Why’s Rolling Stone magazine MOCKING me?
Joel and Carl talk about a recent Rolling Stone magazine article that mocks and scoffs at Joel.
Joel shares his surprising response to the article: agreeing with its general premise and explaining why he thinks Rolling Stone should do a follow-up article.
Parable of the Fig Tree: Matthew 24:32-35
The Good and Bad Figs: Jeremiah 24:1-10
READ: Rolling Stone Article
- [Carl] Coming up on this episode of Inside The Epicenter.
- [Joel] And even Jesus said, "They persecute you because they persecuted me." And the closer we are to Jesus, the more likely we will be persecuted in that way.
- [Carl] Why is Rolling Stone Magazine mocking Joel Rosenberg and The Joshua Fund? And what's behind other attacks on believers in the "Epicenter?" Hi, welcome to Inside The Epicenter with Joel Rosenberg, a podcast of The Joshua Fund, a ministry dedicated to blessing Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus. I'm Carl Moeller, executive director of The Joshua Fund. And today, Joel, we have to address what many in the holy land experience every day, ridicule, mockery, false accusations and abuse, simply for following Jesus. Joel, welcome. You're in Jerusalem, I'm in California, but these are issues that we have to deal with across the globe. Welcome to the podcast today.
- [Joel] Yeah, I'm great to be with you, Carl. And I think it is an important issue, there's been some specific attacks of late. And so we'll talk about some of those of course, today, and how they relate to me and to The Joshua Fund. But, yes, this is an issue that followers of Jesus Christ all over the world face, and certainly here in Israel and throughout the "Epicenter". And I think all of us, if we're gonna be faithful to Jesus, we have to expect that we're gonna be criticized, we're gonna be attacked, we're gonna be mocked, and up to and including persecution, right? Paul tells his young disciple, Timothy, all who will live a Godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
- [Carl] Will.
- [Joel] He's not saying might or may, he's saying, "Count on it, buddy." And for Timothy who loved Jesus and he loved Paul, but he, you can see in Paul's writings, in both letters, he struggles with the temptation of being ashamed of the gospel or ashamed of his relationship with Paul. And he's a young believer. He's a young man and he's vulnerable to these attacks. And almost every Christian is.
- [Joel] Yeah, and even Jesus said, you know, "They persecute you because they persecuted me." And the closer we are to Jesus, the more likely we will be persecuted in that way. But I wanna set the stage a little bit. I mean, that's really an important framework for everything we're gonna talk about today, because obviously, we wanna address some of these things, and the specific incidents that are happening around. And I don't think we're putting ourselves at the center of any of this conversation, because frankly, we're tangential. We try very, very hard to stay out of that full line of fire, but sometimes, these things do crop up, right? I mean, the stage has really been set by things that have been happening on the world stage. And some of the responses that you've had, and others have had too, what's happening in Russia and Ukraine. And as this has unfolded, naturally, people have asked the question about the relationship to biblical prophecy and the Wars of Gog and Magog, which we have talked about extensively, and other things that are happening. But it's interesting to see how Rolling Stone and others have picked up on this conversation, and angled it against the message of the gospel. So Joel, maybe you could talk a little bit about how that hit you and how that impacted you.
- [Carl] Well, yeah, sure. I'd be happy to, maybe in a moment you could actually maybe even read some excerpts from the article and of course, we'll have it in the show notes, but I just wanna do one, just one thing to set things up. You made a good point, which is the reason we're referring to these right now is just as an opportunity to talk about the mockery, the scoffing, the criticism that's gonna come to every believer. Certainly, if you're talking about Bible prophecy, because this is the province of probably among the worst mocking, right? You can be against the gospel, but you know, you think, wow, Christians, of course they believe that. But this whole issue of what's gonna happen in the end times and prophecy, this is really what atheist agnostics, or people sometimes from other religions, not always, they really don't get this, and they think it's completely ridiculous. But let's also make one more point, and that is that this is not persecution. To be criticized is like not, you know, it's, can be annoying, it could sting, depending on the attack and how public it is, whatever, but people in the "Epicenter", many of them are facing real persecution. Like, their lives are threatened, their livelihoods are threatened, their families, their children, they're being told, "You cannot practice your faith." That's persecution, up to and including jail, torture, and even death. Then there's harassment. And there's a lot of legal and cultural ways that Jewish and Muslim and other followers of Jesus are harassed that, you know, you might say, "Well, that's not quite persecution, it's bad, but it's not as bad as like, full on right persecution." And then there's just the regular mockery, a day in the life of a Twitter, you know, user or, you know, Facebook or where you're just getting people just, you know, they've gotten a little platform and now they're deciding to hurl everything they have at you. So I just wanna be clear, what we're gonna be talking about today is the mockery that people who don't believe in Bible prophecy, some not all, clearly, hurl against those of us who do believe it and teach it. And that's a little bit different from what people are suffering in the worst case scenarios over here.
