Last week in Orange County, California, I spoke at two churches (Oct. 26 & 27) on the topic, “What Is The Future of Iran In Bible Prophecy?” The message was based on a passage from Jeremiah 49:34-39, known as the prophecy against Elam. “Elam” is an ancient name used in the Bible to describe the territory we now know as modern day Iran. In the prophecy, the Lord says in the “last days” He will have “fierce anger” against the government of Iran and will bring judgment and destruction against the government of Iran. But the Lord also says He will set His “throne” in Iran — that is, while He will strongly oppose the leaders of Iran, He will show compassion and mercy on the people of Iran. I took the audience through this prophecy verse by verse and explained what it means and why it matters. You can watch either or both messages — and about 30 minutes of Q&A that followed each — by clicking here.

In related news, The Blaze website published an article on Monday based on a recent interview with me, “Christian Author Joel Rosenberg: ‘We May See More Bible Prophesies In The Near Future.” Excerpt: “’Evil,’ Rosenberg says, is at the center of his work. ‘The core of my writing – particular The Tehran Initiative centers on the fact that misunderstanding the nature and threat of evil is to risk being blindsided by it,” he said. “We didn’t understand the Japanese threat and we got hit by Pearl Harbor. We misunderstood Hitler and Nazis and we got World War II. We underestimated Osama bin Laden and we got 9/11….I have described Shia Islamic eschatology as a photographic negative of Christian end times theology – there are a lot of similarities but they are completely opposite,’ he explained. ‘Christians believe that it’s important for people to get saved and then Christ comes back, not murder to achieve the same result. There’s a difference in the value of life and death and good versus evil.'” For the rest of the article, please click here.

Finally, The Tehran Initiative hit several best-seller lists this week, including #9 on the New York Times hardcover fiction list. Thanks so much for all of your kind notes and emails about the book, and all those who have turned out at the various events we’ve done around the country. I couldn’t be more grateful. Once you’ve finished reading the book, please share it with others rather than let it sit on a shelf. Particularly consider sharing your copy with a family member, friend, or neighbor that might be interested both in the political thriller as well as the spiritual journey that unfolds in the novel. Thaks so much and God bless you.


The Tehran Initiative has hit several best-seller lists this week:

Thanks so much for all of your kind notes and emails about The Tehran Initiative. I couldn’t be more grateful.

CONFRONTING THE THREAT FROM IRAN: Which GOP presidential candidate will lead on this issue?

>> To read the first chapter of The Tehran Initiative or to purchase online, please click here

The Washington Times has published a column of mine, “Confronting The Threat From Iran: GOP candidates owe  us solution to nuclear Tehran.” With tensions ratcheting up in the Middle East, I pray both that our current President would dramatically change course and get serious about neutralizing the Iran threat, and that all those who seek to be the next Commander-in-Chief would step up and put forward serious, credible, decisive plans, as well. Interestingly, as a result of the dozens of media interviews I have done over the past week as part of The Tehran Initiative book tour, advisors to several of the GOP candidates have been in touch. Let’s see who steps forward first to deliver a major address on Iran policy.

IRAN THREAT AND MIDEAST TENSIONS DOMINATE HEADLINES: Ahmadinejad says Tehran “deepening our ties” with Iraq as U.S. prepares to pull out; Libya to introduce radical Islamic law.

The Iran threat and tensions in the Middle East and North Africa are dominating international headlines — and the situation seems to be worsening by the day.

  • First came the Iran terror plot to kill Americans in our nation’s capital.
  • Then came new information about how aggressively Iran is moving to build nuclear weapons.
  • Then came the capture and death of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya.
  • Then came the Obama administration’s announcement that the U.S. is pulling all our military forces out of Iraq by the end of 2011, thus creating a vacuum Iran will be eager to exploit.

I’ve been discussing these issues in dozens of radio, TV and print interviews this past week as part of The Tehran Initiative book tour. My main concern is that the mullahs in Tehran smell blood in the water. They see the Obama administration and America more broadly as politically, diplomatically and economically weak. Iran feels increasingly emboldened. The ayatollahs believe the wind is at their back and that Allah is on their side. Their End Times theology tells them that the Twelfth Imam is coming and America will implode soon, just as they once believed it was predestined that the Soviet Union would implode. The less Tehran fears us, the more dangerous they become. That’s what my new political thriller is about at its core: What if an American administration miscalculates, and Iran gets the Bomb — then what?

