Saturday, February 28, 2009

Why Is This Happening?

Much has been written over the past several months about the causes of the financial crisis. Estimates of blame have ranged from government interference with mortgage markets to lack of oversight by federal regulators to old-fashioned greed run amok. Fewer have looked deeper, however, to explore just why the financial crisis struck when it did, as our nation faced an external threat from a loose alliance of Islamic radicals who aim to spread their religion around the world as well as an election in which the country was asked to choose between a traditional moderate and a charismatic newcomer who aimed to remake America in the image of the European social democracies.

A key to understanding the full significance of the challenge before us is to look beyond the economic and geopolitical realities that are all that most people ever see. Author Joel Rosenberg refers to this as looking through a “third lens,” one that allows us to see the world in terms of scriptural and prophetic realities. The fact that these realities are not as readily apparent as economic and political concerns does not make them any less real.

Without full awareness of the fact, I have been looking through the third lens for most of my life. I was raised in a Christian family where discussions of faith were neither pressured nor discouraged. As I grew older, I did question the validity of the Bible and was able to confirm its authenticity to my satisfaction through books such as Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ and Werner Keller’s The Bible As History among others. The fundamental truths of the Bible, such as the fact that there is an unseen war between good and evil that rages around us, are not in doubt for me.

My study of the Bible included a look at Biblical prophecies, since, if the prophecies were inaccurate, I reasoned, the Bible’s validity would be suspect. In the course of reading the prophetic books of the Bible, I read the Revelation, the last book of the Bible. To me, it seemed that the book was nearly incomprehensible as it was filled with apocryphal (symbolic) language. In effect, much of the Revelation was written in code. As I read other books on the subject, I learned that much of the code could be broken by reading other parts of the Bible. Along the way, I prayed for enlightenment.

Over the past few years, I have incorporated much of what I have learned into my blog articles. As I studied, it seemed that many of the prophecies of Revelation, as well as other books of the Bible, seemed to be on the cusp of being fulfilled. A key prophecy was given by Jesus Himself in Matthew 24:34 when seemed to say that the generation that saw the rebirth of the nation of Israel would see the end of the age ( I also noticed that many of the Bible’s prophecies of the end-times seemed to point toward a prominent Muslim role in the latter days (

About the same time, I became aware of Joel Rosenberg. Rosenberg wrote a series of novels, beginning with The Last Jihad that contained remarkably accurate predictions of events that happened in the real world almost simultaneously with the publication of his books. His predictions had included a terrorist attack on the US using hijacked airplanes, the death of Yasir Arafat, and a second war with Iraq. Rosenberg soon published a nonfiction book, Epicenter: How the Rumblings in the Middle East Affect Your Future that detailed where he got the inspiration for his fictional works (

It turned out that Rosenberg’s inspiration was a little known prophecy from the book of Ezekiel. In chapters 38-39 of Ezekiel, the Bible foretells a future war against Israel by a coalition led by Magog and Persia. While the identity of Persia is certainly Iran, most theologians believe that Magog is Russia (

Over the past few years, we have seen the pieces for the Magog war fall into place. A few years ago, Russia was written off as a second-rate power. Now it is resurgent as military and economic power. Vladimir Putin has strengthened his control over the country and is now a de facto dictator, if not a latter day tsar, ruling from the behind the scenes. Russia’s desire for imperial expansion can be seen in its recent dealings with the Ukraine and its 2008 invasion of Georgia.

Iran has been in the news as well. Iran’s nuclear ambitions have been a source of international concern for years now. In February 2009, the UN acknowledged that Iran probably has enough uranium to create a nuclear weapon. Additionally, Iran has tested rockets capable of boosting satellites, or nuclear warheads, into orbit. Iran’s rulers have left little doubt that, if they acquire a nuclear weapon, their goal would be to eliminate Israel and the United States. Their belief in the Twelfth Imam calls for them to create chaos in order to have the Mahdi appear to usher in a worldwide Islamic caliphate.

The two nations have already begun forging ties. Russia is supplying reactors for Iran’s nuclear program as well as sophisticated air defense systems to protect them from Israeli or American attack. Russia has also used its position on the UN Security Council to prevent meaningful UN action against Iran.

