ON May 14, 1948, the eyes of the world fell on a narrow sliver of land bordering the eastern Mediterranean Sea, as a 3,500-year-old nation was reborn in unprecedented, dramatic--many would say, miraculous--fashion.
Even as David Ben-Gurion declared the establishment of the State of Israel, the armies of five Arab states attacked the Jewish yishuv, threatening to strangle the new-born state at birth.
Israel not only survived that potential disaster, but has thrived through the 50 years since, enduring one of the bloodiest terror campaigns in history and numerous threats to its existence. Defying predictions, it has prospered through it all.
With a population on the verge of the six million mark, the modern state of Israel is a flourishing, cosmopolitan democracy. The ancient Hebrew language lives on. The nation is a world leader in medicine, science and technology. Israelis enjoy a high standard of living and one of the best life expectancy rates on the planet.
Granted, the religious, ethnic, social and political faultlines run deep. Unemployment levels are rising. And yes, terrorism remains an ever-present reality. Israel's enemies grow stronger by the day; even those it counts among its friends have dubious motives.
But jubilee years don't come by often enough to take them for granted. In Israel's case, each passing year has demonstrated God's hand on His ancient people, and His faithfulness to the promises in His word. It is, indeed, "a time to rejoice".