- [Joel] This is very true, and you know that in my past ministry, I have had the opportunity to work with persecuted Christians, and those that really do experience that day-to-day, true suffering for their faith. This is, as Brother Andrew used to say, this is more trying to intimidate, and to scare us back into our own communities. Brother Andrew used to say, "In the West, we're not persecuted, we're just intimidated." And I think it's important for us to not be intimidated. However, by the abuse coming, Jesus said it would come. We know in these times that this is part of this, but let me just quote the Rolling Stone article on this, and then we can use that as a launchpad, perhaps for some of the--
- [Joel] One of many.
- [Jael] Weeks later here.
- [Carl] It has, Rolling Stone said, quote, "Two days before the large scale invasion of Ukraine, Joel Rosenberg, founder of The Joshua Fund, whose website describes its objective to bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus, went on his podcast..." They got that right, that's right.
- [Joel] That's something.
- [Carl] "Went on his podcast," hello, "to lay out exactly why the impending invasion was significant in a kingdom come sense." Nevermind, and I hope you get the intonation that I'm giving here, that this is a bit of sarcasm here on their part. Nevermind that Ukraine is not Israel. So central is this biblical War of Gog and Magog to end times theology, that the mere idea of Russia mobilizing to this extent against any country was enough to send some evangelical and Pentecostal end timers into a flutter. I just, I can't help, but add that sort of flourish on there because, honestly, it makes everything come into focus when you use that sort of language to criticize, and to critique it truly is scoffing and mocking. So Joel, how do you respond to--
- [Joel] Let me actually also read the headline and the subhead of the whole article, so you have a look at even more context, our listeners too. The headline in the Rolling Stone Magazine was, "The Christians Who Think the Ukraine Invasion Means Jesus is Returning to Earth. Evangelicals Like Pat Robertson Are Convinced Putin is Being Compelled by God to Wage War and Bring About the End Times." And that's the mildest, I mean, they just walk through and they're just sneering, and giggling, and scoffing all the way through. Look, I get it. You know, the writers, the editors of Rolling Stone Magazine are probably not people steeped in the Bible, they--
- [Carl] True.
- [Joel] Unlikely are believers though, I want them to be, you want them to be, so this all seems like cuckoo town. Right, I mean, a number of years ago, Glen Beck had me on his TV show every night for a week to walk through a series of Bible prophecies, 'cause he was so interested, and he knew his readers, or his viewers were. And, he goes, "You know, by coming on this show, Joel, and doing a week of this stuff, you're gonna be, you know, dubbed the mayor of, you know, of crazy town." And I get it, but the Bible speaks of these prophecies, we're just explaining them. We didn't write these prophecies, we're relaying them. And as I've said in other podcasts, you and I have discussed it, 27% of the Bible is prophecy. 27%, that's a lot. That's one in four verses in the entire Bible are about prophecies. And there are eight times more prophecies in the New Testament about the second coming of Jesus, the Messiah, than the first. Eight times more. And since the prophecies were regarding the first coming of Jesus as Messiah have come true. You know, the fact that there are eight times more prophecies about the second coming convinces me He's coming back. I get it that those who don't even believe that Jesus either existed, but that's ridiculous. I mean, there's, you know--
- [Carl] Overwhelming evidence.
- [Joel] sources talk about Jesus. People who didn't believe in Him, didn't follow Him, Jul Caesars, for example, probably the most famous Roman historian of the 2000 years ago, he's talking about Jesus, and others do. But the point is, if you don't even believe He existed, that's one thing. If you believe He existed, but He wasn't God, He wasn't the Messiah, okay, then that also seems ridiculous how, you know, so I understand it. But I also understand, and I think it's kind of interesting that the Bible preps us for this type of attitude, and I think you've got the passage from maybe 2 Peter 3, which you can put it in precise, but basically it says, "Hey, you should expect that people are gonna mock those of us who believe that Jesus coming back again in the last days, because it just sounds completely ridiculous to people." You know, it says in 2 Peter 3:3, "Know this, first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking following after their own lusts and saying, "Where's the promise of His coming? Forever since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue just as they were from the beginning of creation." It sounds the intonation there is a little bit similar to what Rolling Stone was saying. And if you go through this whole Rolling Stone article, and I think, you know, we're not bashful, we'll put the link right there, you can read it yourself, take your best shot. It's just one of many. I think in the last podcast where, maybe two podcasts ago, I think we mentioned a whole series of articles in the mainstream, the so called mainstream media, that just thought this was completely ridiculous, which is what inspired you and I to say, "Okay, look, we get that the media doesn't get this." That's not rocket science to figure that out. The question is, are we alone in thinking that there may, in fact, we would say there are in fact prophetic implications to what's going on? Now, just to be specific about the Rolling Stone criticism of me, I'm not the one, and I'm not even among the ones who have said that Russia's invasion of Ukraine is the beginning of Ezekiel 38. We've said on this podcast--
- [Carl] Very clearly.
