If you are not concerned about Bible prophecy, this year may change your mind.  Here's why:  Iran.

I strongly agree with Bible scholars who say we living in the last days.  Many believe that just before the tribulation period, the world will be on the brink of nuclear destruction.  That belief is intensified by the possibility of a nuclear confrontation between Iran and Israel.  Unlike previous threats, this has become a very serious world concern.

Over the past few months I have been tracking media headlines on Iran.  As you may or may not know, the recently elected president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, called for Israel to be "wiped off the map."  Since that outrageous comment in October 2005, the media has been glued to every word of the outspoken Iranian president.  So much so that no other headlines have dominated the media.  Almost every day there is something written about the trouble brewing in Iran.  Take a look a some of the media headlines over the past four months:


Iran Leader: Move Israel To Europe
Iranian President Calls for Annihilation of Israel 
Iranian President: Kill the Jews
Iranian Leader: Israel Will Be Destroyed
Iran’s Call for the Destruction of Israel
Iranian president calls Israel ‘disgraceful blot’ 
Iran: President Says Israel Should Be 'Wiped Off Map' 
Wipe Israel off map, says Iran's president
Iran leader defends Israel remark
Iranian President Jabs at Israel Again
Iran Notches Up Anti-Israel Campaign
‘Palestinians Agree’: Wipe Israel Off Map
Former Iranian Leader Rafsanjani: Zionists’ Days Numbered
World Cannot Ignore Iranian Vow to Destroy Israel
Iranian President's comments on Israel 'abhorrent' 
Blair 'Revolted' by 'Destroy Israel' Call of Iranian President
Tony Blair warns Iran and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Bush: Iran Intends to Nuke Israel
Iran's Undeclared War 
Iran's Threat to Israel
Iranian leader: Holocaust a 'myth'
Iran: "Zionism is de facto neo-fascism"
Ahmadinejad says Zionist crimes same as Nazi crimes
Iran's President Wants Scientific Proof Of Holocaust
Ahmadinejad: Israel created to complete Holocaust
Iran Leader Escalates Holocaust Rhetoric
Iranian Hitler: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Iran to Hold Holocaust Conference Despite Furor
Iran Is Reported To Continue Nuclear Activity 
Exiles Say Iran Uses Tunnels To Hide Atomic Work
Iran Assembles 5,000 Centrifuges For Nukes
Russia Confirms Iran Missile Deal
Putin Calls Russia Defender Of Islamic World
Russia Rejects Israeli Proposal To Impose Sanctions On Iran
Iran president had ‘religious vision’ during UN speech
Ahmadinejad's UN halo
Iran leader's messianic end-times mission
Waiting For The Rapture In Iran
Iran Leader: Islam To 'Rule The World' - 
Urges Muslims To Get Ready For Coming Of 'Messiah'
'Divine mission' driving Iran's new leader
Does Ahmadinejad have a Messiah Complex?
Zealotry puts Iran on apocalyptic path
The Mystical Menace of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
The Madness of Iran's President
Iran president's radical beliefs make him dangerous
Iran's extremely dangerous leader
Iran Chief Says Israel Exists for Genocide 
Netanyahu: Pre-emptive Strike on Iran
Iran, Defiant, Insists It Plans to Restart Nuclear Program
In Iran, Arming for Armageddon
Iran: No end to nuclear drive 
Iranians Reopen Nuclear Centers
Iran Declares Its Nuclear Plan Nonnegotiable
Iran and Armageddon
Iran and the Bomb 
Attack Iran? We’re Ready
Iran: A ticking nuclear bomb
Report: Israel Accelerates Iran Strike Plan
Israel prepares to launch attack on Iran nuclear sites
West battles to pull Iran's leader back from Judgment Day bomb 
Report: World Powers to Discuss Iran Nukes
Iran Warns Against Sanctions As Move in Nuclear Standoff
Iran Moving Its Foreign Currency Reserves
With Threat of Sanctions, Iran Protects Some Assets
Iran Denies Asset Transfer
Iranian President Meets Palestinian Leaders In Syria
Iran bans CNN for misquoting president
Israeli Military Could Stop Iranian Nukes
ElBaradei: World Losing Patience With Iran
Israel-Iran’s Cold War
Israel Readies Forces For Strike On Nuclear Iran
Iran, The Bomb And Bush
Iran, Israel And Nukes
Iran Envoy Says Too Late To Stop Nuclear Research
Syria And Iran Sign Pact To Hide Weapons
Iranian President Cements Syrian Alliance
Iran and The Crash of 2006
Most Dangerous Nation On Earth—Iran
Paper: Iran Shopping The World For Nuke Parts
Iran to Solicit Bids To Build Reactors, Defying the West
Key Powers To Hold Crisis Talks On Iran Nuclear Row
Sanctions Cannot Solve Iran Nuclear Row: Rafsanjani
Defending Nuclear Ambitions, Iranian President Attacks U.S.
Bush says Iran's nuclear bid is "unacceptable" 
Tehran Plans A Nuclear Weapons Test Before March 22, 2006
Israeli Hints At Preparation To Stop Iran
Iran: Israeli Military Strike Against Nuclear Program
Would Be 'Fatal Mistake'
Report: Iran Building Spy Satellite
U.S., Israel To Attack Iran Nukes 'Before April'
Iran Won't Flinch; Air Strike Maybe Inevitable
Iran defies world pressure to resume nuclear research
Iran: We Can Put Israel In ‘Eternal Coma’
Iran threatens 'crushing' response to US or Israeli attack
Iran threatens to deny UN nuclear watchdog access
Iran's President: Won't Be Bullied
Prepare yourself for the unthinkable: 
war against Iran may be a necessity

