America in a Troubled World: What Does The Future Hold?
Inside The Middle East Crisis Conference.
Joel C. Rosenberg examines what the Bible says—or doesn’t say—about the United States of America in the last days.
- Good evening. It's an honor to be with you, Mark. Thank you so much and to Mitch and Rich and the whole team. I guess you have to have an itch in your name to run Chosen People Ministries. And I love these guys. And I appreciate the organization that has gone into this conference. And I want to thank Dr. Lutzer as well and his family and his team that has hosted us. And of course, I'm looking forward to him speaking tomorrow. I have never been in this facility before. And I'm excited to be here, especially when you think of the the rich tradition. Now I understand that Dwight L. Moody didn't actually ever preach in this particular building, but when you think of doing any type of conference or speaking here, it has to have the gospel of Jesus Christ at the heart. And that will really be the theme of the conference, certainly of my talk tonight, and as we go through the weekend, is not simply the bad news. We're gonna be talking about some bad news. And I need you to buckle up and be ready for some difficult assessments of where we are as a country and as a world, as a church, not just from me, but I suspect from other speakers throughout the weekend. It is some bad news. At the same time, we don't want to forget or lose our focus on the good news that even while evil is rising in our world today, Jesus Christ is moving so powerfully, all over the world, including in a place that we didn't think historically, well we haven't seen him move as powerfully in the Middle East, in what I call the epicenter, as we have in these last 30 to 60 years, and even in the last few years. I think the highlights of this conference, from my personal perspective, will be the testimonies of two dear brothers, an Israeli pastor and a former PLO terrorist. I think the fact that these two will be sharing tomorrow, really captures the essence of going inside the Middle East crisis but also finding peace in a troubled world. Now the topic that I was assigned to kick off with tonight is a little sobering, okay, because the topic is America in a troubled world, what does the future hold? Now let's begin by turning to Luke chapter 12 because in Luke chapter 12, it's interesting. Jesus is not talking about the United States, just to be clear. Though it's applicable right? You know all Scripture is god-breathed and useful. And it's gonna be useful for us here. But in Luke chapter 12, beginning in verse 54, the crowds are around him. And the disciples are within that crowd. And Jesus has said something difficult to them. He was saying to the crowds, when you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say a shower is coming. And so it turns out. And when you see a south wind blowing, you say hey it's gonna be a hot day and it turns out that way. And then Jesus says, you hypocrites. You know how to analyze the appearance of the earth and the sky, but why do you not analyze this present time? At the core of what he was saying was that the Hebrew prophets had given us a list of prophecies, of data points, that would indicate who the Messiah would be. And those who are standing right in front of him who ought to know those prophecies and be able to connect the dots, to use a term in Washington over the last decade or so since 9/11, to connect these dots, they weren't doing it. The personification of truth was standing right in front of them and they knew that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem Ephrata from Micah. They knew he'd do ministry in the Galilee. That's from Isaiah. They knew that a child would be born, a son would be given, a human being, a male human being would come to earth, and lo and behold he would be called mighty God, Isaiah chapter 9. They knew a lot of details, but they weren't able to add it up. The first coming of the Messiah to earth. Now what's interesting is that of course the Scriptures, both the Hebrew Scriptures in the Old Testament, and the New Testament Scriptures, give us more details about what's coming, as we prepare for the return of Jesus Christ. Now let me be clear right upfront that while we're gonna be analyzing this present time, certainly tonight and through this weekend, I want to be clear that I don't know when Jesus is coming back. You know I'm not a modern Nostradamus. I'm not a psychic. I'm not a clairvoyant. I don't call Miss Cleo in the middle of the night to get my insights, okay. I just want to be clear. I was on a radio show with Alan Colmes once. You know Alan is Jewish and hasn't quite come into the Kingdom yet, but I'm praying for him. And I hope that you are. And my books had been out, and they'd been making a bit of a stir. And he had me on his radio show to mock me. But I knew that was coming. And I wanted to be on his show anyway. So he said alright Joel, now you're the modern Nostradamus, right? I said well no, not really. He said, well you wrote all those books that seem to predict these events. And so you seem to have the inside track on the future. I said well let's not overstate it. Oh you're just being modest. He said so you basically know when Jesus is coming back don't you? I said no Allen, I don't. He said oh come on Joel, just between you and me, right, and his radio audience. Just between you and me just tell us when. Okay and immediately what flash to my mind was the book that's on my shelf back home in Washington, "The 88 Reasons Jesus is Coming in 1988." And I thought I don't really want to go there, right because Jesus said, well that's what I said to him, I said look I can't tell you because I don't know because Jesus said, at the time he said it, he didn't know. He said that it's gonna be like the days of Noah, but no one knows the day or hour. It's gonna be like the days of Noah. Noah knew something bad was coming, knew God's hand was gonna to intercede in the events of humanity in a cataclysmic and dramatic way, that there was gonna be a way of salvation, but Noah didn't know exactly when the rain was coming. In fact rain had never happened in the Bible thus far. So I said I don't know. And by the way I just should make an aside. You know Matthew 24, right Jesus talks about the days of Noah, and my wife is here today, Lynn Rosenberg. We've been married for 20 years. We have four sons Caleb, Jacob, Jonah, and Noah. 16, 14, 12, and six. And you say well there's a little gap there. Why did you have a Noah? Because Jesus said he's not coming back again till the days of Noah. So we thought you know, if we're holding him back. We'd better have a Noah and now he's been around six years and we love him and he loves Jesus and he just got baptized in Israel this summer. And he's already been there four times in his six years. So I just want you, to before we go any further, and I finished this anecdote about Alan Colmes, we're living in the days of Noah. Don't walk out of here going I didn't know. We are. So I'm saying to Alan, listen, we don't know. And the Bible didn't say. And he said come on Joel let's just between you and me, is it really close? I said well it could be really close. Should I buy green bananas? Should I bother to pick up my dry-cleaning? And I said, listen Alan, I know you're having fun with this. He said no just tell me what I should do, Joel. Just, I want to be ready. You want to be ready. What should I do? You know Jesus is coming back right? I said you really want to know Alan? Yes, I do. That's why I've got you on the show, Joel. Okay, well if you really want to be ready, you need to receive Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior. Well that's a very kind reaction. That wasn't his. He's like whoa, well wait a minute. Wait a minute. You were trying to lead me to faith, and he said