psalms 118:26).
This modern Aliyah also brings glory to our God!
Moses led the first "Going Up" from Egypt
The first "going up" to the Land of Israel took place when Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, the "land of Bondage," into the "Promised Land." I believe Moses was chosen to lead this first Exodus because he was the most humble man on the earth. (Numbers 12:3)
Only 12 families (72 people in all) originally went down to Egypt, but 12 tribes of around 3 million Israelites went up to the Land "flowing with milk and honey." (
Therefore the first “going up” was an entry to the Promised Land, and not the Return to Israel to which the word Aliyah now refers.
The Aliyah is Most Holy to the Lord
Moses was a great prophet of God and also the most humble man on earth. However, because of one act of disobedience, Moses was not allowed to lead the Israelites into the Land, or enter himself. (Numbers 20:12) God told Moses that he could not bring the Israelites into the Promised Land because he had not treated Him as holy in the sight of the Israelites.
Because the first Exodus was so holy, we can only imagine how holy this present Aliyah is to the Lord! God will show His awesome glory and magnify His Holy Name through this Aliyah. It will be an instrument through which the God of Israel shall be glorified.
The present Aliyah, which is only just starting, is going to far-surpass the first Exodus from Egypt (Jeremiah 16:14, 15). As we consider all the miracles that God performed in the first Exodus, we realize that we are in for an awesome surprise in the second one.
It will be an awesome thing for God to out-do the miracles of the ten plagues, the first Passover, the parting of the Red Sea, the manna from heaven, the water from the rock, the Children of Israel’s clothes and shoes not wearing out for 40 years, and more, as He brings His children home in this Aliyah.
The Aliyah we now see taking place (over 1 million Jews from the former Soviet Union have come to live in Israel) consists of only the first few “drops” of the tsunami of Jews who have yet to make Aliyah to the Land!
The Aliyah is about God’s Promises to His People
God has promised to…
Take the Jews out of the nations
Gather them from all the countries where He scattered them
Bring them back into their own land.
Sprinkle clean water on them and make them clean
Cleanse them from all their impurities and from all their idols.
Give them a new heart and put a new Spirit in them
Remove from them their heart of stone
Give them a heart of flesh
Put His Spirit in them
Move them to follow His decrees and His laws.
Let them live in the land He gave their forefathers
Make them His people
Be their God.”
SHIPS OF TARSHISH
In the lead are the ships of Tarshish, bringing your sons from afar…
The Scripture at Isaiah 60:9 is a prophecy that has yet to be fulfilled, although ships have at different times brought Jews to Israel. Thousands of Jews were rescued during and immediately following the Second World War: over 70,000 were brought on more than100 ships to Palestine - the not-yet-reborn State of Israel (
However, there has never been a fleet of ships that could properly be referred to as "the Ships of Tarshish.” I therefore believe that boats and ships are still to bring God's children from “afar” and so fulfill Isaiah 60:9.
Operation Tarshish came into being in 1991 after a conversation I had with the skipper of the Christian Venturer, a fiberglass schooner that had sailed into Haifa harbour. The crew of this vessel was on its way to Odessa to find Jews who wanted to come to Israel, and bring them back to their Biblical Homeland. During our talk the skipper suggested that I send newsletters to those with a similar calling to see Jews rescued and brought home to Israel. This is how Operation Tarshish was born.
Isaiah 60:9 (KJV, NIV, JPS, and other versions) begins by saying that “surely the Islands wait for Me…” I found it most interesting and prophetic that the Christian Venturer, on its God-ordained voyage to bring His “sons from afar,” had come from the tiny island of Bermuda in the Atlantic Ocean.
The Islands were indeed “waiting upon the Lord” for His word to “bring His sons from afar.” When God called in 1991 the Christian Venturer, perhaps the first “Ship of Tarshish” heard that call and responded.
“Who are these who fly like a cloud and like doves to their nests?”
Not only would the Jews return on boats and ships, but the Scripture at Isaiah 60:8 seems to suggest that planes would bring the Jews home to their Biblical resting place, or nest.
In a dream or vision the prophet Isaiah “saw” the Jews being flown to Israel in modern aircraft, although he did not know how to describe this phenomenon. He therefore used imagery that was familiar to him, and spoke of “clouds and doves” bringing God’s Chosen home.
In a dream or vision the prophet Isaiah “saw” the Jews being flown to Israel in modern aircraft, although he did not know how to describe this phenomenon. He therefore used imagery that was familiar to him, and spoke of “clouds and doves” bringing God’s Chosen home.
