April 27, 2015
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Trip of a Lifetime
Growing up, I would occasionally
hear of a member of our church going to “the Holy Land.”
In the wake of the Six Day War, an explosion of tourism
boosted Israel’s economy, and what once seemed like an
improbably exotic and unattainable vacation became
Having been seven times myself, I
am always anxious to go back to see the land and its
Now, some friends of mine are
making arrangements to take pastors to Israel, and I’d
like to know how many readers of “Israel Watch” are
pastors and would be interested in going.
The all-expense paid trip will
include of course plenty of sightseeing, but also
insights into what it’s like for Jews to live among a
sea of hostile neighbors.
(An important aside: I never feel
safer than when I’m in Israel. The country’s security
apparatus is non-invasive-but-effective, and the Israeli
people go about their daily lives and business calm and
full of life.)
When you first see the coastline
of Tel Aviv, your heart will pound faster, and upon
emerging from Gen Gurion Airport, you’ll find palm trees
and balmy temperatures. The drive along Highway 1 will
allow you to see both historical sites (for example, the
famed Valley of Ayalon), the leftover military vehicles
from the War of Independence, which litter the sides of
the highway, and you will become aware that you are
literally going “up to Jerusalem,” as you leave the
coastal plain and ascend to the mountains of Israel,
which run north-south through the middle of the country.
The itinerary of course will be
tailored for pastors, so that they can take the
experience back home to their people.
The Garden Tomb, the Temple
Mount, the Israel Museum, and Jerusalem’s Old City
bazaar are must-sees, of course.
If you are a pastor interested in
such a trip, contact me and I’ll pass you along to the
We can’t take everyone all at
once, of course, but you won’t want to miss this chance
for the trip of a lifetime.
April 20, 2015
Pentecostals and Prophecy
As the American church
moves further into apostasy, it is fascinating (and
dismaying!) to watch attacks on Israel and Bible
prophecy teaching coming from within the ranks.
So to speak.
As readers of “Israel
Watch” well know, we have been documenting for several
years now the erosion of support for Israel among
celebrity elites within evangelicalism. Pastors,
ministry leaders, denominational leaders.
The rot in the
Southern Baptist Convention is well underway, with Rick
Warren leading the way. The globalist senior pastor of
Saddleback Church is a well-known critic of Bible
prophecy teachers. Now, Russell Moore, the head of the
Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, also gets his
digs in. And Moore is of the opinion that Israel is
really the Church. As he wrote in 2009:
everywhere believe in a future for Israel.
disagree is on is [sic] exactly who
This Christian is
clear on who Israel is. It’s an obvious answer, except
to faux intellectuals like Moore, who subscribe to a
“big-tent” philosophy within evangelicalism. Evidently,
Moore sees another identity for Israel, but he also is
anxious to mainstream that thought on a wider scale.
And that’s a
Yet, we are also
watching this kind of muddled thinking within
Pentecostalism, and in true Twilight Zone fashion, bad
teaching is coming from formerly traditionally strong
Charisma magazine is
the flagship periodical of the Charismatic world,
founded by Steve Strang in the ‘70s. For the longest,
the readership would have understood very well who
Israel is, and they were among the strongest supporters
of Bible prophecy teaching.
Think David Allen
Lewis and even Derek Prince.
Strang has also been
known far and wide as a supporter of Israel. He is,
however, more identified with the Messianic movement and
a couple years ago stepped down from the board of
Christians United for Israel. This is about the time
that bestselling author John Hagee (founder of CUFI)
moved away from Strang’s stable of book authors and
began publishing with giant New York houses.
Strang’s son, Cameron,
is publisher of Relevant magazine, the flagship
periodical for Millennials, and the son is particularly
nasty when it comes to Bible prophecy. Relevant
routinely skewers prophecy teaching, including Rapture
Oddly, Charisma has
become home to the same kind of dissing.
Not long ago, I wrote
about a piece in Charisma by Margaret Feinberg, who
manipulated a question by a young man who was rightly
wondering if we are living in the last days. The whole
piece was a thinly veiled swipe at prophecy teaching;
Feinberg clearly isn’t a fan. The teaching doesn’t fit
her progressive views and agendas.
Now, though, comes yet
another swipe, this time from former Charisma editor J.
Lee Grady, also known as Lee Grady. Somewhat of an
evangelical gadfly, Grady has pontificated from his
perch at Charisma for a long time, on a whole range of
issues. He is fairly famous for skewering the excesses
among Pentecostal charlatans, even while Charisma ran
their ads in the same issue!
Which is comical, on a
Grady might have
become bored, however, with his humanitarian efforts in
various venues, so now he has written another piece
hammering Bible prophecy. In 2009 (one wonders if Grady
and Moore met at a Cracker Barrel and vented about
Israel and prophecy teachers), he admonished readers for
spending too much time thinking about the last days.
In a piece titled
“Don't Get Infected With Last Days Fever,” written in
2009, Grady had clearly had it
with the doomsday crowd:
“Don't let the
sensationalism of eschatology distract you from the
priority of evangelism.
“You might remember
Edgar Whisenant. He wrote a best-selling book called 88
Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988—and a much less
popular sequel, The Final Shout: Rapture Report 1989.