The list of nations that Ezekiel tells us will join the coalition against Israel is long, but there are two notable absences: Iraq and Egypt. Both nations have taken part in the other major wars against Israel, but both have legitimate reasons for opting out of this future conflict. Egypt and Israel have been at peace since Egypt’s President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin signed the Camp David Accords in 1979. On the other hand, Iraq is still hostile to Israel, but its military was destroyed in the 2003 US invasion. It is currently more concerned with internal security than with liberating Jerusalem. Incidentally, Babylon, mentioned in Revelation as the seat of power of a demonic world ruler, is in Iraq and is currently being rebuilt.

Other factors that may point toward a prophetic event include a spiritual awakening occurring in Muslim countries in which people who have never heard of Jesus experience supernatural dreams and visions that convince them that Isa, the Arabic name for Jesus, is the Son of God ( Although missionaries have preached the Gospel to Muslims for hundreds of years, it is only in the last twenty to thirty years that Christianity has seen explosive growth in these countries.

More circumstantial is the fact that the Magog prophecy is sandwiched between prophecies of the rebirth of Israel (Ezekiel 37) and the construction of a new Jewish temple (Ezekiel 40-48). There is currently no Jewish temple because its traditional site is located on the same spot as the Dome of the Rock mosque in Jerusalem. To dismantle this mosque would touch off a holy war of worldwide proportions. If, however, the mosque faced divine destruction, the path would open for the Jews to rebuild their temple. Though Israel has controlled Jerusalem since 1967, the Temple Mount remains in Arab hands. A group of Israeli Jews, the Temple Mount Faithful, believes this will change one day soon and is prepared to start construction on a new temple in short order.

As I watched Rosenberg’s books come true in the pages of the newspaper, I made a few predictions of my own. Well before the Democratic primary was settled, I predicted that Barack Obama would become president, that the US economy would soon be in severe trouble, and that Iraq would become relatively peaceful and stable with the help of US troops, which would remain well into Obama’s presidency ( The basis for these predictions was a spiritual worldview that seemed to indicate that the stage was being set for a fulfillment of Ezekiel’s prophecy. (To be fair, I also believed that either Israel or the US would attack Iran before Obama took office. I based this prediction on an assessment of George W. Bush’s character, rather than scripture, however) (

My predictions were based on the belief that it was possible that God was preparing for fulfillment of Ezekiel’s prophecy. Ezekiel indicates that Israel will stand alone against the coalition in order to show His power to the world (Ezekiel 38:22). The question then became one of what would prevent the United States, Israel’s most trusted ally, from either taking action in the United Nations to halt the attack or from providing military aid. The most likely answers were a shift in the US position to one that was less favorable to Israel or the possibility that the US was pre-occupied with some other problem.

In recent years, the public mood of the US has started to shift away from Israel, especially on the left. For example, news reports focus on the accidental deaths of Arab civilians while all but ignoring the terror bombings and a steady stream of rocket attacks that kill and maim Israelis, both Jewish and Muslim. This shift culminated in the election of Barack Obama, who claimed during the campaign to support Israel’s right to defend herself, but who nevertheless is rumored to have strongly pro-Arab sympathies and who is unlikely to commit more US troops to defend Israel in another Middle East war.

Additionally, the current deteriorating state of the financial system of the US and the world makes it likely that the US would be too inwardly focused to respond to a rapidly escalating crisis in Israel. The situation is similar to how the US focus on the Great Depression distracted us from the rise of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. With federal deficit ballooning under emergency stimulus spending, cuts in the defense budget are likely under Democratic rule. When the crisis comes, the US may have little support left to give.

An additional reason to believe that the United States has a difficult future is that we, as a nation, have been courting God’s judgment for years. The Bible says to flee from sexual immorality (I Corinthians 6:18), but in America we have embraced almost every sexual perversion imaginable from pornography to infidelity to homosexuality. Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven belongs to the little children (Matthew 19:14), yet in America we kill hundreds of thousands of unborn babies each year. In many ways, modern abortion is akin to the ancient practice of sacrificing children in the fires of pagan gods. Finally, even though statistics show that a majority of Americans believe in some sort of God, we allow a vocal minority to force the removal of nearly all aspects of Christianity and God from public life. This is tantamount to a national rejection of God.

