BREAKING: FBI reopens criminal investigation of Hillary. This is a huge story — especially coming just days before the election. Here’s the latest.

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UPDATED: For yet another week, the news of the American election cycle continues to go from bad to worse to nightmarish to surreal. With the future of the world’s greatest democracy — and world’s only superpower — at stake, it’s important to take a few minutes to see what is happening and consider why it matters.
  • The ugliest presidential campaign in U.S. history — a dispiriting battle between two of the most disliked and distrusted candidates in U.S. history — has just taken another bizarre twist.
  • FBI Director James Comey announced on Friday that he is reopening the criminal investigation of Hillary Clinton based on the discovery of “new device” containing new, previously unexamined, email evidence.
  • [UPDATE: Watergate investigative reporter Carl Bernstein: FBI Would Not Reopen Case Unless New Evidence Was “A Real Bombshell”]
  • Make no mistake: this is a huge story — especially coming just 11 days before the election.
  • It radically changes the narrative for undecided voters in swing states from focusing on the deep and serious flaws of Mr. Trump to focusing on the persistent pattern of corruption, and now the possibility of criminal behavior, of Hillary Clinton.
  • While it’s unclear whether these new developments will ultimately lead to an indictment, it does mean the criminal investigation of Hillary will continue for weeks, if not months, certainly well past Election Day.
  • At the very least, it shows that Comey and the Bureau felt they absolutely had to make these serious developments public, even at what could turn out to be the most damaging moment possible for the Clinton campaign.
  • I’ve said it before, and I will say it again. Hillary is without a doubt “the most corrupt and deeply flawed Democratic candidate that has emerged” in the history of our Republic.
  • I’ve offered dozens of reasons why “her election will be a disaster for the American family, American workers, Americans serving in the military, and for American national security.”
  • The news of the last 24 hours simply underscores these assessments.
  • Yet the news is jarring and dramatic because Comey announced last summer that he was not going to pursue a prosecution of Mrs. Clinton. That decision itself was downright bizarre given the fact that the Bureau’s own investigation found Hillary was “extremely careless” in handling classified information by having a private email server in her house and that Hillary and her staff destroyed more than 30,000 emails.
  • Comey told us at the time that “110 e-mails in 52 e-mail chains have been determined by the owning agency to contain classified information at the time they were sent or received. Eight of those chains contained information that was Top Secret at the time they were sent; 36 chains contained Secret information at the time; and eight contained Confidential information, which is the lowest level of classification.”
  • Given the seriousness of the evidence the FBI had uncovered, Comey’s decision not to prosecute any of this was seen by many Americans as evidence of a cover-up, and thus of corruption at the highest levels of the U.S. government. Numerous American citizens have been prosecuted for handling classified information in an improper manner — yet who has ever destroyed 30,000-plus pieces of evidence and avoided prosecution?
  • Have Comey and his team changed their mind? What evidence have they uncovered that caused them to make such a radical change of direction? How damning is it?
  • Oh how we could wish this was some all just some epic political thriller we were reading or watching on the silver screen. But this is cold, harsh reality, and immensely painful.
  • The world’s greatest democracy is stumbling badly.
  • The world’s only superpower looks increasingly weak, disoriented, unclear, unsure.
  • Tragically, America is not simply in a season of decline — as evidenced by the choices we have before us — but is heading for implosion.
  • American weakness is creating an opening for freedom’s enemies to advance.
  • What’s more, as painful as it is for me to say it, America is heading towards divine judgment — for many reasons, but perhaps above all for murdering 58 million babies since 1973.
  • While it grieves me to see where America is today, it does not surprise me.
  • Politics won’t save us now — only a Great Awakening provided by the Almighty God of the universe can save us now.
  • Will the Lord Jesus Christ grant us such a sweeping spiritual revival and renewal? I hope so, I pray so, but I don’t know.
  • So I keep forcing myself to look away from the news and from Twitter and social media and turn my eyes back to the Lord — to our great and glorious and soon-coming King. He is good, and He is sovereign, and no matter who is elected president my hope is not lost, because my hope is in the Messiah, the King of kings and the Lord of lords, and He has graciously granted me citizenship in His glorious kingdom. He will come and make all things new, and all things right. He will bring justice and righteousness and life everlasting, and I cannot wait.
  • My task right now, therefore, is not to fear or worry about what the future holds but to remain faithful to all that the Lord instructs me through the Scriptures. For example, as darkness falls, I am to remain “joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer,” as the Apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Rome.
  • I could never vote for Hillary under any circumstances, but I have promised to pray faithfully for her and her family. Indeed, regardless of how grieved I am by both nominees, I am 100% committed to genuinely and faithfully praying for both of them and their families. I will continue to pray that the Lord Jesus Christ shows them great mercy, that they will seek Him with all their heart, and that He will supernaturally change them and bear much good fruit in and through them.
  • As I noted in my October 9th column, the God of the Bible is a change agent. All through the Scriptures we see God saving, changing and redeeming broken, burdened, troubled lives, and it is breathtaking to behold. The Lord loves to change hearts and minds and mouths. He alone has the power to change lives, and I truly pray He will show His great mercy and love to the Clintons and the Trumps. Meanwhile, I am praying for those who can provide either family and either candidate sound, Biblical, spiritual counsel. Both families need true, faithful believers around them speaking the truth in love, as do we all.
  • Whoever wins the presidency and is given the task of leading America for the next four years, I will pray for faithfully and consistently. This is what the Apostle Paul commands of us, and thus, I hope you and your family and friends will also be faithful in praying for the next president and for all the Members of Congress and for the future of the Court.
“First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (I Timothy 2:1-4)