The second book said Jesus didn't come back in 1988
because the author, who was a former NASA engineer (!),
missed his mathematical calculations by a year.”
Whisenant, of course,
is an easy target. As is Harold Camping.
What you never see,
though, are critics like Grady and Feinberg taking on
the likes of Tommy Ice, or Randall Price, or Terry
James. Or a whole host of other top-notch prophecy
The Dominionists and
Purpose-Driven crowd don’t like last days talk, because
it runs up against their agenda of making the world a
better place, so that the triumphant Church can hand the
keys to the kingdom to Jesus, whenever He returns. Like
in a half-million years.
The signs of the times
annoy them. None more than restored Israel.
Grady this week did it
again, dusting off the 2009 column and only slightly
changing things, including the title:
“Don’t Get Caught Up
in Last Days Hysteria”
Again, Grady launched
into a diatribe against eschatology teaching:
“Everywhere I go today
I meet Christians who are wringing their hands and
fretting about how dark the world has become. Some are
conspiracy theorists who say the world's economy is
controlled by dark forces. Others are convinced that
recent astronomical phenomena signal the end of the
world, and they are stocking their garages with food to
prepare for Armageddon. If I suggest that Jesus might
want to pour out the Holy Spirit in a fresh way on this
generation, some people get angry. They want God to
hurry up and judge America!”
First of all, I’ve
never talked to anyone, anywhere, who wanted God to
judge America. Do we think He is, or will? Of course,
just as He judges all the nations.
But Strang’s friend
Lee Grady didn’t stop there. He listed four reasons not
to get caught up in eschatology teaching (he no doubt
would argue that he meant don’t get caught up in the
faulty teaching, but it’s clear he has a problem with
Point no. 3
“It's deceptive. A
group known as the Adventists predicted that Jesus would
return to earth in 1874. When this didn't happen, the
group's leaders covered their error by suggesting that
Jesus appeared "invisibly" on that date. A theology
developed around these ideas that is still accepted by
Seventh-day Adventists. In the 1970s, when Americans
were so worried about gas shortages and war in Israel,
author Hal Lindsey sold millions of copies of his book
The Late, Great Planet Earth—and he predicted the world
would end in a few years. Many other Christians have
made similar predictions—such as the Y2K scare in 1999
or Harold Camping's infamous warning that the world
would end on May 21, 2011.”
evidence that prophecy teaching is “deceptive” (would
that he’d put Emergents and other deceivers in his
crosshairs, but they’re just too popular, I guess):
Adventists in 1874, Hal Lindsey, and…wait for it…Harold
I have no problem with
Grady lampooning date-setters, but the fact is, there is
a strong—very strong—movement across the evangelical
spectrum to marginalize Bible prophecy teaching and,
with it, the specialness of Israel and the Jewish
Most people I talk to
about this can’t wrap their minds around it, yet there
it is. Again, the attacks are not coming from Catholics
and mainliners. The attacks are originating within the
fort, from Southern Baptist and Pentecostal sources.
April 13, 2015
Israel? Eh, Not So Bad
Recent polls in Israel indicate
that your average Palestinian would much prefer to live
in Israel than in a potential Palestinian state.
For decades, at least since the
First Intifada in 1987 (and the rise of Hamas),
Palestinians will privately say that living conditions
under Israel are far superior to living under Muslim
rule. When the Palestinian Authority (really, the old
PLO) was installed under the rule of the serial killer,
Yasser Arafat, in 1994, the standard of living went
For example, the corrupt PA
leadership lives in luxury villas in Gaza and the
territories. Do you think Saeb Erekat and his family in
Jericho live in anything less than luxury? They steal
the international aid intended for the Palestinian
people, for infrastructure and food and medicine.
The dissatisfaction extends into
the wider Middle East. When Palestinians pledge support
to terror groups, there are often reasons other than
ideology that come to the fore. According to a report in
the Jerusalem Post:
“In mid-2012, Hezbollah entered
Syria, ostensibly to safeguard a regime that was vital
in supporting its operations in the region. Once thought
of as the ‘axis of resistance’ against Israel, their
intervention, coupled with their ally’s brutal siege on
Yarmouk, has damaged the movement’s popularity among
Palestinians from Syria.
“Abu Ameen, a 40-year-old
Palestinian who also escaped from Syria in December
2012, says that though he’s openly pledged support to
Hezbollah, he’s merely done so to avoid confrontation
under their governance.
“’We are afraid to talk about
them here,’ whispered Abu Ameen, while cleaning his eye
glasses in a small bedroom in Shatila. ‘Many of us don’t
trust Hezbollah anymore.’”
I’ve had many conversations with
Palestinians who will tell you the real story, far away
from the CNN cameras. That’s another reason that we as
Christians who support Israel, should not demonize the
Palestinian people. Sure, there are polls that show the
majority support terror groups or homicide bombings, or
the elimination of Israel.
Yet we should remember that
people who live under totalitarian regimes are virtually
powerless to stand up to the regime. It’s easy for me to
say, from 8,000 miles away, that I’d stand up to Hamas.