- [Joel] And on all, it's on news, that's not knowable right now. It could be, I mean, we're not completely ruling it out, but a lot more would have to happen. Obviously, the War of Gog and Magog that's described in Ezekiel 38 and 39, that's about a Russian, Iranian alliance that's coming against Israel, not against Ukraine. Now, could this be a precursor? Maybe, I mean, but I haven't been out there saying that, so it it's a little odd to find myself, oh, I was interested in the article 'cause I thought, "Oh, here's more mainstream so-called media being drawn to a topic they think is ridiculous, so they're only writing about us because they want to mock." But somehow, I got included in a group of people that I'm actually not one of them.
- [Carl] Well, it's exactly right. I mean, and this is the difference. I mean, what I've always appreciated about you, even before I came to work alongside you in The Joshua Fund, that you use balance in understanding how these things come together, and to make statements that are unprovable, or not justifiable reduces our credibility. But listen to this other quote from the Rolling Stone article, which I think they quote you totally out of context, because what they have done is set up a context that you never set up, that you never said that this was that exactly. And then they quote you, which I fully agree with this quote. We've never, ever seen the convergence of all the major pieces of this prophecy ever come into this alignment until right now Rosenberg argued before the war was even officially launched. And that's why we should be watching this thing really closely. Joel, I couldn't agree with that quote more, except the context that they put it in makes you seem like you've stated something that you've never stated, which I think is one of the great observations when it comes to these kinds of mockeries, really what has been said, and what are you saying about what has been said?
- [Joel] Right, and this is Christians, and not just Christians, but many Jewish people and others, many Muslims that I meet, they're so bothered by media bias. Like, "You guys are being so sloppy, you're so eager to attack, criticize, and mock, that you're not even dealing with facts." You know, if you disagree with a fact, something I've actually said, then take your shot, and I'll respond if I need to, and then we'll, you know, have the debate. But if you're actually just making things up, so the quote is right, it's just, the context is wrong. And that means everything, right? So here, let's so for those who maybe have not listened to the previous podcast, which I would encourage you to do.
- [Carl] Go back and listen.
- [Joel] Let's just say that look, you and I, Carl, do believe that we're living in a prophetic moment. Meaning there are events that are happening that do correspond with Matthew 24, Luke 21, Mark 13, and other prophecies. But particularly the prophecy that Jesus said, "Hey, watch for this set of signs, because when you see these things and they start to mount up, especially in the context of Israel being reborn as a country, when you start to see all these things happening, know that I'm near, that my hand is right at the door." So it doesn't mean that Jesus is coming back tomorrow, although the rapture, which I do believe is imminent, it can happen at any moment, but when you see all these things, he's saying, "Hey, get ready, be prepared, realize that we're late in the game, and that my return is coming." So when you look at the largest land war in Europe, since World War II, that in my view, is fully consistent, dramatically consistent with Jesus saying, "Hey, there will be wars and rumors of war in the last days, like, kingdoms are gonna rise against kingdom, nation against nation." Now, again, I get it that many skeptics and scoffers say, "Joel, dude, like, there's been wars and rumors of wars for the last 2000 years, you can't say every moment that there's a war." Right, no, we get that, and that's why I'm not one who jumps at every skirmish and conflict in the world as evidence, though, the convergence of war and the magnitude of death and destruction in the 20th century, now in the 21st is so significant, right? You look at World War I, you look at World War II, the Holocaust, the Cambodian killing fields, the murder of 3 million people in Rwanda. And you see over and over, more and more of these things, and then you see the largest land war since World War II, and you have to say, if that's not consistent with the proxies, what would be? And the same thing with COVID. The Bible doesn't say, "Hey, in this particular year, there's gonna be this disease, and we're all gonna have to wear masks, and we're gonna stay in our room." I get that, but Jesus did warn in Luke 21, that there would be plagues, there'll be pestilence, meaning horrific diseases spreading across the earth in the last days. We haven't seen a pandemic, a global pandemic of this nature in a hundred years. More than 6 million people have died. This is not the normal flu. This is not just, you know, a bad couple of days, even a bad couple of years, this is significant. And it's consistent with what Jesus spoke of when He talked about, again, you'll see a series of these things, it doesn't mean the end is there, it doesn't mean you're at the actual end, but you should be aware Jesus said that you're really quite close. And that's what we're saying. So many pastors, so many ministry leaders don't study or don't teach these prophecies. It's important for us to share because these are warning signals.
- [Carl] That's right.
- [Joel] To believers and to unbelievers.
