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“ISIS plotting ‘to slaughter thousands’ in 2016 in bid to spark huge final battle,” reads U.K. headline seemingly ripped from THE FIRST HOSTAGE. Also: ISIS leader vows to attack Israel & Saudi Arabia soon. But mainstream media slow to report significance of Islamic eschatology.

ISIS-baghdadi(Central Israel) — In a few days, I plan to write about some extraordinarily good news in the Middle East. Today, however, as we end 2015, I have to be honest about the bad news: Darkness is falling across the Middle East and North Africa, the forces of freedom are retreating, Muslims and Christians are being slaughtered, Jews are being targeted for destruction, and 2016 could be worse.

In January of 2015, the Islamic State vowed to turn the U.S. into a “Muslim province” and capture and kill President Obama.

“Know, Oh Obama, that we will reach America,” an ISIS terrorist said in a video released online. “We will cut off your head in the White House.”

Now, one year later — after deadly attacks in Paris, San Bernardino, Turkey, Beirut, Baghdad, and all across Syria and Iraq — the leaders of the Islamic State are signaling that they are planning catastrophic new attacks in 2016. In chilling yet familiar language that feels ripped from the pages of my latest thriller, The First Hostage, they explain that their goal are to:

  • conquer Jerusalem, Mecca and Medina
  • annihilate all Jewish, Christian and Muslim “infidels”
  • establish a global Islamic kingdom or “caliphate”
  • and hasten the End of Days and the coming of the Islamic messiah known as the Mahdi.

“With the help of Allah, we are getting closer to you every day,” ISIS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi warned the State of Israel in a newly released 24-minute audio recording. “The Israelis will soon see us in Palestine. This is no longer a war of the Crusaders against us. The entire world is fighting us right now.”

In the same recording, al-Baghdadi vowed to overthrow the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and called on Saudi citizens loyal to ISIS to “overthrow” their “apostate tyrants.”

The ISIS chief further called on jihadists loyal to the caliphate to “erupt volcanoes of jihad everywhere” and vowed that “the march of the Mujahidin will continue until they reach Rome,” a reference to an Islamic prophecy that the Mahdi will destroy Christendom and conquer the entire world in the Final Days.

As readers of this column and my books know, I’ve been working hard in 2015 to make the general public, Evangelical leaders, and Congressional leaders and presidential candidates aware of the serious threat posed by Apocalyptic Islam. It’s been slow-going, but as we launch the book tour for The First Hostage, I promise to keep at it. Please pray that the publication of the book will open many new doors in the media and with world leaders to discuss these critical issues.

While the mainstream media in the West has been slow to pick up on the significance of the eschatology driving ISIS, I am encouraged that both the New York Times and now the U.K. Express have published articles this month about the Islamic End Times theology driving the leaders of ISIS and their vision of drawing Western armies (“the forces of Rome”) into an apocalyptic battle in the northern Syrian town known as Dabiq. I’ve also been encouraged by the publication of an excellent, well-sourced and scholarly non-fiction book called The ISIS Apocalypse: The History, Strategy and Doomsday Vision of The Islamic State, by Dr. William McCants of the Brookings Institution, in October.

A handful of other Mideast analysts are highlighting ISIS eschatology, as well. Dr. Theodore Karasik, an expert on the Islamic State quoted extensively in the article in the U.K. Express, said that “next year will see a huge increase in both the number and scale of major terror attacks” and warned, “ISIS’s media operation is taunting its enemy to come to fight their Final Battle.”

“But first,” he said,” ISIS “wants to show its global reach with zeal…from cells, to lone wolves, to bedroom jihadists — to target landmarks and crowds in dozens of countries across the world.”

I suspect he may be right.

The top Anglican leader in the United Kingdom is now warning that ISIS is planning an “apocalypse” that could lead to the “elimination” of Christianity in the Middle East. Please be praying for God to give courage, boldness and protection to our Christian brothers and sisters throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Please also pray that the Lord will give wisdom to the leaders of The Joshua Fund and other ministries seeking to strengthen and encourage the Church in the epicenter.

Meanwhile, Israel’s top generals say they are readying IDF forces for coming clashes with the Islamic State and other jihadist groups, whose forces are approaching the Golan Heights, driven in part by Russian air strikes that are pushing them southward. Please pray for Israeli leaders to have wisdom to know how to guard itself against ISIS, while not getting our eye off the threats posed by Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas and other enemy forces. Please also thank the Lord that Israel is and remains a remarkable oasis of freedom and security for Jews, Christians and Muslims in such a roiling sea of violence in this region.

That’s enough for now. I hope you find The First Hostage helpful in understanding better what we’re up against — please be sure to post your comments and reviews on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, other bookseller websites, as well as on your own social media and on our Epicenter Team Facebook page.

In the meantime, I encourage you to read the following helpful articles:

Thanks, and may God bless you and give you His courage and His hope as we head into a very challenging 2016.

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The first reviews of #TheFirstHostage are in: “one of the final must-read novels of 2015,” “impeccably crafted,” “I simply could not stop reading”

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The first reviews of The First Hostage are in…..

  • “The First Hostage is one of the final must-read novels of 2015, and a rip-roaring thriller that dares you set it down because it knows you won’t be able to. I absolutely loved this book, refusing to go to sleep until I had it finished….Rosenberg keeps the reader engaged with excellent pacing and an explosive story. Just when you think you have things figured out, he leads you down another path in a totally different direction. Everything leads to a fascinating final quarter of the novel that puts J.B Collins, and the reader, on the front lines of the battle against ISIS.” — excerpt from the “Book Spy” review
  • “With an uncanny ability to evaluate current world events and create a story based on what might happen next, Rosenberg’s thrillers are always impeccably crafted and compelling reads. THE FIRST HOSTAGE is the second in the J. B. Collins series, following the equally exciting events of THE THIRD TARGET. I recommend that you get your hands on both books and settle in for an enthralling reading experience.” — excerpt from the “BookReporter.com” review
  • “Wow. Joel C. Rosenberg’s The First Hostage has no shortage of fast-paced action, thrills, and suspense….I simply could not stop reading until I knew what would happen in the end…The First Hostage is a fascinating political read.” — excerpt from the “Book By Book” review

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READ THIS BOOK BY THE GUY WHO HAD THE ISLAMIC STATE FIGURED OUT BEFORE ANYONE ELSE

(Here’s the full review from the “Book Spy” blog, minus some spoilers, which I have removed, though you can read them by clicking here):

In many interviews, author Brad Thor has quoted his friend (and fellow author) Brad Meltzer by saying “a thriller writer’s job is to beat the headlines.”

While both Brad Thor and Brad Meltzer have been fantastic at beating headlines in their own bestselling novels over the years, I would argue that nobody has been a better headliner-beater than author Joel C Rosenberg.

Back in 2002, Rosenberg opened his debut novel, The Last Jihad, with a scene where Muslim extremists use an airplane in a kamikaze attack on the President of the United States. Incredibly, Rosenberg actually wrote that scene before 9/11.

It was for headline-beating scenarios like this that U.S. News and World Report coined Rosenberg a “modern day Nostradamus.” But the incredible predictions in his novels didn’t stop there.

Part of the central plot to The Last Jihad is Israel’s newfound discovery of oil. at the time, that idea seemed outlandish. Yet recently we’ve seen headlines such as “Potentially game-changing oil reserves discovered in Israel” from Fox News and other media outlets alike.

In his second novel series, beginning with The Twelfth Imam (2010), Rosenberg – who has written several nonfiction books as well – tells a story about a young CIA operative who uncovers a shocking truth about Iran’s nuclear capabilities. That series, which spans over three books, (The Twelfth Imam, The Tehran Initiative, and Damascus Countdown) deals with the realities and dangers that a nuclear Iran poses to both Israel, and America.

