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TERRORISTS ATTACK CANADIAN PARLIAMENT: Second terror attack in Canada this week. PM Harper says “We will not be intimidated.” Please pray for and stand with Canada.

In Uncategorized on October 22, 2014 at 7:20 pm
(source: CNN)

(source: CNN)

UPDATED: A very serious situation is unfolding in Ottawa, the capital of Canada, as terrorists have attacked the Parliament building leaving one dead and a city on “virtual lockdown,” say local and national authorities.

Please be praying for our friends and allies in Canada, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Here’s the latest:

“Multiple gunmen stormed the Canadian Parliament complex Wednesday, shooting at least one soldier and spraying as many as 30 shots inside the government building in Ottawa and leaving the nation’s capital on virtual lockdown just two days after a terror attack in Quebec, officials said,” reported Fox News.

“The shots rang out just before 10 a.m., and were quickly followed by reports of ‘several shooting incidents in downtown Ottawa,’ according to a tweet from police. The shooting at the government complex came after witnesses said they saw two men jump out of a Toyota Corolla and run toward the National War Memorial, where one opened fire on a soldier, officials told the Ottawa Sun. The gunmen then ran to the Parliament building, where witnesses later said they saw one gunman down near the library. Bernard Trottier, a Toronto-area MP, tweeted that the gunman inside Centre Block ‘has been shot and killed.’ The other was reportedly being sought.

“Veteran Affairs Minister Julian Fantino told QMI Agency that Parliament’s sergeant-at-arms, Kevin Vickers, shot one gunman dead. ‘All the details are not in, but the sergeant-at-arms, a former Mountie, is the one that engaged the gunman, or one of them at least, and stopped this,’ Fantino said from inside Centre Block. ‘He did a great job and, from what I know, shot the gunman and he is now deceased.’ More shootings were reported less than a mile away from Parliament Hill, near Rideau Centre Mall, but police did not know if the incidents were related and said no arrests had been made. ‘Most of downtown Ottawa is in lockdown,’ said Ottawa police Constable Marc Soucy.

“Ottawa police confirmed they were pursuing multiple shooters, but there were conflicting reports of how many were involved in the attack on nerve center of Canada’s federal government….

“We are still trying to clarify how many persons we are dealing with, and still waiting for the status of the victim who was shot at the War memorial,” says Ottawa Police Service spokesman Constable Chuck Benoit.

“Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was whisked away to a safe location as Royal Canadian Mounted Police converged on the complex,” reported Fox.

Developing….

ISIS is slaughtering Arab Christians. Why are churches in the West so quiet? Here’s one way you can help.

In Uncategorized on October 16, 2014 at 3:17 pm
Are you praying for the persecuted Christians in the Mideast? Is there more you can do?

Are you praying for the persecuted Christians in the Mideast? Is there more you can do?

(Central Israel) — When my family and I moved to Israel in mid-August, we did so amidst a jihadist onslaught against the Jewish State. The third Gaza war was underway. Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza were firing more than 4,000 rockets, missiles and mortars at Israeli civilians, including Jews, Muslims and Christians.

That said, Israel was (and remains) one of the safest places to be in the Middle East this year, and not just for Jews but for Christians, as well.

Christians are being persecuted and even slaughtered throughout the epicenter. Israel and Jordan are safe havens. But from Syria to Iraq to Iran and beyond, the Radical Islamic jihadist offensive against followers of Jesus Christ is fierce and unrelenting. Indeed, as I’ve written about in recent months, we are seeing genocidal conditions emerging in this region against the Christians.

Why then are so few pastors and Christians leaders in the West coming to the defense of our brothers and sisters in this region who are in such grave danger? Why aren’t pastors rallying their congregations to pray for the persecuted Church in the Mideast? Why are so few Christian lay people giving financially to ministries that are making a difference in the region in the name of Christ in the midst of the chaos and carnage?

The epicenter is on fire. Yet I’m stunned by how few Christians are paying attention, or trying to help. Some are, and may God deeply bless this wonderful, heroic remnant. But so much of the Church is asleep.

How about you? Are you moved by the suffering of our brethren? Are you and your congregation looking for a way to help in a practical way?

The Joshua Fund team is working hard to provide prayer, encouragement, funds, and other resources to Arab Christians fleeing from the ISIS rampage. We are doing this even as we continue to provide humanitarian relief and other help in Israel. The Bible certainly commands believers to love and bless Israel and the Jewish people, and this is more important than ever. But the Scriptures also command us to love and bless Israel’s neighbors, and even her enemies. Is it easy? No. Is it safe? Not always. But the Lord Jesus Christ commanded us to love everyone in this region and He set the example for us.

Would you like to join us? We need your prayers. We also need your financial support, especially at this time. You can learn more about what The Joshua Fund is doing by clicking here.

You can also learn more about what is happening to the Christians in the epicenter by listening to this podcast — “I have just interviewed an Iraqi pastor on the terrible persecution Christians in Iraq are facing. Please listen & share with others” —  and by reading this excellent article by columnist Kirsten Powers. I cite it here in full.

A Global Slaughter of Christians, but America’s Churches Stay Silent

By Kirsten Powers, The Daily Beast, September 27, 2014

Christians in the Middle East and Africa are being slaughtered, tortured, raped, kidnapped, beheaded, and forced to flee the birthplace of Christianity. One would think this horror might be consuming the pulpits and pews of American churches. Not so. The silence has been nearly deafening.

As Egypt’s Copts have battled the worst attacks on the Christian minority since the 14th century, the bad news for Christians in the region keeps coming. On Sunday, Taliban suicide bombers killed at least 85 worshippers at All Saints’ church, which has stood since 1883 in the city of Peshawar, Pakistan. Christians were also the target of Islamic fanatics in the attack on a shopping center in Nairobi, Kenya, this week that killed more than 70 people. The Associated Press reported that the Somali Islamic militant group al-Shabab “confirmed witness accounts that gunmen separated Muslims from other people and let the Muslims go free.” The captives were asked questions about Islam. If they couldn’t answer, they were shot.

In Syria, Christians are under attack by Islamist rebels and fear extinction if Bashar al-Assad falls. This month, rebels overran the historic Christian town of Maalula, where many of its inhabitants speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus. The AFP reported that a resident of Maalula called her fiancé’s cell and was told by member of the Free Syrian Army that they gave him a chance to convert to Islam and he refused. So they slit his throat.

