(Washington, D.C.) — With events moving so rapidly in Israel and the Islamic world — and a serious and growing rupture between the Obama administration and the government of Israel — it is vital that we truly understand the times, and the future, from a Biblical perspective. What’s more, we need to understand what God is asking of each of us, and be faithful to the task.
On Thursday evening, August 6th, I’ll be speaking on these issues in the Denver, Colorado area. The topic of my address will be, “Israel, Iran & ISIS — What’s Next?” I hope you will join us.
The occasion will be the annual fundraising event for Ministry Architecture, Inc. This is the ministry that my parents (Len and Mary Rosenberg) started around 15 years ago. It provides architectural services at no charge to evangelical Christian ministries operating in developing countries who need orphanages, training centers, medical missionary hospitals, and other facilities to show and share the love of Jesus. Before I speak, my folks will share a bit about the exciting work God is doing through this ministry in various parties of the world, including Africa and Asia. Then I will discuss the latest developments in the epicenter. I’m especially looking forward to your questions as that is my favorite part of the evening.
The event will take place at Calvary Chapel South Denver in Littleton, Colorado, from 7:00pm to 9:15pm. Doors will open at 6:15pm. A contribution of $25 per person is requested to help support Ministry Architecture. Contributions are tax deductible. Registration is required, and you can register at www.ministryarchitecture.com. Please join us — I hope to see you there!
The latest polls show nearly 60% of Americans support the legalization of same-sex marriage. (graphic credit: Five-Thirty-Eight)
(Washington, D.C.) — What are the implications of the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision on Friday to make same-sex marriage a Constitutionally-protected civil right? Is the Court’s decision to change the definition of marriage really such a big deal, or are Christians hyperventilating over the issue for nothing?
Let me walk through four key things Christians ought consider at this critical time.
First, the Supreme Court is overreaching its Constitutional authority, and is thus undermining its own legitimacy and pouring gasoline on a highly-politicized issue that will deeply divide Americans for years to come.
If the Constitution even mentioned the word “marriage,” the Court might theoretically have the right to address the subject. But the word is never mentioned in the text. Thus, the Framers of the Constitution never intended the federal government to define or regulate marriage. The 10th Amendment plainly states that “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” So the issue must be left to the people and the States.
The 14th Amendment does not provide the Court the authority to redefine marriage and cannot be used to create a Constitutional right to a same-sex marriage. “In 1972, in a moment of lucidity, the Supreme Court rejected a 14th Amendment-based appeal on gay marriage,” notes a legal scholar at George Mason University. “The case sprang to life when a gay man attempted to obtain a marriage license in Minnesota. The Supreme Court of Minnesota rejected all of the Constitutional arguments made by the Plaintiff. The U.S. Supreme Court found a ‘want of federal jurisdiction’ in rejecting the appeal.”
Tragically, by overreaching its Constitutional authority, the current Court is undermining its own legitimacy. It is also taking an already-incendiary cultural issue and throwing gasoline on a growing political fire.
Second, the Court’s ruling forces 320 million Americans to embrace overnight a radical reengineering of the entire social compact of marriage that even some of the nation’s most liberal political leaders strongly opposed just a few years ago.
For more than 5,000 years, Judeo-Christian civilization has been built on the definition of marriage as one man and one woman in a sacred compact before God, creating a family that can bear children and raise them with the loving care of a father and a mother. Now, five unelected Justices of the Court are undermining the fundamental building block of healthy, stable Western civilization with no idea what the down-stream implications and ramifications will be.
Third, the Court’s ruling opens the door for a frontal and massive assault on religious liberty. Christians all over the country who hold to the Biblical definition of marriage are beginning to be taken to court and fined — some are even in danger of losing their businesses and their homes — if they do not agree to bake cakes for same-sex weddings, or cater such weddings, or take photographs at such weddings, and so forth. Other Americans are being subjected to government-mandated “sensitivity training” for not helping homosexuals celebrate their lifestyle. Still other Americans are being fired from their jobs for holding and teaching the Biblical principles of marriage.
