In looking for the next President, Evangelicals should look for a Josiah. (Why an ancient Jewish king provides a powerful model for the next American President.)

Josiah(Washington, D.C.) — I first posted this column on August 18th.

Today, I’m re-posting it in light of my column last week suggesting the search for a “Josiah” among Evangelical Christians has come down to a Final Four (which I believe are, in alphabetical order, Cruz, Huckabee, Rubio and Santorum). Hope you find it helpful.

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As the presidential campaign season heats up, Americans are trying to get to know the many candidates in both parties and determine who would be best to lead America in 2017 and beyond. Who has the right character, vision, and detailed, substantive, serious plans for reform? Who has the wisdom, experience and sound judgment? Who is ready for the enormous and complicated challenges facing this great country?

Choosing the right leader is not an easy process, but it is vitally important. America is on the wrong track,  going in the wrong direction. We are in heading steadily — perhaps rapidly — towards implosion. We’ve murdered more than 57 million babies. We have five Justices on the Supreme Court who have decided that the Bible is wrong and they know better than God what the definition of marriage should be. We have taken on $18 trillion in debt and we’re taking on more and more debt with no end in sight. We are surrendering to Russia, Iran and ISIS. Our tax code is corruptingly complex and killing jobs and opportunity. We can’t — or won’t — control our sovereign borders. Our schools are a mess. Violence, drugs and pornography are epidemic. Sadly, the list goes on and on.

So who can get us turned around and heading in the right direction? I’ve been praying about this and studying the Scriptures for many months, asking the Lord for clarity, and here is what I have concluded.

America needs a Josiah.

A President cannot save America from all our troubles, but leadership matters. We need a leader like the one-time King of Judah whom the Bible describes as one of the most humble, strong, wise and impressive leaders of all-time. Last summer, at the Word of Life Bible camp in the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York, I taught a five-day series of messages titled, “Living Like Jeremiah In A Time of Coming Judgment.” It was a survey of the life and times and ministry of the ancient Hebrew prophet Jeremiah. On Day #2, I taught about the first of five kings under whom Jeremiah served. His name was Josiah and his story is one that offers great hope.

I hope you’ll take a moment and read through these notes, and read through the accounts of King Josiah in 2 Kings 22-23 and 2 Chronicles 34-35. At the end of these notes, you’ll see some of my “final thoughts” about how I believe the life and lessons of Josiah apply to our time and this presidential campaign. I hope you find this helpful. Please feel free to share with others.

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JOSIAH AND THE ROAD TO REFORM AND REVIVAL

Lessons from the life of Judah’s most humble and godly king

At a time when Hebrew prophets like Jeremiah were warning of the coming judgment of the people of Jerusalem and Judah because they were refused to read, listen to, or obey the Word of God, the Lord mercifully raised up a leader who did, in fact, love the Lord his God and loved His Word.

His name was Josiah. A godly king, Josiah passionately sought the Lord in his private life and pursued bold, sweeping reforms in his public life to get the Jewish nation turned around and headed back in the right direction.

As a result, the Lord in His sovereignty graciously chose to forestall the promised coming judgment for more than two decades. Indeed, during Josiah’s tenure in power, the Jewish people experienced one of the greatest periods of repentance, reform and revival in their ancient history.

In the end, however, when Josiah passed away, new leaders emerged and tragically they turned away from the Lord and led the people astray. Judgment came to the nation in 586 B.C. with the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple at the hands of the Babylonian army.

Are there lessons from the life of Josiah for our nation at this time? Is it possible that the Lord might graciously raise up a leader like Josiah who loves Him and His Word and will boldly pursue serious reforms to help turn our nation around and get us headed back in the right direction? Despite our many sins and failures as a nation, might the Lord be willing to forestall judgment – at least for a while – and give us a season of great reform and revival?

These are important and intriguing questions. As we seek answers, let us begin by trying to better understand Josiah, his times, his nation, and his God.

Who was Josiah?

  • Josiah was 8 years old when he became the king of Judah (2 Chronicles 34:1), that is around 627 B.C.
  • Josiah reigned for 31 years. (2 Chronicles 34:1)
  • Josiah’s grandfather was Manasseh, the most wicked king in the history of Judah (2 Kings 21:1-18).
    • Manasseh was 12 years old when he became king (2 Kings 21:1)
    • Manasseh “did evil in the sight of the Lord, according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord dispossessed before the sons of Israel.” (2 Kings 21:2)
    • Manasseh was the most evil king in the history of Judah and during his reign idol worship, witchcraft, and child sacrifice were practiced. Indeed, the Bible states that “Manasseh seduced them [the people of Judah] to do evil more than the nations whom the Lord destroyed before the sons of Israel.” (see 2 Kings 21:3-9, and particularly verse 9).
    • Because of the evil done during the reign of Manasseh, terrible judgment was coming and it was certain. “Now the Lord spoke through His servants the prophets” that “I am bringing calamity on Jerusalem and Judah” and “I will wipe Jerusalem as one wipes a dish….I will abandon the remnant of My inheritance and deliver them into the hand of their enemies, and they will become as plunder and spoil to all their enemies because they have done evil in My sight, and have been provoking Me.” (see 2 Kings 21:10-15)
  • Josiah’s father was Amon, another wicked king of Judah. (2 Kings 21:24)
    • Amon was 22 years old when he became king. (2 Kings 21:19)
    • Amon reigned for only two years before being assassinated. (2 Chronicles 33:21, 2 Kings 21:23)
    • Amon “did evil in the sight of the Lord, as Manasseh his father had done.” (2 Kings 21:20)
    • Amon “walked in all the ways that his father [Manasseh] had walked, the idols that his father had served and worshipped them.” (2 Kings 21:21)
    • Amon “forsook the Lord, the God of his fathers, and did not walk in the way of the Lord.” (2 Kings 21:22)
    • “The servants of Amon conspired against him and killed the king in his own house.” (2 Kings 21:23)
  • Josiah’s mother was “Jedidah the daughter of Adaiah of Bozkath.” (2 Kings 22:1)
    • Jedidah became a widow at a fairly young age, as Amon was only 24 when he was assassinated (2 Kings 21:23
    • The Scriptures do not tell us whether Jedidah played a positive spiritual role in the life of Josiah.

What was the turning point in Josiah’s life?

  • The Bible tells us that Josiah was about 15 or 16 years old (in the eighth year of his reign) when “he began to seek the God of his father David.” (2 Chronicles 34:2)
  • Josiah was about 19 or 20 years old (in the twelfth year of his reign) when he began “to purge Judah and Jerusalem” of the idols and altars and places of false worship. (2 Chronicles 34:2-7)
  • Josiah was about 26 years old when he directed the High Priest (Hilkiah) to hire workers to clean up and repair the Temple in Jerusalem. (2 Chronicles 34:8-13)
    • It was during this process that a lost copy of “the book of the Law of the Lord given by Moses” was found in the Temple. (2 Chronicles 34:14)
    • The king asked that the word of the Lord be read to him and it was read to him. (2 Kings 22:8-10)
    • “When the king heard the words of the book of the law, he tore his clothes. Then the king commanded [his servants], ‘Go and inquire of the Lord for me and the people and all Judah concerning the words of this book that has been found, for great is the wrath of the Lord that burns against us, because our fathers have not listened to the words of this book, to do all that is written concerning us.’” (2 Kings 22:8-10)
    • Hearing the very word of God had a tremendously powerful impact on Josiah. As the king heard the word of God – as it was read to him and as he listened to it carefully – he suddenly understood its import.
    • Josiah understood that while he was making some good reforms, he still was not leading the nation in the right direction.
    • Josiah understood that the leaders of the nation before him hadn’t led the nation in the right direction, that they had ignored and defied the Lord and his word, and that there were enormous consequences facing them for having taken this path.
    • Josiah understood that certain judgment was coming.
    • Josiah, thus asked his advisors to seek the Lord to find out whether there was any way to turn the ship of state around, as it were, to get back on the right track and to avoid cataclysmic judgment.
    • Josiah’s advisors – including the High Priest – apparently did not know the Lord well enough to seek the word of the Lord directly. So they sought out a true servant of God who was living in Jerusalem. (2 Chronicles 34:20-22)

What was the message that the Lord sent to Josiah?

  • The Lord saw Josiah’s anguish over the wrong direction his nation was going in, and in His mercy the Lord sent a message to the king through a prophetess named Huldah. (2 Chronicles 34:22-30)
  • This is the message Josiah received:
      1. Judgment is coming to the nation because the people have turned against the Lord and His word – it is deserved, it is certain, it will come to pass, and nothing can be done to stop it.
        • “Behold, I bring evil on this place and on its inhabitants, even all the words of the book which the king of Judah has read.” (2 Kings 22:16)
        • “Because they have forsaken Me and have burned incense to other gods that they might provoke Me to anger with all the work of their hands, therefore My wrath burns against this place, and it shall not be quenched.” (2 Kings 22:17)
      2.  However, because Josiah’s heart is so tender before the Lord and because when he heard the word of the Lord he humbled himself and repented and sought to obey the Lord, God sovereignly chooses to delay the certain coming judgment until after Josiah passed away.
        • “But to the king of Judah who sent you to inquire of the Lord thus you shall say to him….‘[B]ecause your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants that they should become a desolation and a curse, and you have torn your clothes and wept before Me, I truly have heard you,’ declares the Lord.” (2 Kings 22:18-19)
        • “Therefore, behold, I will gather you to your fathers, and you will be gathered to your grave in peace, and your eyes will not see all the evil which I will bring on this place.” (2 Kings 22:20)

What kind of reforms did Josiah make during time in power?

  • Josiah purged the land of idol worship. (2 Chronicles chapter 34:3-7)
  • Josiah ordered the Temple to be cleaned and repaired (2 Chronicles 34:8-13)
  • Josiah made the reading and studying of the Bible a top priority for the Jewish people. The Scriptures state that he called together “all” the leaders of Jerusalem and Judah and “all the people” of Jerusalem and Judah and personally “read in their hearing all the words of the covenant which was found in the house of the Lord.” (2 Chronicles 34:29-30)
  • Josiah publicly made a covenant before the Lord and all the people “to walk after the Lord, and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes which all his heart and with all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant written in the book [the Bible].” (2 Chronicles 34:31)
  • Josiah led the people to join him in this covenant to serve the Lord with all their heart and soul, “so all the inhabitants of Jerusalem did according to the covenant of God, the God of their fathers” and “throughout his lifetime they did not turn from following the Lord God of their fathers.” (2 Chronicles 34:32-33)
  • Beginning when he was about 26, Josiah reinstituted the celebration of the Passover to remind the people of God’s might and mercy, and it had never been celebrated so widely or in such a special manner as during the days of Josiah. (2 Chronicles chapter 35, see especially 35:18)

How did the Lord regard Josiah?

