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Archive for April, 2012|Monthly archive page

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ISRAEL: 7 ways to celebrate Israel’s prophetic rebirth.

In Uncategorized on April 26, 2012 at 2:58 pm

What an exciting day! Today, we rejoice over the 64th anniversary of the modern State of Israel on the Hebrew calendar. On the Western calendar, Israel’s Independence Day is remembered on May 14th — so we can keep rejoicing for weeks!

Here are 7 specific ways you can celebrate:

  1. First and foremost, let’s thank the Lord for keeping His promise to the Jewish people and thank Him that His Word is true. After all, the rebirth of the Jewish state is the fulfillment of End Times Bible prophecies. Israel is living proof — solid, irrefutable evidence — that we are living in what the Bible calls the “last days” Some of the most fascinating prophecies concerning Israel’s rebirth or resurrection in the last days can be found in Ezekiel 36 and 37. Let me encourage you take a moment and read through those passages today and reflect on how amazing it is that we have actually seen such events come to pass in our own lifetime.
  2. Second, let’s be sure to pray for the peace of Jerusalem according to Psalm 122:6. Let’s also pray for the Lord’s grace and mercy on the Jewish people, that they would be safe from harm and would turn to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob for strength and for hope.
  3. Third, let’s also pray for Israel’s neighbors. Let’s pray particularly the Palestinian people, that the Lord would be gracious to them and help both sides find a way to live together in peace and security despite their many differences.
  4. Fourth, let’s find ways to show our love and support for Israel in real and practical ways, especially for the poor and the needy amongst the Israelis and the Palestinians, the elderly, widows, orphans and Holocaust survivors. Perhaps you’d like to make a donation today to The Joshua Fund to help us do these very things in the name of Jesus.
  5. Fifth, learn more about the Biblical theology of Israel by coming to the 2012 Epicenter Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico in September. This conference will be different from past conferences. It is designed specifically to help you develop a solid theological understanding of God’s love and plan for Israel and her neighbors; develop an accurate overview of Israel’s past, present and prophetic future, including an up-to-date understanding of the current spiritual climate in the epicenter for Israelis and Palestinians; and develop an effective way of communicating these truths to current and future generations of Christians. (www.epicenterconference.com)
  6. Sixth, make plans to visit Israel — The Joshua Fund will be leading a Prayer & Vision Tour to Israel and holding an Epicenter Conference in Jerusalem in the summer of 2013 — check out details on our website. We would love to have you join us!
  7. Seventh, let’s pray that the Lord would be gracious and strengthen the strategic friendship between the United States and Israel. We as American have been deeply blessed by God because we have blessed Israel according to Genesis 12:1-3, and we don’t want to see that blessing removed. Especially now.

Few Americans really understand how close the U.S. government came to refusing to support the rebirth of Israel in 1948. Few realize that most of President Truman’s advisors were dead set against the Jewish state, and that even many American Jews didn’t support the creation of Israel. But God had His purposes. He had His plan. And He made sure His plan came to pass. Amazingly, the U.S. played an interesting role in those prophetic developments.

The following are excerpts from my forthcoming non-fiction book, Implosion, from a chapter entitled, “The Significance of the Rebirth of Israel.”

Over the past six decades, the United States has been Israel’s best friend and chief ally. That warm and strategic relationship began with President Harry Truman’s official and highly public decision to be the first world leader to recognize and support the newly declared State of Israel on May 14, 1948. Yet few Americans realize the tectonic struggle that took place at the highest levels of the U.S. government and almost prevented Truman from making or implementing that decision.

Until recently, despite decades of studying Jewish history, traveling to Israel, and working with various Israeli leaders, I had no idea just how close the Jewish state came to being denied early and critical recognition by the American government. Not long ago, however, an Israeli friend recommended that I read Counsel to the President, a book that takes readers inside the Oval Office and describes the political infighting against Israel in vivid detail. What I found absolutely fascinated me.

The book is the memoir of Clark Clifford, a highly respected Democrat who served as senior advisor for and special counsel to President Truman. Later, Clifford served as chairman of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board for President John F. Kennedy, as secretary of defense under President Lyndon Johnson, and as an informal but highly trusted advisor to President Jimmy Carter before retiring from government and later passing away in 1998 at the age of 91. Clifford’s memoir explains his up-close-and-personal role in some of the most dramatic moments of American history in the post–World War II years, from advising Kennedy after the Bay of Pigs fiasco, to helping Johnson seek an exit strategy from the Vietnam War, to counseling Carter during the darkest days of his presidency, to playing poker with Winston Churchill on a train bound for Fulton, Missouri, where Churchill was set to deliver his “Iron Curtain” speech.

