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The Iran nuclear deal should be handled as a foreign treaty and defeated. But the President is circumventing the Constitution by not submitting it as such — and the Senate is letting him.

In Uncategorized on September 3, 2015 at 7:11 pm

CapitolHillThe American people oppose President Obama’s dangerous Iran nuclear deal by a margin of 2-to-1.

A new poll shows that the more people learn about the deal, the more they oppose it. Not surprisingly, strong majorities in Congress oppose the deal, as well.

Yet the President doesn’t seem worried.

Why not? Because if the House and Senate vote against the deal between now and September 17th, the President says he will veto their bill of disapproval. And now the White House has all the votes it needs to prevent a veto override.

There’s just one problem: the President is completely ignoring the Constitution on how to handle his accord — and the Congressional leadership is letting him get away with it.

Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution plainly states: “The President… shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur….”

This final Iran deal is clearly an international treaty. It should be handled as such.

The President could also have submitted the deal to Congress as a “binding executive agreement.” That would have required a simple-majority vote of both the House and the Senate to approve it. Instead, the President is handling the final Iran deal as a “non-binding executive agreement” which does not requires Congressional approval.

“We’ve been clear from the beginning: We’re not negotiating a, quote, legally binding plan,” Secretary Kerry has said.

A non-binding agreement on a matter of such supreme importance as the national security of the American people and our allies? What world are we living in?

What’s more, the President did an end-run around the American people and their representatives in Congress by submitting the deal to the U.N. Security Council and securing a unanimous vote before even approaching the American people’s representatives in Congress.

Yet the Republican Congressional leadership — most of their Members — are not fighting back. The leadership seriously erred by passing the Corker-Cardin bill in the first place. They should never have created a mechanism for the President to take any other path than the one prescribed by the Constitution.

The Corker-Cardin bill passed 98 to 1. All the presidential candidates from the Senate voted “yes” — including Senators Cruz, Rubio, Paul and Graham.

Only Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark) voted against the bill, and he did so on solid Constitutional grounds. “A nuclear-arms agreement with any adversary – especially the terror-sponsoring, Islamist Iranian regime – should be submitted as a treaty and obtain a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate as required by the Constitution,” Cotton said. He’s right.

This is the most significant — and dangerous — treaty the U.S. has prepared to enter into in my lifetime. The Senate should not be allowing the President to circumvent the Constitution. It should deem the Iran deal as a treaty. It should hold a vote in accordance with the Constitution. If 67 Members of the U.S. Senate do not ratify the Iran deal, then the deal should not have the force of U.S. law. Then, neither this President nor the next will be allowed to enforce or abide by it.

The threat posed by the Iranian leadership — which holds to an apocalyptic, genocidal End Times theology — possessing long-range missiles and such a robust nuclear program must not be appeased, or papered over, or ignored. It must be neutralized, and soon.

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NOTE: The Obama administration explained why it is not handling the Iran deal as a treaty — it simply does not believe the deal could pass with a bipartisan, two-thirds majority.

REP. REID RIBBLE (R-WI): For 228 years, the Constitution allowed treaties to [pass] with the advice and consent of 67 U.S. Senators. Why is this not considered a treaty?

SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY: Well Congressman, I spent quite a few years trying to get a lot of treaties through the United States Senate, and it has become physically impossible. That’s why. Because you can’t pass a treaty anymore. It has become impossible to schedule, to pass, and I sat there leading the charge on the Disabilities Treaty which fell to basically ideology and politics. So I think that is the reason why.

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Iran nuclear deal will not bring “peace for our time.” Tehran engaged in “massive military shopping spree” in Russia. Also set to receive S-300 missile system by end of year. Could this trigger an Israeli first strike?

In Uncategorized on September 2, 2015 at 3:31 pm
President Obama's nuclear pact with Iran: echoes of Chamberlain's Munich Pact with Germany.

President Obama’s nuclear pact with Iran: echoes of Chamberlain’s Munich Pact with Germany.

(Central Israel) — Despite President Obama’s insistence that his nuclear deal with Iran will make the world safer and more secure, it is already driving Iran’s leaders into a “massive military shopping spree” in Russia that will make the Mideast and the world far more dangerous.

For example, Iran’s leaders say they expect to take possession of the Russian S-300 missile system — the most advanced anti-aircraft missile system ever built by the Kremlin — by the end of the year. This billion-dollar system, which Iran has been seeking for years, is state-of-the-art. It would make it far more difficult for any nation’s air force to successfully strike Iran’s nuclear sites in the future.

This raises a sobering question. Does the Israeli government consider the procurement and imminent deployment of the S-300 system in Iran a “red line”? That is, would such a development force Israel’s hand by persuading her leaders to launch a massive preemptive strike before the S-300 could become operational?

Recent news reports indicate Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and his Security Cabinet have come close to authorizing such strikes as many as three times in the past, but concluded in each instance that the time wasn’t right. Last week on Fox News, I said I hoped Israel wouldn’t have to strike any time soon, but could wait to see if a new President is elected in November 2016 that was a far more faithful friend. If so, Israel might not have to strike at all. It could hopefully trust a new American President to nullify the Iran deal, re-impose economic sanctions, strengthen the American military option, and take whatever action became necessary to decisively neutralize the Iran nuclear threat.

