This Passover/Easter weekend, there are some 1 million Jewish followers of Jesus in the world. I’m one of them. Here’s why.

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Apr 202019
 

testimony-joel-oneforisrael

(Jerusalem, Israel) — Last year, a ground-breaking study was released by LifeWay Research revealing there are now some 871,000 Jewish followers of Jesus in the United States alone.

Add in the 30,000 Jewish believers who live in Israel, and the many others who live in Europe, Latin America and elsewhere, and there are now about one million Jewish followers of Jesus in the world today.

That’s an astonishing number, especially when you realize that in 1967 there were fewer than 2,000 Jewish believers in the entire world.

I’m grateful to be one of them. Yet, I’m constantly asked — especially by Jewish people — how in the world this is possible.

“Dude, how can you be Jewish and believe in Jesus?

I love this question. I was first asked it in November of 2002. I had just released my first novel, The Last Jihad. I was doing a telephone interview on a hard rock radio station in Rochester, New York, the city closest to where I grew up in Upstate New York. And the radio host, a guy who called himself “Brother Weese,” asked me this very question.

I’ve been happily answering it ever since. 

A nine-minute version of story of my spiritual journey — how I was raised by a Jewish father and Gentile mother, and how I came to believe that Jesus is, in fact, the Jewish Messiah, foretold by the ancient Hebrew prophets — was recently released online by a ministry called, “One For Israel.” 

Click here to watch the 9-minute video.

Click here to see my father, Len Rosenberg, share his spiritual journey.

Several years ago (2015), I recorded a longer and more detailed version. I’m including it here in case you’re interested.

  • My spiritual journey — part 1 — how becoming the author of The Last Jihad triggered people asking me a critical question
  • Part 2 — how my Jewish grandparents escaped from Russia, my father’s Jewish upbringing, my mother’s Gentile heritage, and how they met
  • Part 3 — my mother’s spiritual journey
  • Part 4 — my father’s spiritual journey, and then how I came to faith
  • Part 5 — how I learned I was Jewish, and then my crisis of faith in high school
  • Part 6 — the conclusion of my story, and so what? Why should any of this matter to you?

My hope and prayer is that as you listen to the story, it will encourage you in your own faith, and that it will be something you can share with family and friends to help and encourage them, as well. Thanks, and on this Passover / Easter weekend, may the Lord deeply bless you as you open the Bible, read the Holy Scriptures, and seek a personal relationship with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

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Come on a cruise to New England & Canada with Lynn and me in Fall 2019. Study Scripture, pray & worship together and learn about the work of The Joshua Fund. Please register today & join us!

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Apr 162019
 

TJF-cruise2019-brochure

***** We still have space for 25 couples, so if you’re interested, please don’t hesitate — sign up to join us today! ****

Dear Friends —

It is my joy to invite you and your family to join my wife, Lynn, and me on The Joshua Fund’s inaugural Fall cruise, September 28 through October 5, 2019.

During this 7-day journey from Boston to Montreal, we’ll have an opportunity to study the Scriptures and discuss what the Lord is doing in Israel and the Arab Muslim world, even as we witness God’s handiwork in creation, enjoy the colors of Fall, and visit beautiful places along the northeastern seaboard.

Will you join us? [Watch a brief video about the cruise]

Lynn and I founded The Joshua Fund in 2006 with the goals of blessing Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus and of educating Christians in North America and beyond about God’s plan and purposes for the people of the Epicenter. This cruise will give us the opportunity to share with you what we’re seeing God do to build His Church.

During special sessions on the cruise, I’ll be teaching on “Prophecy and Prayer in an Ever-Changing World,” and answering your questions about Biblical prophecy and what is going in the Middle East today. I’ll also be sharing in detail what The Joshua Fund does and how this ministry is blessing so many people.  

Together, we’ll spend time in praise, worship and prayer, following God’s command to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” In addition, we’ve invited Jewish and Arab ministry leaders from the region to join us. They will share first-hand their stories from the field, including how The Joshua Fund is helping them advance the Kingdom of Christ.