  • Josiah “always did right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the ways of his father, David, and did not turn aside to the right or to the left.” (2 Chronicles 34:2)
  • “Before him there was no king like him who turned to the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses.” (2 Kings 23:25)
  • “Nor did any [king] like him arise after him.” (2 Kings 23:25)
  • When Josiah eventually died, he “was buried in the tombs of his fathers” and “all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah.” (2 Chronicles 35:24)
  • Jeremiah was particularly broken-hearted by the death of King Josiah. “Then Jeremiah chanted a lament for Josiah. And all the male and female singers speak about Josiah in their lamentation to this day. And they made them an ordinance in Israel; behold, they are also written in the Lamentations.” (2 Chronicles 35:25)

Did the Lord cancel the coming judgment because of Josiah’s faithfulness?

  • No.
  • The Lord delayed but did not cancel the coming judgment of Judah and Jerusalem because of Josiah’s faithfulness to Him and His word.
  • Josiah died around 609 B.C.
  • Judah and Jerusalem were destroyed in 586 B.C. by the Babylonian empire, in fulfillment of the Biblical prophecies.

How long did the Lord delay the judgment of Jerusalem and Judah?

  • Remarkably, the Lord delayed the prophesied and certain judgment of Jerusalem and Judah for 22 ½ years beyond the life of Josiah.
  • This means that 53 ½ years passed between the time Josiah ascended to the throne to the time the divine judgment of Jerusalem and Judah came to pass in 586 B.C. under the reign of the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar. (31 years of Josiah’s reign + 22 ½ years of the reigns of other kings)
    1. Jehoahaz succeeded Josiah as king and reigned for three months in Jerusalem, but “he did evil in the sight of the Lord” and was arrested and imprisoned by an Egyptian Pharoah (see 2 Kings 23:28-33).
    2. Eliakim (who changed his name to “Jehoiakim”) was made the next king and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem but “he did evil in the sight of the Lord.” (2 Kings 23:34-37)
    3. Jehoiachin was the next king, he reigned three months in Jerusalem, but “he did evil in the sight of the Lord,” and then the Babylonian empire came to conquer the Jews and Jehoiachin was taken into exile in Babylon. (2 Kings 24:1-16)
    4. Mattaniah was made the next king of Judah by the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar, who changed his name to “Zedekiah.” Zedekiah reigned in Jerusalem for eleven years under Babylonian sovereignty. In the end, however, the Babylonians “slaughtered the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, then put out the eyes of Zedekiah and bound him with bronze fetters and brought him to Babylon.” Then, in 586 B.C., the commander of the Babylonian forces “burned the house of the Lord, the king’s house, and all the houses of Jerusalem” and then “the rest of the people who were left in the city [were] carried away into exile.” (see 2 Kings 24:17-20 and 2 Kings chapter 25)

What were the godly spiritual influences in Josiah’s life that helped him turn to the Lord?

  • The Bible does not give us precise clarity about how the Lord began to work so powerfully in Josiah’s life, but it does give us clues.
  • Let’s start with the negative.
    • Clearly, Josiah’s father was not a positive influence, and the Scriptures are silent as to any positive influence his mother was on his spiritual life.
    • There is little, if any, evidence that Hilkiah – the chief priest – was a positive influence on Josiah.
      • Neither the accounts in 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles provides evidence that Hilkiah has provided godly counsel to Josiah during his youth.
      • Neither account provides evidence that Hilkiah has ever set foot in the Temple prior to King Josiah ordering its restoration.
      • Both accounts suggest Hilkiah was as surprised as everybody else concerning his discovery of the “book of the law of the Lord given by Moses” in the Temple.
      • Hilkiah does not take it upon himself to read the Scriptures to the king, but gives the job to Shaphan the scribe.
      • Neither account suggests that Hilkiah tore his robes when he hears the Scriptures read, in sharp contrast to Josiah’s reaction.
      • When King Josiah commands Hilkiah and his colleagues to “go, inquire of the Lord” concerning the coming judgment of Judah for her disobedience to God and His word, neither Hilkiah nor his colleagues appear to have a relationship with the Lord that they can go seek Him on their own. Instead, they have to seek out the wife of the keeper of the wardrobe to see if she can talk to the Lord on their behalf.
      • It is Josiah – not Hilkiah – who calls the leaders and people of the nation together to read the word of the Lord to them.
      • It is Josiah – not Hilkiah – who calls the people to celebrate Passover as they have never celebrated it before.
      • Some commentators speak well of Hilkiah for finding the lost Scriptural scroll and presiding over the Passover, but I see no evidence that these were his ideas, or that he provided either the king or nation godly, Biblical counsel much less godly leadership. By comparison, we have the example of Ezra who as both priest and scribe showed true spiritual leadership – in close cooperation with Nehemiah the governor – in helping the Jewish people turn back to the Lord.
  • Now, let’s consider the positive.
    • Josiah’s great-grandfather was Hezekiah, who was one of the most-godly kings in the ancient history of Judah – and one of its boldest reformers – even though he certainly made mistakes. While Josiah never met Hezekiah, it is very likely that he learned of his great-grandfather’s story of faith and bold reform as he was educated in the palace.
      • Hezekiah became king at 25 years old. (2 Chronicles 29:1)
      • Hezekiah reigned for 29 years. (2 Chronicles 29:1)
      • Hezekiah “did right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father David had done.” (2 Chronicles 29:2)
      • Hezekiah “opened the doors of the house of the Lord and repaired them.” (2 Chronicles 29:3, and see all of chapter 29)
      • Hezekiah restored the Temple worship. (2 Chronicles 29:20-36)
      • Hezekiah reinstituted the celebration of the Passover to remind the people of God’s might and mercy. (2 Chronicles chapter 30)
      • Hezekiah destroyed idol worship throughout the land. (2 Chronicles chapter 31)
      • Hezekiah was a man who prayed to the Lord and the Lord answered his prayers (2 Chronicles 32)
    • In God’s tremendous grace and mercy, Josiah’s wicked grand-father, Manasseh, was miraculously converted, forgiven and saved before his death.
      • Manasseh died when Josiah was only four years old.
      • However, Manasseh was a true believer for some – and possibly all – of those four years.
      • While Manasseh’s dramatic conversion made no impact on Josiah’s father, Amon, Manasseh may have prayed for and given special attention to little Josiah.
      • It is also possible that some of palace staff could have passed along some of the story of Manasseh’s conversion to young Josiah as he grew up in the palace.
  • Consider 2 Chronicles 33:10-20:
    • “When he [Manasseh] was in distress, he entreated the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of Israel.
    • “When he prayed to Him, He was moved by his entreaty and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem and to his kingdom.
    • “Then Manasseh knew that the Lord was God….
    • “He [Manasseh] also removed the foreign gods and the idol from the house of the Lord….
    • “He set up the altar of the Lord….
    • “He ordered Judah to serve the Lord God of Israel….”
    • During Josiah’s reign, God graciously raised up a series of prophets, including Jeremiah, Zephaniah and Habakkuk to declare the word of the Lord. There is little, if any, Scriptural evidence that Zephaniah or Habakkuk had a relationship with King Josiah, though we can be fairly confident that a monarch who loved the Lord as much as Josiah did would have wanted to hear what the Lord was saying through such prophets.
    • There is some Scriptural evidence of a relationship between Josiah and Jeremiah.
      • The prophet Jeremiah was called by the Lord into ministry during the thirteenth year of King Josiah’s reign, when Josiah was 21 years old. (Jeremiah 1:1-2)
      • God raised up Jeremiah specifically to speak the word of the Lord to the Jewish nation, the Jewish leaders, including the king, as well as to the nations surrounding Judah.
        • “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5)
        • “See, I have appointed you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.” (Jeremiah 1:9)
        • “Now behold, I have made you today as a fortified city and as a pillar of iron against the whole land, to the kings of Judah, to its princes, and to the people of the land. They will fight against you, but they will not overcome you, for I am with you to deliver you,” declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 1:18-19)
      • Josiah and Jeremiah were likely the same age, or nearly so. Many Biblical commentators say Jeremiah was in his late teens or early twenties when he was called into ministry.
      • Might the two young men known each other growing up? We cannot say for certain, but it is possible.
        •  We know that Josiah was born and raised in the town of Anathoth, which was only 3 miles northeast of Jerusalem, the capital, where Josiah was born and raised. (Jeremiah 1:1)
        • Jeremiah was born into a priestly family and his father was named Hilkiah. (Jeremiah 1:1) This priestly role may have brought the family into Jerusalem on a regular basis.
        • Is it possible that this is the same Hilkiah who was the High Priest? While many Biblical commentators believe the answer is “no,” some believe Jeremiah’s father might have been the High Priest. If so, then that could have been Josiah and Jeremiah into contact.
      • Again, Jeremiah was called into ministry was Josiah was 21. But it wasn’t until Josiah was 26 years old (“in the eighteenth year of his reign,” according to 2 Chronicles 34:8) that Josiah ordered the Temple to be cleaned and restored and the book of the law was discovered and read to him. What kind of conversations and times of prayer was Jeremiah having with Josiah during these five years?
      • Josiah reigned as king in Jerusalem for 31 years. (2 Kings 22:1) Jeremiah served as an active prophet of the Lord God Almighty for 18 years of those years. What kind of conversations and times of prayer was Jeremiah having with Josiah during these 18 years?
      • While the Scriptures do not give us any details, it is reasonable to believe that Josiah was trying to persuade his children to follow the Lord and read and heed the Scriptures. It is also reasonable to believe that Jeremiah was encouraging the king in this regard. It is also reasonable to believe that Jeremiah’s heart broke as he saw Josiah’s sons – the future kings of Judah – refusing to turn to the Lord and His word.
        • “Return, O faithless sons, I will heal your faithfulness.” (Jeremiah 3:22)
        • “It shall come about in that day,” declares the Lord, “that the heart of the king and the heart of the princes will fail….” (Jeremiah 4:9)
        • “For My people are foolish, they know Me not; they are stupid children and have no understanding. They are shrewd to do evil, but to do good they do not know.” (Jeremiah 4:22)
        • “The word of the Lord also came to me saying, ‘You shall not take a wife for yourself nor have sons or daughters in this place.’ For thus says the Lord concerning the sons and daughters born in this place, and concerning the mothers who bear them, and their fathers who beget them in this land: ‘They will die of deadly diseases, they will not be lamented or buried….’ Then you are to say to them….‘You…have done evil, even more than your forefathers; for behold, you are each one walking according to the stubbornness of his own evil heart, without listening to Me. So I will hurl you out of this land into the land which you have not known, neither you nor your fathers; and there you will serve other gods day and night, for I will grant you no favor.’” (Jeremiah 16:1-4, 11-13)
      • The Book of Jeremiah refers to Josiah no fewer than 16 times. (Jeremiah 1:1-2,  1:3, 3:6, 22:11, 22:18, 25:1, 25:3, 26:1, 27:1, 35:1, 36:1, 36:2, 36:9, 37:1, 45:1, 46:2)
      • When King Josiah died, he “was buried in the tombs of his fathers” and “all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah.” (2 Chronicles 35:24) Jeremiah was present for the burial of Josiah, was particularly broken-hearted by Josiah’s death, because he knew that great evil and terrible judgments were coming.
      • Jeremiah influenced the nation on how to mourn for and remember this godly king. “Then Jeremiah chanted a lament for Josiah. And all the male and female singers speak about Josiah in their lamentation to this day. And they made them an ordinance in Israel; behold, they are also written in the Lamentations.” (2 Chronicles 35:25)