Nina Shea, an international human-rights lawyer and expert on religious persecution, testified in 2011 before Congress regarding the fate of Iraqi Christians, two-thirds of whom have vanished from the country. They have either been murdered or fled in fear for their lives. Said Shea: “[I]n August 2004 … five churches were bombed in Baghdad and Mosul. On a single day in July 2009, seven churches were bombed in Baghdad … The archbishop of Mosul, was kidnapped and killed in early 2008. A bus convoy of Christian students were violently assaulted. Christians … have been raped, tortured, kidnapped, beheaded, and evicted from their homes …”

Lela Gilbert is the author of Saturday People, Sunday People, which details the expulsion of 850,000 Jews who fled or were forced to leave Muslim countries in the mid-20th century. The title of her book comes from an Islamist slogan, “First the Saturday People, then the Sunday People,” which means “first we kill the Jews, then we kill the Christians.” Gilbert wrote recently that her Jewish friends and neighbors in Israel “are shocked but not entirely surprised” by the attacks on Christians in the Middle East. “They are rather puzzled, however, by what appears to be a lack of anxiety, action, or advocacy on the part of Western Christians.”

As they should be. It is inexplicable. American Christians are quite able to organize around issues that concern them. Yet religious persecution appears not to have grabbed their attention, despite worldwide media coverage of the atrocities against Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East.

It’s no surprise that Jews seem to understand the gravity of the situation the best. In December 2011, Britain’s chief rabbi, Lord Jonathan Sacks, addressed Parliament saying, “I have followed the fate of Christians in the Middle East for years, appalled at what is happening, surprised and distressed … that it is not more widely known.”

“It was Martin Luther King who said, ‘In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.’ That is why I felt I could not be silent today.”

Yet so many Western Christians are silent.

In January, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) penned a letter to 300 Catholic and Protestant leaders complaining about their lack of engagement. “Can you, as a leader in the church, help?” he wrote. “Are you pained by these accounts of persecution? Will you use your sphere of influence to raise the profile of this issue—be it through a sermon, writing or media interview?”

There have been far too few takers.

Wolf and Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) sponsored legislation last year to create a special envoy at the State Department to advocate for religious minorities in the Middle East and South-Central Asia. It passed in the House overwhelmingly, but died in the Senate. Imagine the difference an outcry from constituents might have made. The legislation was reintroduced in January and again passed the House easily. It now sits in the Senate. According to the office of Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), the sponsor of the bill there, there is no date set for it to be taken up.

Wolf has complained loudly of the State Department’s lack of attention to religious persecution, but is anybody listening? When American leaders meet with the Saudi government, where is the public outcry demanding they confront the Saudis for fomenting hatred of Christians, Jews, and even Muslim minorities through their propagandistic tracts and textbooks? In the debate on Syria, why has the fate of Christians and other religious minorities been almost completely ignored?

In his letter challenging U.S. religious leaders, Wolf quoted Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was executed for his efforts in the Nazi resistance:  “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

That pretty well sums it up.

Fact or fiction: Is ISIS using chemical weapons against its enemies? New headlines echo plot lines of “The Third Target.”

In Uncategorized on October 16, 2014 at 11:32 am
Fact or fiction? Releases January 6th.

Fact or fiction? Releases January 6th.

Chilling new headlines — and gruesome new photographs — from the Middle East increasingly suggest ISIS not only has chemical weapons, but may already be using them against its enemies in the region.

Thus, disturbing new questions are being raised:

  • Are these reports and photographs legit?
  • If so, where did ISIS get the weapons?
  • How many WMDs do they have?
  • What are their next targets?
  • Could the U.S. and Israel bit hit with chemical weapons soon?

As readers of this blog know, these are fictional plot lines in my forthcoming thriller, The Third Target, which releases in the U.S. and Canada on January 6th.

In the novel, a New York Times reporter pursues rumors that ISIS has captured chemical weapons in Syria and is preparing a genocidal attack against an unknown target.

In August, however, it appeared the premise of my novel had been overtaken by events. The U.S. government declared that it had completed the destruction of all of Syria’s chemical weapons. Thus, it seemed impossible that ISIS could capture such weapons.

But in September, officials in the Obama administration began to backpedal. They started to publicly express doubts that all the Syrian WMDs had been disclosed and destroyed. This raised fears that that Assad regime or ISIS or other Radical jihadist groups could seize such weapons and use them against their enemies. That led me to write a blog on September 11th headlined, “What If ISIS Obtains Chemical Weapons?”

Now, in mid-October, we are getting reports that ISIS has indeed captured chemical warheads, and may be using them against the Kurds in Iraq.

What’s more, we’re hearing reports that even though for more than a decade the Western media told us there were no WMD in Iraq, that such weapons were there after all. A newly published New York Times investigation this week reports the following: “From 2004 to 2011, American and American-trained Iraqi troops repeatedly encountered, and on at least six occasions were wounded by, chemical weapons remaining from years earlier in Saddam Hussein’s rule. In all, American troops secretly reported finding roughly 5,000 chemical warheads, shells or aviation bombs, according to interviews with dozens of participants, Iraqi and American officials, and heavily redacted intelligence documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

There are also reports that ISIS forces have captured a chemical weapons production facility in Iraq, and may be using Iraqi WMD against the Kurds.

At the moment, I’m not sure we can say definitively whether ISIS has such deadly weapons. But I wanted to bring the latest headlines to your attention.

For my part, I pray the reports are not true, and that The Third Target remains merely a work of fiction.

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With U.S. air campaign against ISIS not working, fmr. Delta Force commander offers five-point plan. Here it is.

In Uncategorized on October 12, 2014 at 7:20 pm
Former Delta Force commander, Lt-General (ret). Jerry Boykin, offers five-point plan to defeat ISIS.

Former Delta Force commander, Lt-General (ret). Jerry Boykin, offers five-point plan to defeat ISIS.

Media reports increasingly suggest the U.S.-led military effort crush ISIS is not working.

ISIS is close to capturing the city of Kobane on the Syrian-Turkish border. There are fears ISIS will slaughter every person in the city if they defeat coalition forces.

Meanwhile, ISIS is only eight miles from Baghdad and gaining ground on other fronts.

  • “General [Martin] Dempsey [the President's top military advisor] painted a decidedly mixed picture of the campaign against the Islamic State, describing a nimble foe that has adjusted rapidly to coalition air attacks by blending in better with local populations,” reports a leading American newspaper, adding that ISIS attacks could soon begin inside the capital city of Baghdad.
  • “Waves of U.S.-led air strikes against Islamic State fighters appear to have done little to stem the terrorist army’s advance in Syria, and now the militants are close to overrunning key positions on the outskirts of Baghdad,” reports one U.S. cable news network. “With the world’s eyes on the terrorist army’s siege of the Syrian border city of Kobani, where U.S.-led airstrikes are backing Kurdish fighters, some 500 miles southeast, Islamic State fighters are within eight miles of the Iraqi metropolis.”
  • “America’s plans to fight Islamic State are in ruins as the militant group’s fighters come close to capturing Kobani and have inflicted a heavy defeat on the Iraqi army west of Baghdad,” reports a key British newspaper. “The US-led air attacks launched against Islamic State (also known as Isis) on 8 August in Iraq and 23 September in Syria have not worked. President Obama’s plan to ‘degrade and destroy’ Islamic State has not even begun to achieve success. In both Syria and Iraq, Isis is expanding its control rather than contracting….In the face of a likely Isis victory at Kobani, senior US officials have been trying to explain away the failure to save the Syrian Kurds in the town, probably Isis’s toughest opponents in Syria.”