Yet the intensification of the Russian-Iranian alliance, the massive purchase of arms, and the deployment of the S-300 could change the equation. The Israeli Prime Minister and Security Cabinet may rapidly face a dynamic not entirely dissimilar to the Cuban Missile Crisis when President Kennedy and his top advisors felt they had to prepare for a massive preemptive strike on Cuba before Soviet nuclear missiles there could be made operational.

Thank God that in the end the Soviets backed down and Kennedy did not have to order the attack in 1962. Yet today, the arrival of Russian missiles in a highly volatile environment is once again raising the threat of war.

WHAT’S HAPPENING IN WASHINGTON?

Congress should be requiring President Obama to follow the U.S. Constitution and submit the Iran accord to the Senate as a foreign treaty. If it did in the current environment, the treaty would not win 67 votes. It would thus not become law. It would thus be dead-on-arrival.

However, Congress is not following the Constitution.

A vote will likely be taken in Washington by September 17, requiring Members of the House and Senate to go on the record “for” or “against” the deal. But this in and of itself will not stop the President. It won’t prevent the administration from implementing this insane agreement, one that legalizes and protects Iran’s massively dangerous, destabilizing and until-now-illegal nuclear program. [To read my detailed analysis of why the Iran deal is so dangerous, please click here.]

So the President is poised to get what he wants — a free hand to implement his nuclear deal against the will of the majority of the American people and their representatives in Congress.

But the President will not make the world safer. He is refusing to learn the lessons of history, and appears to be doomed to repeat them. Let me explain.

On July 14th, President announced his “historic” nuclear deal with Iran, assuring the American people of confidence that after engaging the Iranian leadership he was, in fact, making the world safer and more peaceful.

“Today, after two years of negotiations, the United States, together with our international partners, has achieved something that decades of animosity has not — a comprehensive, long-term deal with Iran that will prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” insisted the President.

“This deal demonstrates that American diplomacy can bring about real and meaningful change — change that makes our country, and the world, safer and more secure,” Mr. Obama added. “This deal offers an opportunity to move in a new direction….a different path, one of tolerance and peaceful resolution of conflict.”

To many, the President’s remarks echoed those of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain who struck a deal with Adolf Hitler — the “Munich Pact” — claiming to have “solved” the challenge of the rising Nazi threat to Czechoslovakia and Europe, and to have secured “peace for our time.”

“The settlement of the Czechoslovakian problem, which has now been achieved, is in my view only the prelude to a larger settlement in which all Europe may find peace,” Mr. Chamberlain declared on September 30, 1938. “This morning I had another talk with the German Chancellor Herr Hitler and here is the paper which bears his name upon it as well as mine. Some of you, perhaps, have already heard what it contains, but I would just like to read it to you. ‘We, the German Fuhrer and Chancellor, and the British Prime Minister have had a further meeting today and are agreed in recognizing that the question of Anglo-German relations is of the first importance for the two countries and for Europe. We regard the agreement signed last night, and the Anglo-German naval agreement, as symbolic of the desire of our two peoples never to go to war with one another again.”

“My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honor,” Mr. Chamberlain added. “I believe it is ‘peace for our time.’ Go home and get a nice quiet sleep.”

Less than a year later, however, on March 15, 1939, Adolf Hitler and his Nazi forces invaded Czechoslovakia.

On September 1, 1939, Adolf Hitler and his Nazi forces invaded Poland.

Very rapidly, all of Europe — and soon all the world — was engulfed in a horrific, deadly, catastrophic war.

What went wrong? Chamberlain fundamentally misread Hitler’s intentions. The “Munich Pact” did not represent Hitler’s “desire…never to go to war.” Rather, it represented the Fuhrer’s calculated effort to buy time and lull the West into a false sense of security until he and his war machine were built up and ready to strike with full fury.

Today, President Obama either cannot or will not properly assess the apocalyptic, genocidal intentions of Iranian Ayatollah Khamenei and his senior leadership. The Iranian leaders hold to a deeply dangerous End Times theology. They have candidly and repeatedly vowed to annihilate the United States and Israel. They have declared these goals official Iranian policy. And they are now using this insane nuclear deal to buy time and lull the West into a false sense of security and their war machine is built up and they are ready to strike with full fury.

Prime Minister Netanyahu understands the threat of “Apocalyptic Islam.” I know because I’ve discussed it with him.

President Obama does not, or will not.

Now Russia is helping arm the world’s worst state sponsor of terrorism, a regime that seeks to bring about the End of Days.

God help us all.

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HEADLINES WORTH TRACKING:

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Why I write novels about “worst case scenarios.” (My interview with a South African newspaper on “The Third Target”)

In Uncategorized on September 1, 2015 at 4:49 pm
Screen shot of an August 12th profile in a South African newspaper.

Screen shot of an August 12th profile in a South African newspaper.

>> Why is the Iran nuclear deal so dangerous? Here’s my detailed analysis of the 159-page agreement.

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The following article was published on by a South African newspaper, The Citizen, based on an interview I did last month.

Thought you might be interested in what interests reporters and readers in other countries.

STORIES THAT MATTER: AUTHOR PENS ANOTHER CAPTIVATING POLITICAL DRAMA

By Genevieve Vieira, The Citizen, August 12, 2015

Joel C Rosenberg’s popularity is a result of two equally compelling elements. Firstly, he’s a talented fiction writer, brilliant at narrating thrilling political debacles that will make you squirm. But even more exhilarating is his ability to predict future events before they happen.

