First, the President believes his policies are working to prevent Iran from advancing its highly-dangerous nuclear program. “Our diplomacy is at work with respect to Iran, where, for the first time in a decade, we’ve halted the progress of its nuclear program and reduced its stockpile of nuclear material,” the President declared.
Second, the President believes that a truly good and effective diplomatic deal with Iran is not only possible but within reach. “Between now and this spring, we have a chance to negotiate a comprehensive agreement that prevents a nuclear-armed Iran, secures America and our allies — including Israel, while avoiding yet another Middle East conflict,” he told the Joint Session of Congress and the nation.
Third, the President vehemently opposes any effort by Congress to impose new economic sanctions on Iran in order to increase the pressure on Iranian leaders to give up their nuclear-weapons ambitions. “New sanctions passed by this Congress, at this moment in time, will all but guarantee that diplomacy fails — alienating America from its allies; making it harder to maintain sanctions; and ensuring that Iran starts up its nuclear program again,” Mr. Obama insisted. “It doesn’t make sense. And that’s why I will veto any new sanctions bill that threatens to undo this progress.”
The President is wrong on each and every point — the President hasn’t halted Iran’s nuclear progress, the Iranians have made it clear repeatedly they have no intention of signing an agreement giving up their nuclear program, and the only hope for a peaceful settlement of this issue is torqueing up economic sanctions to try to force Iran to give up its program.
The Washington Post fact-checked the President’s speech and gave him “three Pinocchios” for saying his policies have “halted the progress” of Iran’s nuclear program. “Words have consequences, especially in a State of the Union address,” noted the Post. “The president could have claimed that we’ve slowed the progress of its nuclear program and reduced its stockpile of the most dangerous nuclear material.’ But instead he choose to make sweeping claims for which there is little basis. Thus he earns Three Pinocchios.” The Post noted that Iranian uranium enrichment has continued to grow every year Mr. Obama has been in office. Iran now has enough nuclear material to produce eight atomic bombs. (see chart)
Ten Democrat Senators sent the President a letter on Tuesday, January 27th, saying they fully support a new sanctions bill and want the President to sign it. “We remain deeply skeptical that Iran is committed to making the concessions required to demonstrate to the world that its nuclear program is exclusively peaceful by March 24 – the deadline agreed upon for a political framework agreement,’ the Senators wrote. “Considering Iran’s history in nuclear negotiations and after two extensions of the Joint Plan of Action, we are concerned that Iran is intentionally extending the negotiations to improve its leverage at the negotiating table….We are Democratic supporters of the Iran Nuclear Weapon Free Act of 2015 – a bill that would impose sanctions on Iran…if Iran fails to reach a comprehensive agreement by the June 30 deadline….We believe that this bill, as introduced, is reasonable and pragmatic, respects the nuclear negotiating timeline, and sends a strong signal to Iran and to the international community that endless negotiations under the interim agreement are dangerous, unacceptable, and could leave Iran with a threshold nuclear weapon capability.”
There is a growing sense on Capitol Hill that Democrats support this sanctions bill, and that even if the President vetoes it, there may be 67 votes to override his veto. Republicans have 54 votes in the Senate and they seem unified at this point (though Sen. Rand Paul has not been good on this issue in the past). The GOP would then need 13 Democrat votes. With ten having signed the letter to the President, only three more would be needed. Senator Bob Menendez, the New Jersey Democrat who is a co-author of the bill, says a vote should be taken soon if Iranian leaders drag their feet and aren’t willing to sign a serious deal. What’s more, he told reporters that if a vote is held at the right time, “I believe it would have broad bipartisan support.” As one reporter put it: “The 18-4 committee vote suggests there may be the 67 required votes in the chamber to overturn a veto.”
The President refusal to increase pressure on Iran is precisely why he opposes Netanyahu addressing a Joint Session of Congress on March 3rd — but it is a patently hypocritical position given that the President just deployed British PM David Cameron to lobby Members of Congress to vote against new sanctions. Consider this articlethat explains how the President is working to sabotage the sanctions bill.
The President does not understand the gathering storm that is building in Iran. He is enraged by Mr. Netanyahu, not by a Radical Islamic power building nuclear weapons capability. Let us pray his eyes are opened soon. The stakes are very high.
Screen shot of new ISIS video (source: MEMRI/Daily Mail)
(Naples, Florida) — Iran’s radical Shia leaders are moving closer and closer to building nuclear weapons and the long-range missiles to hit the U.S., Europe, Israel and our Arab allies.
Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorists just this week attacked, killed and wounded Israelis on the Lebanon border.
Meanwhile, the ISIS threat is growing. They have doubled their territory in Syria, are threatening to behead a Jordanian pilot and a Japanese man, and in a newly released video, ISIS threatens to “reach America” and behead President Obama in the White House. (Please for these hostages to be released quickly and safely. Pray, too, for Jordanian and Japanese leaders to know how best to resolve the situation.)
What’s more, a new Fox News poll finds that 84% of Americans fear ISIS will soon launch terrorist attacks inside the United States. This is an increase of 10 points from a recent survey we conductedfinding 74% fear “catastrophic terrorist attacks” by ISIS inside the U.S. if we don’t take decisive action to stop them.