Why is the much-heralded U.S. and Arab military campaign announced by President Obama last month not having success?

There are several reasons, says retired three-star General Jerry Boykin, who used to command the U.S. Army’s elite Delta Force and later served as U.S. Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence.

Over the weekend, Boykin offered a five-point plan to improve the U.S. campaign against ISIS. I quote it here in full.

Wrote Boykin:

I have hesitated to write this posting because I have been trying to find an alternative to what I will propose here.

The situation with ISIS is very serious now as I am sure that everyone is aware. The Obama administration is totally inept and not serious about reducing the threat to America and American interests. These airstrikes are not effective because they have not been well directed at real targets in most cases and they have not been in large numbers.

So what do we need to do now? I hate to recommend this but I have considered the alternatives and I find none acceptable.

We need to do five things right now:

1. Put forth a significant intel effort against ISIS. This includes flying drones throughout the ISIS area of operations as well as a big Human Intel and Signals Intel effort. The idea is to find ISIS targets and kill them including the leaders and the command and control nodes.

2. Put as many Special Operations teams on the ground as the US Special Operations Command calls for. They should operate with the Kurdish Peshmerga and any Sunni tribal entities who can reasonably be assessed as true anti-ISIS entities. They should be equipped with SOFLAMS (Laser Designators) for controlling air strikes.

3. Deploy ground forces of at least one full US Army Armor or Mechanized division with supporting assets to go into the urban areas and to ferret out ISIS an kill them with anti-tank systems and attack helicopters. Yep, I know this is controversial and I don’t like it either but we have to destroy ISIS and reduce them as a threat. The US division must go in order to convince and persuade other nations to do the same. Even the NATO nations have to see that they either stop these pigs in Iraq and Syria or they will fight them on their home turf in Europe. The same applies to America. Now we cannot deny that they are coming across the US southern border since members of congress are now acknowledging the same thing.

4. Arm the Kurds directly and not through the Iraqi government. Anything going through the Iraq government never gets to the Kurds. Fly plane loads of arms and equipment into the city of Irbil and off load it there where the Kurds will get it themselves.

5. Cancel all foreign aid and foreign military sales of US arms and equipment to any nation that will not fight with us. Start with Turkey. Turkey is not a reliable ally and Erdogan is an Islamist himself. He has no intention of ever doing anything to stop ISIS. He wants Bashar al-Asaad’s head and has no interest in destroying ISIS because they are his strongest allies in the fight against al-Asaad. NO MORE US $ for nations that will not stand with us in the fight against ISIS.

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With the epicenter on fire, Israel’s leader holds another Bible study in his home. Here are the details.

In Uncategorized on October 8, 2014 at 2:18 pm
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu hosted another Bible study at his official residence on Sunday evening. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu hosted another Bible study at his official residence on Sunday evening. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

The epicenter is on fire. Radical Islamic jihadists are pressing their offensive in Syria and Iraq. Iran continues marching towards nuclear weapons. Hezbollah briefly attacked Israelis on her northern border yesterday. U.S.-Israeli relations are frayed. Anti-Semitism is rising.

And amidst all his national security briefings and strategy sessions, Israel’s premier is studying the Bible.

Indeed, one of the most interesting but least known aspects in the life of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is that he has developed quite an interest in studying the Bible in recent years. The premier was not raised in a religious home growing up. But as he has gotten older, he has developed a noticeable curiosity in the ancient Scriptures.

Here is some news coverage of what was discussed: “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a Bible study session attended by the parents of three Israeli teens killed in June,” reported the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “Iris and Uri Yifrach, Rachel and Avi Fraenkel, and Ophir and Bat-Galim Shaar joined the Tanach Study Circle at the prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem on Sunday evening. Netanyahu renewed the circle two years ago. Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, had started the tradition. Education Minister Rabbi Shai Piron also joined the study group, which focused on the upcoming weekly Torah portion of Beresheit, the opening chapters of the Bible.”

“We are preparing to celebrate Simchat Torah, when we will conclude reading the Torah and begin it again,” the Prime Minister said as the meeting began. “The cyclical nature of reading the Torah and starting it again from Genesis also symbolizes the renewal of our people in our land. Despite all attempts to destroy us, each time we build ourselves up again, deeply linked to also growing the tree called the Jewish People, with our deep roots and branches that reach ever higher.”

These are excellent steps by the Prime Minister, and he should be commended for them.

One would have to go back to Menachem Begin — and before him, to David Ben Gurion — for Israeli premiers who have publicly studied the Bible and openly encouraged others to do the same. It is simply not a typical activity of Israeli leaders.

Therefore:

  • Let us pray that the study of the Word of God has a powerful, personal impact on the Prime Minister and his family and each of his colleagues and guests.
  • Let us pray that many Israelis would follow the Prime Minister’s lead and begin reading the Holy Scriptures again.
  • Let us pray that Bible studies in people’s homes would spring up all over the Land of Israel.
  • Let us pray that pray that more and more Israelis — Jews and Arabs — would develop a new and deeper curiosity about Bible prophecy, both the dramatic prophecies in the Scriptures that have already been fulfilled, and those that will come to pass soon. We explored such themes during the 2013 Epicenter Conference in Jerusalem this summer, which focused on “The Power of the Word to Change A Leader,” “The Power of the Word to Change A Nation,” and “The Power of the Word to Change the World.” I commend these messages to your attention.

Are you studying through the Bible this year? I hope so.

Currently, I am studying the life of Abraham in the Old Testament, and I Thessalonians in the New Testament.

Would you like to join me?

How deeply blessed you will be as you read and meditate on the Holy Bible, the very word of God, each and every day.

As we read in Psalm 1….

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.

The wicked are not so,
But they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
For the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the wicked will perish.

More coverage:

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Blistering criticism of President’s handling of ISIS threat coming from former top aides. Here’s the latest. Plus an update on a possible major ISIS victory that is brewing.

In Uncategorized on October 8, 2014 at 1:27 pm
Will ISIS forces soon score a major victory?

Will ISIS forces soon score a major victory?

Blistering criticism of the President’s handling of the ISIS threat — as well as much of his approach to the Middle East — is mounting rapidly. But it is not coming merely from conservatives. The criticism is coming from the President’s own former senior advisors, as well as from journalists typically sympathetic to the White House.