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[This column is based on my personal beliefs and opinions. I share them in my personal capacity as an American citizen and an author. They do not reflect the views of The Joshua Fund, which is a non-profit organization and takes no political or legislative positions.]
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Where from here? 22 years ago, Jordan signed an historic peace treaty with Israel. Will other Arab countries follow? A few thoughts.

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(Central Israel) — One of my regrets in life is that I never had the opportunity to meet Jordan’s King Hussein, truly one of the most courageous and compassionate Arab leaders of the 20th century.

Twenty-two years ago — on October 26, 1994 — Hussein made history by signing a peace treaty with the State of Israel. In so doing, Hussein became only the second Sunni Arab Muslim leader to do so.

The first, of course, was President Anwar al-Sadat of Egypt, another of the great Arab leaders of our age.

Which Arab state will be next? What Arab leader will follow the lead of Sadat and Hussein in making peace with the Jewish State? And when?

Admittedly, I’m not holding my breath. Nor should you. But as I’ve been writing about on this blog for some time, there are, in fact, signs of encouraging behind-the-scenes cooperation between Israel and the Sunni Arab world, including a number of intriguing public meetings between prominent Israeli and Saudi notables. Why? In part because a growing number of Arab leaders in the region now recognize that the true existential threat to them is not the presence of a sovereign Jewish State but rather Iran’s menacing nuclear program and the genocidal, apocalyptic ambitions of the Islamic State.

King Hussein knew full well that he was taking an enormous risk when he signed the historic peace accord with then-Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin during an elaborate ceremony that was overseen by President Bill Clinton, held on the Israeli-Jordanian border, attended by some 4,500 guests.

Hussein had grown up in the bubbling cauldron that is the modern Middle East. As a teenager, he was standing at the side of his grandfather, King Abdullah I, when Abdullah was brutally assassinated by a Palestinian radical just outside the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount in the summer of 1951. Over the next four decades, Hussein survived literally dozens of plots against his life, including the effort by Yasser Arafat and the PLO to overthrow him in 1970 (what became known as “Black September.”) Hussein also knew all too well how his friend, Sadat, was cruelly assassinated by Islamic jihadists in 1981, just two years after Egypt made peace with Israel.

Yet remarkably, twenty-two years ago, Hussein made the decision to proceed anyway, knowing all the history and all the threats and all the risks. He thus demonstrated his extraordinary wisdom and impressive drive to bring peace and prosperity and stability and opportunity to the people of Jordan.

Today, seventeen years after Hussein’s untimely death from cancer, the Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty still holds. Why? Much of the credit goes to the equally-extraordinary leadership of his son, King Abdullah II, who continues to follow in his father’s impressive footsteps, steadily seeking to improve the quality of life for all Jordanians, while navigating ever-turbulent regional storms.

Indeed, Abdullah II seems born for this challenging moment. He strikes me as uniquely qualified to protect his kingdom from all threats foreign and domestic, and build on his father’s legacy of moderation, tolerance and strength, as a I wrote earlier this spring when Lynn and I had the humbling honor of visiting with His Majesty in Amman.

Today, thank God, Israel and Jordan are working quietly but closely on security, intelligence, agricultural, economic and energy matters. They are also working closely with other Sunni Arab countries like Egypt, the Saudis and the Gulf emirates on vital security issues, most notably the fight against ISIS and the effort to protect the region from emboldened Iranian aggression.