No, he does not claim to be psychic or have any supernatural ability, but rather, as a former communications adviser, Rosenberg has worked with a number of US and Israeli leaders – including Steve Forbes, Rush Limbaugh, Natan Sharansky and Benjamin Netanyahu – observing the ins and outs of political culture and current events.

“One of the things I love to do is write novels about worst case scenarios that could happen in the not-too-distant future,” he says.

“I’m not specifically trying to predict the future. But as darkness falls upon this world and the forces of freedom seem to be in retreat, I am trying to imagine what could be coming just over the horizon.”

His aim is to encourage readers to think about how they should live in such dark and dangerous times.

“Are you going to live fearful, passive, hidden lives or are you going to act with great courage to do the right thing, to warn people of danger and get them safety?” he asks.

As a result, his characters often wrestle with profound moral and spiritual questions. “Evil, unchecked, is a prelude to genocide,” he says.

Rosenberg’s latest offering, The Third Target, tells the story of a New York Times foreign correspondent who hears rumours that an al-Qaeda splinter cell, Islamic State, has captured a cache of chemical weapons inside Syria – a story he wants to pursue at all costs.

Knowing terrorist forces are already trying to bring down two Arab governments in the region – Iraq and Syria – will he obtain the information and needed forces to prevent such calamity?….

His aim is twofold – to both entertain and educate.

“My first objective is to entertain you,” he says, “to thrill you, keep you up all night reading my books so at 5am you finally send me an angry Facebook message or Tweet cursing me for keeping you up all night when you really have to go to work or school in a few hours.

“My second objective is to intrigue you, educate you, take you into a world you never imagined going before, and perhaps even on an intellectual and emotional and spiritual journey you weren’t expecting. I want people to see the world differently when they’ve finished reading one of my books. I want them to ask questions they never thought of asking before – of themselves, of others, of God.”

One fascinating observation is the wide variety of people who read his books. These include former generals, former CIA directors, current and former ambassadors, business leaders, religious leaders and so forth.

“I have to make sure my books are carefully researched,” he says.

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What’s better than standing with Israel? Standing IN Israel! Come with me on a Joshua Fund tour of the Holy Land this October.

In Uncategorized on August 31, 2015 at 7:06 pm

TJF-2015tourDear Friends:

What’s better than Christians “standing with Israel”?

Christians standing IN Israel!

Soon, I will be leading The Joshua Fund’s next “Prayer & Vision Tour Of The Holy Land.” The tour will be October 14-25, 2015. Space is filling up quickly, but if you and your family register soon I believe you will be able to join us!

If you have never been to the Holy Land, it is hard to describe what a profound spiritual effect such a journey can have on you and your family. You may have heard others say God’s Word seemed to “come alive” in a new way when they walked where Jesus walked, from the shores of Galilee to the Mount of Olives and into the streets of Jerusalem. Well, it’s true, and I believe our 2015 Israel trip will allow you to experience this for yourself and intensify your desire to walk more closely with Jesus Christ.

If you have been to Israel before, this trip will be a great opportunity to deepen your understanding of how powerfully the Lord is moving there. And this tour is like no other!

  • You will visit The Joshua Fund’s warehouse and participate in a practical ministry project to bless the poor and needy.
  • You will have the opportunity to meet with and pray for local pastors and ministry leaders on the frontlines of the faith.
  • You will have the opportunity to hear solid Bible teaching, and pray for the peace of Jerusalem and for all the people of the epicenter, and have the joy of worshipping the Lord in the land of Jesus, the prophets and the apostles.
  • I will also teach at key locations and answer your questions about the future of the Epicenter.

Now more than ever, it is vitally important for Christians to “learn, pray, give and go” — to really LEARN how much God loves the people of Israel — Jews and Arabs — and the people of the entire region; to PRAY with and for Jews and Arabs; to GIVE to ministries that are truly blessing people on both sides in the name of Jesus; and actually GO to the Holy Land to stand with these dear people in these challenging times.

To learn more about this Prayer & Vision Tour of the Holy Land — to get your questions answered, and to register — please click here.

Please prayerfully consider coming to visit the Land we love and now call our home to meet the people we love and now call our neighbors. We would love to see you there!

Yours to bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus,

Joel C. Rosenberg

Founder and Chairman of The Joshua Fund

>> To make a secure, tax-deductible, financial contribution to the work of The Joshua Fund, please click here

ISIS using chemical weapons in Syria, reports New York Times. (Another story that seems ripped from the pages of “The Third Target.”)

In Uncategorized on August 27, 2015 at 6:34 pm
Actual NYT headline from August 24, 2015.

Actual NYT headline from August 24, 2015.

(Central Israel) — “The Islamic State may have used chemical agents in an attack against civilians and rival insurgents in northern Syria late last week, according to local rebels and an international aid group,” the New York Times reported this week.

Such chilling news seems ripped from the pages of my most recent political thriller, The Third Target. The novel, which released in January and went on to become a national best-seller, focuses on a New York Times reporter who follows rumors of ISIS capturing and preparing to use a cache of chemical weapons in Syria. The sequel, The First Hostage, releases on December 29th, and picks up six seconds after The Third Target ends, continuing to follow the reporter’s hunt for the leaders of the Islamic State amidst a series of apocalyptic attacks.