Yet, the big news this week is that the President Obama and his senior advisors at the White House are livid at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer. A senior White House advisor recently called Netanyahu a “chickensh–.” The President and his team are “outraged” not at the Islamic Radicals who threaten our country and our allies — Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, etc — but at Israel’s leader for accepting Speaker John Boehner’s invitation to address a Joint Session of Congress on March 3 to discuss the existential threat posed by Iran, ISIS and Radical Islam.
This is both surreal and dangerous. The Obama administration fundamentally misunderstands the nature and threat of evil. They are acting as if Israel and her leaders pose a greater threat to peace in the Middle East than Iran or ISIS. And if this administration does not change course, America is going to be blindsided by threats our leaders don’t see coming.
A new poll we conducted for the release of The Third Target indicates many Americans think the President is going to turn against Israel in his last two years in office. This week’s behavior by the President reinforces those fears.
The McLaughlin & Associates polling firm asked 1,000 likely American voters the following question: “Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: ‘For the past six years, President Obama’s relationship with Israel has been strained at best. He and his advisors don’t simply disagree with Israeli policies. They seem to have a visceral dislike for the Israel’s leaders. Recently, a senior White House official used a vulgar term to describe the Prime Minister of Israel to a reporter. I believe we are watching a train wreck in U.S.-Israeli relations, and after the mid-term elections – when the President no longer faces elections — I am worried that President Obama will abandon Israel and turn U.S. policy harshly against her’?”
14.2% don’t know/refused to answer
Let’s be clear:
Speaker Boehner was absolutely right to invite Israel’s Prime Minister to address Congress and the nation about the threat Radical Islam poses to America, Israel, our Arab allies and Western civilization and what we all need to do to protect ourselves.
As an expert in battling Radical Islam and the leader of our most trusted ally in the Middle East, Mr. Netanyahu was absolutely right to accept this invitation.
The Speaker should have properly notified the President in keeping with established protocol, and Israel’s Ambassador should have discussed the speech with Secretary Kerry.
But the repeated efforts by this administration over the past six years to belittle, dismiss, ignore, undermine and at times humiliate the State of Israel, her people, her leaders, and her legitimate security concerns are appalling and indefensible.
No wonder Americans fear the President will completely turn against Israel over the next two years.
President Obama is playing with fire. When it comes to Israel and the Jewish people, the God of the Bible says very clearly, “I will bless those who bless you, and those who curse you I will curse.” (Genesis 12:1-3) The Lord is warning individuals, nations and leaders that they will be held accountable for how they treat His Chosen People. America is in enough trouble already. Now is no time to turn against Israel. The President may not be facing the voters again. But he will face God. Let us pray Mr. Obama softens his heart and becomes a great friend and ally of Israel — and soon.
A NEWS STORY SEEMINGLY RIPPED FROM THE PAGES OF THE THIRD TARGET:
“Islamic State militants have threatened to behead Barack Obama and turn the U.S. into a Muslim province in the latest gruesome video to emerge from their self-styled caliphate,” reports the U.K. Daily Mail. “The footage shows a black-clad jihadist standing over a Kurdish soldier who, in a sickening climax to the video, has his head cut off.”
“Before the hostage is executed, the ISIS fighter warns the U.S. president: ‘Know, oh Obama, that we will reach America. Know also that we will cut off your head in the White House and transform America into a Muslim province.'”
My visit to the Nazi death camp in southern Poland led me to write “The Auschwitz Escape.”
(Naples, Florida) — Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Today is the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death campin southern Poland. Indeed, this year marks 70 years since the defeat of the Nazi reign of terror, the end of World War II, and the end of the Holocaust that led to the systematic murder of six million Jews.
Let us take some time today — and throughout this year — to remember the horrors of what really happened. Let each of us take time to remember the heroes who fought the Nazis and survived and won the war. Let us also consider lessons learned from that darkest of eras in human history, and recommit ourselves to never letting it happen again.
In November of 2011, I had the opportunity to tour Auschwitz with several friends. The experience marked me forever.
Here is a short video of my time at Auschwitz, produced my oldest son, Caleb, for The Joshua Fund. It runs a little less than five minutes. I hope you’ll take a few moments to watch it and to share it with others, especially today.
Here, too, is a link to the historical novel I published in the spring of 2014, The Auschwitz Escape. I hope you and your family will take some time to read it and discuss it.
I did not go to Poland planning to write a book. But as many of you know, I became so deeply fascinated in the lives of four Jewish men, true heroes, who actually escaped from Auschwitz, against all odds. I became intrigued with how they did it, and with their burning passion to escape not simply to save their own lives, but to risk all to tell the world — including FDR and Churchill — what was really happening there, and to plead with the world to take decisive action to liberate the camps and end the nightmare. Without question, these were the greatest escapes in human history.
In November, after teaching on Bible prophecy and God’s love for Israel and the Jewish people at a wonderful, pro-Israel evangelical church in Germany, I had the opportunity to travel to Krakow, Poland with the pastor of that church and his wife, and a dear pastor friend from the U.S., and his wife. Together, the five of us spent a day touring the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camps not far from Krakow. None of us had ever been there before. None of us will ever forget the experience. More than 1.3 million prisoners were brought to the camps by the Nazis during World War II. Of those, 1.1 million were exterminated in the gas chambers and the crematoria. One million were Jews. So many of them were children.