The weekend brought more troubling developments:

Iran, Iraq and Libya were major topics of discussion on the Sunday morning talk shows.

Let’s start with Iran. Excerpts from the AP story:

  • “Iran should not misread the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq as affecting the U.S. commitment to the fledgling democracy, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Sunday. President Barack Obama’s announcement Friday that all American troops would return from Iraq by the end of the year will close a chapter on U.S.-Iraq relations that began in 2003 with the U.S.-led invasion to overthrow Saddam Hussein. Washington has long worried that meddling by Iran, a Shiite Muslim theocracy, could inflame tensions between Iraq’s Shiite-led government and its minority Sunnis, setting off a chain reaction of violence and disputes across the Mideast.”
  • Secretary Clinton on CNN’s State of the Union: “Iran would be badly miscalculating if they did not look at the entire region and all of our presence in many countries in the region, both in bases, in training, with NATO allies, like Turkey.”
  • Sec. Clinton on NBC’s Meet the Press: “No one should miscalculate America’s resolve and commitment to helping support the Iraqi democracy. We have paid too high a price to give the Iraqis this chance. And I hope that Iran and no one else miscalculates that.”
  • Sen. John McCain on ABC’s This Week: “There was never really serious negotiations between the [Obama] administration and the Iraqis. I believe we could have negotiated an agreement. And I’m very, very concerned about increased Iranian influence in Iraq.”
  • Sen. Lindsey Graham on Fox News Sunday: “The Iranians don’t fear us at all….At a time when we need troops in Iraq to secure the place against intervention by Iran and the bad actors in the region, we are going into 2012 with none. It was his job, the Obama administration’s job, to end this well. They failed.”

Other Middle East headlines in recent days:

As I wrote on Friday, the Obama administration is determined to pull U.S. forces out of Iraq and Afghanistan as fast as possible. I believe this is a dangerous mistake. The White House is leaving the playing field to an increasingly emboldened and dangerous Islamic Republic of Iran. U.S. generals recommended keeping 10,000 to 15,000 American troops stationed on the ground in Iraq past the end of 2011 to continue helping the Iraqi strengthen their fragile young democracy and prevent Iran meddling. However, the President’s unwillingness or inability to successfully negotiate with the Iraqi government to keep any U.S. military forces in Iraq is already sending a signal to Tehran that Washington is even weaker than they thought.

Meanwhile, President Obama’s self-proclaimed “victory” in Libya already seems to be unraveling. The Telegraph is reporting that “Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, the chairman of the National Transitional Council and de fact president, had already declared that Libyan laws in future would have Sharia, the Islamic code, as its ‘basic source.'” Already, the new government has legalized polygamy, which was banned under Gaddafi.

It is high time the serious Republican presidential candidates deliver major addresses regarding Iran, Israel and the future of U.S. policy in the epicenter. It is also vital for the Church to be doing everything possible to preach the Gospel to every person in the Middle East and North Africa, to train new pastors, to plant new churches, and to encourage and strengthen our persecuted brothers and sisters in the region. Only Jesus Christ holds true and lasting hope and peace for the people of that troubled region, and only the Lord Jesus can forgive sins and provide eternal security in heaven for those who receive Him by faith.

Note: Thanks so much to all of you who participated in “The Gathering Storm” conference by simulcast on Saturday. More than 150 church congregations were involved, and I was really encouraged by the level of interest, the great questions, and the initial feedback we’ve received. Soon I’ll post my notes from the message I gave for those who missed it. God bless you.

THE GATHERING STORM: IRAN COULD MAKE BOMB DESPITE HURDLES, NEW REPORT SAYS: Tehran now has enough enriched uranium for at least 4 nuclear warheads

A storm is gathering against America, Israel and the Church, yet so many of our leaders seem to be asleep — unaware of the threats or unwilling to deal with them decisively.

BREAKING NEWS UPDATE (Sat): Saudi Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz al-Saud Is Dead

BREAKING NEWS UPDATE (Fri): The Obama administration has decided to withdraw all U.S. forces from Iraq by the end of the year after failing to reach an agreement with the Iraqi government that would have left several thousand troops there for special operations and training,” reports the Washington Post. More details and coverage from CNN.

