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A couple years ago I heard a radio interview with an author who wrote novels based on Bible prophecy and current events.  He had the uncanny knack of predicting world events.  The first chapter of his first book, written before 9/11 (and published right after) described an airplane hijacked by terrorists to fly kamikaze into a target in the US.  So when I remembered his name long enough to find his newest book, Ezekiel Option, I grabbed it.  And then I read a fascinating intersection of prophecy and foreseeable world events. 
 
The scientific method requires a scientist to make a hypothesis and then to conduct a series of tests.  If x is true, then y.  If x is false, then no y or z instead…  Joel Rosenberg is a sort of scientist.  His hypothesis is that the Bible is true, and that certain of its prophecies are next on the prophetic timeline.  His test is that if this were so, international politics would be moving in a certain direction.  I don’t regret picking up in the middle of his series.  The first two books describe an attack on America that leads to a war with Sadaam Hussein, which at its conclusion produces an increasingly prosperous Iraq.  Ezekiel Option picks up about where we actually are in world events, and predicts a Russian alliance particularly with Iran, but with other Middle Eastern and Mediterranean countries as well. 
 
I pay attention to these parts of world news like a scientist testing a theory.  Joel Rosenberg, who, it turns out, doesn’t just see these things in visions but actually does a huge amount of research through personal interviews and worldwide newspapers and Bible study, helps me to stay up to date on potentially prophecy-related news items through his weblog.  Last night scrolling across the bottom of Hannity and Colmes or the O’Reilly Factor (late repeats of both) was the casual report: Russia, Iran & Qatar move towards oil cartel, would force EU to rethink energy policies.  Russia has sold arms to Iran.  Putin is moving more and more to be the strong central leader of his country, a requirement of the Ezekiel prophecies. 
 
Anyway, all of that is preliminary to this actual review of Joel Rosenberg’s fifth novel, Dead Heat.  When I first picked this book up from the library, my dad read it.  He said a lot of people died, and was mum about the rest.  So I wasn’t really in the mood to read about people dying.  After the elections last week, however, I remembered a quote on Joel Rosenberg’s weblog from this book, “What Bennett had never really considered carefully until now was the possibility that something else might devastate the American people, rendering them ineffective heading into the last of the last days. A financial downturn on Wall Street. The sudden collapse of the dollar. The beginning of another Great Depression. A series of devastating earthquakes. Or hurricanes. Or other natural disasters, like a tsunami… None of it was clearly prophesied in the Scriptures. Not that he could find. But perhaps he should have foreseen the neutralization of America by more carefully reading between the lines. If so, what else was he missing? What exactly was coming next?”(edited for spoilers)  Since it looks to me like this is happening to America, this economic depression and weak leadership essentially neutralizing us as a Superpower, I figured now would be the time to pick up Dead Heat.  I was in the mood for a depressing book. 
 
Except we hadn’t purchased the book like I thought.  Our collection of secondhand Joel Rosenberg novels had an empty spot at the end.  So I couldn’t just pick it up and read it last Tuesday night.  I read Lady Susan instead, a much more cheerful response, I must say.  But Mom found Dead Heat at a thrift store over the weekend, so I set about reading it. 
 
374 fast-paced pages led me from a close presidential election to the rapture and  beginning of the tribulation.  No book I’ve ever read has made me feel more vulnerable.  Waking up after dreams (casual dreams, not nightmares) continuing the book in my imagination, and as I read, I had to keep telling myself that there is no safer place than where God wants me.  There’s this temptation when I read Joel’s books to pack up and move either to Israel or some place safe like Antarctica.  God has given no guarantees on my life either way.  I could die, or I could suffer pain, or I could have a peaceful life like many have experienced in the past.  To be honest I don’t think I could run.  I like to be a part of things going on, even if they’re dangerous. 
 
Spoiler:  The book essentially opens with five nuclear bombs taking out four major American cities and the President and at least half the government.  No one knows who is responsible for the attacks.  Like the movie Crimson Tide (whose plot fascinates me), ignorance could be fatal for most of the world.  And in Dead Heat, there are virtually no voices urging caution. 
 