It is difficult to describe my emotions as a Jewish person as I stood inside one of the Nazi gas chambers. Or walked through rooms filled with enormous glass cases filled with human hair. And glasses. And shoes. And suitcases from all over Europe. How can one explain the inexplicable? With the help of my eldest son, Caleb, I’ve produced this short video report from Auschwitz to share with you, at least, some of the images that my colleagues and I saw at the camps. At the end of the video, you’ll also see an excerpt of a speech that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered in 2010. He said that the prophecies of Ezekiel 37 regarding the “Valley of the Dry Bones” were fulfilled during the Holocaust and the subsequent resurrection of the State of Israel. I couldn’t agree more. I hope you’ll take a moment to watch the video and encourage your friends and family to watch it as well.
My time at Auschwitz raised many sobering questions. Among them: Why was the world silent for so long? Why didn’t the U.S. and the allies take decisive action to stop Hitler before it was nearly too late? Why didn’t the Church do more to rescue Jews? As difficult as these questions are to answer, more difficult still are these: Why is much of the world largely silent again today as Radical Muslims in Tehran and elsewhere in the Middle East threaten to annihilate Israel and the Jewish people? Why are the U.S. and our allies refusing to take decisive action now to neutralize the Iran nuclear threat before it’s too late?
That said, I am glad to be able to report some good news: More and more Christians are repenting for the Church’s sins against the Jewish people in the past. The Church is mobilizing today to bless Israel and the Jewish people in ways that to her shame she did not in the 1930s and 1940s. More followers of Jesus Christ are hearing and heeding the call to learn, pray, give and go to the work of the Lord and caring for Holocaust survivors today than ever before. More Christians are helping persecuted Jews immigrate to Israel than ever before. More Christians are helping to feed and clothe the poor and needy in Israel than ever before. More Christians are visiting the Holy Land and meeting Israelis and learning about the past, present, and the future of the Promised Land and the Chosen people than ever before. Not all. And not enough. But more than ever. This is good, but more must be done. Evil is rising once again. Israel faces existential threats. The world is increasingly turning a blind eye to the fate of the Jews. Now evangelical Christians are the best friends that Israel and the Jewish people have. We cannot undo the past. But we can ask the Lord to forgive us and ask Him for the courage to be faithful to the Scriptures and to the Jewish people in the times in which we live. We can bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus, according to Genesis 12:1-3. We can show unconditional love and unwavering support, come what may. This is the heart of The Joshua Fund. That’s what our work is all about. And visiting Auschwitz was another powerful reminder to me personally that this work is more vital and urgent than ever.
As 2011 ends, therefore, I see the gathering storm on the horizon, but I am not frightened or discouraged. I know the God of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps. I know He is moving powerfully. I know the Lord is taking what man meant for evil and turning it for good. Indeed, the Lord is moving powerfully to care for His people, Israel, and turn their hearts back to Him and His Word. And for this reason I rejoice. I look forward to 2012. I’m determined to stay the course, and I hope and pray that you will be, too.
“Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel; behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope has perished. We are completely cut off.’ Therefore prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God, Behold, I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves, My people; and I will bring you into the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves and caused you to come up out of your graves, My people. I will put My Spirit within you and you will come to life, and I will place you on your own land. Then you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken and done it,” declares the Lord.’”(Ezekiel 37:11-14)
Pastor Greg Laurie and I discuss the future of America, Israel and the threat of Radical Islam.
(Riverside, California) — It pains me to say it but I believe it is true. U.S.-Israeli relations are heading for a train wreck.
At one end of Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., the leaders of Congress have invited the Prime Minister of Israel to address a Joint Session of Congress, and the American people, in early March. These leaders want to hear from the Prime Minister on how we can best work together to protect ourselves from the growing and grave threat of Radical Islam, from crushing ISIS to decisively acting to prevent the mullahs in Iran from building nuclear weapons.
At the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, the President of the United States flat out refuses even to meet with the Israeli Prime Minister.
The Scriptures indicate that eventually every nation will abandon and turn against Israel. We’re not there yet, and we must pray America doesn’t turn against Israel and the Jewish people on our watch. That said, we’ve never seen an American President of either political party as consistently antagonistic towards our faithful ally Israel — and as sympathetic to our enemies like Iran — as we see today.
Russia and Iran have just signed an historic military alliance.
The leader of Saudi Arabia has died.
There’s been a coup in Yemen.
Genocidal conditions are emerging in Syria and Iraq.
Hezbollah is threatening to launch a massive attack on Israel’s northern tier.
Where doe we go from here? Just how serious is the threat of Radical Islam to America, Israel and our Arab allies? What is the true State of the Union — is it “strong,” as the President maintains? What does the future hold? And does Bible prophecy give us an guidance?
This weekend, it was an honor to speak at Harvest, one of the most influential evangelical church congregations in the U.S. Pastor Greg Laurie interviewed me about my new novel, The Third Target, why I wrote it, and what l see facing the U.S., Israel and the broader Middle East. Then I preached a sermon from Ezekiel 33:1-9 that went into more detail about the threats we face and how we are to respond.
I hope you and your family will take some time to watch the message and discuss its implications. Please post your comments on our “Epicenter Team” page on Facebook, and share the message and your thoughts on Twitter and other social media.