Fox News reported last month that “senior [military] commanders are said to be livid at the decision [to remove U.S. troops from Iraq], which has already been signed off by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) told Fox that reducing the troop presence in Iraq “would put at risk all the United States has fought for in Iraq.” Graham added: “The biggest winner of a U.S. decision to move to 3,000 troops in Iraq would the Iranian regime. The ayatollahs would rejoice.”

The administration’s move — combined with the precipitous drawdown of U.S. forces in Afghanistan — increasingly creates a vacuum in the Middle East that the mullahs in Iran are eager and able to fill. Indeed, one of the most serious threats facing us now is the prospect of the mullahs in Iran building nuclear weapons and using them against us and our allies, based on their genocidal End Times theology. This is why I wrote The Tehran Initiative, to help people imagine some of the worst case scenarios if we don’t take decisive action to neutralize the Iran threat. Though the book is fiction, the issues at the heart of the novel, unfortunately, are all too real. Indeed, this week brought more sobering news of how steadily Iran is moving towards that day. Consider the latest developments:

Inexplicably, President Obama is not taking decisive action to neutralize the Iranian threat. None of the GOP presidential candidates have given a major policy address focused on the Iran issue, either. But two NATO allies are speaking out.

As most of you know, tomorrow — Saturday, October 22nd — we are airing a national simulcast entitled, “The Gathering Storm: An Urgent Call To Prayer, Fasting and Repentance for America, Israel and the Church in the Light of Bible Prophecy.” While we had originally hoped to do the event live, for several logistical reasons we had to pre-tape “The Gathering Storm” event during the first weekend in October to be aired tomorrow. In my talk, I discussed seven geopolitical and spiritual storms facing America, Israel and the Church. Then I fielded nearly two hours of excellent questions from the audience and from Facebook participants all over the country. Obviously, the events of the last few days regarding Gaddafi and the Iranian terror plot weren’t covered as they hadn’t happened when we pre-taped. But these events just further illustrate “The Gathering Storm” continues to become ever more serious.

I hope you can join us for this remarkable event. There is still time today for your church to sign up to host this simulcast in your church. Please note that this event can only be viewed at churches hosting the special simulcast, or for home fellowship groups or small group Bible study groups who register for the event. Details are available by clicking here, including a list of churches around the country that are hosting the simulcast.  The event won’t be available on for individuals to watch on the web tomorrow.

Whether you can watch or not, please keep our country, the nation of Israel, and the Church in your prayers.

  • Pray for wisdom for our political, business, community and Church leaders.
  • Pray for the security against terror attacks and for the Iranian Bomb to be thwarted.
  • Please pray for a Third Awakening in our country, a sweeping spiritual revival that brings us back to a healthy and holy walk with the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • And please pray for the spread of the Gospel throughout the world and especially throughout the Middle East and North Africa where so many desperately need the forgiveness, peace and eternal salvation and security that only the Lord Jesus Christ can provide.


LIBYAN DICTATOR GADDAFI IS DEAD: Iran seeking to exploit the chaos. The Church should move quickly to reach Libyans with the gospel.

>> The Tehran Initiative — read first chapter; see interview schedule for next few days

>> Clinton: Pakistan must boost anti-terror fight

UPDATED: Reuters is now confirming that Muammar Gaddafi is dead. Libya’s Prime Minister has also confirmed the news. The tyrant of Tripoli was a man whose hands were soaked with blood. He was a man who called for the Palestinians and other Arabs to have nuclear weapons to destroy Israel.  He was responsible for the Pan Am 103 bombing in December 1988 that killed 270 people, including 35 of my fellow Syracuse University students who were on that flight. He was also a man who called himself the “King of kings” — has been brought to justice. Now, in death, he knows the truth: that Jesus Christ is the King of kings and Lord of lords. As an evangelical Christian, I will pray for his family and colleagues, that the Lord would comfort and console them and that they would repent of their sins and receive Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord.

Now there are new concerns: Will Libyan people — so badly oppressed for so many years — truly be set free, or enslaved by leaders as bad or worse than Gaddafi? Where is Libya headed next? Will the rebels ally themselves with the West, or with the Radical jihadists of Iran, Sudan and al Qaeda? The mullahs in Tehran have been seizing the initiative and moving strategically in recent months to exploit the chaos in Libya and build an alliance with the rebels. They are eager to build an anti-American, anti-Israeli coalition throughout the Middle East and North Africa to lay the groundwork for an Islamic caliphate. What’s more, the mullahs in Tehran believe the fall of leaders in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt are prophetic signs that the Twelfth Imam’s arrival is soon, as explained in the Iranian documentary film, “The Coming Is Upon Us,” released earlier this year.
Below, I’ve posted some articles from the past several months showing how systematically Tehran has been involved in making sure Libya falls Iran’s way, not America’s or NATO’s. These are stories worth tracking more closely.