For example, “the owners of an Oregon bakery learned [in April] that there is a severe price to pay for following their Christian faith,” reported the New York Post. “A judge for the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) recommended a lesbian couple should receive $135,000 in damages for their emotional suffering after Sweet Cakes by Melissa refused to make them a wedding cake. As a result – Aaron and Melissa Klein could lose everything they own — including their home.” (For some other examples, see here, here, here, here and here.)
The assaults on religious freedoms that are happening with growing frequency at the local and state level could now explode at the national level. The First Amendment to the Constitution plainly states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” But the Court’s ruling seems to put the un-enumerated “civil right” of a same-sex marriage above the enumerated right of religious freedom. Thus, the ruling now appears to give the federal government the power to force Christians, Jews and other religious people to embrace, sanction, support and serve same-sex marriage ceremonies — and embrace and support, or at least not oppose, homosexual marriage and lifestyles — or risk being sued or prosecuted for federal civil rights violations.
Those Christians who say, “Let’s live and let live — just let homosexuals marry whomever they want and don’t make such a big deal of this issue,” are, unfortunately, being naïve. Many in the homosexual community — certainly the gay political activists — are not content with the mere legalization of same-sex marriage. They want to force the rest of the country to embrace and support them. Thus, they and their supporters in Washington will likely move aggressively to criminalize the Biblical definition of marriage and to severely penalize those who teach and follow it.
Fourth and most troubling, the Court has acted in direct and brazen defiance of the Word of God — and as painful as it is for me to say it, this will likely accelerate us towards judgment if America does not soon change course.
God, not government, created marriage. Indeed, God defined marriage in the very first book of the Bible (Genesis 2:23-24) as a sacred union between one man and one woman. In the New Testament, the Lord Jesus Christ reaffirmed this Biblical definition of marriage. Jesus said, “‘Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female,and said, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, andthe two shall become one flesh”?So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.'” (Matthew 19:4-6)
Tragically, this is not the first time the Court has gotten a major policy issue wrong, or the first time it has acted in defiance of the Word of God. In 1973, the Court ruled in the Roe v. Wade abortion case that Americans had a Constitutionally-protected right to murder their unborn children. This was a morally unconscionably decision which has led directly to the death of more than 57 million children as well as terrible emotional and spiritual pain and suffering for millions of women. The Court’s decision to undermine Biblical marriage and attack religious liberty will also lead to great sadness and suffering, not freedom and joy as its supporters contend.
The members of the Supreme Court have forgotten they are not truly the highest or “supreme” court in the land. There is a higher authority, and there is a grave cost to defying the Supreme Judge of the universe.
In Romans 1:18-32, the Apostle Paul warns societies that turn away from God and His Word. Three times in this passage, the Apostle warns that God will allow societies that rebellious against Him to slide deep into heterosexual and homosexual sin, along with many other sinful practices. Indeed, God vows to turn such societies over to debauchery if they will not repent, and He warns that such societies will, in time, face judgment and the “wrath of God.”
These are some of the reasons I wrote the non-fiction book, Implosion, in 2012, because I’m deeply concerned that we are on a fast-track towards judgment unless we repent and radically change course. And as I wrote in the book, it is the responsibility of those who love God and follow the Bible to lovingly and clearly explain to individuals, societies and entire nations what God says in the Bible, what He offers mankind, and what He requires of us, and the grave consequences of refusing to listen to or obey the Lord and His Word. It is not our job to force people to obey Christ, or to be unkind or angry towards those who deny Him. Rather, it is our job to “hold fast the faithful Word,” even to a society that won’t listen.
How then should Christians respond to the latest developments?
The Court’s latest decision must not lead Christians to anger or hatred or violence.
Let us be moved to brokenness before God, to deep repentance and to ceaseless prayer — many Americans don’t take God and His Word seriously because they don’t see Christians taking God and His Word seriously; for this and much else we need to repent and ask God to show mercy us and forgive us.
Let us plead with our Father in heaven to pour out His Holy Spirit and grant us a massive spiritual revival within the Church that will draw us back to a close walk with Christ and faithful obedience to the Word of God.
Let us keep become far more faithful to teach and preach the Word of God, the “whole counsel of God,” and clearly and lovingly explain to all people the Gospel — the Good News of God’s love and forgiveness for all who will turn to Christ — and not be intimidated into silence.