Throughout our history, Americans have typically believed that God was instrumental in our founding and that God had a special plan for the United States. From our nation’s inception, we saw ourselves as the possessors of a manifest destiny to spread the gospels of Christ and democracy around the world. Because of our special national relationship with God, many fail to believe that God will punish our nation. Such beliefs fly in the face of history. The ancient Jews of Israel and Judah believed that since they were God’s chosen people, the nation that watched over His temple, that they were immune from God’s judgment. In the end, however, both nations were annihilated by pagan powers, Israel by the Assyrians in 720 BC and Judah by the Babylonians in 586 BC. Israel then ceased to exist as a nation until AD 1947. The Bible repeats that God is slow to anger, but also states that He is unable to ignore sin and rebellion indefinitely (Numbers 14:18). As someone once said, if God fails to judge America, He owes Sodom and Gomorra an apology.

While it is by no means certain that my theories about God’s judgment on America and the fulfillment of the Magog prophecy are accurate, many of the details seem to fit together extremely well. Coincidences do happen, but at some point, it takes more faith to believe in coincidence than in God’s divine plan coming to fruition. With prophecies and signs from all three of the world’s major religions pointing toward a worldwide upheaval, the notion of a string of coincidences becomes harder to accept. If the theory of prophetic judgment is correct, what action should we take?

First, I do believe that God is forgiving. A passage of scripture that has become popular in recent years is 2 Chronicles 7:14 which states that “if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

This belief is supported by the story of Josiah, one of the last godly kings of Judah. During Josiah’s reign, a lost copy of the scriptures was discovered in the temple (2 Kings 22-23). When Josiah read the scripture, he learned that much of what he thought he knew was wrong. He inquired of the Lord through a prophetess and learned that destruction of his country was imminent. Josiah went about removing the pagan cults from Judah and returning his people to worship of God. In the end, Josiah was successful in staving off God’s judgment temporarily. Tragically, after Josiah’s death, Judah returned to its idolatrous and evil ways.

On an individual basis, the most important thing is to entrust your life to Jesus Christ. Whether judgment comes tonight or a thousand years from now, we all must answer for our sins. My life has not been bad by human standards. I don’t have a history of crime, drug abuse, or some other sordid past like many who testify to how Christ changed their lives. However, in God’s eyes, even little sins are punishable by death if we do not choose to accept His forgiveness.

Additionally, another change that I have made as I realized the possibility of dramatic changes to come, is to move to a church that is more interested in evangelical outreach than my former church. (Incidentally, I don’t believe that I’ve heard my pastor preach on end-time prophecies at all. Hear his sermons on your Ipod at Regardless of whether we are living in the last days or not, people in this country and around the world can benefit from a relationship with Jesus Christ. The fact is that one of the few commandments that Christians face is the Great Commission to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” given by Jesus Himself (Matthew 28:19-20). This doesn’t mean to go out and beat people over the head with a Bible. It does mean to share the Gospel and what it means to us so that they can make their own decision.

If fulfillment of Ezekiel’s prophecy does come to pass, the Russian-Iranian coalition will be destroyed as God intervenes to save Israel from certain destruction (Ezekiel 38:19-23). Following a great earthquake, fire and hailstones from heaven will destroy the attacking army. It will be apparent to the entire world that God not only exists, but is in total control. I hope that people reading this who choose not to accept Christ will remember reading this and remember that the entire event was written down almost three thousand years ago by a prophet of God.

Scottsdale AZ

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Twenty Predictions for the Next Few Years

After observing Obama and the new Congress for almost a month, I am now ready to make my predictions for the next few years. With a few exceptions, these predictions are based on the history of the United States and other countries that have enacted similar programs. These predictions are mostly brief statements, but some have been or will be elaborated on in my blog ( So take note and if I’m right, remember it. If not, I’ll probably be even happier than you.