Those terror groups literally have guns to the heads of
family members of Palestinians who then go on TV to
denounce Israel and the West.
That isn’t to say there aren’t
real problems with Palestinian society. Just that we
should give some slack to people who are living under
the boot of maniacs.
Life in Israel, however, is an
oasis in the Middle East. Healthcare, jobs, etc.
This has been the “hope” of
Israeli leaders for decades: perhaps in 100 years, the
Palestinian people will move past their hatred of Israel
to embrace a better life. Certainly, we can all hope
that evil leaders like Mahmoud Abbas will pass from the
April 6, 2015
One of the terrific attributes
of Bible prophecy is that it reveals to us the power and
majesty of the Living God.
are more than 100 unique prophecies in the Old Testament
that predict the coming of the Messiah. Some are
repeated, giving us a total of over
Messianic prophecies in Scripture.
We know now, of course,
especially with the benefit of hindsight, that Jesus of
Nazareth is the Messiah. We think of Him especially this
week, as we look toward Resurrection Sunday.
(I know there is controversy
over the label some give to this blessed Sunday. Some
call it Easter, some call it Resurrection Sunday. For
now, let’s just celebrate it.)
I am thinking of Him this day,
Good Friday. I think of Jesus the Christ especially now,
given the utter chaos in the world. My good friend,
Terry James, is particularly good at describing reality,
the world in which we live, and many of his descriptive
terms for our present world are coming to mind.
But I am also thinking of Terry
today (we spoke earlier in the week), because of his
near-death heart attack a few years ago.
The whole story calls to mind
the power that our Lord has over death. One is also
reminded of Psalm 22:
Many bulls surround me;
strong bulls of Bashan
Roaring lions that tear their prey
open their mouths wide against me.
I am poured out
and all my bones are out of joint.
heart has turned to wax;
it has melted within me.
My mouth[d] is dried up like a potsherd,
tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
you lay me in
the dust of death.
Written 1,000 years before the
death of Jesus on the cross, this passage is a ghastly
description of his ghastly agony. Notice that the
Psalmist references the “bulls” that surround the
suffering Messiah. All these demons of hell thought they
had won. Their master thought he had won.
How wrong they were.
I have been to “Gordon’s
Calvary” many times in east Jerusalem. The sublime,
park-like setting is surrounded by a wall, separating it
from the ugliness of the surrounding environs, including
strongholds for Hamas and the PLO.
The empty tomb there is a stark
reminder that the Creator IS love. He cares about each
creature, each human being. Me, you, Terry, the
Palestinians who sell bread and souvenirs on the nearby
I am happy that I can still
visit with Terry in the here-and-now, that he is still
engaged in the proclamation of the Gospel to a hurting
Most of all I am happy that the
Creator/Messiah showed me mercy, to die for me.
On this Day of Days, let me ask
you for something: lay aside the troubles of this world
as He laid aside the grave clothes on Resurrection
This deadly world is soon to
Resurrection is coming.
Mar 30, 2015
Heading East on the West Bank
Charles Krauthammer is not, so
far as we know, a believer, as Christian readers of
“Israel Watch” would understand. He is Jewish, and one
of the best political commentators around.
In a recent piece in the
Washington Post, Krauthammer got downright biblical,
though, in his language:
“The fundamental reality
remains: This generation of Palestinian leadership —
from Yasser Arafat to Mahmoud Abbas — has never and will
never sign its name to a final peace settlement dividing
the land with a Jewish state. And without that, no
Israeli government of any kind will agree to a
This calls to mind again (and
please, do not misunderstand: I do not mean that
Krauthammer or any other political commentator would
agree with me on this point) the ancient prophecies
concerning the Land of Israel and the last days.
I will gather all nations
and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat.[a]
There I will put them on trial
for what they did to my
inheritance, my people Israel, because they
scattered my people among the nations and divided up my
land. (Joel 3:2)
The division of the land,
promised to the Jews, is something that in particular
provokes God to wrath. We see this as well in Zechariah,
and in Amos 9:15, the Lord promises that no one will
uproot Jews from the land once He has placed them there
a final time, in the last days:
I will plant Israel in their own
never again to be uprooted
rom the land I have given them,” says the Lord
Interestingly, more than a dozen
years ago, Ariel Sharon quoted this verse almost
verbatim (although, like Krauthammer, he didn’t
necessarily mean that he was being biblical about it).
On the minds of prophecy
students now, at a fever pitch, is the question of the
famed “Gog-Magog War” mentioned in Ezekiel 38-39, and
also related is the question of whether Scripture
mitigates against a Palestinian state. I read recently
an email exchange on this between prophecy
students/teachers, and at least one dogmatically claimed
that a Palestinian state could never be established,
according to the Bible.