- [Carl] That's right. Well, Joel, we're gonna get back to a couple things. We gotta take a quick break here, but I wanna address some of these other criticisms, more general criticisms. And then we wanna talk about some of the responses that we've had, and brothers and sisters in the region have had to this kind of false accusation. So let's take a quick break here, and then we'll come back to that. Our verse of the day today is Matthew 5:11 and 12. "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way, they persecuted the prophets who were before you." Today, our prayer requests are, number one, pray for those who are persecuting believers in the holy land, Israelis and Palestinians. Second, pray for unity and love to overcome fear and political divisions. And third, pray that The Joshua Fund would continue its work to bless Israel and her neighbors, in the name of Jesus. Well, Joel, we're back. And I just want to say I'm so blessed, by the way, you've been able to articulate a gracious and generous response to those that critique everything that The Joshua Fund is really all about, because we're about trying to bring people to an awareness of what God's plan and purpose is in the "Epicenter," and to bless those that are working on behalf of those that live there to provide food, shelter, and hope where Jesus called us to work. So I really appreciate you and the way that you've been able to frame all that, but how do you respond to the opinion in some places that Christians try to shoehorn current events into proof of Jesus' immediate return? Basically, the premise of the Rolling Stone argument.
- [Joel] Right, well, my first response, and I've been dealing with this for 20 years, because I've been writing and speaking both in fiction and nonfiction books and of course in sermons and op-eds and all these real news and everywhere I am, everyone, everything I'm doing, I'm writing about these types of issues a lot, and these type of prophetic issues, and I will say that I agree, actually, with the general premise of the Rolling Stone article, and that'll be a surprise to people, why do I agree with the general premise defined as this? That there are too many Christians who do grasp for click bait. They do lurch at every big conflict or big moment in the news and say, "Ooh, is this prophetic?" And then say it is, even if there really isn't any evidence to do so. And I think that's a problem. It's one of the reasons I do what I do. It doesn't drive me away from this, in fact, it has pulled me in, and I've just had to learn to be okay with the mockery. Years ago, you may remember there was a TV show on Fox called "Kennedy and Colmes."
- [Carl] Sure.
- [Joel] And the, you know, Sean Kennedy was the right wing guy, and Alan Colmes was the left wing guy. And Alan was a lovely guy, I met him a number of times, but he had me on his radio show once. And he just went off on me about Bible prophecy and why you believe this and all this stuff. And he said, "Joel, you know, just between you and me, when's Jesus coming back?" I mean, you know, you have this secret insight, you know, you have some channel there, you know, just between us and you know, my audience too, why don't you just tell me when Jesus' coming back?" I'm like, "Alan, that's hilarious, but you know, obviously, I can't do that. Jesus himself said in Matthew 24 that no one knows the day or hour." "Yeah, but, you know, you write these books that seem to come true, seem to be prophetic. You seem to have some unique insight." He goes, "Should I even bother to pick up my dry cleaning? Should I even bother to buy green bananas? I mean, really, is it that soon?" Now, he was funny, and sadly, he's passed, but he, from a Jewish background, not a believer in Jesus, and certainly not a believer. Probably, he just had a field day with me, but it didn't bother me. First of all, he ended up giving me a platform to talk about these props, right? Rolling Stone just is drawing people's attention. Now, if they can weed out that extreme media bias, they're gonna realize that there are some Christians who are saying, "There are implications here." I think Rolling Stone actually should just do a follow up based on our poll, Carl, that The Joshua Fund released, because what we found is we're not alone. Editors may think we're coogs, but there's 40% of America thinks what we think, which is that there are prophetic implications. That this is, the Russia invasion of Ukraine is an evidence that we're seeing the teachings of Jesus, the prophecies of Jesus come to pass right in our time. And so is COVID, that's a 103 million people, give or take. Kind of defines the mainstream view, don't you think? I mean, it's not a fringe view. And again, just because a lot of people believe something doesn't mean it's true, but you might wanna take a more careful look at it, because the implications of the return of Christ, or any of these other prophecies, like, the War of Gog and Magog are enormous. Yeah, like if the Bible is true, then it means that believing in Jesus and putting your whole faith in Him as the only way to get to heaven and avoid hell, that that would be true also. And if that's true, the implications for every writer, every editor, every person is enormous. You're making literally catastrophic existential decisions if you mock the Bible and don't study it carefully, and decide to jump out into eternity without the parachute of Jesus on your back, that's a mistake.
- [Carl] Yeah, that's--
- [Joel] And it's, you know, you and I are not ashamed to say, "Look, we get that you think we're idiots. We get that you think we're crazy, but we're gonna still lovingly and coherently say, "No, this is the truth, please listen, please look. Examine the evidence and then make a decision because you don't wanna jump off, you know, off into eternity without the parachute of Jesus Christ on your back.