In 1991 some 14,400 Ethiopian Jews were airlifted to Israel in less than 48 hours, in a modern-day exodus called Operation Solomon. Just as Moses had told the Hebrews to prepare the Passover celebration, for tomorrow they would be free, the Ethiopian Jews were told to prepare their meager belongings because the next day they would be in Israel.
During Operation Solomon, Israel set a world-record for the number of people on board an aircraft on a single flight. On one plane there were 1087 registered passengers (1,122 passengers in total as dozens of children were “hidden” in mothers’ clothing).
Clouds and Doves
The Scripture at Isaiah 60:8 speaks of “clouds and doves,” and this describes so beautifully how the Aliyah is happening. Clouds float in the air, and are just blown along; they have no control of their own and are at the mercy of the wind. This describes how the Aliyah is taking place at the moment.
Olim (Jewish immigrants to Israel) are being directed here by the wind of God’s Spirit. The Hebrew word for wind is Ruach, which also means Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit Who is guiding the Jews back to their Land.
In asking olim hadashim (new immigrants) why they made Aliyah to Israel, I have received various answers. Some, for instance, came because of financial difficulties in their country of birth, and some because of anti-Semitism. But one answer I received from an American oleh was, “I don’t know!” However I knew that it was the Holy Spirit Who had brought him back, for the God of Israel is going to be glorified through this Aliyah.
The imagery of “doves” speaks of another aspect of this amazing Aliyah. After they have been out all day, doves fly home to their nests for the evening. An important element of Aliyah is that Jews consciously decide to make their home in Israel – usually for ideological or spiritual reasons. Like doves that fly home to their nests, these Jews realize that Israel is their God-given resting-place and have made a decision to come home.
FISHERS & HUNTERS
Fishers and Hunters
The prophet Jeremiah spoke of two factors that would motivate Jewish immigration to Israel. One is that there would be “fishers” and the other that there would be “hunters.” (Jeremiah 16:16)
It is generally believed that “fishers” are those who are seeking and enticing the Jews to bring them home. There are many Christians working in the former Soviet Union and other eastern countries, who are involved in “fishing” for His People to bring them home.
While there are those who believe that “hunters” are also looking for Jews to bring them home, Jeremiah 16:16 says “they will hunt them down on every mountain and hill and from the crevices of the rocks.” It seems to me that these “hunters” would seek to kill and destroy. After all, that is what hunters do. And the Jews who are being hunted appear to be hiding in crevices of rocks of fleeing to the mountains.
All forms of Transport will bring the Jews Home
– Isaiah 66:20
When God told the prophet Isaiah that the Children of Israel would be going back to Israel, He knew they would come in transportation such as planes, trains, boats, cars and buses, which Isaiah had never seen before. Recently while in far-eastern Russia I met a Christian couple with sleds and teams of dogs who were also interested in the Exodus of Jews. Possibly their sleds will also be used in helping His People home.
Again, in order to describe these modern forms of transport the prophet Isaiah used the imagery of the modes of transportation used in his day. Isaiah wrote God’s words saying, “And they will bring all your people, from all the nations, to My holy mountain in Jerusalem as an offering to the Lord – on horses, in chariots and wagons, and on mules and camels, says the Lord.” (Isaiah 66:20)
We can expect to see many types of transportation being used by the Jews to come home – and this in order to bring glory to the Awesome Name of God.
Living in Tents Again – Hosea 12:9
The Israeli Government has so far been able to keep up with the flow of Jews returning to the Land. Even when the Russian Jews were coming to Israel in the early 1990s at the rate of 1000 per day, the Government had housing for them. And in 1991, when nearly 14,400 Ethiopian Jews came to Israel in under 48 hours, each one was given a hot meal and had a roof over their head that night.
These were vast numbers for a small country like Israel to absorb. If the corresponding equivalent of 14,400 Ethiopian Jews had gone to America, the USA would have had around seventy-one and a half million Ethiopians to feed and house in a 48 hour period!
