WE GO to press just days after the regathered nation of Israel celebrated the start of the new Jewish Year 5758. This year will mark 50 years since the November 29, 1947 United Nations vote to partition Palestine. It will also see the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the declaration of Israel as an independent state on May 14, 1948 (5 Iyyar 5708 in the Jewish calendar).

The fifth of Iyyar 5758 will fall on May 1, 1998. In other words, on May 1 next year, reborn Israel will be 50 years old according to the Jewish calendar. Because of this, the year 5758 is being seen as a 'Jubilee Year' by many Bible-believing Christians. And there is much anticipation in the Christian world of all sorts of exciting events concerning Israel possibly taking place during this year.

By contrast, the atmosphere here in Israel is subdued, almost somber. Public opinion polls reflect a nationwide mood of uncertainty and even fear. The de facto collapse (as it appears at this point) of the Oslo process, and the almost daily opinions expressed by various experts of a looming war (in the PA areas talk is that this war is "imminent") is wearing the nation down.

How we long for a halt to Israel's suffering, for this people finally to reach the end of the pain-filled road it has travelled for nearly 2000 years. The God of Israel has promised to bring His people back, plant them in their land, and give them rest from their enemies all around.

Despite all the physical odds confronting and threatening Israel at the start of this new year, it is our prayer that He who watches over His word to perform it, will bring Israel speedily into that promised rest.

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