convert, but lead me to Jesus on my own radio show? I said I'm just trying to answer your question. He goes, I didn't ask you to convert me to Jesus on my radio show. I said you said is Jesus coming back. I know what I said. I said should I buy green bananas? I know what I said. You said should I get my dry cleaning. You said what should I do? And I said if you really, figure out whether Jesus is the Messiah and then receive him. He goes alright, I said say that, but. Look I don't know. So you could say. Well why did they invite you? I don't know. You'll have to talk to Mitch and Rich. But I do want to talk about the things that we do know in scriptures. And because we're supposed to understand the Word of God, and then we're supposed to understand the world events that we live in, and we're supposed to analyze the present time. Jesus was actually fairly harsh, saying we were hypocrites if we wouldn't do that. And that's really the purpose of the conference. Now in the book "Epicenter," my non-fiction book, the first one, I wrote about three lenses, that if we only look at events in the world, and particularly in the Middle East, through geopolitical lenses, or economic lenses, we can't really see in three dimensions. Only if we look at the world also through what I call the third lens, the lens of Scripture, do things begin to become a little clearer. Doesn't mean you're gonna understand or I'm gonna understand every event that's coming in every part of the world at all times, but we're going to understand things better when we understand things from the perspective of the Scriptures. And so I want to look at the scriptures on this big question of America in a troubled world, what does the future hold? Now let's focus on several references that I think can apply to the United States that are in the positive. Ok. Let's start with Revelation chapter seven. Revelation chapter seven, verses nine and 10. The Apostle John is writing in the power of the Holy Spirit and he says this. Revelation seven, beginning in verse nine. After these things I looked, and behold a great multitude which no one could count from every nation. And all tribes and peoples and tongues standing before the throne, and before the lamb clothed in white robes. And palms branches were in their hand. And they cried out with a loud voice saying, salvation to our God who sits on the throne and to the lamb. And the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. And they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God saying, amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and Thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God for ever and ever. When we think about America in a troubled world, and what is our future hold, I believe there's gonna be a lot of Americans who are in heaven standing and then bowing before the throne of God, worshiping Jesus Christ. And it is our heart, our mission each one of us to make sure that nobody gets left behind as it were, that nobody had misses that opportunity to hear the gospel and respond to the gospel. We can't be responsible for convincing people. We can be responsible and we are responsible for sharing the gospel so that everyone has that chance to be part of Revelation chapter seven. So that is a positive. That's the United States among every nation being referenced positively in last day's scriptures. Now Matthew chapter 24. Turn back with me to Matthew chapter 24. And let's look at verse 14. Now there's a lot of things that happen in Matthew 24. This list that Jesus gives. You know he's asked this question by the disciples, hey when are you coming back and what's the sign? They're just asking for one that would indicate that you're getting close to coming back. So you know we can be ready. They had no idea how long it would be, but Jesus could have given a very Washington, political answer. No comment. Next question. But he didn't. He actually answers the question and gives a list of signs, not just one. And you know a lot of them are bad, right? But there's a positive one, chapter 24 verse 14 of Matthew. This gospel, this good news that Jesus Christ died on the cross and rose again to forgive our sins and adopt us into God's family, this gospel of The Kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations and then the end shall come. Again, I think it's fair because we're talking about the whole world and all nations, that this country will hear, that everyone will have a chance to hear. Now we probably are pretty close to that anyway. Only God can assess at any given moment if everyone in our country is heard, but we certainly have more opportunities to share the gospel than any other country in terms of technology and freedom and so forth. But not only that, I think the United States, I think it's fair to reference the United States in this as being one of the countries that God is using to drive the gospel from this building, from this city. Think of how much has gone out around the world, around every nation, the gospel of Jesus Christ, because of what has happened through the life of Dwight L. Moody alone, to speak nothing of Youth for Christ of being in Chicago and Billy Graham and all the ministries that have come out of this city. God is using the United States, powerfully to proclaim the gospel all over the world. This is a country that is recruiting and training missionaries, a country that's funding ministries around the world. You think of it, it's the ATM machine of the world missions movement. And then there's the internet. Well, internet. Thank God for Al Gore right, because. What if he hadn't invented the internet? The internet. Satellite television technology. Radio technology. Obviously God has used this country, and continues to use it, and we should be grateful. We should be grateful. And we should be prayerful that the Lord is merciful and allows us to continue to be a country, smack dab in the middle of Matthew 24:14, to help him fulfill that verse, because only then, when everyone on the planet has had a chance to see and hear and understand, process, and make a decision about Jesus Christ, then Jesus come will come back. So those are two of the positive references. Now you know we have to look at the the flip side as well. Well, staying here in Matthew 24 for a moment, there are going to be events that are happening all over the world that will be negative. Wars, rumors of wars, nations rise against nation, kingdom against kingdom. We've had two world wars in the last century and the United States was at the center of both. Think of the persecution that has gone on around the world. There is, I wouldn't call persecution here in the United States. There's harassment. There's annoyance. We're not suffering persecution like they do in Saudi, like they do in Iran, or Sudan, or China, right? But look at the lawlessness. Look at the betrayals. Look at people's love growing cold for one another. I mean, look at what is happening in our culture. I don't have to convince you of how many of these negative signs that we would expect to happen in the last days are certainly happening in our country, not ours alone, but we have to be sober about this and I know that you are. Turn with me to 2 Timothy, chapter three. 