How do you know which world leaders to believe?  Are the more aggressive ones just equally afraid, or are the opportunistic, or are they part of a mega-conspiracy to destroy you?  Why is this happening?  What are the motives of the world leaders, or of the people sitting next to you?  Who has the answers?  How does one make such huge decisions when you haven’t had any sleep and you’re grieving the loss of millions of lives? 
 
Once again the book weaves the stories of fictional world leaders with that of the main character, Jon Bennett.  He and his wife have cashed in their portfolios to help an exponentially needy world.  And convinced that time is running short, they invest their lives in helping others and spreading Jesus’ love one encounter at a time.  This book is filled with references to salvation, to the love of God and the peace of accepting His provision for our sinfulness.  When any character asks, “what should I do?” the answer is always something Jesus says.  The answer is what Jon and his new wife Erin did: love people and tell them about Jesus. 
 
A theme of Jon Bennett’s story is responsibility.  Is he responsible for things that happen or don’t happen?  He asks a lot of if-only’s, and other people point blame-filled fingers at him.  Should he have stayed involved in politics, shared what he knew?  Should he have taken his wife to the infirmary sooner?  What about the choices facing him in the future?  What’s his responsibility?  How on earth do you decide?  The answer, of course, is to do the right thing, including loving even your enemies.  And God had blessed Jon with the answers when he sought Him. 
 
Near the end of the book, Jon has a revelation: his whole life he’s chased after measurable results.  He’s wanted to be a part of important things.  He wanted control.  And spending months in a refugee camp helping the poor wasn’t so measurable.  People weren’t responsive to the gospel like he thought they should be.  What difference was he making?  Was it worth it?  Could he have done something more productive?  What about now, when he was helpless as the world slipped into war and there was no one even to talk to about Jesus.  What is God’s purpose in that? 
 
Isn’t it our responsibility to do something?  Didn’t God put us here to get results?  Isn’t Jon to blame if his wife isn’t safe?  Isn’t that his job?  Jon’s to-do list had two columns: done or to-be-done.  But he learned something through his helplessness, a miniature of the helplessness felt by all the world at such a time.  Erin said God wanted her to “do the loving; I’ll do the converting.”  Love is not measurable.  People are not ever checked off your list as done.  And grace isn’t about accomplishments or blame.  Jesus says well done because we’ve been good and faithful, not competent and productive.  Jesus isn’t a CEO or a president.  He knows the end result, and He knows how He’s getting it there. 
 
God knows how the world is going to come to the last days.  Joel Rosenberg’s hypotheses aren’t all right.  He’s waiting like the rest of us.  It is possible that the time between the Ezekiel prophecies and the classic end times events (world government, temple in Israel, rapture) is longer than a book series will allow.  The rapture could come earlier than these devastating wars.  Or later.  Or the wars may not happen at all.  Given his reputation for correctly predicting the future, Joel opens his book with a sort of disclaimer: “I pray to God the novel you hold in your hands never comes true.” 
 
The idea of prophecy is an interesting one.  For centuries if a man sought to unite the world, he failed.  He was doomed to do so, because the time was not fulfilled.  Other elements of prophecy were not in place.  But at some point things are going to happen, and nothing will be able to stop them.  There will be that one-world government.  Any superpower or leader or ministry that stands in the way will be removed.  We put off disaster, continue peace negotiations about Israel, etc.  One day none of that will work.  Will it be that no one is left who wants anything different, or will God remove them from power?  Is there any difference? 
 