I’m not so sure. You see, we all
draw conclusions. I would say that given the current
climate, politically speaking, a Palestinian state is
not in the offing. However, notice:
“Son of man, prophesy to the
mountains of Israel and say, ‘Mountains of Israel, hear
the word of the Lord. This is what the Sovereign Lord
says: The enemy said of you, “Aha! The ancient heights
have become our possession.”’ Therefore prophesy and
say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Because they
ravaged and crushed you from every side so that you
became the possession of the rest of the nations and the
object of people’s malicious talk and slander,
therefore, mountains of Israel, hear the word of the
Sovereign Lord: This is what the Sovereign Lord says to
the mountains and hills, to the ravines and valleys, to
the desolate ruins and the deserted towns that have been
plundered and ridiculed by the rest of the nations
around you— this is what the Sovereign Lord says: In my
burning zeal I have spoken against the rest of the
nations, and against all Edom, for with glee and with
malice in their hearts they made my land their own
possession so that they might plunder its pastureland.’
Therefore prophesy concerning the land of Israel and say
to the mountains and hills, to the ravines and valleys:
‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I speak in my
jealous wrath because you have suffered the scorn of the
nations. Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says:
I swear with uplifted hand that the nations around you
will also suffer scorn. (Ezekiel 36:1-7)
“Aha, the ancient heights have
become our possession.”
we can’t be too dogmatic, either, but let’s think about this.
The above scenario fits the
Kingdom of Jordan nicely. Coming from the east, the
Jordanians at one time controlled the “West Bank” (a
term so coined by Jordan’s King Hussein for political
purposes). The Ezekiel verses could refer to that
(although Jordan did not develop the land, but left it
waste), or to a future sovereign control. After all,
much of the Jordanian population is Palestinian.
When the Israelis won the
territory in their lightning victory in 1967, Christians
rejoiced because the ancestral land was now under Jewish
As always, we must be cautious
in being dogmatic about certain future scenarios. Are
conditions ripe for an acceleration of prophetic events?
Slowly but surely, the nations
are forming a confederacy against the Jewish state, led
by the gang in the White House.
Yet, Canada and Australia are
strengthening their ties with the Jewish state, proving
beyond doubt that Israel is not currently friendless.
Close, but not yet.
Another important point to
remember when we are lured into thinking dogmatically is
that geopolitics change with the wind. Consider that a
few months ago, Egypt was a mortal enemy of Israel.
Today, the military government is cooperating with
Israel in unprecedented ways.
In another year, those Canadian
and Australian governments, too, could elect anti-Israel
We can’t bet the farm on
short-term political realities in our world. Hear
“In the last four years, Egypt
has had two revolutions and three radically different
regimes. Yemen went from pro-American to Iranian client
so quickly the United States had to evacuate its embassy
in a panic. Libya has gone from Moammar Gaddafi’s crazy
authoritarianism to jihadi-dominated civil war. On
Wednesday, Tunisia, the one relative success of the Arab
Spring, suffered a major terror attack that the prime
minister said ‘targets the stability of the country.’
“What we can know for sure is
that God’s promises are sure and true and will be
fulfilled in exact detail.”
Many of us long for the Lord’s
return. He is coming, that is for sure.
In the meantime, let us not be
overly sure of all the details. Frankly, it’s fun in a
way to watch all this unfold. And we are surely getting
What we do know is that the Land
of Israel is the trigger for it all. So we watch.
Mar 23, 2015
Will America Abandon Israel?
“U.S. Threatens Sanctions
Against Israel, Makes Excuses for Iran”
—The Weekly Standard, 3/19/2015
Did you ever in your life think
you’d live to see the above headline? For Christian
supporters of Israel, we have entered Unthinkable Land.
The tone and tenor from the
White House regarding Israel has become so menacing, one
can believe the American president is capable of
The answer to the title of this
week’s “Israel Watch” is in two parts. A) At official
levels, particularly the political echelon, the nation
is very close to cutting loose our most important ally.
Barack Obama is simply following his ideology, shaped
for decades among leftist elites and Communists. He has
long been friendly to the Palestinian cause.
B) The current older generations
of Americans are solidly with the Jewish state. Whether
it be for religious reasons, or for geopolitical and
military alliances, a vast number of Americans feel some
affinity with the Jewish state.
stronger-than-expected election win last week apparently
so enraged Obama that he directed his team to float
trial balloons to signal his intent in dealing with
Netanyahu over the next 22 months.
But in the tale of the Israeli
elections, we have lessons to learn, as believers.
For one thing, for all the hand
wringing by pro Israel folks in the lead-up to the
election, it turned out again to be much ado about
nothing. We read in our Bibles that the Lord sets up
kings and puts them down, and so it was always all in
We make too much of Obama’s
abilities to make mischief. We think too much about all
the scary scenarios that can unfold for Israel.
In the Weekly Standard piece by
Daniel Halper, we read:
“The U.S. government might
impose sanctions on Israel or allow its greatest ally in
the Middle East to be tried in the International
Criminal Court, according to Politico. Michael Crowley
“Obama officials must
now decide whether more international pressure on Israel
can help bring a conservative Netanyahu-led government
back to the negotiating table with the Palestinians — or
whether such pressure would simply provoke a defiant
reaction, as some fear.
