(Ames, Iowa) — It was an honor to be invited to speak at the 2014 Family Leadership Summit here in Ames, Iowa, and to spend personal time with many of the speakers and grassroots leaders who attended.
Most of the speakers were Governors, Senators, Congressman and potential presidential contenders. The covered a range of economic, social and foreign policy issues. I was specifically invited to speak about “The Future of America, Israel & the Middle East In Light of the Scriptures.”
The following are the notes I used for my address. I hope you find them helpful. Please feel free to pass them on to others, including leaders and future leaders. Note that this is not a verbatim transcript. But please feel free to watch or listen to my remarks, which were based on these notes.
Here is a link to the video of my talk, if you are interested (scroll down past the political leaders to find the video.)
THE FUTURE OF AMERICA, ISRAEL & THE MIDDLE EAST IN LIGHT OF THE SCRIPTURES
Good morning. It is an honor to be back in Iowa, and to address The Family Leadership Summit. Thanks to Bob Vander Plaats and his team for inviting me back, especially at a time of great crisis for our country, and for Israel and our allies in the Middle East, who are facing a jihadist rampage.
When I was here for the first Summit in 2012, I made two simple points.
I’d like to recap them here because I think they remain relevant for where we are as a nation two years later. And then I’d like to add a third point for this year.
- America is not simply in decline. We are on the road to collapse, on the road to implosion.
- We must all ask ourselves a critically important question: “Is America at a Jonah moment, or a Nahum moment?”
- What happens if — on top of all our nation’s challenges and sins — America abandons or turns against Israel?
I’m so grateful that Bob and his team are doing all they can to call Iowans and all Americans to pray and fast and seek the Lord for a Third Great Awakening. We need this more than ever.
Let me now share a bit more on each point.
1. America is not simply in decline. We are heading for collapse, for implosion.
There are many reasons for this, including a massive and crushing national debt with no end in sight, the implosion of families through divorce and out-of-wedlock-birth and the assault on traditional marriage, violent crime, drug use, pornography and so forth. I wrote about this in more detail in my 2012 non-fiction book, Implosion: Can America Recover From Its Economic & Spiritual Challenges In Time?, so I won’t take the time today to go through each of these issues in detail.
But I do want to discuss one threat above all: America faces the implosion because we face divine judgment for murdering so many unborn children.
Several years ago, I had the opportunity to visit Auschwitz, the Nazi death camp in Poland. As I stood in an actual gas chamber that was used to systematically murder so many Jews, political prisoners and others, it was a horrifying experience. I’m Gentile on my mother’s side, and Jewish on my father’s side, and standing there thinking about how the Nazis created these murder factories to kill six million Jews was one of the most painful experiences of my life.
But as I stood in that gas chamber, I could not help but think of how my own country, America — a country I love so dearly — has created murder factories to kill millions of people, as well. I was born in 1967. In my lifetime — since 1973 — the American people have legally murdered more than 55 million babies. If this is not stopped soon, we will reach 60 million. Think about that. If we really get to the point that our nation has systematically murdered 60 million human beings, we will have murdered 10 times more people than the Nazis killed of the Jews.
Now we know how God judged Germany and the Nazi regime through a crushing defeat in World War II, and we believe that the Nazis deserved such judgment. What do we think is going to happen if continue to murder millions of children? We are going to face the judgment of God. It is extraordinary that it hasn’t happened already.
There is hope, but we are running out of time. We could repent as a nation. We could turn from our wicked ways, plead with God and His Son the Lord Jesus Christ to forgive our sins, and plead with Him to heal our land.
The Bible says, “If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)
This was specifically a promise given to the nation of Israel in the Old Testament. But it is a principle we can apply today. We could plead with God for forgiveness, and He could grant it. He could give us a sweeping series of revivals that could culminate in a Third Great Awakening, with hundreds of millions of Americans — beginning with the Church — repenting of our sins, turning to Christ, praying, fasting, reading God’s Word and seeking to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit.
This is possible. There is hope. But again, we are running out of time.
But let’s be clear: Without a revival, we are on the road to implosion. Indeed, the threat of implosion is far beyond what the next President can solve alone — we desperately need a Third Great Awakening.
2. We must all ask ourselves a critically important question: “Is America at a Jonah moment, or a Nahum moment?”
In the Old Testament book of Jonah, the Hebrew prophet was sent by the Lord to the wicked city of Nineveh — the capital of the Assyrian empire — in order to preach a message of imminent judgment. Let’s not focus for the moment on the fact that Jonah didn’t want to obey the Lord and preach this messsage, and thus fled on a ship headed in the other direction.