What’s more, just last month Israel and Jordan signed a 15-year, $10 billion agreement in which Israel will provide natural gas it is drilling in the Mediterranean to the kingdom at low prices. Some Jordanians are protesting the agreement, but it really is a win-win for both sides. Jordan is the first country to whom Israel has agreed to export its natural gas, and the deal will help the Hashemite Kingdom “$600 million a year from the state’s energy bill.”

Of course, the pressures on Egypt and Jordan to distance themselves from Israel, even to abandon their treaties, are enormous. Both Radical Islamists and Apocalyptic Islamists see Jordanian and Egyptian leaders as apostates, betrayers of the cause, and seek to bring them down as rapidly and violently as possible. Such are some of the themes in my most recent series of novels, The Third Target and The First Hostage. Such issues also play a significant element in my forthcoming thriller, Without Warning (though I’m not ready to go into any detail yet).

Israelis, Jordanians and Egyptians have been enormously blessed by these peace treaties. Without continuous war amongst us, we have all seen our economies grow and our children pursue their education and their dreams in a far better way than they could have. True, a fair and compassionate agreement must still be forged between Israelis and Palestinians — and for this I pray every day. I hope you do, too.

But on this day when we remember the signing of the Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty (and its predecessor between Israel and Egypt), let us be likewise committed to standing with Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Egypt’s President el-Sisi. Let us be praying for them and their governments and their people. Let us be praying for peace, stability, and economic growth for Jordan and Egypt.

For if the jihadists succeed and Jordan and Egypt become destabilized, this would have catastrophic consequences for the region and the world. Such is the nightmare scenario I pray we only read about in novels, not see play out in real life.

[PHOTO: Front page of the New York Times reporting on the signing of the Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty in 1994; and a photo of Jordan’s King Hussein sharing a smoke with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.]

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HUGE LOSS FOR THE ISLAMIC STATE: Dabiq seized by coalition forces. What happened to all the Islamic prophecies of an apocalyptic, End of Days battle in which the West would be destroyed?

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The false prophecies of ISIS have fallen flat.

As the battle to liberate the city of Mosul from the control of the Islamic State in Iraq was launched this week, coalition forces quietly liberated another key site from ISIS control in Syria — the Syrian town of Dabiq.

Few Westerners seemed to notice, but this was actually huge strategic and psychological loss for the Islamic State. Why? Because ISIS leaders have long proclaimed that Dabiq would be the site of an apocalyptic battle in the End of Days. Indeed, control of Dabiq is central to the eschatology of the Islamic State.

“The Islamic State’s magazine is called, Dabiq,” I noted on Fox News in January. “Most people have no idea what that means. [Dabiq] is a little town in the north of Syria. Why is that important? Because they believe, based on ancient Islamic prophecies, that the Western world — ‘the forces of Rome’ — will be drawn to that spot for the second-to-last battle of all history, and that the West will lose, and the Islamic State will win, and then they head to Jerusalem. The idea is that they believe that the End of Days has come, their messiah — known as the ‘Mahdi’ — will come reign over the entire world at any moment. The [leaders of ISIS] are driven by an Islamic eschatology that’s genocidal. And that’s why it’s so dangerous. And yet most leaders — including the President and our two front-runners on the Democrat and Republican side — they don’t understand it. They don’t talk about it. That’s a problem.”

[To read other articles I’ve written about the significance of Dabiq and why the next President and his or her advisors need to understand the eschatology behind it, please click here, here, and here.]

Yet as of this week, Dabiq has been seized from ISIS in what has to be one of the most anti-climatic battle of the ages. Now, ISIS leaders are furiously spinning that none of this really matters, that Dabiq was never really so important to them.

“It is without doubt that Dabiq was crucial to the Islamic State’s propaganda apparatus,” noted an analysis this week in the Washington Post. “Data from Google shows how its attacks in the West fueled the apocalyptic rhetoric, and the reverse. Search interest in the term ‘Dabiq’ first spiked in December 2014 when the magazine under the same title published strong criticism of al-Qaeda, referring to the apocalyptic battle that was assumed to be ahead. From that point onward, search interest always spiked when terrorist attacks in Western countries occurred: the Charlie Hebdo shooting, the Copenhagen attacks, and finally the devastating Paris attacks with more than 130 victims.'”

“It’s easy to conclude that ISIS’ leaders cited the prophesy cynically. They played it up when it was to their advantage and downplayed it when it was not,” wrote William McCants, author of “The ISIS Apocalypse” which was published last year. “But another theory I offered is that ISIS, like other apocalyptic groups, changes its understanding of prophecy’s fulfillment based on circumstances.”