Tragically, however, the story I quote above is a not a work of fiction. It’s not a quote from one of my novels. Rather, it is all too real. Here are more details.

“The assault on Friday in the city of Marea involved more than 50 shells and was centered on civilian areas,” the Times story noted, citing a report by the Syrian American Medical Society, a humanitarian group. “After the attack, the group’s field hospital received more than 50 patients, 23 of whom, including some children, showed symptoms of chemical exposure, including coughing, vomiting, wheezing and severe itching. Some also had blisters associated with mustard gas, the society said in a statement. The report was corroborated by local rebel forces, who claimed that shells had been fired from Isnibil, a village east of Marea that is controlled by the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.”

This report comes on the heels of other recent reports that ISIS also appears to be using chemical weapons in Iraq. On August 17th, I reported the following:

U.S. intelligence officials believe that jihadists operating under the direction of the Islamic State have not only captured chemical weapons — most likely in Syria — but have actually used such weapons of mass destruction on the battlefield. They are also investigating the possibility that ISIS is mass producing such weapons and asking where will ISIS strike next?….Consider the following headlines from the past few days:

The notion of the Islamic State having chemical weapons is a chilling one and a potential game-changer. The Kurds appear to have been the first ISIS target. But if ISIS has more such weapons stockpiles, against whom will they use them against next? The U.S.? Israel? One of our European allies? An Arab state like Jordan or Egypt?

As more information comes out, I’ll continue to keep you informed.

In the meantime, please keep praying for U.S., Western and Middle Eastern leaders to get serious about crushing and truly defeating ISIS, not just pinprick attacks that are not truly neutralizing this serious and growing threat.

MORE STORIES TO TRACK:

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How do we find hope in such dark times? Some lessons from Jeremiah, the ancient Hebrew prophet. (Notes from my recent survey of the Book of Jeremiah)

In Uncategorized on August 27, 2015 at 5:54 pm

jeremiah(Central Israel) — The world is dark and getting darker.

Recently, I noted in a column that it is hard to pick up a newspaper or go online or watch TV and not see some of “the darkest headlines” I have ever read.

From mass shooters…to the genocidal acts of the Islamic State…to the unchallenged rise of a nuclear Iran…to the Planned Parenthood videos about the selling of baby hearts and lungs and livers over salad and Chardonnay…to corrupt governments and corrupt leaders….to rampant marital unfaithfulness….to an epidemic of suicide and drug use….to the persecution and slavery of people all over the world….to so many other horrifying acts, it is easy these days to feel deeply discouraged and even depressed.

This is why I have spent the last four months or so studying the life and times and message of the Hebrew prophet Jeremiah. In April, I began reading through this Old Testament book, intending to refresh my understanding of it and then move on to Isaiah and Ezekiel and Daniel, and so forth. But every time I tried to move on, the Lord would pull me back into the words of Jeremiah. There was more there for me to learn, so much that I was not getting on the first or second read. So study it I did, page after page, chapter after chapter, month after month.

What I found was the sobering account of a young Jewish man who also lived in very dark times. Yet I also found the remarkable story of a man who found great hope to live close to the Lord and to serve his God with great boldness and courage and stunning faithfulness despite enormous pressures and dangers.

And I read this over and over again, I began to try to discover the sources of this young man’s hope.

In mid-August, I taught a survey of the Book of Jeremiah over the course of five days at the Word of Life Bible camp in the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York. It was the first time I began to share publicly what I’d been learning over the previous months. Then, upon returning to Israel last week, I shared some of my observations from the life of Jeremiah at the closing session of a conference of Jewish and Christian leaders in Jerusalem.

A number of people have since asked me to share my notes. Thus, on August 18th, I posted on this blog some notes, specifically those pertaining to King Josiah, the first leader Jeremiah served under, a leader who took the Word of God to heart and made bold changes in his own life and led sweeping reforms in the life of his nation.

Today, I wanted to share more of my notes, looking at seven elements of Jeremiah’s hope. I pray that you find these encouraging. Please feel free to share them with others.

Let’s begin by reading a passage from Jeremiah chapter one:

“Now the word of the Lord came to me saying. ‘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.’ Then I said, ‘Alas, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, because I am a youth.’ But the Lord said to me, ‘Do not say, “I am a youth,” because everywhere I send you, you shall go, and all that I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you,’ declares the LordThen the Lord stretched out His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me, ‘Behold, I have put My words in your mouth. 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.'” (verses 4 through 10)

As I read these verses — in context of all 52 chapters of this fascinating Old Testament book — a few things struck me immediately:

First, Jeremiah had a clear call to ministry. The son of a Jewish priest, he had had grown up expecting to be a Levitical priest. But the Lord had a different plan for him. From eternity past, God had chosen Jeremiah to be one of the great Hebrew prophets, preaching and teaching the word of the Lord to a lost people desperately in need of hearing directly from the God who loved them and had a plan for their lives. Jeremiah thought he was too young to serve the Lord. But the Lord had knit him together in his mother’s womb and prepared him. And God’s charge to this young prophet (probably in his late teens or early twenties) — “you will go where I tell you to go” and “you will say what I tell you to say” and “you will not be afraid” and “I will be with you to deliver you.”