Let us plead with the Lord to grant a Great Awakening to America at large — as we preach (and live) the Gospel, let us pray that God chooses to move so powerfully that millions of lost, unsaved people repent and turn to faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and Redeemer of their lives, marriages and families.
Let us always be gracious and kind to those who disagree with us (on the marriage issue and/or other Biblical issues), constantly seeking to obey Christ’s command to “love your neighbor” and to “pray for those who persecute you.”
Here are some other excellent resources and suggestions as we enter this dark period in our nation’s history:
Pastor John MacArthur has also written an excellent article with suggestions for fellow pastors on how to address the latest developments. I hope you will read this, also, and share it with others. “An Open Letter” to pastors, by John MacArthur.
Events are moving fast — here at home and around the globe. The world does seem to be spinning out of control. Economically, socially, geopolitically, environmentally, we just keep experiencing one trauma after another, and no one seems to know what to do.
Yesterday, I wrote a column that raised this critical question: “Is America heading for a terrible implosion or a great awakening?”Specifically, I noted that “the United States is hurtling towards severe trouble, and the events of the past few months — and what may be coming over the next few months — grieves me a great deal. Something is coming. I don’t know what. But we all must be ready in every possible way.”
Ideally, pastors, priests and Christian leaders here the U.S. and around the world would be helping people make sense of all this chaos and confusion by teaching people through the entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. After all, the Bible — and specifically Bible prophecy — has much to tell us about our times, and how to live through them with “hope as an anchor for our souls.” Indeed, fully 27% of the Bible — one out of every four verses — is made up of prophecy. The Lord wants to convey critical truths that are vitally important for our present and our future, and He wants to do so, in part, through prophecy.
Unfortunately, many pastors, priests and Christian leaders are not teaching people Bible prophecy. The question is: Why?
In March, Anne Graham Lotz and I co-taught a weekend seminar at the Billy Graham Training Center at “The Cove” to address this question and to help people “rediscover the purpose and power of Bible prophecy.” We want to encourage people to start studying and teaching prophecy once again to discover what the Lord is trying to tell us, especially in the midst of such dark and turbulent times. What’s more, we want to help people understand how to study prophecy, and not to feel intimidated or discouraged by the process.
The parallels to our times are striking. The Hebrew prophet saw his nation, Israel, drifting far from the Lord and asleep to the things of God. The Lord told him that judgment was coming, not only against his own nation but against his country’s neighbors and their enemies. The prophet was commanded by the Lord, therefore, to try to wake the people up and call them to repentance, reform and revival. The Lord used him to call his nation to prayer, and fasting, and the study of the Word, and to total, humble, devout obedience to the Scriptures. Fortunately, the prophet was faithful to the call.
Anne and I have come to love the little Book of Joel. It is only three chapters long in English, but we believe it has a message near and dear to God’s heart for us now, as in ancient times.
I’m deeply grateful to Anne and her team for posting all the messages we did that weekend online, and making them available free of charge. I hope you and your family, friends and congregation will take time to watch them, or listen to them on your phone. Please carefully study the Scriptures that we cite, both the Book of Joel and the other Scripture passages we refer to. Take notes. Discuss it amongst yourselves. Pray for the Lord to speak to you through His Word and to show you specifically and practically how He wants you to live in light of His Word. Please also use social media and word of mouth to share these videos with others, that they too might be encouraged.
Here are links to the main sites (click here or here), and links to the individuals sessions:
UPDATED:(Washington, D.C.) — I feel a tremendous sense of urgency about this column.
The United States is hurtling towards severe trouble, and the events of the past few months — and what may be coming over the next few months — grieves me a great deal.
Something is coming. I don’t know what. But we all must be ready in every possible way.
Consider where we are in the summer of 2015:
Violence is exploding in our cities, schools and churches. The horrific mass murder inside the church in Charleston would be bad enough if it wasn’t just one of innumerable mass killings that have become epidemic in America.
Racism is tearing us apart, and it appears things are getting worse, not better.
The Supreme Court is poised to rule any day now on the definition and future of marriage — and if the Court rules against Biblical marriage I believe this could cause the Lord’s hand to turn against our country in a severe and profound way according to the moral laws found in Romans chapter one.