Yet Clifford didn’t begin his 709-page tome with a description of any of these events. His first chapter, titled “Showdown in the Oval Office,” begins like this:

May 12, 1948—Of all the meetings I ever had with presidents, this one remains the most vivid. Not only did it pit me against a legendary war hero whom President Truman revered, but it did so over an issue of fundamental and enduring national security importance—Israel and the Mideast.

Clifford noted that Truman regarded then–secretary of state (and decorated Army general) George C. Marshall as “the greatest living American,” yet Truman and Marshall were on “a collision course” over Israel that “threatened to split and wreck the administration.” Simply put, “Marshall firmly opposed American recognition of the new Jewish state,” opposition that was “shared by almost every member of the brilliant and now-legendary group of men, later referred to as ‘the Wise Men,’ who were then in the process of creating a postwar foreign policy that would endure for more than forty years.” President Truman, in contrast, was a strong supporter of Israel, in large part because of his belief in the Bible….


Interestingly, Clifford noted that Ben-Gurion and his advisors had not yet decided on a name for the Jewish state. “The name ‘Israel’ was as yet unknown,” Clifford wrote, “and most of us assumed the new nation would be called ‘Judaea.’”…..

Also interesting is the fact that Truman’s support of the creation of the Jewish state was opposed by many American Jews, a fact unknown or forgotten by many friends of Israel.

“A significant number of Jewish Americans opposed Zionism,” Clifford wrote in his memoir. “Some feared that the effort to create a Jewish state was so controversial that the plan would fail. In 1942 a number of prominent Reform rabbis had founded the American Council for Judaism to oppose the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine. It grew into an organization of over fourteen thousand members, which collaborated closely with State Department officials.” Clifford also noted that Arthur H. Sulzberger, the Jewish publisher of the New York Times, and Eugene Meyer, the Jewish publisher of the Washington Post, “opposed Zionism” as well.

Nevertheless, Truman had spoken favorably of the creation of a Jewish national homeland since not. long after taking office. In 1947, for example, Truman had publicly made it the policy of the United States government to back passage of the United Nations Partition Plan, creating the legal framework for the rebirth of the State of Israel as well as an adjoining state for the Palestinian Arabs. To succeed, the Partition Plan needed a two-thirds majority vote of the U.N. General Assembly. With just days to go before that historic vote on November 29, 1947, however, supporters of the plan were still three votes short. Some have suggested that President Truman personally called leaders of other nations to encourage them to support the American position. Others say he didn’t but that staff in his administration did; the record is not clear. Either way, most historians—including David McCullough, who won the Pulitzer Prize for his extraordinary biography Truman—acknowledge that Truman wanted the plan to pass and played a role behind the scenes.

In the end, Truman got his way. The Partition Plan dramatically passed at the last moment, thirty-three to thirteen, with ten abstentions….


Given  Truman’s backing of the Partition Plan, it would seem in retrospect that his decision to formally support the new state of Israel was a fait accompli. But the political crisis inside the White House and State Department was real and festering for the next two days. Tensions mounted, and time was running out. Reporters were asking what the president would do on the issue, and the advisors closest to the president had no clue. President Truman kept his cards close to his vest. Clifford later wrote  that he thought “the chances for salvaging the situation were very small—but not quite zero.”

By May 14, neither the secretary of state nor the secretary of defense nor any of the Cabinet or senior advisors knew which side the president would come down on. Then, a few hours before Ben-Gurion’s scheduled announcement, an aide to Secretary of State George Marshall called Clifford at the White House to say that Marshall still did not support the creation of Israel but would not oppose the president publicly if he declared in favor. This was a significant breakthrough. With less than an hour to go, the State Department aide called back to suggest again that Secretary Marshall hoped the president would delay making any decision for more internal discussions, presumably over the next few days.

“Only thirty minutes . . . before the announcement would be made in Tel Aviv,” Clifford recalled, “the American segment of the drama was now coming to a climax.” Clifford told the aide he would check with President Truman and get back to the secretary. He waited three minutes, then called the aide back, saying delay was out of the question. Finally, at six o’clock, the president formally announced his final decision to Clifford. The United States would recognize and support the State of Israel. Truman handed his statement to Clifford, who immediately took it to the president’s press secretary, Charlie Ross. At 6:11 p.m., Ross read the statement to the press, and thus to the world:

Statement by the president. This government has been informed that a Jewish state has been proclaimed in Palestine. . . . The United States recognizes the provisional government as the de facto authority of the new State of Israel.

History had been made. Bible prophecy had just been fulfilled. After a long and painful labor, the State of Israel had miraculously been born in a day. “Who has heard such a thing?” the prophet Isaiah wrote more than seven hundred years before Jesus’ birth. “Who has ever seen things like this? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children” (Isaiah 66:8, NIV).