Most of the questions surrounding the central plot to that series, such as: should Israel launch a preemptive strike on Iran, are currently being analyzed by talk show hosts across the country. It’s debated in congress too, as part of the nuclear agreement America has entered into with Iran.

Rosenberg had already proven to have his finger firmly on the pulse of world events and geopolitics long before this year’s book came out. Yet in January, with the release of The Third Target, Rosenberg once again seems to have peered into his crystal ball and seen events before they actually happened.

The Third Target (released in January of 2015) was the first novel in Rosenberg’s new series about a New York Times reporter who chases a story about ISIS. J.B. Collins sets out to confirm a rumor he’s heard suggesting that the terrorist group smuggled weapons of mass destruction out of Syria, and he’ll stop at nothing to get the scoop – including sneaking into Syria to meet with the leaders of The Islamic State….

The First Hostage picks up just seconds after where The Third Target ends, thank goodness, thrusting the reader into immediate nonstop-action.

Collins in on the ground in Jordan talking to his editor, giving him a rundown of everything that’s just happened since the surprise attack by ISIS. From there, J.B. is invited by the King of Jordan into a secure military bunker, where he’s given exclusive access to cover all the events as they unfold, including the search for the American president.

Collins soon discovers that he doesn’t quite have the freedom to report on whatever he wants, as he’s subjected to censorship from the Jordanian government. While not a fan of censorship, he makes do with what he has. That is until a twist in the story flips things upside down, shaking Collins to his very core.

Rosenberg keeps the reader engaged with excellent pacing and an explosive story. Just when you think you have things figured out, he leads you down another path in a totally different direction. Everything leads to a fascinating final quarter of the novel that puts J.B Collins, and the reader, on the front lines of the battle against ISIS.

The First Hostage is one of the final must-read novels of 2015, and a rip-roaring thriller that dares you set it down because it knows you won’t be able to. I absolutely loved this book, refusing to go to sleep until I had it finished….

With his history of beating headlines, if you want an idea of what future attacks from ISIS might look like, read this book from the guy who had The Islamic State figured out before anyone else — Joel Rosenberg!

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Is ISIS plotting to kill or capture the President of the United States and trigger the End of Days? (#TheFirstHostage is now available in hardcover, e-book & audio formats. And here are details of the book tour.)

BOOK-FirstHostageWhat if the leaders of the world were blind-sided by a catastrophic attack by an Apocalyptic Islamic terror group they didn’t see coming?

What if the Islamic State (aka, ISIS) launched a massive, carefully-coordinated plot to assassinate or capture the President of the United States, the Prime Minister of Israel, the President of Egypt and the King of Jordan, in the hopes to trigger a war that would bring about the End of Days?

How might such a war unfold? What would happen next? How would the world respond?

I pray to God such a chilling scenario never comes to pass, but this is the premise of my latest novel — THE FIRST HOSTAGE — which picks up six seconds after the end of The Third Target.

The novel was launched this morning in hardcover and audio in North America. You can buy it at any of your favorite general market or Christian bookstores. You can also download it immediately starting today in e-book formats (like Nook and Kindle) in North America and all over the globe.

Where are you reading THE FIRST HOSTAGE? Already, we’re getting messages from readers in Thailand, Canada, Holland, Israel and beyond. Please Tweet me or post a message on our “Epicenter Team Page” on Facebook and let me know. Also, please post a review on Facebook and other social media the moment you finish the book.

For the next two weeks, I’ll be doing interviews, writing articles and blogging about the novel from here in Israel. But in early January, we’ll launch a month-long media and speaking tour throughout the United States. Dates, cities and locations are below. We’ll post more details about each event as needed as we get closer.

Please make plans to join us at one of these events. We’ll usually be doing book signings, and at some locations we’ll be doing Q&A. I would be honored to meet you and your friends, and I’m so grateful for your enthusiastic support for this new thriller.

BOOK TOUR SCHEDULE:

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Here’s how The Joshua Fund, with your help, is caring for Syrian refugees, Holocaust survivors, encouraging pastors and bringing light in the darkness of the Mideast: TJF’s 2015 Donor Report.

TJF-donorreport2-2015>> To read The Joshua Fund’s 2015 Donor Report — and other details about how God is using your prayers and financial support to help us enter open doors throughout the Middle East — please click here.

Many Christians are asking, “How should we be responding to the horrific refugee crisis unfolding in Syria and throughout the Middle East?” They’re also asking, “Yes, I want to pray for persecuted Christians in the Mideast, but I want to do more — but what?”

I’m grateful people are asking. The good news is that we don’t have to sit by silently by and do nothing — nor should we. Indeed, I am humbled to report that with your gracious and generous prayers and financial investment, The Joshua Fund has been able to make a real difference.

Please take a moment to listen to the audio of this interview regarding the Syrian refugee crisis that I recently did with the head of a Christian ministry that The Joshua Fund is investing in to care for Arab Muslim families fleeing from ISIS and the Assad government. You’ll get a real insight into what’s happening on the ground, and the hearts of those working on the frontlines to care for those who are suffering, and doing so in the name of Jesus. (please click here)

>> To watch a special video I did to thank The Joshua Fund’s remarkable prayer partners and donors, please click here.

Please also take some time to read — and please share with family and friends on social media — TJF’s 2015 Donor Report in full. It is chock full of details of how your prayers and generous financial investment is making a difference in the lives of Syrian refugees, Jewish Holocaust survivors, pastors and ministry leaders in Israel and the Arab world and more. (please click here)

>> Would you like to make a tax-deductible, year-end donation to the work of The Joshua Fund? We would be so honored and grateful. Please click here to make a secure online donation, or learn where to send a check. Thank you so much, and may God bless you and your family as you bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus!

Now, let me share with you the letter I wrote to our wonderful, gracious donors!

Dear Faithful Friends of The Joshua Fund —

This year of 2015 has been fraught with enormous challenges and hardship for people living in Israel and the Arab world. For many, the future seems hopeless, as war and rumors of war, terrorism, religious persecution, and a horrific refugee crisis have plunged the region into great darkness.

Yet, in the midst of that darkness, we are deeply encouraged. Why? Because we are seeing God move powerfully in the Epicenter. I am thrilled to report that the Light of the Gospel is spreading throughout the region, thanks in part to your faithful prayers and your generous gifts to The Joshua Fund. We want you to know that we are seeing God’s faithfulness to His Church in the Epicenter as well as to those who don’t yet know Him and who desperately need His light.

Indeed, if there is one thing that characterizes 2015 for me, in the midst of the darkness and trauma in the Middle East, it’s the open door we are seeing for the proclamation of the Gospel. We are witnessing with our own eyes, as well as through the eyes of those with whom we partner, an unprecedented openness among Jews and Arabs to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Throughout this report, you will find stories and statements from our ministry partners echoing this truth. As one of our partners recently recounted to us, this could be “the most fruitful [year in ministry] in Israel in almost 2,000 years!” Such words remind me of the words of our Lord Jesus to one of the Churches in Revelation: “Behold I have put before you an open door which no one can shut.” (Rev. 3:8)

To our astonishment, Israelis are suddenly searching for answers to the deepest and most important questions concerning life, death, God, forgiveness and eternity – and in seemingly unprecedented numbers! Some are searching through the Hebrew Scriptures for answers. Some are actually reading the New Testament for the first time. What’s more, hundreds of thousands are searching online for information about the Messiah, including a new video series that has gone viral, which features the testimonies of Israelis who have found salvation in Christ (see related article on page 4 of our 2015 Donor Report).

In the pages that follow, you will find exciting news about God’s work in the Epicenter – and how your prayers and financial support have helped to advance His Kingdom. We thank God for your faithfulness in helping us share His love with the people of the Epicenter.