Key insiders and supporters of Mr. Obama now say the President:

  • Created the vacuum in the Mideast that ISIS is now exploiting.
  • Has largely ignored Iraq and botched his much-heralded exit strategy.
  • Is not taking decisive action to defeat ISIS.
  • Has imposed severe limitations on the U.S. military hampering our commanders’ ability to prosecute the war effectively.
  • May soon hand ISIS a major victory if he allows the strategic city of Kobane — near the Syrian-Turkish border — to fall.

Consider the latest:

It is my sincerest hope that the joint military effort that the U.S. and several Sunni Arab countries launched in September will be able to “degrade and destroy” ISIS. But I confess I am deeply concerned that not only have President Obama and the international community been slow in taking action against ISIS, they are still not taking every step needed to win decisively.

  • Please pray that the President will give the military the “green light” to do the job right.
  • Please also pray for the Muslim and Christian people of Syria and Iraq — and particularly the Kurds in Kobane — who are in grave danger.
  • Further, please pray that ISIS is defeated before they can launch terrorist attacks against Americans or Israelis in the epicenter, the homeland, or anywhere else.

MORE DETAILS ABOUT HOW THE ISIS ASSAULT ON THE CITY OF KOBANE & ITS IMPLICATIONS:

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As fires rage across the Mideast, a key man to watch is Jordan’s moderate King Abdullah II.

In Uncategorized on October 7, 2014 at 3:06 pm
A key man to watch: Jordan's moderate King Abdullah II.

A key man to watch: Jordan’s moderate King Abdullah II.

On January 10th of this year, I began writing a series of columns on key people in the epicenter who I planned to keep an eye on in 2014. The first name on my list was Jordan’s King Abdullah II.

Sure enough, the King has proven himself a central player in a region set aflame by the forces of Radical Islam this year.

As the flames get higher, several critical questions come to the fore:

  • Will ISIS or other Radical groups try to topple the King and raise their black flag over Amman?
  • Will the U.S., NATO and other allies stand closely together with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, one of our most important allies in the region, to make sure this does not happen?
  • Will the U.S., Israel and Sunni Arab countries such as Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia — as well as some of the emirates — forge a quiet but effective alliance not only to stop jihadists like ISIS but to stop the ayatollahs in Iran from going nuclear?

As the year draws to a close, I remain intrigued and impressed with King Abdullah II both a monarch and a Reformer. He is actively trying to lead his small, oil-less, but vitally important nation towards progress and freedom, tolerance and modernity. He’s keeping close ties with the Arab world. He maintains a close friendship with the U.S., and is maintaining his nation’s courageous peace treaty with Israel. He’s also actively trying to help the Palestinians and Israelis make peace, as well. But the Radicals desperately want to topple the King and seize Jordan for themselves.

When I was in Amman in May doing research for my forthcoming novel — The Third Target — I met with Jordan’s Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, Interior Minister and other key officials. They warned of an “explosion” of Radical Islamic extremism and foreign jihadist fighters coming out of Syria that could threaten other nations in the region, including them.

“I’m not worried about Syria imploding,” a senior advisor to Jordan’s Foreign Minister told me, “I’m worried about it exploding” and sending newly emboldened terrorists across the region and across the globe.

I specifically asked Jordan’s Interior Minister, His Excellency Hussein Hazza’ Al-Majali, if ISIS — the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (Arabic for the “Levant,” or Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Israel) — was a particularly serious threat. Without hesitation, he agreed it was.

Majali said he wasn’t worried about ISIS toppling King Abdullah II, assuring me that he and the King’s intelligence and security forces work around the clock to prevent just such a disaster. But when I asked him if the plot of my novel about the rising ISIS threat was credible, he assured me that, unfortunately, it was.

  • Please pray for the moderate Arabs in the epicenter — King Abdullah II chief among them — to be strong and decisive in putting down this rapidly rising threat from ISIS and other jihadists.
  • Let’s pray for the safety of the King, and the millions of Jordanians who live a very stable and peaceful life.
  • Let’s also keep praying for the people of Iraq and Syria who are suffering terribly at this dark time.

Finally, consider this headline from earlier this summer: “ISIS THREATENS TO INVADE JORDAN, ‘SLAUGHTER’ KING ABDULLAH.”

Here are a few excerpts from the story:

“The recent victories in Iraq and Syria by the terrorists of ISIS — said to be an offshoot of al-Qaeda — have emboldened the group and its followers throughout the Middle East,” writes Khaled Abu Toameh, a former Arab affairs reporter for the Jerusalem Post. “Now the terrorists are planning to move their jihad not only to Jordan, but also to the Gaza Strip, Sinai and Lebanon. Failure to act will result in the establishment in the Middle East of a dangerous extremist Islamic empire that will pose a threat to American and Western interests.”….

“According to the sources, ISIS leader Abu Baker al-Baghdadi recently discussed with his lieutenants the possibility of extending the group’s control beyond Syria and Iraq,” Toameh notes. “One of the ideas discussed envisages focusing ISIS’s efforts on Jordan, where Islamist movements already have a significant presence. Jordan was also chosen because it has shared borders with Iraq and Syria, making it easier for the terrorists to infiltrate the kingdom.

“Jordanian political analyst Oraib al-Rantawi sounded alarm bells by noting that the ISIS threat to move its fight to the kingdom was real and imminent,” the report states.

“We in Jordan cannot afford the luxury of just waiting and monitoring,” he cautioned. “The danger is getting closer to our bedrooms. It has become a strategic danger; it is no longer a security threat from groups or cells. We must start thinking outside the box. The time has come to increase coordination and cooperation with the regimes in Baghdad and Damascus to contain the crawling of extremism and terrorism.”

“The ISIS terrorists see Jordan’s Western-backed King Abdullah as an enemy of Islam and an infidel, and have publicly called for his execution,” says Toameh. “ISIS terrorists recently posted a video on YouTube in which they threatened to ‘slaughter’ Abdullah, whom they denounced as a ‘tyrant.’ Some of the terrorists who appeared in the video were Jordanian citizens who tore up their passports in front of the camera and vowed to launch suicide attacks inside the kingdom.”

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What did a Jewish Washington Post columnist write about the Christian #RallyForIsrael? It’s worth reading. @JRubinBlogger

In Uncategorized on October 7, 2014 at 2:36 pm
At the US Capitol on Sunday, Gov. Mike Huckabee rallied Christians to support Israel in our joint fight against Iran, ISIS & Radical Islam.

At the US Capitol on Sunday, Gov. Mike Huckabee rallied Christians to support Israel in our joint fight against Iran, ISIS & Radical Islam.

Jennifer Rubin is an intriguing voice inside the Washington Post. She’s not simply a columnist, she’s also a conservative, and she’s Jewish. This week, she wrote a column about the “Rally For Israel” that took place at the U.S. Capitol on Sunday and was organized by Governor Mike Huckabee and Concerned Women For America’s Penny Nance. It’s a fascinating take — one worth reading in full, and sharing with others. For the full text, and a link, see below.