According to Ynet News there are currently 13.3 million Jews living in the world today, while Israel has a Jewish population of 5.7 million. When the total number of Jews living in the world today return to Israel, where are they all going to live? This is precisely the question God said Jews would be asking when they exclaim, “This place is too small for us; give us more space to live in.” (Isaiah 49:20)
God also foretold the Jewish people will say in their hearts about the numbers of Jews returning, “Who bore me these? I was bereaved and barren; I was exiled and rejected. Who brought these up? I was left all alone, but these--where have they come from?” (Isaiah 49:21)
The current estimate of the number of Jews in the world today does not even begin to compare with actuality. This estimate is usually based on Halachic law (the collective body of religious laws for Jews), which today excludes any Jew born of a Gentile mother. According to this law not even the Messiah would be Jewish as Yeshua has one, possibly two, Gentile women in His Genealogy. (Ruth, and a possible Rahab referred to in Matthew 1:5)
According to God’s Word to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, no one would be able to count the Jews. (Genesis 15:5; 22:17; 26:4)
When the Jewish people come flooding back to Israel in unprecedented numbers, the Israeli Government will be unable to keep up with the influx of them. It will certainly not be able to provide enough of housing, food and water. For God has foretold that ALL Jews will return. (Ezekiel 39:28)
However, we have nothing to be concerned about, for God knows, and told the prophet Hosea, what was going to happen when all the Jews returned. He gives comforting words and says, “I have been the Lord your God ever since you came out of Egypt; I will make you live in tents again, as in the days of your appointed festivals.” (Hosea 12:9)
You may ask, “Well, what about food and water?” God has foreseen this and has foretold about it. “These things (their wanderings in the desert for 40 years) happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come.” (1 Corinthians 10:11) And what did God do for them in the desert? He provided Manna for them from heaven, and water from the Rock. I believe the same is going to happen in our day.
I live on the edge of the Judean Desert (where Yeshua wandered for 40 days without food or water) and I believe the time is coming when each morning I will get up and look out over the desert and see thousands upon thousands of tents, and a fine layer of Manna covering the ground. Yes, God is once again going to do mighty miracles for His people, in fact He is going to do even greater things than He did in the first Exodus from Egypt – so that His Name is glorified. (Jeremiah 16:14, 15)
Yeshua got into a boat
Many years ago I was praying about Operation Tarshish, where the ministry was heading and what it was to be doing. While reading the book of Matthew I came to chapter 15 and verse 39 that says, “Jesus got into a boat and went to the region of Magadan.” Other Bible versions say Magdala, but I was reading the NIV at the time, which refers to Magadan.
Magadan is a small place on the western Shores of the Sea of Galilee, but there is also a place in Russia on the northern shores of the Okhotsk Sea with same name. I believe that God wants to send Operation Tarshish there, and bring Jews from there in “Ships of Tarshish” – for the glory of His Name.
With their silver and gold…
I remember that when I visited the Russian Magadan in 2011, I got off the plane and saw a sign which read, “Welcome to the Gold Center of the Region.” This reminded me of the verse in Isaiah 60:9 which says, the Ships of Tarshish will bring God's Children from afar, “with their silver and gold.” As the Russian Magadan is a coastal town I believe that it is from there that God will bring His people out one day – to show the Jews His faithfulness to His Word, and to the world His power and might.
God Beckons to the Gentiles (Nations) to Partake in this Aliyah
Although there are Jewish organizations involved in this Aliyah, the Lord God of Israel wants Gentiles to be involved. This is what the Sovereign Lord says: "See, I will beckon to the nations (גוים - Gentiles), I will lift up My banner to the peoples; they will bring your sons in their arms and carry your daughters on their shoulders. (Isaiah 49:22)
Many of the Gentiles hate the Jewish People, so to whom is the Lord lifting up His banner? Obviously it is Christians or lovers of Israel and the Jewish People. I believe that God wants Christians to be involved in the Regathering of His Covenant Peoples for a number of reasons.
Firstly, Christian involvement is a way of asking forgiveness for what has been done in the Name of Christ to the Jewish People. Thousands of Jews were killed in the name of Christianity down through the centuries - in the Crusades, in Pogroms and in the Holocaust. This would be a small way of saying, by our actions, “We are sorry.”
Secondly, it is a way of showing the Jewish People the love their Messiah has for them. Most Christians know the definition of love from John’s Gospel, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son…” (John 3:16) However, few Christians know another definition of love from 1 John 3:16 – “This is how we know what love is: Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Christ) laid down His life for us.” To show the Jewish people Yeshua’s love, we need to “lay down our lives for them.”
Laying down our lives for the Jews does not necessarily mean we must physically die for them (as did Corrie ten Boom’s sister Elizabeth and her father Casper in a German concentration camp.) It may simply mean giving up some of our comforts in order to serve them. It is only through sacrificial love that they will “see” their Messiah and His sacrifice on the Cross for us all.