For now, let’s focus on the fact that when Jonah finally did obey the Lord and did start preaching in Ninevah, he didn’t call the people to repentance. Rather, Jonah declared, “Forty days and Ninevah will be overthrown.” (Jonah 3:4) However, even though Jonah never called the people to plead to the One True God of Israel to have mercy on their souls and on their city, even though Jonah never called on the people to beg for forgiveness and turn away from their wickedness, that is, in fact, exactly what the Ninevites did.
The text says: “Then the people of Ninevah believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them. When the word reached the king of Ninevah, he arose from his throne, laid aside his robe from him, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat on the ashes. He issued a proclamation and it said, ‘In Ninevah by the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let man, beast, herd, or flock taste a thing. Do not let them eat or drink water. But both man and beast must be covered with sackcloth; and let men call on God earnestly that each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence which is in his hands. Who knows, God may turn and relent and withdraw His burning anger so that we shall not perish?’” (Jonah 3:5-9)
Sure enough, the Lord heard the earnest prayers of the people — and their king — as they repented, and He relented. “When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it.” The promised judgment did not come. The people and their city were spared from God’s wrath. What an extraordinary moment. The pagan people heard the word of the Lord and it burned in their hearts. They believed God’s word, pleaded for mercy, and the Lord gave them mercy, even though He had never indicated that He would do so.
But this was not the only time the word of the Lord came to the people of Ninevah.
Many years later, the next generation of Ninevites had abandoned the Lord and fallen back into tremendous evil, violence, bloodshed, lies, sorcery and other wickedness. In the Old Testament book of Nahum, we read that the Lord again spoke to the people of Ninevah, this time through a different Hebrew prophet, this one named Nahum. Yet this time the people of Ninevah did not repent. They did not listen to God’s word. They did not plead for mercy. They did not turn from their wicked ways and start praying, fasting and begging God for mercy. And thus, mercy did not come. Instead, the judgment of God came upon the people, and in 612 B.C. the city of Ninevah was utterly destroyed.
Today we as Americans must confront this question: Is America in a “Jonah” moment, or a “Nahum” moment? That is, will we hear the word of the Lord that we have strayed far from the teachings of the Bible and allowed our land to become polluted with abortions and pornography and violence and wickedness of all kinds? Will we admit how far we are from God’s plan and purpose for our lives? Will we confess that our hearts are far from Jesus Christ and plead with the Lord for His mercy and grace and forgiveness? Will we fast and pray and earnestly seek God’s face, and implore Christ to give us a Third Great Awakening? Or will we ignore the word of the Lord and continue in our sins and watch our nation continue to decline, or even implode?
Twice in American history we have seen sweeping spiritual revivals known as the Great Awakening and the Second Great Awakening, respectively. Millions of Americans repented of their sins during those seasons, became devout followers of Jesus Christ, began to read the Bible voraciously and to obey the word of the Lord. Nowhere in Scripture, however, has America been promised a spiritual revival in the 21st century, much less one that would be so sweeping, so game-changing that it would qualify as a Third Great Awakening. But who knows? Perhaps the Lord will show us tremendous mercy and forgiveness if we all humble ourselves and pray, and seek His face, and turn from our wicked ways? However, if we don’t repent and turn back to the Lord Jesus Christ, we may very well consign ourselves to suffer the fate of the Ninevites during the time of Nahum.
3. What happens if — on top of all our nation’s challenges and sins — America abandons or turns against Israel?
The fate of America, Israel and the Middle East are inextricably linked for three reasons.
Consider three passages of Scripture:
Genesis 12:3 — In Genesis 12, the Lord God chooses Abram, calls him out of Ur of the Chaldees (located in modern-day Iraq, 220 miles southeast of Baghdad) to go to “a land that I will show you,” which turns out to be the land later called Israel. The Lord promises to bless Abram, and through him bless “all the families of the earth.” Specifically in 12:3, the Lord says, “I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” As one reads through the rest of the book of Genesis, it becomes clear that this promise from God is passed down from Abram (who is later named Abraham) to Isaac to Jacob (later named Israel) and then to Jacob’s descendants, Israel and the Jewish people. Thus, the Lord is making clear that those who bless Israel and the Jewish people He will bless, and those who curse them He will curse. If America turns against or abandons Israel and the Jews after being their closest friend and ally for so many decades, God warns He will bring judgment upon us.