Abortions are occurring at more than one million in year and have put America on the fast track to judgment. Since 1973, Americans have murdered 57 million children through abortions. The blood of 57 million babies is crying out for justice, and they will get it in God’s sovereign timing. Could that be soon?
If all this wasn’t bad enough, marriages and families are imploding all around us. Poverty is growing. Drug and alcohol use is epidemic. And that’s just here at home.
Abroad, Iran is closing in on The Bomb.
ISIS is exploding across the Middle East, and gaining ground in Syria, Iraq and Libya.
The Kremlin is growing more aggressive.
Yet our politicians continue to bicker, stall, or golf, even as many abdicate their Constitutional responsibilities.
And many Americans have little or no hope for the future, have little confidence in government, little confidence in the media or academia, and far too little confidence in the Church. Indeed, many see little or no reason to go to church, and are drifting from whatever faith they might have once had in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Not all is lost. There are many Americans who love Christ dearly and love His Word and are seeking every day to walk with the Lord and love their neighbors and care for the poor and make the good news of God’s redeeming love known to their lost and drifting nation.
But warnings signs are flashing everywhere. Alarm bells are ringing everywhere. Far too many self-professed Christians are groggy or asleep, and we need a wake up call.
So, is America heading for implosion, or revival?
Right now, I see a case for either. But here’s an interesting update. Thousands of Southern Baptist pastors and lay leaders gathered in Columbus, Ohio, this past week for their annual convention. But this was not business as usual. They gathered to do some serious soul searching.
The good news: the SBC is planting new churches all over America and the number of SBC churches is growing, rising from 46,000 to more than 51,000.
The bad news: these churches are doing less evangelism, seeing fewer people receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and seeing fewer people baptized than at any time in the past 67 years.
Now, I have to admit, normally I don’t follow what’s happening at the annual Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) meetings. I’m not a Southern Baptist. I was raised in New York State by a wayward Orthodox Jewish father and a wayward Methodist mother — wayward, that is, until both my parents became born again as deeply devoted followers of Jesus Christ in 1973 during the height of the “Jesus Movement.”
But since the election of Pastor Ronnie Floyd as SBC president last June, I have started paying close attention. Indeed, I have been deeply moved to see where Pastor Floyd and the SBC are heading. He has spent the last year tirelessly crisscrossing America and the globe urging Baptist pastors and lay people to become more serious and passionate about preaching, teaching and obeying the Word of God, preaching the Gospel to all nations (including Israel and the Muslim world), fulfilling the Great Commission, and pleading with the Lord to revive His Church and give us a Third Great Awakening.
Pastor Floyd has reached out to many pastors and ministry leaders outside of the SBC, as well. He invited me to preach at his congregation in northwest Arkansas last November. We have met and spoken by phone and email numerous times since, including in Israel earlier this year. I couldn’t be more grateful that the Lord has raised Pastor Floyd up at this hour. What’s more, I pray that the Holy Spirit moves powerfully through him — and pastors like him — to wake up the sluggish Protestant church in America and around the world and call us humbly to serve our Lord Jesus Christ without reservation.
This week, Pastor Floyd delivered a critically important and deeply moving message to the SBC convention. This morning, I read the full text, and then watched the video. It was so good, so clear, so strong, that I strongly recommend you read and/or watch the message. Please also share it with others — with everyone you know. Later this week, I will post some key excerpts that were important to me. But for now I just want to make you aware of the message and give you the appropriate links.
After you watch and read this message, if you are looking for additional resources, here are some messages Anne Graham Lotz and I have delivered on these themes of trying to wake up the Church before it’s too late.
I genuinely don’t know whether we are heading for implosion or revival? But like Ronnie Floyd and Anne Graham Lotz and many other Christian leaders, I have a deep and profound sense of urgency for personal and corporate prayer, for deep personal and family and congregational repentance, for sharing the Gospel with anyone and everyone else who will listen.
Something is coming. I don’t know what. But we all must be ready in every possible way.
A growing number of analysts say the forces of the Islamic State are succeeding in their bid to establish a caliphate or kingdom in the heart of the modern Middle East.
