Tuesday, February 13, 2007

HOW SHOULD CHRISTIANS RESPOND TO MIDEAST CRISES?


This weekend -- amidst rapidly rising tensions with Iran and riots on the Temple Mount -- I had the privilege of speaking to the 12,000 people who attend the four church services at Calvary Chapel of Albuquerque. When I was there last fall, I spoke on Ezekiel 38-39 and Matthew 24 and the question of "Are we living in the last days?" This time, I spoke on Matthew 25, and the question of "how shall we live in the last days?" I explained the details of The Joshua Fund's new strategy to bless Israel and her neighbors with humanitarian relief supplies and shared how people can get involved in a global movement of evangelical Christians to touch the lives of the people in the epicenter with the love of Jesus. The sermons were broadcast on radio on stations throughout New Mexico and nationwide, and webcast worldwide. I hope you'll find it encouraging. The God of the Bible is on the move, and He offers good news amidst all the bad news coming out of the Mideast right now.

To watch the webcast, please click here.

Note: the webcast begins with music and worship (it's not me singing). It's great stuff, but if you want to go right to the introduction and my sermon, you can fast forward to the 20:10 minute mark.
posted by Joel C. Rosenberg


"TOO LATE" TO STOP IRAN'S NUCLEAR WEAPON? THE FIGHT FOR JERUSALEM

Breaking news this morning: a new study compiled by EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana says it may be too late to stop Iran from building nuclear weapons.

"At some stage we must expect that Iran will acquire the capacity to enrich uranium on the scale required for a weapons programme," says the paper, dated February 7 and circulated to the EU's 27 national governments ahead of a foreign ministers meeting yesterday, according to the Financial Times. "In practice . . . the Iranians have pursued their programme at their own pace, the limiting factor being technical difficulties rather than resolutions by the UN or the International Atomic Energy Agency....The problems with Iran will not be resolved through economic sanctions alone."

The Financial Times story concludes: "The EU document is embarrassing for advocates of negotiations with Iran, since last year it was Mr Solana and his staff who spearheaded talks with Tehran on behalf of both the EU and the permanent members of the UN Security Council."

Embarrassing? That's quite an understatement. Solana and his Western diplomatic colleagues have blown it. They've wasted precious time and proved that to misunderstand the nature and threat of evil is to risk being blindsided by it. Now, rather than support the type of decisive military action necessary to prevent Iran from using the bombs it is making, they are advocating just learning to live with a nuclear Iran. Will that the policy of our White House and Congress as well? Can they not see the threat that is building?

Last month in Jerusalem, I spent several hours with a diplomat who does get it, thank God. Dore Gold was a senior advisor to various Israeli Prime Ministers and once served as Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations. I interviewed Dore for the Epicenter documentary we're currently producing. It was a great time catching up with an old friend. It was also a sobering time, hearing Dore's latest analysis of the urgent and growing threats in the region, an analysis which forms the basis of his new powerful and provocative book, The Fight For Jerusalem: Radical Islam, The West, and The Future of the Holy City.

The Epicenter documentary will be released nationwide on June 1st, and Dore's insights form a key part of the film. But don't wait until then. Dore's book was just released, and on Sunday will hit #3 on the Washington Post bestseller list and #17 on the New York Times list. No wonder. The Fight For Jerusalem should be required reading for the President and every Member of Congress and the Cabinet. It is the best researched, most informative, and most important book on the threat of radical Islam by an Israeli author in this decade.

Dore, an observant Orthodox Jew who was born in the U.S. and emigrated to Israel, knows his stuff. He's negotiated with Middle Eastern and other world leaders at the highest levels. He's had behind-the-scenes relationships with Arab and Islamic officials and scholars for decades. He currently runs the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, a highly respected think tank. Unlike most senior Western diplomats, he has come to the accurate conclusion that secular Arab nationalism is no longer driving events in the Middle East as it did in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. Today, it's Islamic eschatology -- or end times theology -- that is inspiring a deadly new effort to hasten the destruction of both Israel and Judeo-Christian civilization as we know it. What's more, Dore understands that this requires an entirely different Western strategy than past conflicts, beginning with the realization that you can't successfully negotiate with or deter extremists who believe it is their God-given mission to annhilate the world.

One chapter I found particularly detailed and chilling: Chapter 8, "Jerusalem as an Apocalyptic Trigger For Radical Islam." Allow me to quote a few passages:

* "For [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad, the destruction of Israel is one of the key global developments that will trigger the appearance of the Mahdi [Islamic Messiah]. It was on Iran's annual 'Jerusalem Day' on October 26, 2005, that Ahmadinejad made his famous reference to the need to 'wipe Israel off the map.'....Ahmadinejad shows all the signs of not only using apocalyptic language, but also believing that he has a personal role in bringing the end of times about." (p. 232)

* "[W]hat was the connection between Jerusalem and Ahmadinejad's planned final battle? Dr. Bilal Na'im served as an assistant to the head of the Executive Council of Hizbullah, the Iranian-controlled Lebanese Shiite terrorist organization. In an essay discussing the details of how the Mahdi is supposed to appear before the world, according to Shiite doctrine, he states that initially the Mahdi reveals himself in Mecca 'and he will lean on the Ka'abah and view the arrival of his supporters from around the world.' From Mecca the Mahdi next moves to Karbala in Iraq. But his most important destination, in Na'im's description, is clearly Jerusalem. It is in Jerusalem from where the launching of the Mahdi's world conquest is declared. He explains, 'The liberation of Jerusalem is the preface for liberating the world and establishing the state of justice and values on earth.' In short, Jerusalem serves as the launching pad for the Mahdi's global jihad at the end of days." (p. 233)

* "[I]t has been clear for more than a decade that Jerusalem has become a focal point for apocalyptic authors whose works have become relatively popular across the Arab world during these years. Their books are not just part of a theoretical discourse, but rather their language is reiterated by some of the most violent terrorist groups operating in the Middle East." (p. 251)

* "Diplomats and intelligence agencies don't normally pore over obscure religious texts about the end of days. But considering their widespread popularity and their practical impact on the issue of Jerusalem, that could be a colossal error. If one day Israel succumbed to the constant barrage of pressures from EU diplomats -- backed by certain quarters in the U.S. foreign policy establishment as well -- to redivide Jerusalem by relinquishing its holy sites, it might well unleash a new wave of jihadism emboldened by a sense that the traditions of radical Islamists about final battles at the end of history are about to come true. Western diplomats pursuing such a course of action may well believe they are lowering the flames of radical Islamic rage, but in fact they will only be turning up those flames to heights that have not been seen before." (p. 254)

Bottom line: Dore Gold's book could not be better written or better timed. I doubt Javier Solana will read it. But I am and you should.
posted by Joel C. Rosenberg @ 6:25 AM 7 comments