UPDATED: COVERT WAR UNDERWAY IN IRAN TO SABOTAGE NUCLEAR FACILITIES: NYT article suggests possible link to the Bible’s Book of Esther

I’m heading to Chicago today to speak at the “Inside The Middle East Crisis Conference” this weekend, as well as to speak at several other events in and around the Windy City.

As I head there, the main storyline in the Middle East I’m tracking is the intensifying covert war underway in Iran by the U.S., Israel and Western intelligence agencies. This is a key element in my forthcoming political thriller, The Twelfth Imam. But it is not fiction. It is all too real.

The goal: to sabotage Iran’s nuclear facilities, assasinate Iranian nuclear officials, and persuade other key Iranian insiders to defect. In January, one of Iran’s top nuclear scientists was killed in a car bombing in Tehran. This followed a series of other scientists dying mysteriously or disappearing without a trace in recent years.

In May 2007, CBS News reported that “intelligence operatives…have sold Iran [nuclear] components with flaws that are difficult to detect, making them unstable or unusable.” Noted Mark Fitzpatrick, the former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Non-Proliferation and now Senior Fellow in Non-Proliferation at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, “Industrial sabotage is a way to stop the program, without military action, without fingerprints on the operation, and really, it is ideal, if it works. One way to sabotage a program is to make minor modifications in some of the components Iran obtains on the black market, and because it’s a black market … you don’t know exactly who you are dealing with,” Fitzpatrick said.

The latest development is a mysterious and highly aggressive “malware” virus of unknown origin that is suddenly plaguing computer systems at nuclear facilities and other industrial plants throughout the Islamic Republic. The effect appears to be so severe that Iran had to announce at least a two month delay is the launch of on-line operations at its Bushehr Reactor that the Russians helped build. Indeed, an estimated 30,000 computers in Iran have been infected. Neither the CIA nor Israel’s Mossad has commented, much less claimed credit. Nor are they likely to do so. Perhaps they are not involved. But it may be that the relative success of this on-going and intensifying covert war inside Iran accounts for why Israel has not taken direct military action thus far.

On Thursday, the New York Times ran an intriguing story with this headline: “In a Computer Worm, a Possible Biblical Clue.” Wrote reporters John Markoff and David Sanger, “Deep inside the computer worm that some specialists suspect is aimed at slowing Iran’s race for a nuclear weapon lies what could be a fleeting reference to the Book of Esther, the Old Testament tale in which the Jews pre-empt a Persian plot to destroy them. That use of the word “Myrtus” — which can be read as an allusion to Esther — to name a file inside the code is one of several murky clues that have emerged as computer experts try to trace the origin and purpose of the rogue Stuxnet program, which seeks out a specific kind of command module for industrial equipment. Not surprisingly, the Israelis are not saying whether Stuxnet has any connection to the secretive cyberwar unit it has built inside Israel’s intelligence service. Nor is the Obama administration, which while talking about cyberdefenses has also rapidly ramped up a broad covert program, inherited from the Bush administration, to undermine Iran’s nuclear program. In interviews in several countries, experts in both cyberwar and nuclear enrichment technology say the Stuxnet mystery may never be solved….”


Meanwhile, here are other key stories I’m tracking this morning:


>> Register for the “Inside The Middle East Crisis Conference” at Moody Church in Chicago, October 1-2

On Saturday, I received the following email from a reader of this weblog:

“I am writing regarding the Flashtrafficblog: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made yet another inflammatory speech to the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday. He began his remarks by praying, ‘O God, hasten the arrival of Imam al-Mahdi and grant him good health and victory and make us his followers and those who attest to his righteousness.’ I have been trying to verify this Article you sent me, and I have only found that Ahmadinejad did indeed speak at the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday September 23, 2010, but that this prayer ‘O God, hasten the arrival of Imam al-Mahdi and grant him good health and victory and make us his followers and those who attest to his righteousness’ was ACTUALLY done before the Columbia University on September 24, 2007. Ahmadinejad did cause a stink at this U.N. General Assembly this Thursday, BUT IT WAS NOT DUE TO THE PRAYER that Flashtrafficblog claims he prayed before the meeting. I’m not sure why this seems like a case of you and/or your staff putting two separate Articles together to give your blog more weight and make it seem more scary than it already is?!  But this seems like the case to me!  It may even border being FRAUD!”