West rejects Iran's appeal for return to nuclear talks
Iran Issues Stark Warning On Oil Price
Cheney Warns of Iran As a Nuclear Threat
Sanctions Threat Doesn't Impress Iran's President
Iran's President Acts Like There's No Tomorrow
Iran president defiant in face of Security Council threat
Iranian President Sees End of World Order
Take Tehran at Its Word
Iran Leader Stands By Threat
EU leaders say Iran talks are dead 
Ahmadinejad’s nuclear gamble
Iran In Talks With Russia Over Uranium Enrichment Proposal
Iran Welcomes Russia' s Offer to Enrich Uranium Jointly; 
Details Remain
A New Face in Iran Resurrects an Old Defiance
UN Security Council Powers Meet on Iran Atomic Case
Iran to remove UN nuclear seals 
Iran to ban inspections if sent to UN
Force Against Iran Seen as Perilous Last Resort
US senators: Iran strike an option
Iran to Use Missiles if Attacked, Military Chief Says
Iran hails Hamas victory 
Expert: Iran Has Nuclear Bomb
Iran faces nuclear showdown at United Nations
Iran: Referral Means End Of Diplomacy 
Iran Threatens Full - Scale Enrichment Work
Defiant Iran looks to history 
IAEA Chief Says Iran Standoff at 'Critical Phase'
Iran Nuclear Potential 'Immediate Concern' - U.S.
UN referral near, Iran threatens nuclear fuel work 
Iran 'has negative role in world' 
Iran shrugs off threat of isolation
Iran to resist 'bully nations,' says President 
Iranian anger as 'bullies' talk sanctions
U.S., Europe Push for Vote Against Iran

Oh, there's more:  Iranian President Ahmadinejad said that someone at the UN told him that a light surrounded him while he was delivering his speech to the General Assembly in November. The Iranian president added that he also sensed it.  The person told the president "when you began with the words 'in the name of God,'  I saw that you became surrounded by a light until the end of the speech,"   Ahmadinejad then stated, "I felt it myself, too.  I felt that all of a sudden the atmosphere changed there, and for 27-28 minutes all the leaders did not blink.  I am not exaggerating when I say they did not blink; it's not an exaggeration, because I was looking," he says. "They were astonished as if a hand held them there and made them sit.  It had opened their eyes and ears for the message of the Islamic Republic."

What's further interesting is Ahmadinejad’s mystical preoccupation with the coming of a Shiite Islamic messiah figure – the Mahdi – which is raising concerns that a nuclear-armed Iran could trigger the kind of global conflagration he envisions will set the stage for the end of the world.  Ahmadinejad believes this happens in conjunction with the destruction of Israel.  This Shiite Islamic messiah is apparently the coming reappearance of the 12th Imam, a young boy who died in the 10th century, who will restore Islamic rule for seven years.  That closely follows what the Bible says about the coming Antichrist, a spiritual leader (claiming to be the messiah) who will have global powers over all nations during much of the seven-year tribulation period.

