The History Channel will premiere tonight at 9pm eastern a special entitled, “The Nostradamus Effect: The Rapture.” It’s part of a new fall series on the End Times prophecies of various religions and individuals over the years. Tonight’s program focuses on the varying views of the Biblical concept of “the rapture,” the idea found in 1 Thessalonians chapter 4 that true followers of Jesus Christ will suddenly disappear from the earth and but caught up to meet Jesus in the air in the last days. I was interviewed for the program over the summer. I haven’t seen how it turned out, so I can’t endorse the show. But I wanted to let you know it was going to be on.

IRAN, SYRIA, HAMAS AND HANNUKAH: Plus Washington’s new move to stop Iran

First things first: Happy Hannukah. Lynn and the boys and I have been enjoying making homemade latkes and doughnuts, lighting the menorah.

Iran and Syria have been marking Hannukah differently. They’ve just signed an aggressive new defense pact. Iranian leaders have also been testing more accurate ballistic missiles and meeting with Hamas leaders, pledging to help these Palestinian Radicals destroy Israel. The Times of London reports on fresh evidence — a military memo written in Persian (though as of yet unauthenticated) — that Iran may be testing a key final component of a nuclear bomb.” Mark Fitzpatrick, senior fellow for non-proliferation at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, told the Times: “The most shattering conclusion is that, if this was an effort that began in 2007, it could be a casus belli. If Iran is working on weapons, it means there is no diplomatic solution.”

The Israeli Defense Forces have been running war games in recent days, simulating attacks from Syria and Hezbollah, just in case.

Some good news: After months of dithering, Washington is finally beginning to move on real economic sanctions against Iran. The U.S. House of Representatives yesterday passed the Iran gasoline sanctions bill, 412 to 12. As Reuters notes, the bill would “impose sanctions on foreign companies that help supply gasoline to Iran, a move lawmakers hope will deter Tehran from pursuing its nuclear program.” and praying for the peace of Jerusalem. I hope you have been, too!

Let’s now pray the Senate and the President move quickly and decisively as well. After all, time is running out. Such sanctions are the right move, but let’s be honest: given how late in the game we are, they may not work. It might already be too late to stop Iran from getting the Bomb by anything short of a highly aggressive covert war (sabatoge of Iranian nuclear facilities, arrest or assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists, etc) or a massive air attack, of the kind the Israelis are known to be contemplating.

  • Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, co-authored the gasoline sanctions bill. In an oped in today’s Los Angeles Times, she writes:
  • “The [Iranian] regime in Tehran knows only hardball, and nothing less than overwhelming and crippling sanctions could produce a reversal of its threatening programs and policies.
  • “That is why the United States must be prepared to act alone, if necessary, and with every weapon in its political and economic arsenal. The Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act is one such tool. This legislation, which I coauthored, has the support of more than 300 members of the House, and it is urgent that this bill reaches the president’s desk before the end of the year. It targets one of Iran’s major weaknesses — namely, its dependency on foreign gasoline….
  • “By placing financial sanctions on U.S. and foreign companies providing these crucial resources, Iran’s economic lifeline would be severed and its already weak economy would crumble. But these sanctions must be coupled with action on all fronts.
  • “The U.S. must also specifically reject Iran’s claim to an inalienable right to produce nuclear fuel. We must strengthen existing laws to prevent the transfer of prohibited materials and technology to Iran. Responsible nations should impose a ban on travel by senior Iranian regime officials and their families to Europe and the U.S. We should strengthen bilateral and multilateral efforts to shut down accounts of those doing business with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps or its affiliated entities; deny Tehran access to euros and U.S. dollars; and freeze the assets of those who violate U.N. sanctions on Iran.
  • “Concurrently, we should offer our full support to the Iranian people and increase funding for Iran democracy programs. The weakness of recent actions has been daunting. The IAEA mustered only a weak censure of Iran; the U.N. Security Council has said that it was disappointed; the White House has maintained its wait-and-see approach; and the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act continues to languish because many remain true believers in the mirage of engagement. However, the threat is immediate, and the time to act has arrived.”

NOTE: Jewish extremists attacked a mosque in the West Bank earlier this week. It was a savage, evil act that was rightly condemned by Israeli PM Netanyahu. Please pray for those involved in the attacks, for their families and their friends that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob would have mercy on them by moving them true and complete repentance and restitution.

