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ANALYSIS: NETANYAHU GOES TO WASHINGTON TO DISCUSS “EPIC BATTLE” IN THE EPICENTER

In Uncategorized on May 25, 2011 at 4:02 am

(Jerusalem, Israel) — Will it work?

That’s the key question as Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu finishes his high-profile trip to Washington, meeting with President Obama, addressing 10,000-plus pro-Israel activists at the AIPAC Policy Conference, addressing a Joint Session of Congress, and doing a flurry of major media interviews. Will his passionate case that Israel is America’s best friend, the only solid and secure democracy in the Middle East, endangered by Iranian nukes, and in need of unwavering American friendship and support in tumultuous times fully convince the President, the Congress and the American people to stand with Israel through the darkest of times that are steadily approaching?

I would like to believe this will be the case, but Bible prophecy says otherwise.

The Hebrew Prophets such as Ezekiel, Daniel, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Joel tell us again and again that Israel will be all alone in the last days of history. All the nations will eventually turn against her. All the nations will work to divide the Land of Israel. Jerusalem, too, will be divided. The New Testament reconfirms this. Indeed, the Scriptures indicate that the only hope for Israel is for her to turn fully and completely to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. As the “time of Jacob’s troubles” approaches — as the Day of the Lord approaches — the Bible tells us that the nations will betray the Jewish people. Only the Lord will be faithful. The question is, when the dark times come will Israelis turn their hearts to the Lord?

The Hebrew Prophet Joel warned us that the Lord is going to judge “all the nations” because “they have divided up My Land.” (Joel 3:2) Yet Joel doesn’t call Israel to political activism, to international diplomacy, to military adventurism, or any other human endeavor. The Lord says through the Prophet Joel, “‘Yet even now, return to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, weeping and mourning; and rend your heart and not your garments’…Now, return to the Lord your God for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness and relenting of evil.” (Joel 2:12-13) And if Israel does this, Joel tells us: “Then the Lord will be zealous for His land and will have pity on His people.” (Joel 2:18, 27)

The Prime Minister’s speech to Congress was excellent in many ways. He rightly described the “epic battle” underway in the epicenter. He described a great shaking going on in the Middle East. He rightly warned that Iran and her nuclear program is the greatest threat, that Hamas is the new al Qaeda, and that in all of the Arab world, only Israeli Arabs have true safety, security, and fully protected human and civil rights. I’ve included some important excerpts from the speech below. However, it should be noted that Netanyahu never cited the Bible, never called on the name of the Lord, and never called the Jewish people to trust fully and completely in the God of Israel, but rather promised to divide the land of Israel as a concession to the Palestinians, even while promising never to divide Jerusalem. These were mistakes. He wasn’t the first Israeli Prime Minister to make them. But he is making them nonetheless. He was right to thank the U.S. for all our help and support of Israel over the years, and he was right to seek continued help and support from the American people and government. But neither he nor Israel should become dependent upon American help because the Bible tells us it won’t be there for long.

The Bible is clear: only the Lord will save Israel. It is time for Israelis to consider this very carefully. For time is short. “The Day of the Lord is coming; surely it is near.” (Joel 2:1)

Excerpts of PM’s speech to Congress:

  • “An epic battle is now unfolding in the Middle East, between tyranny and freedom. A great convulsion is shaking the earth from the Khyber Pass to the Straits of Gibraltar. The tremors have shattered states and toppled governments. And we can all see that the ground is still shifting….”
  • “These extraordinary scenes in Tunis and Cairo, evoke those of Berlin and Prague in 1989. Yet as we share their hopes, but we also must also remember that those hopes could be snuffed out as they were in Tehran in 1979. You remember what happened then. The brief democratic spring in Iran was cut short by a ferocious and unforgiving tyranny. This same tyranny smothered Lebanon’s democratic Cedar Revolution, and inflicted on that long-suffering country, the medieval rule of Hezbollah. So today, the Middle East stands at a fateful crossroads…”
  • “Courageous Arab protesters, are now struggling to secure these very same rights for their peoples, for their societies. We’re proud that over one million Arab citizens of Israel have been enjoying these rights for decades. Of the 300 million Arabs in the Middle East and North Africa, only Israel’s Arab citizens enjoy real democratic rights. I want you to stop for a second and think about that. Of those 300 million Arabs, less than one-half of one-percent are truly free, and they’re all citizens of Israel! This startling fact reveals a basic truth: Israel is not what is wrong about the Middle East. Israel is what is right about the Middle East….”
  • “When I last stood here, I spoke of the dire consequences of Iran developing nuclear weapons. Now time is running out, and the hinge of history may soon turn. For the greatest danger facing humanity could soon be upon us: A militant Islamic regime armed with nuclear weapons. Militant Islam threatens the world. It threatens Islam. I have no doubt that it will ultimately be defeated. It will eventually succumb to the forces of freedom and progress. But like other fanaticisms that were doomed to fail, militant Islam could exact a horrific price from all of us before its inevitable demise. A nuclear-armed Iran would ignite a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. It would give terrorists a nuclear umbrella. It would make the nightmare of nuclear terrorism a clear and present danger throughout the world. I want you to understand what this means. They could put the bomb anywhere. They could put it on a missile. It could be on a container ship in a port, or in a suitcase on a subway….”
  • “Now the threat to my country cannot be overstated. Those who dismiss it are sticking their heads in the sand. Less than seven decades after six million Jews were murdered, Iran’s leaders deny the Holocaust of the Jewish people, while calling for the annihilation of the Jewish state….”
  • “The Ayatollah regime briefly suspended its nuclear program only once, in 2003, when it feared the possibility of military action. That same year, Muammar Qadaffi gave up his nuclear weapons program, and for the same reason. The more Iran believes that all options are on the table, the less the chance of confrontation. This is why I ask you to continue to send an unequivocal message: That America will never permit Iran to develop nuclear weapons. As for Israel, if history has taught the Jewish people anything, it is that we must take calls for our destruction seriously. We are a nation that rose from the ashes of the Holocaust. When we say never again, we mean never again. Israel always reserves the right to defend itself….”
  • “Two years ago, I publicly committed to a solution of two states for two peoples: A Palestinian state alongside the Jewish state. I am willing to make painful compromises to achieve this historic peace. As the leader of Israel, it is my responsibility to lead my people to peace. This is not easy for me. I recognize that in a genuine peace, we will be required to give up parts of the Jewish homeland. In Judea and Samaria, the Jewish people are not foreign occupiers. We are not the British in India. We are not the Belgians in the Congo. This is the land of our forefathers, the Land of Israel, to which Abraham brought the idea of one God, where David set out to confront Goliath, and where Isaiah saw a vision of eternal peace. No distortion of history can deny the four thousand year old bond, between the Jewish people and the Jewish land….”
  • “So now here is the question. You have to ask it. If the benefits of peace with the Palestinians are so clear, why has peace eluded us?   Because all six Israeli Prime Ministers since the signing of Oslo accords agreed to establish a Palestinian state. Myself included. So why has peace not been achieved?  Because so far, the Palestinians have been unwilling to accept a Palestinian state, if it meant accepting a Jewish state alongside it. You see, our conflict has never been about the establishment of a Palestinian state. It has always been about the existence of the Jewish state. This is what this conflict is about. In 1947, the United Nations voted to partition the land into a Jewish state and an Arab state. The Jews said yes. The Palestinians said no. In recent years, the Palestinians twice refused generous offers by Israeli Prime Ministers, to establish a Palestinian state on virtually all the territory won by Israel in the Six Day War. They were simply unwilling to end the conflict. And I regret to say this: They continue to educate their children to hate. They continue to name public squares after terrorists. And worst of all, they continue to perpetuate the fantasy that Israel will one day be flooded by the descendants of Palestinian refugees….”
  • “My friends, this must come to an end. President Abbas must do what I have done. I stood before my people, and I told you it wasn’t easy for me, and I said: ‘I will accept a Palestinian state.’ It is time for President Abbas to stand before his people and say: ‘I will accept a Jewish state.’….”
  • “As for Jerusalem, only a democratic Israel has protected freedom of worship for all faiths in the city. Jerusalem must never again be divided. Jerusalem must remain the united capital of Israel. I know that this is a difficult issue for Palestinians. But I believe with creativity and goodwill a solution can be found….”
  • “Hamas is not a partner for peace. Hamas remains committed to Israel’s destruction and to terrorism. They have a charter. That charter not only calls for the obliteration of Israel, but says ‘kill the Jews wherever you find them’. Hamas’ leader condemned the killing of Osama bin Laden and praised him as a holy warrior. Now again I want to make this clear. Israel is prepared to sit down today and negotiate peace with the Palestinian Authority. I believe we can fashion a brilliant future of peace for our children. But Israel will not negotiate with a Palestinian government backed by the Palestinian version of Al Qaeda. So I say to President Abbas: Tear up your pact with Hamas! Sit down and negotiate! Make peace with the Jewish state! And if you do, I promise you this. Israel will not be the last country to welcome a Palestinian state as a new member of the United Nations. It will be the first to do so….”

HEADLINES TO TRACK:

WARNING TO THE NATIONS: DON’T DIVIDE THE LAND OF ISRAEL — Epicenter Conference messages now available on-line

In Uncategorized on May 19, 2011 at 3:26 am

UPDATE: The President made an enormous mistake this week in calling for the Land of Israel to be divided and Jerusalem to be divided along pre-1967 borders. This is in direct defiance of the Bible. It won’t work, and it will bring judgment to the U.S., according to Joel chapter 3. Please pray that the President changes his heart and changes course very soon.

(Jerusalem, Israel) — Three major themes emerged from the messsages delivered at the 2011 Epicenter Conference:

  1. “The Day of the Lord is coming; surely it is near” — “Blow a trumpet in Zion, and sound and alarm on My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the Day of the Lord is coming; surely it is near.” (Joel 2:1) As we studied the biblical Book of Joel from the Old Testament verse by verse, chapter by chapter, each of the keynote speakers noted that “the Day of the Lord” is a the major theme. The Hebrew Prophet Joel mentions the phrase five times and explains some of the details of the coming series of divine judgments that are coming and the gravity of the apocalpytic future that is rushing towards us. In my introduction to and overview of the Book of Joel (which is the first 15 minutes of the the on-line video on Joel chapter 1 with Anne Graham Lotz), I noted that the biblical phrase of the “last days” refers to the signs and wonders and events that lead up to throughou the Rapture and the seven-year Tribulation, also known frpm the Prophet Jeremiah as the “time Jacob’s distress.” The biblical term “Day of the Lord” refers to the culmination of the “last days.” It is a time of judgment for those who reject the Lord and refuse to follow Him, and also the time of the actual, physical, literal return of Jesus Christ to the Earth when He will win the Battle of Armageddon, win the Battle of Jerusalem, His feet will touch down on the Mount of Olives (splitting the mountain in two), and Jesus will set up His literal 1,000 reign over all the Earth from the throne of David in Jerusalem during the Millennial Kingdom.
  2. “Return to Me,” says the Lord — “‘Yet even now,’ declares the Lord, ‘return to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, weeping and mourning; and rend your heart and not your garments.’ Now return to the Lord your God for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness and relenting of evil.” (Joel 2:12-13) Given that the Day of the Lord is coming soon, the Lord says through the Prophet Joel to anyone who will listen to repent and implore God for mercy and forgiveness of their sins before the judgments begin and the Lord comes back. Each of the conference speakers discuss the urgency of turning our hearts away from sin and back to the Lord and several spoke about the process of repentence in very personal terms.
  3. Do not divide the Land of Israel — In my message about the final chapter of the Book of Joel, I explained the warning to the nations that the Lord gives. I focused in particular on Joel 3:2 (which is 4:2 in the Hebrew Bible) in which the Lord says, “I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat. Then I will enter into judgment with them there on behalf of My people and My inheritance, Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations; and they have divided up My land.” The Bible is very clear: the Lord is going to judge all the nations for dividing up the Land of Israel. Let the United Nations and the United States and the European Union and the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government itself be warned. What appears like wisdom to the world — carving up the State of Israel like a Thanksgiving turkey — is direct disobediance to the Word of God and will trigger the most severe divine judgment. This is a hard truth for many to hear and to hold, particularly for Palestinian Arabs and others in the epicenter. But we do Israel’s Arab friends and enemies no favors by denying, obfuscating or trying to explain away the clear teaching of the Lord found in the Scriptures. We must teach the truth. We must do so gently and lovingly, but we must also be clear and firm.