Here's why the call by Iranian President Ahmadinejad for the destruction of the Jewish state is so relevant to the last days:  Ezekiel said that God will bring the Jewish people back to the land of their forefathers and they will prosper in that land (Ezekiel 34, 36, 37).   Then, Ezekiel 38 & 39 speak of what happens in the last days after the Jewish people have returned and prospered in their land (Israel).  Scholars agree that these two chapters speak of a future attack on Israel that which God stops supernaturally.  Scholars suggest this attack is unique in that Israel does not respond—because it doesn't have to!  Remember, there is not agreement on the timing of this war.  Some commentators suggest this is not Armageddon, while others believe it is (which takes place at the end of the tribulation period).  If this attack takes place prior to the tribulation period, then the stage could be set for the Antichrist to appear and set-up a seven-year peace agreement with Israel.

What is noteworthy in Ezekiel 38 & 39 are the people groups (nations) listed as coming against Israel in the last days—Russia and Islamic nations:

(1) Magog, Gog (Prince of Rosh), Meshech, and Tubal.  These are peoples that now inhabit the land of what is modern-day Russia and surrounding Islamic republics.

(2) Persia, Cush, and Phut.  The Persians are today's Iranians (Persia was renamed Iran in 1935).  Cush and Phut are today those peoples in northern Africa which now make up the nations of Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Ethiopia Chad, Sudan and others (all of which are Islamic nations).

(3) Gomer and Togarmah.  This includes the people of present-day Asia Minor and much of Europe.  This includes Turks, Kurds, Armenians and peoples in the southern bloc nations of the former Soviet Union (majority Islamic peoples).

So when does this all play out?  Certainly the near future.  Russia has already made military alliances with several Islamic nations, but not all listed above.  A major "event" would likely have to occur for Russia and the above listed nations to become a unified military alliance, and then together attack Israel.

Here is what prophecy scholars are watching for:  Israel to make a preemptive strike on the Iranian nuclear program.  Israel has stated they would do so.  This would certainly provoke Russia, which established the program and provided the know-how.  Other Islamic nations would be eager to rally against Israel in the event of a perceived attack on "Islam".  Islamic fundamentalists have a deep hatred for Israel.  The Palestinians voted in the Islamic terrorist group Hamas as their government—right next door to Israel.  If Israel were to strike, scholars agree it would be a matter of months for Russia to form such a coalition, with willing Islamic nations.  The president of Iran seems to be inviting an attack from Israel.

The Ezekiel prophecy indicates the Lord will have to use "hooks" in the "jaws" of the Russians to get them to attack, which may indicate a certain reluctance initially, possibly due to pressure from the UN, EU, and USA, or from difficulty coordinating a stable Islamic alliance.  This may be why the prophecy also states they will end up fighting amongst themselves (Ez. 38:21).  The prophecy also indicates that the attack is coordinated with a massive amount of ground troops.  Sure, they are coming from Islamic nations just across the border!  The war is directed from the "far north" indicating the Russians are leading the attack.  Additionally, the prophecy states that Israel will be in relative safety when the attack happens.  Though Israel is surrounded by enemies, they live in relative safety because of their incredible military power, considered the fourth largest in the world.  This perceived "safety" could also come from a lull after Israel attacks Iran, while there is relative silence for several months as the global shock sets in, peace is promoted, and an anti-Israel coalition is put together by Russia.  Note that this prophecy is often called "the prophecy against Gog".  Gog (leader of Russia) leads the attack, and is receiving the judgment of the Lord, as one of the first events of the attack is a major earthquake (tied with Armageddon?).

Some new reports have stated that Israel will attack Iran before April.  Iran has promised a "crushing" response.  Either way, a scenario is developing for a major confrontation.  I believe we are witnessing the preliminary stages of what could lead to the Russian-Islamic attack on Israel.  How exciting to be living in the end-times!  

Keep looking up,

Tim Osterholm


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