“Other researchers have voiced similar doubts whether Dabiq’s loss implies the end of its prophecy being used in ISIS propaganda,” noted the Post. “Charlie Winter, a senior research fellow at London’s Center for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence, wrote that the apocalypse narrative had stalled, but was ‘not undermined.'”

Here’s coverage on how the (less-than-apocalyptic) battle for Dabiq played out:

COMING SOON: In the days ahead, I’ll post more coverage and analysis of the battle for Mosul.

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Have you heard that Israeli leaders are urging Jews to read through the entire Bible, verse by verse, chapter by chapter? Amazing, but true. Here’s the latest.

netanyahu-biblestudyoct2016rivlin-launching929initiative(Central Israel) — You probably haven’t heard this in the mainstream media, but Israel’s most senior leaders are urging the Jewish people to read through the Bible, the whole Bible, verse by verse, chapter by chapter.

Can you imagine President Obama or any other U.S. leader calling on American people to read through the Bible? Neither can I.

Given the general trend here in Israel towards secularization, this is quite a surprising yet thoroughly encouraging development. I’m sure many of you are skeptical, but it really is true. Here’s the latest.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu kicked off the new school year here by encouraging children to rediscover the Word of God and Biblical roots of their Jewish heritage.

“First of all, the study of the Bible,” he said in August. “Knowledge is a critical word. We want to give it [knowledge of the Scriptures] to every child in Israel, Jews and non-Jews as one, religious and secular. This is the basis of the new world, and the basis of Israel as a strong nation in the world.”

Last week, the prime minister and his wife, Sara, hosted another in a series of occasional Bible study groups at their official residence. They discussed — among other things — the Biblical connection Jews have to the Temple Mount, despite a recent U.N. vote denying Jews have any such connection.

The Netanyahus organized their first home Bible study group in December 2011, as I reported at the time. In so doing, they carried on a tradition first begun by David Ben Gurion and later by Menachem Begin but rarely repeated by other Israeli premiers. Their stated goal was to set an example for the nation and to “perpetuate a love of the Bible.” [See here and here for coverage of other Bible studies they have held.]

Meanwhile, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and several government officials have launched something they call the “929 Initiative.”

This is a wonderful and worthy effort to encourage all Israelis — even the most secular and non-religious among us — to read one chapter of the Jewish Scriptures a day, every day, until they have read all 929 chapters.

Rivlin and his colleagues kicked off the $12 million initiative in December 2014. Since then, they have been encouraging Israelis to continue reading verse by verse, chapter by chapter through the full Hebrew Bible or “Tanakh” until everyone finishes together in the summer of 2018 for the 70th anniversary of the prophetic rebirth of the Jewish State.

There is a pretty impressive and sophisticated website dedicated to the project, with Israelis of all kinds, from a wide variety of backgrounds, writing articles on what they think about the Bible verses they are reading. There is also an app that helps Israelis remember what chapter they’re supposed to read each day and help them mark their progress.

Here are several article about the initiative. I commend them to your attention.

I especially wanted to bring this all to your attention as we celebrate Sukkot, or the Feast of Tabernacles (aka, “Feast of Booths”). Why? Because in the Torah, Moses commanded the people to read through all the Scriptures in their entirety every seven years. Sadly, this is a commandment many if not most of my fellow Jews have forgotten, or never were aware of in the first place.

10 Then Moses commanded them, saying, “At the end of every seven years, at the time of the year of remission of debts, at the Feast of Booths, 11 when all Israel comes to appear before the Lord your God at the place which He will choose, you shall read this law in front of all Israel in their hearing. 12 Assemble the people, the men and the women and children and [a]the alien who is in your [b]town, so that they may hear and learn and fear the Lord your God, and be careful to observe all the words of this law. (Deuteronomy 31:10-12)

Some of my favorite stories in the Bible are when King Josiah called the nation of Judah together to hear the Word of the Lord read to them in its entirety, and when Ezra and the priests read the entire Bible to the nation of Israel after their return to the Land from Babylonian and Persian captivity.

Several years ago, we organized an Epicenter conference with the theme, “The Power of The Word.” Several of the speakers taught on this largely forgotten history of Jewish leaders calling the nation back to the Scriptures — if you’re interested in watching the videos of those and other messages, please click here.