On this last point, we had a special guest on Day 2 of the Epicenter Conference. I interviewed Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon and we discussed the Iran threat, the latest violence in the region by Palestinian Arabs, and the future of the peace process. During our conversation, I drew his attention to these Scriptures and urged him not to divide the Land, and to share these verses with the Prime Minister and the Cabinet.

That’s a very brief summary of the first day of The Joshua Fund’s conference. I’ll share more details in the days ahead. In the meantime, I hope you’ll take the time to begin watching the messages on-line at www.epicenterconference.com.

HAMAS LEADER CALLS FOR PRAYER FOR AN END TO ISRAEL: Day 2 of Epicenter Conf begins

In Uncategorized on May 16, 2011 at 5:35 am

(Jerusalem, Israel) — “Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh spoke to Muslim worshipers on Sunday morning, telling them to pray for an end to Israel,” reports the Jerusalem Post. “‘Palestinians mark the Nakba with great hope of bringing to an end the Zionist project in Palestine,’ Haniyeh told 10,000 people at Gaza City’s al-Omari mosque, AP reported. ‘To achieve our goals in the liberation of our occupied land, we should have one leadership,’ he reportedly said, praising the recent unity accord between Hamas and Fatah. Haniyeh added that Hamas would not recognize Israel.”

In that context, the Day 2 of the 2011 Epicenter Conference has just begun with the blowing of the shofar and Jewish and Arab believers leading the conference participants in worship to our Lord Jesus. In a moment, I will lead the conference in prayer for the Lord to protect Israel and bring great blessings to the people of this precious Land. Then we’ll begin a discussion on “Assessing the Threat of Radical Islam in the Epicenter.”

Please watch the messages at www.epicenterconference.com.

VIOLENCE ERUPTS IN THE EPICENTER AS RADICAL ARABS MARK “AL-NAKBA” DAY: Day 1 of Epicenter Conference begins

In Uncategorized on May 15, 2011 at 8:07 pm

(Jerusalem, Israel) — As The Joshua Fund held the first of two days of our 2011 Epicenter Conference teaching through the Book of Joel and how to live in light of the fact that “the Day of the Lord is coming,” violence erupted in and around Israel. The reason: Radical Arabs were marking “Al-Nakba” day, or “the catastrophe”, as they see it, of Israel’s prophetic rebirth in May 1948. Just before lunch time I got a report that an Arab Israeli had just driven a truck into a crowd of Jewish Israelis in Tel Aviv, killing one man and wounding 17 others. My colleagues and I immediately prayed for God’s mercy on all those involved and for healing for the injured and for the Israeli security forces to be able to effectively defend the country’s borders and streets. As the day progressed, we learned from a Reuters reports that “violence erupted on Israel’s borders with Syria, Lebanon and Gaza on Sunday, leaving at least eight dead and dozens wounded.” Thousands of Radical Muslims tried to penetrate Israel’s borders, but eventually were repulsed by IDF forces. Please keep praying for peace, and for the Lord’s grace and favor on the conference as we try to put current events in the context of the Bible.

>> To watch videos on-line from the 2011 Epicenter Conference, please click here

HEADLINES TO TRACK:

2011 EPICENTER CONFERENCE BEGINS IN JERUSALEM

In Uncategorized on May 15, 2011 at 3:59 am

(Jerusalem, Israel) — It’s 6:44am here in the capital of the Jewish State. The 2011 Epicenter Conference is set to begin in less than two hours, and I couldn’t be more excited about what the Lord is about to do. The Lord has a message burning on His heart. The Day of the Lord is coming; surely it is near. He wants Israel to be ready. He wants the Church to be ready. Through the Holy Scriptures, He is calling to all who will listen to get their hearts ready to meet the Lord face to face. Are you ready?

The messages from the Epicenter Conference won’t be webcast live. But they will be posted at www.epicenterconference.com within hours of their delivery, and I hope you will take time to watch them one by one. Please also consider downloading the “Epicenter Conference App” for your iPad, iPhone or Android and watch the messages that way.

Please be praying particularly for the peace of Jerusalem today. Israeli security forces are preparing for large demonstrations and possibly riots throughout the country, on the bordes, and in Jerusalem since Palestinian Arabs are calling for a “Third Intifada” or “uprising” against the State of Israel. Security is tight here as a 17 year old Palestinian boy died yesterday after participating in a violent demonstration. It’s not yet clear who fired the bullet that killed him. Police are investigating. Lord, please be gracious and let there be no violence on either side. Please comfort the family and friends of this boy. Please heal the four policemen that were also wounded yesterday. Please bring peace to this city, this country and this region. Only You can.