2 Timothy, chapter three. The Apostle Paul writing to his young disciple, who's of course pastoring a church in Ephesus. And Paul looking down the corridors of time, speaking in the power of the Holy Spirit says this. But realize this, Timothy, he's talking to and then through to us, that in the last days, difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. And he wasn't only referring to Congress. I mean this is you know. These are national epidemics right? I've been in Washington 20 years now and. I grew up in upstate New York. I left Love Canal to go to the toxic you know environment of Washington DC. But these things are not limited to our capital and our political class. This is America, sadly. It's not all of America, but this is what we battle against, right? Holding to a form of godliness, although denying its power. This is the world that we live in. This is the country that we love, but not because of these things. We are watching the erosion of the church, the erosion of judeo-christian values and virtues. We are losing the culture. Now the Bible says that we won't be alone, that this will be a world-wide epidemic, these things. And to be fair we have to assess ourselves and say when we think of America in a troubled world, what does the future hold? These are likely to get worse. Our job is to be soul. Our job is to be light. Our job is not to give up, not to fear, right? John chapter 14. Jesus said let your heart not be troubled. I know you think that Sean Hannity came up with that, but that is actually Scripture. We're not supposed to be afraid. We're supposed to worry. Oh, the Muslims are gonna take over everything. Oh my gosh the ACLU is to destroy everything. Whatever your angle is and you may not be wrong about these things, but the point is, we're not supposed to be afraid. We're not supposed to be on defense. Lovingly, confidently, boldly, courageously, we're supposed to be engaging our culture or we're gonna lose it. And we're in danger of losing it now. But there are no specific references to the United States in Scripture that I can find. I know people have referred to various times and places, well what about this eagle and what about that you know. I don't see it, just from my own vantage point, I don't see the United States clearly in Scripture, not obviously by name. But even countries that are not named by names that we would use today are referenced. And territories and regions are mentioned in the Bible. I don't see that when it comes to the United States. Europe is mentioned. When we look at Daniel chapter nine, when you look at Ezekiel 38, you see in Daniel nine, the rise of Rome, the rise of a European Empire with an antichrist coming out of the very peoples that destroyed Jerusalem and the temple in 70 AD. Europe is gonna be at the heart of the end times and what have we seen. Yes two world wars in Europe in the last century, and now the unification. Not divided currencies, one currency. Borderless crossings. One passport. This year or this past year, the first president of the European Union was established. We don't even know his name. It's known, but I'm saying it's not somebody that we even think of or pay attention to yet. But the very things that the Bible describes as a reemergent Europe, powerful, strong, unified, that's happening. And the Bible refers to Europe in the scriptures. Turkey is mentioned, referred to, in Ezekiel 38. We're going to talk about that in a moment. Asia is mentioned in the scriptures, right? In Revelation 16 verse 12 we learn about the kings of the East. Now the Bible doesn't refer specifically to China or North Korea or Indonesia or India or Pakistan. We don't know which kings of the East. But at least a territory, a region is referenced, and you know that's interesting and it's useful that somehow eastern powers are going to be coming into Iraq, heading towards Israel at the end of days. Africa is mentioned in the scriptures. Isaiah 19 describes how Egypt will be judged by the Lord, but then, he will pour out his spirit on the Egyptians and they will come to Christ in huge numbers, and form a spiritual alliance with Syrian believers and Israeli believers. In Ezekiel chapter 38, again we'll talk about that a little bit more in a moment, but Sudan is referred to, Libya is referred to, Ethiopia is referred to, Algeria is referred to, possibly Tunisia. Those regions of North Africa and then sort of the east, the northeast quadrant. Doesn't refer to southern Africa, sub-saharan Africa in any detail, but Africa is referenced. Obviously the Middle East is indicated as the epicenter. I mean Ezekiel chapter five verse five. God, he set Jerusalem at the center of the nations, and put all the nations around her. So geographically from God's perspective, Israel is the center, the epicenter of the world, Jerusalem is the epicenter, of Israel, and the Temple Mount is the epicenter of Jerusalem. But of course as you go through the Scriptures, you see that in Ezekiel 36 and 37, 38 and 39, Israel is reborn as a country in the last days. In Revelation, the last country ever mentioned in the Bible is Israel. The last city ever mentioned in the Bible is Jerusalem. How many times is Jerusalem mentioned in the Quran? Zero. It's mentioned more than 800 times in the Bible. And it's the last country. It's the last city mentioned. You think how could Israel be the last country ever mentioned in the Bible and a major focal point of all the kings of the earth, all the nations of the earth, when for 1,900 years Israel didn't even exist? I mean this is one of the things that people, like you don't actually believe the Bible? You don't take it seriously do you? You don't take it literally do you? You don't actually believe Israel will be the focal point of all human attention at the end of time? It doesn't even exist. The Jews are scattered all over the world. They're not coming back, brother. This was said for 1,900 years. And it wasn't just said by pagans. It was said by the church. And look I have compassion and sympathy for replacement theologians pre-1948. And I'll tell you why. I'm not kidding, I mean you know, if 500 years go by after the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70 AD, if 500 years go by, and you think okay when is Ezekiel's prophecies gonna come true and Israel will be reborn and Jews will come back and rebuild the ancient ruins and make the desert bloom. 500 years ago by, nothing. 800 years go by, nothing. 1,000 years go by, nothing. People start saying you know maybe we're reading that wrong. No no, no, no, no, no. A literalist would say, no, no, no. It's true. It's just taking time, you know. A day is like a thousand years. Just hang in there. 1,200 years go by. 1,400 years go by. 1,600 years ago by. No Israel. No Jewish return. No deserts blooming. People are like look, brothers the replacement theologians are now saying to their literalist brothers, are you really holding on to that, because really, it ain't gonna happen. We're all misreading it. It's metaphoric. It's symbolic. When you see Israel just flip it in your mind. It means Church. 1,600 years, 1,700 years, 1,800 years go by. 1,900 years go by. People are like, alright that's it. I mean the last literalists are like. Not actually. By the time you get to the mid 1800s, and the early 1900s, something is changing. There's a sense that something is going to happen. And there's discussion in the Jewish world. There's discussion in the Christian world. No Israel is coming back. We don't know how. We don't know when. It seems impossible. Then the Bible talks about, can a nation be born in a day? Apparently, it can. May 14th, 1948. So when replacement theologians today look back in the centuries and say, well this church father said that, and you know 900 and this church father said it in 1300, I understand that. It seemed impossible from their vantage point. I'm sympathetic with that, but we know now that Israel and Iraq, Iraq it becomes a huge force in the last days, right? And by the time you get to Revelation 18, 19, you're talking about Iraq, Babylon is the wealthiest country, the wealthiest, most powerful city on the face of the planet in the history of mankind. All the merchants of the earth are watching as it's destroyed. But before it can be destroyed, it has to rise again. I'm hoping that our friend Charlie Dyer, who's probably the only person in the room who has been to Iraq, to Babylon, I hope he delves into that a little bit tomorrow. I'm really looking forward to it and I have