That evening, I sent the reader the following response:

Dear [Name withheld] —

Thank you very much for your note. I appreciate your concerns, but please allow me to allay them. 

It is true that most media outlets (including CNN, which you cited) did not report President Ahmadinejad’s opening prayer. However, during his September 23, 2010 address to the U.N. General Assembly, the Iranian President did, in fact pray these words as I reported them. You can read the full transcript in the first and second links below. You can also watch and listen to Mr. Ahmadinejad pray this prayer on the third link below. The reason for your confusion may be, in part, because Mr. Ahmadinejad prayed essentially the same prayer at Columbia University on September 24, 2007.

  1. Transcript of the Sept 23, 2010 speech — http://www.scribd.com/doc/38037667/Mahmoud-Ahmadinejad-United-Nations-General-Assembly-FULL-Transcript
  2. Transcript of the September 23, 2010 speech from the Iranian President’s own official website – http://www.president.ir/en/?ArtID=24129
  3. Video of the Sept 23, 2010 speechhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3IKUsbHfRew

I hope this is helpful.  May the Lord bless you as you seek the truth.

— Joel

Later, I received her reply:

“Dear Joel — Thank you for getting back to me personally! I greatly appreciate that. I’m sorry that I felt a need to send that warning in such haste. Please accept my deepest apologies! Thank you for sending those links that prove your Article to be true! In the past and even now, I often receive ‘last days’ type emails. I used to take them as true and pass them on to my ministering egroups. But, I have found lately; their contents to be unverifiable. So, I stopped passing them along. Your [weblog] was the first I have received in over a year. I was alarmed at its News and immediately passed it out before verifying its validity. Shortly after sending it out, I decided to find it and could not, only what I sent to your organization is what I found. Hence, my heartfelt need to send that warning to you. Please again, accept my deepest apologies for my haste. We are living in the last days, and we (as soldiers for Christ) can’t afford to be seen as ‘chicken littles’ or those who sensationalize everything under the sun; to give our ‘warnings’ more weight. I’m sure you completely realize this. I too, have all of your ‘last days’ type series of books, including Epicenter. I’ve greatly enjoyed them and see just a little more fact than fiction within. With that said, I am totally reliant upon The Word of God for Truth, Instruction and Direction. Thank you again for contacting me personally.”
I appreciate those of you who have sincere, heartfelt questions, and I am honored to answer when I can.


ASK YOUR PASTOR/CHURCH TO JOIN “DAY OF PRAYER FOR THE PEACE OF JERUSALEM” OCTOBER 3: New political crisis looms as Israel’s Sunday deadline for building freeze in “settlements” ends

Mysterious, severe computer virus hits Iran’s nuclear power  plant

I’m a supporter of the international “Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem,” and I hope you will be, too. Please ask your pastor to set aside Sunday, October 3, to encourage his congregation in prayer (and perhaps fasting). For details, please click here.

A few immediate prayer requests:

  1. Please pray for the salvation of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Ayatollah Khamenei and all of the Iranian leadership, pray that they turn away from their desire to annihilate Israel and conquer Jerusalem, pray and that they found find true forgiveness through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, not in the promise of the Twelfth Imam.
  2. Please pray that the Lord would give Prime Minister Netanyahu and his advisors wisdom and discernment on how to proceed with the peace talks concerning Jerusalem, without compromising on their principles.
  3. Please pray that Netanyahu would do nothing to divide Jerusalem.
  4. Please pray for the peace of Jerusalem during these tense days.
  5. Please pray for IDF soldier Gilad Shalit would be rescued or returned to his family immediately, and that the Lord would truly bless and comfort him, his family, his friends and his nation in the meantime.
  6. Please thank the Lord that Mosab Hassan Yousef, the son of one of the founders of Hamas, came to faith in Jesus Christ several years ago, and please pray that the Lord would use Mosab to reach many more people in the epicenter with the life changing message of the gospel.
  7. Please pray for the gospel of Jesus Christ to be communicated clearly to all the people of the epicenter, not just the Iranians, and that the Lord would continue to strengthen and build His Church and not let the gates of Hell prevail against it.
  8. Please pray for the Lord to continue to comfort and bless Israeli Pastor David Ortiz, his wife Leah, their son Ami (who was nearly killed by a Jewish terrorist bomb in March 2008), and their entire family. Please pray that the people responsible for that terrible attack are truly brought to justice, and also find personal forgiveness and salvation through Jesus Christ.
  9. Please pray for the Lord to mobilize more followers of Jesus Christ to care for the poor and needy in Jerusalem and throughout the epicenter, to care for the orphans and the widows and the survivors of the Holocaust and the victims of war and terror.
  10. Please pray that the Church around the world awakens to our biblical responsibility to truly love Jews, Arabs and Iranians with unconditional love and unwavering support, and to demonstrate that love in real and practical ways.

