The Ayatollah is signalling that he personally is the Mahdi's agent on earth. This is a significant development.

The Ayatollah is signalling that he personally is the Mahdi's agent on earth. This is a significant development.

Iran’s Supreme Leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called on Muslims in neighboring countries this week to intensify preparations for the coming of the Islamic Messiah known as the Mahdi or the “Twelfth Imam.” He specifically urged Muslims to mobilize forces to defeat the United States and Israel.

“We have to train honest forces that can stop the obstacles that may hinder the coming of the Mahdi like the United States and Israel,” the Ayatollah said through a spokesman, in a story reported by al-Arabiya, the Arabic-language news channel based in the Gulf.

“Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s spokesman, Ali Saeedi, said countries like Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan and Afghanistan should gather together all their forces in order to make drastic changes to prepare for the coming of al-Mahdi al-Montazar, Arabic for ,the awaited guided one,'” reported al-Arabiya.

The story did not specify what “drastic changes” the Ayatollah had in mind.

“Saeedi also said that the supreme leader of Iran is the direct representative of the Mahdi and that obeying him is like obeying the ‘guided one,’ who is the prophesized savior of Islam,” explained the report. “‘Since the armed forces are commanded by the Supreme Leader, they are thus obeying the orders of the awaited Mahdi,’ Saeedi said, adding ‘the Revolutionary Guards and the armed forces in Iran hold religious authority to prepare for the appearance of the Mahdi.'”

The story, which first came to my attention this week through an article on the WorldNetDaily site, is striking for three reasons.

First, it is noteworthy because it is the Supreme Leader — not Ahmadinejad — who has suddenly taken the lead in talking to the Muslim world directly about the coming of the Mahdi. Until now, Khamenei has been very low-key about his eschatological views, though as I describe in Inside The Revolution, there has been sufficient evidence before now to believe that he and Ahmadinejad shared the same End Times theology. [UPDATE On August 4, 2009, the Bright Future Institute — the leading Iranian think tank on Shia eschatology — concluded its 5th annual “International Conference on Mahdism Doctrine.” Ahmadinejad spoke at the 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 conferences. This year, however, he did not show, though he was expected to give the opening address.]

Second, Khamenei is claiming to be the direct representative of the Twelfth Imam, and that his commands — particularly when it comes to military matters — must be obeyed as if they were coming directly from the Islamic “savior” himself.

Third, the message from Iran’s leader directly threatening the U.S. and Israel comes immediately after Khamenei and Ahmadinejad consolidated and held on to the reins of power in Iran after a tumultuous political summer in Iran, and on the eve of the September deadline that the Obama administration and the leaders of the G8 have given for Iran to accept full negotiations over halting its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

It strikes me as less likely than ever that the leaders of Iran intend to give up their feverish bid to build, buy or steal nuclear weapons. To the contrary, they are beginning to publicly mobilize their neighbors to join them in defeating the U.S. and Israel and ushering in the “second coming” of the Islamic messiah. This makes the prospect of a cataclysmic war in the epicenter even more likely.

Now comes the news that Saudi Arabia is moving forward with plans to build a series of nuclear power plants. This is clearly a move to respond to the Iran nuclear threat, and suggests the Sunni Muslim royal family are actively preparing for a nuclear arms race with their Shia Muslim enemies in Iran. Notes the Jerusalem Post: “Over the last two years, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, the UAE, Yemen, Morocco, Libya, Jordan and Egypt have all indicated an interest in developing nuclear programs, with Israeli officials saying, off the record, that if these countries did not want the programs now for their military capabilities, they wanted the technology in place to keep ‘other options open’ if Iran were to develop a bomb.”

We’ll discuss these latest developments and how followers of Jesus Christ can and should respond during the National Town Hall meeting we are preparing for Friday night, September 11th. More than 308 churches have signed on to show the webcast. More details about the event — and the release of the Inside The Revolution documentary film on 9/11 — can be found at Hope you can join us.

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>> To see a trailer of the forthcoming “INSIDE THE REVOLUTION” documentary film, to be released on DVD on September 11th from Tyndale House Publishers, please click here

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