At the same time, followers of Jesus Christ now need to do everything possible to get the Gospel into Libya. Christians should use satellite television, radio broadcasting, the Internet, social networking tools and “boots on the ground” to get the Bible’s message of hope, freedom and salvation through Jesus Christ alone into the country, and do everything possible to strengthen the persecuted believers there and plant new church congregations. As I wrote earlier this year, the government of Libya will eventually play a distinctly evil role in the End Times, according to several Bible prophecies. We don’t know how much time we have until the Lord returns, so we must use this time of unrest to advance the Kingdom of Christ courageously and wisely. [FLASHBACK: Bible Prophecy and the Future of Libya]


National Review Online publishes a variation of my new column, “Media Should Press GOP Candidates on Iran.”

CNN’S ANDERSON COOPER FAILS TO ASK GOP CANDIDATES ABOUT RISING IRAN THREAT: But it is time for the GOP candidates to tell us how they will neutralize Iran

How would Republicans neutralize Iran threat? (photo credit: Richard Brian, Reuters)

The Iranian threat to U.S. and Israeli national security is a paramount issue facing the American people. A new bipartisan poll by Democrat Pat Caddell and Republican John McLaughlin released last month shows 63% of Americans regard Iran as the most serious threat to our country, ahead of China and North Korea. What’s more, 78% of Americans believe President Obama’s policies “will fail” when it comes to preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Yet CNN’s Anderson Cooper failed to ask a single question about the Islamic Republic at the CNN Western Republican Presidential Debate in Las Vegas on Tuesday night. Why not? It is time for the GOP candidates to tell us how they would protect America and our allies from Iran.

Clearly the Iran threat — and the mullahs’ audacity — is growing. Consider the latest headlines:

The Obama administration, however, seems unwilling or unable to develop a comprehensive and serious approach towards stopping Iran’s mullahs in their tracks before it’s too late. This is precisely why I wrote my new political thriller, The Tehran Initiative, to encourage the American people to imagine the chilling implications of the Iran threat and to imagine a world in which the U.S. and our NATO allies don’t take decisive action to neutralize Iran’s nuclear program and terror infrastructure. What could happen if the West waits too long and Iran does, in fact, get the Bomb? Would Iran attach nuclear warheads to ballistic missiles and fire them at the U.S. and Israel? Would Iran give nuclear warheads to terrorists and smuggle such bombs inside the U.S. to annihilate several American cities and decapitate our government? Or would Israel launch a preemptive military strike against Iran so as to thwart a Second Holocaust? And if so, would Washington back up Israel, our most faithful ally in the Middle East, or cut her loose?

These are critical questions. Unfortunately, they are not fictional. They are real and pressing. Yet CNN ignored all of them last night.

The good news is that several of the GOP candidates did reference the Iran threat on their own at the CNN debate in Las Vegas:

  • Governor Rick Perry: “That is the way to shut that border down, to secure that border, and really make America safe from individuals, like those Iranians that are using the drug cartels to penetrate this country.
  • Rep. Michele Bachmann: “This was an historic week when it came to American foreign policy. We saw potentially an international assassination attempt from Iran on American soil. That says something about Iran, that they disrespect the United States so much, that they would attempt some sort of heinous act like that….This is how disrespected the United States is in the world today, and it’s because of President Obama’s failed policies. He’s taken his eyes off the number one issue in the world. That’s an Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon. That makes all of us in much danger. And the president of Iran is a genocidal maniac. We need to stand up against Iran.”
  • Sen. Rick Santorum: “As Michele said and correctly said, the central threat right now is Iran. The disrespect, yes, but it’s more than that. They sent a message. The two countries that they went after was the leader of the Islamic world, Saudi Arabia, and the leader of the, quote, “secular world,” the United States. This was a call by Iran to say we are the ones who are going to be the supreme leader of the Islamic world, and we are going to be the supreme leader of the secular world. And that’s why they attacked here. And, by the way, they did it in coordination with Central and South Americans, which I have been talking about and writing about and talking about for 10 years.”