My wife, Lynn, and nearly 300 Joshua Fund “prayer & vision tour” participants arrived last night safe and sound. We had a wonderful welcome dinner for the group, most of whom have never been to Israel before. It’s going to be quite an adventure, and I’ll do my best to report updates as I can. God bless you!

WHAT IS THE WAR OF GOG AND MAGOG? Part Three — the good news

In Uncategorized on May 12, 2011 at 7:11 am

(Jerusalem, Israel) — Here is “Part Three” of my notes from an address I gave on Friday, May 6th to a conference of some 300 Israelis and Palestinians on ”Current Events In Light of Bible Prophecy.” My focus was Ezekiel 38-39, the prophecies that Bible scholars describe as the “War of Gog & Magog.”

  1. As the forces of the Russian dictator (Gog) and his military coalition — including Iran, Libya, Algeria, Sudan, Turkey and other key Islamic nations — converges against the State of Israel in the last days, the Hebrew Prophet Ezekiel tells us that at the last moment when there seems to be know hope for Israeli Jews the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is going to supernaturally intervene.
  2. Ezekiel 38:18-19 — “‘It will come about on that day, when Gog comes against the land of Israel,” declares the Lord God, ‘that My fury will mounty up in My anger. In My zeal and in My blazing wrath I declare that on that day there will surely be a great earthquake in the land of Israel.”
  3. Ezekiel tells us that this earthquake will shake the entire globe and “all the men who are on the face of the earth will shake at My presence” (38:20).
  4. The enemy forces will become so frightened and disoriented that they will turn and starting fighting each other (38:21).
  5. Terrible diseases (pestilence) will start to spread through the enemy forces (38:21).
  6. As God judges these enemies of Israel, the text says He “will rain on him [Gog] and on his troops, and on the many peoples who are with him, a torrential rain, with hailstones, fire, and brimstone.” (38:22)
  7. The Lord also says “I will send fire upon Magog and those who inhabit the coast lands in safety.” (39:6) In other words, parts of Russia and other enemy countries will be devastated by fire from heaven.
  8. The Bible does not tell us exactly how this will happen, but it clearly describes a supernatural judgment. This is not a war started by the Israeli Defense Forces. These are not missiles from the Israeli Air Force. There no evidence in the text of Israelis defending themselves. Perhaps they are engaging in diplomacy. Perhaps they are hoping for the U.S. or the U.N. other nations to intervene. Whatever the case, the God of Israel steps in and defends Israel Himself, raining fire and brimstone down on the enemy forces and utterly destroying them.
  9. Why does the Lord act? The Lord tells us directly in 38:23, “I will magnify Myself, sanctify Myself, and make Myself known in the sight of many nations; and they will know that I am the Lord.” The nations have forgotten that God does love the Jewish people. He does love the nation of Israel. They are not perfect, but He loves them and has made promises to them and He intends to keep those promises. And He wants the rest of the world to know there is a God in Israel.
  10. The devasation is so horrific that chapter 39 tells us it takes the Israelis seven months to bury all the bodies of the enemy forces (39:12-16).
  11. Ezekiel tells us it would probably take longer than seven months but the birds of the air and the beasts of the field eat many of the bodies (39:17-20)
  12. Sin has consequences. God said in Genesis 12:1-3 that those who bless the children of Abraham will be blessed, but those who curse them will be cursed. God is patient. He is slow to anger. But when pushed to far, He will act against those who hate the Jewish people and seek to rob, kill and destroy them. Let the nations be warned.
  13. There is more to the story, however. Not only will the “War of Gog and Magog” be a day of great judgment; it will also be a day of great mercy. The Bible says that the militaries of these enemies will be destroyed. There are hints here and in other texts (Jeremiah 49, for example) that the governments of these countries will be judged, as well. But God is not going to wipe out all the people of these enemy countries. To the contrary, He wants them to see His glory and His mercy.
  14. Ezekiel 39:21 — “I will set My glory among the nations; and all the nations will see My judgment which I have executed and My hand which I have laid on them.”
  15. Did you catch that? “All” the nations will “see” God’s glory and judgment. Today, we are living in the first generation in human history where because of the miracle of global satellite television technology people in every country on the planet will be able to watch the prophecies of the Bible come true before their very eyes.
  16. As a result, I believe Ezekiel 38-39 describes the end of Radical Islam — and effectively the end of all of Islam — as we have known it. When the God of Israel destroys the forces of Radical Islam supernaturally while Muslims watch on Al Jazeera, how will they wake up the day after and believe that the Qur’an is true and that Muhammad is a true prophet? The vast majority of Muslims will abandon Islam. Many will turn to faith in Jesus Christ. Not all, of course, but many will because they will have seen the Word of God come true right in front of them and the Word was God and the Word is God and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us and His name is Jesus the Messiah. (John chapter 1)
  17. Israelis will feel very afraid and very much alone right up until the Lord shows His mighty hand. But then even those who are secular will know their is a God in heaven.
  18. Ezekiel 39:22 — “And the house of Israel will know that I am the Lord their God from that day onward.”
  19. Ezekiel 39:25-26,28 — “Therefore, thus says the Lord God, ‘Now I will restore the fortunes of Jacob and have mercy on the whole house of Israel; and I will be jealous for My holy name. They will forget their treachery which they perpetrated against Me, when they live securely on their own land with no one to make them afraid….Then they will know that I am the Lord their God because I made them go into exile among the nations, and then gathered them again to their own land and I will leave none of them there any longer.'”
  20. On top of all this, the Lord says He will no longer hide His face from the Jewish people and, in fact, will pour out His Holy Spirit upon them. “I will not hide My face from them any longer, for I will have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel, declares the Lord.” (39:29)
  21. As a result, many Jews will come to faith in Jesus as Messiah, for that is the role of the Holy Spirit is to reveal the true identity of Jesus to people. Jesus said in John 14:26, “The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” Not all Jews will come to faith in Jesus at that time, but many will because the Father will pour out His Holy Spirit on the house of Israel.
  22. While we know these events will all happen in the “last days” (38:16), we cannot determine whether the “War of Gog and Magog” will happen before the Rapture (when the Lord suddenly snatches born again believers in Jesus off of the earth, prior to the Tribulation) or not, because the text does not tell us one way or the other.
  23. That said, I believe it is very possible — not certain, but very possible — that these events will unfold within this generation, and possibly quite soon. We are certainly seeing geopolitical events unfolding in a way consistent with Ezekiel 38-39.
  24. Therefore, the most important question we must ask is this: Since the Lord in Ezekiel 38:7 told Gog, the enemy of Israel, to “get ready, be prepared,” then what should Israelis themselves and friends of Israel be doing?
  25. Shouldn’t we, too, get ready and be prepared — spiritually, emotionally, physically, financially, and in every other possible way?
  26. These prophecies are some of the most interesting and important descriptions of End Times events in all of the Bible. Unfortunately, too few people in the world are aware of them, or have read them, much less studied them carefully.
  27. May the Lord bless you and reveal Himself and His heart to you as you get yourself ready for the prophecies coming our way.

