Israel's Independence Day is celebrated annually, according to the Hebrew calendar, on the 5th day in the month of Iyar. This is considered the anniversary of the Gregorian calendar date of May 14, 1948. That date is significant because Israel officially became recognized as her own sovereign nation by the United Nations. The Hebrew name for this holiday is Yom HaAtzmaut which literally means Day of Independence. It falls around the 20th day of the Counting Of The Omer.
Since Israel's independence came in 1948, after the Bible was written, there is no scripture reference to this specific holiday itself. There is, however, scriptural references concerning Israel as a nation, both in her origins and towards her future (Isa. 11:11, Ezek. Ch. 37).
Most Jews believe the land of Israel was promised to them by God, and that promise is more important than what any man or man-made government agency says. After all, since God created the land to begin with, He certainly can do what He wants to do with it.
Often, this conversation between God and Abraham is used for scriptural support of this position.
14 The LORD said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, "Lift up your eyes from where you are and look north and south, east and west.
15 All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever.
16 I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted.
17 Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you."
18 So Abram moved his tents and went to live near the great trees of Mamre at Hebron, where he built an altar to the LORD.
Some scholars interpret Zechariah 14:16 as fore telling the recognition of the independence of Israel by the nations of the world in end times.
Other verses that would support the position of Israel's right to this land include Gen. 17:8; Gen. 48:4; Psa. 105:8,11; Isa. 62:4; Jer. 7:7; and Isa. 40:8.
Israel will play a major role in biblical end time prophecy. For more on this please read Jerusalem: In The Eye Of The Storm an article relating to Zechariah chapter 12.
Sometimes, Israel was disobedient in following God's instructions. As judgment for this disobedience, God allowed others, on more than one occasion, to displace Israel's people and temporarily place them into captivity.
Shortly after Israel's refusal to recognize Jesus as Messiah, God allowed the destruction of the temple, and most of Israel was displaced from their land. This event is referred to today as the diaspora.
Israel has been displaced from her land for around 1900 years. But now, God is regathering the Jews back to their homeland.
Isaiah 11:11 fore tells that is the final days, when the Messiah rules with full majesty from Jerusalem, that God will call back His remnant to return to the land of Israel. With the establishment of the state in 1948, the opportunity now exists for Jews throughout the world to go to Israel and live. Scholar's consider this current regathering just a glimpse or shadow of the regathering God will cause to happen when Messiah returns. It does show that God is not finished with the people of Israel, and the promises and prophecies that are still to come concerning Israel, both good and bad, are still in Israel's future.
In 1947, the British turned over the responsibility of Palestine to the United Nations. In Nov. 1947, the UN voted to partition Palestine into separate states - one Arab and one Jewish. The Arabs rejected the plan. The British pulled out of the area in May 1948. Israel declared its independence on May 14th, 1948.(1)
The 1948 War of Independence was Israel's costliest war, with more than 6,000 dead, one percent of the Jewish population at the time, and 15,000 wounded.(2)
The holiday of Yom HaAtzmaut was officially declared in 1949. The 5th day of the Hebrew month Iyar, the same day that the declaration of Independence was proclaimed, became the national date of observance.(1)
This is a day to celebrate Israel's independence. It would be comparable to the 4th of July in the United States.
Theodor Herzl was the man who took charge of the effort to establish a Jewish state. After the holocaust occurred, it became evident to the rest of the world that a safe haven for Jewish people was necessary. Theodor Herzl was a Zionist.
Yom HaAtzmaut is a very joyous holiday. In Israel, celebrations include activities like parades, dances, hikes, contests, and picnics with barbecues and fireworks. There are ceremonies at Mount Herzl, where the "father of Zion" is buried. There is also a gun salute along with the lighting of 12 torches representing the 12 tribes of Israel.(1) In 2006 vendors sold cotton candy (called "grandmother's hair" in Hebrew). It has become a new tradition to walk the streets with plastic and rubber hammers and bop one's friend on the head. Another tradition has become the spraying of white shaving cream on walls and sidewalks in an effort to leave Stars of David and your name behind.(3)
In the United States, Yom HaAtzmaut celebrations usually include picnics and a rally or demonstration to show and promote Jewish solidarity with Israel. Some congregations have plays or read poetry. The eating of foods native to Israel has become popular. Sometimes Israel's declaration of Independence is recited.(1)
Israel being a nation is a unique miracle by itself. Since her inception, she has had opposition. The Wars And Conflicts in Israel have proven that God still has His hand over the nation of Israel.
In 1951, the Reform movement declared this day a holiday.
The day preceding this celebration, Yom Hazikkaron (Day of Remembrance), is devoted to the memory of those who gave their lives for the achievement of the country's independence and its continued existence. Yom Hazikkaron's holiday produces a solemn mood, but at sunset, the mood changes to joy in the celebration of Israel's Independence Day.
Remotely connected to all this is Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day). It falls on the 25th day of Iyar and celebrates the capture of Jerusalem in 1967. This holiday allows for the overall mood of the nation to go from remembering the dead, to focusing on their Independence and ultimately climaxing on its return to Jerusalem as a people.
Someday, Jesus will return to earth and when He does, He will rule His kingdom with full majesty as the King of Kings from Jerusalem. Many believe that the Temple will be rebuilt before this happens. God promised He would gather His children from the four corners of the world, and call them back to their land. The recognition of the State of Israel in 1948 has made this prophecy one that is constantly being fulfilled. Israel taking control of Jerusalem in 1967 has allowed for more of this prophecy to be fulfilled. Without control of Jerusalem there could be no rebuilding of the third Temple (Micah Chapter 4). This is another sign that end time prophecy is being fulfilled and that we are getting closer to the second coming of our Messiah.
What a great time to show your support for the independence of Israel. Fly an Israel flag for the day. Have a picnic. Take a moment to play the Israeli National anthem Hatikva. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem and that Israel will be "recognized" by the complete Arab world.
For a list of future holidays dates check the Master Calendar Table.
The State of Israel was established in the year 5708 to the Creation of the world - and the 5,708th verse in the Torah reads, "And G-d will bring you to the land inherited by your forefathers, and you will take possession of it, and He will do good to you..." (Deut. 30:5).(4)
While Israel celebrates this Independence Day Holiday with the idea of being an independent nation let us remember that freedom comes with a big price. One should not loose track of the fact that no matter how independent we think we are, we are still in dependence of Him (God).
1). The Feast of Israel by Bruce Scott of Friends of Israel Ministries.
2). Arutz 7 News 4/23/07.
3). Arutz 7 News 5/4/06.
4). Arutz 7 News 5/06/2011 quoting Rabbi Shmuel Yaniv, Givat Shmuel.