“Obama has other
diplomatic options. He could expend less political
capital to oppose growing momentum within the European
Union to impose sanctions on Israel for its settlement
“More provocative to
Israel would be any softening of Obama’s opposition to
Palestinian efforts to join the International Criminal
Court, which the Palestinian Authority will formally
join on April 1. Under a law passed by Congress, any
Palestinian bid to bring war crimes charges against
Israel at the court will automatically sever America’s
$400 million in annual aid to the Palestinian Authority,
although some experts suggested Obama could find
indirect ways to continue some funding — even if only to
prevent a dangerous collapse of the Palestinian
True, if Obama can try to force
the creation of a Palestinian state, and if he can
(perhaps even more ominously) allow Israel to be tried
in the Hague, then yes, that is cause for concern in
that none of us want to see such an isolated Israel.
However, let me offer a contrary
view, as set against the current Christian Zionist
climate, which is to some degree based on fear:
His own reasons, the Lord allows you to live in the time
when the greatest last days’ prophecies are coming to
pass. In order for the “Zechariah scenarios” to be
fulfilled, Israel must become isolated internationally.
Truly, we are seeing that come to pass on a grand scale.
In other words,
It is happening exactly as He
said it would.
You should actually rejoice at
what we are seeing unfold!
•For all his blustering and for
all the evil he has brought to America, Barack Obama is
a human being. I do not wish him ill, or hope that his
circle of advisors has dreadful things befall them
(unlike some Christians who post on social media).
I hope that they are granted
mercy by the Lord, so that they can see reality for what
Who is Valerie Jarrett? The
advisor to Obama is just that: a temporary, powerful
political operative who is also a human being. Pray that
she and her team understand unfolding history before
it’s too late.
Look, we who read and believe
the Bible and who love the Jewish people understand that
they are eternal. I used to “worry” about them. Worry
about forces arrayed against them. Worry about the
possibility that the United States would one day turn
course America will abandon Israel. Why do I believe
Only for one reason:
Scripture tells us this is so.
I often think of the scene in
the Mel Gibson film, “The Patriot.” Early on, he and his
young sons have ambushed the British patrol that
murdered one of the family’s sons. Gibson’s character
puts his hands on his young son’s shoulders; the boy is
flustered and emotionally drained from the ambush. His
father calms him, talks to him, and finally says,
That is what our Father is doing
for us in these seemingly dark days. I have staked my
life on the fact that the Bible is true. Israel will not
disappear, and though it makes us sad, the reality is
that the entire international community will one day
soon stand against Israel and come against Jerusalem.
But…look: we have been given the privilege of a
front-row seat. I also had the privilege of seeing
America in her heyday. Today, my heart is only grateful.
For I am not looking to the past, for something that was
lost. I am looking to the future, to the restored
creation, and to the just nature of our Father in
heaven, who loves us and all people. He wants the best
Israel hasn’t seen the last of
her isolation. She has challenges ahead. But in the most
real sense, she is fine and safe.
For those of us who love her,
these things must be. Our task is to support her as we
can, to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and to look
forward to that eternal, shining city on a hill.
Mar 16, 2015
(The response to our new
newsletter has been fantastic and we thank all of you
for signing up, and for those of you who will join us!
I’ve told this story before, but
when Ehud Barak was challenging Benjamin Netanyahu in
1999 — three years into Bibi’s first go as prime
minister — I was….really worried.
I was discussing this fear with a
friend who had served as chief of staff for several
Israeli prime ministers. We were at lunch in Washington.
“Jim,” Eli began, “the issue is
not who will be prime minister, but the issue is…the
Messiah is coming.”
In that moment, I learned
As humans, we put too much
emphasis on human problems, and circumstances that are
beyond our control. We worry. A lot.
However, an increasing theme for
me is that we should focus solely on the provision of
God, for in that we see a glimpse of the power and
majesty of the living God.
Israel is in the midst of a
high-stakes election campaign, and voters this week will
decide which party will lead the nation during a very
dark time. First and foremost of course is the security
situation regarding Iran. Depending on your worldview —
whether you think your enemies can be reasoned with, or
whether you think they must be defeated — you will vote
either for a Livni-Herzog government, or a Netanyahu-led
Don’t misunderstand me. From a
human standpoint, Israel is besieged and in peril.
Bizarrely, the existential threat from Iran is just one
of many serious issues facing the Jewish state, not the
least of which is (from my perspective, this is more
fascinating) a growing pressure from the international
Lots and lots of my pro Israel
friends are wringing their hands, worrying about the
unthinkable, the prospect that Netanyahu will be
replaced by a left-leaning appeasement artist.
That might happen, because the
truth is, we just don’t know how the election will go. I
read this week a thoroughly confident assessment by a
writer in Ha’aretz that it’s ludicrous to think
Netanyahu will lose. He made a compelling case that the
prime minister will be re-elected.
Then we have reports out of the
(conservative-friendly?) Jerusalem Post that Netanyahu
is in real danger of losing.
We just don’t know what’s going
to happen. At first glance, Israelis on both the right
and the left unify over one thing: preservation.
Security is paramount, and why wouldn’t it be? Israel is
unique in the world as a small nation surrounded by
hostile countries; added to this the alarming uptick in
anti-Semitism around the world, and you have a recipe
for Something Wicked This Way Comes.
However, and here I am really
only addressing “Israel Watch” readers who are
believers, if we are people Of the Book, then we must
What do our scriptures tell us?
Let every soul be subject unto
the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the
powers that be are ordained of God.