The bad news is that Mr. Cooper did not press each of the candidates on the Iran issue. This was a dereliction of duty on the part of Mr. Cooper.

Let me restate, therefore, what I’ve been saying in recent days during interviews on the Sean Hannity show, Fox News Channel, the Christian Broadcasting Network, and other interviews. Each of the Republican candidates for President need to be asked to clearly and directly answer the following questions:

  1. As President of the United States, what specific actions would you take to stop Iran from obtaining and deploying nuclear weapons?
  2. If you had intelligence that Iran was on the verge of building operational nuclear weapons, would your administration support an Israeli preemptive military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities?
  3. Would you as President seriously consider ordering a preemptive strike by U.S. military forces to neutralize the Iran nuclear threat?

I am encouraged that The Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute and CNN have just announced a debate focused on foreign policy issues on November 15th. This is a move in the right direction. Yet one minute answers and thirty second rebuttals in these debate formats alone will not suffice. Each of the candidates need to deliver major foreign policy address in the coming days focusing on the Iran issue.

Several of the candidates have made reference to Iran in recent speeches, but they have not laid out detailed thinking. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney recently delivered a foreign policy address in South Carolina in which he asked, “Will Iran be a fully activated nuclear weapons state, threatening its neighbors, dominating the world’s oil supply with a stranglehold on the Strait of Hormuz?” Gov. Romney further stated, “In the hands of the ayatollahs, a nuclear Iran is nothing less than an existential threat toIsrael.Iran’s suicidal fanatics could blackmail the world.” He noted that he would “begin discussions with Israel to increase the level of our military assistance and coordination” and would “reiterate that Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon is unacceptable.” However, he did not specifically discuss how he would stopIran from getting the Bomb and sponsoring terrorist attacks.

Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman went further in a recent foreign policy address in New Hampshire. Calling Iran “the transcendent challenge of the next decade,” he signaled support for a U.S.preemptive strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities, saying, “I cannot live with a nuclear-armed Iran. If you want an example of when I would use American force, it would be that.” He, too, spoke of his support of Israel, but he did not lay out any specific principles or policies to deal with Iran, even while calling for a rapid withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan,Iran’s neighbor to the East.

Businessman Herman Cain has soared into the top tier of presidential candidates with a bold pro-growth tax simplification plan, but he has spoken little of foreign policy. He has identified Iran as one of America’s most serious national security threats, and been his clear about his strong support for Israel. Drawing on his experience as a civilian contractor for the U.S. Navy working on ballistic missile projects years ago, Cain has rightly called for enhanced missile defenses to blunt an Iranian nuclear threat. “I would make it a priority to upgrade all of our Aegis surface-to-air ballistic missile defense capabilities of all of our warships, all the way around the world,” Cain told the Values Voters Summit in D.C. earlier this month. “Make that a priority, and then say to [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad, ‘Make my Day.’” His instincts are right, but missile defenses alone, of course, are insufficient to neutralize the Iranian threat. Yet Cain has not addressed the issue with more specificity.

Few of the GOP candidates better understand the Iranian threat — and the dangerous End Times theology of the current Iranian leadership which is preparing for the coming of the so-called Shia messiah known as the Twelfth Imam — than former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum. Thus far, however, he has not made an Iran policy a major element of his campaign. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Rep. Michele Bachmann, and Governor Rick Perry have not discussed the issue in detail, though certainly they understand the dangers.

Only Rep. Ron Paul among the Republican contenders doesn’t grasp the seriousness of the twin Iranian threats of terrorism and nuclear weapons. “Many are hysterical about the imminent threat of a nuclear Iran,” Rep. Paul has written. “One can understand why they [the mullahs] might want to become nuclear capable if only to defend themselves and to be treated more respectfully…. If Iran was attempting to violate the Non-Proliferation Treaty, they could hardly be blamed, since U.S. foreign policy gives them every incentive to do so.” The Congressman opposes economic sanctions on Iran. He opposes U.S. preemptive strikes on Iran. Indeed, Paul has indicated he does not have a problem with Iran acquiring nuclear weapons because he doesn’t think the mullahs in Tehran would actually use such weapons against their enemies. What’s more, he has stated that he would not come to Israel’s defense if Iran fired nuclear weapons at the Jewish state.
Last night’s debate in Nevada was a missed opportunity to press the GOP candidates to explain more fully their approach to Iran. But it is time for the GOP candidates to step up and tell us in more detail how they would handle this most critical of foreign policy issues.