To learn more about The Joshua Fund, please click here.

To learn more about The Twelfth Imam, please click here.


>> Tune into the Epicenter Conference Radio Special on the Moody Radio Network, Friday, Sept. 24, at 9pm eastern/8pm central (www.MoodyRadio.org ). Check your local Moody affiliate for details.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made yet another inflammatory speech to the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday. He began his remarks by praying, “O God, hasten the arrival of Imam al-Mahdi and grant him good health and victory and make us his followers and those who attest to his righteousness.”

Imam al-Mahdi is another name for the “Twelfth Imam” or the “Hidden Imam.” Shia Muslims believe this Islamic messiah will come at the End of Days to destroy Judeo-Christian civilization as we have known it, force infidels to convert or be executed, and will set up a one-world Islamic government known as the “caliphate.” Ahmadinejad believes the way to “hasten” the Twelfth Imam’s coming is to annihilate the U.S. and Israel. This would bring about the “victory” that Ahmadinejad prayed for on American soil. The speech went downhill from there. Ahmadinejad accused the U.S. government of masterminding the 9/11 attacks in order to save Israel. Few in the West, including our leaders, understand what Ahmadinejad and his colleagues in the Iranian government believe. And that’s the problem.

[Update: Jordan’s king warns of war by end of 2010]

What should we do in response? We need to “get ready” and “be prepared,” according to Ezekiel 38:7. We need to gather in small groups and as entire church congregations and pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and mobilize others to pray, too. We need to travel to Israel to do prayer walks, and worship the Lord, and study and teach the Word of God, and to encourage Israelis that we are standing with them, and that the God of Israel loves them without limit. We need to care for poor and needy Israelis and Palestinians with unconditional love and unwavering support. We need to stockpile humanitarian relief supplies in Israel and build infrastructure to distribute even more emergency aid when the next war comes. We need to strengthen the Church in the epicenter in real and practical ways. We need to help our brothers and sisters throughout the region preach the gospel and make disciples and plant churches and show that Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace and the only hope of reconciliation. Time is short, but our path forward is clear.

Through my forthcoming novel, The Twelfth Imam, I’m trying to help people imagine what the world would look like if Ahmadinejad’s world view began to come to pass.

Through The Joshua Fund, I’m trying to help us get ready for such a world, and to mobilize Christians to make a difference.

What is the Lord asking you to do?

UPDATE: This week, Joel was on the following radio shows — John Gambling – WOR New York; “Your Turn” with Renee Giachino; Lars Larson Show, nationally syndicated; “Point of View,” USA Radio Network, nationally syndicated; America’s Morning News, nationally syndicated; American Family Radio News, nationally syndicated; Rusty Humphries, nationally syndicated; The John Batchelor Show on New York’s top talk station 77 WABC; The Janet Mefferd Show, Salem Radio Network, nationally syndicated.


I’ve posted some of the key stories about Ahmadinejad’s, and President Obama’s speech, as well.

Coverage of President Obama’s speech at the U.N.:


  >> Tune into the Epicenter Conference Radio Special on the Moody Radio Network, Friday, Sept. 24, at 9pm eastern/8pm central (www.MoodyRadio.org ). Check your local Moody affiliate for details.