He changes times and seasons;
he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom
to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.
“God is in control” is not a
greeting card sentiment, or a single page in a Max
It is reality.
Look, I’m a big Netanyahu fan.
Likewise, I view Tzipi Livni as a dangerous pacifist who
would cave-in to Iran, etc. Much like the current
Yet, if the Bible is true, we
have nothing to fear. Nothing to worry about. God has
promised to preserve Israel.
Do you know what troubles me? Not
that Iran threatens Israel. What troubles me is that too
many in our faith community do not really believe God.
An honest reading of Scripture alerts us to the fact
that Israel and the Jewish people are the linchpin of
God’s ending of human history. Further, He not only
promises to preserve them (ex: Amos 9:15), but He
promises to fight
for them (Zechariah 14:3).
Does the Almighty really need our
help, with our worry, analysis, and doomsday
Remember, too, recent history. In
1967, Israel was led by a man who didn’t inspire much
confidence: Levi Eshkol. Yet the Israelis achieved an
astonishing, epic victory in less than a week, paving
the way for the fulfillment of prophecy, as the Jews
settled the biblical heartland.
In 1973, facing an apocalyptic
defeat at the hands of Egypt and the Syrians, and led by
a prime minister (Golda Meir) who would be turned out of
office for her tepid handling of the lead-up to war,
Israel pulled victory from the gaping jaws of defeat…and
The 1948 War of Independence is
like something out of a Hollywood movie: rag-tag,
fledgling army, made up of many Holocaust survivors,
holds off five invading Arab armies. And uses a handful
of tanks and planes to do it.
I could go on.
I certainly hope Benjamin
Netanyahu wins this week. I really do. He is the best
man to lead Israel. But he is only a man and his
nation’s future does not rest on his shoulders.
The God of Abraham, Isaac, and
Jacob has them. He has this. And, as I love to say, by
extension we can see through His loving preservation of
the Jewish people that He also holds us close, the
Whether it be circumstances on a
grand stage, or whether it be a problem in your life…the
God of the Bible, the Creator of the universe, is in
Take the time this week to thank
Him for that.
Mar 9, 2015
This was an interesting week. The speech before
Congress, by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,
was electric. Many of us haven’t seen anything like it
since Reagan’s State of the Union addresses a generation
Netanyahu walked deliberately into the Chamber, and was
greeted enthusiastically by both senators and
congressmen. It was obvious that support for Israel is
Two things stood out to me about this momentous event:
•Obama, in his petty response to Netanyahu’s bravo
performance, looked small. He really did. He whined that
Netanyahu didn’t offer anything new. But he knew
Netanyahu wouldn’t, and so that wasn’t the point. He
simply hoped to take some attention off Netanyahu’s tour
de force by meekly changing the subject. How tiny and
vulnerable he looked in Netanyahu’s shadow.
•Netanyahu, about two-thirds of the way through the
speech, brought up what I think is the key point. He
said that it doesn’t matter if a country has nuclear
knowledge…if it doesn’t have nuclear infrastructure.
This is key because, in effect he was saying that Iran
will pose no threat to Israel, or anyone else, if the
Islamic Republic doesn’t have the means to produce
bombs. I took this to be a veiled threat to the mullahs,
and in fact, Netanyahu also said that if necessary,
Israel will go it alone.
Another thing emerged from the speech, and that is not
directly related to Israel’s position. Anyone who
watched the speech could see that the American public is
starved for real leadership, and they responded to
Netanyahu in a huge way. It shows that there are still
millions of Americans who are, well, Americans. Further,
thought our country’s political echelon is hostile to
Israel, the country’s citizens are not.
I spoke this week at the Prophecy in the News conference
in Orlando, and there was much discussion over whether
or when America will abandon Israel.
To this I say: we cannot effect change in our
government. I believe the country is too far gone for
that. We cannot accurately predict the near future
regarding America’s support for the Jewish state.
However, I fervently believe that the Lord of History is
marking the response of every individual. I cannot be
responsible for the government, or for Obama’s
totalitarian bent. I can however be responsible for my
own heart and how I personally treat Israel.
So long as I maintain my focus, and love the Jewish
people and Israel with all my heart, I will rest knowing
I did all I could do.
This was the essence of Netanyahu’s speech. We are
facing perilous times, the prime minister said. Yet in
the end, our duty is to stand and let the chips fall
where they may.
Let us purpose in our hearts to stand with Israel
In that way, we support the prime minister and his
And that’s no small thing.
Mar 2, 2015
I routinely have conversations
with friends of mine in the Bible prophecy community,
and many of us are virtually shocked at the speed with
which prophecies are being fulfilled. You know that too,
as well as we do. The feedback I get each week from
readers shows that they are savvy, engaged, and well
aware of where we are on God’s timeline.
The sheer scope of issues is
dizzying: of course, Israel is no. 1, by a long shot.
Then you have the absolutely astonishing apostasy that
is casting a dark shadow over the American church.
Behind that we have wars and rumors of wars, plagues,
natural disasters, geopolitical disasters, and economic
woes. Most of these problems are man’s self-inflicted
Through it all, though, we have
the Blessed Hope. We are a people not without hope. That
is our great opportunity for evangelism, for sharing the
Gospel one-by-one. I’d like to share from my heart.