WHAT IS THE WAR OF GOG AND MAGOG? Part Two. As we honor Israel’s 63rd modern Day of Independence, are there signs this prophetic war is close at hand?

In Uncategorized on May 11, 2011 at 8:06 am

(Jerusalem, Israel) — It was an honor to be here Tuesday as Israelis celebrated the 63rd birthday of their prophetically reborn state. A colleague and I spent a wonderful afternoon celebrating at a backyard barbeque at the home of Danny and Anne Ayalon and their family and a few friends. Danny is Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister and the former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S., which is where I first met him. His wife, Anne, is working with Orthodox Jews and evangelical Christians to purchase land along the shores of the Sea of Galilee and develop a conference center and resort that will allow Christians to have more and bigger events in the area where Jesus spent most of His time and did most of His ministry. It’s a great project and I’m hopeful they can find Christian and Jewish investors to get it up and running in the next few years.

Please keep praying for our Joshua Fund team and Israeli allies as we finalize details for the 2011 Epicenter Conference. It’s just five days away now and we’re excited about how the Lord is going to use the event to educate and mobilize Christians around the world to love and bless Israelis and Palestinians and all those in this region in the name of Jesus. Please pray for the speakers as we finalize our messages, and please pray for the Lord to prepare the hearts of all who are coming and all those who will be watching by webcast or listening by radio. Thanks so much. 

As promised, then, here is “Part Two” of my notes from an address I gave on Friday, May 6th to a conference of some 300 Israelis and Palestinians on “Current Events In Light of Bible Prophecy.”

My focus was Ezekiel 38-39, the prophecies that Bible scholars describe as the “War of Gog & Magog.”

The subject is timely. As nearly eight million Israelis are celebrating this week the 63rd birthday of the modern State of Israel, there are real questions in the region about how much longer the Jewish State can and will survive. A growing number of Radical Islamic leaders are declaring that Israel will soon be “wiped off the map,” and are vowing to assist in that effort. Iran is feverishly trying to build nuclear weapons and the ballistic missiles to deliver them. Hezbollah in Lebanon has built up a force of more than 40,000 rockets aimed at Israel. The bloodthirsty regime in Syria is slaughtering opponents of the regime while buying weapons systems aimed at Israel. Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood is rapidly rising in power and the current presidential candidate front-runners in Egypt are speaking with growing hostility towards the Jewish State. Fatah has chosen to make peace with the Hamas terrorist organization rather than with Israel. Meanwhile, a growing number of Orthodox rabbis in Israel believe recent events are indicators that the “War of Gog and Magog” is coming soon. A growing number of Christians around the world think the “War of Gog and Magog” is coming soon, as well. Are they right?

Let’s look at what the Bible teaches.