- [Carl] Yeah, well, you know, it's so funny, the scripture in 2 Peter continues to come back to me in this conversation, because it is sort of the tone of those in the scripture that talk about, "Where is the promise of His coming forever since the fathers fell asleep?" That is our ancestors lived. "All things continue just as they were from the beginning of creation." People do sometimes think that, "Well, this is the way it's always been." And they convince themselves, I think that, you know, every generation thinks it's living in the end times. But Joel, I wanna ask you, and maybe this is gonna help some people out there with their responses to this mockery. How is this time and this season different from other times in the past and seasons of time? I think that's the core of the question that we're asking here.
- [Joel] Yeah, well, that answer is found in what Jesus says. Let's take Matthew 24 as an example, he's giving a list of things to watch for, the disciples are sitting on the Mount of Olives and they say, "Hey, you keep talking about this sort of cataclysmic things to come and you coming back," and I'm paraphrasing now, but people should read it in Matthew 24. When is this all gonna happen? And give us one sign that would just give us some indication when you're getting close to all these things happening, 'cause that's important, that will be ready for it. And Jesus could have given a very Washington political answer, no comment, next question, but he doesn't, he actually answers and he gives a whole list. He doesn't just give one sign, he's giving a whole list recorded by, in three different accounts. And some accounts actually have some of the things he said that the others didn't include, but you put it together you've got a pretty good list. Wars, rumors of wars famine, earthquakes, natural disasters, persecution of the believers, the spread of the gospel to every nation and so forth. But there's a key, there's a little mystery, a little parable. A parable is a little story that Jesus would tell that use language, that if you understand what he means, you understand a much larger point. And he embeds a parable in the list, right? So if you're reading it quickly you might miss it. But if you slow down and study it, and this is the parable of the fig tree, you go, "Oh, this is the key to unlocking the whole thing." And what's the parable of the fig tree? He says that when you see all these things and you see the fig tree blossoming again, then you'll know that the return of Jesus is near that he's like his hand is like right on the door, ready to come back into history. Well, what's the parable of the fig tree? Well, when you go back in the Bible and you say, "Well, what do figs symbolize? Why is he using this language?" 'Cause it's a riddle. It's an enigma and you have to sort of unlock it. But the way to unlock a biblical parable is from the Bible. You don't just make stuff up. You say, okay, well, if he's saying the fig tree is gonna reblossom, what is the fig tree? How is it used other times in scripture. And in numerous places, maybe we'll put this in the show notes too. The fig tree and figs are described as the nation of Israel and the Jewish people. In fact, in Jeremiah 24, the Hebrew prophet Jeremiah is speaking to God, the God is speaking to him, and God shows, he says, "What do you see Jeremiah?" And he goes, "Well, I see two baskets of figs."
- [Carl] Oh, okay, that's interesting.
- [Joel] And then God explains, well, first he asked, "Well, what kind of figs are they?" He said, "Well, some are good figs and some are bad figs." And then he explains, God explains that all of the figs are Jews, they're all part of the nation of Israel. But some believe in the Lord and are following the word of God and some are not. And thus, some are good figs and others are not good figs, they're bad figs. Well, that's true of every culture, but he's using Israel as his teaching, as his model and saying, this is my little laboratory I'm showing the world who I am and how to know me through Israel, okay? Well, that's the quintessential text, although there are numerous others. So Jesus is saying in Matthew 24, "Yes, there'll be wars and rumors wars, and earthquakes and things throughout history but when you see a convergence of these, when they start to go off the charts and you see the rebirth of the state of Israel, the nation of Israel, beginning to flourish, it's beginning to blossom again and Jews are coming back to the holy land and rebuilding the ancient ruins and making the deserts bloom and so forth. When you see that in the midst of everything else, then you'll know we're close." And I'm sitting here as living proof of the millions and millions of Jews who come back to settle in the land of Israel. And I live in an apartment that's been built over the ancient ruins and I'm looking out over green trees and pastures and farmland and all these that didn't exist when this was a malaria infested swamp land for much of the last 2,000 years. And Israel has been reborn. Now when Israel is reborn and you see major wars and major plagues and all these other things, that's the key. And Israel has been described by other Bible prophecy scholars as God's time piece. It's like his watch, when you keep your eye on Israel, What's happening Israel is a indicator, almost a barometer to use a different example of how close we're getting to the return of Jesus and when you understand that it unlocks all of those prophecies that Jesus is speaking of. And then you say, "Wow, we're 74 years in to the rebirth of Israel." Like it's amazing that we are not at the end of the end already because in 1948, I'm not sure that Christians living in the world who saw Israel being reborn and thought 74 years would go by and Jesus would not be here yet. Now for mockers and scoffers, they say, "See."
- [Carl] It's just the same.