What’s more, the first world leader officially to recognize Israel’s legitimacy was a Christian who had been raised reading the Bible and believed it was true. Most of his senior advisors had vehemently opposed the creation of Israel. Much of the American Jewish community opposed it too. The Arab world would soon turn against the United States and move increasingly into the orbit of the Soviet Union. Yet Truman backed Israel anyway because he believed it was the right thing to do, the biblical thing to do.

“The fundamental basis of this nation’s ideals was given to Moses on Mount Sinai,” Truman once told an audience. “The fundamental basis of the Bill of Rights of our Constitution comes from the teachings which we get from Exodus, St. Matthew, Isaiah, and St. Paul. The Sermon on the Mount gives us a way of life, and maybe someday men will understand it as the real way of life. The basis of all great moral codes is ‘Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.’ Treat others as you would like to be treated.”

That is not to say that Truman made all his decisions based on Scripture. Truman was an intensely private man when it came to spiritual and religious matters, and he did not often discuss what he believed about the Bible and how he connected those beliefs to public policy. The 1940s were a different age. Presidents rarely discussed such matters with the public. Truman even felt reticent about discussing his beliefs with Billy Graham, as Graham described in his autobiography. However, it is not conjecture to say that Bible prophecy was a critical element in Truman’s decision-making process.

Clifford confirmed it in his memoir. “[Truman] was a student and believer in the Bible since his youth. From his reading of the Old Testament he felt the Jews derived a legitimate historical right to Palestine, and he sometimes cited such biblical lines as Deuteronomy 1:8, ‘Behold, I have given up the land before you; go in and take possession of the land which the Lord hath sworn unto your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.’”

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On Saturday, June 16th, I will host a live, three-hour “Implosion Simulcast,” which will be shown around the country and around the world. Please sign up your church, home fellowship group, or small group Bible study today to participate in this unique event. It will be distinctly non-political and non-partisan.

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>> In case you missed it: a video of me speaking at a recent conference, explaining my spiritual journey and how I didn’t discover I was Jewish until I was in the fifth grade.

IMPLOSION UPDATE #2: ARE WE ON THE ECONOMIC EQUIVALENT OF THE TITANIC?

In Uncategorized on April 24, 2012 at 4:22 pm

Having just remembered the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, it is worth asking: Just how much danger is America in economically and spiritually? Are we facing decline, or outright collapse? Can we turn our ship of state around before we hit the icebergs ahead, or are we on the economic equivalent of the Titanic and going full steam ahead?

On June 12th, my new non-fiction book — Implosion: Can America Recover From Its Economic And Spiritual Challenges In Time? releases nationwide. On Saturday, June 16th, we’ll host a live, nationwide “Implosion Simulcast” to discuss these urgent questions. We’ll consider the research in Implosion, explore the history of the Great Awakening and the Second Great Awakening that saved America from disaster in the 18th and 19th centuries, and discuss the possibility of a Third Great Awakening. I hope you and your church will register for this national simulcast.

That said, the issues are so important and the stakes are so high I don’t want to wait until June to draw attention to them. So from time to time I’m going to post “Implosion Updates” with links to news stories I think you should be aware of. Here is a link to installment #1. May these reports motivate you and your family and friends to pray and fast for the Lord to have mercy on America and to unleash the magnitude of spiritual and moral revivals we need from coast to coast to save our nation and protect us from disaster. “If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

KEY RECENT HEADLINES WORTH TRACKING:

CHUCK COLSON GOES HOME TO BE WITH THE LORD: A dramatic conversion and an impactful life.

In Uncategorized on April 23, 2012 at 3:40 pm

Charles Colson went home to heaven after a fruitful life for Christ.UPDATED: “I live everyday to the fullest because I live it for Christ,” Chuck Colson liked to say. “And no matter what I do today … I’m going to do something to advance the kingdom of God. Does that make you fulfilled? You bet it does, and it gives you joy about living.”