As we move forward, of course, we know that many challenges await us in 2016. The spiritual and humanitarian needs in neighboring countries are nothing short of staggering. Meanwhile, Israelis live under the threat of wa

Even so, The Joshua Fund is excited about the open door God has provided and the opportunities that lie ahead. Indeed, this is why The Joshua Fund was created:

  • To bless Israel and her Neighbors, because this is what God commands us to do;
  • To help care for the needy and the vulnerable, especially during times of war and terror; and
  • To strengthen and encourage the Church to move through the doors God has opened and to share His love with others.

We are looking forward to watching God work in the Epicenter in the year ahead and to joining local believers in advancing His work. Would you please pray for our board and staff as we seek the Lord’s guidance for 2016? We know that He will provide for every need. We prayerfully seek the Lord to make us truly faithful stewards, investing each dollar with wisdom and discernment to bear good and eternal fruit.

On behalf of The Joshua Fund’s board and staff, thank you for standing with us so faithfully during this challenging time. By His grace and with your loving and sacrificial help, we have helped touch many lives in the Epicenter with God’s love and mercy. What a great joy and privilege!

May the Lord richly bless you and your family as we work together to bless Israel and her Neighbors in the name of Jesus, according to Genesis 12:1-3.

Yours in Christ Jesus in the Epicenter,

Joel C. Rosenberg, Founder and Chairman

>> Would you like to make a tax-deductible, year-end donation to the work of The Joshua Fund? We would be so honored and grateful. Please click here to make a secure online donation, or learn where to send a check. Thank you so much, and may God bless you and your family as you bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus!

“Iran provokes the world as Obama does nothing.” Who said this? You might be surprised.

iran-nuclear-graphic>> One week until THE FIRST HOSTAGE releases. You can pre-order it here.

“Iran is following through on the nuclear deal it struck with a U.S.-led coalition in an utterly predictable way: It is racing to fulfill those parts of the accord that will allow it to collect $100 billion in frozen funds and end sanctions on its oil exports and banking system, while expanding its belligerent and illegal activities in other areas — and daring the West to respond. Unfortunately, the Obama administration’s response to these provocations has also been familiar. It is doing its best to downplay them — and thereby encouraging Tehran to press for still-greater advantage.”

Who said this? You might be surprised. It wasn’t Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It wasn’t one of the GOP presidential candidates. Nor was it the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal or a conservative foreign policy analyst.

These are actually the opening lines of a Washington Post editorial published on December 20. The liberal editors of the Post go on to blast the Obama administration’s “fecklessness” in willfully “ignoring” Iran’s blatant violations of the nuclear accord.

Consider the rest of the editorial:

We’ve pointed out how the regime of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has unjustly sentenced Post correspondent Jason Rezaian to prison and arrested two businessmen with U.S. citizenship or residence since signing the nuclear accord. There have been no penalties for those outrageous violations of human rights. Now a United Nations panel has determined that Iran test-fired a nuclear-capable missile on Oct. 10 with a range of at least 600 miles, in violation of a U.N. resolution that prohibits such launches. Moreover, it appears likely that a second missile launch occurred on Nov. 21, also in violation of Security Council Resolution 1929.

The U.S. response? “We are now actively considering the appropriate consequences to that launch in October,” State Department official Stephen Mull testified at a Senate committee hearing Thursday. In other words, there have so far been none — other than a speech by the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations blaming the Security Council for the lack of action. As for the second missile launch, the administration claims to be investigating it, though it likely has in its possession the intelligence necessary to make a judgment.

It’s not hard to guess the reasons for this fecklessness. President Obama is reluctant to do anything that might derail the nuclear deal before Iran carries out its commitments, including uninstalling thousands of centrifuges and diluting or removing tons of enriched uranium. The same logic prompted him to tolerate Iran’s malign interventions in Syria, Yemen and elsewhere, along with the arrest of Mr. Rezaian, while the pact was under negotiation.

U.S. officials argue that Iran’s nonnuclear violations make it all the more important that the nuclear deal be implemented. But that ignores the clear connections between the missile launches and Tehran’s ambitions to become a nuclear power. The only practical military purpose of the missiles the regime is testing is to carry atomic warheads. And while missile launches are not prohibited by the nuclear pact itself, the separate resolution banning them remains in effect until the deal is implemented, after which a new resolution takes effect that calls on Iran not to develop such missiles for eight years.

By flouting the U.N. resolutions, Iran is clearly testing the will of the United States and its allies to enforce the overall regime limiting its nuclear ambitions. If there is no serious response, it will press the boundaries in other areas — such as the inspection regime. It will take maximum advantage of Mr. Obama’s fear of undoing a legacy achievement, unless and until its bluff is called. That’s why the administration would be wise to take firm action now in response to the missile tests rather than trying to sweep them under the carpet.

I don’t often say this, but it’s true: the editors of the Washington Post are correct in their observations and analysis. The White House and State Department are ignoring the Iranian regime’s willful disregard of the nuclear accord.

What the Post editors don’t say — but should — is that this refusal to require Iran to keep the agreement is making a dangerous situation far more dangerous. Why? Because Iran’s leaders are not just driven by Radical Islam. They are driven by Apocalyptic Islam. They believe the End of Days has come. They believe their savior or messiah known as the “Mahdi” or the “Twelfth Imam” is coming at any moment to establish a global Islamic kingdom or caliphate. And they believe they must develop a nuclear weapons arsenal to help pave the way for a world without Jews and Christians. Western leaders ignore the threat of Apocalyptic Islam at their peril, and ours.

I once wrote a trilogy of novels about such a nightmare scenario. This is far more frightening…because it’s true.

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My new novel is about a catastrophic attack by ISIS against the President of the United States. THE FIRST HOSTAGE launches Dec. 29th. Pre-order today.

FirstHostage-Istanbul“The president of the United States . . . is missing.”

This is how my new novel — THE FIRST HOSTAGE — begins, with a catastrophic plot against the American Commander-in-Chief.

With these words, New York Times journalist J. B. Collins, reporting from the scene of a devastating attack by ISIS terrorists in Amman, Jordan, puts the entire world on high alert.

The leaders of Israel and the Palestinian Authority are critically injured, Jordan’s king is fighting for his life, and the U.S. president is missing and presumed captured.

As the U.S. government faces a constitutional crisis and Jordan battles for its very existence, Collins must do his best to keep the world informed while working to convince the FBI that his stories are not responsible for the terror attack on the Jordanian capital.

And ISIS still has chemical weapons….

Struggling to clear his name, Collins and the Secret Service try frantically to locate and rescue the leader of the free world before ISIS’s threats become a horrific reality.

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Eerie front-page NYT story examines ISIS prophecies about an apocalyptic showdown in Syrian town of Dabiq. (Story looks ripped from THE FIRST HOSTAGE, my forthcoming novel about a showdown over Dabiq.)

 

NYT-ISISprophecies

ThirdTarget-FirstHostage

(Dallas, Texas) — Readers of this column know that I have been trying to draw the attention of leaders in Washington and Jerusalem, U.S. presidential candidates, journalists, Evangelical leaders, and the American people more broadly to the emerging threat of what I call “Apocalyptic Islam” of both the Shia and Sunni varieties.

My last series of political thrillers — The Twelfth Imam, The Tehran Initiative and Damascus Countdown — imagined a scenario in which Iran’s Shia Muslim leaders, driven by their genocidal belief in End Times Islamic prophecies, built an arsenal of nuclear weapons and set into motion a plan to annihilate Israel and the United States.

Now, my latest political thriller series — The Third Target (which was published in January 2015), and my forthcoming novel, The First Hostage (which releases December 29th) — imagines a scenario in which the leaders of ISIS are driven by a Sunni version of genocidal End Times prophecies to capture chemical weapons in Syria and launch a series of horrific attacks against U.S., Israeli, and Sunni Arab leaders. At the heart of the series is a fictional New York Times reporter trying to understand what Apocalyptic Islam is and get ahead of the coming attacks.