to tell you, I've been talking to him and a friend of ours about praying about could we go to Babylon? Could I take a film crew and just start to walk around? That city is rising as we speak. I don't want to steal his thunder. But this is the focus. Israel, Iraq, these countries are gonna be the epicenter of man's focus in the last days. Why? Because they're the epicenter of God's focus and Satan's. Okay, so all these regions and countries and territories are mentioned. Not the United States. Now its conspicuous in its absence because if you believe, as I do, that we are living in the last days. And Peter was saying it was the last days 2,000 years ago. The Apostle John said it was the last hour. It's above my paygrade why he said. I don't understand that, but I don't understand, okay. But if we're living in the last days, in the last hour, 2,000 years ago, are we in the last micro milliseconds? I mean, right? I mean, that's important to know. But the United States is conspicuous in our absence in the text. You don't see the kings of the West coming in to do anything really. So, there's not a reference like that. So people often ask me, this is the number one question that I get asked when I travel around the country and around the world. I probably asked it more outside the United States than in, but a lot inside. And people say, Joel. Well, the two most often questions. One is how can you be Jewish and believe in Jesus? And the second one is what happens to United States? Aren't we in end times prophecy? And I don't see it. So the question is, what people are really asking is, Joel, if you're right that we're living in the last days right now, and the United States is the wealthiest, most powerful country on the face of the planet in the history of mankind, why are we not a player? Why are we not a game changer, a significant factor, or even a footnote in the events of the last days, aside from references like the gospel being preached to the whole world? And I was thinking well the United States is being used by God like that. But in terms of some direct reference, how is that possible? What happens to us? And the answer is I don't know. I don't know because the text doesn't tell us. And it's very important. I urge you, any of you that write about, think about, teach about, think about, have conversations about Bible prophecy, please we need to be careful. If the text doesn't tell us, let's just tell people I don't know. That's an important phrase. In fact, maybe we could all say it once. On the count of three. One, two, three.
- [All] I don't know.
- When you talk about Bible prophecy, there's a temptation to think, I think I know a lot about prophecies. So, I'm just gonna say yeah absolutely I know that. Yes, thank you sir. Appreciate the question. I've of course got the best answer in the world. We have to be careful. If the text tells us, great we teach what the text tells us. If the text doesn't tell us, God didn't want us to know, yet. So we can speculate, but we have to be clear that's what we're doing. Okay, so that's what I'm about to do. I don't know what happens to the United States. But here's some possibilities. Financial collapse. The United Sates implodes, economically. It's interesting, just a few weeks ago the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, was asked during a forum, what's the number one security threat that we face as the United States? And you know you might have expected him to say al Qaeda, or Iran's nuclear program or what have you. He said the number one threat to the United States is our debt. He's absolutely right. And I don't think that needs a lot of elaboration at this moment. We are drowning and it seems difficult to imagine how anybody could fix it. God could do it. But right now we are drowning. And it's hard to see a way forward. So that's one possibility. Not that the United States doesn't exist as we move deeper into the last days, but that we're incapacitated, that we're unable to engage in the events of the last days, militarily or any other way because we can't afford it. A second possibility would be a decapitating terrorist attack, something that took out our national government and made it impossible for us to make decisions at a moment where other world leaders were beginning to move. Another possibility of course would be a biological, chemical, or nuclear attack on our country, any part of our country, but particularly major, economic, military and political centers of our national life. That would just render us incapable of making decisions and projecting force outward. Obviously, one of the scenarios would be natural disasters. Earthquakes, hurricanes, all kinds of other natural disasters, which the Bible says to expect major earthquakes and natural disasters in the last days. Think of sort of Hurricane Katrina multiple times, week after week, week after week, week after week, in different parts of the country. That's just one scenario how hard it was to respond just to that. Another possibility of what happens to us, which makes us incapable of responding and engaging in world events, particularly in the epicenter, in the last days, would of course be the rapture. Think of how our economy would and our national life was affected when we lost nearly 3,000 Americans on September 11th, 2001. Imagine losing 20 million believers in a blink of an eye, or 50 or 60 or 100 million. I can't be the arbiter of who God has decided to guess has in fact received Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. But let's say it's a hundred million people, one in three. You think you've got a foreclosure problem now. The country would be incapacitated. You can't recover and you certainly couldn't recover rapidly. The other possibility, there's many others. I'll just mention one other for tonight. And that would be a weak leadership that squanders our global influence and our moral authority or becomes isolationist or reclusive. This is another threat. All these others are about the United States being unable to project force and engage in the events of the last days. This would be an unwillingness to do so. So that's sobering. I don't know which or any of these are things are going to happen in what order. One of them I do believe, the rapture will happen. Don't ask me when. This is the part I can't answer, but the rest of these all seem like likely possibilities. I don't want to say they're probabilities, but you make the call. You assess it. You need to analyze these present times, yeah, okay turn on WGN and check out the 10 minutes of Doppler weather radar and all kinds of stuff. I mean honestly, all the millions of dollars that are spent on weather forecasting, not just in Chicago, but all the different places that you live, I mean shouldn't they basically just say look, tomorrow will be a mixture of clouds and sunshine, with a 40% chance of precipitation. That's not being overly pessimistic. It could go either way. That would basically cover it, right? I'm telling my boys, our oldest Caleb is 16. I say look, if you're not entirely sure what you want to do with your life, become a weatherman. It doesn't matter what you say. You'll have a job. People know you don't really know, but they watch anyway. He's hasn't quite accepted that idea, but I'm telling him, it's worth thinking about. Look we spent a lot of time thinking about what tomorrow's weather will be when we don't really know. Are we analyzing the world that we live in, the trajectory of events, positive and negative, and where the United States fits in it, and how these different factors would entirely change our lives? Now in that context, I want to look at a scriptural example of a major end times prophecy in which the United States leadership is completely absent. Because it's instructive to see, not just learn the prophecy in its own right, but to understand what the world