The Ezekiel Option|
Is The Ezekiel Option Coming True?
Recent events in Russia and Iran are raising eyebrows
(CAIRO, EGYPT, December 15, 2005)—Six months have passed since The Ezekiel Option was first published in hardcover. During this time, I have done 130 radio, television, and print interviews; done Q&A sessions in 21 cities on 3 continents; and have been asked about the novel and the Scriptures upon which it is based in private conversations with scores of business executives, military commanders, high-ranking government officials, and religious clerics across North America, North Africa, and the Middle East.
By far, the number one question I am asked is whether I believe The Ezekiel Option is actually beginning to come true. It is an interesting question to ask the author of a work of fiction. But it is a question fueled by people's sense that the novel is anticipating actual events now unfolding in Russia, Iran, and Israel.
Iran Threatens Israel
On page 333 of The Ezekiel Option, for example, a fictional Iranian leader calls for the annihilation of Israel, saying, "The world must understand—the Zionists must be humbled. Death to Israel. … This cancerous Jewish tumor is the most dangerous threat on the face of the earth. But the Night of the Jews is almost over. Allah, we beseech thee, annihilate them with your wrath.'"
On page 358, a fictional Islamic scholar defends Iran's position vis-ŕ-vis Israel, telling the New York Times that "Allah is not on the side of the Jews. He will not be mocked by claims that he is. The world will know who the One True God really is when Israel is wiped off the face of the map forever."
Fiction then seemed to become reality in October when headlines like these appeared around the world:
- Ahmadinejad: Wipe Israel Off Map—Aljazeera.Net (10/26/05)
- Wipe Israel "Off The Map" Says Iranian—New York Times (10/27/05)
- Israel Should Be Wiped Off Map, Says Iran's President—The (U.K.) Guardian (10/27/05)
"Referring to comments by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the Islamic revolution, [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad said, 'As the imam said, Israel must be wiped off the map,'" reported the New York Times. The Iranian leader went on to say that "anybody who recognizes Israel will burn in the fire of the Islamic nation's fury" and any Islamic leader "who recognizes the Zionist regime means he is acknowledging the surrender and defeat of the Islamic world."
The remarks triggered widespread international condemnation, but Ahmadinjad did not back off. On December 9, he gave a speech in Mecca to the Organization of the Islamic Conference. According to the Agence France Presse news service, the Iranian President called Israel a "tumor," questioned whether the Holocaust had ever really happened, and suggested that if Europe was so concerned about the fate of the Jews that they should move Israel to Europe.
Russia Sells Arms to Iran
On page 74 of the novel, a fictional character warns that the Iranians "have been buying the latest weaponry from Moscow" and that "it is only a matter of time before they strike" Israel. On page 140, a fictional senior adviser to the President of Russia meets with the Iranian Ayatollah and the new president of Iran "to formalize the military alliance that had been developing between Russia and Iran" and "to show the Americans that a new global superpower was on the rise."
Just a few days after Ahmadinejad's inflammatory remarks about Israel, these headlines appeared around the world:
- Iran and Russia in $1 Billion Arms Deal—Aljazeera.Net (12/2/05)
- Moscow Inks Arms Deal with Tehran—Moscow Times (12/5/05)
- Russia Agrees to Sell Missiles to Iran—Associated Press (12/5/05)
The Moscow Times reported that Russia had "agreed to supply Tehran with the Tor-M1 air defense system, upgrade Russian-made fighter jets, and deliver patrol boats in a deal that would mark the revival of large-scale arms sales to the Islamic republic." The paper reported that "Russia will deliver up to 30 short-range Tor-M1 air defense systems to Iran between 2006 and 2008." Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov confirmed the deal but insisted it was for defensive purposes only. "This unequivocally will not change the balance of forces in the region," Ivanov told the Russian Interfax news agency.
Aljazeera reported that "one Western diplomat who monitors dealings between Russia and Iran said news of the deal was alarming and would further increase tensions."
"Russia has long positioned itself as a major peace broker between Iran and the West," said the unnamed diplomat. "All of a sudden they are throwing this bombshell. It just does not make any sense."