As The First Hostage unfolds, ISIS leaders are trying feverishly to draw the U.S. and the Western powers (“the forces of Rome”) into a bloody ground war in Syria. Why? In order to fulfill Islamic prophecies about an apocalyptic End Times battle in an obscure Syrian town called Dabiq and establish a global Islamic kingdom or caliphate.

No matter how many speeches I’ve delivered, or columns and blogs and interviews I’ve given, it’s been challenging, to say the least, to get leaders to focus on the genocidal intentions of our enemies and the Islamic eschatology that is driving them.

That said, I’m encouraged by three recent developments:

The first was the publication in August of an absolutely excellent non-fiction book called, The ISIS Apocalypse: The History, Strategy, and Doomsday Vision of the Islamic State. It was written by a Brookings Institution scholar, Dr. Will McCants. It is extremely well-written and carefully sourced and explains the significance of these Islamic prophecies, including those concerning Dabiq. I have already highly recommend it to various presidential candidates and Members of the House and Senate, and I hope it is widely read among the general public, as well.

The second is that two GOP presidential candidates — Sen. Marco Rubio and Sen. Rick Santorum — are speaking out clearly about the threat not just of Radical Islam but specifically of Apocalyptic Islam, including at the recent conference organized by the Republican Jewish Coalition. (to read more, click here) My hope that other candidates and current office-holders, military leaders and intelligence experts will start studying and publicly discussing this matter.

The third source of encouragement — and amazement — is a front-page story in the New York Times this morning, headlined, “U.S. Strategy Seeks To Avoid ISIS Prophecy.” I commend it to your attention. Indeed, in reading the article, it was a bit eerie. After all, a real-life New York Times reporter is trying to understand Apocalyptic Islam and is reporting about a possible U.S. showdown with ISIS in the Syrian town of Dabiq, something ripped right out of my novels. Unreal.

Here are a few excerpts:

As the debate on how best to contain the Islamic State continues to rage in Western capitals, the militants themselves have made one point patently clear: They want the United States and its allies to be dragged into a ground war.

In fact, when the United States first invaded Iraq, one of the most enthusiastic proponents of the move was the man who founded the terrorist cell that would one day become the Islamic State, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. He excitedly called the Americans’ 2003 intervention “the Blessed Invasion.”
His reaction — ignored by some, and dismissed as rhetoric by others — points to one of the core beliefs motivating the terrorist group now holding large stretches of Iraq and Syria: The group bases its ideology on prophetic texts stating that Islam will be victorious after an apocalyptic battle to be set off once Western armies come to the region.
Should that invasion happen, the Islamic State not only would be able to declare its prophecy fulfilled, but could also turn the occurrence into a new recruiting drive at the very moment the terrorist group appears to be losing volunteers….

The Islamic State’s propaganda is rife with references to apocalyptic prophecy about the last great battle that sets the stage for the end times. Terrorism experts say it has become a powerful recruiting tool for the group, also known as ISIS or ISIL, which sells potential fighters on the promise that joining will give them the most direct chance to battle Western interests and will bring ancient Islamic prophecies to fruition.

The specific scripture they are referring to describes a battle in Dabiq as well as in al-Amaq, small towns that still exist in northern Syria. The countdown to the apocalypse begins once the “Romans” — a term that militants have now conveniently expanded to include Americans and their allies — set foot in Dabiq…

Fascinating. I’ll do my best to keep you posted as this drama unfolds….

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Here’s how The Joshua Fund, with your help, is caring for Syrian refugees, Holocaust survivors, encouraging pastors and bringing light in the darkness of the Mideast: TJF’s 2015 Donor Report.

TJF-donorvideo-2015.PNGMany Christians are asking, “How should we be responding to the horrific refugee crisis unfolding in Syria and throughout the Middle East?” They’re also asking, “Yes, I want to pray for persecuted Christians in the Mideast, but I want to do more — but what?”

I’m grateful people are asking. The good news is that we don’t have to sit by silently by and do nothing — nor should we. Indeed, I am humbled to report that with your gracious and generous prayers and financial investment, The Joshua Fund has been able to make a real difference.

Please take a moment to listen to the audio of this interview regarding the Syrian refugee crisis that I recently did with the head of a Christian ministry that The Joshua Fund is investing in to care for Arab Muslim families fleeing from ISIS and the Assad government. You’ll get a real insight into what’s happening on the ground, and the hearts of those working on the frontlines to care for those who are suffering, and doing so in the name of Jesus. (please click here)

>> To watch a special video I did to thank The Joshua Fund’s remarkable prayer partners and donors, please click here.

Please also take some time to read — and please share with family and friends on social media — TJF’s 2015 Donor Report in full. It is chock full of details of how your prayers and generous financial investment is making a difference in the lives of Syrian refugees, Jewish Holocaust survivors, pastors and ministry leaders in Israel and the Arab world and more. (please click here)

>> Would you like to make a tax-deductible, year-end donation to the work of The Joshua Fund? We would be so honored and grateful. Please click here to make a secure online donation, or learn where to send a check. Thank you so much, and may God bless you and your family as you bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus!

Now, let me share with you the letter I wrote to our wonderful, gracious donors!

Dear Faithful Friends of The Joshua Fund —

This year of 2015 has been fraught with enormous challenges and hardship for people living in Israel and the Arab world. For many, the future seems hopeless, as war and rumors of war, terrorism, religious persecution, and a horrific refugee crisis have plunged the region into great darkness.

Yet, in the midst of that darkness, we are deeply encouraged. Why? Because we are seeing God move powerfully in the Epicenter. I am thrilled to report that the Light of the Gospel is spreading throughout the region, thanks in part to your faithful prayers and your generous gifts to The Joshua Fund. We want you to know that we are seeing God’s faithfulness to His Church in the Epicenter as well as to those who don’t yet know Him and who desperately need His light.

Indeed, if there is one thing that characterizes 2015 for me, in the midst of the darkness and trauma in the Middle East, it’s the open door we are seeing for the proclamation of the Gospel. We are witnessing with our own eyes, as well as through the eyes of those with whom we partner, an unprecedented openness among Jews and Arabs to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Throughout this report, you will find stories and statements from our ministry partners echoing this truth. As one of our partners recently recounted to us, this could be “the most fruitful [year in ministry] in Israel in almost 2,000 years!” Such words remind me of the words of our Lord Jesus to one of the Churches in Revelation: “Behold I have put before you an open door which no one can shut.” (Rev. 3:8)

To our astonishment, Israelis are suddenly searching for answers to the deepest and most important questions concerning life, death, God, forgiveness and eternity – and in seemingly unprecedented numbers! Some are searching through the Hebrew Scriptures for answers. Some are actually reading the New Testament for the first time. What’s more, hundreds of thousands are searching online for information about the Messiah, including a new video series that has gone viral, which features the testimonies of Israelis who have found salvation in Christ (see related article on page 4 of our 2015 Donor Report).

In the pages that follow, you will find exciting news about God’s work in the Epicenter – and how your prayers and financial support have helped to advance His Kingdom. We thank God for your faithfulness in helping us share His love with the people of the Epicenter.

As we move forward, of course, we know that many challenges await us in 2016. The spiritual and humanitarian needs in neighboring countries are nothing short of staggering. Meanwhile, Israelis live under the threat of wa

Even so, The Joshua Fund is excited about the open door God has provided and the opportunities that lie ahead. Indeed, this is why The Joshua Fund was created:

  • To bless Israel and her Neighbors, because this is what God commands us to do;
  • To help care for the needy and the vulnerable, especially during times of war and terror; and
  • To strengthen and encourage the Church to move through the doors God has opened and to share His love with others.