Thirdly, it is a way of showing the Jewish people our love for them. For thousands of years Jews have been hated and despised by the nations of the world. We can love them through assisting their Aliyah.
Fourthly we can show our love to our Father in Heaven. At Jeremiah 32:41 we read that God is restoring His people to their Land, with “all His heart and soul.” If He is involved in this Aliyah “with all His heart and soul” shouldn’t we want to be involved in this Regathering as well?
Fifthly, it is a simple act of humanity to help a persecuted People and bring them to a Land where they dwell in safety.
No one will lead this Second Exodus
In the first great Exodus from Egypt God used a single man, Moses, to lead His people to the Promised Land.
This time God will not use any main person or organization. In the end, when every Jew is back in the Land of Israel, and each Jew believes that Yeshua is their long awaited Messiah, people will marvel and ask, "How did this happen?"
This awesome Aliyah is going to happen so quietly and efficiently that no one will be able to look back to one single person or organization to say, "Look what so-and-so did." They will have to say, "It could only have been God who did this great thing."
FOR GODS GLORY
For God’s Glory
The Word of God asks, “And who is like Your people Israel – the one nation on earth whose God went out to redeem a people for Himself, and to make a name for Yourself, and to perform great and awesome wonders by driving out nations from before Your people, whom You redeemed from Egypt?” (1 Chronicles 17:21)
God did not choose the Jews because they were because they were bigger or better than any one else (they were the least of all peoples), but God chose them because He loved them and would keep the oath which He swore to their fathers. (Deuteronomy 7:7-8)
God gave laws and commands, which the Jews were to keep. He told them that if they were obedient they could remain in the Land He promised to give them, the Land of Israel. However, if they were disobedient, He would cast them out of the Land, to the four corners of the earth.
Because they would not be obedient to His Word, God knew He would have to “cast them out.” (Deuteronomy 28:64) However, the Lord also made the wonderful promise that, “Even if [the Jews] have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there [He] will gather [them] and bring [them] back.” (Deuteronomy 30:4)
The Aliyah Proves that God’s Word is True and that He Exists
To take a nation and scatter them to the four corners of the earth would involve quite some organization, management, and power. But to bring that same people back to the same Land, speaking the same language again, after 2000 years of being scattered to the four corners of the earth, exactly as the Prophets foretold, is something only Almighty God could do.
One day, while at ulpan (Hebrew language school), I talked to a Jewish immigrant from Russia about God. She said that she didn’t believe that there was a God. “What?” I replied, “The very fact you are here in Israel proves to me that the Bible is true, for it foretold your coming back to this Land thousands of years ago!”
With marvelous accuracy the Bible foretells of the return of the Jews from the north and south, the east and the west from the “land of the north (Russia),” and all the countries where God scattered them - thousands of years before these events actually happened. Only an All-powerful, All-knowing, All-seeing, All-loving God could have done this. (Isaiah 43:5, 6; Jeremiah 31:8),
I foretold the former things long ago, My mouth announced them and I made them known; then suddenly I acted, and they came to pass. … Therefore I told you these things long ago; before they happened I announced them to you so that you could not say, 'My images brought them about; my wooden image and metal god ordained them.' … They are created now, and not long ago; you have not heard of them before today. So you cannot say, 'Yes, I knew of them.' … "Come together, all of you, and listen: Which of the idols has foretold these things?” (Isaiah 48:3-14)
God has promised to bring all His people home, “not leaving any behind.” (Ezekiel 39:28) People often ask me “How many Jews are there living in the world today?” To answer their question I take them outside on a starry night and tell them to look at the stars and number them, if they are able. (Genesis 15:5) As no one knows the number of stars, so nobody can tell how many Jews are living in the world today. But what we do know is that when the Messiah returns, all living Jews will be in Israel. This is something that God has promised, and something only He can do – and will do – so that His Name is glorified.
Coming back in Unbelief – (Ezekiel 37:1-14)
God’s Word is so accurate that it foretold the Jews return to their Land in unbelief. In the 20th Century the Communist System in the former Soviet Union taught that there was no God. The Communists tried to eradicate any knowledge of a God, and the Jews living there did not know much of their God, the God of Israel. (My deceased father-in-law is just one example.)
The prophet Ezekiel foresaw the return of the Jews to Israel, and this after the Holocaust in which the Nazis exterminated six million Jewish people. The Jews said, “Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.” (Ezekiel 37:11) But God’s Word promised that He would bring them home. He commanded Ezekiel to “prophecy to these ‘dry bones’” (Ezekiel 37:4) … “for they will soon come home.” (Ezekiel 36:8).