“THE TEHRAN INITIATIVE” HITS BOOK STORES: Audio of Sean Hannity launch interview calling for President and GOP candidates to offer decisive plans to neutralize Iran threat

Now available in bookstores and online.

>> Israelis rejoice at homecoming of Gilad Shalit

>> View new interview on the Christian Broadcasting Network on The Tehran Initiative

With the Iran nuclear and terrorism threat rising and dominating headlines in recent weeks, my new political thriller, The Tehran Initiative, hits book stores today. It’s available in hardcover, on audio, and on e-books like Kindle and Nook. The first interview I did on this media tour was with Sean Hannity — to listen to the audio, please click here.

In the interview, Sean and I discussed the similarities between the fictional elements of the novel and current events, how Shia End Times theology is driving Iranian foreign policy, and the contrast between the beliefs of Iran’s senior leaders with Biblical End Times theology. I also urged the GOP candidates to develop comprehensive, specific, principled policies to neutralize the Iran threat, and discuss these plans during the debates and in major policy addresses. It is time for President Obama to completely overhaul his Iran policy, as well, though at the moment that doesn’t seem likely. The West needs to wake up to the gravity of the Iran threat and take decisive action before it’s too late. That’s why I wrote this novel. This will be my message through the book tour. But honestly my concern is that the world will not take decisive action, Iran will get the Bomb, and Tehran will unleash attacks of biblical proportions. Let us pray these fears are not realized.

BOOK TOUR MEDIA SCHEDULE first few days; all times eastern and subject to change; more to come:

  • Sean Hannity radio show, nationally syndicated (Fri, Oct 14, 15 min)
  • Fox News Channel (Sun, Oct 16, one segment)
  • American Family Radio, nationally syndicated (Mon, Oct 17, 11:15am, 45 min)
  • Jim Bohannon radio show, nationally syndicated (Mon, Oct 17, 11pm, one hour)
  • ABC Family/CBN “700 Club” (Tues, Oct 18, 9:05am, one segment; will be rebroadcast; check local listings)
  • Dennis Miller radio show, nationally syndicated (Tues, Oct 18, 11:34, 10 min)
  • Frank Gaffney radio show , national syndicated (Tues, Oct 18, 1:00pm, 15 min)
  • America’s Radio News Network, nationally syndicated (Tues, Oct 18, 3:35pm, 10 min)
  • Chuck Wilder radio show, nationally syndicated (Tues, Oct 18, 4:05pm, 25 min)
  • Rusty Humphries radio show, WGST-Atlanta (Tues, Oct 18, 4:35pm, 20 min)
  • Janet Parshall radio show, nationally syndicated (Tues, Oct 18, 6:30pm, 25 min)



Gilad Shalit speaks with his family by phone moments after being released Tuesday. (photo credit: Reuters)

Millions of Israelis are rejoicing today after one of their beloved sons has been returned home after being held hostage for more than five years by the Hamas terrorist group. IDF soldier Gilad Shalit was released Tuesday in a deal brokered by Egypt. He had been held by Hamas for a horrifying 1,941 days after being captured on June 25, 2006 in an attack that triggered the Second Lebanon War. The deal is not without controversy, however. Israel has released 477 Palestinian prisoners in the first swap, and will ultimately release more than 1,000. Some have been involved in deadly attacks on Israeli citizens and not a few Israelis are deeply concerned these terrorists will be back to capture, torture and kill more Israelis soon.

Those issues will be debated in the weeks ahead, but today is truly a day to rejoice. The Joshua Fund has been encouraging evangelical Christians around the world to pray for the Lord to protect Gilad’s physical, spiritual and emotional health and praying that the Lord would set him free — and pray for the Lord to comfort and strengthen his family and friends — all this time. Today, we are rejoicing with the nation of Israel that the God of Israel is a prayer-hearing and prayer-answering God, a wonder-working God. We’re also praying for the protection of all Israelis in the days and months ahead and for wisdom for the Prime Minister and his security advisors.

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners, yo proclaim the favorable year of the Lord and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn.” (Isaiah 61:1-2)