Second, Jeremiah truly lived in dark and volatile times. He lived in and around Jerusalem, in the southern kingdom of Judah, at a time when the Jewish people lived in a highly dangerous, volatile, and rapidly changing geopolitical environment. The powerful and wicked Assyria empire (with its evil capital in Nineveh) to the north had conquered and captured the northern kingdom of Israel, but was about to be judged and destroyed according to the prophecies of Isaiah and Nahum who had gone before Jeremiah. The powerful Egyptian kingdom to the south — led by Pharoah Neco — was soon going to be conquered and destroyed by a new and wicked and terrifyingly powerful empire rising to the east, that of Babylon and King Nebuchadnezzar. Yet as war and terror and evil were sweeping through the region, and the Jewish people were in deep and rising danger, the Jewish people were not listening to the word of the Lord, not obeying the Lord, not fearing or following the Lord, and living in great sin and darkness.

Third, Jeremiah was given a powerful message — for the Jewish people, for the surrounding enemy nations, and for us today. God appointed Jeremiah “to be a prophet” to the people of “Judah and Jerusalem” and “to the nations.” To the Jews, God’s message through Jeremiah was: repent, turn back to the Lord, or face cataclysmic judgment for your individual and national sins. To the surrounding nations, Jeremiah also warned of sweeping, devastating national judgments because of their great sins against the Jewish people and against the Lord God of Israel and His Word. Most of Jeremiah’s prophecies have already come to pass. But there are a few that are yet to be fulfilled, which means we must be ready for God to act again in great power.

Fourth, Jeremiah wasn’t promised health and wealth for serving the Lord — rather, God gave him a very hard life. He was often alone. He was not allowed by the Lord to get married or have a family. He was betrayed by most of his friends. He was persecuted, mocked, ignored, attacked, arrested, beaten, imprisoned, and repeatedly sentenced to death. He saw the lost-ness of his people, and their refusal to listen to God and His Word. He saw the lost-ness of the nations, as well. Like our Savior, he was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. While a strong and courageous servant of God, he often wept over the darkness that was falling on his nation and the region and the world, and sometimes he even despaired of life itself, wishing he had never been born to see such times.

That said, it also became clear that Jeremiah had deep and true hope. What kept him going? What kept him faithfully serving the Lord, against all odds? He had hope. Let’s briefly consider seven elements of Jeremiah’s hope:

  1. Jeremiah had a close, intimate, personal relationship with the living God of the universe ,and Jeremiah loved God’s Word. The Lord spoke directly to Jeremiah, and urged Jeremiah to talk directly to Him. “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things you do not know.” (Jeremiah 33:3) The Lord spoke some of the most beautiful, intimate, personal language in the whole Bible to and through Jeremiah. “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” (31:3) “For I know the plans I have for you, plans for good and not for evil, plans to give you a future and a hope. Then  you will call upon Me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” (29:11-13)
  2. Jeremiah could see Biblical prophecies coming true in his lifetime, and this helped him understand that God’s Word was true and trustworthy. In 612 B.C., he saw Nineveh — the wicked capital of the wicked Assyrian empire — destroyed, just as the prophets before him and foretold. In the years that followed, he saw the rise of the Babylonian empire and the rise of King Nebuchadnezzar, just as the Lord has foretold through him. In 586 B.C., he saw the nation of Judah and the capital of Jerusalem conquered and destroyed by the Babylonians in a judgment the Lord had foretold repeatedly through him. During this entire period, many others “smaller” prophecies came true as well. As painful as it was to live in such times and see such things come to pass, it did give Jeremiah hope in a God whose word was true and trustworthy because it meant that the good things foretold would come true in due course, as well.
  3. Jeremiah was given two dear and faithful friends. Yes, most if not all of Jeremiah’s friends abandoned him early on because they didn’t want to hear a message of repentance and coming judgment. And this was deeply painful for Jeremiah. But I encourage you to take some time to read in the book of Jeremiah about Baruch and Seraiah — two godly, courageous and stalwart brothers — who because trusted aides, allies and friends to the prophet.
  4. Jeremiah could see the promise of a coming King. In addition to having to preach about coming judgment to the Jewish people and to their neighbors, Jeremiah was also given the high task by God of foretelling of a coming King, a coming “Anointed One” or Messiah who would save and redeem people and bring righteousness to the world. “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; and He will reign as king and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the land….And this is His name by which He will be called, ‘The Lord our righteousness.'” (23:5-6)
  5. Jeremiah could see promise of a coming New Covenant. This great prophet was deeply saddened by seeing his people refusing to obey the “old covenant” that God had made with Moses. Most were not reading, listening to or following God’s word. Rather, they were disobeying God’s laws, hardening their hearts, and engaging in widespread sin and violence, even killing their own babies (through child sacrifice to the false god, Molech). But to Jeremiah it was revealed that not only was judgment coming; so, too, was a “New Covenant” was coming. That is, God would initiate a new relationship — a personal and intimate and everlasting relationship — with lost people who desperately needed Him to save and atone for them, wash away their sins, and give them His righteousness. “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them….But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days….I will put My law within them and on their hearts I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people….for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” (31:31-34)
  6. Jeremiah could see the promise of a coming Kingdom. He could see the corruption endemic throughout his own country. He could also see the corruption of the kingdoms that surrounded the Jewish people. He saw the impact a godly, humble leader could make (like King Josiah). But he also served under four disastrous leaders. Yet the Lord revealed to him — and through him — the amazing, remarkable, joyful news that another Kingdom was coming to conquer all others. A Messianic Kingdom. An incorruptible Kingdom. A Kingdom filled with righteousness, justice and mercy. Led by a wise and righteous King, the Messiah. A Kingdom that would be inhabited by all who followed the New Covenant. (see Jeremiah 23 and 33).
  7. Jeremiah could also see the promise of Jews being saved by a loving, holy, powerful God. God’s message to this Hebrew prophet wasn’t just about judgment. It was about mercy. It was about forgiveness. It was about grace. As part of the prophecies concerning the coming of the Messiah, and His coming New Covenant, and His coming Kingdom, the Lord God of Israel specifically told Jeremiah — not once but twice — that “in His days Judah will be saved” (23:6) and “in those days Judah will be saved” (33:16). This promise of a future salvation of the Jewish people by a Jewish Messiah, as part of a Jewish New Covenant, leading to a coming Messianic Kingdom was a bright, warm, hopeful ray of light in times that were dark and getting darker. It gave him something that he and his people could look forward to, their future repentance and redemption.

