The Remnant, Progressive Fulfillment and Modern Ashkelon

Arno Froese

And the coast shall be for the remnant of the house of Judah; they shall feed thereupon: in the houses of Ashkelon shall they lie down in the evening: for the Lord their God shall visit them, and turn away their captivity” (Zephaniah 2:7).

Ashkelon (or Ashqelon) harbors an ancient history—Britannica says 2000 BC. Like most cities in the land of Israel, it experienced manifold invasions; for example, the Egyptians, later the Assyrians, and then the Babylonians. The city was also conquered by Alexander the Great in 332 BC.

Much of modern Ashkelon was an Arab settlement named Al-Majdal. After the Israel-Arab War in 1948-49, Arabs left the area or were forced to. It was resettled with Jewish immigrants mainly from the Soviet Union. Today’s population reveals the interesting number of 144,000 (estimate for 2019). Of course, this reminds us of Revelation 7, where 144,000 from the twelve tribes of Israel are sealed, to become untouchable for the enemy. Obviously, this is just a coincidental number, which continues to change day by day and does not relate to the documented sealing that appears in that chapter.

The Remnant
In the above introductory Scripture, we clearly notice that the area is designated “for the remnant of the house of Judah.” This is part of the progressive fulfillment that was proclaimed by the prophet Isaiah: “And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth” (Isaiah 11:12).

When researching the origin of Ashkelon’s population, we notice that the majority came from the north country—the former Soviet Union. The prophet Jeremiah confirms this when he proclaims: “But, The Lord liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land” (Jeremiah 23:8).

This is not surprising when we realize that 37 signers of Israel’s Declaration of Independence were members of the trade union (Moetzet HaAm). Most came from the former Soviet Union, except three who were born in Germany, one in Israel, one in Denmark, and one in Yemen. It was on 13 May 1948 at 16:00 [4:00 pm] that “Ben Gurion opened the ceremony by banging his gavel on the table, prompting a spontaneous rendition of Hatikvah, soon to be Israel’s national anthem.” We notice the absence of spiritual content.

When the 37 members of the Moetzet HaAm debated the details of the Declaration of Independence, the minority—two rabbis, Shapira and Yehuda Leib Maimon—wanted the inclusion of God in the last section of the document. But it was strongly opposed by the secularist Mapam party, of which Ben Gurion was the leader. They settled with the phrase “Rock of Israel.”

Progressive Fulfillment
When carefully reading the introductory Scripture, we notice the succession: the Jews come to Ashkelon, they build houses, establish farms, and “lay down in the evening”—that means rest and security. Only then, “the Lord their God shall visit them.” Next comes the direct intervention of God. Here the Tanakh reads, “for the Lord their God shall remember them, and turn their captivity.”

This succession corresponds to the prophet Ezekiel, who is commanded by God to “prophesy unto the mountains of Israel, and say, Ye mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord” (Ezekiel 36:1). First He speaks to the topographical land of Israel, and then He gives the reason in verse 8: “ye, O mountains of Israel, ye shall shoot forth your branches, and yield your fruit to my people of Israel; for they are at hand to come.”

Later in verse 26, we see the same succession again, but spiritually: “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you.” The Jews experienced a change of heart: they received a new spirit. But that’s not the end, for verse 27 proclaims: “And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.” Israel is destined to receive His Spirit.

While we observe Israel’s progression as a nation and the continuous change they experienced—often for the worse—we must keep in mind the end result; namely, the pouring out of the Spirit of God upon His people.

Modern Ashkelon
This city, located on the coastal plain of the Mediterranean, is 12 kilometers north of Gaza and 2 kilometers from the ancient Ashkelon site. Diverse economic activity has been established, starting with the Trans-Israeli Pipeline, bringing petroleum products from Eilat to the Ashkelon Port. Also, the Ashkelon Sea Water Reverse Osmosis (SWRO) desalination plant is the largest in the world. Many foreign companies have established their industry there, including Coca-Cola, beginning in 1968.

In summary, hope for the future is not limited to Israel, but is even more imminent for the Church, consisting of born-again believers who know their destiny: “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19).

Midnight Call - 09/2022

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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