ISIS is steadily gaining vital territory in Syria, Iraq and Libya.
They are steadily recruiting more jihadists.
They are continuing to rape, pillage, persecute and behead Muslims, Christians and “infidels” of all stripes.
And they are doing so despite nine months of empty rhetoric from President Obama and half-hearted allied airstrikes against them.
In May, ISIS forces captured the city of Ramadi, the capital of Iraq’s Anbar Province, despite being outnumbered by Iraqi military troops, many of whom ended up fleeing rather than fighting. This puts ISIS just 70 miles or so from Baghdad, the capital of Iraq. But it also helps consolidate ISIS control of a vast Sunni province on the border with the Jordan.
Will ISIS soon try to attack Jordan? Will the forces of the Islamic State try to bring down King Abdullah II and his Hashemite Kingdom? Will they try to set up a new jihadist base from which to attack Israel, the United States and our allies in the Middle East and Europe? Do they have access to chemical weapons they could use to launch genocidal attacks?
These are questions I raised in my recent novel, The Third Target, which was released in January. But as the months tick by, such matters seem less the stuff of fiction and more the subject of real life intelligence and policy deliberations at the highest levels of government. Consider these recent headlines:
“It has been nine months since President Barack Obama set forth a policy—“degrade and destroy”—for dealing with the Islamic State (ISIS), the radical group that emerged as the successor to Al-Qaeda in Iraq,” begins a Newsweek cover story. “In that time, despite daily airstrikes, an increased tempo of training Iraqi troops and a wobbly coalition of 60 nations trying to combat ISIS, the group has made steady gains in both Iraq and Syria: It not only still controls the city of Mosul, on May 17, it routed Iraqi troops in the Sunni stronghold of Ramadi, about 70 miles from Baghdad. In Syria it took the strategic city of Palmyra. It has extended its reach into Libya and conducted its first terrorist attack in Saudi Arabia, blowing up a Shiite mosque in the eastern city of Qatif. Far from being degraded, the group Obama once infamously derided as ‘the jayvee’ appears in the eyes of many, to be on the march. If the question is, ‘Is ISIS winning?’ the answer, for now, appears undeniable: Yes.”
At present, I am editing the manuscript for my next novel, the sequel to The Third Target. But even as I play out this fictional scenario, I am praying that the American government and her allies get truly serious about developing and executing a comprehensive and effective strategy to stop the ISIS advance defeat ISIS all together. Watching so many Muslims and Christians in the region be persecuted, tortured, enslaved and killed while the world’s leaders dither, vacillate and demonstrate ineptitude is far too painful to bear.
(Washington, D.C.) — The countdown is underway. Negotiators have only until the end of June to complete a final nuclear deal with Iran. But with just days to go, it’s still unclear whether such a deal will happen, and — if it does — whether the deal could possibly be a good one.
A former senior military intelligence advisor to President Obama recently testified to a House Foreign Affairs Committee that the administration’s belief that a good deal with Iran is possible amounts to “wishful thinking.”
“Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, who served as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency until last August, devoted 20 paragraphs of his opening statement to a blow-by-blow attack on the framework deal with Tehran,” reported the UK Daily Mail.
The deal “suffers from severe deficiencies,” Flynn testified. “Iran has every intention to build a nuclear weapon” and “it is clear that the nuclear deal is not a permanent fix but merely a placeholder.’
Meanwhile, “Iran and six powers are still apart on all main elements of a nuclear deal with less than two weeks to go to their June 30 target date and will likely have to extend their negotiations,” reports the Associated Press, based on interviews with two diplomats. “Their comments enforce concerns that obstacles to a pact remain beyond the public debate on how far Iran must open its nuclear program to outside purview under any deal.”
Excerpts from the AP article:
Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has for weeks rebuffed U.S. demands that U.N. nuclear monitors have access to military sites and nuclear scientists as they monitor Tehran’s commitments under a deal and probe allegations of past work on atomic arms.
Negotiators are concerned about a lack of headway on all issues. Russian chief delegate Sergey Ryabkov said Friday the “the rate of progress … is progressively slowing down.”