We are looking forward to watching God work in the Epicenter in the year ahead and to joining local believers in advancing His work. Would you please pray for our board and staff as we seek the Lord’s guidance for 2016? We know that He will provide for every need. We prayerfully seek the Lord to make us truly faithful stewards, investing each dollar with wisdom and discernment to bear good and eternal fruit.

On behalf of The Joshua Fund’s board and staff, thank you for standing with us so faithfully during this challenging time. By His grace and with your loving and sacrificial help, we have helped touch many lives in the Epicenter with God’s love and mercy. What a great joy and privilege!

May the Lord richly bless you and your family as we work together to bless Israel and her Neighbors in the name of Jesus, according to Genesis 12:1-3.

Yours in Christ Jesus in the Epicenter,

Joel C. Rosenberg, Founder and Chairman

>> Would you like to make a tax-deductible, year-end donation to the work of The Joshua Fund? We would be so honored and grateful. Please click here to make a secure online donation, or learn where to send a check. Thank you so much, and may God bless you and your family as you bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus!

Two presidential contenders discussed threat of Apocalyptic Islam at Republican Jewish Coalition forum last week. That’s significant. Here’s why.

Cruz-RubioSantorum-Huckabee2(Washington, D.C.) — Americans are increasingly on edge when it comes to personal and national security. They see the Mideast on fire. They see growing terror on our streets. No wonder they are looking for a President who truly understands the nature and magnitude of the threats we are facing and has the courage, knowledge and experience to keep Americans and our allies safe.

Last week — in the wake of the Paris attacks — only underscored the urgency. Minutes before a young Muslim wife and mother helped her husband unleash a terror rampage in San Bernardino on Wednesday, she pledged her loyalty to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the emir of the Islamic State. She and her husband were later shot and killed by police after an intense manhunt. On Saturday, ISIS leaders publicly announced that Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and Tashfeen Malik, 29, were “soldiers” of the Islamic State and responsible for the deadliest act of terrorism on U.S. soil since 9/11/01, killing 14 people and wounding 21 others.

The Washington Post reported that 2015 has emerged as “the deadliest for Islamist attacks in the United States since 2001” with a total 19 deaths, including the four Marines and Navy sailor murdered by a jihadist in Chattanooga, Tennessee in July.

That’s why I found last week’s conference organized by the Republican Jewish Coalition as so important. All of the remaining 14 GOP presidential candidates addressed the group at the Ronald Reagan building here in Washington, D.C. Regardless of their current standing in the polls, each candidate was given 30 minutes (a 20 minute speech and about 10 minutes of Q&A) to explain their views on U.S. foreign policy and national security issues, the threats emanating from the Middle East, and U.S.-Israeli relations.

While I had a previous commitment and was not able to attend, I watched online and found it especially helpful to observe — back-to-back — the presentations made by “The Final Four,” the four candidates Evangelical Christians, especially in Iowa, are most closely and carefully watching to see if God is raising up one of them to be the next President of the United States. Why? Because it gave me a chance to compare their principles, their policies and their experience, as well as their personal style and tone on some of the most important issues in the race.

Who are “The Final Four,” in my view? Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Senator Marco Rubio from Florida, the two brilliant, up-and-coming, and very compelling young Cuban conservatives; and Governor Huckabee of Arkansas and former Senator Rick Santorum from Pennsylvania, the two deeply principled, tried and tested, and very experienced previous Iowa Caucus winners.

Each made a compelling presentation, and yet each was so markedly different in tone and approach.

What stood out to me was the fact that both Rubio and Santorum spoke about the threat of “Apocalyptic Islam,” not just Radical Islam. Both used that specific term. Both were quite fluent in explaining what they meant by the term, the threat of these genocidal forms of eschatology, and why it’s important for the next President to understand this treat and be prepared to neutralize it. This was significant.

Neither Cruz nor Huckabee discussed Apocalyptic Islam with the RJC, though both made excellent presentations. Cruz hit the issue of Radical Islam quite hard. Huckabee spent much more time than the others talking about his love for Israel and why he has been traveling there and leading tours of Israel for 42 years. Hopefully both Cruz and Huckabee will discuss the issue of Apocalyptic Islam in detail in the future, though this was an ideal venue to have done so.

I encourage you to watch each of the four presentations, share them on social media, and discuss them with family and friends.

  1. Watch the speech and Q&A by Senator Marco Rubio.
  2. Watch the speech and Q&A by Senator Rick Santorum.
  3. Watch the speech and Q&A by Governor Mike Huckabee.
  4. Watch the speech and Q&A by Senator Ted Cruz.

In several recent columns, I have noted that as America continues hurtling down a dangerous path toward implosion, as darkness falls in the Middle East and North Africa, as the forces of evil advance and the forces of freedom retreat, anyone who cares about the American people and the people of the epicenter needs to pay very close attention to the American presidential race. Specifically, I made the case that:

  • We need a President who understands that Western leaders ignore the threat of Apocalyptic Islam at their peril.
  • We need a Commander-in-Chief who truly understands the magnitude of the threats posed by Radical and Apocalyptic Islam.
  • We need a President who has serious ideas about how to neutralize such threats, and has solid national experience that can assure us that he or she is really ready to confront this evil.
  • We need a President who sees Israel as a faithful ally — not an adversary — in this showdown with the jihadists.
  • We need a President who rejects the insane Iran nuclear deal, and the notion of allowing Russia and Iran to run wild in Syria.
  • Commander-in-Chief is not an entry level position.
  • There is no time for on-the-job training in the White House for a new President who has little or no experience thinking about foreign policy and national security issues.
  • The next President must come in ready for war — because that’s what we’re in, and the stakes are simply too high to go with an untested outsider or newcomer.

Clearly, Cruz and Rubio have the most momentum, money, and higher poll numbers at the moment. Some analysts believe the GOP nomination contest could come down to a battle between Cruz and Rubio to be the conservative standard bearer in a fight against Donald Trump. That very well may be — and that would be a very spirited and fascinating contest. Indeed, it already is.

That said, Evangelicals should not rule out a possible late surge by either Huckabee or Santorum. Why? Because Iowans have a history of breaking late.

The latest poll indicates only 19% of Iowa likely GOP caucus voters have made up their mind; 81% are still shopping around. They get to meet the candidates and ask them questions face to face. They are weighing each contenders pros and cons. They are taking their job of winnowing the field very seriously, as they always have. Remember: Huckabee won Iowa in 2008, while Santorum won Iowa in 2012. Indeed, in the 2012 cycle, Santorum was at the bottom of the polls in Iowa until three days before the caucuses and then was able to persuade Iowans to break for him at the last moment. This gave him a come-from-behind victory in Iowa, which he dramatically parlayed into primary victories 10 additional states, finishing second in the nomination battle to Romney. Could this happen again with either Huckabee or Santorum? It could. Iowa Evangelicals really like and trust these two. And it’s important to note that Evangelical Christians make up about 57% of the Iowa GOP caucus voters.

People have asked me if I have settled on one candidate yet. I have not. I’ve met them all.  I see plusses and minuses in each.I’m not looking for a perfect, flawless leader. And I’m continuing to pray for wisdom, discernment and clarity. Hope you are, too.

NOTE: These are my own personal views. I offer them in my individual capacity as an American citizen. They do not reflect or represent the position of The Joshua Fund, a non-profit organization, or any other group or organization.

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In looking for the next President, Evangelicals should look for a Josiah. (Why an ancient Jewish king provides a powerful model for the next American President.)

Josiah(Washington, D.C.) — I first posted this column on August 18th.

Today, I’m re-posting it in light of my column last week suggesting the search for a “Josiah” among Evangelical Christians has come down to a Final Four (which I believe are, in alphabetical order, Cruz, Huckabee, Rubio and Santorum). Hope you find it helpful.

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As the presidential campaign season heats up, Americans are trying to get to know the many candidates in both parties and determine who would be best to lead America in 2017 and beyond. Who has the right character, vision, and detailed, substantive, serious plans for reform? Who has the wisdom, experience and sound judgment? Who is ready for the enormous and complicated challenges facing this great country?