(Costa Mesa, California) — “America, for all that we have endured; for all the grit and hard work required to come back; for all the tasks that lie ahead, know this: The shadow of crisis has passed, and the State of the Union is strong.” So began President Obama on Tuesday night in his 2015 State of the Union address to the nation and to a Joint Session of Congress. He was not the first American President to declare the state of the union “strong.” But with all due respect, the President is wrong. When a nation murders 57 million innocent babies, the state of the union is not strong. When a nation overtaxes and overregulates and over burdens the economy and drives manufacturers and other businesses overseas and leaves 92 million Americans out of the labor forcewith no jobs and few prospects to get a good-paying job, the state of the union is not strong. When a nation heaps $18 trillion of national debt on the backs of our children and grandchildren, and keeps creating more and more national debt with no end in sight, the state of the union is not strong. When a leader says, “no challenge — no challenge — poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change,”the state of the union is not strong. When a leader ignores the rising and existential threat of Radical Islam, the state of the union is not strong. When a leader does not take decisive action to neutralize the Iranian nuclear threat, the state of the union is not strong. When a leader does not take decisive action to crush terrorist movements like al Qaeda and ISIS, and refuses to even mention “Islam” or “Islamism” or “Radical Islam” or even “al Qaeda” is his address to the nation, the state of the union is not strong. When the leader of the free world cannot see the gathering storm — and believes that “leading from behind” is true leadership in a world that is dark and getting darker — the state of the union is not strong. My goal in saying this is not to score partisan political points. Rather, I am deeply concerned about the future of America, and Christian leaders and lay people must speak out. Indeed, at this critical hour, let us consider Ezekiel 33:1-9 and how it applies to us and our times. 1 And the word of the Lord came to me, saying,2 “Son of man, speak to the sons of your people and say to them, ‘If I bring a sword upon a land, and the people of the land take one man from among them and make him their watchman,3 and he sees the sword coming upon the land and blows on the trumpet and warns the people,4 then he who hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, and a sword comes and takes him away, his blood will be on his own head.5 He heard the sound of the trumpet but did not take warning; his blood will be on himself. But had he taken warning, he would have delivered his life.6 But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet and the people are not warned, and a sword comes and takes a person from them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require from the watchman’s hand.’ 7 Now as for you, son of man, I have appointed you a watchman for the house of Israel; so you will hear a message from My mouth and give them warning from Me.8 When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require from your hand.9 But if you on your part warn a wicked man to turn from his way and he does not turn from his way, he will die in his iniquity, but you have delivered your life.” Ezekiel was a Hebrew prophet writing more than 2,500 years ago. He was part of the Jewish people that had been conquered and captured by King Nebuchadnezzar and were now living in the Babylonian Empire. And the Lord came to Ezekiel and called him to be a prophet — to hear the word of the Lord, and then to speak it to the people. In this passage, the Lord says very clearly that He has raised Ezekiel up to be a “watchman” for the people. That is, his responsibility is to see threats and dangers that are approaching with God’s help and insight, and then warn the people about those coming dangers. He is also supposed to warn individuals about their sins, that they might repent of those sins and turn to the Lord with a humble heart for forgiveness. But the Lord tells Ezekiel that it is not simply his job to be a “watchman.” The Lord will raise up and appoint other watchmen over time. And it is the responsibility of such watchmen to see threats and dangers and sins and warn the people, or they will be held to account by the Lord Himself. Christians — and especially Christian pastor and leaders — must be clear-eyed about three grave threats that we face.
The threat that America is not just in a season of decline, but that we face implosion — collapse — outright judgment.
The threat that America and parts of the Church will turn against Israel & the Jewish people.
The threat that Christians in the West will ignore or turn a blind eye to the existential threat posed by Radical Islam to our country, and/or to the barbaric slaughter and terrible persecution of Muslims as well as Arab Christians in the Middle East by Radical Islamic jihadists like Iran, ISIS, Hamas, Hezbollah, etc.