Final Thoughts

  • Like the nation of Judah in its day, America is heading towards implosion, and towards judgment.
  • Only the grace and mercy of God can get us turned around and heading in the right direction.
  • We urgently need a great revival inside the Church, and a Great Awakening among the lost.
  • We need leaders like Jeremiah who are willing to preach and teach the Word of God and warn the country of how much danger we are in.
  • We also need a leader like Josiah who will humbly seek the Lord and boldly, courageously make serious, sweeping reforms.
  • To be clear: I’m not looking for a Pastor-in-Chief or Theologian-in-Chief to be President of the United States. I don’t want to create a theocracy. Obviously, the role of the American President isn’t the same as the role of king was in the days of Judah.
  • That said, let’s also be clear that in the New Testament age, the Church’s job is to pray, fast, repent, preach, teach, disciple and lead a great moral and spiritual revival — these are not part of the President’s job description.
  • The American President’s job is to follow the Constitution, protect the American people’s safety, protect the American people’s God-given rights and liberties, create the conditions for economic growth and opportunity, and lead the Free World to victory over evil in a time of great peril and volatility.
  • Thus, I am looking for a President who loves the Lord, reads and loves God’s Word, is humble, is strong and courageous, is clear-sighted, will pursue bold, sweeping reforms and can call the nation together to head in the right direction.
  • I’m not going to make a quick decision of whom to support. I’m going to pray for wisdom and clarity and discernment and see if a true Josiah emerges over the next few months.
  • I hope you will do the same.

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I believe the GOP presidential race has come down to a “Final Four.” Which candidates deserve closest scrutiny? Here’s my report from Iowa.

It was an honor to pray for America and for the presidential candidates who participated in the forum in Des Moines on Friday.

It was an honor to pray for America and for the presidential candidates who participated in the forum in Des Moines on Friday.

(Des Moines, Iowa) — As America continues hurtling down a dangerous path toward implosion, as darkness falls in the Middle East and North Africa, as the forces of evil advance and the forces of freedom retreat, anyone who cares about the American people and the people of the epicenter needs to pay very close attention to the American presidential race.

Indeed, as I explained in my last column:

  • We need a President who understands that Western leaders ignore the threat of Apocalyptic Islam at their peril.
  • We need a Commander-in-Chief who truly understands the magnitude of the threats posed by Radical and Apocalyptic Islam.
  • We need a President who has serious ideas about how to neutralize such threats, and has solid national experience that can assure us that he or she is really ready to confront this evil.
  • We need a President who sees Israel as a faithful ally — not an adversary — in this showdown with the jihadists.
  • We need a President who rejects the insane Iran nuclear deal, and the notion of allowing Russia and Iran to run wild in Syria.
  • Commander-in-Chief is not an entry level position.
  • There is no time for on-the-job training in the White House for a new President who has little or no experience thinking about foreign policy and national security issues.
  • The next President must come in ready for war — because that’s what we’re in, and the stakes are simply too high to go with an untested outsider or newcomer.

This is why I accepted the invitation to attend the presidential forum here in Des Moines on Friday night that was sponsored and hosted by The Family Leader. This is why I traveled 27 hours from Israel to get there — to have the opportunity to meet, listen to and assess seven of the most compelling candidates vying to be the next Commander-in-Chief. I’m so glad I did. This was the most fascinating, informative and revealing political event I’ve been to in 25 years.

Moderator Frank Luntz did a fantastic job getting most of the candidates — most, but not quite all — to really open up and help the crowd of some 1,600 Evangelical Iowans to better understand the faith, values and experience that drives and animates them. This was far superior to any of the debates that have been held so far. It wasn’t a cage match. It was a conversation that gave us a unique window into the heart of these candidates.

It was an honor to be asked to close the event in prayer. Indeed, I’m deeply grateful to Family Leader president Bob Vander Plaats for asking me to do so. I prayed for the Lord to bless and protect all the candidates and their families and to keep them safe. In the spirit of 2 Chronicles 7:14, I also asked the Lord to forgive us of our sins and help us turn back to Him. I asked the Lord to grant America another Great Awakening, even though we don’t deserve it, and to show us whom He is raising up to lead this nation in 2017 and beyond.

“If my people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14) Amen.

I so wish I could take the time to share with you all the intriguing moments, key anecdotes and quotes from the event, as well as share with you my conversations with some of the candidates and many of the attendees. But at this point I sense two things are best.

First, let me highly recommend that you watch the entire event online, which you can do by clicking here. Please also forward this link to family and friends and colleagues. Encourage them to carve out some time to watch as well. Then, please post your comments on the forum and this column on our “Epicenter Team” page on Facebook. I’m eager to know what you think. Above all, please pray and fast for the nation, for the candidates, and for wisdom on whom to support.

Second, allow me to share with you my key takeaways from this weekend in Iowa, and from the presidential race over all. Many of you have been asking for my assessment of the candidates. Thus far, I have written and shared mostly about the Biblical principles that are guiding me in my evaluation and decision-making process (i.e., prayerfully seeking a “Josiah”). But today I do feel the freedom from the Lord to write more specifically about how I see the candidates, given that we are a mere 70 days or so from the actual voting in the Iowa caucuses. I hope you’ll find these notes and observations helpful as you prayerfully seek the Lord for wisdom about whom to support.