I am 52, born and raised in
evangelicalism. In my Southern Baptist upbringing, there
was a heightened sense of anticipation about the
fulfillment of prophecy. In many ways it was an idyllic
upbringing, sort of like Opie Taylor. In those days
(really, I think, until about the year 2000), prophecy
conferences were all the rage; the topic was taught from
the pulpits, and the folks in the pews were engaged.
All that has changed. I want to
be clear that I am speaking generally, and at the
national leadership level. There are still many tens of
thousands of wonderful churches and pastors who contend
earnestly for the faith. There are still many thousands
of believers who look for our Blessed Hope, the return
of the Lord. There are still ministries dedicated to
teaching these things, and still some well-known leaders
who are prophecy proponents.
Yet the national scene has
given rise to the likes of Rick Warren, who can stand
before the Southern Baptist Convention and encourage
pastors to downplay prophecy teaching. Failed and
disgraced leaders like Mark Driscoll (who, incredibly,
was reinventing himself even before the ink was dry on
his resignation from Mars Hill) can mock prophecy
teachers and students, calling us wingnuts. Even — and
this is perhaps the most difficult to understand —
heretofore friendly sources can twist and spin their own
biases against prophecy teaching (http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/1980-what-if-jesus-doesnt-come-back-this-year).
Today, the landscape has changed.
As I prepare to go speak at the Prophecy in the News
conference in Orlando, I am buoyed by the fact that I’ll
see dear friends like Don Perkins, Gary Frazier, Terry
James, and Tommy Ice, to name a few. Another friend,
Kevin Clarkson, has become the face of PITN, and that is
frankly thrilling. These men are champions of sharing
the Gospel, through the teaching of Bible prophecy.
And that’s the point of it,
that’s why “prophecy matters.” It isn’t so we can name
the antichrist, or predict the date of the Rapture. It’s
to show people clearly, through the divine revelation of
Scripture, that God is alive, well, and acting in the
world today. That is Good News for every man, woman, and
child, literally. No matter their backgrounds or
worldviews, the message of predictive prophecy is
thrilling, and highly relevant.
It is profoundly sad, to me, that
there are forces within the American church dedicated to
extinguishing that message. Oh, they don’t say it in so
many words, but their actions speak very loudly. In
fact, speaking of relevant, the magazine of the same
name, published by Millennial influencer Cameron Strang,
is another that likes to mock prophecy. Just check out
Allow me to digress for a minute,
and show you in a tangible way how sources like Relevant
are changing American culture (part of the fallout of
their center-left approach is the marginalizing of Bible
prophecy teaching). A tweet from February 25 reads
says they want diversity, but what many really want is
for minorities to assimilate to the dominant culture.”
Now, do you see what the magazine’s editors are doing
here? The tweet then has a link to the article, which
invokes such leftist language as “collective guilt” and
favorably quotes leftists like Desmond Tutu (who is
anti-Israel, by the way).
I use that example — many others pop up daily — to show
how this liberal/leftist mindset is changing the
American church. Again, it shouldn’t surprise that a
magazine like Relevant also never misses an opportunity
to mock Bible prophecy teachers; they devoted precious
space to gleefully poke fun at the new “Left Behind”
film, starring Nicholas Cage. Relevant’s editors want
readers to jettison old traditions and traditional
teachings, including Bible prophecy. Why? Because they
believe this old school approach is harming our capacity
to see our own brilliance in “changing the world.”
There is no room in this worldview for a genuine hope
in, even a dependency, on the soon return of Christ.
That’s one reason it’s critical
that we redouble our efforts to promote and teach Bible
prophecy. It’s why I’ve made a commitment this year to
advance Prophecy Matters as never before.
You can help by subscribing to
our newsletter, at $5 per month. You can also contact us
about hosting a Prophecy Matters seminar in your church
or community center, or living room if you so choose.
We’ll go anywhere, anytime.
One of my topics at the PITN
conference will be “The War on Bible Prophecy,” and I
want to make people aware of those who would try to
extinguish what some of us fervently pray for, as Tommy
Ice would say, Maranatha!
The examples I’ve cited of our
ideological opponents within the evangelical community
are truly the tip of an enormous iceberg. Almost all
national leaders and celebrity pastors are so deep into
the poison model of the “Church Growth” movement that
they are militant against the teaching of prophecy. It
doesn’t fit the Kingdom Now perspective. Many, like
Warren, believe our job is to “change the world” and
create a church so powerful that we can then
triumphantly hand it off to Jesus.
That worldview doesn’t square
with Scripture, particularly the New Testament, where we
see upon Christ’s return that “I tell you that he will
avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man
cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8).
But the highest-profile national
evangelical leaders are embarrassed by, and dislike
prophecy teaching. It isn’t difficult at all to see that
Warren, Andy Stanley, and Bill Hybels are leading the
charge to fundamentally remake the American Church. In
my view, they have done it by stealth, and I want to be
clear about that. The move to the left on social issues
is part of the Great Apostasy foretold by Jesus and the
I recently asked Dave Reagan for
some examples of Christian leaders who actively work
against the teaching of Bible prophecy; my entire
article on this subject will be posted soon at Prophecy
Matters, but here are two:
•“Tony Compolo: In his book,
Speaking My Mind,
he attacks believers in Bible prophecy with these words:
‘Rigid Christians who believe in
the possibility of Jesus’ soon return are a real problem
for the whole world.’