On a personal note, I was deeply grateful to the Governor and Penny for inviting me to speak at the event. Since we are now living in Israel as a family, I wasn’t able to attend in person. But I strongly supported the Rally and recorded a video for it. And I want to thank everyone who attended, and all those who spoke.

It is absolutely vital that Christians stand with Israel and the Jewish people at this critical hour. It is also vital that we fully support efforts to defeat the Iranian nuclear program, Hamas, ISIS, and all other Radical Islamic threats to the U.S., Israel, and our Arab allies. For as I write about in my forthcoming novel, The Third Target, the stakes are incredibly high. If we do not stop the jihadists in the Middle East, they are coming here, and their goal is not simply to terrorize us, but to annihilate us.

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CHRISTIANS STAND WITH ISRAEL

By Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post

On the day after Jews’ holiest day of the year (Yom Kippur), a mostly Christian throng of zealous pro-Zionist Christians held a “Stand with Israel” rally on Capitol Hill on Sunday. For two hours plus, they sang, they prayed, they cheered and they spoke in defense of Israel. The rally was co-sponsored by Concerned Women for America (over half-a-million religious women voters who adopted Israel as a core issue) and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee. Both CWA president Penny Nance and Huckabee repeatedly delivered the message: America — and Christians in particular — must stand with Israel. Implicitly and sometimes explicitly mentioned was the argument that the administration is insufficiently supportive of Israel and clueless about the enormity of the jihadist threat.

In essence preaching to his flock, Huckabee made clear how central Israel and the defeat of radical Islam are to their faith. He declared, “There is no other nation that reflects the United States as Israel does.” Arguing that both nations value religious liberty he proclaimed that the United States can only be understood in the context of “God’s providence.” They fervently believe that if they break faith with Israel, God will break faith with them.(“If America doesn’t stand with Israel God will remove his hand from us,” Huckabee told them.)

This is the largest and most politically active “Israel Lobby” in the country. (Attendees came from as far away as North Dakota.) If the theology is not quite comprehensible to all Americans, then the geopolitical arguments the speakers made may sound familiar. These Zionists understand Israel and the U.S. are up against the same Islamist fundamentalists who want to cleanse Christians, Jews and non-fundamentalist Muslims from their midst. Journalist Eric Stackelbeck, reviewing the persecution first of Jews in the Middle East and then of Christians, reminded the crowd of mindset of radical Islamists who first go after Jews and then Christians. (“First the Saturday people, then the Sunday people,” he explained is their outlook.)

Huckabee and other speakers were emphatic that even if Americans don’t see this in theological terms, our shared enemies do. “Israel isn’t the ultimate target. We are,” Huckabee said.  When the deputy ambassador from Israel spoke to express his appreciation for the support, he reminded the crowd that in the Middle East it is only Israel which allows women full participation in all facets of society, has a free press and allows Christians to practice freely. But what brought a rousing cheer from the crowd was his declaration, “We are proud to be the Islamic Republic of Iran’s little Satan.”

Several aspects of the gathering are worthy highlighting.

First, the evangelical Zionists are acutely aware of the uptick in anti-Israel and anti-Semitic rhetoric in Europe and on American campuses. Nance and Huckabee both spoke about it directly, warning of the danger of passivity. (A large student contingent from Liberty University was present.) Beyond support for the Jewish state, this group much more so than the administration or the MSM is following this development closely and sees the passivity of elites in the West as nothing less than a repeat of the 1930′s.

Second, Huckabee speaks to these kind of voters in a way that few other politicians do. It stems from his faith, not from a political agenda. He embodies their values and world view, and they know this. He speaks with the passion of a preacher, not with the anger of a politician bent on inflaming the crowd. If he chooses to run in 2016, other candidates will have their work cut out for them if they want to poach voters from Huckabee’s base. The question is whether since his 2008 run and with the benefit of years of Fox News hosting he now has developed the range to appeal beyond this core group.

Third, this crowd sees themselves engaged in an existential threat against radical Islam. These people do not separate Israel from that fight; they are one and the same. A politician who labels himself as pro-Israel but is less than fully committed to the fight against jihadists is unlikely to find much support here. In that sense, they are looking not merely for a pro-Israel leader but an anti-jihadist warrior who understands the stakes if jihadists are not defeated. And for many, this issue ranks right up there with abortion and marriage.

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Hollywood tackles the End Times with “Left Behind” film. But is “The Rapture” a Biblical concept, or a fictional plot device?

In Uncategorized on October 5, 2014 at 12:09 pm

LeftBehind-movie

This weekend, Hollywood tried to tackle one of the most intriguing and controversial topics in Biblical eschatology: “The Rapture.”

A new motion picture — Left Behind — starring Nicolas Cage and based on the best-selling novel series by Dr. Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins was released on more than 1,700 screens nationwide. It depicts the sudden and cataclysmic disappearance of Christ-followers in the last days of human history.

I have not seen the film, and likely won’t for several months at least given my schedule here in Israel, so I cannot review or comment on it.

But I do want to discuss the concept upon which the novels and the film are based, and several related questions. Among them:

  • What exactly is “The Rapture”?
  • Is “The Rapture” a Biblical concept, or merely a fictional plot device?
  • What does the term mean?
  • What are the implications of “The Rapture”?

While the Bible does not indicate precisely when the Rapture will happen, the Holy Scriptures do teach that all true followers of Jesus Christ will be removed from the earth prior to the beginning of the Tribulation. Because God has not chosen believers to suffer the wrath of the Tribulation, people who have received Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord prior to the Rapture will thus be rescued from the worst of the persecution, wars, natural disasters, and judgments that the Book of Revelation, the book of Daniel, and other Scriptures explain will occur during the seven years leading up to the Day of the Lord. People who are not born-again believers in Christ at the moment of the Rapture will remain on the earth.

If a person honestly and genuinely repents of his or her sins and receives Christ as his or her personal Savior and Lord at any point after the Rapture — including during the Tribulation — the Bible teaches that person will without a doubt be forgiven of all sin, be regenerated by the Holy Spirit of God, and be saved from ultimate judgment. This is God’s grace and mercy, and it will be available even after the Rapture, though the Bible indicates that such new believers will still have to endure the terrors that will occur on the earth during that time. Indeed, many will face martyrdom. Only those who are believers before the Rapture will be saved both spiritually and physically from the wrath to come.

While we cannot preclude the possibility that the U.S. could implode before the Rapture happens, the Bible tells believers to comfort one another with the certain knowledge that as bad as events get on earth, people who trust Christ before the Rapture will be spared from the worst that the prophecies tell us is coming.

In this article, I will look specifically at the implications for America if the Rapture were to happen in the near future.

First, however, we need to define our terms.

What Does the Word Rapture Mean?

The most famous passage describing what theologians refer to as the Rapture is found in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. The apostle Paul writes:

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.