I’m grateful to Netanyahu and Rivlin and to the other Israeli leaders who are calling our people back to reading the Bible cover to cover. Will you join me in praying that more Jews (and Gentiles) heed their call? Thanks so much, and Chag Same’ach — happy holidays from Israel!

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What is “Sukkot,” the Feast of Tabernacles, and why do Jews celebrate it?

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Shalom from Israel and Chag Same’ach — happy holidays!

We have just begun the third of the Fall Feasts. The first was Rosh HaShana, the Jewish New Year. The second is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. This one is known as Sukkot, or the Feast of Tabernacles. What is this feast all about? Why do we as Jews celebrate it? And how does it relate to the prophetic plan of the Lord, as laid out in the Scriptures?

These are  important questions, and to provide the answers I commend this excellent article to you. I hope you’ll read it and discuss it with family and friends, and share it with others on social media. Thanks, and may the Lord bless you as you study His Word and draw nearer to Him day by day.

““In that day I will raise up the tabernacle [sukkah] of David that is fallen and repair its breaches, and raise up its ruins and rebuild it as in the days of old, that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations who are called by my name,” declares the Lord who does this.” Amos 9:11-12

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After many delays, the battle to liberate Mosul from a hellish ISIS nightmare is about to begin. Here’s the latest.

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UPDATE: The battle for Mosul began in the early morning hours of Monday, October 17th. Here’s one of the first reports from the BBC.

The good news: two years after the Islamic State swept through large swaths of north-western Syria, and seized control of upwards of one-third of Iraq, a coalition of U.S, Arab and Kurdish military forces are poised to launch a massive new battle to liberate the city of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest.

The bad news: how much time do you have?

  • For one thing, while ISIS is losing ground in Iraq, and even losing some ground in Syria, it’s ideology has spread to some three-dozen countries.
  • Second, ISIS is recruiting jihadists from well over 100 countries.
  • Third, ISIS operatives and loyalists are launching deadly terror attacks all over the world, including in North America and various NATO countries.
  • Four, the battle for Mosul — repeatedly promised yet repeatedly delayed over the past year — could cause ISIS to slaughter many more innocents.
  • Fifth, the battle for Mosul could also create a massive new refugee surge.

In the days ahead, I’ll keep you updated on this multi-national effort to retake Mosul, end the hellish ISIS-led genocide against Christians and Yazidis, and drive ISIS out of northern Iraq once and for all. I’ll also report on a fascinating Iraqi proposal to create a new province in northern Iraq where Christians and other minorities can be safe.

For now, please join me in praying for the people of Mosul. Please pray the Lord would liberate them from the ISIS nightmare they have been suffering for two years. Pray that the Lord would show grace and favor on the coalition preparing to attack ISIS. Please pray, too, for the various Christian ministries (including the organization we founded, The Joshua Fund) that is trying to minister to refugees in Iraq, strengthen the local persecuted Church there, and be a light in the darkness.

That said, here’s the latest news reports on preparations for the battle of Mosul:

“Thousands of troops are massing outside ISIS-held Mosul in preparation for a battle that could spell the end of the terror group in Iraq,” reports the UK Daily Mail. “The fight to reclaim the city is expected to begin next week in what will be the biggest Iraqi military operation since the US-led invasion in 2003.”

“A successful conquest would destroy ISIS’s last bastion of power in the country, and represent a serious blow to its legitimacy,” the British paper notes. “Some 30,000 Iraqi troops are expected to take part in the battle, with support from US special forces and western coalition warplanes.”

The BBC reports:

  • A planned military offensive to reclaim Mosul from so-called Islamic State (IS) could see up to a million Iraqis flee their homes.
  • The UN’s refugee agency has told the BBC how it and its partners are gearing up to deal with the expected humanitarian crisis by building camps to house those in need.
  • The much-delayed operation to drive IS from Iraq’s second-largest city is expected to begin this month, more than two years after the jihadists over-ran Mosul and proclaimed its caliphate.
  • In preparation, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and its partners are stepping up contingency plans, informed by a number of lessons learned from previous offensives, such as Falluja, says Bruno Geddo, a UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Iraq….
  • An estimated 3.3 million people — equivalent to almost 10% of the population of Iraq — have been uprooted by fighting since the start of 2014. Those currently fleeing Mosul and its surrounding areas join about half-a-million people who fled the city in June 2014.
  • There are no firm figures on how many people remain in Mosul, but there were more than two million when IS took the city more than two years ago.
  • Mr Geddo estimates the population could now be “anywhere between 1.2 and 1.5m people.”….

> Order the new paperback edition of The First Hostage today — click here.

