“This past Saturday night, southern Iran experienced what was reported as a significant earthquake — a seismic event measuring 5.0 on the Richter scale,” reports Arutz Sheva/Israel National News, attributing the story first to the Israel Insider website. “Its epicenter was just north of the strategic Straits of Hormuz, which separates Iran from Abu Dhabi and Oman and which is the gateway to the Persian Gulf. The report quotes an Iranian nuclear scientist who claims to be working in uranium enrichment for the project, and who said that the ‘quake’ was acutally an undergound nuclear bomb test. Israel Insider adds that the test/quake was actually the second in a series. Nine days ago, a 4.8 Richter scale event occurred, with its epicenter only five kilometers away from the weekend tremor. The Israel Insider source reports that two nuclear rockets are currently ready — and are intended for use against Israel in the coming months. If the report is correct, it would belie previous speculation that Iran would not begin nuclear testing until it had more nuclear-bomb production capability.”
“President Shimon Peres arrived at the Knesset Monday afternoon with the opening of this year’s winter session, and informed Speaker Dalia Itzik that efforts by Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni to secure a stable coalition have failed,” reports Ynet News. “Upon handing Itzik the letter, Peres said he could not see a possibility to form a government at this time. Itzik opened the session by saying she had prepared three speeches for the occasion, and regretfully would have to opt for the one that would also effectively spell the end of what is shaping up to be a very brief Knesset session. The speaker reiterated her call for the formation of a national unity government, saying it was particularly crucial at this juncture in light of the global financial crisis….Netanyahu said during his speech in honor of the Knesset’s winter session that ‘Israel needs new leadership and a new path….Israel is currently standing before three huge challenges: The global financial crisis, a constant regression in the country’s achievements, and above all serious security threats from terrorist countries and organizations.”
How much time do we have before war between Iran and Israel breaks out? Could it happen between the U.S. elections on November 4th and the inauguration on January 20th? A number of top U.S. and Israeli officials and analysts fear the answer could be yes. Last month, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad again vowed to wipe Israel and “these germs of corruption off the face of the Earth.” Israeli officials believe time is running out before Iran gets the Bomb. What’s more, they know full well that President Bush — widely considered the most pro-Israel commander-in-chief in U.S. history — is leaving office very soon. One question, then, is whether Israel might launch a pre-emptive war against Iran’s nuclear weapons program before a new American President steps in.
Is Ahmadinejad and his regime preparing to launch such a crisis? They are certainly ratcheting up their anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli rhetoric. “The Zionists are crooks,” Ahmadinejad said recently. “A small handful of Zionists, with a very intricate organization, have taken over the power centers of the world….Jewishness is a great lie. They have no religion whatsoever. They are a handful of lying, power-greedy people who have no religion, who only want to take over all the peoples and countries, and to trample the rights of the peoples….I’ve heard that one of them [Prime Minister Ehud Olmert] recently said that the idea of Greater Israel is dead. I would like to declare that the idea of ‘smaller Israel’ is also dead. The very notion of Israel is dead, but they are lagging behind the times. Just as the idea of Greater Israel died 30 years ago, and they did not realize this, and have continued to perpetrate crimes for 30 years…Today, I say to them: The idea of smaller Israel is dead.” Ahmadinejad added that if the Jews do not end their support for Israel and Zionism, “the strong arm of the [Muslim] peoples will wipe these germs of corruption off the face of the Earth.”
In other news from the epicenter, “Libya may agree to buy more than $2 billion worth of Russian weapons during a visit by Muammar Gaddafi to Moscow this month, Interfax news agency reported on Monday.”The Israeli media immediately picked up on the reports. Given Libya’s historic enmiity towards Israel, there is a very real concern that should Libya receive billions of dollars of advanced new weaponry from Moscow, those arms could eventually be turned against the Jewish State. There are also prophetic implications. The “War of Gog and Magog” described in Ezekiel 38-39 involves a military alliance between Russia, Iran, Libya and a group of other Middle Eastern countries that surround and seek to destroy Israel in “the last days” after Israel has been reborn as a country and Jews have returned en masse to the Holy Land. A development worth watching closely.