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PRAY: To join the “Epicenter Team” on Facebook and track regular prayer requests, please click here

GIVE: To help The Joshua Fund raise $1 million this month to stand up a new warehouse in Israel and provide food, clothing, medical supplies and other aid to the poor and needy in Israel and the epicenter, please click here

GO: Epicenter Conference in Manila, Philippines (details coming)


Ahmadinejad and Assad embracing earlier this year.

“Iran and Syria signed a defense agreement on Friday,” reports the Jerusalem Post. “The document, signed by Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi and his Syrian counterpart Ali Mohammad Habib Mahmoud, aimed to face ‘common enemies and challenges.’….Vahidi praised Syria’s great potential in the defense and military fields and said that ‘it is natural for a country like Syria — which has an inhumane and menacing predator like Israel in its neighborhood — to be always prepared [against possible foreign aggression].’ His visit to Syria comes a week after Saeed Jalili, Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, also visited Damascus. Iran’s treaty with Syria comes just as Western countries are warning Teheran that if it fails to respond to overtures intended to make its nuclear program transparent, it will face sanctions.”

* The Apocalypse, Messianism Define Ahmadinejad’s Policies

* IDF simulates missile attacks, war against Syria and Hezbollah

* U.S. Growing Impatient With Iran

* Iran’s president pledges support to Hamas leader

* With war clouds building in the epicenter, would you consider making a tax deductible, end-of-the-year contribution to The Joshua Fund to bless the poor and needy and help us stock and staff our new warehouse in Israel ahead of the next war? [Details of our most recent projects here.] Thanks so much for your prayers and your generous help? May the Lord bless you and your family as you bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus.

* Join the “Epicenter Team” on Facebook


From our team at The Joshua Fund, we wish everyone a happy Hanukkah, or “Feast of Dedication,” which begins at sundown tonight. May the Lord bless Israel and keep the Jewish people safe this year. May He give each of us His Light to help us find our way to Him. May He also stir the hearts of His followers around the world to truly bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus in real and practical ways. [Note: Did you know that this wonderful Jewish holiday is actually never mentioned in the Torah or Tanakh? Curiously, the only place it is mentioned in the Bible is in the New Testament, John 10:22-23.]



“Last week the Harvard Kennedy School held a simulation game of the Iranian nuclear crisis, and Israel should be very concerned about its course and its outcome,” reports Haaretz. “The game made it clear: Iran will not stop on its path to producing nuclear weapons. The United States will not embark on a military action and will find it difficult to enlist support at the United Nations for imposing more severe sanctions, while relations between Israel and the United States will deteriorate. Prof. Graham Allison, a leading analyst of American security policy for decades, conducted the game, whose participants were representatives from countries and organizations likely to be affected by the real outcome. Israel was represented by Dore Gold, former ambassador to the United Nations, and Dr. Shai Feldman, currently at Brandeis University, and by a former brigadier general and a nuclear physicist. Their decisions were made by consensus. The U.S. team, headed by Nicholas Burns, who was an assistant to former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice during the administration of George W. Bush and was responsible for the ‘Iranian portfolio,’ included Admiral William Fallon, head of U.S. Central Command from 2007-2008….”To read more on this fascinating series of war games, and the disturbing conclusions, click here. 


 LEARN: To sign up for Joel’s (free) Flash Traffic email updates, please click here

PRAY: To join the “Epicenter Team” on Facebook and track regular prayer requests, please click here

GIVE: To help The Joshua Fund provide food, clothing, medical supplies and other aid to the poor and needy in Israel and the epicenter, please click here

GO: Epicenter Conference in Manila, Philippines (details coming)

ISRAELI INTEL SAYS IRAN NOW HAS KNOW HOW TO BUILD NUCLEAR WEAPONS: Ahmadinejad says U.S. trying to prevent 12th Imam arrival

UPDATED: Three dangerous developments this week in the epicenter.

First, “Iran now has the technical capability to build a nuclear bomb and the only thing separating it from the bomb is the decision to go ahead and build one, said Brig.-Gen. Yossi Baidatz, head of Military Intelligence’s research division, on Monday,” according to a Jerusalem Post report. “Baidatz also said that Iran had been upgrading its missile arsenal, and that it had developed missiles with the capability of carrying nuclear weapons that could reach Israel.”