Joel 3:1-2 — In the first chapter of the book written by the Hebrew prophet Joel, the Lord warns the Israelites and “all inhabitants of the land” that they need to “wake up” from their physical and spiritual drunkenness, stupor and wandering from the Lord. In the second chapter, the Lord also calls the people to pray and fast and humbly seek God’s forgiveness and favor because “the Day of the Lord is coming.” In the third chapter, the Lord says that before the “Day of the Lord” (the tribulation and the Second Coming), the Lord will “restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem.” In the context of other prophecies in Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and other Hebrew prophets, we know this means Israel will be miraculously reborn as a nation, the Jews will return to the land of Israel and Judah and to Jerusalem after centuries of exile, and that the Lord will use the Jewish people to rebuild the ancient ruins of their ancient homeland and build a nation of prosperity and security.
Consider the specific passage of chapter 3, verses one and two: “For behold, in those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat. Then I will enter into judgment with them there on behalf of My people and My inheritance, Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations; and they have divided up My land.”
The Lord specifically warns that “all the nations” who “have divided up My land” will be judged by the God of Israel.
Tragically, the United States is leading the league in trying to divide the land of Israel.
This process was formalized under President George W. Bush who officially called for the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state, which would divide the land of Israel. “I was the first American President to call for a Palestinian state, and building support for the two-state solution has been one of the highest priorities of my Presidency,” said President Bush.
President Obama and his administration have continued the Bush policy and pushed hard for Israeli leaders to divide the land. “It is not fair that a Palestinian child cannot grow up in a state of their own,” President Obama told hundreds of Israeli students in a speech in Jerusalem. “Palestinians have a right to be free people in their own land.”
Creating a sovereign Palestinian state may sound like wisdom to many. But in the Bible, God specifically says He will judge every nation that divides up the land of Israel. Thus, speaking the truth in love, we must not encourage world leaders to take actions that will lead to the judgment of their nations. Rather, we must advise them not to go down that road.
No president or prime minister has the right to divide the land of Israel in defiance of God’s Word.
That said, the Bible also repeatedly tells Israel to love and bless and treat well those who live in their country. This is repeated over and over again in the Old Testament and the New. Just because the Bible does not allow the creation of another sovereign state in the land of Israel doesn’t mean Palestinians should be mistreated, or endangered, or oppressed in any way, shape or form. To the contrary, God loves the Palestinians. We must love the Palestinians. Israelis must love the Palestinians. Thus, Palestinians living in the West Bank should absolutely have the opportunity and freedom to run their own day-to-day affairs, their economy, education, infrastructure, transportation, health care, communications, police and courts, and so forth.
Psalm 122:6-9 — This passage reads, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: ‘May they prosper who love you. May peace be within your walls, and prosperity within your palaces.’ For the sake of my brothers and my friends, I will now say, ‘May peace be within you.’ For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your good.”
Clearly, people all over the world, including in America, need to:
- pray for peace in Jerusalem, Israel and the broader Middle East
- pray for Jews and Arabs in the epicenter
- love Jews and Arabs in the epicenter
- seek the good of Jews and Arabs in the epicenter
The Lord promises to bless and “prosper” those who do.
If a nation follows these principles — if they love and bless Israel and the Jewish people, and do not divide the land of Israel, and love and pray for Jews and Arabs in Jerusalem and seek their good — then God will love and bless and show mercy to such a nation.
But if a nation violates these principles — especially chronically and consistently — then there will be a day of reckoning.
The question is: What do we want, a blessing or a curse, mercy or judgment?
Overall, most Americans are very supportive of Israel and find many ways to love and bless her, as well as the Arabs and others in Israel and the Middle East. This is good.
But there are a growing number of voices who say it is time to:
- cut off military aid to Israel
- boycott Israel
- divest from Israel
- sanction Israel
- and/or turn against Israel once and for all
Some do so because of anti-Semitism, others out of a belief in isolationism, and others because of ignorance.
Given the high stakes, one of the things we need to do is teach people about God’s love and plan and purpose for Israel and the Jewish people, and why this matters to America. We need to help more people — including our leaders and future leaders — understand why America’s fate is inextricably linked with how we treat Israel and the Jewish people, as well as her neighbors.
I would encourage you to study Genesis 12 through 17, in particular, on your own more carefully.
You will seen how the Lord unfolds the Abrahamic Covenant, piece by piece, step by step, including the fact that this is an “everlasting covenant” (Genesis 17:7) and thus cannot be broken or abrogated, and that the Lord has given the land of Israel as an “everlasting possession” (Genesis 17:8).
NOTE: I attended the event in my individual capacity as an author, not in any capacity related to The Joshua Fund