Let’s briefly consider each point in light of Ezkiel’s words. 1. THREAT #1: America is not simply in decline. We are heading for collapse, implosion, judgment. There are many reasons for this, including a massive and crushing national debt with no end in sight, the implosion of families through divorce and out-of-wedlock-birth and the assault on traditional marriage, violent crime, drug use, pornography and so forth. I wrote about this in more detail in my 2012 non-fiction book, Implosion: Can America Recover From Its Economic & Spiritual Challenges In Time?, so I won’t take time here to go into detail. But consider one number: 57 million. America is heading for divine judgment for murdering 57 million unborn children. Several years ago, I had the opportunity to visit Auschwitz, the Nazi death camp in Poland. As I stood in an actual gas chamber that was used to systematically murder so many Jews, political prisoners and others, it was a horrifying experience. I’m Gentile on my mother’s side, and Jewish on my father’s side, and standing there thinking about how the Nazis created these murder factories to kill six million Jews was one of the most painful experiences of my life. But as I stood in that gas chamber, I could not help but think of how my own country, America — a country I love so dearly — has created murder factories to kill millions of people, as well. I was born in 1967. In my lifetime — since 1973 — the American people have legally murdered more than 57 million babies. If this is not stopped soon, we will reach 60 million. Think about that. If we really get to the point that our nation has systematically murdered 60 million human beings, we will have murdered 10 times more people than the Nazis killed of the Jews. Now we know how God judged Germany and the Nazi regime through a crushing defeat in World War II, and we believe that the Nazis deserved such judgment. What do we think is going to happen if continue to murder millions of children? We are going to face the judgment of God. It is extraordinary that it hasn’t happened already. There is hope, but we are running out of time. We could repent as a nation. We could turn from our wicked ways, plead with God and His Son the Lord Jesus Christ to forgive our sins, and plead with Him to heal our land. The Bible says, “If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14) This was specifically a promise given to the nation of Israel in the Old Testament. But it is a principle we can apply today. We could plead with God for forgiveness, and He could grant it. He could give us a sweeping series of revivals that could culminate in a Third Great Awakening, with hundreds of millions of Americans — beginning with the Church — repenting of our sins, turning to Christ, praying, fasting, reading God’s Word and seeking to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit. This is possible. There is hope. But again, we are running out of time. But let’s be clear: Without a revival, we are on the road to implosion. Indeed, the threat of implosion is far beyond what the next President or Congress can solve alone — we desperately need a Third Great Awakening. Will you and I faithfully teach and preach the word of God to the nation? Will America hear the word of the Lord that we have strayed far from the teachings of the Bible and allowed our land to become polluted with abortions and pornography and violence and wickedness of all kinds? Will we admit how far we are from God’s plan and purpose for our lives? Will we confess that our hearts are far from Jesus Christ and plead with the Lord for His mercy and grace and forgiveness? Will we fast and pray and earnestly seek God’s face, and implore Christ to give us a Third Great Awakening? Or will we ignore the word of the Lord and continue in our sins and watch our nation continue to decline, or even implode? Twice in American history we have seen sweeping spiritual revivals known as the Great Awakening and the Second Great Awakening, respectively. Millions of Americans repented of their sins during those seasons, became devout followers of Jesus Christ, began to read the Bible voraciously and to obey the word of the Lord. Nowhere in Scripture, however, has America been promised a spiritual revival in the 21st century, much less one that would be so sweeping, so game-changing that it would qualify as a Third Great Awakening. But who knows? Perhaps the Lord will show us tremendous mercy and forgiveness if we all humble ourselves and pray, and seek His face, and turn from our wicked ways? 2. THREAT #2: What happens if — on top of all our nation’s challenges and sins — America abandons or turns against Israel? In Genesis 12, the Lord God chooses Abram, calls him out of Ur of the Chaldees (located in modern-day Iraq, 220 miles southeast of Baghdad) to go to “a land that I will show you,” which turns out to be the land later called Israel. The Lord promises to bless Abram, and through him bless “all the families of the earth.” Specifically in 12:3, the Lord says, “I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” As one reads through the rest of the book of Genesis, it becomes clear that this promise from God is passed down from Abram (who is later named Abraham) to Isaac to Jacob (later named Israel) and then to Jacob’s descendants, Israel and the Jewish people. Thus, the Lord is making clear that those who bless Israel and the Jewish people He will bless, and those who curse them He will curse. If America turns against or abandons Israel and the Jews after being their closest friend and ally for so many decades, God warns He will bring judgment upon us. Psalm 122:6-9 — This passage reads, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: ‘May they prosper who love you. May peace be within your walls, and prosperity within your palaces.’ For the sake of my brothers and my friends, I will now say, ‘May peace be within you.’ For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your good.” Clearly, people all over the world, including in America, need to:
pray for peace in Jerusalem, Israel and the broader Middle East
pray for Jews and Arabs in the epicenter
love Jews and Arabs in the epicenter
seek the good of Jews and Arabs in the epicenter