If you disagree, feel free to leave a comment with your own predictions.

1. The current stimulus bill will fail, just as the TARP program and the 2008 stimulus checks failed.

2. When the current stimulus bill fails, the government’s solution will be enact another, probably larger, stimulus bill.

3. Massive government spending will create high inflation as the government prints money to pay its debts.

4. The government will also raise taxes. They may not call it raising taxes. They may call it “allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire,” but most Americans who pay taxes will be keeping less of their own money.

5. The recession will be long and the recovery will be slow.

6. Job creation will be stagnant in most sectors of the economy. Government jobs will be an exception.

7. Unemployment will continue to remain at or above current levels for the next several years.

8. A nationalized healthcare system will be enacted in some form.

9. There will be new restrictions on guns and ammunition.

10. There will be at least one terrorist attack on US soil.

11. Iran will obtain a nuclear weapon.

12. Iran’s announcement may come in the form of an attack on Israel. Even Iran does not attack, it will cause an increase in tensions in the Middle East.

13. The slow economy will keep oil prices fairly low for the next few years unless/until an Iran-Israel war drives prices higher.

14. A federal carbon tax, probably in the form of a cap-and-trade system, will drive energy prices, including electric bills, higher.

15. The carbon tax will also drive the prices of other goods and services higher, due to increased production costs.

16. An attempt will be made to censor conservative media with a revived Fairness Doctrine, although it probably will have a different name.

17. The situation in Pakistan will continue to deteriorate. Militants from Afghanistan will flee across the border to safe havens there.

18. The Republicans will make large gains in the 2010 elections, possibly taking control of one or both houses of Congress.

19. The Democratic Party will become fragmented as moderate Blue Dog Democrats are pressured to support increasingly leftist legislation and their constituents become more and more angry.

20. By the time he leaves office, President Obama will have an approval rating that is equal to or lower than President George W. Bush’s approval rating at that future time.

Orlando FL

Friday, February 13, 2009

Who Was Herod?

One of the most famous villains of the Bible is King Herod. Herod was the evil king who felt threatened enough by the news of the birth of the King of the Jews that he ordered the mass murder of male children of his realm (Matthew 2:16-18). As I read the Christmas story recently, I wondered what historians know about Herod outside of the Biblical account.

There was actually more than one King Herod. Herod the Great spawned a dynasty that ruled Jerusalem and its surrounding area for decades. Since the date of Jesus’ birth is not precisely known, there is some doubt as to the identity of the Herod that was in power at the time.

The first Herod, Herod the Great, was a Jew who curried the favor of the Romans. He was named King of Judea by the Roman Senate in 40 BC. Herod the Great reigned until his death in 4 BC and was marked by extensive building programs and cold-blooded killings of people who challenged his rule. Among his construction projects were a rebuilt Jewish temple (called Herod’s Temple), the Fortress Antonia (which was named for Mark Antony), new city walls of Jerusalem, and the port of Caesarea.

Many of Herod’s subjects hated him. Many of the Jews disliked his Greek culture and his violation of Jewish religious laws. Jews and gentiles both probably disliked his heavy-handed taxation.

Herod the Great was ruthless in his suppression of political rivals as well as religious dissidents and other opposition. In one case, two rabbis and their students removed a golden imperial eagle that Herod had placed in the Jewish temple. Herod had the transgressors burned alive. Herod suffered a lingering illness prior to his death in 4 BC, but before he died, Herod had two of his own sons executed in order to prevent their succession to his throne after his death.

Herod’s realm was divided into three areas controlled by three of his surviving sons after his death. Herod Antipas became ruler of Galilee from 4 BC to AD 39. Herod Antipas is most known for his illegal marriage to Herodias, who had been his sister-in-law as well as his niece. John the Baptist denounced the marriage, prompting Herod Antipas to first imprison John and then have him beheaded (Matthew 14:1-12, Mark 6:14-29, Luke 9:7-9). The Bible tells us that Herod Antipas also had his daughter dance for his guests at a dinner for officials and military commanders, a role that most fathers of the day would not subject their daughters to.