Charles W. Colson went home to heaven this weekend at the age of 80 after complications from a brain hemmorhage. What joy for him that he is now in the presence of his Savior for eternity, yet what a loss for the cause of Christ here on earth. Colson was, of course, President Nixon’s lawyer, consigliere, and “hatchet man” during the Watergate crisis. He pled guilty and went to prison for the crimes he committed in the White House. But just before pleading guilty he was dramatically converted — “born again,” as he famously put it, citing John chapter 3 — by his newfound faith in Jesus Christ as his personal Savior and Lord. In the years to follow, he was discipled by several older, wiser Christian men who loved him and helped him develop a love for reading the Word of God and for prayer and also helped him reorient his worldview from a secular worldview to a distinctly Biblical perspective. Soon thereafter, Colson founded a ministry called Prison Fellowship to serve some of the most unsavory and unlovable people in 100 countries around the world with the transforming love of Christ. Through Colson’s ministry, thousands upon thousands of convicts have heard the gospel, heard about God’s amazing love and grace for the lost, turned their lives over to Christ, had their lives completely transformed, and become evangelists, disciple-makers, and game-changers all over the world. What’s more, many Christians have been moved to visit, love and serve prisoners in obedience to Jesus’ words in Matthew chapter 25. Colson thus went from being a convict himself to becoming a remarkable force in Christendom who lived a life of tremendous impact.

“It won’t do for us to just sit around in our sanctuaries, entertain ourselves, sing our ‘happy clappies’ and feel good about ourselves,” Colson once said. “This is a time for the church to engage the world, and it has to be done through the church.” [To read a wonderful magazine profile of Colson in the Weekly Standard, click here]

My interest in politics and my love for Christ in high school led me to read — actually, devour, with great fascination — several of Colson’s books, including Born Again which describes the remarkable story of how he came to Christ (my favorite), Loving God, and Kingdoms In Conflict (which I believe is now out of print). I only met him once (during a booksellers convention we were both speaking at), but was moved by his story and inspired by his example. It was, therefore, a wonderful surprise when I learned several years ago that Colson and his staff had read Epicenter — and were readers of this blog – been intrigued by the conversions of millions of Muslims to Christ, and cited the book in one of his Breakpoint radio commentaries and newspaper columns called, “Why Muslims Convert: They Want Jesus Instead.” The man loved great conversion stories, and loved to encourage believers to be used by the Lord to help convert others.

To his credit, he also loved Israel, was a true friend of the Jewish people, and encouraged Christians to love and bless Israel because of the teachings of the Scriptures. “Much of the world shrugged at this latest mass murder in Israel,” Colson wrote in a 2008 column. “But we, as followers of Jesus Christ, can do no less than raise our voices in outrage for our elder brothers in the faith. Sound the alarm over the consequences if we pull out of Iraq. How many friends do you suppose we would have left in the Middle East if Israel is destroyed?” He told the Washington Post, “Anti-Semitism is a grievous offense for a Christian. God told Abraham in Genesis 12:3 that he would bless the Jews and bless those who bless them. Christians see this as a mandate for how believers are to act toward Jews.”

Please pray for his family and team as they rejoice for him but mourn his passing and miss his presence. Please also pray that the Lord would use the media coverage of Colson’s passing to share the gospel with many people who need to experience the same forgiveness and healing that Colson himself experienced when he met Jesus for himself in 1974.

I read two tributes to him this weekend — and listened to a third today — that I commend to your attention and encourage you to share with others.

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On Saturday, June 16th, I will host a live, three-hour “Implosion Simulcast,” which will be shown around the country and around the world. Please sign up your church, home fellowship group, or small group Bible study today to participate in this unique event. It will be distinctly non-political and non-partisan.

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>> In case you missed it: a video of me speaking at a recent conference, explaining my spiritual journey and how I didn’t discover I was Jewish until I was in the fifth grade.

REMEMBERING THE HOLOCAUST: NEVER AGAIN

In Uncategorized on April 19, 2012 at 3:03 pm

Today in Israel, and around the world, we stop to remember the evil that was perpetrated during the Holocaust, pray for the survivors and their families, and recommit ourselves to the principle: Never Again.

“A two-minute siren sounded across the country at 10 am Thursday in memory of the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust,” reports Ynet News. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a moving address honoring Holocaust Remembrance Day, and applied its lessons to the current showdown with Iran. Israeli President Shimon Peres also discussed Iran today in light of the Holocaust. I commend these to your attention.

Last November, I had the opportunity to travel to Poland with two pastors and their wives to visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camps for the first time. My son, Caleb, and I produced a short video of that trip which might help you and your family and friends get a brief glimpse inside the tragedy and what it means.

Another way to remember the Holocaust year might be to make a financial donation to The Joshua Fund, to assist our on-going humanitarian relief efforts to care for Holocaust survivors and their families, many of them who live at or below the poverty line in Israel.