- [Joel] And I'd be like, "Wait, do you hear what you're saying? You're saying all these huge end times properties have come true. Israel being reborn and Jews coming back, but see Jesus didn't come back yet, so you see how idiotic you are?" And I'd be like, "Okay, just take a breath and go back." Prophecies that no one else believed to be true, even many Jews and even many Christian Church fathers, many didn't believe Israel would be reborn as a country. So the fact that Israel has been reborn in fulfillment a prophecy is evidence that the Bible is true and okay, he's God in his sovereignty is taking his time at sending the son, the Lord Jesus Christ back. But the rebirth of Israel is the proof that the Bible is right. Not the evidence that we're all a bunch of moron.
- Well, you recall our conversation with Dr. John MacArthur, where he said the greatest apologetic for the Bible and the truth of the Bible is the existence of the state of Israel today. And I think that's really a good key for us to think about some of these criticisms from that side of the conversation. But Joel, we have to also address that there are those within Christianity that look at these events as coming together into the apocalypse and actually have spoken about this as a way of framing it as vengeance. Is there any truth in this sort of perspective? I think that's something that I think people could hear us think about.
- [Joel] Okay, so let's break that up into a couple pieces. First, there's no question that God is immersible God, but he's also a righteous God. And he makes it clear from Genesis all the way through Revelation that he's a very patient God, but there is a point of no return. There is a point in which God says, "Listen, I have tried in every possible way to get your attention either as an individual, family or a nation, you're not listening, you're not turning around and coming back to follow me, you're rejecting my word, you're rejecting my values, rejecting my principles, you're rejecting my son, the Lord Jesus, the Messiah. And even though I've given you so much time, thousands of years to wake up and smell the Starbucks as it were, you absolutely refuse, you won't do it." And I'm drawing a close to this. But the book of Revelation is about God saying, "Enough, I'm done with the world as it is, and I'm gonna bring judgment on those who absolutely will not listen no matter what I do." A different podcast or a series is to go through some of the highlights of Revelation and what you find is yes, God starts sending a series of judgments, but at the first they're designed to shake people and wake them up to go, "Oh my gosh, I didn't even believe there was a God or that the Bible was true but now these biblical prophecies are coming true, I'd better follow him." And what we see in the Revelation is that more people will come to faith in Jesus as Lord, savior, Messiah, God, during the period of that's described in Revelation than in any other time in human history. So many that the apostle John who writes the book says, "I couldn't even count how many believers come." And we know that he could count high because in part of Revelation, he describes 200 million creatures that are flooded upon the world to bring judgment. So he knows how to count high. So it's some number more of 200 million, significantly more. I think it's important to know that, yes, God does say he will bring vengeance, he will bring justice, he will bring judgment on people who chronically refuse, but that's not what he wants to do. What he wants to do, he keeps offering his free gift of salvation and a relationship with him and attorney in heaven. And he wants people to say, yes. So both things are true and it's important that we not shy away from those truths, because what it means is if you say, "Well, I'm glad Joel and Carl, I'm glad you believed in Jesus, that's fine for you, but I don't really care. I don't believe it, I'm never gonna believe it and so what? When I die, I'll be like a candle, I'll just be snuffed out, I'll go to sleep, that's it, I don't exist." Well, if that were true, then I guess there would be no particular harm to not following Jesus and going to heaven, you wouldn't have any of the benefits. But you'd be like, "Yeah, I don't even exist anymore, so what do I care?" But that's not what the Bible says. The Bible says, "You're gonna burn in the fires of hell forever and ever, and ever, and ever, and ever, and ever with no way of escape, there's no second chance." There are second chances now but once you take that last breath on earth and your soul passes from this world, you're locked in. That old show, who wants to be a millionaire? Like, is this your final answer?
- [Carl] Final answer.
- [Joel] Once you raise your last breath, whether you consciously decided to reject Jesus or not, you have, unless you've consciously decided to receive him. And what the Bible describes Jesus, is so horrific. Jesus spent more time talking about hell when he was on earth than he talked about heaven, why? Because it's real and because there are consequences to rejecting him. And so if we are loving and we tell the good news, the gospel message we have to remind, we just have to be honest with people. There is a consequence for saying no, for rejecting, God doesn't care about your mocking so much, mocking is just a symptom of rejection, but he's concerned about your rejection, because you don't seem to realize the cost, the consequences that are coming.
- [Carl] Boy, that is so true. And we're so unaccustomed in these days to dealing with a harsh reality, we're so accustomed to conforming our message towards something that makes people feel good. This is not a feel good message. And it is not something that we are rejoicing about that people will die and spend eternity apart from Christ in hell. That's not something we celebrate by any means. And it is in fact, one of the great motivators of all that we do as believers to bring people to an awareness of the love and grace and goodness of God in this time, because God is just, and he will have his justice because he can't not be himself. And I think that's important. Joel, before we leave the subject though, of persecution and opposition in the land, we have to recognize that recently The Joshua Fund itself has also come under some criticism because of its relationship with evangelical Palestinian believers. And it's been said about The Joshua Fund that we have some ulterior motive. I know how I would respond to this, but how do you respond to criticism that The Joshua Fund is just trying to manipulate evangelical Palestinians with resources.