I (Lisa of Longbourn) am willing to say plainly that I think Obama’s presidency (based on the Dead Heat quote above) weakens the prophetic necessity of a violent neutralization of America.  But it increases other likelihoods.  When our enemies think we are weak, those who want us destroyed because they hate us (not because we’re in their way) are emboldened to attack.  Persecution may arise from inside, as it has in other countries that drifted toward socialism as we are doing.  Obama is ardently pro-abortion, and the longer our country massacres its innocents, the more likely we are to incur natural consequences (economic, military manpower) and supernatural judgment.  Dead Heat makes my final point, that it is possible America is prosperous because it supports Israel.  If we stop being their ally, we remove from ourselves the Genesis 12 blessing of God.  And if we ally ourselves with Israel’s enemies, we incur the curse of Genesis 12.  So we might be asking for bad things to come to America. 
 
I’m having a hard time shaking my mind free of the story.  I look out my window and wonder why people are so casual.  Why is my church doing ministry as usual?  Why am I sitting at my desk reading or writing when people are dying and, truly, millions could die at any minute?  Shouldn’t I say something?  Doesn’t the whole lost world (of which I’m increasingly aware) need to hear the gospel?  I watch the news and have to remind myself they won’t mention President MacPherson or UN Secretary Lucente or Iraqi leader Al-Hassani.  So this is a vivid piece of writing.  But I pray that its impact has more to do with my character and less to do with my imagination. 
 
This book challenges me to be urgent about the Father’s business, and to live out love, ministry, and faith all the more radically.  The more I feel helpless, and am humbled by my lack of control, the more I need God.  I need His direction and His peace.  I need to believe in His goodness.  And I need to lean on His instructions. 
 
To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn
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It’s been several months since the Russian aggression against Georgia.  Though the media has entirely abandoned this story, some of us continue to think about and discuss the implications of the situation, which as far as I know remains fairly tense and problematic. 

 

A friend argued that in invading Georgia, Russia is only doing the same thing the US has done any number of times for oppressed countries.  The rebels of South Ossetia are like the 13 colonies of America at the Revolutionary War. 

 

My argument, (certainly not made so persuasively in person and on the spot) is as follows:

 

         Russia chose this summer to invade Georgia, though South Ossetia has had its share of rebels since the Soviet Union fell.  This summer was a time when world attention was on other things.  The invasion happened just before the start of the Olympic Games.  Economic times were hard and more pressing to most of the world than foreign affairs.  America was and continues to be engaged in a close and important election, while its sitting government has proved impotent. 

 

         Only after Georgia sought to join the NATO alliance did Russia act against them.  Russia is less interested in revolutionaries than it is in bullying smaller nations out of alliances with the democratic West.  Russia is engaged in a new Cold War with the West, though the West seems unaware of this development.  Russia is testing the strength of the NATO nations’ friendship with Georgia, much as Hitler did by stepping into Austria, the Sudetanland, and Czechoslavakia before the free world decided with Poland that enough was enough and Europe was in danger. 

 

         Russia has economic/oil interests in disabling Georgia or in annexing the small country.  Georgia has the only oil pipeline to northeastern European countries that is outside of Russian control.  Russia wishes to control those NE countries, many of which were formerly part of the Soviet Empire.  Controlling the supply of such an essential resource essentially holds hostage any dependent nations. 

 

         Russia is busy forming an alliance with Iran and the Islamic states.  Georgia is in the way. 

 

         The revolutionaries in South Ossetia are Islamic troublemakers, not interested in freedom.  If they wanted to be free, they would want to be independent, not to join Russia.  Like Iran supplying insurgents in Iraq with weapons and training, so has Russia been backing these rebels for over a decade. 

 

         The claim has been made that because the South Ossetians and the Georgians are of different ethnicity, they cannot get along sufficiently to live under the same government.  America has done this for its history as a nation.  Russia does this, and South Ossetia is seeking to be annexed into Russia, which has much more ethnic diversity than Georgia.  Local South Ossetians and Georgians get along just fine when there is no battle line drawn between them.  (See the American Civil War)

 

         Russia did not only invade South Ossetia; their troops pushed all the way to just outside the Georgian capital.  If helping the South Ossetians throw off an oppressive regime was their only interest, Russia should only have occupied South Ossetia.   Russia has been dishonest in its invasion of Georgia.  Russia promised to withdraw its military troops, but has not.  It simply renamed the occupying forces as “peacekeepers.” 