Rather than a typical static conference in a hotel, however, you’ll be traveling onboard Holland America Line’s MS Zaandam, and what a special journey it will be. Every detail will be carefully planned for you by our Christian travel provider, Inspiration Cruises & Tours. Come with us and our special guests from Israel on an unforgettable adventure of learning and spiritual growth, as well as rest and relaxation.

We so look forward to spending time with you. Will you make plans now to join us?

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Are there differences between how American Evangelicals and Israeli believers view Netanyahu and his reelection? Yes, significant ones, as I explain in this CBN News interview.

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Apr 112019
 

FaithNation-Joel-Apr2019

(Jerusalem, Israel) — In the wake of our national elections, I did a series of interviews yesterday with American media outlets discussing the results, including with John Jessup and Jenna Browder, hosts of the “Faith Nation” program on the CBN News Network.

We certainly discussed Israelis’ reaction to the results, and the possible impact on the peace process. But they also asked me an especially interesting and perceptive question: How do Israel’s Messianic Jews and Evangelicals perceive Israel’s Prime Minister, and do their perceptions differ with American Evangelicals? 

Here is a transcript of our discussion. To watch the full interview, please click here. (Note: The segment begins at 11 minutes and 30 seconds into the program.)

JOHN JESSUP, CBN NEWS: What is the mood there as Israeli react to the news of another Netanyahu term?

ROSENBERG: Well, first, I think people are stunned — either stunned with excitement, there were very few people that were sure that he was going to win reelection; in fact, the polls showed that he was behind for most of the campaign. The polls certainly showed that he and the Likud Party were closing the gap in the final week, but even the exit polls did not indicate with any assurance that Netanyahu was essentially going to perform a magic trick. They call him a magician. He pulled a rabbit out of the hat, again. Most people didn’t see it. Even people who were for him went to being thinking, “I don’t know.” But there is also a whole swath of the country that is thinking, “Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me. He’s here forever.” So, it’s a mixed view here right now. 

JOHN JESSUP, CBN NEWS: Joel, what does Netanyahu’s reelection mean for the United States, and also for the Middle East peace process?

ROSENBERG: Great question. The first thing I would say is that with Prime Minister Netanyahu being reelected — and almost certain to be able to put together a coalition government; we’ll see that over the next few weeks — there will be continuity for the Trump team. President Trump knows Netanyahu well. Obviously, the Trump peace team — the architects like Jared Kushner and the rest — they know the Netanyahu team well. So, there will continuity and they’ll be very happy about that. They won’t have to change the game plan for Benny Gantz or the others who could have come in and been the new leaders here.

In terms of how it will actually affect the peace process, look, I’m of the view that the Palestinian leadership under Mahmoud Abbas has absolutely no intention of saying yes to any plan that President Trump puts forward. They will probably read the plan, but I wouldn’t even put it past them not to read it. I’m sure they will, but I’m just saying there’s no indication that Abbas and his team are even open at all. So, the question remains: Does the plan allow for the Gulf states’ Arab leaders to say, “Why would the Palestinians reject this plan? It’s not perfect, but it’s reasonable. It’s credible. It’s a serious plan. The Palestinians should sit down and negotiate.” And if the Palestinians don’t, then in theory it could open up an opportunity [for the Gulf states to move towards peace with Israel without waiting for the Palestinians.]

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JENNA BROWDER, CBN NEWS: I want to talk to you about believers there in Israel. How do they perceive Netanyahu?

ROSENBERG: Well, there’s about 30,000 Messianic Jewish believers in Jesus here in Israel now. There’s another 4,000 to 5,000 Arab Evangelicals. And there are, you know, another 10,000 or more Christians of various other kinds, mostly Evangelicals, living, working, serving in the country in various capacities. It’s interesting, Jenna, I think there is quite a divide between how American Evangelicals perceive Netanyahu, and how believers see him here.