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As we observe Yom Kippur this year, it’s worth asking: Where do we as modern Jews receive atonement for our sins?

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At sundown tonight — Tuesday, October 11th — we begin Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

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

According to Moses and the Holy Scriptures, only the blood sacrifice of a perfect animal — sacrificed with a humble, repentant heart, and with faith in God’s mercy and grace — would bring about forgiveness of sins.

  • “For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.” (Leviticus 17:11)
  • “In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” (Hebrews 9:22)
  • “Blessed is the one whose sins are forgiven, whose sins are covered.” (Psalm 32:1)

But here’s the problem modern Jews face today: How do we receive atonement for our sins in the modern age, without an operational Temple in Jerusalem?

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

The destruction of the Temple by the Romans in 70 A.D. was a huge blow to Judaism, because it deprived Jews of the place to receive atonement from God. For two thousand years, we haven’t had the ability to have our sins forgiven in the manner required by the Lord in the Bible.

Fortunately, the Lord spoke the answer through the Hebrew prophet Daniel hundreds of years before the Second Temple was destroyed.

In Daniel 9:24-26, we learn three critical and fascinating truths:

  • Daniel told us that the Messiah (“Anointed One”) would come at a certain time in history “to atone for wickedness” and “to bring in everlasting righteousness”
  • Daniel also told us that when the Messiah came, he would be “cut off and will have nothing”
  • then Daniel foretold that Jerusalem and the Temple would be destroyed after the Messiah was “cut off” — as Daniel noted, foreign invaders “will come and will destroy the city and the sanctuary”

Think about that for a moment. Daniel told us something extraordinary: the coming Messiah would be “cut off” and bring atonement for our sins, and He would come before the Temple would be destroyed.

In retrospect, that makes sense, right? Why would the Lord take away the Temple unless He was going to provide a new way for atonement, the very “new covenant” He spoke of through the Hebrew prophet Jeremiah?

What’s more, the Hebrew Prophet Isaiah gave us additional important details about the Messiah’s role in bringing each of us atonement from our sins. Consider these passages from Isaiah 53:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s intriguing to me is that the Jews of the First Century (B.C.E.) actually believed the Messiah would one day come to earth and die as a “suffering servant” — as an atonement for sins and the redemption of Israel — and would then rise from the dead on the third day.

That’s the conclusion of a respected professor and Dead Sea Scrolls expert at Hebrew University. In fact, he argues that the death and “third day” resurrection of the Messiah is, in fact, a distinctly Jewish concept that actually pre-dates the emergence of Christianity.

Dr. Israel Knohl has based on his conclusions on many years of research and recently analyzed archaeological evidence, including a previously unstudied Dead Sea Scroll. Indeed, Knohl argues that this notion of the Messiah rising on the third day is a pre-Christian concept that dates back to before the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem Ephratah.

I had the opportunity to sit and discuss this with Dr. Knohl at length a few years ago and it was an absolutely fascinating conversation.

I first heard of him when he drew worldwide media attention several years ago for his research, including a major article in the New York Times and several articles in Biblical Archaeology Review — see here, and here, and here.

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

The tablet has been named by scholars as “Gabriel’s Revelation” because it suggests that the angel Gabriel was instructed by God to direct that the Messiah be raised from the dead on the third day.

The stone tablet was discovered several decades ago and is owned by a Israeli-Swiss Jewish man by the name of David Jeselsohn who didn’t understand its significance when he purchased it. The Times article was published in 2008. Dr. Knohl then published a book about all this in 2009 entitled, Messiahs and Resurrection in “The Gabriel Revelation.” That was a follow up to his previous book, The Messiah Before Jesus: The Suffering Servant of the Dead Sea Scrolls (first published in Hebrew in 2000 and then in English in 2002).

In the book, Dr. Knohl explains the various Jewish theories about the Messiah, including the idea of a “Messiah son of David” who will come as a reigning king on the earth like King David was, and a “Messiah son of Joseph” who will be rejected by his brothers, mistreated, left for dead but will eventually reappear and save not only the nation of Israel but the world like Joseph did in the book of Genesis.

I would commend these articles — and Dr. Knohl’s books — to your attention. I would also encourage you to read Daniel 9 and Isaiah 53 and the other Biblical passages I’ve mentioned here. Study and discuss them with family and friends, and on this important Day of Atonement, ask the following questions:

  • Did the ancient Hebrew prophecies really did foretell that the Jewish Messiah would die as an atonement for our sins but was also supposed to be buried and raised from the dead on the third day?
  • Did the Jews in the first century really believed that the coming Messiah would be rejected by the religious leaders of the day in order to be killed on Passover and raised from the dead on the third day, on the Feast of First Fruits?
  • If so, why should this matter to you and me?