Choosing the right leader is not an easy process, but it is vitally important. America is on the wrong track,  going in the wrong direction. We are in heading steadily — perhaps rapidly — towards implosion. We’ve murdered more than 57 million babies. We have five Justices on the Supreme Court who have decided that the Bible is wrong and they know better than God what the definition of marriage should be. We have taken on $18 trillion in debt and we’re taking on more and more debt with no end in sight. We are surrendering to Russia, Iran and ISIS. Our tax code is corruptingly complex and killing jobs and opportunity. We can’t — or won’t — control our sovereign borders. Our schools are a mess. Violence, drugs and pornography are epidemic. Sadly, the list goes on and on.

So who can get us turned around and heading in the right direction? I’ve been praying about this and studying the Scriptures for many months, asking the Lord for clarity, and here is what I have concluded.

America needs a Josiah.

A President cannot save America from all our troubles, but leadership matters. We need a leader like the one-time King of Judah whom the Bible describes as one of the most humble, strong, wise and impressive leaders of all-time. Last summer, at the Word of Life Bible camp in the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York, I taught a five-day series of messages titled, “Living Like Jeremiah In A Time of Coming Judgment.” It was a survey of the life and times and ministry of the ancient Hebrew prophet Jeremiah. On Day #2, I taught about the first of five kings under whom Jeremiah served. His name was Josiah and his story is one that offers great hope.

I hope you’ll take a moment and read through these notes, and read through the accounts of King Josiah in 2 Kings 22-23 and 2 Chronicles 34-35. At the end of these notes, you’ll see some of my “final thoughts” about how I believe the life and lessons of Josiah apply to our time and this presidential campaign. I hope you find this helpful. Please feel free to share with others.

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JOSIAH AND THE ROAD TO REFORM AND REVIVAL

Lessons from the life of Judah’s most humble and godly king

At a time when Hebrew prophets like Jeremiah were warning of the coming judgment of the people of Jerusalem and Judah because they were refused to read, listen to, or obey the Word of God, the Lord mercifully raised up a leader who did, in fact, love the Lord his God and loved His Word.

His name was Josiah. A godly king, Josiah passionately sought the Lord in his private life and pursued bold, sweeping reforms in his public life to get the Jewish nation turned around and headed back in the right direction.

As a result, the Lord in His sovereignty graciously chose to forestall the promised coming judgment for more than two decades. Indeed, during Josiah’s tenure in power, the Jewish people experienced one of the greatest periods of repentance, reform and revival in their ancient history.

In the end, however, when Josiah passed away, new leaders emerged and tragically they turned away from the Lord and led the people astray. Judgment came to the nation in 586 B.C. with the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple at the hands of the Babylonian army.

Are there lessons from the life of Josiah for our nation at this time? Is it possible that the Lord might graciously raise up a leader like Josiah who loves Him and His Word and will boldly pursue serious reforms to help turn our nation around and get us headed back in the right direction? Despite our many sins and failures as a nation, might the Lord be willing to forestall judgment – at least for a while – and give us a season of great reform and revival?

These are important and intriguing questions. As we seek answers, let us begin by trying to better understand Josiah, his times, his nation, and his God.

Who was Josiah?

  • Josiah was 8 years old when he became the king of Judah (2 Chronicles 34:1), that is around 627 B.C.
  • Josiah reigned for 31 years. (2 Chronicles 34:1)
  • Josiah’s grandfather was Manasseh, the most wicked king in the history of Judah (2 Kings 21:1-18).
    • Manasseh was 12 years old when he became king (2 Kings 21:1)
    • Manasseh “did evil in the sight of the Lord, according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord dispossessed before the sons of Israel.” (2 Kings 21:2)
    • Manasseh was the most evil king in the history of Judah and during his reign idol worship, witchcraft, and child sacrifice were practiced. Indeed, the Bible states that “Manasseh seduced them [the people of Judah] to do evil more than the nations whom the Lord destroyed before the sons of Israel.” (see 2 Kings 21:3-9, and particularly verse 9).
    • Because of the evil done during the reign of Manasseh, terrible judgment was coming and it was certain. “Now the Lord spoke through His servants the prophets” that “I am bringing calamity on Jerusalem and Judah” and “I will wipe Jerusalem as one wipes a dish….I will abandon the remnant of My inheritance and deliver them into the hand of their enemies, and they will become as plunder and spoil to all their enemies because they have done evil in My sight, and have been provoking Me.” (see 2 Kings 21:10-15)
  • Josiah’s father was Amon, another wicked king of Judah. (2 Kings 21:24)
    • Amon was 22 years old when he became king. (2 Kings 21:19)
    • Amon reigned for only two years before being assassinated. (2 Chronicles 33:21, 2 Kings 21:23)
    • Amon “did evil in the sight of the Lord, as Manasseh his father had done.” (2 Kings 21:20)
    • Amon “walked in all the ways that his father [Manasseh] had walked, the idols that his father had served and worshipped them.” (2 Kings 21:21)
    • Amon “forsook the Lord, the God of his fathers, and did not walk in the way of the Lord.” (2 Kings 21:22)
    • “The servants of Amon conspired against him and killed the king in his own house.” (2 Kings 21:23)
  • Josiah’s mother was “Jedidah the daughter of Adaiah of Bozkath.” (2 Kings 22:1)
    • Jedidah became a widow at a fairly young age, as Amon was only 24 when he was assassinated (2 Kings 21:23
    • The Scriptures do not tell us whether Jedidah played a positive spiritual role in the life of Josiah.

What was the turning point in Josiah’s life?

  • The Bible tells us that Josiah was about 15 or 16 years old (in the eighth year of his reign) when “he began to seek the God of his father David.” (2 Chronicles 34:2)
  • Josiah was about 19 or 20 years old (in the twelfth year of his reign) when he began “to purge Judah and Jerusalem” of the idols and altars and places of false worship. (2 Chronicles 34:2-7)
  • Josiah was about 26 years old when he directed the High Priest (Hilkiah) to hire workers to clean up and repair the Temple in Jerusalem. (2 Chronicles 34:8-13)
    • It was during this process that a lost copy of “the book of the Law of the Lord given by Moses” was found in the Temple. (2 Chronicles 34:14)
    • The king asked that the word of the Lord be read to him and it was read to him. (2 Kings 22:8-10)
    • “When the king heard the words of the book of the law, he tore his clothes. Then the king commanded [his servants], ‘Go and inquire of the Lord for me and the people and all Judah concerning the words of this book that has been found, for great is the wrath of the Lord that burns against us, because our fathers have not listened to the words of this book, to do all that is written concerning us.’” (2 Kings 22:8-10)
    • Hearing the very word of God had a tremendously powerful impact on Josiah. As the king heard the word of God – as it was read to him and as he listened to it carefully – he suddenly understood its import.
    • Josiah understood that while he was making some good reforms, he still was not leading the nation in the right direction.
    • Josiah understood that the leaders of the nation before him hadn’t led the nation in the right direction, that they had ignored and defied the Lord and his word, and that there were enormous consequences facing them for having taken this path.
    • Josiah understood that certain judgment was coming.
    • Josiah, thus asked his advisors to seek the Lord to find out whether there was any way to turn the ship of state around, as it were, to get back on the right track and to avoid cataclysmic judgment.
    • Josiah’s advisors – including the High Priest – apparently did not know the Lord well enough to seek the word of the Lord directly. So they sought out a true servant of God who was living in Jerusalem. (2 Chronicles 34:20-22)

What was the message that the Lord sent to Josiah?