Not only will the Jewish people “come home” (by making Aliyah) but God has also promised to breathe His Spirit (breath – ruach – רוח) into them and make them live. The Lord has promised that the Dry Bones would “come together,” “come to life” and “stand up on their feet – a vast army!” In case anyone would claim that the dry bones refer to anyone else, God made it very clear when He said to Ezekiel, "Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel.” (Ezekiel 37:11)
I will always remember a humorous incident that happened when I was speaking about the Aliyah at a conference in Florida. My talk was scheduled directly after lunch, and I was sharing about the Dry Bones from Ezekiel 37. I came to verse 7 where it says Ezekiel prophesied and “as [he] was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone.” To emphasise the point that this coming together of the bones is happening right now, in our day and age, I said, “Shhh! Listen! Do you hear the rattling?” I did not realize that the lunch dishes were being washed up in the hall behind me at that moment, but as I asked the conference to “listen” there came the “rattling sound” of the cutlery and crockery! I thought to myself that God has a wonderful way of accentuating His Word.
The reason for the Aliyah is summed up in the Scripture in which God says, “I will put My Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.'" (Ezekiel 37:14) God confirms “I will no longer hide My face from them, for I will pour out My Spirit on the House of Israel, declares the Sovereign Lord.” (Ezekiel 39:29)
The Lord will be glorified, lifted up, and exalted in this Aliyah when He brings the Jews home to Israel, fills them with His Spirit, and is magnified through them.
When all the Jews are back in their Land, and all know their God through their Messiah, it will be quite clear to the whole world that God has done it. His name will be worshipped and adored!
The Aliyah is not about the Jews or Israel
The answer to the question “Why Aliyah?” is found in a Scripture from the prophet Ezekiel. The prophet was commanded to say to the Israelites, “This is what the Sovereign LORD says: It is not for your sake, people of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of My Holy Name…” (Ezekiel 36:22)
God decided to create a People (the Jews were first created and then chosen) and then use this People to show the world how great He is. Many times in the Word we read, “then they will know that I am the Lord their God.” Sometimes “they” refers to the Jews and sometimes to the Gentiles, or the nations of the world.
Although God chose the Jews to be a “holy nation” (Exodus 19:6) and a “light to the nations” (Isaiah 42:6) they did not measure up to their calling. But this did not nullify God’s calling of them, or cause His promises to fail. (Joshua 21:45, 1 Kings 8:56, Psalm 33:11, Jeremiah 31:37) God chose the Jews for a specific purpose - for His glory. Whether they were obedient or disobedient God would still use them and be glorified through them. (Isaiah 43:7)
God promised that they would live in a land of abundance, a land flowing with milk and honey (Exodus 3:8) if they obeyed the Lord, but that they would be cast out and scattered to the four corners of the earth if they were disobedient. Although God knew they could not obey all His commands, and that He was going to have to scatter them - nevertheless in His eternal love and amazing grace, He swore to bring them back to the Land again.
In this scattering and regathering the Lord was going to be glorified. Through this scattering and regathering the Jews would know that He is (their) God, and not only the Jews, but the entire world would know that He is God.
The world would not only know that He is God, but that He is the God of Israel. The world would know He has not rejected His People but that He still loves them (despite all they did), and He has fulfilled all the promises He made to them through His prophets. (Acts 3:21)
Why Aliyah, if it is not about the Jews or about Israel?
The answer is so that His Name is glorified!
The Jews and Israel are the vessels that God is working through to glorify Himself!
The Aliyah is to show the whole world that there is a God and that He is the God of Israel.
It is to show the whole world His glory, and that He is bringing about this Aliyah. (Ezekiel 36:23)
The Aliyah is to show the Jews that He is God. (Ezekiel 37:6)
It is to the show the world that God loves the Jews despite all they have done. (Jeremiah 31:31-14)
The Aliyah is to show the whole world that He is faithful to His Word.
It is to show the whole world God’s wonderful love. (Numbers 14:19)
The Aliyah is to show the whole world His Power.
It is to show the world that He is a forgiving God
The Aliyah is to show the world that He is a merciful God.
It will show the whole world His mighty miracles. (Jeremiah 16:14, 15)
The Aliyah is to show His truth and faithfulness to His Word (Deuteronomy 30:1-5, Psalm 33:11)
The Aliyah will show the whole world that what God does “with all His heart and soul” (Jeremiah 32:41) He will bring to completion perfectly.