looks like when the United States either isn't able or isn't willing to engage. And if you turn with me to Ezekiel chapter 38, I'd like to walk us through these prophecies. In the meantime, I forgot to bring up that bottle of water. So one second. Ezekiel chapter 38 and 39. I'm reading from the new American Standard Version. We'll go through some key passages. And we'll try to analyze this and get a sense of the troubled world that we are in and the troubled world that we're heading towards and what the future holds. How soon? I can't tell you. But let's give this an assessment. And the word of the Lord came to me. The prophet Ezekiel, writing 2,600 years ago wrote, saying Son of Man, set your face toward Gog of the land of Magog, the Prince of Rosh, Meshach and Tubal and prophesy against him and say, thus says the Lord God behold I'm against you, oh Gog, Prince of Rosh, Meshach and Tubal. Okay let's just TiVo that for one second. Often when I speak, although I suspect a lot of you are more learned in these things than a general audience that I might be speaking to, but just for the video or for somebody who might be new to this discussion, often people say to me okay, okay, okay, hold on Rosenberg. Gog? I'm just agog thinking about it, what in the world are you talking about here son? So Gog is not a name. It's not a personal name, like Fred Gog or Dmitri Gog or Ahmed Gog or Joel Gog. No, it's a title, like a pharaoh or a Tsar. He's a leader. He's described as a prince of a territory. He's described in the verses ahead as a diplomatic leader, an alliance builder, a coalition builder. He's described as a military leader. He's building an alliance, not just of national political leaders, but of military forces, determined to achieve an objective. In verse 10 Gog is described as devising an evil plan or an evil scheme. This is clearly one of the Bible bad guys, okay? So this leader comes from this territory called Magog. And most people say that's not helping me any. I understand. Now in my book, "Epicenter" I breakdown these ancient names. Most of them refer to nations, people groups that are referred to in Genesis, chapter 10, what's called the Table of Nations. These are descendants of Noah who spread out after the flood and move to these different parts of the world and settle there. This is interesting to me because in a moment we'll see that these events happen in the last days. That's what Ezekiel says. In the last days these events will happen. And these are descendants of Noah. This is what ties together with Jesus saying in Matthew 24 that he's not coming back again until the days of Noah. And since our little Noah's around, again I just want to reinforce to you that if you remember nothing else, remember you're living in the days of Noah. Now, in my book I break down the historical detective work that you need to do to try to discern and decipher what these ancient names refer to, but when you do the homework, and I won't go through all those details tonight, but when you do that homework, you come to the conclusion, I did, and I think it's a compelling case, that you're talking about Russia and the former Soviet republics. We know that the Magogites, Flavius Josephus tells us 2,000 years ago, in his famous book the Antiquities of the Jews, Josephus wrote that the Magogites are the people whom the Greeks called Scythians. Now the Scythians we know, historically moved from the Middle East as a people group and they settled north of the Black Sea, north of the Caspian Sea, in what we now call Russia and the former Soviet republics. So that's just one piece of evidence among many. There's another one that I will mention because it's in the text. If you look at Ezekiel 38 verse 15, it's talking about a Gog and his forces will eventually come from the remotest parts of the north. If you look down in chapter 39 verse two, it says Gog will come from the remotest parts of the north, against the mountains of Israel. Others will say it's from the farther most parts of the north. Well, if you take a map, and you look at Israel, and you go due north as far north as you can possibly go, where are you? You're in Russia. If you go any further north, you're going south and you're in Canada. So my Canadian friends are very happy that that's south. That can't be the territory of Magog, okay. So those are a few of the examples, and there are numerous others that I write about in the book. You can get it from the library. I'm not pitching it. I'm just saying, if it's useful to you. Now what's gonna happen is this leader of Russia, this dictator this evil leader is going to emerge. Now he's gonna build this military, political, economic alliance with a group of countries to come against the mountains of Israel, to come against the people of Israel. These countries are mentioned. In verse five, we see the first nation mentioned as an ally of Russia will be Persia. Well that's an easy one to decipher because until 1935, Persia was the official legal name of the country that we now know as Iran. Now, any of you that have been tracking events in recent years will know that Russia and Iran haven't had an alliance in 25, 2,600 years since the Ezekiel wrote that until the last decade or so. And it's accelerated at a point where this Iranian nuclear reactor in Bushehr, right on the Persian Gulf, the one that has now been delayed because a mysterious computer virus seems to have wormed its way into the computer systems and has slowed down the ability of this Russian-built, Russian-engineered, Russian-established nuclear reactor to enrich uranium for the Iranians, who even the IAEA, the UN nuclear watchdog agency, says is heading toward building nuclear weapons, the Russians are building this system, and yet this is just one more of many examples of how Russia and Iran have formed an alliance that they have never had in human history. The next country mentioned in your Bibles, it might say Ethiopia, but the Hebrew word there is Cush, which refers to the Upper Nile region, which in the geography of Africa means south of Egypt in what we now know mostly as Sudan, though it may also involve Ethiopia. Sudan is really the heart of the territory that's Cush, and Sudan is a country that has a very close alliance, right now, with Russia and Iran. In fact a few years ago, when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad decided where would I give a speech to call the Israelis sons of Satan? Oh I'll go to Khartoum, the capital of Sudan. Perfect. And that's where he gave that speech. And you know it's interesting because Iran and Sudan have a very close strategic, military, terrorist relationship today, but historically that was not the case. The Iranians are Persians, ethnically. The Sudanese are Arabs and Africans. Sudanese are Sunnis, those who are Muslims, and the Iranians are Shia. And geographically, they're separated by the entire Arabian Peninsula. This is not two countries, historically you would have sat next to each other in the Bible and say yeah they're gonna be a key strategic military alliance tied in with Russia against Israel in the end of days, but that's where we are today. Now do any of these things so far give us conclusive evidence that these events, what's known as the war of Gog and Magog, that they're gonna happen in our lifetime? Is it conclusive? No it's not conclusive. It's curious, I think it's fair to say. And let's continue analyzing it. The next nation mentioned is Put. Now where do we put Put? Josephus tells us that Put is ancient Libyos, what we now know as the modern state of Libya, though ancient Libyos was a a larger geographic territory than current, modern-day Libya. So it also seems to include Algeria and possibly Tunisia. Doesn't seem to extend as far as Morocco. And absent from this text, both in Ezekiel 38 and 39, absent from this text, is any evidence of Iraq or any evidence