Second, Al-Arabiya reported that “Ahmadinejad says US planning to prevent coming of Mahdi; US wants to stop mankind’s savior: Iran leader.” Excerpt from the story: “Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he has documented evidence that the United States is doing what it can to prevent the coming of the Mahdi, the Imam that Muslims believe will be ultimate savior of mankind, press reports said Monday….’They have devised all these plans to prevent the coming of the Hidden Imam because they know that the Iranian nation is the one that will prepare the grounds for his coming and will be the supporters of his rule,” said Ahmadinejad….”

Third, the EU voted Tuesday for a resolution calling for Jerusalem to be divided. This won’t lead to peace. It will encourage the Radicals to use all means necessary — including extreme violence — to seize Jerusalem and kill Israelis. Crazier still, the EU resolution didn’t address the immediate obstacle to peace: the fact that the Palestinians refuse to return to the negotiating table with Israel, despite the fact that the Israelis are showing goodwill in terms of freezing West Bank settlement building for 10 months, removing roadblocks in Palestinian areas, helping improve the Palestinian economy, etc.

Analysis: The Obama administration now says they will pursue international sanctions on Iran in January. That could be a good development, but it comes very late in the game. It’s still not clear even crippling sanctions would stop Iran from getting the Bomb. And it may simply be too late. Iran is ready to build the Bomb, according to Israeli intelligence, and has missiles that can reach Israel. So Netanyahu is running out of time. He may feel compelled to hit Iran hard, and soon. Netanyahu’s calculus is complicated by the fact that Ahmadinejad may be growing frustrated that the so-called Islamic Messiah has not yet arrived. In 2007, Ahmadinejad gave a series of speeches says the 12th Imam’s arrival on earth was “imminent.” The Iranian president seemed sincere in that belief, but the Mahdi still has not come. Meanwhile, Ahmadinejad may also be laying the groundwork for apocalyptic violence against the U.S. and Israel, and casting the rationale for such violence in eschatological terms. Bottom line: the situation in the region is steadily deteriorating. Someone’s going to make a move. It’s just not clear who’s going to move first.

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    UPDATED: The battle to divide Jerusalem is intensifying this week. Sweden is pushing hard to pass an initiative to persuade 27 foreign ministers of European Union states to endorse a plan to recognize unilaterally East Jerusalem as the capital of a new Palestinian State. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, meanwhile, is doing everything he can to counter the Swedish effort. EU ministers meet today in Brussels.

    The Bible teaches that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob loves Israel’s neighbors, but has specifically chosen Jerusalem to be the capital of the Jewish people and His own prized possession. It is not to be carved up like a Thanksgiving turkey.

    In I Kings 11:32, the Lord calls Jerusalem “the city which I have chosen from all the tribes of Israel.”

    In 2 Chronicles 6:6, the Lord says, “I have chosen Jerusalem that My Name might be there, and I have chosen David to be over My people Israel.”

    In Psalm 132:13-16, we read, “For the Lord has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His habitation. ‘This is My resting place forever; Here I will dwell, for I have desired it. I will abundantly bless her provision; I will satisfy her with bread.”

    The Bible also teaches that the Lord will judge the nations who seek to divide Israel and Jerusalem. In Joel 3:1-2, we read, “When I restore the fortunes of Jerusalem [in the last days] I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat. Then I will enter into judgment with them there on behalf of My people and My inheritance Israel whom they have scattered among the nations and they have divided up My land.”

    • Please pray for the Lord to intervene and thwart this effort by the nations to divide Jerusalem.
    • Please pray for the peace of Jerusalem, as we are commanded in Psalm 122:6.
    • Please pray for wisdom for Prime Minister Netanyahu and his government this week.
    • Please pray, too, for millions of evangelical Christians to rise up to pray with us for these issues, and to speak out against the division of Jerusalem (for specific actions you can take, go to Natan Sharansky’s “One Jerusalem” web site.)
    • Please pray for us at The Joshua Fund as we seek to raise $1 million in end-of-the-year giving this month to help us buy a forklift and truck and begin to stock our new warehouse in Israel with food and other relief supplies to bless the poor and needy in Jerusalem and around the Holy Land in obedience with the Scriptures. These funds will also help us purchase two ambulances for Magen David Adom, Israel’s emergency care organization.  If you would like to make a year-end, tax-deductible donation to The Joshua Fund, please click here
    • Please for The Joshua Fund as we prepare to hold our first Epicenter Conference in Asia next month in Manila, the capital of the Philippines. The goal will be to teach some 3,500 Asian pastors and ministry leaders about God’s love and plan for Israel and her neighbors, and mobilize them to join a global movement to “learn, pray, give and go.” More details coming soon. Please pray for all the many and complicated organizational details, as well as for safety and unity among the church and ministry leaders we’re working with.
    • Join the “Epicenter Team” on Facebook for daily prayer updates
    • Read Joshua Fund’s weblog



