New York Times bestselling author Joel C. Rosenberg has written 21 books, including five nonfiction titles and 16 geopolitical thrillers that portray global events against the backdrop of Biblical prophecy. He has consulted with world leaders and intelligence officials and is considered an expert on the politics of the Middle East. Rosenberg holds dual American and Israeli citizenship, having grown up in the U.S. and now residing in Jerusalem. He and his wife, Lynn, are founders of The Joshua Fund, an educational nonprofit that seeks to “bless Israel and her neighbors in the Name of Jesus.” Joel is also founder and editor-in-chief of two news and analysis websites—AllIsrael.com and AllArab.news. He recently spoke with Decision via Zoom from his home in Israel.
Q: The Joshua Fund, which you founded and lead, just completed a survey of Americans’ views of current events related to Bible prophecy. What did you find?
A: Among other questions, we asked those surveyed if they believe that what is happening in Ukraine is a sign of what Jesus spoke of regarding “birth pangs” and “wars and rumors of wars” in the last days. And we asked a similar question about COVID-19. In both, you see about 40% of the American people of all races, religions and regions saying, yes, they think that’s what we’re seeing.
Among Christians, it’s higher. Among atheists, it’s lower, but it was fascinating the number of atheists and agnostics who say, “Well, maybe.” We’re just starting to report about this at All Israel News. Even people who don’t believe what Christians believe are thinking this is not normal, that maybe it does have a prophetic aspect to it.
Q: Speaking of the bloodshed in Ukraine, and Russia’s friendship with Iran, are these things specifically the fulfillment of Biblical prophecies, or merely a precursor to something prophetic?
A: For all the teaching and writing and speaking I do about Bible prophecy, I’m pretty conservative and reserved about drawing fast conclusions that some emerging threat is necessarily prophetic. I would generally discourage people from lurching and thinking every single major world event is prophetic. Nevertheless, there are things that are so consistent with Bible prophecy that we really have to watch them very closely.
The alliance that’s forming between Russia and Iran is an alliance that’s unlike anything that’s ever happened between these countries in the 2,600 years since the Hebrew Prophet Ezekiel told us that there would one day be such an alliance. Ezekiel, using ancient language, describes Magog and Persia. And I think all the research and writing our organization has done has kind of walked people through why we believe that Magog of ancient terminology is the Russia that we know today.
So I absolutely believe that Magog is Russia. We see in Ezekiel 38:1-5 that Russia has an alliance with Iran in what Ezekiel says is “the last days.” And what’s the target? Is it Ukraine? It’s not.
Some have said the Russian move on Ukraine is the beginnings of Ezekiel 38 and 39, which mentions the war of Gog and Magog. In theory they could be right, but it’s premature to draw a conclusion like that. Ukraine doesn’t show up anywhere in prophecy. Is it prophetic at all? In the sense that the Lord Jesus tells us in Matthew 24, Luke 21 and Mark 13 that there will be “wars and rumors of wars, that kingdoms will rise against kingdoms, and nations against nations,” yes, it is.
But aside from Ukraine, the alliance between Russia and Iran that’s forming now is so consistent with Biblical prophecy and so inconsistent with the rest of world history that I would say, yes, it is an evidence that we’re trending toward the war of Gog and Magog.
Q: The United States isn’t mentioned specifically in Scripture or Biblical prophecy. Is that something we should be concerned about, considering America’s place in the world in the last century and our influence as a beacon for freedom?
A: It’s true that the U.S. is not mentioned specifically in the Bible, although some people have said, “Well, you know, the U.S. is the Babylon in the Book of Revelation” or “We’re the two eagle wings in the Book of Revelation.” But the fact that America isn’t alluded to is not to say it isn’t included as one of the nations mentioned in general. For example, Matthew 24:14 says: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” Obviously, we’re one of those nations.
But because the U.S. is the wealthiest, most powerful country on the face of the planet in the history of mankind, the idea that we’re not referred or even alluded to in end-times Bible prophecy bothers many people. How is that possible?
The short answer is the Bible is silent on this question. I argued in a book called “Implosion” in 2012 that America is headed toward implosion. Now, it could be that we are just led by a weak, indecisive leader in the last days, and therefore, we’re strong but we’re not using our strength.
I think it’s more likely that if you just take the rapture alone and you remove 60 million, 100 million, or even just 10 million born-again Christians—you take all those millions out and it is going to implode because who’s paying those mortgages? Christians are in such key positions in the military, in government, in business and the economy. Look at how much damage was caused on 9/11 by losing nearly 3,000 Americans. You lose a million, you lose 10 million, you lose 50 million, and it’s a game changer.
One more point on that: When a country murders 60 million unborn babies, there’s a point of no return—there’s a point where judgment must come. We are on such “borrowed time with borrowed credit” right now, morally, that we have to understand that however soon or distant the return of Christ is, America’s place in the world is hanging by a thread.
Q: The Book of Revelation describes a great gathering of people from every tribe and tongue worshipping the Lamb. What do you see God doing in the whole Middle East and around the world as far as bringing people to faith?
A: We’re seeing a lot of negative things happen in the world that are consistent with the birth pangs that Jesus speaks of, but we’re also seeing Matthew 24:14 come to pass, and God is using Americans and the United States to preach the Gospel to the whole world.
We’re not the only ones doing it, and thank God that more and more, we see the church in China taking the Gospel to the ends of the earth, and Korea and Brazil and elsewhere. But, you know, if you’re looking for where America is in Bible prophecy, it’s sitting right in the middle of Matthew 24:14. Billy Graham alone is a near fulfillment of that prophecy. I would say he was more of a “fillment” than a fulfillment because there’s much more to do.
But when in human history have we ever seen one man speak to more than 200 million people, including kings and world leaders, and share the Gospel in such a clear way? Add to that television, radio, satellite and now the internet. For all the garbage that the internet has pumped into our world, the Gospel has gone forth also, and now that’s happening in the Middle East through the gift of technology. And that’s not even including all the Bible translation work.
So, we are living in a very hopeful time. More people around the world have a chance to hear or see or read the Gospel message and make their decision to receive Christ or reject Him than at any other period in all of human history. And this also tells us that we’re getting close.
And God is finally removing the scales from the eyes of the Jewish people and from Muslims, too. When I was born in 1967, most research shows that there were maybe 2,000 Jewish followers of Jesus on planet Earth. Today, in the U.S. alone, research conducted by the Joshua Fund along with LifeWay Research and other groups concluded that 871,000 Jews believe in Jesus as Messiah. Worldwide, it’s around 1 million.
And as Franklin Graham has stated, more Muslims have come to faith in Jesus Christ in the last 50 or 60 years than in all of the last 14 centuries of Islam combined. We’re seeing receptivity to the Gospel. And it’s an amazing honor to live in the epicenter of the world, the very city that the Lord Jesus is going to come back to, and to try to strengthen and encourage our brothers and sisters—both Israeli believers and Palestinian believers—to be a light here. n ©2022 BGEA
The Scripture quotation is taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version.
Interviewed by Jerry Pierce, senior editor.
Photo: Courtesy of Joel C. Rosenberg