of Egypt. Those two are interesting in their absence because Israel has been at war and hostile with Egypt and vice-versa going back to Charlton Heston taking on Yul Brenner. I mean this goes way back and who was leading the charge against the the nation-state of Israel in 1948, 1956, 1967 1973? Egypt. Prior to 1973, I would say prior to 1979, when Egypt signed a historic peace treaty with Israel at Camp David, this prophecy couldn't have happened because Egypt would have been at the front of the line to attack Israel at any other point historically prior to this. Iraq is not mentioned in this list. Iraq, I mean when Saddam Hussein was in power, he had he not only attacked Israel, he fired 39 Scud missiles at Israel in the 1991 Gulf War. I mean he threatened to destroy half of Israel with chemical weapons. Saddam Hussein hated the Israelis, and made it obviously very clear, and then attacked them when he could. He Saddam Hussein used to pay Palestinian families $25,000 if they would send their children to become suicide bombers and kill Israelis. So Saddam Hussein couldn't have been on the planet for Ezekiel 38 and 39 to happen. And now he's not. We're in an interesting window where Egypt has a treaty with Israel, and even a working relationship. Hosni Mubarak, the president of Egypt, has an actually relatively reasonable working relationship with my old boss, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. I worked for him 10 years ago on his comeback campaign. Didn't help him go anywhere. So I don't wanna overstate my role with him, but I'm just saying Netanyahu and Mubarak are working quite closely right now on the peace process with Israelis and the Palestinians. It's interesting, and the Iraqis have a rudimentary democracy. I've been to Iraq four times in recent years, and it's gotten more peaceful, more prosperous, more stable, every time I've gone. How long will that last? We know from Revelation that Iraq emerges into be the global evil superpower. But we're in a window where they have no ability to project force outside their borders. How long will that window last where Egypt has a treaty with Israel, and Iraq is not a factor because neither of them engage in this battle. And look it's not like God, said oh gosh I totally forgot to put Egypt in there or Iraq. Oh my God. Now Iraq, of course is never mentioned in the Bible. Its Babylon, Babylonia, Babel, Mesopotamia, Shinar, Chaldea. There's all kinds of Bible names for Iraq. God doesn't use any of them. And that's noteworthy. It's not conclusive that these things are about to happen imminently. But it's certainly curious. Now the next people group mentioned there in verse 6 is Gomer. And this is not where Gomer Pyle is from. This actually is Turkey. Now this is interesting because when I wrote "Epicenter" in 2006, it was released in 2006, people said to me, Joel the idea that Turkey is going to be an ally with Russia and Iran and engaged hostily against Israel is hard to imagine. Yes, Turkey was the head of the Caliphate, the Islamic empire under the Ottomans, but you know they're a NATO ally. They're an ally of the United States. They're a there a friend of Israel. Tens of thousands of Israelis flocked to Turkish resorts every year for cheap and beautiful vacations. That's true, but I said, yeah I don't know when Turkey's gonna turn, but that's what the Bible says will happen at some point. And what a year to 18 months it has been. When I was growing up, my father loved to sail. And he used to teach me when we would go out on the lake sailing on his beautiful wooden sailboat. He said, now son you have to be careful because when the winds shift, you have to duck, because that boom is going to come sweeping across the deck, and it'll come really really quickly. And if you're not paying attention, you'll have your head knocked clean off or you'll be knocked out of the boat or both. You got to pay attention when the winds are shifting. The winds are shifting. Turkey has made its decision in my assessment, at least under the current leadership. It could go back if the leadership changes. But as of now, this leadership has decided the European Union has rejected our request for membership. And we have no future with the West. We're going east. And to reestablish street-cred, credibility with the radical Muslim world that they now have to tie to in their view because Europe has rejected them, it's causing them to take highly provocative actions against Israel. It's also happening, since it doesn't have any natural gas or energy resources to speak of, it is tying in with Russia and Iran in ever increasing quantities and an amounts. It's really quite striking what has happened with Gomer, with Turkey, just in the last 12 to 18 months. It's not conclusive that these things are all about to happen, but it's curious. Now, the next one is Beth Togarmah. These are the turkic-speaking peoples that sort of spread out across the caucuses, Armenia, Azerbaijan and throughout the Central Asian region. We don't know exactly every precise territory that might be included, but it's certainly that Central Asian and caucus region. Now you look at the countries that Ezekiel told us 2,500 plus years ago would be aligned with Russia in the end of days, and you look at what's happening now, and it's intriguing to me. And then what you see is in verse eight, I'm skipping seven. I'm going to come back to seven. But in verse eight it says, in the latter years, you, he is speaking to Gog. God is speaking to Gog. In the latter years, you will come into the land that was restored from the sword, from inhabitants who have been gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel, which had been a continual waste, but its people were brought out from the nations, and they're living securely, all of them. This is interesting. There are several prerequisites to Ezekiel 38 and 39 playing out. One of them is Israel has to be reborn as a country. That's what Ezekiel 36 and 37 are all about. The Jews have to be back in the land. They have to be rebuilding the ancient ruins. All the things that Ezekiel 36 and 37 say will happen in the last days have to have happened for Ezekiel 38 and 39 to come true. Moreover, not only does Israel just come back as a country and the value of the dry bones, it all comes back together again and everything, moreover the Israelis have to feel like they're living securely. Now it never actually says there will be a peace treaty. It doesn't use that terminology. But somehow Israelis have to feel like they're living secure. Now that's interesting because those of us who live in the West often look at Israel, go Iran is threatening to wipe them off the face of the planet. And Hezbollah is building up you know 40, 50,000 missiles. And Hamas has its suicide bombers and rockets and missiles. And it looks bleak. And often when I take tours of people over to Israel, we had almost 300 people last November and I said, why are all you people here. Aren't you reading what I'm telling you? Isreal's endangered. That's true. But it's a conundrum. Yes, Israel is threatened at one level, but Israelis see it as they are more secure today than any other time in the 62 years that they've been around. They have a treaty with Egypt. They have a treaty with Jordan. Yasser Arafat is gone. Saddam Hussein is gone. The United States is engaged in the region currently. Israel has the best air force in the region. It has a missile defense. It has nuclear weapons, off the record. It has the strongest economy in the world right now, maybe aside from China, certainly in the Western world. It's growing faster than any country in the West. So from the Israeli perspective, they're like yeah, yeah, we get it. People hate us. They want to annihilate us. Yada yada yada. I mean they're not saying yada yada yada. But this is not new to them. What's new to them is in the context of people hating them and wanting to kill them and annihilate them, things are actually pretty good. Lynn and the boys and I were over in Israel for two weeks late this summer. And the beaches are full, and the malls are full, and the economy is growing. It's not good for everybody in Israel. 