  1. The Hebrew Prophet Ezekiel describes a Russian dictator (Gog) who will form a military coalition with Iran, Sudan, Libya, Algeria, Turkey and a group of other North African, Middle Eastern and Central Asian countries in “the last days” (Ezekiel 38:16). In the days of Ezekiel, of course, there was no Islam. Today we know that most of the nations Ezekiel mentions are majority Muslim countries, and Russia is about 20% Muslim and increasingly allied with Radicalized Islamic countries.
  2. The Bible explains very clearly that the target of this military coalition in the End Times will be Israel.
  3. Ezekiel 38:8 says “in the latter years, you [Gog and his coalition] will come into the land that is restored from the sword, whose inhabitants have been gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel which had been a continual waste; but its people were brought out from the nations and they are living securely, all of them.”
  4. Ezekiel 38:16 says that the coalition “will come up against My people Israel” and that “it shall come about in the last days that I will bring you [Gog] against My land.”
  5. Ezekiel 39:2 says that Gog will come “from the remotest parts of the north…against the mountains of Israel.”
  6. Clearly, then, the main pre-requisite for this prophecy regarding the “War of Gog and Magog” to come true is that the State of Israel has to be prophetically reborn in the last days. Indeed, this is what the prophecies of Ezekiel chapters 36 and 37 describe in detail.
  7. The Lord showed Ezekiel that Jews would living in exile,  scattered throughout the world because of sin and disobedience to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Ezekiel 36:16-21).
  8. But solely because of His grace and mercy, the Lord promised to regather the Jewish people to the land of Israel.
  9. The Lord promised that “I will cause men — My people Israel — to walk on you and possess you” (Ezekiel 36:12). 
  10. The Lord said that the Jewish people would rebuild the ancient ruins and the “waste places” (Ezekiel 36:10).
  11. The Lord said that the land and “mountains of Israel” at that time would “put forth [their] branches” and bear fruit for “My people Israel.” (Ezekiel 36:8)
  12. The Lord said that first the physical restoration of Israel and the Jewish return to the Land would be set into motion (Ezekiel 37:4-8)
  13. After the physical restoration of the State of Israel began, then the spiritual restoration of the Jewish people would be set into motion (Ezekiel 37:9-14).
  14. Then, once Israel was reestablished as a State, and the Jewish people were being regathered to the Land, and the Lord was drawing the Jewish people back into a relationship with Him, and Israel was living securely in the Land (Ezekiel 38:8) with a degree of prosperity even (Ezekiel 38:12), then — and only then — would the Russian-Iranian coalition be set into motion to rob, kill and destroy Israel and the Jewish people.
  15. It should be noted that Ezekiel does not describe Israel having “peace.” Rather, twice Israel is described as “living securely” (Ezekiel 38:8 and 38:11).
  16. I recognize that these verses can be difficult for some Palestinian Arabs and some Israeli Arabs to read, whether they are born again Christians or nominal Christians (raised in churches but without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ), and especially if they are Muslims. The Bible indicates that Jews will be a sinful people when they are brought back into the Land. Only after they return, the Bible teaches, will the Holy Spirit be poured out upon the Jewish people in an increasingly significant way (Ezekiel 39:29 and Joel 2:28-32 — or Joel chapter 3 in Hebrew Bibles). Then, a growing number of Jewish people will repent and return to a personal relationship with the Lord. Meanwhile, Jesus said in Matthew 24 and Luke 21 that there would be “wars and rumors of wars” and “revolutions” and “lawlessness” in the last days. Certainly, the rebirth of Israel — while prophetic and God-ordained — has come with wars, rumors of war, revolutions, sins, and even crimes committed by some Arabs as well as some Jews. The Bible doesn’t teach this period of the last days will be easy, and the Bible is right.
  17. That said, we would be not be honest to the Word of God if we were to ignore, deny or try to explain away the plain meaning of these verses. The Bible told us well in advance that Israel would be reborn and the Jews would come back to the Land, and this has come to pass. Genesis 12:1-3 tells us that the Lord will bless those who bless the children of Abraham, and He will curse those who curse the children of Abraham. Those who have cursed Israel have, sadly, found themselves facing great pain and suffering. Sometimes Bible truths are difficult to accept, but they are true nonetheless and we must accept them by faith.
  18. But while the Bible clearly explains that the Lord will bring the Jewish people back to the Land of Israel and allow them to reclaim their God-given ownership of the Land, nowhere in the Bible are Jews (or any group of people) given a license to commit injustice. To the contrary, the Bible teaches Israel to love her neighbors (Leviticus 19:18 and Matthew 19:19). The Bible also teaches Israel to love her neighbors and pray for those who persecute them (Matthew 5:44). The Jews do have rights to the ownership of the Land, but they also have responsibilities to govern justly and compassionately, in accordance with the Scriptures. In Leviticus 19:33-34, for example, the Lord says: “When a stranger [non-Jew] resides with you in your land,  you shall not do him wrong. The stranger who resides with you shall be to  you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the Lord your God.”
  19. Those of us who are followers of Jesus Christ need to teach sound Bible doctrine regarding Israel and the Palestinians. We need to love both, bless both, pray for both. Moreover, we need to stand with and encourage our brothers and sisters in the Messiah whether they are Jewish or Arab. The Bible gives us no freedom to ignore, deny, or oppose our brothers and sisters on either side. Rather, Jesus said “blessed are the peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9). We need to be pro-actively building relationships with Israelis and Palestinians and being ambassadors of Christ and agents of reconciliation whenever and wherever possible.
  20. We do not have to agree with everything that our brothers and sisters believe — especially if those beliefs are unscriptural — but we are commanded to love them unconditionally and sacrificially. After all, Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)
  21. Now, back to the prophecy and its analysis: It could be reasonably argued that Israel is living more securely today than at any other time in its 63 years. The Israeli Defense Forces are widely considered the strongest and most effective ground fighting force in the Middle East. The Israeli Air Force is widely considered dominant in the skies. Israel has peace treaties with two major neighbors, Egypt and Jordan (though the future of the treaty with Egypt is increasingly in question). Yasser Arafat is gone. Saddam Hussein is gone. Osama bin Laden is gone. Palestinian suicide bombings are not a daily part of Israeli life since 2004. Rockets are occassionally fired from Gaza at Israeli civilians living in the south, but this is not nearly as bad as it was prior to Operation Cast Lead in January 2009. Moreover, Israel has just deployed a short-range rocket defense system called “Iron Dome” that is very effective. Meanwhile, Israel has submarines, ballistic missiles, and first rate intelligence services in her defense. Israel has also enjoyed decades of a close strategic partnership with the United States, has a strong and vibrant economy, and is widely believed to have defensive nuclear weapons, though the government maintains a policy of “strategic ambiguity” on the subject, neither confirming nor denying the existence of those weapons.
  22. Could Israel currently be secure enough to fulfill this prophetic prerequisite? Honestly, I am not sure. Perhaps events soon will lead Israelis to being and feeling even more secure. But there is no question that even with emerging new threats on the horizon, Israelis feel more secure today than ever before its their modern State’s existence.
  23. Given the fact that the major End Times prophecies of Ezekiel 36 and 37 have essentially come true in our lifetime, does this mean that we will see Ezekiel 38 and 39 come true in our lifetime as well? To me, it is too soon to say so definitively. Certainly we are seeing geopolitical events unfold in recent decades and in recent years that are strikingly consistent with what the Bible describes as preparations essential for the “War of Gog and Magog.” So we should be ready. We should be prepared — not caught off guard — if events accelerate in the near future. But we must also remember that the Lord in His sovereignty could also decide to delay events for quite some time for His own purposes.
  24. That said, it should be noted that when the Russian dictator finishes building his military coalition in Israel and begins to move his forces to surround Israel in the “last days,” Ezekiel gives us no indication that any country will come to Israel’s defense. There are not indications that the United Nations, or the European Union, or NATO will defend Israel. Nor is there any indication that the United States will defend Israel. Rather, Israel will be — and will feel — all alone in the world.

