by Tad Lindley
Imagine that this year some well-known, but not so well respected elder were to stand before the next AVCP convention and say, “The Lord told me that in the future, the Yup’ik people will be deported from Southwest Alaska and spread out in various nations across the planet, but do not be afraid, for at some point far in the future, I will restore the Yupiit Nation, and your sons and daughters will come back from the East, and the West, and the South. And at that point in the distant future, the Yupiit Nation will be born again in a day”.
Most of us would think, “That could never happen, this has been Yup’ik country as far as anyone remembers, and we enjoy the protection of one of the most powerful armies on earth.” We might even go so far as to say, “You’re crazy, please sit down and let us get on with more important business.”
They thought Jeremiah was crazy too
It’s okay to be skeptical. Very few people believed the prophet Jeremiah when he prophesied to the people of Southern Israel these very same things. He told them that God would restore their nation: I will surely gather them from all the lands where I banish them in my furious anger and great wrath; I will bring them back to this place and let them live in safety. (Jeremiah 32:37 NIV) Wait a minute. The people of Southern Israel (also referred to as Judah) were still living in Southern Israel. They had not even been deported, and yet Jeremiah was telling of a coming deportation, and a far future restoration. He gave this prophecy approximately 2,600 years ago.
Back to the Yup’ik nation
Now imagine that the Yup’ik people are deported and spread out all over the planet, some in Argentina, some in Russia, others in South Africa. Although they are surrounded by strange languages and customs, they maintain their traditions; after 1,800 years, the children still speak Yugtun, they still know how to Yup’ik dance, and they still have akutaq with their dried pike and seal oil. Separated from each other by thousands of miles, immersed in foreign languages, and yet eighteen centuries later still culturally intact. Then at the end of that 1,800 years, in a day, the Yup’ik Nation is restored, and Yup’iks return to Bethel and the villages from every nation on earth. They still speak the same language, they still have the bladder festival, and they still raise their eyebrows to say, “Yes.” Impossible, right? Wrong.
The power of God’s prophecy
The Jewish people spread away from their homeland in the first and second century AD. They were spread out across the planet. For eighteen centuries they were able to keep their traditions and customs alive and recognizable. The language was still spoken under certain circumstances, experiencing a major revival in the 1800s. The Passover (Exodus 12) was kept. It never failed that from father to son, and then son to grandson that the greatest commandment (Mark 12:29) was passed down from generation to generation: Shema Israel, Adonai elohenu, Adonai echod (Deuteronomy 6:4, Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one).
Even though they were immersed in the currents of a multitude of peoples and cultures, the power of God’s prophecy kept them. Hitler tried to blot out the promise of God as did Joseph Stalin, but mortal man is no match for the King of Glory. In spite of millennia of persecution, on May 14, 1948, the nation of Israel was reborn, and people began to flow back from across the earth, fulfilling the words of God spoken through the prophet Ezekiel: I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land. (34:13)
What about your promise?
For 1,800 years across continents the people waited for the fulfillment of God’s promise. Perhaps the Lord has spoken a promise to you, and yet when you look at circumstances around you it seems that it is impossible for it to come to pass, and you wonder, “Did I really hear from God, or was it just my imagination?” You heard from God. For no matter how many promises God has made, they are Yes in Christ. (II Corinthians 1:20 NIV)
In one of the darkest hours for the Jewish people, when six million perished in Nazi death camps, and it seemed that the restoration of Israel, as prophesied by the word of God, was a complete and utter impossibility, May 14th, 1948 was just around the corner. It may be your darkest hour, but nothing can withstand the prophetic word of God: your May 14th is coming. He has not abandoned you. Step out in faith. Stop living in circumstance and start living in promise.
Tad Lindley is a minister at the United Pentecostal Church in Bethel, Alaska.