Most of all, please pray for these survivors, that the Lord would draw them close to His heart and heal their memories and show them His amazing grace and mercy. As the Hebrew prophet Isaiah wrote, “How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who announces peace and brings good news of happiness, who announces salvation, and says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!'” (Isaiah 52:7)

INTRIGUING DEAD SEA SCROLL SAYS MESSIAH TO COME, DIE, AND RISE ON THIRD DAY

In Uncategorized on April 17, 2012 at 2:50 pm

The "Gabriel Revelation" tablet with its owner, David Jeselsohn, who didn't understand its significance when he purchased it. (photo by the NYT)

A respected Israeli scholar and professor at Hebrew University is making an intriguing and compelling case that it is a distinctly Jewish notion to expect the Messiah to come, die as a “suffering servant” as an atonement for sins and the redemption of Israel, and then to rise from the dead on the third day. Based on his many years of research, and fairly recently analyzed archaeological evidence — including a previously unstudied Dead Sea Scroll — the scholar is also arguing that this notion of the Messiah rising on the third day is a pre-Christian concept that dates back to before the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem Ephratah. The case made by Dr. Israel Knohl has attracted significant attention, including a major article in the New York Times and several articles in Biblical Archaeology Review — see here, and here, and here.

The Times story, which ran under the headline, Ancient Tablet Ignites Debate on Messiah and Resurrection, begins as follows: “A three-foot-tall tablet with 87 lines of Hebrew that scholars believe dates from the decades just before the birth of Jesus is causing a quiet stir in biblical and archaeological circles, especially because it may speak of a messiah who will rise from the dead after three days. If such a messianic description really is there, it will contribute to a developing re-evaluation of both popular and scholarly views of Jesus, since it suggests that the story of his death and resurrection was not unique but part of a recognized Jewish tradition at the time. The tablet, probably found near the Dead Sea in Jordan according to some scholars who have studied it, is a rare example of a stone with ink writings from that era — in essence, a Dead Sea Scroll on stone.” The tablet  has been named by scholars as “Gabriel’s Revelation” because it suggests that the angel Gabriel was instructed by God to direct that the Messiah be raised from the dead on the third day.

Admittedly, this isn’t news. The stone tablet was discovered about fifteen years ago and is owned by a Israeli-Swiss Jewish man by the name of David Jeselsohn who didn’t understand its significance when he purchased it. The Times article was published in 2008. Dr. Knohl then published a book about all this in 2009 entitled, Messiahs and Resurrection in “The Gabriel Revelation.” That was a follow up to his previous book, The Messiah Before Jesus: The Suffering Servant of the Dead Sea Scrolls (first published in Hebrew in 2000 and then in English in 2002). In the book, Dr. Knohl explains the various Jewish theories about the Messiah, including the idea of a “Messiah son of David” who will be a reigning king on the earth like King David was, and a “Messiah son of Joseph” who will be rejected by his brothers, mistreated, left for dead but will eventually reappear and save not only the nation of Israel but the world like Joseph did in the book of Genesis.

Why do I bring it up now? Because it absolutely fascinates me. I was intrigued with the various stories when they were first published. But in recent days — in part because of Passover and Easter — I began sharing all this with our four sons. Together, we’ve been studying the book of I Corinthians together each morning before school. Last week we just happened to begin studying I Corinithians 15:1-5, which reads, “Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you,unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas [Peter], then to the twelve [apostles]. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time….” We studied how the Hebrew Scriptures speak of the Messiah suffering and dying to atone for our sins and how we see these ancient prophecies described in Isaiah 53, in Daniel 9:26 (which says the Messiah will come for atonement, then be “cut off,” and afterwards Jerusalem and the Temple will be destroyed), and Psalm 22. We also looked carefully at the Gospel accounts to show how Jesus remarkably fulfilled each of these prophecies.

This morning over breakfast, I read excerpts of the Times story to Lynn and the boys, and we discussed why many Jewish people think the idea of a suffering Messiah who dies and rises again on the third day is a Christian idea, when really it is a Jewish idea, as explained with such intriguing research by Dr. Knohl. Unfortunately, I’ve never read Dr. Knohl’s books, only excerpts, but since today is my birthday we’ve ordered both and are eager to read them when they arrive. I’d encourage you to read them, too, or at least to read the articles that I’ve linked here on the blog.

Even more importantly I would ask you to consider today: What if the Gospel story is true ? What if Jesus not only died for our sins but was buried and raised from the dead on the third day, according to the ancient prophecies? Why should that matter? How should you respond? May the Lord bless you as your process these critical questions. (Please click here for a simple, concise summary of the Gospel message, and a clear explanation of how best to respond.)

WAR THIS SUMMER? Israel TV network reports “the moment of truth is near.”

In Uncategorized on April 16, 2012 at 12:15 pm

International negotiations with Iran went nowhere on Friday. More discussions are schedule for May, though Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said this was a gift to the Iranians who will have more time to enrich uranium and accelerate their weapons development program. “My initial impression is that Iran has been given a freebie,” said the PM during a meeting with U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman. “It’s got five weeks to continue enrichment without any limitation, any inhibition.”