The U.S. is experiencing the most serious financial crisis since the Great Depression. Our enemies know it. They smell blood in the water. Consider the latest developments:
“Wall Street stocks plunged Wednesday in the second biggest single day point loss in history and their worst percentage fall in two decades, ravaged by fears the world’s biggest economy is slipping into recession. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 733.08 points (7.87 percent) to close at 8,577.91 in the worst one-day point loss since last month’s record 777-point decline and the steepest percentage drop since 1987. In an even more brutal decline, the broad-market Standard & Poor’s index plunged 90.17 points (9.03 percent) to 907.84.” (AFP)
“We are living through financial history of the tragic kind. As of Friday’s close, America’s stock market had declined in value by well over 40 per cent compared with its peak a year ago. Already, this ranks as the fifth biggest stock market decline since the 1920s.” (U.K. Independent)
“U.S. stocks [in recent days have] plunged the most since the crash of 1987, hammered by the biggest drop in retail sales in three years and growing doubt that plans to bail out banks will keep the economic slump from deepening….The S&P 500 has tumbled 38 percent in 2008 as losses and writedowns from mortgage-related investments at financial firms worldwide topped $640 billion….The S&P 500 has tumbled 42 percent from its Oct. 9, 2007, record and the Dow has lost 39 percent from its peak the same day.” (Bloomberg News)
” Japan‘s key stock index plummeted more than 11 percent, South Korean shares shed 9.25 percent, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was down 4.8 percent. Floowing Asia’s lead, benchmarks in Britain, Germany and France slipped about 3 percent. Russia’s RTS also fell.” (AP)
“The White House said G8 leaders were expected to meet this year on the worst financial crisis since the 1930s Great Depression. Governments around the world have pledged $3.2 trillion in emergency measures — roughly an equivalent to the economic output of Germany or China — including taking stakes in banks to help them stabilize, rallying world markets on Monday and Tuesday. But optimism quickly gave way to fears that government intervention would not save major economies from recession.” (Reuters)
This is not a temporary glitch in the global financial software. The problems are real, deep and systemic. The best explanations and analysis I have seen have come from Steve Forbes, editor-in-chief of Forbes magazine, the nation’s foremost business magazine (see Steve’s recent columns).
The big question now: What does it all mean and where do we go from here? A few thoughts on the implications of this financial apocalypse:
First things first: our national security is inextricably tied to our economic security. Economic weakness is an invitation to radical Islamic terrorists to hit us again. It’s also an invitation to other rogue nations to pursue their evil plans while thinking we are unable or unwilling to stop them. The U.S. cannot lead the world in defeating tyrants and terrorists and creating an environment of peace and prosperity if we are collapsing at home. Stabilizing our economy, reforming our financial institutions, punishing and imprisoning those who have criminally undermined our economy, and getting us back on the road to free market growth and entrepreneurial health and vitality must be the top priority of the next Commander-in-Chief.
I don’t believe one U.S. political party or the other is specifically to blame for our own financial crisis. There is plenty of blame to go around and the problems have been developing for years. That said, it is becoming increasingly clear to me that the U.S. stock markets are tanking especially hard right now in part because investors believe Sen. Barack Obama is going to win on November 4th. As polls for Obama and Congressional Democrats have risen — and Americans have begun to sense that Obama’s election as president and expanded control of Congress by Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Harry Reid and their liberal allies is inevitable — investors’ fears have not been calmed. They have been exacerbated. True, investors don’t see a complete and convincing economic rescue plan from Sen. McCain. But they see disaster in Obama’s plan and the likelihood of full control of the U.S. government by the Democrats. The Obama-Pelosi-Reid prescription, after all, is the worst possible medicine for the economy — $1.3 trillion in new federal spending, dramatic tax increases on small businesses, dramatic tax increases on big businesses, dramatic tax increases on those who create wealth, a major new tax on energy producers, as well as nationalized health care system. We are not simply on the brink of a serious recession; we are on the brink of another Great Depression. How, then, will massive tax increases and massive government spending help us fight our way out of this crisis? Answer: it won’t. And Main Street and Wall Street know it. Just ask Joe the Plumber.