The Lord promises to bless and “prosper” those who do. 3. THREAT #3: What if Americans and our leaders ignore the gathering storm — the existential threat — posed by Radical Islam? What if the Church does, too? God forbid. Even if Washington is slow to understand or act, followers of Jesus Christ who love America, and love Israel, and understand the Word of God must not ignorant of the threat against us, nor be blind to the suffering in the Arab, Iranian, and Muslim world, nor deaf to their cries for help, nor dull to the terror and tyranny they face. We are witnessing a Radical Islamic offensive across the Mideast, from Gaza to Syria to Iraq. Leaders in Washington and across the world have been slow to see, and slow to act. But the Church must step up. We serve the King of glory. Our King was born in the epicenter. He died and rose again in the epicenter. He is coming back to the epicenter — and He’s coming soon. So we must pray for our President and leaders to wake up to the threat and protect us before it’s too late. At the same time, we must pray for help our brothers and sisters who are being persecuted in the Middle East. And we must show Christ’s love and compassion to Jews, Muslims and Christians in the epicenter. We need to LEARN about what is happening in the region and God’s plan and purpose for the people there. We need to PRAY for peace and healing and stability and calm in the region, and for open doors for the Gospel. We need to GIVE to ministries that are doing effective work in the region, ministries like The Joshua Fund. We also need to be willing to GO to the region if God sends us there to serve Him and serve the people in the name of Jesus. Is this hard? Yes. Is this dangerous? Sometimes. But Jesus laid down His life in love to save us. Will you and I lay down our lives in love to serve Him? When people and nations are in danger, will you and I blow the trumpet and sound the warning? Overall, most Americans are very supportive of Israel and find many ways to love and bless her, as well as the Arabs and others in Israel and the Middle East. This is good. But there are a growing number of voices who say it is time to:
cut off military aid to Israel
divest from Israel
turn against Israel once and for all
ignore the persecuted church in the Middle East as the darkness grows darker
and/or ignore the Arab Christians and Arab Muslims and Kurds and Yazidis and others while they are being threatened and slaughtered
Some do so because of anti-Semitism or anti-Arabism, others out of a belief in isolationism, and others because of ignorance. Given the high stakes, one of the things we need to do is teach people about God’s love and plan and purpose for Israel and the Jewish people, and why this matters to America. We need to help more people — including our leaders and future leaders — understand why America’s fate is inextricably linked with how we treat Israel and the Jewish people, as well as her neighbors. We also need to teach people that God loves Israel’s neighbors and her enemies and we must, too. If a nation follows these Biblical principles — if they humble themselves, and seek God earnestly through His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, and read the Bible, and repent of their sins, and plead for God’s mercy, and if they choose wise and godly leaders to govern them, and if they love and bless Israel and the Jewish people, and do not divide the land of Israel, and love and pray for Jews and Arabs in Jerusalem and seek their good — then God will love and bless and show mercy to such a nation. But if a nation violates these principles — especially chronically and consistently — then there will be a day of reckoning. This is a sobering message. But in faithfulness to Ezekiel 33:1-9, we must lovingly and clearly warn people that the state of our union is not strong — we are in grave danger — and only by turning to the Lord do we have any real and lasting hope. ————— Must read: “The Spiritual State of our Union” by Pastor Ronnie Floyd, president of the Southern Baptist Convention —————-
(Costa Mesa, California) — Are we heading towards another war between Israel and Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed terror movement in Lebanon? Tensions are rapidly rising. Israeli intelligence indicates that Iran and Hezbollah have been planning a series of major attacks against civilians along Israel’s northern border. Now, Israel appears to have taken pre-emptive action, killing an Iranian general and several of his top operatives in an airstrike. Iran and Hezbollah are vowing revenge.
If that weren’t troubling enough, Russia and Iran have just signed a dramatic military agreement that bodes ill for Israel and the epicenter, something I have been writing and warning about for many years.
I’m here in Costa Mesa today and will be speaking here Wednesday evening as part of The Third Target book tour. But here are the stories I’m tracking today:
Iran on Monday promised that Hezbollah would deliver “crushing response” to the Israeli attack over the weekend, which killed six Iranian agents, including a top-level commander, and five Hezbollah members.
“The experience of the past shows that the resistance current will give a crushing response to the Zionist regime’s terrorist moves with revolutionary determination and in due time and place,” Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), was quoted as saying.
The Israeli strike came just days after Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah declared that the terror group was preparing for a war in Israel’s northern Galilee region.
It also occurred just a week after Iranian military leaders announced that they are operating missile sites in Syria, which potentially include a nuclear facility.
Senior Iranian and Hezbollah commanders were likely planning a sophisticated invasion of Israel’s northern border in the weeks before they were killed by an Israeli airstrike over the weekend, according to Major General Eyal Ben Reuven, the former deputy head of the Israeli Defense Forces Northern Command.
The accuracy of Israel’s strike and the high-level nature of those Iranian and Hezbollah commanders killed indicates planning for a militant incursion into Israel’s northern region, according to Reuven, who said the airstrike shows a “very high level of intelligence” on Israel’s part.
The high-level nature of the Iranian and Hezbollah operatives targeted by Israel suggests that an attack on Israel was imminent, according to Reuven, who handled top intelligence in the region during his time serving in the IDF….
“An Israeli strike on Syria killed an Iranian general, Tehran confirmed Monday, as thousands of supporters of Lebanon’s Hezbollah gathered to bury one of six fighters killed in the same raid,” reports Agence France Presse. “The attack on Sunday near Quneitra on the Syrian-controlled side of the Golan Heights enraged Hezbollah’s supporters, but analysts said the group would avoid a major escalation with Israel….”
A source close to Hezbollah said six Iranians had been killed in the attack. Hezbollah told AFP that it was not the source of that toll. Among Hezbollah’s dead was Jihad Mughniyeh, the son of an assassinated commander from the group, and Mohammed Issa, a commander responsible for Hezbollah’s operations in Syria and Iraq….
The strike came days after Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah threatened to retaliate against Israel for its repeated strikes on targets in Syria and boasted the movement was stronger than ever. He touted its sophisticated arsenal, including Fateh-110 missiles, which have a range of 200 kilometres (125 miles) or more and are capable of hitting much of Israel. Analysts said the precision Israeli strike, days after Nasrallah’s bellicose remarks, stood to embarrass Hezbollah. ‘What happened is that the Israelis called Hezbollah’s bluff last night,’ said Hilal Khashan, a professor of political science at the American University in Beirut. But he said Hezbollah’s response was likely to be limited ‘because if it retaliates, it will be another war. Hezbollah is in Syria and it is not ready for another war against Israel.'”
(Dallas, Texas) — This weekend I’m in Dallas giving an address on “The Gathering Storm: The Future of America and the Middle East.” I hope to post audio and video of this message soon.