While the word rapture does not appear in modern English translations of the Bible, the concept is rooted in Scripture. The word itself comes from the Vulgate, the Latin translation of the Bible. In 1 Thessalonians 4:17 in the Vulgate, the Greek word harpazō is translated rapturo or raeptius, which means “to seize, carry off by force; to seize on, claim for one’s self eagerly; or to snatch out or away.”[i] Most English translations of the Bible—including the King James Version, the New King James Version, the New American Standard Bible, and the New International Version—have, therefore, translated the word harpazō as “caught up.” But English-speaking Bible scholars who studied the Latin Vulgate decided the word rapture was a useful and suitable term to express the scriptural concept of believers being suddenly removed from the world.

If “you happened to pick up a copy of the Latin Vulgate at a garage sale, produced by Jerome in the early 400s, you would indeed find the word Rapture,” Bible scholars Mark Hitchcock and Thomas Ice have noted. “The Vulgate was the main Bible of the medieval Western church until the Reformation. It continues to this day as the primary Latin translation of the Roman Catholic church. . . . It should not be surprising to anyone that an English word in regular use today was developed from the Latin. That word, of course, is rapture.”[ii]

How Does the Bible Describe the Rapture?

In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 we find significant and important clues about the Rapture. Among them:

  • God does not want believers to be ignorant or “uninformed” about the last days or the Rapture like people who “have no hope” (v. 13).
  • Rather, the Lord wants believers to be aware, ready, and expectant for “those who have fallen asleep in Jesus” (born-again believers who have physically died) to be resurrected in the last days—indeed, “the dead in Christ will rise first” (vv. 14, 16).
  • The Lord also wants believers who are still alive in the last days to be aware, ready, and expectant for the fact that we will be united with the Lord Jesus Christ and with resurrected believers during the Rapture (vv. 15-16).
  • During the Rapture, the Lord Jesus Christ will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel of God and the sound of the trumpet of God (v. 16).
  • During the Rapture, as the Lord descends from heaven, believers will be caught up or snatched up from earth to meet the Lord in the air (v. 17).
  • Unlike the Second Coming, Christ does not come all the way down to earth during the Rapture. He only comes down partway to meet us and take us to heaven, where we will remain with him until we join him at the Second Coming. The key, the Scriptures tell us, is that “we shall always be with the Lord.” Christ will never leave nor forsake us. To the contrary, we will always be at his side and worshiping him for who he is and what he has done for us (v. 17).
  • The Rapture should be a comfort to believers because it will be a supreme act of God’s grace (unmerited favor) and his love and mercy as he rescues them out of the traumas of the age from the even-more-horrific traumas to come during the Tribulation (v. 18).

We learn more important details about the Rapture in the apostle Paul’s next chapter to the church in Thessalonica. Consider these verses from 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11:

Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober. For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night. But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him. Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.

Notably, in this passage we learn that:

  • The Lord isn’t going to tell us the specific time when the Rapture will occur (v. 1). The day of the Lord’s coming for us (different in this context from the final Day of the Lord, his judgment after seven years of wars and traumas) will be “just like a thief in the night”—that is, it will come at a time when unbelievers will be surprised because they are not paying attention (v. 2).
  • When unbelievers are saying, “Peace and safety!” then the Rapture will occur, and destruction will follow—and all this will come upon the world “suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape” (v. 3).
  • In describing these “labor pains,” the apostle Paul echoes the words of the Lord Jesus when he explained in Matthew 24 and Luke 21 that the world will be experiencing “birth pangs” in the last days (v. 3).
  • Thus, while we don’t know exactly when or how the Rapture will occur, it seems to come not specifically during a time of intense “contraction” (major wars, terrorist attacks, etc.), but during a time of “release,” a time when things seem to the non-Christian world to be relatively more peaceful and safe than they had previously been (v. 3).
  • This means the Rapture cannot take place during the Tribulation, because no one in their right mind could possibly describe any moment during that seven-year period of apocalyptic wars and natural disasters and persecution and divine judgment as a time of “peace and safety” (v. 3).
  • Believers are not supposed to be caught off guard by the Rapture but are to remain “alert and sober” (vv. 4-8).
  • The truth of the Rapture is meant to encourage believers. The apostle Paul, after all, tells us that because we know the Rapture will occur and the true church will be rescued and removed from the world before the Tribulation begins and the Antichrist emerges and conquers the world, we are to “encourage one another and build up one another” (v. 11).

Do Other Scriptures Shed Light on the Rapture?

Do other New Testament passages shed more light on the Rapture? Yes, they do. The apostle John gives us additional details in his Gospel account, and the apostle Paul provides more information in his first letter to the church in Corinth as well as in the first chapter of 1 Thessalonians. We also see evidence of the Rapture in the book of Revelation.

In John 14:1-6, the Lord Jesus, in a conversation with his disciples, said:

“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way where I am going.”

Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?”

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”

Here, Christ promised to leave earth to prepare heaven for our arrival. Then he promised to come back from heaven to get us and take us to heaven. Therefore, we are not to worry or let our hearts be troubled, because he will eventually come and rescue his church from the troubles of this world.

In 1 Corinthians 15:51-52, the apostle Paul writes, “Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.”

When Paul says “we will not all sleep,” he means not all believers will physically die. We will “all be changed”—that is, all believers will be spiritually transformed. Some will die physically but will be resurrected from the dead and given new, immortal bodies. Others will not die physically but will be “changed” during the Rapture and given new, immortal bodies.

In 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10, the apostle Paul explains that believers will be rescued from the coming wrath of the Tribulation, explaining that we serve “a living and true God” and that we currently “wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.”

The book of Revelation gives us interesting clues about the Rapture as well. In Revelation 3:10, the Lord Jesus reinforces his promise to remove those who are faithful to him from the wrath of the Tribulation when he says, “Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.”

Notably, the word church or churches is mentioned eighteen times in the first three chapters of Revelation. The apostle John is being told by the Lord to give his messages to a range of different types of church congregations, some who are walking very faithfully with the Lord, but most of whom (five out of seven) are being told to repent or face judgment. Then a striking turning point occurs.

Suddenly, as chapter 4 begins, the apostle John is no longer focused on the churches. Rather, he is caught up to heaven and sees events unfolding from the perspective of heaven. “After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, ‘Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.’ Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne” (4:1-2).

The word wrath is mentioned eleven times in the book of Revelation to describe the events during the Tribulation. One of the main reasons for the Rapture, the apostle Paul tells us, is to remove the church from the wrath to come during the Tribulation. “For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:9).

Remarkably, beginning in Revelation chapter 4, neither the word church nor churches is used during any of the descriptions of Tribulation events in the next eighteen chapters. Only in the final chapter of the book of Revelation, when all the events of the End Times have been described, does the Lord turn his attention back to the existing churches on earth and say, “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches” (Revelation 22:16). The fact that churches are referred to so frequently at the beginning of the book and then not again until the last chapter is because the church—the institution as we have known her for the past twenty centuries—is not a factor during the events of the Tribulation. People are still coming to faith in Christ, but they are not operating as the church during that time. Rather, the church has been removed, snatched away, caught up, or raptured prior to the Tribulation.