“He then proceeds to blame them
(us!) For wars and a host of other evils.”
•”Bill Moyers: The PBS
journalist, who is a Baptist seminary graduate, gave a
speech in 2004 in which he denounced Tim LaHaye as a
‘religious warrior who subscribes to a fantastical
“He added that those who agree
with Tim LaHaye’s viewpoint desire environmental
disaster ‘as a sign of the coming apocalypse.’”
These men are bearing false
witness against us, and deceiving millions with their
messages. The larger problem is, their views are no
longer confined to mainline churches and dusty
seminaries. Their anti-Bible prophecy messages are
becoming mainstream within evangelicalism.
This is tragic.
Recently, I spoke in a church,
and the theme was the miraculous modern state of Israel.
I pointed out that God’s provision for the Jewish people
is perhaps the greatest sign to us today that He is
fully engaged with bringing His divine plan to
After the service, a 30-ish
father, holding his little girl, approached me and said
that he had been running from God for 10 years, but now
he understood. He was turning back to his faith.
This, you see, is the great
message of Bible prophecy, and it has been my privilege
to see great men of God like Don Perkins articulate this
It’s why I want to step-up my own
efforts to do so, for the time is truly short. There’s
no datesetting in that
statement, either, for we have only to look at Israel’s
current situation, and the growing departure from the
faith by American church leaders, to grasp the truth of
My own particular brand of
prophecy teaching relies very heavily on pointing out
the divine nature of Israel’s past, present, and future.
I use scores of examples to show that the Bible is
wholly true, and that God cares for each individual. If
He can bring back a people from 2,000 years of exile, in
such dramatic and public fashion, don’t you think he can
solve your problems?
He can and He will. We must trust
Him. We must acknowledge Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all
you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you
This is the profound message that
the prophecy haters cannot begin to pass on to their
followers, for the simple reason that they relegate so
much of Scripture to myth.
We don’t do that. We teach the
If you feel lead, consider
partnering with us at Prophecy Matters, in the ways I’ve
listed above. For all the darkness in this tired old
world, we have the ultimate hope. As Charles Spurgeon
“Little children, whatever you
have not got, you have a God in whom you may greatly
glory. Let the times roll on; they cannot affect our
Feb 23, 2015
If we know anything about
Israeli politics, it’s as predictable as the weather in
It isn’t predictable at all.
Benjamin Netanyahu is still the
front-runner, as the incumbent. At least this morning.
That might change by afternoon.
Not surprisingly, Netanyahu has
recently come under attack for alleged spending
improprieties, something that has dogged him in the
past. Who can forget the important story from years ago
when it was revealed how many cigars the premier smoked
in one year in office.
It’s a personal opinion, but
when we see poll results that bend with every allegation
made against a candidate, such results indicate the
relatively shallow knowledge of the average voter. For
example, if Netanyahu spent too lavishly in the last
year in office, does that really matter, or impinge on
his ability to deal with Iran?
Because that’s all that matters,
Netanyahu’s Likud Party has been
swapping places with his rivals’ party, Zionist Union.
Two weeks ago, Likud had a four-seat lead, last week
one, and now the Likud rival has a two-seat lead in the
Through it all, most pundits
figure Netanyahu will still emerge as the Israeli leader
again, over political foes Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni.
When it comes down to it,
Israelis are far more concerned about security than any
other issue, including how much money Netanyahu’s wife
spends. At the end of the day, I believe they will vote
for him again, since the crisis with Iran looms large.
Remember, Israel is under an existential threat, a far
different reality than any other country on Earth.
With Israeli elections set for
March, just after Netanyahu’s speech before Congress
(look for a boost in his poll numbers after the speech,
since of course most of Israel will also watch), the
soggy negotiations conducted by the Americans with Iran
are a sight to behold. Obama is conceding to every
single (major) Iranian demand, at the same time he makes
weekly, almost daily bizarre statements in support of
Obama’s strange behavior is all
the more ominous, since he is also going out of his way
to abuse our great ally, Israel. Assuming Obama leaves
office in two years, it is perhaps more important to
look slightly ahead at the
landscape, for such a landscape has interesting biblical
International pressure on Israel
is tightening, dangerously. Yet it is not at the level
“necessary” for, say, Zechariah’s prophecies to be
fulfilled. Indeed, quite ironically, Jordan and even
Egypt are cooperating with Israel mightily in the
vicious fight against ISIS.
But looking at the next several
years, when right-wing Israeli leaders like former
Netanyahu aid Naftali Bennett. The leader of the Bayit
Yehudi party sounds like a biblical leader, vowing not
to cede any more territory, and make Zionism a strength
of the country again.
One can never know what will
happen in the future, of course, but it might just be a
Bennett, and not a Netanyahu, who delivers the Jewish
people again from the Persian menace.