“The First Hostage” has just been released in paperback.

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I’m pleased to announce that Tyndale has just released the paperback edition of The First Hostage.

My latest political thriller lists for $15.99, but it’s available through many bookstores for much less — including here and here for just $9.02.

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“The president of the United States . . . is missing.”

With these words, New York Times journalist J. B. Collins, reporting from the scene of a devastating attack by ISIS terrorists in Amman, Jordan, puts the entire world on high alert. The leaders of Israel and the Palestinian Authority are critically injured, Jordan’s king is fighting for his life, and the U.S. president is missing and presumed captured.

As the U.S. government faces a constitutional crisis and Jordan battles for its very existence, Collins must do his best to keep the world informed while working to convince the FBI that his stories are not responsible for the terror attack on the Jordanian capital. And ISIS still has chemical weapons . . .

Struggling to clear his name, Collins and the Secret Service try frantically to locate and rescue the leader of the free world before ISIS’s threats become a catastrophic reality.

> Order the new paperback edition of The First Hostage today — click here.

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Some thoughts on a presidential campaign going from bad to worse to nightmarish.

trump-hillaryAs the news from both presidential candidates goes from bad to worse to nightmarish to surreal (see below), I find myself grieving. There is no other way to put it. I’m not grieving as one who has no hope. But I am grieving all the same.

It is bitterly painful to see America arrive at this point, neck-deep in corruption and vulgarity, edging closer and closer, day by day, towards moral, spiritual, social and economic implosion.

We desperately need a revival, a sweeping spiritual awakening, to put us back on the right track. Will it come? I honestly do not know. I’m praying — pleading — for the Lord to give us one, and soon. I’m praying for each of the presidential and vice presidential candidates, and their families and advisors. I’m praying the Lord will supernaturally salvage this train wreck of an election and give us a surprise ending that will truly bless the entire country. Yet I’m also praying for His infinite, amazing grace and mercy if He chooses to let us proceed down this ugly path “as is.”

Unless we turn wholeheartedly to Christ our coming King and Redeemer, it could be a very dark four years indeed. But the Scriptures do offer us hope.

“If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it.” (Jeremiah 18:7-10)

I have to admit that I seriously long for the Lord to set the Rapture into motion in the days or weeks ahead. Election Day would be just fine, though sooner would be better.

I am willing to preach the Gospel and teach the Word of God and make disciples and serve the poor as long as the Lord tarries, so as long as He continues to grant the grace and strength to do His will and forgiveness whenever I inevitably fall short.

But as darkness falls over America, as it is falling over so much of the world, I am growing weary. As the rich and powerful and corrupt seem to gain more riches and more power and grow more corrupt, I am growing weary. As I see injustice spreading like a cancer, and as I see so many people abandoning the faith and ignoring the Word of God and doing whatever is right in their own eyes, I am growing weary.

It is all foretold, of course. The ancient prophecies are coming to pass — all the apostasy, the corruption, the persecution and darkness that the Lord Jesus and the Apostles and the Hebrew prophets foretold about the “last days” — we’re seeing it all play out, just as the Word warned us ahead of time.

Consider just this passage and ask yourself if this doesn’t describe American culture and politics today? “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; avoid such men as these.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

The worse it gets, the more I find myself saying, “Maranatha, come, Lord Jesus!”

I’m not going to post anything new about the increasingly toxic and tremendously disturbing presidential campaign. If you’re interested, you can read what I posted on my “Epicenter Team” page on Facebook on Friday. Or you can scroll through the last several days of Tweets.

For now, let me just say this: regardless of how grieved I am by both nominees, I am 100% committed to genuinely and faithfully praying for the Trump family, and for the Clintons, as I have been throughout this campaign. I will continue to pray that the Lord Jesus Christ shows them great mercy, that they will seek Him with all their heart, and that He will supernaturally change them and bear much good fruit in and through them.

The God of the Bible is a change agent. All through the Scriptures we see God saving, changing and redeeming broken, burdened, troubled lives, and it is breathtaking to behold. The Lord loves to change hearts and minds and mouths. He alone has the power to change lives, and I truly pray He will show His great mercy and love to the Trumps and the Clintons. Meanwhile, I have great respect for those who feel called to provide either family and either candidate sound, Biblical, spiritual counsel. Both families need true, faithful believers around them speaking the truth in love, as do we all.