Negotiators have been meeting five days a week in Vienna over the past few weeks. The two diplomats are familiar with the progress of the talks and spoke shortly before a planned five-day round reconvened Wednesday. They demanded anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the confidential negotiations.
Ways of implementing specific parts of the deal are supposed to be contained in four or five annexes to the main text of an agreement.
The diplomats described the draft of a main document as a patchwork of text and dozens of blank spaces because of stubborn disagreement on up to 10 elements crucial to any deal. Those details are to be included in four or five annexes, which remain incomplete.
Both sides remain publicly committed to June 30. Still, the diplomats said all nations at the table recognize that a delay up to July 9 is not a deal-breaker.
The Israel portion of the tour will be October 14-25, 2015.
And for the first time ever, we will lead an optional additional tour to the Biblical sites of the Kingdom of Jordan for those who want to extend their time and learn more. This will be from October 25-29, 2015.
If you have never been to the Holy Land, it is hard to describe what a profound spiritual effect such a journey can have on you and your family. You may have heard others say God’s Word seemed to “come alive” in a new way when they walked where Jesus walked, from the shores of Galilee to the Mount of Olives and into the streets of Jerusalem. Well, it’s true, and I believe our 2015 Israel trip will allow you to experience this for yourself and intensify your desire to walk more closely with Jesus Christ.
If you have been to Israel before, this trip will be a great opportunity to deepen your understanding of how powerfully the Lord is moving there. And this tour is like no other!
You will visit The Joshua Fund’s warehouse and participate in a practical ministry project to bless the poor and needy.
You will have the opportunity to meet with and pray for local pastors and ministry leaders on the frontlines of the faith.
You will have the opportunity to hear solid Bible teaching, and pray for the peace of Jerusalem and for all the people of the epicenter, and have the joy of worshipping the Lord in the land of Jesus, the prophets and the apostles.
I will also teach at key locations and answer your questions about the future of the Epicenter.
And, as I mentioned, for those who want to learn more, we are offering our first-ever extension to visit Biblical and historic sites in Jordan such as Mount Nebo, Petra and the capital of Amman.
Now more than ever, it is vitally important for Christians to “learn, pray, give and go” — to really learn how much God loves the people of Israel, Jordan and the region; to pray with and for Jews and Arabs; to give to ministries that are truly blessing people on both sides in the name of Jesus; and actually go to the Holy Land to stand with these dear people in these challenging times.
(Los Angeles, California) — The Audio Publishers Association (APA) announced at a special gala event last week “this year’s outstanding audiobooks” and the winners of the “20th Annual Audie Awards,” reports a publishing industry website.
I’m tremendously encouraged that the audio version of The Auschwitz Escape was honored this year for excellence, both in terms of its story and characters and the execution of the production.
Thank you so much to my dear friends and colleagues at Tyndale House for publishing the original hardcover and paperback editions. Special thanks to Brilliance Audio and their stellar team for producing and distributing this award-winning audio edition, and to Christopher Lane for the great job he did reading the book.
My hope is that many readers are drawn to learn more about the history of the Holocaust, and discover the inspirational power of this story of faith and courage in the face of terrible evil, a story that was inspired by real people and true events.
My interview with “Decision” magazine on the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Recently, I was interviewed by Bob Paulson, the editor of Decision, the monthly magazine of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Bob wanted to discuss our family’s move to Israel in 2014 and my perspective on the Arab-Israeli conflict as a follower of Christ who has become new citizen of Israel.
I greatly enjoyed my conversation with Bob, a thoughtful and careful interviewer and writer. I also greatly appreciated the opportunity to share with the readers of Decision some thoughts on such highly controversial matters as Bible prophecy, the tensions related to Jewish-Arab relations, and the role of the Church in the Middle East.
The interview appeared in last month’s edition. Please forgive me for not posting it sooner, but here it is. Hope you find it both thought-provoking and encouraging.