  • The Lord saw Josiah’s anguish over the wrong direction his nation was going in, and in His mercy the Lord sent a message to the king through a prophetess named Huldah. (2 Chronicles 34:22-30)
  • This is the message Josiah received:
      1. Judgment is coming to the nation because the people have turned against the Lord and His word – it is deserved, it is certain, it will come to pass, and nothing can be done to stop it.
        • “Behold, I bring evil on this place and on its inhabitants, even all the words of the book which the king of Judah has read.” (2 Kings 22:16)
        • “Because they have forsaken Me and have burned incense to other gods that they might provoke Me to anger with all the work of their hands, therefore My wrath burns against this place, and it shall not be quenched.” (2 Kings 22:17)
      2.  However, because Josiah’s heart is so tender before the Lord and because when he heard the word of the Lord he humbled himself and repented and sought to obey the Lord, God sovereignly chooses to delay the certain coming judgment until after Josiah passed away.
        • “But to the king of Judah who sent you to inquire of the Lord thus you shall say to him….‘[B]ecause your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants that they should become a desolation and a curse, and you have torn your clothes and wept before Me, I truly have heard you,’ declares the Lord.” (2 Kings 22:18-19)
        • “Therefore, behold, I will gather you to your fathers, and you will be gathered to your grave in peace, and your eyes will not see all the evil which I will bring on this place.” (2 Kings 22:20)

What kind of reforms did Josiah make during time in power?

  • Josiah purged the land of idol worship. (2 Chronicles chapter 34:3-7)
  • Josiah ordered the Temple to be cleaned and repaired (2 Chronicles 34:8-13)
  • Josiah made the reading and studying of the Bible a top priority for the Jewish people. The Scriptures state that he called together “all” the leaders of Jerusalem and Judah and “all the people” of Jerusalem and Judah and personally “read in their hearing all the words of the covenant which was found in the house of the Lord.” (2 Chronicles 34:29-30)
  • Josiah publicly made a covenant before the Lord and all the people “to walk after the Lord, and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes which all his heart and with all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant written in the book [the Bible].” (2 Chronicles 34:31)
  • Josiah led the people to join him in this covenant to serve the Lord with all their heart and soul, “so all the inhabitants of Jerusalem did according to the covenant of God, the God of their fathers” and “throughout his lifetime they did not turn from following the Lord God of their fathers.” (2 Chronicles 34:32-33)
  • Beginning when he was about 26, Josiah reinstituted the celebration of the Passover to remind the people of God’s might and mercy, and it had never been celebrated so widely or in such a special manner as during the days of Josiah. (2 Chronicles chapter 35, see especially 35:18)

How did the Lord regard Josiah?

  • Josiah “always did right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the ways of his father, David, and did not turn aside to the right or to the left.” (2 Chronicles 34:2)
  • “Before him there was no king like him who turned to the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses.” (2 Kings 23:25)
  • “Nor did any [king] like him arise after him.” (2 Kings 23:25)
  • When Josiah eventually died, he “was buried in the tombs of his fathers” and “all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah.” (2 Chronicles 35:24)
  • Jeremiah was particularly broken-hearted by the death of King Josiah. “Then Jeremiah chanted a lament for Josiah. And all the male and female singers speak about Josiah in their lamentation to this day. And they made them an ordinance in Israel; behold, they are also written in the Lamentations.” (2 Chronicles 35:25)

Did the Lord cancel the coming judgment because of Josiah’s faithfulness?

  • No.
  • The Lord delayed but did not cancel the coming judgment of Judah and Jerusalem because of Josiah’s faithfulness to Him and His word.
  • Josiah died around 609 B.C.
  • Judah and Jerusalem were destroyed in 586 B.C. by the Babylonian empire, in fulfillment of the Biblical prophecies.

How long did the Lord delay the judgment of Jerusalem and Judah?

  • Remarkably, the Lord delayed the prophesied and certain judgment of Jerusalem and Judah for 22 ½ years beyond the life of Josiah.
  • This means that 53 ½ years passed between the time Josiah ascended to the throne to the time the divine judgment of Jerusalem and Judah came to pass in 586 B.C. under the reign of the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar. (31 years of Josiah’s reign + 22 ½ years of the reigns of other kings)
    1. Jehoahaz succeeded Josiah as king and reigned for three months in Jerusalem, but “he did evil in the sight of the Lord” and was arrested and imprisoned by an Egyptian Pharoah (see 2 Kings 23:28-33).
    2. Eliakim (who changed his name to “Jehoiakim”) was made the next king and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem but “he did evil in the sight of the Lord.” (2 Kings 23:34-37)
    3. Jehoiachin was the next king, he reigned three months in Jerusalem, but “he did evil in the sight of the Lord,” and then the Babylonian empire came to conquer the Jews and Jehoiachin was taken into exile in Babylon. (2 Kings 24:1-16)
    4. Mattaniah was made the next king of Judah by the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar, who changed his name to “Zedekiah.” Zedekiah reigned in Jerusalem for eleven years under Babylonian sovereignty. In the end, however, the Babylonians “slaughtered the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, then put out the eyes of Zedekiah and bound him with bronze fetters and brought him to Babylon.” Then, in 586 B.C., the commander of the Babylonian forces “burned the house of the Lord, the king’s house, and all the houses of Jerusalem” and then “the rest of the people who were left in the city [were] carried away into exile.” (see 2 Kings 24:17-20 and 2 Kings chapter 25)

What were the godly spiritual influences in Josiah’s life that helped him turn to the Lord?