- Well, that's certainly been the attack and of late and nothing could be further from the truth. There was an article recently, I think in the last podcast, we referred to a Palestinian pastor who had been arrested and put in prison without any charges by the passing authority and spent 40 days and 40 nights in jail with hardened criminals before he was finally released. And our news service, all Arab News had played a small role in at least publicizing what was going on asking Palentine President Mahmoud Abbas to please release this pastor that he had done anything wrong, there were no charges and please intervene in the legal system and make things right. And to Palentine President Mahmoud Abbas credit he did that in fact, and yet for some reason, a Palestinian Christian decided to write a column attacking us and attacking palestines evangelicals for having any connection to us, us meaning The Joshua Fund but I sort of have several different hats. So a couple things, first of all, it bothered me. It hurt me that more than the Rolling Stone article, that a Palestinian person who described himself as a follower of Jesus Christ was attacking me and The Joshua Fund who are followers with Jesus Christ, for standing with praying for, encouraging, finding every way we can to stand with and support Palestine Christians. It was hard to understand why a Palestine Christian would not only attack us, but what there, it was really, we were a bank shot. They were really attacking fellow Palestine Christian leaders, evangelical Christian leaders in who Palestinian for having any association with us. And I'm like, "Wait, what is happening here?" The Palestinian evangelical community is small and it's embatled, its issues are, it faces a world where, from their perspective, the Israelis are occupying their land, right? And there are Israeli soldiers and there are checkpoints and all kinds of challenges, and there are challenges. They also face radical Islamists who hate followers of Jesus and want to drive them out of the region. They face the Palestine authority, which is not known as the most, having the cleanest hands in the region as a government. So there's a lot of issues that a Palestinian Evangelical faces. Why exactly are they attacking me and The Joshua Fund for trying to find ways to be helpful and encouraging or attacking Palestinian Christians evangelical leaders for wanting prayer and encouragement and support and whatever, that was a problem. And I'll say just one other thing. One of the things we emphasize and we've emphasized it from the beginning of these podcasts is this phrase, unconditional love.
- [Carl] Amen.
- [Jael] You and I, and our colleagues at The Joshua Fund on the board, on the staff, we do not ask of the Palestines evangelicals to agree with our personal views on the conflict, on the Bible prophecies about the land, about any of that, even as an organization, we don't even take a position on the political issues. We do take a position obviously on the biblical prophecies, but we understand that not everybody in this region or in the world agrees with our interpretation of these prophecies, and we get that. And so we're not asking Palestines evangelicals to be Zionists. Meaning to believe that God has given the land to the Jewish people and that there's no, I mean that Zionism. That there's actually a biblical prophetic reason that Jews are coming back to this particular land because it's been given to Jews, not alone, meaning Jews are also supposed to share the land, to love their neighbors, to treat others as part of their society in fairness and in justice and Israel doesn't always do that to be honest. So that's a challenge. But we're not asking our Palestine evangelical friends to agree with our understanding of the Bible when it comes to the land or even our understanding of eschatology. Meaning exactly how end times prophesy is gonna play out. Honestly, if we did that, we wouldn't have any friends. And the point is those are not essential issues to being a follower of Jesus Christ. Understanding of the end times, God is not gonna let us into heaven or not based on our understanding of the end times. I tell my friends who don't believe in the rapture. My friends in Chicago, my friends in Los Angeles, my friends all over the world, look, I get it. You don't believe that there actually is a rapture. That's fine, you're gonna be raptured anyway, there's no point in arguing with you over it. If you wanna talk about it and happy to discuss, explain why I believe it, but I'm not gonna break fellowship with somebody who doesn't agree with me on that. And the same is true of the land. Like I do think it's pretty clear in the scriptures, but I would rather love and encourage, pray for, stand with, encourage, support whatever my Palestine Christian friends who are trying to live for Jesus in an area where it's very hard.
- [Carl] Terribly hard.
- [Joel] I'm not trying to buy their affection or change their theology or their politics. And I would be, you and I would be remiss if we tried and/or wanted to try, that's not what we're doing. And those who accuse us of doing it, it's clear they don't know who we are and they don't wanna know. We have gotten to know, I mean, you're knew, and because of COVID, you haven't been able to be here as much, but I've gotten to know many, I would say most, at least at some level of the Palestine Christian leaders that there are. And yet there are some who just literally will not spend any time with me and take shots I mean, behind the scenes or in public, whenever they seem to have a chance. And I think it's a mistake, I don't think it's biblical, but it comes with the territory.