25% of Israelis live under the poverty level. The country is preparing for a major war. But at the same time moment-to-moment, things feel calm. And these in the grand scheme of Israeli modern life, Israelis are living more secure today than any other time. Now, does that check off that prerequisite in God's economy? I don't know yet. Maybe we're about to see a major breakthrough between Netanyahu and Abu Mazen. Maybe there's gonna be a dramatic peace accord. I can see that it's hard for me to picture, but Netanyahu seems to believe it's possible. I like him. I don't think every decision he's always made has been a good one. But I'm praying for him. And Jesus said blessed are the peacemakers. The psalmist told us to pray for the Peace of Jerusalem. Now with all deference to my brother, Tass Saada, I want to make it clear that psalm 122:6, is not the Arafat translation. It's not pray for a peace of Jerusalem, then kill all the Jews and Christians, and then take it all over for yourself. The psalmist says pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Let us not be cynical as followers of Jesus Christ. Let us not say, oh the peace process will never do anything. I mean we can be realistic and assess that it's gonna be difficult, and maybe God's not gonna allow it to happen. Maybe Satan's gonna try to stop it from happening. Yeah there's all kinds of things. But Jesus said blessed are the peacemakers. We need to try. We can't just give up. There are lives at stake. And maybe we're about to see a dramatic breakthrough that would be so dramatic that the wall between and the security fence between the Israelis and the Palestinian would start coming down. I'm not here to predict that tonight. But maybe God intends this to be even more secure. But it's certainly more secure today than any time in 62 years. And I think we have to consider the possibility that maybe God is ready to check this off his list. It's not conclusive, but it's definitely curious. Now there's a lot of other pieces here. For tonight I want to just begin to tie this together and help you understand the end of 38, and then understand the implications of 39. It's very, very important in our opening evening. In verse 15, it talks about how God says you, Gog will come out of your place in the remote parts of the north. Now in verse 16, it talks about this will happen in the last days. Okay, there's a time reference, saying this is not something that's happened in the past. This is something that's coming. It's future. It's gonna happen in these last days. Now verse 18. Again, just for time's sake tonight, it will come about on that day when Gog, the Russian dictator, comes against the Land of Israel, declares the Lord God that my fury will mount up in my anger. In my zeal and in my blazing wrath, I declare that on that day there will be surely a great earthquake in the Land of Israel. The fish of the sea, the birds of the heavens, the beasts of the field, all the creeping things that creep on the earth, and all the men who are on the face of the earth will shake at my presence. The mountains will be thrown down. The steep pathways will collapse. Every wall will fall to the ground. I will call for a sword against him, against Gog and his forces, on my mountains declares the Lord God. Every man's sword will be against his brother. With pestilence with diseases, and with blood, I will enter into judgment with him. And I will reign on him and on his troops and on the many peoples who are with him a torrential rain with hailstones, fire, and brimstone. I will magnify myself, sanctify myself, and make myself known in the sight of many nations. And they will know that I am the Lord. You see what the Lord describes here is the most dramatic, and we should note horrific, day in the history of human civilization to that point. The events of Revelation and the tribulation will be actually far worse. But to this particular moment, when it happens, this will be the most dramatic and horrifying moment in all of human history. Fire will literally be falling from heaven on the enemy forces that tried to attack Israel. Now let me be clear, and you're gonna see it in verse 39, chapter 39. Yes God will intervene and protect Israel. But we have to be careful not to only have love and compassion on Israel. You see what's gonna happen. People are gonna suffer. People are going to die. And not everyone will be purposely trying to engage in a war against Israel. There will be millions of people caught in the crossfire of a war they don't want, a war they can't stop. And we know from John 3:16, for God so loved the world, the entire world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever, a Netanyahu advisor like me, or a Yasser Arafat advisor, like Tassad, whoever believes in Him, in Jesus Christ, shall not perish, die and go to hell forever and ever and ever and ever with no way of escape, but shall have eternal life. Jesus Christ loves the Palestinians. He loves the Syrians. He loves the Lebanese. He loves the Egyptians. He loves the Iraqis. He loves the Iranians. He loves the Russians, and the Turks, and the Sudanese, and everybody in the world, and everyone in that region. And we dare not look at this and say good, a pox on your house. This is not the appropriate interpretation. Jesus told us to love our neighbors. Where did he say that? Standing in Israel. Who were the neighbors, right? I mean you see what I'm saying? I mean you say, well they're not neighbors. They're enemies. Okay, then Jesus said love your enemies. Ah Newman. You seem to cover everything. This is gonna happen. And this is gonna be tragic. Yes it's gonna be great for Israel. Yes it's gonna be a dramatic moment when God reaches his hand into human history and says, remember when I said in Genesis 12 that those who bless Israel, I will bless, and those who curse Israel, I will curse. This is what I was talking about. I'm paraphrasing, but I'm saying that yes it will be good for Israel, but this is a horrible bloody day. When you go through, and I encourage you to do it, Ezekiel chapter 39, what you're gonna find is so many people have died that it takes seven months to bury all the bodies. And it would take longer, except the Bible tells us that the birds of the air, and the beasts of the field eat many of the bodies. There is gonna be so much destruction, so much chaos and carnage. The Bible also indicates that there will be an earthquake in the land of Israel. Now does that mean every wall in Israel will fall, or does it mean just every wall in the neighboring areas will fall? The effect of it will be worldwide. I can't tell you. I can't parse that all out, but I'm telling you, Jesus came to die for Jews but he also came to die for Palestinians. Jesus came to die for everybody. And he came and told us that we should preach the gospel, starting in Jerusalem, and then Judea, and then Samaria, and even to the ends of the earth. Now Judea and Samaria, you probably don't even use this term now, but this is what the world calls the West Bank. Okay, all those settlements that are in the news, that's Judea and Samaria. And Jesus told us to take the gospel to Jerusalem, to Judea, to Samaria, and even to the ends of the earth. Why? Well, first and foremost because he told us to do it. Second, because people are going to hell without the gospel, here in Chicago and certainly in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, everywhere in the world that's true. You know that, but also because great trauma is coming. Great tragedy is coming. Great judgment is coming. And people need the