Here are several items I wanted to bring to your attention:

1. AHMADINEJAD CALLS NETANYAHU A “SKILLED KILLER” — Despite growing evidence that Iran is rapidly developing nuclear weapons, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told CNN’s Larry King last night that, “We are not seeking the Bomb.” He also denounced Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, calling him a “skilled killer” who “should be put on trial for killing women and children.” This from a man who has publicly and repeatedly called for genocide against the U.S. and Israel. Ahmadinejad is scheduled to address the U.N. General Assembly today and pray for Allah to hasten the coming of the Shia Islamic messiah, known as The Twelfth Imam. Yet the world’s leaders are asleep. They do not seeing the gathering storm. They do not see the evil that is rising. 

2. FORMER ENEMIES DISCUSS THE MIDEAST CRISIS — The world is desperately trying to find a solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict before it erupts into another war. But how often do two former enemies — a one-time aide to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu aide and a former aide to PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat — share the stage at a conference and say that Jesus is the only hope for peace? We will next week. On October 1st and 2nd, at the historic Moody Church in downtown Chicago, I will speaking at the “Inside The Middle East Crisis Conference: Finding Peace In A Troubled World,” along with Tass Saada, former PLO terrorist and advisor to Arafat. Joining us will be renowned Bible teachers and Mideast experts Dr. Erwin Lutzer, Dr. Charles Dyer, Dr. Michael Rydelnik, and Dr. Mitch Glaser. Together, we will examine the very dangerous trends in motion in the epicenter right now. We will also talk from personal experience about how powerfully Jesus Christ is drawing men, women and children in the Middle East to Himself and supernaturally transforming lives and reconciling Jews and Arabs as never before in history. I really hope you will register today and join us for this fascinating event. It will open your eyes to the events that are unfolding in the Middle East from a biblical perspective and provide practical insight on how to love Israel and her neighbors, come what may. To register for the conference, please click here.

3. ADVANCING THE GOSPEL IN THE MIDWEST — My friend Greg Laurie is leading an evangelistic campaign in Chicago this weekend, September 24-26, 2010. This is a great opportunity fo invite friends, family members, neighbors, co-workers, and others who don’t know Jesus Christ personally to hear the life-changing message of the gospel in a clear and compelling way and in a non-threatening environment. Two hundred local Chicagoland churches are participating and a full house is expected all three nights. Hopefully you can attend in person, but if you can’t, you can view the campaign on-line at www.harvest.org/crusades/2010/chicago. For more information about the featured musicians, Greg Laurie, or event details, visit Chicago.harvest.org. All three nights of the event are free and open to the public.

4. CHURCHES SHUT DOWN IN SYRIA — I received this email from a dear Arab pastor friend of mine: “Our brethren and Churches in Syria need urgent prayers. The government closed about eight evangelical Churches in the last two weeks. All these churches are in North Syria mainly in Lattakia, Tartous, Homs, and wadi Al-Nasara. Some of the Churches in Damascus and Aleppo know that their turn will come soon. They are closing some of the Baptist and Alliance Churches. It is apparently by the approval of the High Counsel representative in Syria and some other beloved Brothers of the named Churches. I do not have lot much more information. I will update you when receiving additional news.” Please pray for courage for the believers in Syria. Please pray that the Lord would turn the hearts of the Syrian leaders and allow these churches to be reopened. Please also pray that no matter what happens, the gospel would be spread powerfully through all of Syria and the Islamic world before the next war comes.

5. AN ISRAELI FAMILY NEEDS YOUR HELP TO RECEIVE JUSTICE — Ami Ortiz is the son of an Israeli pastor and his wife. Ami was nearly killed in March 2008 by a bomb sent to his home in the Israeli town of Ariel. Many of you have prayed for him and the Lord has heard your prayers. By God’s grace, Ami is recovering miraculously, is playing basketball, and is enjoying life with his family and friends. But the man who has reportedly confessed to sending the bomb to the Ortiz’s home may not go to prison. Ami and his family need your help now to receive justice. Please click here to learn more about the very serious problem, and how you can help.