  1. I believe the GOP presidential race has come down at this point to a “Final Four” — four candidates who deserve the most careful scrutiny, prayer and consideration. Maybe this “Final Four” idea comes from the fact that I graduated from Syracuse University. A touch of March Madness, perhaps. But it is where I’ve come down after months of analyzing the race closely. More on this in a moment.
  2. It was very encouraging to see that Evangelical Christian leaders and activists here truly get the high stakes of this election. They know that we are not just facing a bumpy patch in American history. We’re racing towards implosion. Many of them believe, as do I, that we urgently need to unify around a candidate who has the vision, strategies and experience to turn this ship of state around and get us headed in the right direction. I talked to dozens of Iowans  this weekend and was deeply touched by how seriously they are taking their “first in the nation” responsibility to study and vet the candidates. God bless these folks! May their tribe increase!
  3. While I’m trying very hard in my life not to be a partisan — indeed, I want Democrats, Republicans and Independents to come together and work together for the good of the country — the sad reality is that there are not Democrats running for president whom I could support. Neither Hillary nor Bernie nor any of the others will protect the sanctity of innocent human life, or define and defend marriage as a sacred union between one man or one woman, or work to safeguard religious liberty in America, or truly reform and simplify the tax code and reduce the tax burden on the American people, or declare the Iran deal as insane and thus null and void, or move decisively to neutralize the Iran and ISIS threats. That leaves me and other Evangelicals looking only to the GOP field for credible options.
  4. Many Iowans — well over half the electorate, I’m told by sharp political analysts here — really haven’t made a decision of which candidate to back. They’re telling pollsters what their leanings are at any given moment, but the constantly shifting polls indicate that no one has locked in with a favorite yet. With 70+ days yet to go, we are likely to see many more changes ahead. Remember: Rand Paul was once a frontrunner. So was Mike Huckabee. So was Jeb Bush, and Scott Walker, and Donald Trump, and Ben Carson. The volatility is reminiscent of the 2012 cycle — so expect more changes.
  5. Donald Trump did not attend Friday’s forum. But Trump poses a mortal threat to the conservative movement. He is not a conservative by any stretch of the imagination. He supports Partial Birth Abortion. He supports single-payer health insurance. He has long supported liberal Democrats. He has no foreign policy or national security experience. He has a crazy $10 trillion tax cut plan. (Last time he ran in 2000 he had a crazy $5.7 trillion tax increase plan; that would have been half of the GDP of the nation at the time.) He’s a narcissist who is very shrewdly tapping into deep popular rage against Washington and using it for his own ends, to gain attention, and ultimately to gain power and more wealth. Pundits keep predicting his demise, but let’s be honest: his poll numbers remain strong, especially in Iowa and New Hampshire. If he wins both, he could also win South Carolina, and the GOP nomination.
  6. A big question then is: What conservative can stop Trump?
  7. Another big question I’m asking is this: Is God raising up a leader like Josiah who truly loves the Lord, has a humble heart, and also has the vision, courage and experience to make bold, sweeping reforms to try to turn America around and get us back on the right track? (for a more detailed explanation of what I mean by the need for a “Josiah,” please click here)
  8. The people I spoke with don’t want to simply stop Trump. They are praying that the Lord will raise up a leader who can tap the incredible rage at the grassroots level, channel it, win the nomination and the presidency, and win a national mandate to make bold conservative domestic changes in Washington, while also truly leading the war against the forces of Radical and Apocalyptic Islam. Nothing less will suffice. I completely agree.
  9. Of the 17 candidates that started in the GOP field, three have dropped out.
  10. Of the 14 that remain, 7 chose not to come to address these Christian grassroots activists.
  11. I believe the nominee will come — or should come — from one of the 7 candidates that did attend.
  12. Of these seven, however, I believe three are not ready to be president.
  13. Dr. Ben Carson — he’s clearly a genius, a gifted neurosurgeon, a man of faith, and an incredible kind and gracious man. It was an honor to finally meet him this weekend. I totally see the appeal and why he has surged in the polls. He is a national asset. The problem is that he has absolutely no foreign policy or national security experience. Nor does he have solid, specific, crisp, consistent, well-thought through answers for how to make big changes in Washington. For example, it is a bit odd that such a wonderful doctor hasn’t introduced a health care reform plan to replace ObamaCare, right? Such facts don’t make Carson a bad person. Not at all. But they do mean that while Dr. Carson is good man, he simply isn’t prepared to be president at this time. This is why his poll numbers are starting to fade. That said, I have no doubt God can use him to serve this country in a key way. I think he could make an amazing Surgeon General, for example.
  14. Carly Fiorina — she has real strengths as a woman of deep faith, and impressive global business experience. It was a blessing to meet her this weekend. I’ve enjoyed seeing her star rise. Her first two debates were remarkably impressive. However, Mrs. Fiorina also has very little foreign policy and national security experience. After the Paris attacks — and in the wake of the rise of ISIS and the Iran nuclear threat — it’s simply not wise to choose someone who isn’t ready to lead the nation to war. As I’ve noted above, Commander-in-Chief is not an entry-level position. What’s more, I have to say I’m surprised that a woman of such business accomplishments hasn’t laid out a detailed tax reform and economic growth plan. For such reasons, her poll numbers are drifting downward now after a spike. That said, I like her a lot. I’m deeply grateful for her passionate pro-life advocacy. She’s very open and genuine about her faith, which I love and deeply respect. Indeed, I believe she has a real contribution to make to the nation. She would make a great Commerce Secretary, Ambassador or other Cabinet officer. Eager to see where God takes her.
  15. Sen. Rand Paul — as I have written before (see here, and here), he’s an isolationist, he’s not a friend of Israel,  and he would be a disaster as president as we face threats from Russia, Iran, ISIS, China and North Korea. That said, he’s an ardent champion of liberty, he’s pro-life, he wants to dramatically reduce the role of government, and he supports a flat tax, among other strengths. So I don’t want him to lose his Senate seat. But I believe he will withdraw from the presidential race soon.
  16. I believe the GOP presidential race has come down at this point to a “Final Four” — Cruz, Rubio, Santorum and Huckabee.
  17. Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are the two brilliant, up-and-coming, and very compelling young Cuban conservatives.
  18. Gov. Huckabee and former Sen. Rick Santorum are the two deeply principled, tried and tested, and very experienced previous Iowa Caucus winners.
  19. On the plus side, Cruz and Rubio have money, organization and some momentum. They are incredibly attractive and talented candidates and powerful communicators. They hail from big states, Texas and Florida, respectively. They are both devout Evangelical Christians. Both are strongly pro-life. Both are passionate about defending religious liberty. They both love Israel. They have solid foreign policy credentials. Cruz serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee, while Rubio serves on both the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Intelligence Committee. They both seem to understand the threat of Radical Islam and talk about it a great deal. They have both offered impressive pro-growth tax reform plans. Cruz wants a flat tax — see details here. Meanwhile, Rubio proposes a two-rate plan along the Reagan ’86 model — see details here. Either of one of them could win the nomination and both offer the face and voice of a new, young, dynamic generation of conservative leadership.
  20. On the minus side, both Cruz and Rubio are first term Senators and have very few accomplishments yet on the national stage. We simply haven’t seen them tested over the long haul. They have changed a number of their positions in a relatively short period of time. For some of Rubio’s changes, see here, here, and here. For some of  Cruz’s changes, see here, here, and here. Some are accusing the two of changing positions for political purposes, of being “flip-floppers” or even opportunists. I’m not sure that’s fair. I think they are works in progress — new to Washington and finding it challenging to consistently apply their principles to the major issues of the day. But such charges do give me pause because the stakes are so high. I want to be sure what the next president will do in office. I don’t want to constantly wonder if a Republican president will zig-zag or betray me and the country in the Oval Office. Consider the marriage issue, for example. Both Cruz and Rubio are on the record as pro-marriage. I believe them. The question is this: how hard will they defend the institution of one-man/one-woman marriage? How will they handle the recent Supreme Court decision sanctioning same-sex marriage and get us back to traditional, Biblical marriage? Will they stand firm on principle, and truly fight for our values with strategies than can win, or will they dodge or avoid the issue as President and say marriage is a lost cause? How will they be influenced by the media, by donors, by friends who disagree with them and want them to avoid “messy social issues”? I’m not saying either or both will fold under pressure. I’m simply saying they are so new. They don’t have a long track record we can observe to give us deep confidence of how they will handle the intense pressures in Washington to cave on critical matters.
  21. Also on the minus side: their positions on immigration. Rubio admits he made a mistake when he joined the “Gang of Eight” on comprehensive immigration reform that included amnesty. He now promises to focus first on securing the border before dealing with the 11 million undocumented workers and residents in the U.S. It is good that he sees the mistake and is working to correct it. But let’s be honest: that was a major mistake if you oppose amnesty (as I do), so it’s hard to ignore. Cruz, however, also supports a form of amnesty — that is, while he would not grant full citizenship to illegal aliens, he has proposed allowing them to stay in the U.S. in a legal status. Moreover, rather than slowing down or cutting legal immigration to allow more Americans to find good jobs and see their wages rise, Cruz actually proposed a 500% increase in H1-B visas. That’s a problem for me. Now he’s backing off on this a bit, recalibrating his position. But this does raise questions about whether he understands how angry Americans are about Washington’s refusal to protect American workers by sealing the border, requiring illegal immigrants to return home, and giving American citizens first crack at good jobs and higher wages.
  22. To be fair, every candidate has weaknesses, as well as strengths. Our job is to study each candidate carefully and prayerfully assess which are the more serious flaws, and what we can live with.
  23. Now let’s turn to the two previous Iowa Caucus winners — Huckabee and Santorum. They are lagging far behind in the polls, even here in Iowa. Still, they have decades of policy and political achievements under the belts, Iowans — and conservatives nationally — have deep respect for them, and thus they are worth considering very seriously.
  24. Gov. Mike Huckabee — he was a governor for a decade so he has lots of experience. At the time, Arkansas was a largely Democrat state. So Huckabee made some compromises conservatives don’t like — he raised taxes, he increased spending, and so forth. But he also is responsible for helping turn Arkansas into a red state — it’s now a Republican conservative environment because people saw and liked how Huckabee led. He is deeply pro-life and strongly pro-marriage. I have not a single doubt he would govern as president to protect life (including banning all abortions) and trying to turn the country back to a pro-marriage policy. There’s no concern he will “go soft” or “flip flop” on these issues. He’s also funny, personable, and an effective communicator. He has a deep love for Israel and has been there forty or fifty times. He knows Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders well and personally and would totally restore the U.S.-Israel alliance. That said, he doesn’t have foreign policy and national security experience beyond Israel. What’s more, he supports the Fair Tax but hasn’t laid out a specific plan to make it work. That’s a problem. And while I’m glad he so strongly supports keeping our promises to seniors on Social Security, Huckabee seems resistant to entitlement reform which is a mistake since these programs are leading the nation towards bankruptcy. Not long ago, Huckabee was the front-runner in Iowa, South Carolina and nationally. But he has faded to the back of the pack. Can he turn things around? I honestly don’t know.
  25. Sen. Rick Santorum — he, too, is deeply pro-life and pro-marriage and a devout born again Catholic who was came to a personal relationship with Christ while in the Senate, as he shared at the forum. Indeed, much of the pro-life legislation that has been passed in Washington in the last generation was written by him. For example, he wrote the law that banned Partial Birth Abortion, and got it passed with bipartisan support, and got it signed into law after multiple vetoes. That’s impressive. He has long fought to defend traditional, Biblical marriage, despite intense — and often cruel — attacks by the Left and the media. I have no doubt he would govern on principle on these issues in the Oval Office and there’s no fear of him folding or caving. On economic growth, I have to say I absolutely love his “20/20 Flat Tax” proposal and “Economic Freedom Agenda.” (see also here.) His immigration plan is far and away the most conservative and principled in the field — including no amnesty of any kind, and a 25% cut in legal immigration. This is why he received an “A” rating from a leading national immigration watchdog group, the highest in the field of presidential contenders. What’s more, Santorum was the author of major conservative reform bills in the Senate — from welfare reform (ending welfare as we know it) to Health Savings Accounts — and was able to build bipartisan support to get them passed, sometimes over repeated presidential vetoes. Perhaps more than any candidate running, he has actually passed big reforms on the national stage despite the toxic political environment in Washington. He has the fire and passion of a Ted Cruz; but he has also built bipartisan coalitions to get big legislation passed.
  26. What makes Santorum particularly distinctive in this cycle, however, is his expertise on foreign policy and national security issues. His first vote ever as a freshmen Congressman in January 1991 was not to name some post office but to go to war with Saddam Hussein to remove Iraq from Kuwait. He has been serious about dealing with Mideast terror and Radical Islam ever since. Indeed, it was Santorum who wrote the original law to impose economic sanctions on Iran. And as he said in the forum on Friday night, who tried to stop that those sanctions from passing? Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Kerry and Joe Biden. Interesting. Santorum served eight years on the Senate Armed Services Committee. In 2006, he started warning of that Radical Islam was a “Gathering Storm” we must deal with. He has spoken out clearly about the threat of Apocalyptic Islam, as well. Last August when Hamas was firing 4,500 rockets and missiles at Israel, Santorum brought a delegation of Evangelical pastors on a solidarity mission to stand with Israel. He asked me to be part of that delegation, and I was honored to. It was interesting to see him interacting with Israeli leaders. He really gets this stuff. Many have ignored him, or tried to marginalize him, but he’s been right and consistent on these issues for 25 years. Arguably more than any other candidate besides Sen. Lindsey Graham, he is the best prepared to be Commander-in-Chief. Santorum is also a very effective debater who would do well up against Hillary. He’s become a far better communicator over the past four years, and his “Blue Collar Conservative” message would be very effective in swing states in the general elections.
  27. Still, Santorum is far behind in the polls. True, his support came late in the Iowa caucus process last time. Indeed, he eventually won the caucuses and 11 states, coming very close to winning Ohio and Michigan and earning the nomination. Could it happen again? It could. Iowans like and respect him here. They could break late for him. But right now they seem to be more interested in the new faces. Thus far, Santorum’s Super PAC hasn’t raised enough money to launch an ad campaign to make a strong case for their man. The competition Santorum faces for conservative and Evangelical voters is stronger this time. In the wake of the Paris attacks, I can see a path to the nomination for Santorum — more so than for Huckabee, though I like them both and am friends with both — but it is getting late.
  28. Which brings us back to the two Cuban conservatives. I just met Marco Rubio for the first time on Friday night. We spent 15 or 20 minutes together, one-on-one, before the forum. I was deeply impressed. I have met Ted  Cruz a number of times over the last several years, and spent a day with his dad, Rafael Cruz, in August 2014. Love Rafel. Great guy. Passionate. Fascinating. Engaging. And gracious. Yet I find myself reluctant about Ted. In person, I have found him shy, even awkward. And his public style can be off-putting to some. Not to me, not entirely. I love Ted’s passion. He’s brilliant, and he’s a fighter. And conservatives are gravitating towards him, and I can see why. But others are reluctant, like I am, and we’re trying to figure out why.
  29. Rubio is personally warmer, more winsome, and a more effective communicator than Cruz. He is more empathetic and comes across as a team builder, a unifier. I suspect Marco could be more effective in a debate with Hillary. Cruz knows how to win a debate on points — few do it better — but presidential debates are not high school and college debates. You’re not debating to score points with judges but to win trust with voters. And while I have little doubt Cruz could win the GOP nomination, I wonder if he would come across as too strident, too doctrinaire on stage with Hillary, and put the general election in jeopardy. Then again, I see Cruz trying to use more stories and more humor than before. He certainly did on Friday night. And Ted’s passion and fire certainly fits with the mood of much of the country that is ready to burn Washington to the ground, metaphorically, at least. Perhaps my reluctance and that of others will fade. Perhaps Cruz can keep the fire of his convictions yet learn to be not just a fighter but a team builder, a unifier within the party and the nation.
  30. Still, we have to keep Trump in mind. The question is not who is the perfect conservative candidate. The questions for me are: 1) Who is the Lord raising up to lead America? 2) Are one of these four men a “Josiah”? 3) Which one can win Iowa, thus slowing down or derailing the Trump momentum? and 4) Who can win next November?  The answer — I honestly am not sure yet. I see flaws in each of the “Final Four,” but I also see great strengths and much potential. Would you join me in studying these four more carefully, and praying and pleading for the Lord to have mercy on our nation and give us the leader we need, not the one we deserve?