Are there prophetic implications of this financial crisis? It is hard to be definitive. The U.S. does not show up specifically in any end times Bible prophecies. But this fact alone raises a sobering question: If we are really in what the Bible describes as “the last days” before the return of Jesus Christ, then how is it possible that the United States of America — the wealthiest and most powerful nation on the face of the planet in the history of mankind — does not play a significant, notable role in Biblical end times events? The honest answer: I don’t know for certain. But here’s what I wrote in Dead Heat(p. 154): “What Bennett had never really considered carefully until now was the possibility that something else might devastate the American people, rendering them ineffective heading into the last of the last days. A financial downturn on Wall Street. The sudden collapse of the dollar. The beginning of another Great Depression. A series of devastating earthquakes. Or hurricanes. Or other natural disasters, like a tsunami. [Or ] the most cataclysmic terrorist attack of all time — five nuclear warheads. And there might be more to come. None of it was clearly prophesied in the Scriptures. Not that he could find. But perhaps he should have foreseen the neutralization of America by more carefully reading between the lines. If so, what else was he missing? What exactly was coming next?”
Finally, let us consider the possibility that the Lord is allowing this economic meltdown in part to shake our confidence in anything buta personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Is it possible that God is trying to shake us loose from trusting in our wealth, from trusting in our political leaders, from trusting in our own ingenuity and our own hard work? Is it possible that He is trying to get us to shift our focus from worldly, materialistic things to how much He loves us, and the truth that the only person we can truly trust in life to never leave us or forsake us is Jesus Christ? Is it possible that He is trying to get us to read the Bible more, and the stock tickers less? To pray more, and to worry less? To store up our treasures in heaven, and not concentrate so much on our treasures on earth? Anyone who is feeling fearful during this turbulent economic times would do well to meditate on the words Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 6:19-33, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also….No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other You cannot serve God and wealth.For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
I have just returned from a 17-day trip to Iraq, Afghanistan and Dubai with several colleagues. We are exhausted but safe and very grateful for your faithful prayers. We had no security problems. We had no major health problems. To the contrary, we felt a tremendous sense of peace. By God’s grace, we had the remarkable privilege of interviewing scores of intriguing people for my forthcoming book, Inside The Revolution. Over the course of the next few weeks, I will share insights and observations from the trip.
Among the stories I want to tell you: our experiences at a three-day conference of 640 Iraqi pastors, worship leaders and other Christian leaders. This was the largest conference of Iraqi Christian leaders ever held and it was absolutely amazing to see the joy of these believers as they see Christ moving so powerfully in hteir country. And I have to tell you about the opportunity I had to interview a former Muslim man from Kirkuk who came to faith in Christ in 1985 after seeing six visions. This alone is a wonderful story, but it doesn’t stop with his conversion. In March of this year, this middle aged businessman was kidnapped at gunpoint by five terrorists from the Mahdi Army. How God set him free and raised him from the dead — after he was shot in the head at point blank range — is one of the most amazing stories I have ever heard. He told it to me personally. We have his testimony on videotape. I saw where the bullet entered. I saw where the bullet exited. I am in awe of God’s love and power, and I can’t wait to tell you the full story.
But I’m not going to today. By the middle of next week, I need to finish up the final chapters of my book and turn them into Tyndale so we can get this book out by March 10th of next year. So I will have to ask you to be patient with me.
Allow me to begin today by simply posting some photos from our five-day trip to Kabul, Afghanistan. Personally, I have never been to such a destitute capital city, or one so devastated by repeated and seemingly never-ending wars. The poverty there is heart-wrenching. Diseases are rampant. Life expectancy for the average Afghan is only about 45 years old. One-in-three children die before the age of 5. Many children and their mothers die during delivery. The Taliban and al Qaeda are making a major push to reclaim the country. I believe the U.S. and coalition forces — in concert with the Afghan army and security forces — are doing an excellent job. But much more must be done to gain full control.
As you pray for the people of Israel during the Jewish holidays — and pray especially for the peace of Jerusalem in view of a possible war with Iran that could be imminent — please be praying also for Israel’s neighbors. Pray for the people of Iraq. Pray for the people of Afghanistan. Pray for peace. Pray for security. Pray for God to show His boundless love and amazing grace to people in great need. Thanks so much. I’ll write more soon.