Dear friends of Israel

  • Isaiah 1:17 — “Learn to do good; seek justice, rebuke the oppressor; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow.”
  • Prov. 31:9 — “Open your mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.”

Ami Ortiz is the son of an Israeli pastor and his wife who was nearly killed in March 2008 by a bomb sent to his home. Many of you have prayed for him and the Lord has heard your prayers. Ami is recovering miraculously, is playing basketball, and is enjoying life with his family and friends. But Ami and his family need your help now to receive justice. Please click here to learn more about the problem, and how you can help.


October 1-2, 2010.

>> Register for the “Inside The Middle East Crisis Conference” in Chicago, October 1st and 2nd

Iranian President Ahmadinejad has come back to Manhattan to issue more threats against the U.S., Israel and our allies. He has called for the annihilation of the U.S. and Israel. Now he’s calling for a war “without boundaries,” a war “without limits.” On Thursday during his address to the U.N. General Assembly, he will no doubt pray once again for Allah to hasten the coming of the Islamic messiah known as the “Twelfth Imam” or the “Promised One.” He believes the end of the world is at hand and that he has been chosen by Allah to help bring about the End of Days. He now has enough enriched uranium that we know about to build three nuclear weapons. Yet President Obama and his administration refuses to take decisive action to stop Iran from being able to build the Bomb. Why not? What are we waiting for? Sanctions are not working. Diplomacy is not working. And time is running out.

That said, with Ahmadinejad making new threats, why isn’t Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the U.N. this week as well talking about the Iranian nuclear threat? Why does Netanyahu seem content to cede the stage to Ahmadinejad at this critical moment? It’s a mystery.

On Monday, Netanyahu conducted a conference call with leaders of the major American Jewish organizations regarding. According to the transcript of the phone call released by the Prime Minister’s Office, however, Netanyahu did not mention Iran. Why not? Again, it’s not clear. Instead, Netanyahu focused on the peace process with the Palestinians. He noted that “just yesterday, a Palestinian Authority court ruled that the sale of Palestinian land to Israelis is punishable by death,” and noted, “these things do not square well with me.” Then he made three key points:

  1. THE PALESTINIANS MUST SAY YES TO A JEWISH STATE — “First about recognition:  It’s time for the Palestinians to do something they have refused to do for 62 years.  It’s time for them to say yes to a Jewish state….Why is this recognition important? It’s important because the Palestinian leadership must begin to make clear to its own people that they are making a permanent peace with the Jewish people, a people that has a right to be here, a right to live in its own state and in its own homeland. Ultimately, there will be no getting around this issue.  For someone who is prepared to make lasting peace with Israel, no statement could be simpler:  I recognize Israel as the Jewish state, the state of the Jewish people….I think President Abbas has to decide.  He cannot skirt the issue.  He cannot find clever language designed to obfuscate or to fudge it. He needs to recognize the Jewish state.  He needs to say it clearly and unequivocally.  He needs to say it to his own people in their own language.  Remember that famous commercial – Just Do It?  I think for the Palestinian leadership, it’s even simpler:  Just Say It.  Say that you recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.  Say that you recognize the Jewish state…..”
  2. THE PALESTINIANS MUST AGREE TO REAL ISRAELI SECURITY — “The second problem we face is security….We do not want a repeat of what happened after Israel withdrew from Lebanon and Gaza.  Those territories were turned into Iranian sponsored terror bases from which thousands of rockets were fired at Israel. We have to ensure that we have solid security arrangements on the ground.  We have to ensure that we can prevent the import of weapons from territories that we would vacate as part of a peace agreement with the Palestinians.  And we have to make sure that we can address the potential threats to peace that will inevitably come.  The first one you’ve seen – you’ve seen it in Lebanon, you’ve seen it in Gaza.  These are the attempts – unfortunately successful in both those places – to smuggle a massive amount of weapons: rockets, missiles and other weapons from Iran to its proxies in the territories. …”
  3. THE PALESTINIANS MUST AGREE TO NO FOREIGN TROOPS ON THE BORDERS —  “I have to say another thing: I don’t believe that under these circumstances, international troops will do the job.  Experience has shown that countries seldom sustain a long-term military commitment abroad in places where their troops are subject to constant attacks….”