For now, however, I just want to post a quick note to say thank you so much to each and everyone of you who are reading The Third Target, telling your friends about the book, talking about it on social media, and posting your reviews on Amazon, on other book sites, and on our “Epicenter Team” page on Facebook. With your incredibly generous support, The Third Targethas just hit all of the major best-seller lists in the U.S.
Each publication has a different formula for determining its ranking of best-selling books. Some include e-book sales, while others don’t. Some include children’s books, while others don’t. Some draw data from specific independent book stores, but not others. This accounts for why there are so many different rankings.
That said, I am deeply humbled by the positive reaction to the book, and deeply grateful to all of our loyal fans, as well as to the many new people who are reading my novels for the first time. (I particularly love to get emails and Tweets from those of you who are still up at four and five o’clock in the morning, having been reading the novel all night — sorry to those of you who have to get up to work just a few hours later!)
The threat of Radical Islam is not the only danger Western civilization faces, but it is real and it is growing. And that’s a major reason I write novels, beginning with The Last Jihad in 2001– not simply to entertain but to educate and to warn and even to mobilize people to wake up to the dangers and take action. After all, to misunderstand the nature and threat of evil is to risk being blindsided by it. And evil, unchecked, is the prelude to genocide.
(Dallas, Texas) — Earlier this week, I did an interview with a contributor to The Times of Israel. We discussed The Third Target, the research behind the book, and the growing threat the Islamic State poses both to Israel and to her neighbor, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
By Robert Onley, The Times of Israel, January 17, 2015
With reports indicating that Islamic State militants are managing to gain territory in Iraq and Syria in spite of US and coalition air strikes, the world is witnessing a nightmare scenario unfold across the Middle East: what if the Islamic State simply cannot be stopped?
In New York Times bestselling author Joel C. Rosenberg’s latest novel, The Third Target, this troubling question is examined in serious, careful detail. Known for eerily prescient political thrillers whose plots accurately predicted hijacked airliners attacking the United States, the Iraq War, and the death of Yasser Arafat (among other major geopolitical events), Rosenberg and his books rocketed in popularity over the last fifteen years.
After writing extensively about radical Islam in both fiction and nonfiction, from Sunni jihadists with AK’s to Shia theocrats pursuing nuclear weapons, last year Rosenberg set out to examine whether a terror threat existed that he was not yet aware of, but ought to be.
Helping his investigative efforts, Rosenberg is a former advisor to Prime Minister Netanyahu with an extensive network of friends and officials whom he tapped to explore the question above. In researching The Third Target, Rosenberg met with two former heads of the CIA, R. James Woolsey and Porter Goss, and the former head of the Mossad, Danny Yatom, among many other intelligence officials. Months before the Islamic State, or ISIL, burst onto the international scene, the answers Rosenberg heard separately from these intelligence chiefs were both unanimous and chilling.
“They each were concerned that Al-Qaeda in Iraq was morphing into something new, something more dangerous,” Rosenberg says. In early 2014, while President Obama went on the record claiming that ISIL was merely a “jayvee team” and hardly worth worrying about, Rosenberg stated, “These officials warned me that what kept them up at night was the rise of this Al-Qaeda offshoot, ISIL, and the reality that an Islamist-led overthrow of Jordan was a genuine worst-case scenario and a possibility.”
These foreboding comments prompted Rosenberg to dig further. After more meetings in Washington, he traveled to Jordan, meeting with Jordan’s Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour, Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, and Interior Minister Hussein Al-Majali to discuss regional threats. Mentioning potential plot ideas, including a chemical attack and the risk of an overthrow, Al-Majali responded to Rosenberg, “the King has appointed me to make sure the scenario that you are writing about will never happen in our country. But it is a plausible scenario, and that is the problem.”
After digesting countless intensive interviews with Western and Middle Eastern officials, Rosenberg sat down to write The Third Target, which, soon after the first draft was finished and in light of ISIL’s rapid rise across the Middle East, had its release date pushed up by three months. Published early on January 6th of this year, The Third Target imagines a scenario in which ISIL captures a cache of chemical weapons in Syria, and threatens to deploy them against an unknown city. Rosenberg says,“The question I wanted to ask in this book was, what if ISIL tries to set into motion attacks on a number of targets – and what if one of those targets was Jordan, Israel, or the United States?”
As if the plot was ripped from the headlines and bringing the pages of The Third Target alive, Jordan’s King Abdullah recently stated publicly on CBS News that the battle against ISIL, is, in effect, “our generation’s Third World War.” But in order to stop ISIL and thwart any attempt to attack Jordan, Rosenberg believes that President Obama and the leaders of NATO must view ISIL as “such a significant threat to national security” that the US takes “decisive military action, with no more half measures.”….
I include this as part of a series of columns I’ll be writing about meetings and conversations with potential 2016 presidential candidates. As I noted on Wednesday, in recent years, I have had the opportunity to meet and spend time with, and occasionally build friendships with, a number of potential presidential contenders. The reason I do this is not because I want to be drawn back into partisan politics. Rather, I want to understand their world view by talking with them first-hand, get to know their character and personality, and pray for them. I also want, if possible, to help shape their view of the U.S.-Israel relationship, the threat of Radical Islam — especially Iran and ISIS — and the importance of our Arab allies in the Middle East, such as Jordan and Egypt.