God bless you, and may God continue blessing America.

NOTE: These are my own personal views. I offer them in my individual capacity as an American citizen. They do not reflect or represent the position of The Joshua Fund, a non-profit organization, or any other group or organization.

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Dynamic of U.S. presidential campaign changing in light of ISIS attacks in Paris & pursuit of chemical weapons. Here’s why.

ISIS-chemweapons-headlinesThirdTarget-FirstHostage(Des Moines, Iowa) — The barbaric attacks in Paris by jihadists loyal to the Islamic State could the dynamic in the presidential campaign in a profound way.

So could the news — just breaking in the last 24 hours — that the Islamic State is actively pursuing the production of chemical weapons to advance their genocidal aims.

So could the seizure of a hotel in Mali by al-Qaeda jihadists. And new ISIS threats to attack Washington, New York and the U.S. homeland.

Such developments put into sharp relief the need to choose a new President who doesn’t simply have a great tax reform plan, and a plan to grow the economy and create millions of jobs and reduce spending and balance the budget and reform entitlements. We certainly need a President who will defend the sanctity of innocent human life, and the sanctity of Biblical marriage. Those are vital issues. But so is national security.

  • We need a President who understands that Western leaders ignore the threat of Apocalyptic Islam at their peril.
  • We need a Commander-in-Chief who truly understands the magnitude of the threats posed by Radical and Apocalyptic Islam.
  • We need a President who has serious ideas about how to neutralize such threats, and has solid national experience that can assure us that he or she is really ready to confront this evil.
  • We need a President who sees Israel as a faithful ally — not an adversary — in this showdown with the jihadists.
  • We need a President who rejects the insane Iran nuclear deal, and the notion of allowing Russia and Iran to run wild in Syria.
  • Commander-in-Chief is not an entry level position.
  • There is no time for on-the-job training in the White House for a new President who has little or no experience thinking about foreign policy and national security issues.
  • The next President must come in ready for war — because that’s what we’re in, and the stakes are simply too high to go with an untested outsider or newcomer.

So, good morning from epicenter of the U.S. presidential campaign. I just got into the Iowa capital around 1:40 this morning after a 27 hour journey (including numerous flight delays) from Israel.

I’m here at the invitation of several Evangelical Christian leaders to discuss the implications of recent events on their efforts to choose and coalesce around a presidential candidate. We’re gathering tonight to attend a forum tonight with seven Republican presidential candidates in hopes of better discerning who could truly be ready to lead us and protect us in dangerous and dark times.

The event is hosted by The Family Leader, a pro-family organization that has had me to speak at several of their events in recent years on U.S.-Israel relations and the threats America faces at home and abroad. (for details, see here, and here)

Tomorrow, I have been invited to spend the day praying and fasting with Christian leaders and further discussing what we are seeing and hearing from the various presidential contenders. I hope to post more on this throughout the weekend.

For now, consider the following headlines, each of which seem ripped from The Third Target, and the forthcoming sequel, The First Hostage.

Chilling. Eerie, actually. But this is the world we live in at the moment.

Will you join me in praying and fasting for the Lord to graciously show all of us if He has a candidate He wants us to support, a president that He wants to raise up to get America back on the right track, stand with Israel, and counter the evil rising in the Middle East? Thanks, and God bless you.

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“The failed political adviser who became a writer and predicted the invasion of Iraq.” (My interview in the Israeli newspaper, Ma’ariv)

MaarivEarlier this month, after speaking at the Jerusalem Leaders Summit on the differences between Radical and Apocalyptic Islam, I was interviewed by a columnist for Ma’ariv, a popular Israeli daily.

We discussed the subject of my speech, but she became much more interested in my failed political consulting career, my life as the author of political thrillers, and my faith in Jesus.

The article — linked below — was published in Hebrew. But here is an English translation, if you’re interested.

The failed political adviser who became a writer and predicted the invasion of Iraq

By Tal Schneider, Ma’ariv, November 15, 2015

(Jerusalem, Israel) — All the candidates who’ve worked with Joel Rosenberg lost, so he became a writer of bestselling security thrillers portraying the Israeli prime minister attacking Iran.

In an interview he says what he has learned from working with Netanyahu, and how Jesus changed his life

After working as an aide for Benjamin Netanyahu, the media mogul Steve Forbes who ran the US presidential race, the American right-wing political candidates and even Natan Sharansky, Joel Rosenberg came to the conclusion that a seasoned political consultant and leader in his field he will not be. A short time later Rosenberg, an evangelical Christian loves Christ and loves Jews, decided to write political thrillers.

A decade later, his books — all of which are terrifying scenarios and prophecies, such as genocide, using chemical weapons held by ISIS or the Israeli prime minister who does not listen to the advice of an American president leads a preventive war against Iran — have become bestsellers.

A week and a half ago, Rosenberg was one of the speakers in the Jerusalem Leaders Summit, a gathering of organizations conservatives and rightists reached by political leaders from Europe. The conference, organized in part by The Heritage Foundation, dealt with security threats to democratic countries. Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) and Member of Knessets Yoav Kish, Tzachi Hanegbi, and Avi Dichter, all from the Likud, were among the speakers.

….As a former political adviser to Republican presidential candidates, Rosenberg has this to say about the race for the Republican fascinating president of the United States, where the participating colorful candidates like Donald Trump or Ben Carson….

Q: Who do you think is suitable for the job?

A: You won’t catch me answering that. I will only say that the president or the next president of the United States should be ready to go to war with Iran. And whoever it is will have to be a person with experience, vision and an action plan. Unfortunately, some of the candidates currently do not have any experience. I would like to know better their worldview in our region. What do they know about the threats here?

Q: So according to this approach, you have backed Hillary Clinton, having the most experience?

A: No, no. You need to have a plan of action [to neutralize Iran and ISIS] and vision. Experience is not enough. And I remind you that Clinton supported the nuclear agreement with Iran, the agreement gave Iran two ways to get a nuclear bomb — whether they comply with the agreement and or whether they cheat and get The Bomb. The next president must be prepared for this, and some of them have no idea what to do.

“Help me to be helpful”

Rosenberg is an American who lived most of his life in Washington, DC. He is the son of a Christian mother and his father was an Orthodox Jew who discovered Jesus in the 70s.

He was educated as a Christian and as an adult became a devout believer. Jesus is his great love, and when he wants, during the interview, to illustrate why not to pick a Republican [presidential] candidate too early in the campaign, he takes the Bible out of the bag, and turns pages to I Samuel.

“Samuel comes to Bethlehem without knowing which of Jesse’s sons is to be the next king,” says Rosenberg with excitement. “Samuel did not know the boys and God did not tell him [ahead of time] whom to choose. He points to the oldest, and God says to him: ‘No, it’s not that one.’ He goes to the next in line, and God says no. And this continues on. David is not even in the room at that point.”

The moral of Rosenberg’s story is also about the Republican race — all options are open. Who can be elected? I asked. “Even someone from the middle or bottom of the polls,” he says.