Joel Rosenberg on Following Jesus In A Land Of Conflict
Bob Paulson • Decision Magazine • April 2015
Joel Rosenberg knows the Middle East better than most. Born to a Jewish father and a Gentile mother, the evangelical author, filmmaker and speaker once worked for Benjamin Netanyahu, who is now Israel’s prime minister. He holds dual U.S.-Israel citizenship and lives with his wife and children in Israel. His nonprofit organization, The Joshua Fund, provides food, clothing, medical supplies and other aid to people on both sides of the Arab-Israeli conflict. He has appeared hundreds of times on television and radio and has spoken at the White House and the Pentagon. Decision recently caught up with Rosenberg at The Cove as he was preparing to co-lead a biblical prophecy seminar with Anne Graham Lotz titled “Blowing the Trumpet.” Here is a portion of that conversation.
Q: Why should Christians support Israel?
A: The Lord laid out the Abrahamic covenant in Genesis 12, and He begins to lay the groundwork for the Hebrew nation, what becomes the nation and state of Israel. God said, “I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse those who curse you” (Genesis 12:3). So this lays the foundational premise that God was choosing the Hebrew people—sovereignly, uniquely, supernaturally and eternally.
That doesn’t mean that every Jewish person is going to go to Heaven. Just because God has chosen us is not enough. We have to choose God back, and we can only do it through the Messiah, Jesus.
But because God has chosen the Jewish people, it’s important that the church not lose sight of that eternal covenant. It was an unconditional covenant. Abraham (Abram at the time) didn’t ask for it, didn’t do anything for it and was unable to keep it on his own. God just decided sovereignly to do this.
That’s the first reason. The second reason is shorter: We are supposed to make disciples of all nations, and Israel is one of those nations. When we decide to separate ourselves from one people group and one geopolitical state, we are going in the face of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
But the church has become, at times and in portions, quite hostile to the Jewish people. And of course, this was prophesied through the Apostle Paul in Romans 9-11, when he warned the Gentile church: Don’t become arrogant and think that God is done with the Jewish people. He is not.
Q: When we talk about Christians supporting Israel, people often suppose this means we should act like the government of Israel can do no wrong.
A: The Bible is filled with Israel doing wrong, making terrible mistakes, sometimes quite catastrophic ones. I think it’s critical the church understands that we are supposed to bless Israel. But then we have to dig into the Word of God to discover what it means to bless. Sometimes that means to speak the truth in love.
Unfortunately, many Christians who love Israel have let it become a solely political endeavor, and they act as though it is an either/or proposition: You either love Israel and hate the Arabs, or you love the Arabs and hate the Jews.
Jesus is not either/or. He is both/and. In Matthew 4, Jesus’ message is going not just to Israel but to Syria. A few chapters later, Jesus is going into Lebanon. Jesus crosses the Jordan and spends time sharing the message with those on the other side of the river. And of course, He is spending time up and down the Jordan River Valley, in what we now call the West Bank.
The disciples at times are saying of people like the Samaritans, “Lord, should we call fire down from Heaven on them?” (Cf. Luke 9:54). No. The Son of Man has not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them. And this was happening in the exact places where the church feels like it is either/or. It’s not. It’s both/and.
Q: With the current tensions, what are the implications of the biblical command to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem”?
A: In Psalm 122:6 we are commanded to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. And Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount reaffirmed the importance of making peace when we can by telling us, “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9). The Apostle Paul later says, “Be at peace with all men if possible” (Romans 12:18).
So pray first for geopolitical peace. People are suffering, and war is horrible. But most important, pray for spiritual peace: that people, Jews and Arabs and others, would have their eyes opened to the Prince of Peace, who died in Jerusalem, rose in Jerusalem and is coming back to Jerusalem.
If a person looks at Israeli policy in the West Bank and sees it as occupation, how did Jesus tell His disciples to respond to occupying soldiers? By carrying their luggage the extra mile. By loving them, caring for them, serving them and seeing them as people also in need of the Gospel, in need of the Father’s unconditional love.
There are others who say, “This isn’t occupation; this is just security designed to protect us from suicide bombers and terrorists and rockets.” So how are we to care for people whom we think are the enemy? Well, Jesus says: “Love your enemy.”
Jesus didn’t tell us not to define someone as an enemy. He says, “If you see them as a neighbor, love them. If you see them as an enemy, love them. And let Me show you how.”
Q: How are believers in the Holy Land showing love to both sides in the conflict?
