Getting serious about the Iranian threat

If there ever was a time to pray for Israel, it is now.

Netanyahu bomb picture 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)
Netanyahu bomb picture 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)
Every September, world leaders gather in New York for the annual Opening Assembly of the United Nations. The dominant agenda item this year was Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and the most memorable moment was that of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu literally drawing a “red line” on a sketch of a fused bomb.
This was masterful use of a visual aid to demonstrate to the entire world the urgency of the threat facing not only the Jewish state but the entire planet. The prime minister made dramatically clear why everyone needs to take Iran’s atomic quest seriously.
Israel’s legitimate security concerns
For Israel, the Iranian threat is a question of survival. While many Western leaders still place hope in further negotiations, Israel does not put much faith in this kind of political maneuvering – for good reasons.
Israel’s modern history has taught the nation’s leaders to never ignore vows to wipe it out or to “drive the Jews into the sea.” These threats were not mere rhetoric, as the Jewish state has found itself fighting six wars over the past six decades while living under a constant danger of terror attack. Moreover, Iran’s calls for Israel’s destruction have been accompanied by its patronage of two of the most ruthless terrorist organizations in the region – Hezbollah and Hamas.
With the cooperation of these proxy militias, Iran is already engaged in an active campaign to eliminate the Jewish state.
An even more tragic lesson for Israel comes from the pre-World War II era.
Europe’s leaders were desperate to believe that Hitler was someone they could make a deal with. In September 1938, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain returned from talks with Hitler in Munich and proclaimed “peace in our time!” Just one year later the world was thrust into the bloodiest conflict in human history, and only four years later the gas chambers and crematories of Auschwitz were in full operation, exterminating six million European Jews. If there is one lesson to be learned from this sad chapter, it is that Israel cannot afford to take Iran’s threats and deadly ambitions lightly.
Iran playing with fire
Yet the nation most endangered in all of this is not Israel but Iran itself.
Not because of Israel’s military power, which is significant, but because history has also shown that those rulers who touch the apple of God’s eye – Israel – always come to ruin themselves. This is not only a hopeless undertaking but also a dangerous one.
Regarding the future of Israel, the Bible is crystal clear. God is restoring Zion not to annihilate the Jewish nation but to deliver them even in the midst of perilous times. Israel has returned to stay, to prosper, and to be revived by His Spirit. And the Bible is also clear that those who come against His chosen people will eventually have to deal with the God of Israel.
Still, there is hope for Iran. First, we should understand that God takes “no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live” (Ezekiel 33:11). It saddens me when some of Israel’s friends eagerly hope for Israeli military strikes against Iran and even wish that God would send fire down from heaven to annihilate Israel’s enemy. Jesus challenged his disciples on exactly this attitude in Luke 9:55, saying, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of.”
In spite of the darkening horizon, there happens to be a historic Christian revival in Iran today.
According to various institutes tracking global church growth, the church in Iran currently has the fastest growth rate in the world. Iranian pastors we have spoken with recently are so hopeful they believe their nation may be on the verge of a huge political change. One leading Iranian evangelist recently stated on CBN News that if this trend continues, Iran could even become the first Muslim nation to turn Christian.
The prophet Jeremiah makes an astonishing statement regarding the ancient land of Elam, which comprises much of Iran today. It is a powerful declaration of hope: “And I will set my throne in Elam and destroy their king and officials, declares the Lord. And in the latter days I will restore the fortunes of Elam, declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 49:38-39).
Call to action
What does this all mean for Christians today? No one single action will bring forth change, but we do need the perspective of God’s Kingdom.
1. Stand for Israel’s security.
Israelis today need to see their friends worldwide taking their concerns about Iran seriously. We must challenge our leaders to do the same and finally stop Iran’s nuclear drive. Nuclear weapons do not belong in hands of a nation whose former “moderate” president Hashemi Rafsanjani once decreed that Israel was a “one bomb country.”
For this reason, we challenged parliamentarians from 17 nations attending this year’s Feast of Tabernacles celebration in October to fully support Israel’s security needs. It was a moving moment when a packed auditorium reached out their hands and prayed for these political leaders gathered on our platform. We need to pray for our leaders to have the strength and wisdom to stand up for Israel’s security and well-being.
2. Pray for Iran.
We must realize that the prayer of faith can have a greater impact in this region than we could have ever imagined. Hebrews 11 is inspiring when it records that great men of faith “conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.”
If the Church will arise and unite in prayer, we can believe in positive changes in the region. We need to pray for Iran, for a change of leadership, an outpouring of God’s mercy on the people and a complete halt to its nuclear program.
3. Pray for Israel.
Also pray for wisdom for Israeli leader Binyamin Netanyahu, as he holds one of the most challenging positions on earth, and his nation is now moving into a critical election season. If there was ever a time to pray for Israel, it is now!