“We must wait and not be impressed by the people leading [in the polls] right now.”

What Rosenberg does not try to hide is the fact that his political advice — sometime in the 90s and beginning of the decade — was not successful. He worked for several conservative right-wing candidates and was former senior adviser to the two Republican presidential campaigns of the editor in chief of FORBES magazine, Steve Forbes (1996 and 2000). Forbes lost both cases. Rosenberg had also worked for senior figures such as former Republican Jack Kemp and Bill Bennett. Later, he worked on the U.S. advisory team of the Natan Sharansky.

Then, in September 2000, immediately after the failure of the Camp David talks, while Ehud Barak was Israel’s prime minister, Rosenberg was recruited Rosenberg to be part of a political consulting team for Benjamin Netanyahu…..Netanyahu was prevented home from winning, and the campaign was short-lived.

“I was a political consultant in Washington,” says Rosenberg. “All the candidates with whom I worked lost. Natan Sharansky resigned from politics. Then Netanyahu hired me with a team of consultants in Washington.  It was supposed to be a ‘comeback campaign.’ We started to coordinate interviews in the American media, working on Op-Eds and more. Bibi was very strong in the polls. We worked with him for a few months until it became clear that he was blocked from running. Sharon ran and won instead.

Q: So you’ve decided to leave politics? 

A: Yeah. I failed as an advisor. At the age of 34, my friends had already begun to get rich. I sat in my office in Washington and saw that I work for these candidates, but do I help them much? I sat down and thought to myself: I already have three children, but I failed. I said, “Lord, help me to be a useful person.”

Q: What did God say?  

A: Personal failure can sometimes bring a lot of clarity in life. I learned from the people I met, including Dore Gold and Benjamin Netanyahu, and I came to the conclusion that instead of advancing various messages through politics, I will write political thrillers. My political knowledge and experience can be woven into the plot and images. I could write fiction instead of opinion columns. So I wrote a political thriller about the suicide pilots carrying out a kamikaze terrorist attack and smashing the planes into a presidential motorcade in Denver, Colorado. This would lead to a war in Iraq.

Q: You turned from political adviser to prophet? 

A: Well, I started writing the book in January 2001….Then came the terrorist attacks of September 11th. The third plane took off from the airport near my home in Virginia, passed over our house and crashed into the Pentagon, not far from me. A few months later, President Bush delivered the annual State of the Union address, and referred to the “axis of evil” countries, and I realized that Iraq is going to be a target. My agent called and said, “Joel, this is a signal, we must publish the book.” So in November 2012, just before Thanksgiving, my first book, The Last Jihad, was published, and immediately entered the bestseller list.

Q: How did you manage to predict what’s going to happen? 

A: People call me a modern Nostradamus. But I have not tried to foresee the events. Five months before the U.S. entered Iraq, my book was on the shelves and became a big hit. I was interviewed by hundreds of radio stations and media outlets. People have asked me: “How did you know in advance?” I said it was literature, narrative. But the plot and underlying assumptions are based on reality.

Q: Did President George W. Bush read your book before the invasion of Iraq?

A: I do not know. I have not talked to him about the book.

Q: Does Netanyahu reads your books? 

A: I think the team that surrounds him read the books. But he and his team have real life to deal with. I learned from politicians how to produce a political argument. Today I create novels and narrative to explain to the world the truth.

Q: What truth?  

A: The truth that Radical Islam is coming to America. I learned that from Netanyahu and Sharansky. You can see now how evil is increasing . People need to read that Radical Islam is coming to the United States. People do not deal with it seriously. In fact, my concern is not just Radical Islam, but Apocalyptic Islam, which is currently in two places: the Islamic Republic of Iran and ISIS.

Q: Is this the new Hasbara (Hebrew for “public relations”)? 

A: My novels are not hasbara, but they can help educate people. As a result of the novels I am invited to lecture, talk to the media, to discuss the issues. There are currently two political entities — ISIS and Iran — whose leaders are driven by theories of End Times. They believe the messiah will come to establish a global Islamic kingdom. It is not normal Radical Islam, but beyond that — they believe the messiah will bring the annihilation of Israel and the United States.

Q: Your books are a mix between imagination and reality, are they not? 

A: Yes. In my books comments, I use quotes made ​​by the Islamic apocalyptic leaders…I certainly create characters and scenarios of what might happen if Western leaders do not understand the threat. One of my previous books was about an American president who presses an Israeli prime minister to avoid war in Iran. My imaginary Israeli Prime Minister realizes he has no choice and he launches the attack.

Q: Your character is based on Netanyahu? 

A: In a way, yes. And the media has reported that at least three times Israel was planning to attack Iran.

Q: But Netanyahu did not attack, and according to reports, specifically former Defense Minister Ehud Barak put pressure to attack.

A: That’s right. But mine is a fictional character. Perhaps the Prime Minister in my book is a combination of Netanyahu and Ehud Barak….

Rosenberg’s new book, The Third Target, mixes reality with imagination. A New York Times journalist heard rumors that ISIS took over the storehouses of chemical weapons in Syria, and he decides to enter Syria to find out the truth, says Rosenberg about the plot of the book. Together with another journalist, they reveal a huge conspiracy about ISIS planning to commit genocide. At this point, ISIS has already taken on two countries, Iraq and Syria, and they want to take over a third country. The plot thickens.

Over a year ago, Rosenberg moved with his family to Israel.

“I found Christ,” he says. “I wish every Muslim, Buddhist or Jew in the world will discover Jesus as me. If an Evangelical Christian tells you he does not want others to believe in Christ, he is not telling the truth. I have traveled all over the world to talk about my love for Jesus. Jesus changed my life. I do not believe in coercion or fraud, but I would absolutely love for everyone to hear the gospel and make a decision on their own.”

Rosenberg says he feels a strong connection to Israel.

“I’m tied to Israel since the 80’s,” he says.” I have come to visit here for many years, and studied here during college.”

The vision of the prophet Ezekiel says all the Jews will return to Israel eventually, Rosenberg notes. Ezekiel’s prophecy began to be fulfilled, but not all the Jews have returned yet.

“I raise money to help Israel. I bring Evangelicals to visit. My goal is that all Jews will return. I do not feel threatened by Orthodox Jews. I know this society is diverse and tolerant. There is a real democracy here and that is one of the strengths of Israeli society.”

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Here’s the full video of my address on Apocalyptic Islam to the Jerusalem Leaders Summit.

Joel-LeadersSummit2 If you’re interested in watching the 39-minute address I delivered at the Jerusalem Leaders Summit on the differences between Radical Islam and Apocalyptic Islam, please click here.

I’m deeply grateful to Joel Anand Samy and his team from The Heritage Foundation, National Religious Broadcasters, the Family Research Council, and other organizations who organized the Summit and invited me to participate.

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Western Leaders Ignore “Apocalyptic Islam” At Their Peril. (Israel National News coverage of my recent speech in Jerusalem.)

Joel-LeadersSummit1.jpgLast week, the managing editor of Israel National News covered my address to the Jerusalem Leaders Summit, and interviewed me about the threat of Radical and Apocalyptic Islam. The resulting article was published on Sunday, following the horrific terror attacks in Paris by jihadists loyal to the Islamic State. To watch my 39 minute speech in full, please click here.

WESTERN LEADERS IGNORE “APOCALYPTIC ISLAM” AT THEIR PERIL

Best-selling author says failure to understand messianic ideologies driving ISIS and Iran dooms the West to be repeatedly blindsided.

By Ari Soffer, Israel National News/Arutz Sheva, November 15, 2015

(Jerusalem, Israel) — Despite years of warnings by intelligence agencies that radicalized Muslims would eventually emerge from the battlefields of Syria and Iraq to launch bloody attacks in the West, Europe has been blindsided by one of the most brutal terrorist atrocities in recent memory.

The coordinated attacks by three teams of ISIS terrorists in Paris on Friday sent shockwaves far beyond France, with the massacre of at least 129 people reigniting the debate around immigration after it was revealed that at least two of the attackers entered Europe posing as “refugees.”

The attacks also fueled debate over how to end the Syrian civil war, as well as over ongoing efforts to defeat ISIS on the battlefields of Syria and Iraq, the latter of which has seen several successes over the past few weeks.

But glaringly absent from the discussions are any serious attempts to understand the ideological motivations of the Muslim extremists, several of them French citizens, who carried out the worse terror attacks in France in a generation – including the first-ever suicide bombings on French soil.

That, says best-selling author Joel Rosenberg, is the reason such acts of terror are bound to repeat themselves.

Joel spoke to me prior to the attacks at the recent Jerusalem Leaders Policy Summit, and voiced concern that by failing to grapple with the apocalyptic ideology behind actors such as ISIS, Western states would never be able to decisively defeat them.

A jovial, somewhat self-deprecating character, Rosenberg – who worked for Binyamin Netanyahu during his failed prime ministerial bid in 1999, as well as Natan Sharansky – describes himself as “a failed political consultant,” but boasts a rather more successful career as writer, selling millions of novels highlighting the threat of radical Islam.

Today he lives in Netanya in northern Israel with his family, having made aliyah from the US last August at the height of Operation Protective Edge (though a practicing Christian his father was Jewish, making him eligible for aliyah under the Right of Return). From there, he has continued his efforts to explain “the threats we mutually face as Israelis and Americans from radical Islam” – a threat he says he only fully appreciated after working with Netanyahu.

“Misunderstanding the nature of the threat… of evil, is to risk being blindsided by it,” he said, citing Peal Harbor and 9/11 as examples. “And we’re going to be blindsided by a nuclear Iran, just like we’re being blindsided by ISIS.”

“At the core of it, American leaders are refusing to deal with the theology and eschatology of our enemy,” he said. “Not every Muslim is a terrorist, not every Muslim is a threat, not every Muslim is a problem – in fact the vast majority are not.

“The question is, the ones who are – what do they want? What do they say they want? What motivates them?”

The current US administration is particularly hesitant to label the threat as it is.

“Obama refuses to even acknowledge radical Islam. Come on – really? At this stage in the 21st century you’re not even ready to acknowledge the ideology that is motivating these folks? That’s a problem.”

