A Special HomecomingOctober 11, 2018 - 12:00 am
“I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” — Genesis 28:15
Aliyah is Hebrew for “ascent” or “to go up.” In biblical times, it was used to describe the pilgrimage all Jews made three times a year to Jerusalem for holy festivals. Today, it refers to immigration to Israel. This is one of 12 devotions exploring aliyah and the fulfillment today of biblical prophecy that God would bring back His children to their ancient homeland, Israel. For more teachings on prophecy, download our complimentary study here.
Abraham was 75 years old when God told him to leave his home and travel to an unknown country that one day would become his own. Moses was 80 when he led the children of Israel out of bondage from Egypt.
And Joseph? Joseph was 110 when he died in Egypt, but he made his descendants promise to bury his bones in the Promised Land. When the Israelites finally left Egypt and the shackles of slavery, they faithfully took Joseph’s bones with them and buried him in Shechem.
For centuries, the Holy Land has been a beacon of light to the children of Israel. It has been the hope and dream of exiled and dispersed Jews throughout history to one day return to the land of their forefathers. Even today, we are witnesses to the ongoing aliyah —or immigration to Israel — of Jews from around the world who are choosing to return to their biblical and historical home.
I, myself, was nearly 50 when I made aliyah in response to where I felt God was calling me. Still, after nearly 20 years of living in Israel, every time I return home after travelling, I feel a swell of inspiration and sense of peace as the plane finally lands at Ben Gurion Airport. I am home.
But in the past several years, I had the honour and privilege of accompanying my parents, Rabbi Simon and Belle Eckstein, as they made aliyah. At the ages of 91 (my father) and 84 (my mother), they decided to spend their final years in the land of their spiritual forefathers. My father has since passed away, but coming to Israel was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.
For me this was not only a source of pride in my parents’ willingness to relocate at that stage in their lives, but I also saw it — as I do all aliyah —as the fulfillment of bible prophecy. The Bible tells us that God told Abraham in Genesis 15 that the people of Israel would go into exile into Egypt. But, He promised them “in the fourth generation your descendants will come back here” (Genesis 15:16).
There now are four generations of our family in Israel: my mother, my wife and myself, one of my daughters, Yael, and her children. Soon my second oldest daughter will be making aliyah!
I can still remember watching my elderly father get down on his knees and kiss the tarmac, reciting the traditional blessing, “Thank you God for sustaining me, giving me life, and enabling me to reach this milestone.” As he did so, I was overwhelmed with gratitude to God.
I am so grateful to God for my parents’ example. They taught me that it is never too late to fulfill your life’s dream and to begin anew no matter what your age.
I pray, too, that their example will inspire us all to continue pursuing our dreams — whatever those may be — trusting in God to guide us in the days ahead.