gospel first. We are in a window. I can't tell you how long that window will last. We need to be about loving Israel, loving her neighbors, loving her enemies, doing so unconditionally, unwaveringly, with the gospel, with church planting, with discipleship, in every possible way, as well as in real and other practical ways, like food and clothing and medical supplies, and all kinds of other humanitarian relief. Why? Because Matthew 24 tells us about all the wars and rumors of wars and traumas that are coming in the last days. Matthew 25, in part, Jesus comes back and says thanks for feeding the hungry. Thanks for clothing the naked. Thanks for giving water to the thirsty. Thank you for visiting the prisoners and caring for the suffering and followers of Jesus Christ are like when did we do that for you? If we're truly his followers, if we truly love him, we have to understand that not only do we need to advance the gospel and fulfill Matthew chapter 28, the Great Commission, everywhere and particularly in the Middle East, where these traumas and tragedies and horrors are coming, but we also need to touch people's lives in daily, real, and loving, and practical ways, and not with strings attached. When I say unconditional love, I mean unconditional, meaning we can't say, oh I'll give you a piece of bread, but you got to believe in Jesus first. When Jesus was was feeding the 4,000 and the 5,000, actually it was 5,000 men. There was women and children. The fact that women and children showed up to hear Jesus teach wasn't significant apparently, noteworthy in the Bible. The fact that 5,000 men showed up to hear the word of God, that was interesting for the writers of the scriptures. But anyway, there's many more than those people, but when Jesus fed them, miraculously, did he say, hey listen if you're gonna follow me forever, and understand that I'm the Messiah and give your life to me and make me the Lord of your life, you get in this line and you get your chow, but if you're not planning to follow me forever and you have no interest in this, stand in this line, you get bupkis? That's Yiddish for nothing. No that's not how Jesus did it. Jesus loved people and cared for people unconditionally. When he healed the 10 lepers, how many of them came back to fall on their faces and worship him as the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords? One, but Jesus healed them anyway, right? Jesus's model for us is not to play bait and switch. He teaches us unconditional love. And when we approach these events, these may be decades off, these this could be months off. I'm really not here to tell you. I'm just saying shouldn't we do what Ezekiel 38 verse seven says? When God says to Gog, the Russian dictator, get ready and be prepared, if God is saying to the enemies of Israel, get ready, be prepared, what should the followers of Jesus Christ be doing? Now just to tie this together, and you can see there's so much more meat and potatoes in these verses and in chapter 39. But just to land the plane here, turn to chapter 39 verse 21. Ezekiel tells us, or the Holy Spirit tells us through Ezekiel, God says I will set my glory among the nations, and all the nations will see my judgment, which I have executed and my hand, which I have laid on them, and the house of Israel will know from that that I am the Lord their God from that day onward. The nation's will know that the house of Israel went into exile for their iniquity because they acted treacherously against me, and I hid my face from them. So I gave them into the hand of their adversaries, and all of them fell by the sword and according to their uncleanness and according to their transgressions, I dealt with them, and I hid my face from them, now therefore, thus says the Lord God, now I'll restore the fortunes of Jacob. I will have mercy and compassion on the whole house of Israel. I will be jealous for my holy name. Then they will forget their disgrace and all their treachery, which they perpetrated against me, when they live securely on their own land with no one to make them afraid. When I bring them back from the peoples, and gather them from the lands of their enemies, then I shall be sanctified through them, in the sight of many nations, then they will know that I am the Lord their God, because I made them go into exile among the nations, and then I gather them again into their own land, and I will leave none of them there any longer. I will not hide my face from them any longer for I will have poured out my spirit on the house of Israel, declares the Lord God. Not only will the events of the war of Gog and Magog be the greatest moment of judgment and trauma the world has ever seen to that point, it will also be the beginning of the greatest spiritual awakening in human history to that point. God is going to pour out his Holy Spirit on Israel, on the people of the region, and everyone's going to see it. Now when people see the hand of God, when they see the Holy Spirit moving, people are going to come to faith in Jesus Christ. Israelis, I believe more Jews will come to faith in Yeshua as the Messiah at this time than at any other time in human history. I believe that more Muslims are going to come to faith in Jesus Christ as the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings at this time than at any other time in human history. And we're already seeing more Jews and Muslims come to faith in the last several decades than any other time in human history. But it's gonna get accelerated. And I think we're gonna see this worldwide. Now, will everybody come to faith around the world or in this region at that time? No. Some reject the Holy Spirit's move upon their lives. They see the truth, but they don't accept it. Judas was one of them. He walked with Jesus for all that time. Saw the miracles. Couldn't receive him. So we're not talking about everybody getting saved at this moment, but this is gonna be dramatic. That there's not just bad news in here. There's a lot of good news. Why? Because God uses trouble, financial, economic, trouble, natural disasters, and certainly wars and terrorism, and rumors of wars, and all to shake us out of our lethargy, out of our cynicism, out of our laziness, out of our sense that any other ideology, religious system, anything else we're thinking of, will save us, will give us peace. God will literally, literally, physically, spiritually, emotionally, politically, shake the world. And God is telling the enemies of Israel to get ready. And I'm asking tonight how are you getting ready? I can't tell you, as I've said it so many times tonight, I can't tell you when these events are gonna happen. I can't tell you, if this happens before the rapture or after. There are pieces we don't know because the Lord didn't tell us. What he told us is to get ready, to be prepared, to make sure everyone in the epicenter, man woman, child, hears the gospel of Jesus Christ, clearly in their language, from their people, in the power of the Holy Spirit. The time is short. The work is enormous. Great fruit is happening, but it's not nearly enough when you look at what's coming. And the next war might not even be the prophetic war. It might just be a really, really bad geopolitical war. How many people will die and go to hell forever and ever because we did nothing? And not just the gospel in proclamation. We need to show the gospel of Jesus Christ to everyone in this region. We need to feed the poor. We need to care for the suffering. We need to visit prisoners. It's not enough just to proclaim, though it's not enough just to feed and care for prisoners and their suffering. It's the whole gospel for the whole world, right? This is the moment. This is the moment. Yes, America doesn't show up in these texts. You will look in vain in these texts for any evidence of the United States coming to Israel's rescue. Until the last several y