No sooner had the fruitless talks ended had talk in Israel returned to the increasing imminency of war. “A major Israel TV station on Sunday night broadcast a detailed report on how Israel will go about attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities in the event that diplomacy and sanctions fail and Israel decides to carry out a military strike,” reports the Times of Israel. “The report, screened on the main evening news of Channel 10, was remarkable both in terms of the access granted to the reporter, who said he had spent weeks with the pilots and other personnel he interviewed, and in the fact that his assessments on a strike were cleared by the military censor. No order to strike is likely to be given before the P5+1 talks with Iran resume in May, the reporter, Alon Ben-David, said. ‘But the coming summer will not only be hot but tense.’….

“In the event that negotiations fail and the order is given for Israel to carry out an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities, ‘dozens if not more planes’ will take part in the mission: attack and escort jets, tankers for mid-air refueling, electronic warfare planes and rescue helicopters, the report said…..Ben-David said that if negotiations break down, and Iran moves key parts of its nuclear program underground to its Qom facility, the IAF ‘is likely to get the order and to set out on the long journey to Iran….Years of preparations are likely to come to realization,” he said, adding that ‘the moment of truth is near.’….The attack, the report said, would presumably trigger a war in northern Israel, with missile attacks (presumably from the Iranian-proxy Hezbollah in Lebanon). ‘There will be no tranquility and peace anywhere in Israel,’ Ben-David said. This could be the first full-scale war the IAF has fought in nearly 30 years, the report stated.”

While a summer war is a real possibility, the Israelis will also want and need to maximize the element of surprise, meaning a strike this spring is still possible. Then again, any number of events could intervene in the near future to thwart the need for a war, or thwart the Israelis’ ability to conduct an effective war with Iran. As noted several weeks ago, one of those events would be if Russian President Vladimir Putin intervened to warn Israel not to strike or risk Russian military intervention. Let us, therfore, continue to pray for peace in the epicenter, while we continue to gird ourselves and prepare for the possibility of war.

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On Saturday, June 16th, I will host a live, three-hour “Implosion Simulcast,” which will be shown around the country and around the world. Please sign up your church, home fellowship group, or small group Bible study today to participate in this unique event. It will be distinctly non-political and non-partisan.

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NUCLEAR TALKS WITH IRAN BEGIN IN TURKEY: LAST CHANCE FOR DIPLOMACY BEFORE WAR?

In Uncategorized on April 14, 2012 at 2:22 pm

We shouldn’t hold our collective breath that there’s going to be a positive outcome, but we shouldn’t be cynics either. Nothing is impossible with God, so let’s pray for a breakthrough. After all, these nuclear talks in Istanbul may represent the last chance for diplomacy before Israel launches a preemptive strike against Iran, or Iran launches a first strike against Israel and the U.S. While I’m wary of the Iranians trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the six powers (the way Hitler fooled Chamberlain and the West in the 1930s), I would much rather see a truly peaceful solution (i.e., Iran gives up its nuclear ambitions and agrees to entirely dismantle its nuclear program in full, transparent view of international inspectors) than war. We dare not kid ourselves. An Israel-Iran war could be brutal. I’m currently working on a new novel, The Damascus Countdown, about such a war and the blowback of Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas if Israel were to launch a first strike. If it’s this painful to imagine for the purposes of fiction, how much worse would it be in real life. Let us keep praying for the peace of Jerusalem, and peace — and spiritual and political freedom — for all the people of the epicenter.

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On Saturday, June 16th, I will host a live, three-hour “Implosion Simulcast,” which will be shown around the country and around the world. Please sign up your church, home fellowship group, or small group Bible study today to participate in this unique event. It will be distinctly non-political and non-partisan.

IRAQ REBUILDING ITS MILITARY, EVEN AS THEY REBUILD BABYLON: Prophetic significance?

In Uncategorized on April 13, 2012 at 3:13 pm

Bible prophecy indicates that in the End Times, the nation we know today as the Republic of Iraq — known variously in Scripture as Babel, Babylon, Babylonia, Mesopotamia and Shinar — will emerge as the global center of wealth, power and terrible evil. Eventually Iraq will pose a direct and existential threat to the State of Israel, particularly during the Tribulation. 

Since the fall of Saddam Hussein and his regime in 2003, Iraq has not been a regional threat, much less a danger to Israel. Some have assumed, therefore, that Iraq would no longer play a major role in Middle Eastern or global affairs in the future. But such a conclusion would be a mistake. As I wrote about in my first non-fiction book, Epicenter, those who read, understand and believe Bible prophecy have been watching for Iraq to: 1) begin rebuilding its offensive military capability; 2) begin rebuilding its economy; 3) continue rebuilding the ancient city of Babylon into a major center of commerce and tourism.