Examples in the Bible of People Who Were Raptured

One of the things that has intrigued me in the study of the Bible and prophecy—specifically the concept of the Rapture—is that the Lord has given us two examples of people who were raptured in the Old Testament. In a sense, they are examples or “prophetic pictures” of what is coming for all believers at a certain moment in the not-too-distant future.

In the book of Genesis, we learn about a righteous servant of the Lord named Enoch. The Bible tells us that “Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him” (Genesis 5:24). In other words, Enoch obeyed the word of the Lord while living his physical life on earth, and then the Lord decided that rather than requiring Enoch to die physically before going to heaven, he would simply snatch Enoch away while he was still physically alive. The book of Hebrews confirms this interpretation. “By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; and he was not found because God took him up; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God” (Hebrews 11:5). Think about that for a moment. The Lord was so pleased with Enoch that he made him the first example of a person raptured from the earth. Enoch, however, was not the last.

In the book of 2 Kings, we read about the Hebrew prophet Elijah. The Lord was so pleased with Elijah that he sent a chariot of fire to whisk the prophet away to heaven while he was still alive and walking alongside his young protégé, Elisha. “As they were going along and talking, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire and horses of fire which separated the two of them, and Elijah went up by a whirlwind to heaven. Elisha saw it and cried out, ‘My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and its horsemen!’ And he saw Elijah no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them in two pieces. He also took up the mantle of Elijah that fell from him and returned and stood by the bank of the Jordan” (2 Kings 2:11-13). The text goes on to tell us that fifty Israelites then proceeded to search for the living Elijah—or at least his dead body—for three full days, but they were unable to find him. Why? Because Elijah had not simply been moved to another location by the Lord. Elijah had not physically died. He had become the second person in the Bible to be raptured.

The Lord Jesus himself gives us the picture of another type of rapture. While the circumstances are not precisely the same as what the apostle Paul describes in 1 Thessalonians, they do shed some light on what the Rapture will be like. Christ, of course, was crucified, killed, and buried. Then he was raised from the dead on the third day, according to the Scriptures. After that, he spent time with the believers on earth. During that time, he had a real body, but it was a body that had been dramatically changed. For example, the Lord Jesus spoke, walked, ate, cooked, and traveled with those he loved. He had real flesh and blood, as he demonstrated to Doubting Thomas in John chapter 20. But he also appeared, disappeared, and walked through walls.

In Acts 1, Christ beautifully and amazingly demonstrated this type of rapture:

And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”

Acts 1:9-11

Can you imagine that? One moment Jesus was talking to his disciples on the Mount of Olives. The next moment he was floating up to heaven through the clouds. Someday soon, believers will experience something very similar.

Not every Christian has studied these Scriptures about the Rapture, or understands them, or believes them. Nevertheless, the Bible teaches that every single person who has received the free gift of forgiveness and salvation through faith in Jesus Christ—and who is physically alive when the Lord decides the moment has come—will be caught up from the earth to meet Jesus in the air. What a glorious thing that will be. I hope it happens in my lifetime. I am really looking forward to it, as are my wife and children. We are eager to see the Lord Jesus face-to-face. We are excited about his return and amazed by these promises he has made us.

If the Lord had called the church to go through the Tribulation, then we would endure it willingly and for his glory. We would do so knowing that the Holy Spirit would give each of us the strength, the courage, the boldness, and the words to witness for Jesus Christ in the darkest hours of human history. After all, the Lord Jesus tells us what he told the apostle Paul: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). At the end of Matthew 28, Christ said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” Then He commanded us, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you.” And he promised, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (vv. 18-20). So we may be assured of his grace, mercy, love, and presence through all circumstances.

But the Lord didn’t call believers to endure the Tribulation. Instead, he promised to remove the church before the wrath comes. For this we are grateful, and we want more believers to know and understand and be encouraged by these powerful promises.

Are You Ready?

The question is not whether the Rapture will occur. The question is whether you will be spiritually ready to meet Jesus Christ face-to-face when it happens and be caught up in the air with him and all believers, or whether you will not be ready and have to remain on earth to face the wrath of the Tribulation.

If you’re not 100 percent certain at this point in your life that your sins are forgiven, that your soul is saved, and that you will go to heaven whether you face natural death or the Rapture, then may I encourage you to read the following verses and receive Jesus Christ right now as your personal Savior and Lord?

  • In John 3:3, the Lord Jesus told a religious leader who came to him seeking spiritual guidance, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” One’s physical birth into a religious family, Jesus was saying, is not enough. Nor is being a very religious person. Nor even a religious leader. Something else has to happen on the inside. Thus, as you read the New Testament, it becomes clear that born again is a biblical term referring to a person who 1) is fully convinced that faith in Jesus Christ’s death on the cross and resurrection from the dead is the only way to be forgiven of his sins and adopted into God’s family; and 2) has consciously, willfully, and purposefully asked God through prayer to wash his sins away and save him through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
  • In John 1:12, we learn that “as many as received Him [Jesus Christ], to them He gave the right to become children of God.”
  • Jesus said in John 3:16 that “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
  • In Romans 10:9-10, the apostle Paul explains how to be born again: “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”
  • Then, in 2 Corinthians 5:17-18, Paul tells us the result of being born again: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.”
  • In Revelation 3:20, Christ encourages you to make this decision immediately and not to refuse him or shut him out of your life any longer. “Behold, I [Jesus] stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.”

Would you like to make that decision? You can receive Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord right now. Here is a suggested prayer that has been helpful to many people all over the world—including my father and me—in becoming followers of Christ and in sharing the gospel with others. The key is not so much the precise words as the attitude of your heart.

Lord Jesus, thank you for loving me. Thank you for having a wonderful plan and purpose for my life. I need you today—I need you to forgive me for all of my sins. Thank you for dying on the cross to pay the penalty for my sins. Thank you for rising again from the dead and proving that you are the Way, the Truth, and the Life and the only way to get to heaven. I open the door of my heart and my life right now. I receive you as my Savior and Lord. Thank you for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Please change my life. Please fill me with your Holy Spirit. Please take control of my life and make me the kind of person you want me to be so I can serve you and please you forever. Thank you so much. I love you, and I want to follow you. Amen.

If you just prayed with sincere faith in Christ’s death and resurrection, then congratulations! You’ve just been adopted into God’s family. Welcome! Let me give you a quick snapshot of seven wonderful things that have just happened.