Days later, as the attacks in Paris unfolded, some criticized the US president for once again failing to mention radical Islam at all in his speech reacting to the massacre.

But beyond the relatively wide umbrella of “radical Islam” Rosenberg warns of a far deadlier threat.

“Radical Islam encompasses a wide range of groups… Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah, the Taliban, Al Qaeda – all of these are serious threats,” he noted. “But apocalyptic Islam is now the biggest threat. this is the Iranian leadership, this is ISIS.”

He argues that the hyper-messianic ideologies shared by both sides of the Shia-Sunni jihadist coin are unprecedented in the history of modern western civilization.

“Apocalyptic Islam is motivated by the idea that the end of days has come, that the Mahdi [Muslim messiah – ed.] is coming at any moment to establish a global Islamic kingdom or Caliphate, and that the way to hasten his coming is to annihilate two countries: Israel the ‘Little Satan,’ and America the ‘Big Satan,'” he explained, describing the messianic beliefs shared by both ISIS and the “Twelver Shia” sect which figures prominently among Iran’s leadership.

“But the western political class doesn’t want to even deal with the theological ideas that are driving the radical Islamists – let alone to explain the end of times theologies of two ‘nation states’,” he continued, referring to Iran and ISIS’s self-declared “Islamic State,” which encompasses huge swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria.

“Never in history have we had one, much less than two states, whose leaders are trying to force the end of the world,” Rosenberg noted.

While Jews and Christians also have their own beliefs in the “end of times” or the messianic age, the difference is that “we don’t believe we have to commit a genocide to bring about the end of times.”

While some strategic and doctrinal differences do clearly exist between Iran and ISIS – who are themselves mortal enemies – Rosenberg emphasized that the fundamental threat was essentially the same.

“Shia apocalypticism and Sunni apocalypticism are similar. Both believe the messiah is coming soon, that his kingdom is coming, they need to change their behavior to accelerate his coming… but the eschatology and strategies are different.

“ISIS’s strategy is to commit genocide today, because the goal is to build the caliphate, to force the hand of the messiah to come.

“Iran is not trying to build a caliphate today. They’re building the infrastructure to build nuclear weapons. Why? Because while ISIS wants to commit genocide today Iran wants to commit genocide tomorrow. The point is: don’t launch until you’re ready. Rather than kill thousands in one day, Iran wants to eventually kill millions.”

He disagreed with assessments shared by some experts that the Iranian regime, while extreme, ultimately functions as a rational actor, insisting their words, beliefs and actions only led to one conclusion.

“When you look a the messages of annihilation they are saying… when you look at the infrastructure they’re building and when you look at the eschatology, these roads converge.

“They’re not interested in negotiating something together with us – they’re taking a gift,” he said of the nuclear deal Tehran signed with world powers. “You’re giving us two paths to a nuclear bomb: if we cheat, or if we don’t cheat? OK we’ll take it!”

In the shorter term Iran might they use its nuclear capabilities for more limited political goals such as “blackmail or to give a cover for terror,” he said.

But in the long term its goals were just as bloodthirsty as ISIS. In facing down both threats, the West must recognize it is facing a zero-sum game.

“For these guys killing is at the center of what they’re doing. When you bear that in mind making concessions isn’t just a mistake or misguided – it’s insane.”

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SLAUGHTER IN PARIS: ISIS claims responsibility for deadliest terror attacks in Europe since 2004. French President vows “pitiless” revenge against Islamic State. Yet Obama says ISIS has been “contained.”

France-ISISattacks-Nov2015On Friday morning, President Obama told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that the apocalyptic terror movement known as the Islamic State finally had been “contained.”

“I don’t think they’re gaining strength,” the President told George Stephanopolous. “What is true is that from the start, our goal has been first to contain and we have contained them. They have not gained ground in Iraq, and in Syria they’ll come in, they’ll leave, but you don’t see this systemic march by ISIL across the terrain.”

By Friday night, however, ISIS had launched a savage and deadly series of coordinated attacks throughout Paris. One day earlier, ISIS launched two suicide bombing attacks in Beirut. Just days before that, ISIS claimed to have blown a Russian civilian jetliner over Egypt. In each case, Islamic State leaders said they were attacking nations engaged in fighting against them in Syria and Iraq.

This raises the question of whether ISIS is planning to strike U.S. cities, and when. FBI officials say they currently have more than 1,000 active ISIS investigations underway in the United States.

How in the world can President Obama say ISIS has been “contained”? Clearly, he is unwilling or unable to define the threat we face as either “Radical Islam” or “Apocalyptic Islam”? Thus, he and other Western leaders continue to be blindsided by enemies they don’t understand and refuse to effectively counter and neutralize.

This was the very subject of my recent speech at the Jerusalem Leaders Summit. It also goes to the heart of my latest novel, The Third Target, and my forthcoming sequel, The First Hostage — the tremendous destruction that can and will be wrought by the forces of the Islamic State if U.S. and other world leaders remain foolishly and dangerously un-engaged or merely semi-engaged in truly defeating this wicked foe.

At this hour, at least 127 people are dead in the French capital and more than 200 wounded in the deadliest terror attacks in Europe since the March 2004 train bombings in Madrid.

On Saturday morning, a statement was released that appeared to be from Islamic State leaders. ISIS claimed responsibility for the Paris attacks and said they were “targeting the capital of prostitution and obscenity, the carrier of the banner of the Cross in Europe — Paris.”

ISIS leaders also stated:

  • they had sent  “eight brothers wrapped in explosive belts and armed with machine rifles [and] targeted sites that were accurately chosen in the heart of the capital of France, including the Stade de France during the match between the Crusader German and French teams, where the retard of France, Francois Hollande, was present.”
  • “[L]et France and those who walk in its path know that they will remain on the top of the list of targets of the IS, and that the smell of death will never leave their noses as long as they lead the convoy of the Crusader campaign.”
  • The French “are proud of fighting Islam in France and striking the Muslims in the land of the Caliphate with their planes” but this “did not help them at all in the streets of Paris and its rotten alleys.”
  • “[T]his attack is the first of the storm and a warning to those who wish to learn.”

As I write this, intelligence officials have not confirmed that ISIS is truly responsible for the French attacks, or that this statement is authentically from ISIS leaders. But analysts say that mounting evidence is pointing to the Islamic State.

French President Hollande publicly stated on Saturday morning that ISIS is to blame. He said the attacks were “an act of war.” He vowed “pitiless” revenge on the Islamic State, and declared a “state of emergency” throughout France.

“To all those who have seen these awful things, I want to say we are going to lead a war which will be pitiless,” Hollande told his nation. “Because when terrorists are capable of committing such atrocities they must be certain that they are facing a determined France, a united France, a France that is together and does not let itself be moved, even if today we express infinite sorrow.”

A video reportedly released by ISIS on Saturday called for Muslims to launch more attacks against Western infidels.

“Indeed you have been ordered to fight the infidel wherever you find him — what are you waiting for?” said an ISIS terrorist in the video. “There are weapons and cars available and targets ready to be hit. Even poison is available, so poison the water and food of at least one of the enemies of Allah.”

The terror attacks in Paris came one day after a pair of suicide bombings in Beirut, for which ISIS also claimed responsibility.

“A fiery double suicide bombing terrorized a mostly Shiite residential area of southern Beirut on Thursday, ripping through a busy shopping district at rush hour,” reported the New York Times. “The Lebanese Health Ministry said at least 43 people had been killed and more than 200 wounded in the worst attack to strike the city in years. The Islamic State extremist group, which controls parts of neighboring Syria claimed responsibility for the attack. The group portrayed its motives as baldly sectarian, saying it had targeted Shiite Muslims, whom it views as apostates. It mentioned almost as an afterthought that it had targeted Hezbollah, the Shiite militant organization that backs the Syrian government in the civil war raging next door.”

Darkness is falling across the Middle East, and across Europe. So many leaders in Washington and in Europe have lost their moral compass and do not understand the threats we face.

Let us pray:

  • For our leaders to wake up, truly understand the evil before us, and have the wisdom and discernment and moral courage and resolve to confront and defeat this evil before even more lives are lost.
  • For those physically wounded by the terror attacks in Paris — and by the many more emotionally traumatized by all that happened on Friday the 13th in the French capital — that the Lord would comfort and heal them by His grace and mercy.
  • For the families and friends of those killed in the attacks in France for comfort and healing.
  • For all those traumatized by other recent attacks in Beirut, in Egypt, throughout Israel, and of course all over Syria and Iraq, also for comfort and healing.
  • For open hearts among those who do not yet know the Lord Jesus Christ that they would read the New Testament, discover the good news of the Gospel, and choose to be born again according to John chapter three.
  • For the Church throughout France and the Middle East to be light in the darkness — for the believers to grow spiritually stronger in the Lord in these difficult times, to be more loving and compassionate towards the poor and the suffering, and to be more bold and fearless in preaching the Gospel and teaching the Scriptures and making disciples.

As the Apostle Paul admonishes us, “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15-16)

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Special Limited Offer: Pre-order a personally autographed copy of THE FIRST HOSTAGE today. Here are details.

FirstHostage-signedcopyWould you like a signed copy of my forthcoming novel, The First Hostage

Barnes & Noble is offering a special deal right now. The first 1,000 people to pre-order the political thriller from Barnes & Noble will receive a hardcover copy signed by me. Please click here to pre-order your copy today, while supplies last.

You can also pre-order unsigned hardcover copies, e-book versions, and the audiobook on CD or MP3 from Amazon and your other favorite general market and Christian book market retailers — please click here.

Can’t wait for you to read this one. It picks up six seconds after the cliff-hanger ending of The Third Target!

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Here’s the Jerusalem Post coverage of the address I gave on the threat of Radical Islam to the Jerusalem Leaders Summit.

JerusalemPost-logo2

Jerusalem Post reporter covered the address I gave last week to the Jerusalem Leaders Summit. Below is the article that was published.

I was also interviewed by two other Israeli reporters at the Summit. If those interviews are published, I will let you know. Please join me in praying that a growing number of U.S., European and Israeli government, business and religious leaders truly understand the threats we face and are committed to protecting their citizens from both Radical Islam and Apocalyptic Islam. Thanks so much.