While Herod Antipas may not have ruled at Jesus’ birth, there is no doubt that he was in power at the time of Jesus’ ministry and execution. The Bible tells us that Jesus actually appeared before Herod Antipas before His execution (Luke 23:7-12).

Luke references the governor of Syria and Caesar Augustus (2:1-2). Cross-referencing the reigns of these men with that of the Herods might help to determine which Herod was in power. Caesar Augustus ruled the Roman Empire from 63 BC to AD 14. This length of time encompasses long periods alongside both Herod the Great and Herod Antipas.

Quirinius, the governor of Syria mentioned by Luke, is a more difficult case. The problem is that Quirinius was not the governor of Syria until after the exile of Herod Archelaus in AD 6, according to Josephus, an early Jewish historian. The discrepancy is probably best explained by the possibility that Quirinius took the first census before he was governor. Luke referred to him as “governor” because that was how people knew him as Luke wrote. Quirinius was also responsible for a second census that is mentioned in Acts 5:37. The reign of Quirinius does not help to pinpoint the birth of Jesus.

Ultimately, the Herod ruling at the time of Jesus’ birth and the Bethlehem massacre cannot be conclusively determined. The massacre is not found in historical accounts outside of the Bible, but that should not be surprising. Bethlehem at that time was a tiny village with a small population. Therefore, the death toll may have been smaller than typically believed. Additionally, the murder of innocent children is probably something that Herod would have wanted to cover up. Again, the small size of Bethlehem would have helped to hide the crime.

It is easy to believe that either Herod the Great or Herod Antipas would have ordered the killings of children that they believed might have threatened their rule. Herod the Great had a long history of murdering his political opponents. Herod Antipas would have been a new ruler at the time of Jesus’ birth. Ancient kings commonly killed anyone who had a claim to their throne in order to solidify their rule when they assumed power. Herod Antipas’ executions of John the Baptist and Jesus show that he had few qualms about having his opponents killed. Whichever Herod was ultimately responsible for the massacre at Bethlehem; both were rulers with blood on their hands.

The Archaeological Study Bible, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, 2005.
Barne’s Notes on the New Testament, Bible Explorer 4, WORDsearch, 2006.
The Case for Christ, Lee Strobel, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, 1998., The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. VII, online edition, 2003

2/13/09 Orlando FL

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Georgia FAIR Tax - Open Letter to My State Senator


I am aware of the fact that Georgia is among the many states in the nation facing a financial crisis. We have rising unemployment, a mounting deficit, and falling tax revenues. I spoke with someone in your office today about what I believe may be the solution: A Georgia state version of the FAIR Tax.

If you are unfamiliar with the FAIR Tax, you can find the details at In short, it is a consumption-sales tax that would replace all other state taxes. I believe that it has several advantages that could be immediately recognized.

First, it would provide a favorable tax climate that would attract new business to the state. By eliminating the state income tax on corporations, the Georgia FAIR Tax would draw businesses from other states with higher tax rates. The publicity of being the first state to adopt the FAIR Tax would also be a boon to Georgia's economy.

Second, the monthly pre-bate feature of the Georgia FAIR Tax would help families with breadwinners who are unemployed or earning low incomes. The fact that the FAIR Tax is not applied to used items, but only to new products, would also provide much needed breathing room to many families.

Third, the Georgia FAIR Tax would eliminate state income tax withholding and leave more money in the pockets of Georgia consumers. If consumers have more take-home pay, they will be able to spend more, which will ultimately help to restart the economy.

Finally, because the Georgia FAIR Tax would be paid by anyone who shops in Georgia, it would increase the tax base. Out-of-state residents, vistors, illegal aliens, and others who currently do not pay taxes in Georgia would become part of our tax base. This would ease the tax burden on Georgia families.

Since the FAIR Tax is the brainchild of Georgians John Linder and Neal Boortz, it is only logical that Georgia become the first state to adopt it. Experiments in Ireland and the former eastern bloc countries of Europe have shown the power of tax reform in stimulating economies. I hope that you will consider sponsoring this legislation in Georgia, both to revitalize our economy and show the rest of the United States the way.

David W. Thornton