The Third Lense
Most Western political and intelligence analysts would likely echo the anonymous diplomat's sentiments. Russia's enormous military sales to Iran—especially on top of its sales of nuclear technology to Iran and training of more than 1,000 Iranian nuclear scientists—do not make classic geopolitical sense. Yes, Russia has historically wanted to build alliances in the Persian Gulf region. But with its economic future now tied to the West, why would Russia run the risk of severely harming its relations with the U.S. and European Union? What's more, why would the Kremlin want a nuclear-armed radical Islamic nation to its south, particularly given its long-running and very bloody war with radical Islamists in Chechnya?
That said, it is my contention that viewing the world merely through political and economic lenses does not allow a person to see in three dimensions. One must also analyze events through a third lens, a Scriptural lens. Only then does the full picture become clearer.
On page 224 of The Ezekiel Option, a character named Dr. Eliezer Mordechai explains to a skeptical White House adviser that "a little over twenty-five hundred years ago, a Hebrew prophet named Ezekiel had a vision in which he foresaw a conspiracy that could have been ripped out of this morning's headlines. He saw modern countries then unborn, modern alliances yet unformed, and a day of unspeakable terror, all driven by a tyrant from the north." Dr. Mordechai goes on to explain that chapters 38 and 39 of the Book of Ezekiel speak of a dictator "who would one day take over Russia, form an alliance with Iran and the radical Islamic world, and take up arms against a modern State of Israel."
For those viewing current events through such scriptural lenses, the fact that Russia is building a military alliance with Iran for the first time in human history is actually not so bewildering. For them, the real question is not whether a Russian-Iranian alliance will emerge but whether such an alliance, when it does form, means the fulfillment of the rest of Ezekiel's dramatic prophecy is imminent.
Every provocative headline out of Moscow, Tehran, or Jerusalem seems to make people's curiosity grow and fills my in-box with new e-mails asking questions such as: Is Russian President Vladimir Putin the dictator known as "Gog" of which Ezekiel speaks? Are Russia's arms sales to Iran evidence of Gog's determination to "get ready" and "be prepared" for war, as Ezekiel 38:7 predicts? Do the Iranian President's recent comments suggest a showdown of biblical proportions between Israel and radical Islam is not far off?
My answer may disappoint some. But I must be honest, and all students of Bible prophecy must be cautious, and patient. It is, I believe, too early to give definitive answers to such questions, or to say that Ezekiel's vision is coming to pass in our time. Other specific events would need to occur for us to know with any certainty. But it is not too early to view current events through the lens of Scripture to see if the dots are beginning to connect. Among the issues worth keeping an eye on:
- Will Russia's military alliance with Iran continue to intensify? (I recently met with top Iran experts in the Middle East as well as several Iranian evangelical leaders. I will write about these discussions in a future article.)
- Will Libya, Sudan, and numerous former Soviet republics—particularly those in Islamic Central Asia—begin to ratchet up their anti-Israel rhetoric and develop closer military ties with Moscow?
- Will relations between Turkey, Germany, and Israel—currently quite good—take a sharp turn for the worse?
- Will Israel grow increasingly prosperous, even as Russia and Iran steadily build an alliance against her, as Ezekiel suggests? (In my first novel, The Last Jihad—published in 2002—Israel fictionally discovers massive tracts of oil and natural gas, making the Jewish State enormously prosperous and planting seeds of greed and envy in Russia, Iran, and the Islamic world. Since then, two petroleum companies in Israel have, in fact, discovered large tracts of oil. One found a field with some 980 million barrels of proven reserves. The challenge both companies face is finding a commercially viable way to extract the oil and get it to market. I recently met with three top oil executives working on these projects and will write more about this developing story soon.)
That said, it is worth keeping this intriguing thought in mind. More than two millennia ago, Ezekiel chapters 36 and 37 foretold the dramatic rebirth of modern State of Israel in the last days of history and described how Jews would pour back into the Holy Land after centuries of living in exile. Remarkably, these prophecies have come to pass in our lifetime. Is it really inconceivable, then, that the fulfillment of Ezekiel 38 and 39 could happen soon? Maybe not. Time will tell.
Joel C. Rosenberg is the New York Times best-selling author of The Last Jihad, The Last Days, and The Ezekiel Option, with more than one million copies in print. His next novel, The Copper Scroll, will be released in the Summer of 2006. For more, please visit www.joelrosenberg.com.