I encourage you to study through these notes and discuss them with family and friends. Read through the entire Book of Jeremiah. Many times. Take careful notes. Understand it for yourself. Then see how many times the other prophets studied and cited Jeremiah. See how often the Lord Jesus Christ cited the work of Jeremiah. The Apostles, too. They knew the words of Jeremiah had deep and profound meaning for their lives, and for ours, too.

I pray that in our times — that are dark and getting darker — you will find the hope that Jeremiah had, made clear to us today through the Lord Jesus Christ and His words found in both the Old and New Testament.

BACKGROUND MATERIAL:

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Is now “go time” for a preemptive strike on Iran, or should Israel wait? Here’s my interview on Fox News.

In Uncategorized on August 23, 2015 at 8:15 pm
Interview on Iran deal with Fox News anchor Leland Vitter. (August 23, 2015)

Interview on Iran deal with Fox News anchor Leland Vitter. (August 23, 2015)

>> FACT SHEET: Why is the Iran nuclear deal so dangerous?

(Tel Aviv, Israel) — On Sunday, I was interviewed on the Fox News Channel program, “America’s News HQ,” about the Israeli reaction to the Iran nuclear deal, the possibility of Israeli preemptive strikes on Iran, and whether Congress will move to stop this dangerous Iran deal.

To watch a video of the segment, please click here. (it lasts 5 minutes and 27 seconds).

Here is a transcript of the interview with Fox anchor Leland Vitter:

FOX ANCHOR LELAND VITTER: No one has been a more vocal and consistent critic of the nuclear deal with Iran than Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He says the deal is a road map for an Iranian nuclear weapon, and he has made no secret of his displeasure with the Obama administration over it. Israeli officials are also lobbying Members of Congress to vote against it.

Joel Rosenberg, author and former aide to Prime Minister Netanyahu, joins us now from Tel Aviv. Mr. Rosenberg, I appreciate you being with us. Good Saturday evening to you.

One thing that has broken over the past couple of days is a report out of Israel that Ehud Barak, the former Defense Minister, told his biographer, among others, that Prime Minister Netanyahu on three separate occasions wanted to attack Iran and did not. Is this really as big as a deal as it seems on paper, and what is the reaction in Israel to this news?

JOEL C. ROSENBERG: Well, it’s very interesting, Leland, because you’ve got a situation in which a former Israeli Defense Minister, in my view, shouldn’t have been talking about this at all, to his biographer now, or later. I mean, this is a very, very sensitive issue. But by Barak’s own admission, he was supportive of these attacks, but the Cabinet didn’t feel that the time was right. What this shows is how serious both Netanyahu and Barak and most of the Cabinet — but not all — believe this issue is.

Remember, we’re dealing in Iran not with a moderate regime that is trying to find its way into the international community. We’re dealing with an apocalyptic, genocidal death cult. This is a group of leaders led by Ayatollah Khamenei who believe the End of Days has come, and that their messiah — the “Mahdi” or the “Twelfth Imam” — is coming to reign over the world at any moment, and that they need nuclear weapons to destroy not just one country, Israel, which they call “the Little Satan,” but also the United States, which they call “the Great Satan.” So the threat to Israel and the United States is enormous.

VITTER: I get that the threat is there. There is no argument there. But the issue of whether or not Israel would launch unilateral military action has been one that Prime Minister Netanyahu has been incredibly coy about over and over and over again, and it’s been one card that he’s used to press the Obama administration hard in terms of trying to have some kind of leverage on Capitol Hill. And what I’m wondering is that now that this news is out that three times he has said “let’s go” and his Cabinet said “no” and there wasn’t an attack, doesn’t that all of a sudden really weaken the Israelis’ position internationally and make the threat of unilateral military action irrelevant?