  • The Bible does not give us precise clarity about how the Lord began to work so powerfully in Josiah’s life, but it does give us clues.
  • Let’s start with the negative.
    • Clearly, Josiah’s father was not a positive influence, and the Scriptures are silent as to any positive influence his mother was on his spiritual life.
    • There is little, if any, evidence that Hilkiah – the chief priest – was a positive influence on Josiah.
      • Neither the accounts in 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles provides evidence that Hilkiah has provided godly counsel to Josiah during his youth.
      • Neither account provides evidence that Hilkiah has ever set foot in the Temple prior to King Josiah ordering its restoration.
      • Both accounts suggest Hilkiah was as surprised as everybody else concerning his discovery of the “book of the law of the Lord given by Moses” in the Temple.
      • Hilkiah does not take it upon himself to read the Scriptures to the king, but gives the job to Shaphan the scribe.
      • Neither account suggests that Hilkiah tore his robes when he hears the Scriptures read, in sharp contrast to Josiah’s reaction.
      • When King Josiah commands Hilkiah and his colleagues to “go, inquire of the Lord” concerning the coming judgment of Judah for her disobedience to God and His word, neither Hilkiah nor his colleagues appear to have a relationship with the Lord that they can go seek Him on their own. Instead, they have to seek out the wife of the keeper of the wardrobe to see if she can talk to the Lord on their behalf.
      • It is Josiah – not Hilkiah – who calls the leaders and people of the nation together to read the word of the Lord to them.
      • It is Josiah – not Hilkiah – who calls the people to celebrate Passover as they have never celebrated it before.
      • Some commentators speak well of Hilkiah for finding the lost Scriptural scroll and presiding over the Passover, but I see no evidence that these were his ideas, or that he provided either the king or nation godly, Biblical counsel much less godly leadership. By comparison, we have the example of Ezra who as both priest and scribe showed true spiritual leadership – in close cooperation with Nehemiah the governor – in helping the Jewish people turn back to the Lord.
  • Now, let’s consider the positive.
    • Josiah’s great-grandfather was Hezekiah, who was one of the most-godly kings in the ancient history of Judah – and one of its boldest reformers – even though he certainly made mistakes. While Josiah never met Hezekiah, it is very likely that he learned of his great-grandfather’s story of faith and bold reform as he was educated in the palace.
      • Hezekiah became king at 25 years old. (2 Chronicles 29:1)
      • Hezekiah reigned for 29 years. (2 Chronicles 29:1)
      • Hezekiah “did right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father David had done.” (2 Chronicles 29:2)
      • Hezekiah “opened the doors of the house of the Lord and repaired them.” (2 Chronicles 29:3, and see all of chapter 29)
      • Hezekiah restored the Temple worship. (2 Chronicles 29:20-36)
      • Hezekiah reinstituted the celebration of the Passover to remind the people of God’s might and mercy. (2 Chronicles chapter 30)
      • Hezekiah destroyed idol worship throughout the land. (2 Chronicles chapter 31)
      • Hezekiah was a man who prayed to the Lord and the Lord answered his prayers (2 Chronicles 32)
    • In God’s tremendous grace and mercy, Josiah’s wicked grand-father, Manasseh, was miraculously converted, forgiven and saved before his death.
      • Manasseh died when Josiah was only four years old.
      • However, Manasseh was a true believer for some – and possibly all – of those four years.
      • While Manasseh’s dramatic conversion made no impact on Josiah’s father, Amon, Manasseh may have prayed for and given special attention to little Josiah.
      • It is also possible that some of palace staff could have passed along some of the story of Manasseh’s conversion to young Josiah as he grew up in the palace.
  • Consider 2 Chronicles 33:10-20:
    • “When he [Manasseh] was in distress, he entreated the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of Israel.
    • “When he prayed to Him, He was moved by his entreaty and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem and to his kingdom.
    • “Then Manasseh knew that the Lord was God….
    • “He [Manasseh] also removed the foreign gods and the idol from the house of the Lord….
    • “He set up the altar of the Lord….
    • “He ordered Judah to serve the Lord God of Israel….”
    • During Josiah’s reign, God graciously raised up a series of prophets, including Jeremiah, Zephaniah and Habakkuk to declare the word of the Lord. There is little, if any, Scriptural evidence that Zephaniah or Habakkuk had a relationship with King Josiah, though we can be fairly confident that a monarch who loved the Lord as much as Josiah did would have wanted to hear what the Lord was saying through such prophets.
    • There is some Scriptural evidence of a relationship between Josiah and Jeremiah.
      • The prophet Jeremiah was called by the Lord into ministry during the thirteenth year of King Josiah’s reign, when Josiah was 21 years old. (Jeremiah 1:1-2)
      • God raised up Jeremiah specifically to speak the word of the Lord to the Jewish nation, the Jewish leaders, including the king, as well as to the nations surrounding Judah.
        • “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5)
        • “See, I have appointed you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.” (Jeremiah 1:9)
        • “Now behold, I have made you today as a fortified city and as a pillar of iron against the whole land, to the kings of Judah, to its princes, and to the people of the land. They will fight against you, but they will not overcome you, for I am with you to deliver you,” declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 1:18-19)
      • Josiah and Jeremiah were likely the same age, or nearly so. Many Biblical commentators say Jeremiah was in his late teens or early twenties when he was called into ministry.
      • Might the two young men known each other growing up? We cannot say for certain, but it is possible.
        •  We know that Josiah was born and raised in the town of Anathoth, which was only 3 miles northeast of Jerusalem, the capital, where Josiah was born and raised. (Jeremiah 1:1)
        • Jeremiah was born into a priestly family and his father was named Hilkiah. (Jeremiah 1:1) This priestly role may have brought the family into Jerusalem on a regular basis.
        • Is it possible that this is the same Hilkiah who was the High Priest? While many Biblical commentators believe the answer is “no,” some believe Jeremiah’s father might have been the High Priest. If so, then that could have been Josiah and Jeremiah into contact.
      • Again, Jeremiah was called into ministry was Josiah was 21. But it wasn’t until Josiah was 26 years old (“in the eighteenth year of his reign,” according to 2 Chronicles 34:8) that Josiah ordered the Temple to be cleaned and restored and the book of the law was discovered and read to him. What kind of conversations and times of prayer was Jeremiah having with Josiah during these five years?
      • Josiah reigned as king in Jerusalem for 31 years. (2 Kings 22:1) Jeremiah served as an active prophet of the Lord God Almighty for 18 years of those years. What kind of conversations and times of prayer was Jeremiah having with Josiah during these 18 years?
      • While the Scriptures do not give us any details, it is reasonable to believe that Josiah was trying to persuade his children to follow the Lord and read and heed the Scriptures. It is also reasonable to believe that Jeremiah was encouraging the king in this regard. It is also reasonable to believe that Jeremiah’s heart broke as he saw Josiah’s sons – the future kings of Judah – refusing to turn to the Lord and His word.
        • “Return, O faithless sons, I will heal your faithfulness.” (Jeremiah 3:22)
        • “It shall come about in that day,” declares the Lord, “that the heart of the king and the heart of the princes will fail….” (Jeremiah 4:9)
        • “For My people are foolish, they know Me not; they are stupid children and have no understanding. They are shrewd to do evil, but to do good they do not know.” (Jeremiah 4:22)
        • “The word of the Lord also came to me saying, ‘You shall not take a wife for yourself nor have sons or daughters in this place.’ For thus says the Lord concerning the sons and daughters born in this place, and concerning the mothers who bear them, and their fathers who beget them in this land: ‘They will die of deadly diseases, they will not be lamented or buried….’ Then you are to say to them….‘You…have done evil, even more than your forefathers; for behold, you are each one walking according to the stubbornness of his own evil heart, without listening to Me. So I will hurl you out of this land into the land which you have not known, neither you nor your fathers; and there you will serve other gods day and night, for I will grant you no favor.’” (Jeremiah 16:1-4, 11-13)
      • The Book of Jeremiah refers to Josiah no fewer than 16 times. (Jeremiah 1:1-2,  1:3, 3:6, 22:11, 22:18, 25:1, 25:3, 26:1, 27:1, 35:1, 36:1, 36:2, 36:9, 37:1, 45:1, 46:2)
      • When King Josiah died, he “was buried in the tombs of his fathers” and “all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah.” (2 Chronicles 35:24) Jeremiah was present for the burial of Josiah, was particularly broken-hearted by Josiah’s death, because he knew that great evil and terrible judgments were coming.
      • Jeremiah influenced the nation on how to mourn for and remember this godly king. “Then Jeremiah chanted a lament for Josiah. And all the male and female singers speak about Josiah in their lamentation to this day. And they made them an ordinance in Israel; behold, they are also written in the Lamentations.” (2 Chronicles 35:25)

Final Thoughts

  • Like the nation of Judah in its day, America is heading towards implosion, and towards judgment.
  • Only the grace and mercy of God can get us turned around and heading in the right direction.
  • We urgently need a great revival inside the Church, and a Great Awakening among the lost.
  • We need leaders like Jeremiah who are willing to preach and teach the Word of God and warn the country of how much danger we are in.
  • We also need a leader like Josiah who will humbly seek the Lord and boldly, courageously make serious, sweeping reforms.
  • To be clear: I’m not looking for a Pastor-in-Chief or Theologian-in-Chief to be President of the United States. I don’t want to create a theocracy. Obviously, the role of the American President isn’t the same as the role of king was in the days of Judah.
  • That said, let’s also be clear that in the New Testament age, the Church’s job is to pray, fast, repent, preach, teach, disciple and lead a great moral and spiritual revival — these are not part of the President’s job description.
  • The American President’s job is to follow the Constitution, protect the American people’s safety, protect the American people’s God-given rights and liberties, create the conditions for economic growth and opportunity, and lead the Free World to victory over evil in a time of great peril and volatility.
  • Thus, I am looking for a President who loves the Lord, reads and loves God’s Word, is humble, is strong and courageous, is clear-sighted, will pursue bold, sweeping reforms and can call the nation together to head in the right direction.
  • I’m not going to make a quick decision of whom to support. I’m going to pray for wisdom and clarity and discernment and see if a true Josiah emerges over the next few months.
  • I hope you will do the same.

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