A: My wife and I started a ministry in 2006 called The Joshua Fund. It is designed to educate and mobilize Christians to bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus, according to Genesis 12:1-3, the Abrahamic covenant.
We have a warehouse in central Israel, and we provide food and other humanitarian relief supplies through 14 different distribution centers. They are all run by believers in Jesus—some by Jewish believers, others by Arab believers. They are caring for the poor and needy, widows and orphans, victims of war and terror.
We also do pastors’ conferences. We have one for Israeli pastors and their wives—both Jewish and Arab pastors who are Israeli citizens. Then we do the same conference a few days later in the West Bank with Palestinian pastors and their wives. Last year, I think 95 percent of all the pastors and ministry leaders among the Palestinians attended the conference.
For the Palestinian believers to welcome me as a Jew, an Israeli, someone who worked for then-former Prime Minister Netanyahu, I’m sort of a poster child of the person you shouldn’t spend time with. But God is bringing us as believers together. I love the Palestinian people, and I want to serve the church there and help them be strong so they can serve their people.
How are we going to show the lost people in Israel and among the Palestinians that there is true peace through the Prince of Peace, and that Jesus is the Prince of Peace, if we don’t have peace between Israeli and Palestinian followers of Jesus?
Q: How many believers would you estimate are in Israel right now? Is the number growing or shrinking?
A: Based on the research I’ve done, in 1948, there were about 23 known Jewish believers in Jesus in Israel. I know some of them; some of them are still alive. Today, it’s widely agreed that there are about 15,000 Jewish believers in the land of Israel, and several thousand Arab believers. And there are several thousand Palestinian believers in the West Bank and Gaza.
Worldwide today, there are about 300,000 Jewish believers in Jesus. Now, in a world of 14 million Jewish people it’s not enough. But we’re heading toward a Romans 11:26 world. In that verse, the Apostle Paul tells us that all Israel will be saved.
Q: How exactly do you interpret that verse?
A: First of all, Israel is the only nation in the Scriptures where God promises a national salvation. No other country is told, “this country is going to get saved.”
Not every Jewish person, not every citizen of Israel, is going to go to Heaven. But we have unique prophecies regarding the moment of the Second Coming. The prophecies of Zechariah tell us that the Jewish people who are alive at the end of the Tribulation—who up to that point have still rejected the claims of Jesus as Messiah—as they see Jesus come back, their eyes will be opened. They will weep and mourn for the One they have pierced (Zechariah 12:10), and God will save them.
Now, none of us can know who is going to make it to the end of the Tribulation. We need to be faithful to share the Word of Christ today, with every person of every nation, including Israel and the Jewish people. We dare not stand before the Jewish Messiah one day and have Him ask, “Why didn’t you share the Good News of My salvation with the Jewish people?”
Q: Why is the world’s attention riveted on this little sliver of land?
A: John 10:10 is an interesting verse that captures the battle for Israel. We don’t normally think of this verse in the context of Israel or anti-Semitism, but Jesus, in one sentence, gives us an understanding of the battle between Satan and Himself. He describes Satan as the thief who comes to rob, kill and destroy. Jesus says, “But I came that they might have life and have it abundantly.”
Satan is the exact opposite of everything Jesus is. So if God has said, “I’m going to choose the Jewish people and make them special to me and bless them,” Satan says, “Fine; I’m going to curse them.”
When God chose to give the land of Israel to the Jewish people, Satan said, “Fine. I will take it away.” When God said, “I’m going to make Jerusalem the city of peace,” Satan says, “Fine; I’ll make it the city of bloodshed.” When God said, “I’m going to make the Temple Mount holy unto My Name,” Satan said, “Fine; I will desecrate it.”
If you only look at the world through geopolitical and economic lenses, and you don’t look at it through the lens of the Bible, you are going to miss the heart of this conflict.
And the core reasons are not jobs, not ideology and not even religion. It’s a spiritual, cataclysmic battle that is rooted in John 10:10. Will the church understand the battle and come to love, care and serve the very people who are being hunted by Satan himself?
One day we will stand before the Jewish Messiah, face to face, eyeball to eyeball, to give an account. And what do we want to have said?