 

         South Ossetia says that Georgia’s rule was oppressive.  There are three possible explanations for this:  1) Georgia is abusing its power and depriving South Ossetians of their rights based on ethnicity.  If that is the case, the best first move is a demonstration of these “atrocities” to the world.  America did this with its Declaration of Independence.  2) Georgia is engaged in a military conflict begun by the rebels themselves.  A sovereign nation has the right and responsibility to quell insubordination within its borders.  3) South Ossetians are lying in order to justify their rebellion. 

 

         Georgia is a small country still wobbling towards maturity as a democratic republic.  In the interest of discouraging the return of Communism or totalitarianism, the US is justified in making alliances with this nation.  It was proposed as part of a potential NATO treaty that Georgia allow the US to post technology military in nature on their land and directed at the aggressively posturing Russian nation.  Many young nations with democratic ideals look to the US (successful in these very pursuits) for help and example in establishing their governments. 

 

         If the US or any other nation has a defense treaty with Georgia, it must be honored less the validity of any treaty made by said nations be weakened and doubted.  A treaty is like a contract, each nation receiving a needed good or service.  One party cannot withdraw on its agreement. 

 

         The free world must take a strong stand against Russia lest they, growing confident, invade more countries in Europe and Asia. 

 

         If the US has unjustly invaded other countries, this is no argument for Russia to do the same.  However, in many cases the US has invaded countries in order to honor treaties it has with threatened nations.  In other cases, the US has engaged in preemptive or retributive strikes against countries whose military/weapon technology has threatened us directly. 

 

         Whether the US should militarily support Georgia is dependent on at least two things:  Have we made any official promise to Georgia to do so?  and Are we nationally threatened by this move Russia is making? 

 

In conclusion, I believe that Russia’s motives are suspect in a large way, its methods are inappropriately aggressive, and its response to world denouncements chillingly indifferent or dishonest.   

 

Georgia is a little former Soviet ‘republic’ with ethnic tensions, economic precariousness, and threatening neighbors.  Whether right or wrong in its treatment of the northern province, the country ought to be esteemed as a sovereign nation, not as a child-state of Russia.  As such it has the right to international relations and to addressing its own civil order. 

 

The US needs to pay more attention to world events, especially Russia.  Russia is quietly rebuilding its empire, reducing the freedoms within its boundaries.  It is also allying itself, including through the sale of weapons, with professed enemies of the United States.  Watching is not enough; the US needs to take a stand.  In this age of global technology, we must be very careful lest those who wish to destroy us get the weapons capabilities of doing so.  We are engaged in a global war on terror, declared first by the terrorists on us.  Failure to engage our enemies means defeat. 

 

We as Christians need to give careful thought to prophecy and the roles of countries such as Russia, Iran, and Iraq.  It is written in the Bible that they who bless Abraham and his heirs will be blessed.  Essential for our preservation in the world is that we side with Israel, not only in word, but in diplomacy and force.  Also important at this time is evangelism: in America, in the closing country of Russia, and in the Middle East.  I believe biblical prophecy predicts that a revival is at hand. 

 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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I just read this article on Townhall by Al Cardenas, “An Electability Theory.” His arguments are backed by the founding fathers’ original papers, by history, by biblical theology, and by me – which is why I’m linking here.

The key point, I believe, is when he says that social conservative issues are what bring passion to the voters, and what unites us. Think about people you know. Are they all united on the US military/foreign policy/Iraq issues? Are they all capitalists? Do any of them like welfare? College grants? Those are the economic and defense issues that the Republican powers that be what their candidates to run on, in order to attract undecided voters. Social issues like abortion and marriage are just too sensitive and divisive, they say. I argue that social issues have more passion involved, but there are probably as many who will not vote Republican because they are socialists or angry over Iraq as who would have voted against Republicans because of an anti-abortion stance.

In any case, let “we the people” decide, and stop moving the historically conservative party to the middle by choosing the candidate most like the liberals.

To God be all glory.

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