ROSENBERG: No, I think quite the contrary — what it shows is intent. What you’ve got is a very difficult situation, right? But for the Prime Minister and much of his Cabinet, the question was, “Can we build up more capacity to strike Iran when the time is right?” It’s capacity, and timing. Part of the timing issue, Leland, was asking, “Would the United States, under President Obama, keep its word in which they said the goal of the negotiations was to “end” — not legalize and extend, but end — Iran’s nuclear program?” So you wanted to wait to see, okay, maybe the President will, you know, keep his word on this. That has not been the case. And now, eight-in-ten Israelis believe this deal threatens the very security not only of Israel but obviously of our ally, the United States. More than half of Israelis believe that the Prime Minister should be doing everything possible to neutralize the threat. And almost half of Israelis are ready for a war, if needed. That’s how serious this is.

VITTER: That’s what I wanted to talk to you a little bit about. There is an old joke, at least when I lived in Israel: “If you want four opinions, ask two Israelis.” The question being going forward, it seems, is that every Israeli I talk to is pretty universal in their opinion that this is a bad deal and this makes Iran a much greater threat to Israel. What they’re not necessarily all in lock-step about is whether or not Israel should take unilateral military action. What I’m wondering is, when you’re on the street there, do people seem coalesced around the idea that they should see how things play out a little while longer, or is now “go time”?

ROSENBERG: Well, the only person who can decide if it’s go time — or the only people who can decide — is the Cabinet because they have the intelligence right in front of them to show them do they have to go, is there no other option, or are there other ways to slow down or neutralize the threat? Nobody here wants to go to war if it’s not necessary. But everyone is ready to go to war if it is necessary. One of the questions now is, “Could Israel hold on until the next election in the United States to see if a President who is more sympathetic to its most favored and faithful ally in the Middle East, Israel — as well as our Arab allies — will have a change of policy from President Obama. And look, you also have Democrats emerging right now — Senator Menendez, Senator Schumer — who are putting national security ahead of their own political fortunes. So I don’t think this is the moment to strike. It’s the moment to try to get Congress to go against the deal.

VITTER: Well, there is obviously a lot of lobbying going on on Capitol Hill, and, as you pointed out, Israel and the Iran deal is a big issue in the 2016 elections. We’ll see how it all plays out. I appreciate your insights, Joel Rosenberg, from Tel Aviv.

ROSENBERG: My pleasure.

VITTER: All the best.

BACKGROUND MATERIAL:

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UN to let Iran do its own inspections of alleged nuclear weapons sites. This is insane, but true. [Christian leaders should educate & mobilize people to tell Congress to stop this deal.]

In Uncategorized on August 20, 2015 at 12:28 pm

Iran-Nuclear-Deal-Congress>> FACT SHEET: Why is the Iran nuclear deal so dangerous?

(Central Israel) — A secret side-deal made with Iran by the U.N. will actually allow Iran to “inspect” its  own nuclear sites and provide confirmation to the international community that no illegal nuclear weapons activity is being conducted such sites.

As a novelist, I wish I could tell you that I was making this up. But this is not fiction. Nor is it the figment of the imagination of Stephen Colbert or John Stewart or the writers of Saturday Night Live. This is sheer lunacy, but according to an exclusive report by the Associated Press, it is also true.

This is just one more reason this incredibly dangerous nuclear deal must be stopped. It puts America’s trust in the Radical, murderous, terrorist leaders of Iran rather than in the common sense of the American people (who overwhelmingly oppose the deal) or in the wisdom and experience of our Israeli and Arab allies who also oppose the deal. This deal will embolden and strengthen Iran to engage in more international terrorism, more persecution of Iranian Christians, more suppression of human rights in Iran and slavery of the Iranian people. It will encourage the Iranian leadership to pursue even more aggressively their genocidal, apocalyptic, End Times theology. And rather than bringing about peace in the region as President Obama and his administration asserts, this deal will actually make a major war in the Middle East more likely, not less likely.

Please share this story on social media. Please educate your family and friends about the deal, call your Member of Congress to insist that they vote against the deal in September, and mobilize everyone you know to call Congress in opposition to the deal, as well. I especially encourage Christian leaders to educate and mobilize the Christian community to communicate to Congress their opposition to this deal.

In the detailed analysis I wrote on August 5th regarding the 159-page Iran nuclear deal, I raised the concern that Iran was going to be allowed to do some of its own nuclear inspections. The AP report has now confirmed these concerns. “Iran will be allowed to use its own inspectors to investigate a site it has been accused of using to develop nuclear arms, operating under a secret agreement with the U.N. agency that normally carries out such work, according to a document seen by the Associated Press,” notes the exclusive AP story. “The newly disclosed side agreement, for an investigation of the Parchin nuclear site by the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency, is linked to persistent allegations that Iran has worked on atomic weapons. That investigation is part of the overarching nuclear-limits deal.”

This is partly why I have described the Iran nuclear deal as insane. There is simply no other way to describe an agreement that gives such an evil regime a clear path to nuclear weapons and abandons our most trusted allies in the process.

  • The deal doesn’t live up to the very “red lines” that President Obama and his team set.
  • The deal doesn’t end Iran’s nuclear program — it legalizes, legitimizes, and expands it.
  • The deal provides Iran not just one but two paths to The Bomb — in 10 to 15 years if Iran keeps the agreement, and much sooner if Iran cheats.
  • The details inside the deal are absolutely stunning — and catastrophically dangerous for the U.S., Israel and our Sunni Arab neighbors, and ignores the wise counsel our Middle East allies are giving the President not to make such enormous concessions to such a cruel and untrustworthy enemy.