    Last month in Jerusalem, the Christian Broadcasting Network interviewed me about threats facing Israel from Iran and others, about how evangelical Christians can and should respond. The interviews just ran. The following are three on-line video clips from that interview, posted on CBN’s “Jerusalem Dateline” blog.

    CBN interview: Joel comments on his meeting with Israel’s Speaker of the Knesset, on Israel preparing for war with Iran and her allies, and useful lessons from the Book of Esther

    CBN interview: Joel comments on President Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize and his concern that the West is asleep to the gathering storm in the epicenter 

    CBN interview: Joel comments on Israelis feeling increasingly that Washington is abandoning them, and how that might impact Netanyahu’s decision to hit Iran

    Joshua Fund update: How is TJF praying for peace, and preparing for war?

    PUTIN SAYS NO PLANS TO LEAVE POWER: And German paper says Israel may hit Iran by summer 2010

    Given the threat of war and terror in the epicenter, please consider making a generous year-end donation to The Joshua Fund to bless the poor and needy in Israel and among her neighbors, stockpile relief supplies ahead of the next war, and help build a global movement to pray for the peace of Jerusalem — click here for details, including an update on TJF’s projects in 2009, and future projects

    In chapter seven of my 2006 non-fiction book, Epicenter, I encourage readers to watch for this future headline: “A CZAR RISES IN RUSSIA, RAISING FEARS OF A NEW COLD WAR,” and specifically suggest readers watch for Vladimir Putin to attempt to stay in power far beyond 2008.

    On page 101, I wrote: “Putin has repeatedly promised he will not attempt to extend his stay in office beyond 2008….But how seriously should Putin’s many pledges be taken?…Now in his fifties, Putin is still a young man, at the top of his game, with no professional experience of any kind other than being a KGB-trained suppressor of dissidents and a rising political leader….[Russians] are looking for a strong hand to rule, and Putin is providing just that.”

    Now comes this Reuters headline: “PUTIN SAYS NO PLANS TO LEAVE POWER.”


    • “Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, in power for over 10 years, ruled out a departure from politics on Thursday, telling a questioner: ‘Don’t hold your breath.’ The country’s most powerful leader made the comment with a smile when asked on his annual televised question and answer session with the Russian people if he would like to leave politics and start a quiet life.
    • “Putin, 57, also said he ‘will think about’ taking part in the 2012 presidential election, when many Russians expect him to return to the Kremlin for a six-year term.”…
    • “Although his ratings have drooped slightly to an eight-month low of 65 percent, down from 72 percent in mid-October, according to the FOM pollster, they remain numbers most politicians would envy after 10 years of rule. They also outshine those of his hand-picked successor Dmitry Medvedev, who most Russians believe has little real power. It was almost two hours into the question session before Putin mentioned Medvedev’s name at all.”

    In separate coverage, we learn that Putin praised parts of Joseph Stalin’s legacy from the 20th century.

    On page 102 of Epicenter, I wrote: “The more one learns about the Russia leader, the more one can understand why nearly everywhere I speak these days, people ask me, ‘Is Vladimir Putin Gog? Is he the Russian leader Ezekiel predicted would attack Israel [in the last days, according to Ezekiel 38-39]? It is an interesting question, given recent trends. Putin is certainly perceived as a rising czar. He speaks fondly of Russia’s historic monarchy. He is centralizing political power and control to himself. He is rebuilding Russia’s military for offensive purposes. He speaks of the collapse of the Soviet Empire as a catastrophe and talks of restoring the historical glory of Mother Russia. He is operating in a social and political climate that increasingly desires a leader along the lines of Joseph Stalin. What’s more, he’s steadily building political, economic and military ties with the very countries Ezekiel described in his vision of the future….All that said, however, one can neither definitively conclude that Putin is the one of whom Ezekiel spoke nor conclusively rule him out. Not yet, at least. More needs to happen in Russia and the Middle East before we can know for sure, one way or the other. Putin may, after all, simply be setting the stage for someone else to rise.”