I agree with the Prime Minister on each of these points. I believe he should add that he will never allow Jerusalem to be divided. The fact that he didn’t mention the Jerusalem issue concerns me. But the fact that he didn’t appear to discuss Iran concerns me more.

Some Israelis are asking wondering where the PM as well. “World leaders converge for UN summit, so where is Netanayhu?” reads a Haaretz headline. “Peres is meeting with diplomats and Mahmoud Abbas, Barak is meeting with Hillary Clinton, but there is no sign of Netanyahu at the central and important assembly.”  Hopefully we’ll learn the answer soon.

To learn more about Joel’s forthcoming new political thriller, The Twelfth Imam, and to learn what cities will be part of the fall book tour, please go to www.joelrosenberg.com.


Latest updates:

  • At a breakfast meeting with reporters this morning, Ahmadinejad said a U.S. attack on Iran would lead to a war with “no limits,” reports the New York Times.
  • “President Ahmedinejad Threatens U.S. With War ‘Without Boundaries’,” reports ABC News.
  • In a speech to a U.N. anti-poverty summit, Ahmadinejad today said the United States and its form of democratic capitalism were headed toward “defeat” and “getting close to their end,” reports MSNBC. 
  • Not many were listening, however. “Ahmadinejad had drawn large crowds for previous U.N. speeches but Tuesday’s address was delivered to a virtually empty hall,” reports Reuters.
  • Ahmadinejad will address the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday, reports Fox News.
  • The Iranian delegation is staying at the Hilton Hotel near the U.N. building.

To learn more about Joel’s forthcoming new political thriller, The Twelfth Imam, and to learn what cities will be part of the fall book tour, please go to www.joelrosenberg.com.

AHMADINEJAD AND “THE TWELFTH IMAM”: Also, announcing 13 city book tour schedule

What if the West waits too long and Iran obtains nuclear weapons? What if the so-called Shia Islamic messiah known as the “Twelfth Imam” or the “Mahdi” or the “Promised One” actually comes to earth, as Iranian leaders insist? What would the world look like? What type of apocalyptic events would be set into motion? How would Israel react? How would the U.S. react? These questions form the basis of my new novel, The Twelfth Imam — the first in a new series of political thrillers — which releases on October 19th.

[UPDATE: Israeli President Shimon Peres denounces Ahmadinejad at UN General Assembly — President says Iranian leader is “a living declaration against the charter of the UN”; calls for immediate talks with Syria]

For Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, however, such questions are not fictional. They are questions he is consumed with every day. He arrived in New York City over the weekend and appeared on ABC’s “This Week with Christiane Amanpour.” When he addresses the U.N. General Assembly this week, and does other media interviews, it will be interesting to see if he offers new clues as to where he and the Iranian government are headed and how he is currently thinking about such questions. One thing we can probably expect: Ahmadinejad is likely to repeat his annual prayer for Allah to “hasten” the coming of the Twelfth Imam, the so-called Shia Islamic messiah.

In 2005, Ahmadinejad told colleagues in Iran that the Twelfth Imam would arrive to bring about the end of the world in two to three years. In 2007, he said publicly the Twelfth Imam’s arrival was “imminent.” Presumably, he is disappointed that his messiah has not yet come. But he and Ayatollah Khamenei and the Iranian government continue preparing for the arrival of this “Promised One.” They continue teaching Shia Muslims to get ready for a one-world Islamic government. They keep warning Israel that she will soon be annihilated. They keep defying U.N. resolutions by enriching uranium, and now have enough to build three nuclear weapons. They continue to develop longer range ballistic missiles. They continue strengthening their alliances with Russia, Turkey, Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Hamas in Gaza.