Indeed, whoever wins the presidency and is raised up to lead America for the next four years, I will pray for faithfully and respectfully. This is what the Apostle Paul commands of us. Thus, I hope you and your family and friends will be faithful in praying for the next president and all the Members of Congress, too. “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (I Timothy 2:1-4)

That said, I believe it’s important for all of us to realize just how much trouble we’re in. After killing 58 million babies, America now faces impending divine judgment. There is no way out, no way back. The blood of 58 million babies is crying out for justice and they will get it.

Only a true revival — a great, sweeping spiritual awakening — could possibly forestall such a judgment. In addition to such a great awakening, ideally the Lord will give America a leader like King Josiah, the Biblical leader who made big, bold changes to turn his nation around. Indeed, God saw Josiah’s humble heart, and his great love for the Scriptures, and his passionate commitment to help his nation make major reforms and get back on the right track, and therefore He gave Josiah much favor. Indeed, because of Josiah’s leadership, the Lord chose to forestall imminent judgement of the nation of Judah for some two decades.

Sadly, neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton nor Tim Kaine have demonstrated any of the characteristics of Josiah. But Gov. Mike Pence has. Perhaps the Lord will raise him up to provide the leadership we need at this time. I hope so. Time will tell.

In the meantime, prayer is really all we have as individual Christians at this point. Yet what more do we need? Prayer offers us a direct line to our Father in heaven, the Almighty God of the universe who could grant us a great awakening if He sovereignly chose to, or who alone can give us the grace to endure the suffering and hardships if He chooses to set His judgments into motion.

In these dark times, my friends, come what may, may you and I keep our eyes on Jesus and be “joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer.” (Romans 12:12)

Recent news from the campaign trail:

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Tonight, I’m speaking in Denver on “the big untold story in the Mideast” — how the Gospel is spreading despite darkness and genocide. Please join us.

ma-2016fundraiser(Denver, Colorado) — The eyes of the world were once again focused on Israel this week.

Leaders of more than 70 nations — including President Obama and, to his credit, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas — arrived in Jerusalem Friday to attend the funeral of former Israeli President and Prime Minister Shimon Peres. Some 50,000 Israelis passed by the casket to pay their respects to the last of the founding fathers of the modern nation state. By God’s grace, the Israeli security plan was excellently designed and executed and there were no terrorist attacks or incidents. Thanks to all of you who were praying this week for the peace of Jerusalem.

As I watched the memorial service and followed the news coverage generated by the event, I found myself grateful for — even heartened by — a moment of calm in the Middle East storm. Many of the leaders who attended have been highly, even brutally, critical of Israel over the years. Many of them have voted against Israel at the U.N. and sought various ways to penalize or punish Israel over the years. Yet this week they set all (or most) of that aside to honor the memory of a man who for all his many flaws and virtues will be remembered for his valiant efforts to make peace.

Now, the funeral services are over. The leaders have left. Life will soon return to normal — and yet the “new normal” in the Mideast is one of evil, savagery and despair.

Tonight, I will speak in the Denver, Colorado area. We’ll briefly discuss this “new normal.” But we’ll spend most of our time discussing “the big untold story in the Middle East” — the story of how the Holy Spirit is opening hearts and minds to the Gospel and drawing more Jews and more Muslims into the Kingdom of Jesus Christ than at any other time in human history.

I plan to share both the latest statistics and some of my favorite stories of how God is moving powerfully and saving so many souls, facts and insights I’ve learned from years of crisscrossing the region from Morocco to Afghanistan as well as now living in Israel.

The occasion will be the annual fundraising event for Ministry Architecture, Inc. This is the ministry my parents (Leonard and Mary Rosenberg) started around almost two decades ago to provide architectural services for evangelical Christian ministries operating in developing countries who need orphanages, training centers, medical missionary hospitals, and other facilities to show the love of Jesus.

Before I speak, my folks will share about the exciting work God is doing through this ministry. Then I will discuss what God is doing in the epicenter. I’m especially looking forward to answering your questions — always my favorite part of the evening — and afterwards I’ll be signing books, as well.

The event will take place at Calvary Chapel South Denver in Littleton, Colorado, from 7:00pm to 9:15pm. Doors will open at 6:15pm. A contribution of $25 per person is requested to help support Ministry Architecture. An offering will also be taken during the event. Contributions are tax deductible. Registration is required, and you can register at www.ministryarchitecture.com, or you can just show up and register as a walk-in.

I hope to see you there.

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