Interestingly, all three developments are currently underway.

IRAQ IS REBUILDING ITS MILITARY

Now that the Iraqi government has forced the American military out of their country, they have embarked on a dramatic arms build-up, including the purchase of American weapons systems that could be used for offensive purposes in the future. Examples:

  • The Iraqis are buying 140 state-of-the-art American M1A1 combat tanks. “The Government of Iraq has purchased 140 tanks from the United States, all of which have arrived in Iraq,” reports an Iraqi business website. “131 of those tanks are already in the possession of the Iraqi Army. The nine remaining tanks are in Iraq, but in U.S. possession.”
  • The Iraqis are buying 36 advanced American F-16 fighter jets. “Israel is monitoring Iraq’s rearmament program, particularly Bahgdad’s acquisition of 36 Lockheed Martin F-16s, with some disquiet amid intelligence reports Iran is consolidating its influence in Iraq following the U.S. military withdrawal,” reports UPI. “Baghdad ordered the F-16 Block 52 multi-role Fighting Falcon jets — enough to equip the Iraqi air force’s first two fighter squadrons — in two 18-plane batches in 2011 at an estimated total cost of $7 billion.”
  • In 2010, the Iraqis embarked on a $13 billion weapons spending spree. “Iraq is preparing to buy as much as $13 billion in American arms and military equipment, a huge order of tanks, ships and hardware that U.S. officials say shows Iraqi-U.S. military ties will be tight for years to come,” reported USA Today. “‘It helps to build their capabilities, first and foremost; and second, it builds our strategic relationship for the future,’ said Army Lt. Gen. Michael Barbero, the ranking U.S. officer responsible for training and advising Iraq forces.”

IRAQ IS REBUILDING ITS ECONOMY

Now that the war of liberation is over and most of Iraq has been pacified and stabilized from the terrorist insurgency, Iraq’s economy is not only growing but is poised for hyper-growth. Analysts expect Iraq’s GDP to grow by more than 9% annually for the next few years, and expect Iraq’s oil production to nearly triple by 2017.

  • “Iraq’s gross domestic product is expected to grow by an average rate of at least 9.4 percent annually between 2012 and 2016 as the oil-producing country benefits from larger windfalls in oil revenues, a senior central bank official said [in February],” reports Reuters. “Iraq, which has the fourth-biggest oil reserves in the world, is currently producing around 2.9 million barrels per day (bpd). Iraq’s oil minister said last year he expected production to reach between 8-8.5 million bpd by 2017.”
  • Some analysts within the Iraqi Planning Ministry believe Iraq could reach a 47% growth rate by 2017, once the oil starts flowing fast and furious.
  • More and more major international companies are signing deals to do business in Iraq — see this intriguing list published by Reuters, published in December 2011.
  • In 2011, ExxonMobil — the world’s largest oil company — signed a major deal to help develop the oil industry in Iraq’s northern region of Kurdistan. Despite the fact being mired in some political controversy, the deal is likely to be fully ratified in the not-too-distant future.
  • Also in 2011, Royal Dutch Shell signed a $17 billion deal to help Iraq develop its enormous lucrative oil industry in its southern regions.
  • In 2010, the Iraqi government ratified four other major oil deals.

IRAQ IS REBUILDING THE CITY OF BABYLON

Largely overlooked by Westerners is the fact that the government of Iraq is moving forward with plans to protect the archaeological remains of the ancient City of Babylon, in preparation for building a modern city of Babylon. As I wrote in 2009, the project — originally started by the late Saddam Hussein — is aimed eventually at attracting scores of “cultural tourists” from all over the world to see the glories of Mesopotamia’s most famous city. What’s more, the Obama Administration has actually helped contribute U.S. taxpayer dollars to “The Future of Babylon Project” through the State Department’s budget. Read more at the World Monuments Fund website for the rebuilding Babylong project.

In 2011, I noted that the New York Times had published an intriguing article on Iraqi efforts to preserve, protect, restore and then rebuild the ancient city of Babylon and make it a draw for tourists, with U.S. taxpayer assistance. The Times reports that a modern Babylon museum will open later this month. Times’ reporter Steven Lee Myers also posted a fascinating four minute video walking through some of the rebuilt ruins of Babylon, and explaining Iraqi efforts to protect and restore numerous Biblical sites.

“The Babylon project is Iraq’s biggest and most ambitious by far, a reflection of the ancient city’s fame and its resonance in Iraq’s modern political and cultural heritage,” the Times reported, noting that “in November, the State Department announced a new $2 million grant to begin work to preserve the site’s most impressive surviving ruins. They include the foundation of the Ishtar Gate, built in the sixth century B.C. by Nebuchadnezzar’s father, Nabopolassar, and adorned with brick reliefs of the Babylonian gods Marduk and Adad.”