Israel, meanwhile, continues preparing for a possible pre-emptive strike. Today, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak will meet in Washington with top U.S. defense officials. The Jerusalem Post reports Barak is optimistic that the U.S. will sell Israel advanced “bunker buster” bombs that would be useful in an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

I will provide analysis throughout the week of Ahmadinejad’s visit to the U.S. In the meantime, we are releasing my upcoming book tour schedule. More details are posted on my website — www.joelrosenberg.com — and will be updated regularly. Lord willing, I will be speaking at events in each of these cities, and doing extended Q&A sessions and book signings. Please join us at one of these events. I’d love to meet you in person.

Wednesday, October 20 — Spartanburg, SC
Saturday, October 23 — Valdosta, GA
Sunday, October 24 — Jacksonville, FL
Wednesday, October 27 — Tampa, FL
Wednesday, November 3 — Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX
Thursday, November 4 — Texas (either Tyler or Houston, TBD)
Saturday, November 6 — Costa Mesa, CA
Sunday, November 7 — San Diego, CA
Wednesday, November 10 — Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA
Thursday, November 11 — Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA
Sat/Sun, November 13-14 — Albuquerque, NM
Wed/Thurs, December 1-2 — Naples, FL
Wednesday, December 15 — Denver, CO


At sundown, we begin Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. In the Scriptures, the Israelites were commanded by the Lord to fast and pray and bring their sacrifices to the Temple in Jerusalem, and then to ask for the Lord’s forgiveness for all the sins they and their nation had committed that year. Only the sacrifice of a perfect animal, done with a humble, repentant heart, and with faith in God’s mercy and grace, would bring about forgiveness of sins.

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

The problem is: What does one do to receive atonement in the modern age, without a Temple? How can one make sacrifices and receive forgiveness of sins — and thus the right to enter the holiness of heaven and live with the Lord in heaven forever and ever — without being able to sacrifice a perfect lamb at the Temple in Jerusalem, where the Lord designated all sacrifices to occur? The destruction of the Temple by the Romans in 70 A.D. was a huge blow to Judaism, because it deprived Jews of the place to receive atonement from God.

The good news is what the Hebrew Prophet Daniel told us in Daniel 9:24-26. He told us that:

  • the Messiah (or “Annointed One”) would come at a certain time in history “to atone for wickedness” and “to bring in everlasting righteousness”
  • the Messiah would be “cut off and will have nothing”
  • then Jerusalem and the Temple would be destroyed — as Daniel noted, foreign invaders “will come and will destroy the city and the sanctuary”

Think about that. Daniel told us something extraordinary — that a coming Messiah would bring atonement for our sins before the Temple would be destroyed. That, in retrospect, makes sense, right? Why would the Lord take away the Temple before providing a new way for atonement?

The Hebrew Prophet Isaiah gave us many more details about the Messiah’s role of suffering and dying as our atonement. Consider these passages from Isaiah 53:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When I was younger, and as I processed these and other Hebrew prophecies of the Messiah — that He would be born in Bethlehem Ephratah, that He would live and minister in the Galilee, that He would do miracles and teach in parables, that He would be the Savior not only for the Jews but be a “light to the nations” — and as I realized that the Messiah had to come before the Temple and Jerusalem were destroyed in 70 A.D., I came to the conclusion that Jesus is the Messiah. His death and resurrection proved that He is the “Way, the Truth and the Life, and that no one comes to the Father except through Him,” as He said in John 14:6. Jesus’ shed blood provides the only atonement for sins for Jews and Gentiles today. Jesus (Yeshua, in Hebrew) represents the “New Covenant” — the new deal, as it were, between God and man — that the Hebrew Prophet Jeremiah told us to wait for.

I received Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord when I was young. I humbled myself, confessed my sins to God the Father, believed in my heart that Jesus died and rose again, and confessed with my mouth that Jesus is the Lord. Then, as He promised, Jesus atoned for my sins, and gave me eternal life. Not because I deserved it. Not because I earned it. Not because I could buy it. He gave it to me for free, because I received Him into my heart by faith. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.” (John 1:12)

It is my earnest hope you will discover — or rediscover — Jesus for yourself this Yom Kippur. I’m praying for you to find His amazing love, grace and forgiveness, and the hope and joy that only He can give us. God bless you.

To learn more about Jesus Christ, a brief summary of the gospel message, and what the Bible says a person must do to receive forgiveness of sins and eternal life, please click here.