1. You have a new spiritual life. The apostle Paul put it this way in 2 Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”

2. You have made everyone in heaven happy. According to the words of Jesus in Luke 15:10, there is great rejoicing in heaven because you have become a follower of the living God. “I tell you,” Jesus said, “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

3. You are going to heaven when you die or when the Rapture happens. According to the words of Jesus in John 3:16, you now have eternal life. You will not go to hell and perish eternally when you die physically. Rather, you will go to heaven and live forever with God and with all those who have been adopted into his family through faith in Jesus Christ. In fact, the New Testament was written precisely to show people how to find eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ. As we read in 1 John 5:13, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.” God wants you to know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you are now forever safe in his family. Take confidence in his promises.

4. You have the Holy Spirit living within you. According to the words of the apostle Paul in Ephesians 1:13-14, your salvation has been sealed and secured forever by God’s Holy Spirit, who now lives within you. “In Him [Jesus Christ], you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.”

5. You have access to a supernatural source of peace. According to Philippians 4:7, you now have access to a supernatural peace with God and internal peace of mind, regardless of whatever external circumstances come your way. “The peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

6. You have access to a supernatural source of hope. According to the words of Hebrews 6:18-19, all followers of Jesus Christ are encouraged to “take hold of the hope set before us” and to view “this hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast.”

7. You have access to God’s supernatural wisdom. According to James 1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”

Now, I strongly encourage you to find some people who also love Jesus and are his faithful followers and tell them what you have just done. Allow them to rejoice with you, and ask them to help you find a good, solid, Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church congregation where you can begin attending. Start asking the Lord for an older, wiser follower of Christ to begin discipling you—that is, to begin teaching you the Scriptures, answering your questions, praying with you, and encouraging you to actually put into practice in your life all that the Lord teaches us in the Bible.

I would also encourage you to choose three people who are not born again and tell them what you’ve just discovered about God’s love and forgiveness and why you chose to receive Christ into your life and become his follower. Answer their questions as best you can. Perhaps give them a copy of this book to help them understand why you’ve made this decision. Better yet, find out if they have a Bible, and if they don’t, offer to go to a bookstore and help them pick one out to begin studying and reading on their own. Now is not the time to keep the miracle that has just happened in your life to yourself—go tell people! And don’t stop at three. Tell as many as will listen. Tell them lovingly and gently. Don’t force it down their throats, of course. But don’t be shy, either. They need to know these truths and make a choice one way or the other, just like you did.

[Note: This article is adapted from a chapter in my non-fiction book, Implosion: Can America Recover From Its Economic & Spiritual Challenges In Time?]


[i] See definition of harpazō in Strong’s Concordance, available online at http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G726&t=KJV.

[ii] Mark Hitchcock and Thomas Ice, The Truth Behind Left Behind, (Sisters, OR: Multnomah Publishers, 2004), pp. 22-23.

Yom Kippur: Where do we find atonement for our sins if we have no Temple?

In Uncategorized on October 3, 2014 at 3:36 pm
A beautiful painting of a Jewish priest blowing the shofar (ram's horn) for Yom Kippur.

A beautiful painting of a Jewish priest blowing the shofar (ram’s horn) for Yom Kippur.

It is almost sundown here in Israel, and we are about to begin Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

In the Scriptures, the Israelites were commanded by the Lord to fast and pray and bring their sacrifices to the Temple in Jerusalem, and then to ask for the Lord’s forgiveness for all the sins they and their nation had committed that year.

Only the sacrifice of a perfect animal, done with a humble, repentant heart, and with faith in God’s mercy and grace, would bring about forgiveness of sins.

  • “For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.” (Leviticus 17:11)

This Hebrew Bible precept was later underscored in the New Testament.

  • “In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” (Hebrews 9:22)

The problem is: What do we find atonement in the modern age if we don’t have a Temple in Jerusalem?

How can we make sacrifices and receive forgiveness of sins — and thus the right to enter the holiness of heaven and live with the Lord in heaven forever and ever — without being able to sacrifice a perfect lamb at the Temple in Jerusalem, where the Lord designated all sacrifices to occur?

The destruction of the Temple by the Romans in 70 A.D. was a huge blow to Judaism. It deprived Jews of the place to receive atonement from God.

The good news is what the Hebrew Prophet Daniel told us in Daniel 9:24-26.

Daniel told us that:

  • the Messiah (or “Annointed One”) would come at a certain time in history “to atone for wickedness” and “to bring in everlasting righteousness”
  • the Messiah would be “cut off and will have nothing”
  • then Jerusalem and the Temple would be destroyed — as Daniel noted, foreign invaders “will come and will destroy the city and the sanctuary”

Consider that seriously. Daniel told us something extraordinary — that a coming Messiah would bring atonement for our sins before the Temple would be destroyed.

In retrospect, that makes perfect sense: Why would the Lord take away the Temple before providing a new way for atonement?

The Hebrew Prophet Isaiah gave us many more details about the Messiah’s role of suffering and dying as our atonement. Consider these passages from Isaiah 53:

3 He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he took up our infirmities
and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted.

5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.

6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before her shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.

8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
And who can speak of his descendants?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was stricken.

9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.

11 After the suffering of his soul,
he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.

13 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.

When I was younger, and as I processed these and other Hebrew prophecies of the Messiah — that He would be born in Bethlehem Ephratah, that He would live and minister in the Galilee, that He would do miracles and teach in parables, that He would be the Savior not only for the Jews but be a “light to the nations” — and as I realized that the Messiah had to come before the Temple and Jerusalem were destroyed in 70 A.D., I came to the conclusion that Jesus is the Messiah. His death and resurrection proved that He is the “Way, the Truth and the Life, and that no one comes to the Father except through Him,” as He said in John 14:6. Jesus’ shed blood provides the only atonement for sins for Jews and Gentiles today.

Jesus (Yeshua, in Hebrew) represents the “New Covenant” — the new deal, as it were, between God and man — that the Hebrew Prophet Jeremiah told us to wait for in Jeremiah 31.

I received Jesus the Messiah as my Savior and Lord when I was young. By the amazing grace of the God of Israel, He helped me humbled myself, confess my sins to my Abba Father, believe in my heart that Jesus died and rose again, and confess with my mouth that Jesus is the Lord. Then, at that moment — just as He promised in the Scriptures — Jesus atoned for my sins, and gave me eternal life. My name was written in the Book of Life forever and ever. Not because I deserved it. Not because I earned it. Not because I could buy it. Rather, the Lord God gave me this atonement and eternal for free, because I received the Messiah by faith.

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.” (John 1:12)

It is my earnest hope you will discover — or rediscover — the eternal atonement provided by the death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth for yourself and your family this Yom Kippur. I’m praying for you to find His amazing love, grace and forgiveness, and the hope and joy that only He can give us.

May the God of Israel bless you and write your name in the Book of Life forever.

To learn more about the remarkable Hebrew prophecy of the coming Messiah found in Isaiah chapter 53, please click here.

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