Last night, I returned back home to Israel from the States where I have been briefing Members of Congress, presidential candidates, and numerous evangelical Christian leaders and journalists about why the Iran deal is so dangerous and why it must be stopped.

NOTE: These comments represent my personal views. I am not writing here in my capacity as Chairman of The Joshua Fund. TJF is a non-profit organization and does not engage in any political activity.

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The Parchin agreement was worked out between the IAEA and Iran. The United States and the five other world powers were not party to it but were briefed by the IAEA and endorsed it as part of the larger package.

America needs a Josiah. (Why an ancient Jewish king provides a powerful model for the next American President.)

In Uncategorized on August 18, 2015 at 2:37 pm

JosiahUPDATED: (Washington, D.C.) — 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 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 week, 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. I’ll post more notes from those messages in the days ahead. But 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. So I’d like to post these notes first.

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, towards judgment.
  • Only the grace and mercy of God can get us turned around and heading in the right direction.
  • We need a great revival and a Great Awakening.
  • 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 make serious, sweeping reforms.
  • I’m not looking for a Pastor-in-Chief or Theologian-in-Chief to be President of the United States — the role of President isn’t the same in the U.S. as the role of king was in the days of Judah.
  • The Church’s job is to pray, fast, repent, preach, teach, disciple and lead a great moral and spiritual revival — that is not the President’s job.
  • The 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 in a time of great peril and volatility.
  • That said, I am looking for a President who loves the Lord, reads and loves God’s Word, is humble, is strong, is clear-sighted, will pursue bold 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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Is ISIS now using chemical weapons? Sounds like “The Third Target,” but U.S. intelligence says the evidence shows the Islamic State now has weapons of mass destruction.

In Uncategorized on August 17, 2015 at 6:29 pm
(source: UK Mirror)

(source: UK Mirror)

(Washington, D.C.) — U.S. intelligence officials believe that jihadists operating under the direction of the Islamic State have not only captured chemical weapons — most likely in Syria — but have actually used such weapons of mass destruction on the battlefield.

They are also investigating the possibility that ISIS is mass producing such weapons and asking where will ISIS strike next?

I realize this seems like the plot of my most recent novel — The Third Target — and its forthcoming sequel (The First Hostage, to be released on December 29th). But this isn’t fiction. Unfortunately, this is all too real.

Consider the following headlines from the past few days:

The notion of the Islamic State having chemical weapons is a chilling one and a potential game-changer. The Kurds appear to have been the first ISIS target. But if ISIS has more such weapons stockpiles, against whom will they use them against next? The U.S.? Israel? One of our European allies? An Arab state like Jordan or Egypt?

As more information comes out, I’ll keep you informed. In the meantime, please keep praying for U.S., Western and Middle Eastern leaders to get serious about crushing and truly defeating ISIS, not just pinprick attacks that are not truly neutralizing this serious and growing threat.

Here are excerpts from the article in the Wall Street Journal:

  • Islamic State militants likely used mustard agent against Kurdish forces in Iraq this week, senior U.S. officials said Thursday, in the first indication the militant group has obtained banned chemicals. The officials said Islamic State could have obtained the mustard agent in Syria, whose government admitted to having large quantities in 2013 when it agreed to give up its chemical-weapons arsenal.
  • The use of mustard agent would mark an upgrade in Islamic State’s battlefield capabilities, and a worrisome one given U.S. intelligence fears about hidden caches of chemical weapons in Syria, where Islamic State controls wide swaths of territory. It raises new questions about the evolving threat posed by Islamic State and the ability of U.S. allies on the ground to combat it. Frontline Kurdish, Iraqi and moderate Syrian forces say they aren’t getting enough U.S. support now to counter Islamic State’s conventional capabilities. Officials say these forces may need specialized equipment and training to help protect them against unconventional weapons if they become a fixture on the battlefield.
  • U.S. intelligence agencies thought Islamic State had at least a small supply of mustard agent even before this week’s clash with Iraqi Kurdish fighters, known as the Peshmerga, U.S. officials said. That intelligence assessment hadn’t been made public.
  • The attack in question took place late Wednesday, about 40 miles southwest of Erbil in northern Iraq. A German Defense Ministry spokesman said about 60 Peshmerga fighters, who help protect Kurdish areas in northern Iraq, were reported to have suffered injuries to their throats consistent with a chemical attack while fighting Islamic State.
  • Mustard agent, first employed as a weapon in World War I, can cause painful burns and blisters, immobilizing those affected by it, but it is usually deadly only if used in large quantities….
  • The possibility that Islamic State obtained the agent in Syria “makes the most sense,” said one senior U.S. official. It is also possible that Islamic State obtained the mustard agent in Iraq, officials said, possibly from old stockpiles that belonged to Saddam Hussein and weren’t destroyed.U.S. intelligence agencies are still investigating the source and how it could have been delivered this week on the battlefield, officials said.
  • Islamic State has taken control of territory in Syria close to where President Bashar al-Assad’s forces stored chemical weapons, including mustard agent. The regime said in 2013 that all of its mustard stockpiles had been destroyed, either by Syrian forces themselves or by international inspectors…..
  • Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, a former commanding officer of the British army’s chemical-weapons unit, said the use of mustard agent by Islamic State could give a boost to the group’s psychological warfare campaign. “You mention chemical weapons, people immediately freeze and are irrational. That’s why Islamic State wants to use them,” he said.

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