- Well, it does, it does come with the territory. And that gets back to our verses of the day and quoting of 2 Peter these are things that will happen and do happen and they happen. I think, as we said, tangentially to us, but really where our heart goes out is to those brothers and sisters that for following Jesus have endured some horrible abuse and mockery and worse as we both know from this region.
- And I think one of the most painful things, generally, it's certainly true in my life, I know it's true in my Palestines evangelicals friends lives and Jewish believers lives to be so sharply and I think unfairly and even cruelly attacked publicly by someone who calls himself a follower of Christ, also that stings more than coming from unbelievers. Now, persecution might be much worse if you're actually being arrested and tortured and put on death row or whatever. But in terms of criticism, you sort of don't expect it as friendly fire coming from your own side. You're thinking, "Hey, let's have a, if we're gonna have a disagreement, let's have it in private, let's discuss it, why are you going public attacking?" Especially attacking Palestine evangelical leaders the whole community has been saying for years, "Hey, the Christians around the world and particularly in the West, they don't seem to know that Palestine evangelical Christians exist, they don't know us, they don't come to get to know us, they don't know what our issues are, they don't pray for us, they don't encourage their congregations to pray for us, they don't financially support us, they don't befriend us and love us, that's wrong. And when Palestine Christians have said to me, "Joel, don't you see that, that has been the history," Not with every Christian but with many, in the West and around the world. And I had to say, "Yeah, that's true." It was even true of me, so how do I change? Like it wasn't that I had malice towards the Palestines evangelicals community, I just didn't know them. We've talked about this on other broadcasts and podcasts and we'll do more, but like, I didn't know them. So I thought I oughta get to know them and see what are their issues, and I oughta be their advocate. Okay, we disagree on some things, that's okay with me, I'm secure enough in what I believe. And more importantly, I hope driven by, compelled by the love of Christ I don't need them to agree with me on everything. I may be wonderful if they did, but that's not my objective. My objective is stand with them. They are God's chosen vessels to be the witnesses for Jesus in places I can never go, legally I'm not allowed to go, much less culturally it would be completely ineffective for me to go. They're there, they're God's people in Bethlehem, in Ramallah, in Jenin, in all these different areas in Gaza. And I'm never gonna go to Gaza, you got went to Gaza. You can't go now, especially now. But anyway, like I heard that message. And I said, all right, I gotta figure out how to lovingly, unconditionally love and stand with my Palestine Christian brothers and let people know about them and mobilize people to pray for them just as I mobilize people to pray for and bless Israel. I've gotta do both, it's not fair to do one or the other. And I've tried to do it. I'm not saying I or The Joshua Fund is doing it perfectly, but wow, you get attacked for it. And you're like, "I'm not exactly sure what your problem is, because everything you're accusing me of, isn't actually true. And you would know that if you let us get to know you.
- [Carl] Yeah, and it's so remarkable that we've had to have this conversation over and over again, because it's such a simple principle, love your neighbors and love your enemies. Basically Jesus is saying love everyone . And the reality for all of us at The Joshua Fund is that, that is our heart. That, that is at the core of what you and Lynn Rosenberg founded at The Joshua Fund to really be a blessing to Israel and her neighbors, and to all those around in the name of Jesus. So thanks, Joel, I appreciate everything we've covered on this podcast.
- [Joel] Well, I'm honored to do it, and I just wanna say one last, super fast thing. It goes back to a point where you and I have made in the past, that we live in a tribal world, where if one members of your tribe goes to spend time with another tribe that you have disagreements with political, theological or whatever, people in your tribe sometimes will shoot at you thinking you're betraying our tribe by even sitting down and breaking bread metaphorically, or literally with the other tribe. But that type of tribal warfare is entirely not what Jesus speaks of. How is that consistent with loving your neighbor? You don't have to agree with people in their entirety or embrace. Just sitting with someone doesn't mean you've embraced everything they believe. Otherwise I'd never sit with a Muslim, I'd never sit with a Jewish person who doesn't believe in Jesus. And Jesus was sitting with prostitutes, he was sitting with kings, he was sitting with criminals, he was sitting with thieves. He didn't agree with them on everything, but he would building relationship, unconditional love, that's the key, that's our heart. And made that tribe increase.
- [Carl] Amen . Unconditional love, I love it. Well to everyone listening if you've found this podcast valuable, please get in touch with us. Let us know who you are, what do you want us to talk about on this show. Do you have a question you want Joel to answer? Go to joshuafund.com and click on contact us. Feedback from you is incredibly valuable as we continue to develop everything we do on this podcast. And there you can learn more about this issue and many other issues that The Joshua Fund is facing in the "Epicenter". And as always, you can check out our show notes we've mentioned them several times. For anything you heard on this podcast that you'd like more information on. Well, for Joel Rosenberg, I'm Carl Moeller. Thanks for listening to this episode of Inside The Epicenter.