I think American Evangelicals see the best of Netanyahu — which is true about him, but he is a complicated man. American Evangelicals see him as a statesman, as a visionary, as a strategic thinker. [For example,] I don’t know who else could have stared down President Obama and taken on and resisted and refuted the Iran nuclear deal, and then gone on to persuade President Trump to scrap that nuclear deal and reimpose crippling economic sanctions on the Iranian regime. That was the right thing to do. Netanyahu resisted President Obama’s efforts almost to force Israel to relinquish strategic territory to Israel’s sworn enemies. So, Evangelicals see that in Netanyahu and they like that. Netanyahu is also opening diplomatic bridges to China, to Brazil, to India, to the Arab countries. And this is Netanyahu at his best.

But local followers of Jesus here see that, but they see other things, too. They see, for example, that he gives an awful lot of power and money to ultra-Orthodox religious parties that are hostile to Christians, and hostile to Messianic Jewish followers of Jesus — I mean, very hostile. They see that Netanyahu has said very unkind, very harsh things to Arabs here in Israel, Arabs citizens we’re talking about, even saying recently that a new law made it clear that only Jews were real citizens of Israel, and no one else really was.

I share that deep disappointment with Netanyahu on some of these matters, including the fact that Netanyahu brought into his political coalition in recent weeks — honestly, and I say this with deep disappointment because I worked for Netanyahu nineteen years ago — but he brought in a party called Otzma Yehudit, Jewish Power, that is a racist, bigoted, anti-Arab, anti-peace party, that was really associated with a violent, extremist party that was outlawed here 25 years ago. So, these are things that have caused Israeli Jewish believers and Evangelicals here mostly to vote for center and center-right parties, but not for Bibi. And I will tell you that I was one of them who struggled because I see both sides of Bibi, what he’s very, very good at, and the mistakes that he makes that are very disappointing. And I couldn’t bring myself to vote for him this time around, though I respect him. I pray for him. But I guess I’m becoming a little more Israeli than I was when I could only see him from a distance.   

To watch the full story and interview, please click here. (Note: The segment begins at 11 minutes and 30 seconds into the program.)

Note: The comments above represent my personal views only. The Joshua Fund does not get involved in any electoral, political or legislative matters.

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BREAKING: Netanyahu, “the magician,” pulls another rabbit out of the hat. Winning 35 seats, he’s on track to be Israel’s longest serving Prime Minister, though his legal troubles remain.

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Apr 102019
 

Netanyahu-wins2019-2

(Jerusalem, Israel) — For most of the night, it was too close to call. 

But in a stunning turn of events, Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu and his Likud Party surged from behind in the wee hours of the morning, stunning the press, the pundits, and millions of his fellow citizens who went to bed thinking his career might be finished. 

Like a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat, as he has done so many times before, Netanyahu defied all predictions — including his own — that the end was near. He and the Likud Party won 35 seats in the next session of the Knesset (parliament). This represented a net gain of five seats, Likud’s best showing since 2003 when they held 38 seats, all but assuring Bibi that he will remain Israel’s Prime Minister.

With 97% of the vote counted, it appears that Bibi’s main challenger — former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz, centrist leader Yair Lapid, and their Blue & White Party — also won 35 seats. This was a huge and dramatic success for the newly-founded political party. In their maiden effort, they captured more than one-quarter of the Knesset and believed for most of yesterday evening that they were on track to unseat Bibi. Indeed, around 1:00am local time, Gantz delivered a victory speech on live national television.

But in the end, Blue & White’s effort to deliver “change” wasn’t enough.

The reason? The center-right bloc of parties, including Israel’s Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox religious parties, won at least 65 seats. The leaders of these parties have long been loyal to Bibi. Overnight, most publicly indicated that they prefer Netanyahu to remain in his post.

Barring some unforeseen twist, therefore, Bibi — who has already served 13 total years as Israel’s premier, including the last ten consecutive years — appears on track to become the longest serving prime minister in Israeli history, outlasting even the country’s founder, David Ben Gurion.