Senator Santorum and I have been friends for many years. We have worked together to warn the nation about “the gathering storm” of Radical Islam. He’s been to our home for dinner and we recently had dinner together with our wives and several good friends. We traveled through Israel during the recent war with Hamas, as the Senator brought a delegation of Christian leaders on a solidarity visit in August. We’ve also written an op-ed together on the Iranian nuclear threat.
I can’t say whether he will run again for President, but after winning 11 states and four million votes in 2012 I know he has a much stronger base of support than most people realize. Whether he runs or not, he has a great deal of experience and wisdom on foreign policy and national security issues, and I believe his voice is an important and needed one.
One area I plan to touch on is the sobering fact that the U.S. strategy to defeat ISIS is not working. To the contrary, ISIS continues to gain ground, recruit new jihadists, and endanger Americans and our allies.
Consider several disturbing stories I’m reading this morning:
FBI arrests Ohio man, foils attack on Capitol (Boston Herald) — “The arrest of an Ohio man for what the FBI called a foiled terror plot to bomb the U.S. Capitol and open fire on members of Congress rattled some lawmakers who said yesterday they only learned of the alleged ISIS-inspired ambush through news reports. Christopher Lee Cornell, 20, who went by the name Raheel Mahrus Ubaydah, was arrested on charges of attempting to kill U.S. government officials and firearm possession yesterday, soon after the alleged homegrown jihadist bought a cache of weapons and ammunition in the Cincinnati area….Cornell was arrested after purchasing two semiautomatic rifles and nearly 600 rounds of ammunition in Ohio in what authorities said was one of the “final steps” leading up to the D.C. attack.”
Excerpts from this particular story in the Journal:
More than three months of U.S. airstrikes in Syria have failed to prevent Islamic State militants from expanding their control in that country, according to U.S. and independent assessments, raising new concerns about President Barack Obama ’s military strategy in the Middle East.
While U.S. bombing runs and missile strikes have put Islamic State forces on the defensive in Iraq, they haven’t had the same kind of impact in Syria. Instead, jihadist fighters have enlarged their hold in Syria since the U.S. started hitting the group’s strongholds there in September, according to the new estimates.
Islamic State’s progress in Syria is partly the result of the U.S. decision to focus its military efforts on Iraq, where the militant group has seized major parts of the country and declared them part of a new Islamic caliphate. The U.S.-led military effort has pushed the forces out of some key battlegrounds in Iraq.
But Syria still serves as a haven for Islamic State fighters, also known in the West by the acronyms ISIS and ISIL.
“Certainly ISIS has been able to expand in Syria, but that’s not our main objective,” said one senior defense official. “I wouldn’t call Syria a safe haven for ISIL, but it is a place where it’s easier for them to organize, plan and seek shelter than it is in Iraq.”
The assessments come as the Obama administration is considering whether the U.S. should embrace more aggressive ideas for containing Islamic State forces in Syria. Some administration officials have been pushing the U.S. to once again rethink its “Iraq-first” strategy and focus more attention on Syria, including training thousands of Syrian fighters to take on the feared group.
Among suggestions: The U.S. military could help set up a buffer zone along Syria’s border with Turkey that would be protected by American air power. It could start coordinating airstrikes with rebel forces currently fighting in Syria. And it could provide Kurdish forces now fighting in Syria with more sophisticated weapons.
But there is significant opposition within the administration to any idea that would drag the U.S. military deeper into a country where few see options that will make things better, officials say….
For now, the U.S. strategy remains focused on pushing Islamic State forces out of Iraq, where they control major parts of the country, including Mosul, its second-largest city, and Fallujah, a longtime stronghold of anti-American resistance northwest of Baghdad.
That focus is likely to be questioned in the coming weeks when the new Republican-controlled Congress holds hearings on Mr. Obama’s strategy in the Middle East. Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.), the new chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is likely to challenge the strategy when he holds a confirmation hearing in early February for Ashton Carter, a longtime Pentagon official who is Mr. Obama’s nominee to be his next defense secretary.
Col. Patrick Ryder, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command, which oversees the Middle East military campaign, said the airstrikes weren’t intended to prevent Islamic State fighters from gaining ground in most of Syria….
“Gaining territorial control in Syria has never been our mission,” he said. “That wasn’t the objective of our airstrikes.”….
The U.S. strategy in Syria is also constrained by a reluctance to tip the balance of power toward Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is fighting Islamic State and other rebels. While the U.S. is working closely with Baghdad against Islamic State, it can’t do the same with Damascus.
The expansion of Islamic State control in Syria isn’t purely the result of conquests. In some cases, competing rebel forces battling Islamic State have been convinced to join forces with them, officials and experts said.
The lack of a decisive strategy by the U.S. and our allies is raising fears among Americans that ISIS will launch “catastrophic terror attacks” here in the homeland.
It’s why I wrote The Third Target and why I’m spending the entire month of January in the U.S., traveling, speaking and doing media to warn of the grave dangers posed by ISIS, Iran, and other Radical Islamists, and why we must wake up to the danger and take decisive action.
To misunderstand the nature and threat of evil is to risk being blindsided by it.
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