Next, I will describe what the Bible tells us will happen to the forces of Gog and Magog.

WHAT IS THE “WAR OF GOG AND MAGOG”? Part One. Also: This blog launches in Hebrew

In Uncategorized on May 9, 2011 at 4:32 am

[Tuesday, May 10 update: Today Israel celebrates her 63rd Independence Day. May the Lord bless and protect all Israelis and draw them close to His heart. May the Lord also bless and protect the Palestinian people and give His mercy and grace to both sides of this painful conflict. Jesus said, "Love your neighbor" and "Love your enemy." Not easy, but the only way forward.]

(Jerusalem, Israel) — First, I want to welcome those of you who are now reading my blog in Hebrew at www.joelrosenberg.co.il. We have just launched this Hebrew edition and from this point forward it will include all the articles about geopolitics and Bible prophecy that I write in English. It also includes key columns I have posted over the past six months and link to send me your questions. Please let your friends who read Hebrew know about the blog. I hope you and they find it informative and encouraging.

Second, I wanted to fill you in on an interesting opportunity I had on Friday, May 6th to address a conference of some 300 Israeli Jews and Arabs and was asked to speak on “Current Events In Light of Bible Prophecy.” It was the first event of its kind to which I have been invited in Israel and it was a fascinating experience. My focus was the prophecies found in Ezekiel chapters 38 & 39, what Bible scholars describe as the coming “War of Gog & Magog.”

Here are Part One of my notes.

Today, let’s start by defining who “Gog” and “Magog” are, when this prophecy will take place, and what countries will be participating in the coalition against Israel:

  1. The Hebrew Prophet Ezekiel lived in Babylon (Iraq) more than 2,500 years ago and the Lord gave him a vision of events that would take place in the future.
  2. Ezekiel 38:16 specifically tells us these events will take place in the “last days” — that is in the End Times before the Messiah comes to set up His kingdom on earth.
  3. Ezekiel chapters 36 and 37 set the stage for the “War of Gog and Magog” by describing that Israel will be reborn as a country in the last days, the Jewish people will come back to the Holy Land from exile all over the world, the Jewish people will rebuild the ancient ruins and make the deserts bloom again. These things have all happened, and this suggests we are getting closer to the fulfillment of the next set of prophecies.
  4. Ezekiel 38:2 tells us that the war will be led be someone known as “Gog.” This is not a personal name. We’re not looking for someone named David Gog. Or Ahmed Gog. Or Dmitri Gog. Rather, “Gog” is a title, like a “Pharoah” or a “Czar.” Through the prophecy, this Gog is described as a military leader, a political leader, and a coalition builder. In Ezekiel 38:10 he is described as developing an “evil plan,” we know this is an evil man, a tyrant.
  5. The Hebrew prophet gives us more clues. This “Gog” is going to be from the “land of Magog.” One has to do some historical detective work to determine what Magog is, but it is possible. Flavius Josephus, the first century Roman historian, wrote in his famous book, The Antiquities of the Jews, that the people of Magog are the people whom the Greeks called “Scythians.” This is a critical clue because we know from history that the Scythians were a people group that migrated from the Middle East northward and settled north of the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea in the region we know today as Russia and the former Soviet Republics.
  6. There are other interesting clues, as well. Ezekiel 38:15 says that Gog “will come from your place out of the remote parts of the north.” Ezekiel 39:2 says Gog will come “from the remotest parts of the north” and come “against the mountains of Israel.” The country that is farthest to the north in relation to Israel is Russia.
  7. Thus, we can determine that a Russian dictator will build a diplomatic and military coalition to surround and attack the State of Israel in the End Times.
  8. The question then is what other countries will be part of the coalition?
  9. In Ezekiel 38:5, we learn that the first ally Russia will have is “Persia.” Until 1935, of course, Persia was the legal name of the country we know today as Iran. So we know that Russia and Iran will build an alliance in the last days to attack Israel.
  10. Ezekiel tells us that another country in the alliance will be what many English Bible translate as “Ethiopia.” The Hebrew word, however, is “Cush” and Cush is the upper Nile region that we now know as Sudan. While the current state of Ethiopia may also be involved in the war, the focus is really Sudan, which today, of course, is a radical Islamic Sunni state closely allied with Iran and Russia and deeply anti-Semitic and anti-Israel.
  11. Next, Ezekiel says a nation called “Put” will be part of the alliance. Josephus identifies “Put” as “ancient Lybios” — the territory that today we call Libya and Algeria. Interestingly, both countries today are deeply hostile to Israel and closely allied with Russia.
  12. The next country mentioned is “Gomer.” When one does the historical detective work, one learns that Gomer is what we now call Turkey. For much of the past 80 years, it didn’t make sense that Turkey would turn against Israel. Why? Because Turkey was a NATO ally, and a friend of Israel, the U.S. and the European Union. But in the last few years, the Turkish government has swung dramatically away from the West, towards Russia and Iran, and become deeply hostile towards the State of Israel.
  13. The next country Ezekiel mentions is “Beth Togarmah.” This is the Turkic-speaking peoples that spread out from Turkey across the Causasus, and across Central Asia. We can’t be certain precisely which modern nation states from this area will join the anti-Israel alliance, because these are almost all Muslim countries with close links to Russia and Iran.
  14. Interestingly, Egypt is not mentioned by Ezekiel as part of the Russian-Iranian alliance against Israel. This is interesting because Egypt has been such an historic enemy of Israel and the Jewish people. That said, perhaps Egypt’s non-involvement in the War of Gog and Magog could be explained by the peace treaty Egypt signed with Israel in 1979. This treaty is now in danger of unraveling, but at least for the near term Egypt is still unlikely to be in a position to strategically threaten Israel.
  15. Iraq — whether under its biblical names of Babel, Babylon, Babylonia, Shinar, or Mesopotamia — isn’t mentioned in the prophecy either, yet it, too, is an historic enemy of Israel. Still, given the liberation of Iraq in 2003, the subsequent violence, and the rebuilding now going on, Iraq is not likely to be a threat to Israel in the near term.
  16. Syria and Lebanon are not mentioned by named in the prophecy either. However, Ezekiel tells us repeatedly that the main military force that will be coming against Israel will be coming from the north, which means they will be coming through Lebanon and Syria.