Vote-Israel-chart2019

That said, as I wrote on Monday, Netanyahu’s legal troubles remain, and are gravely serious. He faces a judicial hearing in July. Unless Bibi’s lawyers can get the cases dismissed, the three indictments against him in three separate criminal corruption cases will become final. 

At that point, Netanyahu’s governing coalition could face new problems, even unraveling. Moshe Kahlon, leader of the Kulanu Party and Israel’s current Finance Minister, said last month that if Netanyahu’s indictments are finalized in July, he and his team would have to resign. If they keep to that threat, they would complicate Bibi’s coalition math. If another party also refused to serve with a fully-indicted premier, the coalition could collapse.

To be sure, expect many plot twists and turns in the days and weeks ahead,. Among them: President Trump promises to unveil his “deal of the century” peace plan soon, which could put new stresses on the P.M. and his governing coalition. Please continue keeping Israel’s leaders and people — Jews and Arabs — in your prayers during this critical time, and as always, please keep praying for the peace of Jerusalem.

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Israeli election way too close to call. But let’s be clear: Netanyahu faces real legal and political jeopardy. Here’s the latest.

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Apr 082019
 

Bibi-Gantz

(Naples, Florida) — As I write this, I’m preparing to board a series of flights to get me home to Israel after a six week book tour for The Persian Gamble. I’m eager to see my wife and sons, and eager to join millions of my fellow Israelis who will turn out to vote on Tuesday in one of the most fiercely-contested and potentially most-consequential national elections in a generation.

No one really has any idea who will win, but many political analysts and most in the media believe we are about to enter a “post-Bibi era.” I certainly have no idea what the outcome will be, and I take the media’s predictions with a grain of salt. Most in the Israeli media hate Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu and have for years. They are rooting for Bibi’s chief rival, former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz and his centrist Blue & White Party.

That said, let’s be clear: Netanyahu does, in fact, face serious legal and political jeopardy that could bring his long and storied political career to an end sooner than most on the Israeli right (or American Evangelicals) think.

Here’s the short version…..

LEGAL JEOPARDY

  1. Netanyahu has been indicted in three separate corruption, bribery and fraud cases.
  2. Sara,  his wife, has been indicted in a fourth and completely separate case.
  3. Bibi and his closest friends and supporters dismiss this all as a “witch hunt” and say they will eventually be exonerated. Hopefully. But the indictments came not from a political enemy but from Netanyahu’s hand-chosen Attorney General Avichai Mandelbilt. He’s widely regarded in Israel as a fair and able lawyer. What’s more, he took a full year to review the initial recommendation by Israeli police authorities to prosecute Netanyahu based on some 800 pages of evidence.   
  4. Worth noting: In 2014, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was convicted on corruption charges and was sent to prison
  5. Also worth noting: In 2010, Israeli President Moshe Katsav was convicted on multiple charges of raping a woman on his staff, and he was sent to prison.
  6. Yes, we absolutely should give the Netanyahus the legal presumption of innocence. I hope and pray that they are exonerated. Bibi has been an excellent prime minister in so many ways. But I want my readers to be aware of just how serious are the charges and how seriously Israeli courts deal with senior officials if they are convicted.

POLITICAL JEOPARDY — TWO SCENARIOS

  1. For months, polls have indicated that Bibi and his Likud Party have been losing to the Blue & White Party, led by Benny Gantz.
  2. Some late polls suggest Netanyahu and Likud have closed the gap and are neck-and-neck with Gantz. However….
  3. The final published poll suggested Gantz’s team would win 32 Knesset (parliament) seats, while Bibi and his team would win only 27. 
  4. If Gantz and his party do, in fact, win the most seats on Tuesday, Gantz will likely be tapped by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin with the opportunity to form a coalition government. If Gantz can cobble together a coalition of 61 or more seats of the 120-seat Knesset, then he will become the country’s next premier. This would be a nightmare scenario for Netanyahu, and would likely spell the end of his political career. He would likely step down from Likud and enter private life.
  5. However, there is a second nightmare scenario for Netanyahu. He and Likud could eke out a victory and win more seats than Gantz. But what happens if even one leader of a right-wing party — one of Bibi’s natural coalition partners — says, “Bibi, we love you. We’re sure you and Sara are innocent of all these charges. However, we can’t sit in a government with an indicted Prime Minister who needs to spend as much time thinking about how to defend himself and his family as about defending the country. You need to step aside, fight these charges, clear your name, and then re-enter the political arena”? If one or more center-right party leader refuses to sit in a Netanyahu-led government, this could block him from becoming Prime Minister, and this, too, could potentially spell the end of his career.