“The American reconstruction team has refurbished a modern museum on the site, as well as a model of the Ishtar Gate that for decades served as a visitors’ entrance. Inside the museum is one of the site’s most valuable relics: a glazed brick relief of a lion, one of 120 that once lined the processional way into the city. The museum, with three galleries, is scheduled to open this month, receiving its first visitors since 2003. And with new security installed, talks are under way to return ancient Babylonian artifacts from the National Museum in Baghdad. The fate of Babylon is already being disputed by Iraqi leaders, with antiquities officials clashing with local authorities over when to open it to visitors and how to exploit the site for tourism that, for the most part, remains a goal more than a reality. Even now they are clashing over whether the admission fee should go to the antiquities board or the provincial government.”

(Photo by New York Times: Iraqi women walking through the city of Babylon that is currently being rebuilt.)

NORTH KOREAN ROCKET LAUNCH FAILS: Blow to Iran as well.

In Uncategorized on April 13, 2012 at 2:18 am

UPDATE ON APRIL 16: Iranian nuclear scientists were present at failed North Korean missile launch, says source

Good news from Asia. North Korea’s rocket launch has failed. This is particularly good since Iran and North Korea have been working so closely on rocket and missile technology in recent years. A setback for Pyongyang is likely also a blow to Tehran’s hopes of having an intercontinental ballistic missile any time soon, though that remains the goals of the mullahs. “Defying international concerns, North Korea fired a long-range rocket early today, but it appears to have fallen into the sea, splintering moments after takeoff,” reports the Daily Telegraph out of London. “The liftoff took place at 7:39 am from the west coast launch pad in the hamlet of Tongchang-ri, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff in Seoul said, citing South Korean and U.S. intelligence. The two countries as well as many others had warned against the launch, calling it a provocation and a cover to test missile technology. North Korea had insisted it would not back down, and said the rocket would only carry a satellite, touting it as a major technological achievement to mark the 100th birth anniversary of the country’s founder, Kim Il Sung, on Sunday. Still, if the US report of a failure, backed by Japan and South Korea, is true, it would be a major embarrassment for Pyongyang, which has invited dozens of international journalists to observe the rocket launch and other celebrations….”

ATTENTION PASTORS AND MINISTRY LEADERS: “IMPLOSION SIMULCAST” SET FOR JUNE 16th

In Uncategorized on April 11, 2012 at 2:23 pm

Attention Pastors and Ministry Leaders: Is America headed for implosion, or revival? Can America recover from our economic and spiritual challenges before it’s too late? And what will happen to America if we ignore, abandon or turn against Israel in her time of need?

On Saturday, June 16th, we will consider these critical questions during a live, three-hour “Implosion Simulcast,” which will be shown around the country and around the world. Please sign up your church, home fellowship group, or small group Bible study today to participate in this unique event.

During the first hour of the simulcast, I will discuss the research I did for a new non-fiction book entitle, Implosion, examining the reasons why the United States faces not merely “decline” but the real and growing risk of outright collapse. We will consider what the Bible has to say about the future of America and whether the U.S. is ever mentioned directly or indirectly in Bible prophecy. We will examine historic lessons from the remarkable and sweeping Christian revivals known as first “Great Awakening” of the early 1700s and the “Second Great Awakening” of the early 1800s, and consider the possibility of a Third Great Awakening in our time.

In the second and third hours, I will take live questions at Houston’s First Baptist Church where we will be holding the event, as well as questions that come in via text, Twitter and Facebook from those watching all over the world. Please note that this will not be a political or partisan event in any way, shape or form.

With our national debt skyrocketing, our politics divided, many marriages and families crumbling, and the growing threat of another war in the Middle East, one thing is clear: 2012 is going to be a critical year for the United States. Will the Church step up and be the shining city on the hill that Jesus called her to be? Will we see God pour out His grace and mercy in a series of transformative revivals that will save our nation again as He has saved us in the past? Or will we continue rejecting God’s mercy and see our decline accelerate into a national death spiral?

The multiple crises we are facing are very real and the stakes are very high. Please encourage your pastor today to sign up your church for the Implosion Simulcast. You can also sign up your home fellowship group or small group Bible study to watch the simulcast together. I would very much like you to be a vital part of the conversation, and I’d also be grateful for your prayers that this conversation would spread virally and that even before June, millions of Americans would begin praying, fasting and fervently seeking God to have mercy on this great country before it is too late. Thanks so much and may God bless you as you sign up today.

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