That’s enough for today. In my next posting, I’ll explain what this coalition does and how the “War of Gog and Magog” will unfold. 

HEADLINES WORTH TRACKING TODAY:

RADIO INTERVIEW ON THE EPICENTER CONFERENCE, RECENT MIDEAST REVOLUTIONS, AND GOD’S HEART FOR ISRAELIS AND PALESTINIANS

In Uncategorized on May 9, 2011 at 3:18 am

We just posted at www.joshuafund.net an audio podcast of a radio interview I did on the latest developments in Israel and the Middle East. It runs about 50 minutes and you can listen to it by clicking here.

Here are some of the topics I was asked about:

  1. What is the purpose of the 2011 Epicenter Conference that’s coming May 15-16?
  2. Why do  you call Israel and the Middle East the “epicenter”?
  3. What are the goals of The Joshua Fund ministry, and what are some of the projects you’re involved with?
  4. Why should Christians care about the Palestinians and Israel’s neighbors, as well as Israel herself?
  5. What is behind the recent revolutions in the Middle East, and what will happen to Saudi Arabia?
  6. Is Israel more vulnerable now that there so much instability in the Middle East?
  7. What is the latest on the Iranian threat to Israel, and what is the Shia Islamic End Times theology that is driving Iran’s leaders — and what’s the deal with this Iranian documentary film, The Coming Is Upon Us?
  8. Would the Twelfth Imam be the Antichrist?
  9. How is the relationship between the U.S. and Israel changing?
  10. Are the Palestinians about to unilaterally declare a state — and what would that mean to the Arab-Israeli peace process?
  11. How are we supposed to live differently in light of the fact that Jesus Christ is coming back soon?

PRO-ISRAEL EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN PRIME MINISTER WINS BIG RE-ELECTION IN CANADA: Contaminated jet fuel halts flights in Israel

In Uncategorized on May 5, 2011 at 6:22 pm

(Jerusalem, Israel) — First things first: I want to congratulate Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper — an evangelical Christian and a strong friend of Israel — and his conservative party for winning a big election this week. Harper, in my view, is actually the most pro-Israel national leader on the planet. His minority government recently lost a no confidence vote in parliament, but the opposition’s tactics misfired. Harper and his team are back stronger than ever for the next four years, having won an outright majority of seats. Let’s be praying for Harper to continue being a strong and principled voice for the safety and security of the Jewish State and a strong opponent of the mullahs in Iran, while also showing compassion to the Palestinian people.

That said, Israel is suddenly facing a strange new crisis: the country’s jet fuel supply has been found to be contaminated in a way that could lead to jet engines to clog, stall and planes to crash. Once this was discovered on Thursday, all flights in and out of the country were halted as officials scrambled to figure out where the problem was coming from and how to fix it. As the day progressed, airport officials began allowing new flights to arrive, but all inbound planes are now required to land first in Cyprus and top off their tanks with uncontaminated fuel so that they can then depart the country with a full load of passengers and have enough fuel to get to their intended destinations. At the moment, thousands of tourists are stranded at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv awaiting flights that cannot take off because their isn’t enough safe jet fuel.

By God’s grace, a Joshua Fund colleague and I flew into Israel at 9:30 Thursday morning without incident — that is, without landing in Cyprus — but apparently we got in just under the wire before the problem was detected and the new orders were issued. We’re preparing for hundreds of Joshua Fund supporters from all over the world to arrive late next week for the 2011 Epicenter Conference and our subsequent “prayer & vision tour” of the Land. Please pray that the fuel problem would be resolved quickly for their sake and the sake of all Israelis and tourists needing to fly in the coming days and weeks.

“Dozens of flights scheduled to depart from the Ben Gurion Airport on Thursday were halted until further notice due to contamination discovered in airport’s jet fuel supply,” Ynet News reported Thursday. “Airport management has ordered to suspend all aircraft fueling. As a result thousands of passengers are stranded at the airport. Within a short while it was realized that Israel’s minor airports were also affected by the contamination — including the airfields in Eilat and Haifa.”

“An airline official, who asked to remain anonymous, said that ‘The chaos that confronts us now is colossal. All flights landing in Israel will have to stop in Larnaca, so they have fuel to take off later. That means that the entire takeoffs and landings’ schedule has to be altered in Cyprus, as well as Israel. This will disrupt the entire system and create massive delays… If this problem isn’t solved immediately, chaos will rule.'”

In other news:

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