I’ll be providing updates and analysis on Twitter. In the meantime, please pray for all of Israel’s leaders, our people, and our future. Never a dull moment in our part of the world.

Full disclosure: I worked on Bibi’s “come back campaign team” in the year 2000 for a few months. However, I don’t work for him now, and haven’t met with him personally in at least ten years.

 

 

 

Fiction, Faith & Freedom: Here’s the video of my remarks and Q&A session at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.

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Mar 292019
 

ReaganLibrary-Joel

(Simi Valley, CA) — I want to thank John Heubusch, the executive director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation & Institute, and Joanne Drake, the Reagan Library’s chief of staff, for inviting me to speak at and to tour this extraordinary museum.

As someone who greatly admired America’s 40th president — both for his deeply-hold religious and political convictions, as well as his gracious and winsome manner, even with his strongest opponents — it was both a joy and an honor I will never forget.

Before a lively and engaged crowd of more than 300 guests, Joanne interviewed me  about my life as a novelist, as a dual U.S.-Israeli citizen, my interactions with American and world leaders, my interest in and knowledge about President Reagan, as well as my Evangelical faith and how it informs my work as an author and speaker. Then we spent nearly a third of the evening fielding wonderfully perceptive questions from the audience.

You can watch the full webcast by clicking here. The entire program with Q&A runs about one hour and five minutes. 

ReaganLibrary-video

Also: I’ve posted many pictures from my tour of the Reagan Library museum — including me on Reagan’s actual Air Force One, next to his Marine One helicopter, and so forth — on our Epicenter Team Facebook page, as well as on Twitter. Please check those out. And do make plans to visit the Reagan Library soon with family and friends. It’s a wonderful experience and very, very well done.

ReaganLibrary-audience

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“The Persian Gamble” hits #6 on the Washington Post’s hardcover fiction bestseller list.

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Mar 282019
 

PersianGamble-smallWashingtonPost-logo3

(Simi Valley, California) — We just learned that The Persian Gamble has hit The Washington Post’s hardcover fiction bestseller list at #6.

It also hit the Post’s national fiction bestseller list (which factors in all mass market and trade paperbacks) at #12.

We also just learned that The Persian Gamble has hit the….

Thank you again to everyone who is buying, enjoying, talking about and writing about my new political thriller with family and friends and on social media. Please keep it up!

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An historic, moral, and strategically wise decision: President Trump was right to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Here’s why.

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Mar 282019
 

GolanHeights-Trump

(Washington, D.C.) — President Trump made history this week by signing an official proclamation declaring that the United States now recognizes Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. He did so during a Monday ceremony in the Oval Office with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. [Read the leaders’ remarks here.]

I commend President Trump and Vice President Pence for making this morally correct, strategically wise, and long-overdue decision. And I pray the U.S. and Israel will continue to work ever-more-closely together to prevent Russia, Iran and Turkey from taking over Syria and making it a forward operating base from which to attack the Jewish State.