    * LEARN: The Inside The Revolution film on DVD is available for 20% off at Barnes & Noble

    * LEARN: Sign up for Joel’s email alerts with geopolitical analysis on trends in Israel and the Middle East, Joshua Fund project updates and prayer requests

    * PRAY: Join Joel’s “Epicenter Team” on Facebook

    * GIVE: Would you like to help The Joshua Fund educate Christians about God’s love for Israel, as well bless Israel and her neighbors with food, clothing, medical supplies and other relief aid, especially as we pray for peace and prepare for the growing possibility of a war with Iran? A gift of $50, $100, $250 or more would make an enormous difference, as would becoming a monthly financial partner. Learn more at


    President Obama delivering his speech on Afghanistan at West Point Tuesday night.

    End-of-the-year  Joshua Fund Donor Update

    After months of hemming, hawing,indecision, and in-fighting within the White House, President Obama finally laid out his Afghanistan policy last night. There was good news, and bad.

    Good news:

    * The President recognized the vital national interest the U.S. has in defeating the Taliban, al Qaeda and the forces of Radical Islam in Afghanistan and along the Pakistani border, and committed the U.S. to winning this critical war.

    * The President endorsed the very “surge” strategy in Afghanistan that he so vehemently opposed in Iraq. He is putting an additional 30,000 U.S. troops into the theater, effectively doubling our troop strength there.

    * The President firmly backed the policy recommended by Gen. David Petraeus and Gen. Stanley McChrystal, two men I believe could truly win this war for us if they are fully supported and unleashed to get the job done right and well.

    * The President sent our enemies, our allies — and notably Iran — a message that he won’t cut and run from protecting American national interests in the battle with Radical Islam.

    * In sharp contrast to his presidential campaign rhetoric, Mr. Obama chose to become a “war president” — a good thing in a war — against intense opposition from his left-wing political base.

    Bad news:

    * The President undermined the full strength of his new policy by setting an artificial deadline of bringing the troops home beginning 18 months from now, in July 2011. This doesn’t give reassurance to American families that the war will truly be won by then. Rather, it gives the Taliban and al Qaeda fighters reassurance that they can outlast the Americans and live to terrorize another day.

    * The President committed only 30,000 new troops, when McChrystal requested 40,000. Why give go only 75% of the way?

    * The White House is suggesting that perhaps NATO will provide another 10,000 troops. That would be nice. But I’m not holding my breathe.

    Bottom Line:

    * This is a war we have to win. I have been to Afghanistan. I have seen how badly we were doing and have talked to Afghan tribal leaders who were deeply disappointed by the lack of full American resolve to defeat the Radicals. So I am grateful to the Lord that President Obama has committed his administration and our nation to doing more to win. I have many deep disagreements with this President, but I expected him to cut and run from Afghanistan, and he didn’t. He’s making a mistake to set an artificial deadline to withdraw our troops. But he has backed the very “surge” policy he detested in Iraq but which ultimately proved the right decision. This is a good thing, and we should give him — and most importantly our troops — our full support.

    * MSNBC’s Chris Matthews apologizes for calling West Point [site of the speech] the “enemy camp”

    * Video of the President’s speech

    * Transcript of the speech

    * LEARN: The Inside The Revolution film on DVD is available for 20% off at Barnes & Noble

    * LEARN: Sign up for Joel’s email alerts with geopolitical analysis on trends in Israel and the Middle East, Joshua Fund project updates and prayer requests

    * PRAY: Join Joel’s “Epicenter Team” on Facebook

    * GIVE: Would you like to help The Joshua Fund educate Christians about God’s love for Israel, as well bless Israel and her neighbors with food, clothing, medical supplies and other relief aid, especially as we pray for peace and prepare for the growing possibility of a war with Iran? A gift of $50, $100, $250 or more would make an enormous difference, as would becoming a monthly financial partner. Learn more at