International threat of radical Islam discussed at Jerusalem Leadership Summit

By Daniel K. Eisenbud, Jerusalem Post, November 4, 2015

The gravest threat facing the world today is indisputably radical Islam, the American-Israeli New York Times best-selling author and former US and Israel political adviser, Joel Rosenberg, said at the Jerusalem Leadership Summit in the capital on Wednesday.

While he emphasized that the vast majority of Muslims are not radicals, Rosenberg, whose debut novel, The Last Jihad, published in 2002, was an international bestseller, contended that even at a fraction of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslim population, the extremists pose an imminent threat.

“If you look at some of the polling that’s been done about the attitudes in the Muslim world, you see that 90% or more are moderate, really peaceful people,” said Rosenberg, during his lecture at the Inbal Hotel, adding that only between 7%-10% of Muslims express approval of radical Islam.

“However, in a world of 1.6 billion Muslims, 10% is 160 million people. That’s half the population of the United States; if you grouped them in one country…you have one of the largest country’s on the planet.”

Therefore, Rosenberg said, he takes issue with US President Barack Obama’s contention that the fight against Muslim terrorists is not a “war against Islam.”

“You cannot say that those in the 160 million category are not driven by Islam,” he said.

“They say they are. You can call it a ‘perversion,’ but you have to understand why they would say that Islam motivates them? Whether that’s pure Islam or not, I’ll leave that to the Islamic scholars.”

Noting that the king of Jordan, Abdullah II, a descendant of Muhammad, has said that “the West is engaged in a third world war against Islamic terrorism,” Rosenberg said that Abdullah has conceded that Muslims themselves must do far more to fight the killers in their midst.

“At its core, King Abdullah says: ‘This is a Muslim problem…we need to take ownership of this. We Muslims need to stand up and say what is right and what is wrong,’” he said.

Moreover, Rosenberg cited Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as recently warning religious leaders at Al-Azhar University that the fight against radical Islam must be fought by moderate Muslims.

“At the Harvard of Sunni Islam, he said directly to the clerics and to the professors: ‘This is your mission. You will be held to account if you do not confront this problem inside Islam,’” Sisi said. “So Muslim leaders say that it is a problem in Islam, and obviously, it is.”

Extrapolating from the unexpected attacks on Pearl Harbor and New York City during 911, Rosenberg said that the theme of his novels is that “to misunderstand the nature and threat of evil is to risk being blindsided by it.”

“We were blindsided by a theology and an ideology… that we did not understand,” he said. “Was it understandable? Yes it was. But did we as leaders in America, and in the West generally, understand it and take it seriously? We did not.”

Rosenberg went on to cite Obama’s “catastrophic” Iranian nuclear deal as a case in point of the inherent dangers of not understanding the consequences of radical Islam. “He believes that he’s Nixon and he’s dealing with China…and that Iran wants to be part of the world’s system, that they feel isolated and left out,” he said.

“So, let’s bring them in… and hope that gradually, they will evolve into a player that we can deal with.”

Such a supposition, Rosenberg warned, is profoundly naïve and dangerous, despite the fact that the majority of Iranians want freedom and to be integrated into the world. “If you base your analysis on the Iranian people, you come to the conclusion that they want engagement,” he said. “The key is the top: the Ayatollah and his inner circle. The question is not what the country wants… the question is what the supreme leader and his inner circle want. What do they believe?” “Because if you misunderstand what they believe,” he continued, “you will be blindsided.”

He contended that Iran, which is far more patient than ISIS, poses the larger threat of genocide.

“Iran’s leadership says: ‘No, we’re not going to build a caliphate now, we’re going to build nuclear weapons because once we’re ready for genocide, we’re not going to use swords and AK-47s, we’re going to use atomic weaponry. We’re going to be able to kill millions, and not just thousands.’” Iran, he warned, is “biding its time.”

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What is “Apocalyptic Islam” and why is it so dangerous? The research behind my remarks to the Jerusalem Leaders Summit.

Addressing the Jerusalem Leaders Summit on the threat of

Addressing the Jerusalem Leaders Summit on the threat of “Apocalyptic Islam.”

(Jerusalem, Israel) — Eschatology is not a word that typically comes up in public policy forums. Yesterday afternoon, however, I had the honor of addressing the Jerusalem Leaders Summit here in the heart of the epicenter. My remarks focused on the rise of Apocalyptic Islam — what it is, why it is emerging as a far more serious threat to the U.S., Israel, and the world than Radical Islam, and how Shia and Sunni eschatology differ immensely from Jewish and Christian eschatology.

For the last several days, my fellow speakers — including Members of the European Parliament — and I have been meeting with Israeli government officials to share ideas on a range of economic and security matters. Yesterday morning, for example, we visited the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) and were briefed by the Knesset Member Tzachi Hanegbi, chairman of the Foreign & Defense Affairs Committee, on the Iran nuclear threat and the current wave of Palestinian terror.

In my remarks to the Summit, and in individual conversations with Israeli leaders, journalists and business leaders, I have been making the case that I have expressed in numerous forums in the U.S., Canada, South Korea and around the world.

  • We cannot defeat an enemy we refuse to define.
  • To misunderstand the nature and threat of evil is to risk being blindsided by it.
  • Evil, unchecked, is a prelude to genocide.
  • That we are facing not one but two nation states right now (Iran & the Islamic State) whose leaders are motivated by a genocidal version of Islamic eschatology, or End Times theology.
  • Attention needs to be paid by government leaders and public policy experts on the theology and eschatology driving our enemies.

I noted that President Obama foolishly — dangerously — continues to adamantly refuse to acknowledge the threat of Radical Islam. It’s both a concept and a term he rejects out of hand. He certainly refuses to acknowledge that there is a far greater threat emerging — that of what I call “Apocalyptic Islam.” Indeed, he and his administration are completely ignoring it, even as Iranian and ISIS leaders are becoming far more brazen in their public discussions of their End Times beliefs.

On July 14th, President Obama expressed his full support for the Iran nuclear deal, saying, “Time and again, I have made clear to the Iranian people that we will always be open to engagement on the basis of mutual interests and mutual respect.  Our differences are real and the difficult history between our nations cannot be ignored.  But it is possible to change.  The path of violence and rigid ideology, a foreign policy based on threats to attack your neighbors or eradicate Israel — that’s a dead end.  A different path, one of tolerance and peaceful resolution of conflict, leads to more integration into the global economy, more engagement with the international community, and the ability of the Iranian people to prosper and thrive.”

Against all evidence, the President believes that Iran’s regime just might be interested in taking “a different path,” one that is peaceful and cooperative and tolerant.

On August 8th, the President explained his thinking even further. In an address at American University in Washington, D.C, he quoted President John F. Kennedy and argued that his support for the Iran nuclear deal was predicated on the premise that he could achieve “a practical and attainable peace” with the leaders of Iran, “a peace based not on a sudden revolution in human nature, but on a gradual evolution in human institutions, on a series of concrete actions and effective agreements.”

The central question is whether the President is accurately reading the intentions of Iran’s top leaders. Are they interested in taking “a different path, one of tolerance and peaceful resolution of conflict”? Is there any hard evidence that the attitudes and actions will become more peaceful as a result of this nuclear deal, and that we will see a “gradual evolution” in the behavior of the Iranian regime?

The central task we have, then, is to examine carefully the speeches and actions of our enemies and seek to determine what they really believe, why, how those beliefs drive their actions, and whether we have any leverage to change their beliefs and thus change their actions.

I argued at this Summit that the evidence strongly indicates that we are dealing with “true believers” in Iran and ISIS, men who believe deeply — passionately — in a cause few Westerners even comprehend, much less accept. Indeed, for the first time in human history, the top leaders of not just one nation state but two — Iran and the Islamic State — are being driven by Islamic eschatology, or End Times theology. Their particular brands of Shia and Sunni eschatology are driving them towards genocide. Why? Because they believe:

  • that the End of Days have arrived
  • that the Islamic messiah known as the “Mahdi” will appear at any moment
  • that when the Mahdi appears, he will rule the entire Earth
  • that Jesus will also return to Earth, but not as the Messiah, or Savior, or Son of God, but as the deputy to the Mahdi
  • that Jesus will force all Jews, Christians and other so-called “infidels” to convert to Islam or be executed
  • that the way to hasten the arrival and full establishment of the global Islamic kingdom or “caliphate” is to annihilate Jews and Christians, and specifically to annihilate Israel (which they call the “Little Satan” in their eschatology), and the United States (which they call the “Great Satan.”)
  • that time is very short, and they must move decisively because soon each Muslim will face the Mahdi face to face and be brought into judgment if they have not faithfully followed the Mahdi’s orders.

They discuss such matters often — not in the shadows, but in public. Yet, Western leaders are not paying attention, much less carefully analyzing the implications of such beliefs.

If my analysis is correct, there is no earthly chance the leaders of Iran — or ISIS — will change course. Rather, they are Hell-bent on committing genocide of historic proportions and totally destroying Judeo-Christian civilization as we have known it. Thus, our leaders must study the facts carefully and determine whether Iranian and ISIS leaders really believe such things, and formulate strategies to protect our people and neutralize such enemies accordingly.

During my remarks, I promised to post several fact sheets so those attending the Summit and those watching the live streaming webcast around the world could study the issue more closely. Here they are.

Also, here is a link to an excellent new book by Brookings Institution scholar, William McCants, titled, The ISIS Apocalypse: The History, Strategy & Doomsday Vision of the Islamic State. It is a work I highly recommend to government leaders, public policy experts and lay people, as well.

Last key point for now: I noted at the Summit that devout, Bible-believing Jews and Christians also have End Times theologies. But neither hold that Jews or Christians are supposed to commit genocide. Rather, we believe from the prophets Daniel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Zechariah and others that the Messiah will come at the End of Days, conquer His enemies, and establish a global kingdom whose capital is Jerusalem. The Messiah will judge and conquer His enemies. That is not our job. Most Jews and Christians differ, of course, on the identity of the Messiah and whether His arrival on Earth to establish His global Kingdom will be His first visit, or His second. Still, neither Jewish nor Christian eschatology requires us to commit genocide. But the Iranian and ISIS versions of Islamic eschatology are genocidal in their very nature.

When the video of my remarks becomes available, I will post it here and through social media.

Hope you find this helpful. Please feel free to share this post with others.

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