Context:

  • In 1967, Syria planned and prepared to use the Golan Heights as the launching pad of a massive invasion of Israel. Their goal: to help Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser “throw the Jews into the sea” and utterly annihilate the Jewish State.
  • Syria’s plans, however, were thwarted when Israel won the “Six Day War” — stunning all of the Arab states — and took possession of the Golan Heights.
  • In 1973, Syria again planned and prepared to invade Israel and utterly destroy the Jewish State. In close cooperation with the Egyptians, Damascus launched a massive surprise attack on Yom Kippur, the highest holy day on the Jewish calendar. 
  • Syria’s plan, however, were once again thwarted — precisely because Israel now controlled these commanding heights. Israeli soldiers and tanks positioned in the Golan Heights faced an overwhelming onslaught by Syria tank units. But the Israelis present in those mountain passes fought bravely and were able to fend off the initial Syrian wave just long enough until the IDF could call up reserves to come to their rescue and decisively push the Syrians back for good. Had Israel not controlled the Heights at the time, it is very likely that Syria would have succeeded in capturing most (and perhaps all) of northern Israel.

GolanHeights-map2

Most world leaders consider the Golan Heights “Israeli occupied territory.” But let’s be clear: Israel was not the aggressor in 1967. Israel was not seeking to annihilate anyone or destroy an entire country or even expand its territory. Instead, Israel won the territory in a defensive war against an enemy threatening her people with genocide. Just six years later, Israelis leaders used the territory to defend their people against a second war of annihilation. Since then, the Heights have provided critically important strategic depth on a front with a neighbor long-hostile, and now disintegrating into murderous chaos.

Imagine if Israel had handed this territory back to the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

  • Would Israelis have been safe from a man who has murdered more than 500,000 of his own people in recent years?
  • Would Israel have been safe from a man who has used chemical weapons against his own people?
  • Would Israel have been safe from the genocidal forces of ISIS which captured large swaths of Syria and, until their caliphate was recently crushed, kept advancing against the borders of Israel?
  • Would Israel have been safe from a regime that has allied itself with Iran, whose mullahs also threaten to “wipe Israel off the map”?

The truth is it would be insane to turn this land over to the agents of terror and genocide. That’s why Israel formally annexed the Golan Heights as sovereign Israeli territory in 1981, after concluding that it could not survive another war from the north without possession of the Golan Heights. At the time, the Reagan administration sharply criticized Israel’s decision. But now the Trump White House and State Department have come to realize that on this issue Israel has been proven right after all. Hopefully, other nations will study the issue more carefully and come to the same conclusion.

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“The Persian Gamble” hits #4 on Publishers Weekly bestseller list. Also hits New York Times & USA Today hardcover fiction bestseller lists.

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Mar 222019
 

Bestseller-Lists-PWNYT

(San Diego, California) — Greetings from beautiful, sunny San Diego. I’m speaking here tonight as part of the nationwide book tour. Please click here to see the updated schedule and please plan to join us at one of the upcoming events.

That said, I’m pleased to announce that The Persian Gamble has hit the three major national best-seller lists in the United States this week.

This represents a significant jump on two of the national lists — PW and USA Today — compared to last year. Here is how The Kremlin Conspiracy fared in its opening week in March of 2018:

Thank you so much to all of my readers in the U.S., Canada and around the world. My team and I are deeply grateful that you purchased the new novel and liked it so much. Indeed, on behalf of our entire publishing and PR team, we’re also grateful for everyone who has been writing about and reviewing The Persian Gamble on Facebook, Twitter, blogs and other forms of social media. Please don’t stop!

I also want to wish all my Jewish and Israeli friends a very Happy Purim! And Happy Nowruz — Persian New Year — to all of my Iranian friends!

Purim is the Biblical holiday commemorating the days of Queen Esther and her cousin Mordechai some 2,500 years ago. Their faith and courage helped save the Jewish people from a Persian plot to annihilate the entire nation of Israel. Today, the leaders of Persia are again plotting horrific attacks, but this time they want to annihilate the people of the United States as well as the people of Israel. I would encourage you to read the entire Book of Esther in the Old Testament of the Bible over the next few days to better understand this extraordinary story, and the faithful God who protects those who call upon him with fasting and prayer.

Finally, let me say that I am praying faithfully for the people of Iran that the Lord God Almighty will set them all free from the cruel slavery and terrible tyranny of the current Iranian regime. May they all soon breathe the sweet air of freedom!

Please follow me on Twitter for updates on the latest geopolitical news, as well as news from the book tour. Thanks.

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