In this conversation with New York Times best-selling author Joel Rosenberg, we discuss the war in Israel, the attack by Hamas, and what this all means for students of Bible prophecy.
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Greg Laurie: Hey everybody, Greg Laurie here with an exclusive interview with my friend Joel Rosenberg who is an absolute expert on what is going on in the Middle East. Joel was born in the United States but has actually moved to Israel and is in Jerusalem right now and has dual citizenship as both an American and Israeli citizen.
So I think he’s uniquely qualified to talk about what’s happening there. And also Joel has written many best selling books that deal with issues in the Middle East as well. So, Joel, thank you so much for taking the time to talk just a little bit about what is happening. I think what is unique about this attack, Joel, as you know well, is it isn’t against soldiers.
It’s against women and children. And even babies have been killed and decapitated, and even survivors of the Holocaust have been taken away, some murdered, some now hostages. Why is this happening at this moment in time? And the bigger question: how is it that Israel with its state-of-the-art intelligence and technology and everything else at her disposal did not detect this was coming?
Joel Rosenberg: Well very hard questions, but important ones, but you’re asking two questions. So the first is why why is it happening? Well, There are several answers to that question. The first answer is, is that you have to look not at Hamas. Hamas is a terrorist organization. They’re horrible. They’re basically like ISIS.
But they’re—they don’t control themselves. They’re funded by somebody. The terrorist regime in Iran. They ‘re armed by somebody. That’s the terrorist regime in Iran. They are directed by somebody, and that’s the leaders of Iran. So, it’s not a Hamas operation. It is, tactically.
But this is coming from the leaders, the supreme leader of Iran, and what does the Supreme Leader of Iran want? He wants several things. Ultimately, he wants to commit genocide. He’s been very open. He wants to wipe Israel off the map and kill every Jew that lives here. So that’s the first, his first objective.
But, but he has sub-objectives. To get there, to his genocidal, apocalyptic, end of the world—usher in the coming of their Messiah known as the Mahdi, if you annihilate every Jew and every Christian, to get there, what are they trying to do? Well, they’re trying to lure Israel into a ground war in the Gaza Strip, which we’re going to have to do now. But, but they want to lure us in. Why? We’re the biggest, most powerful military in the entire Middle East. We’re the superpower here. Why would a terrorist organization, small, be directed by a big country like Iran to go after the biggest military in the region, us, Israel?
And the reason is not because the Supreme Leader right now doesn’t just want to see dead Jews. He wants to see dead Palestinians. Why would he want to see dead Palestinians? Because every dead Palestinian will be a television image that will be on MSNBC, CNN, CBS Evening News, the front page of the New York Times, the Washington Post, the LA Times, to turn the script from Israel is, oh, Israel’s the high-tech innovator and they’re making peace with all these Arab countries—maybe Saudi Arabia next?
No, the, the Iranians wanna flip that script to make us look like the monsters of the region when they’re the monsters. Right? So that’s the objective right now. Blow up the peace process and make the whole world think that we’re monsters for doing what? Defending ourselves.
Greg Laurie: Yeah.
Joel Rosenberg: But you’re right. You just described it, and it’s not just 1,200 civilians were murdered. They were set on fire while they were alive. They were burned in their homes. Mothers were shot while their children watched. Children were shot to death while their mothers watched. The babies were decapitated.
This isn’t just wrong, it’s demonic. And that’s what we’re up against, and they infiltrated our homes, and they caught us by surprise. Now, your second question was, how could we get caught by surprise? And the answer is, we don’t know yet. In a general sense, Greg, I’ll keep it short, because I know you’ve had other questions, but the general sense that I think is, the political, military, and intelligence establishment in Israel, I think, got lulled into a false sense of security, in which we are making peace with all of our neighbors, increasingly.
And the Saudis seemed next. And they may still be, but who knows now? And I think they just let their guard down. But the problem is: it’s true that things are getting better in this region, but there are still demons. And if you let the demons out of the cave and let them roam the countryside, they will, you know, let the wolves out.
They’re gonna eat the sheep. And so… That’s what happened, and it’s devastating, and there will be political ramifications and repercussions. But right now, I’ll just say this, Hamas has managed to do in five days what no Israeli was able to do all year, and that’s unify Israel. One of the main opposition leaders is a guy named, that I know personally, Benny Gantz—former Defense Minister and Chief of Staff of the IDF. He, just this afternoon said, yes, he will join Netanyahu. His party will join, and he will help Netanyahu win the war—even though those two don’t see eye to eye on almost anything. So that’s a sliver of hope in a very dark time. This is our darkest hour.
Greg Laurie: You know, you stop and think about, I mean, if we look at this proportionally, this would be like an attack in the United States where 30,000 people were murdered—because it’s hard for us to realize how devastating this is for a nation the size of Israel. But, you know, we’ll often hear about, “Well, no, what about the plight of the Palestinian people?”
And that will be brought forward. But in reality, I don’t think this is about a two-state solution. I think this is about a final solution—to use the verbiage of the Nazis.
When your enemy, Iran, vows publicly over and over again to wipe Israel off the face of the map, how can you negotiate with someone who doesn’t want you to exist? But this is often the way it’s presented—as Israel being in the position of the occupier, the colonial occupying power there, when in reality, God gave this land to Israel.
Joel Rosenberg: This is what we’re up against. Now, in the first five days or so, I would say that the international community and the international media, even the left-wing American media, has actually been pretty sympathetic to Israel, because, because we’re on defense, and I gotta tell you—and this sympathy is good—but why are people sympathetic?
People are sympathetic to Jews when we’re dying, but when we start fighting back—watch, Greg, you know this, but your audience needs to understand that as we start shifting from defense to offense, the United Nations is going to turn against Israel. The members, the left-wing members of Congress, they’re going to turn against Israel.
The American media, the international media, they’re going to turn against Israel, and they’re going to say, you’re the monsters, and already we’ve heard—again, I don’t want to make this political, I’m just saying, you know—a certain Secretary of State, who happens to live in Washington, he’s calling for a de-escalation. He’s calling for a ceasefire. But if you had a school in Orange County, in Riverside, let’s say, and it was an elementary school, and there were maybe three or four mass shooters coming in just, just shooting children with AR-15s, and the SWAT team arrived and all the police arrived and surrounded it, can you imagine if the mayor and of your community said, “Hey,” to the police, “Deescalate, man.”
You gotta cease fire. Cease fire? No, you go arrest those guys, or you blow their heads off. That’s justice. That’s why God says that government wields the sword to bring justice. And it’s not the same. The moral equivalence of terrorists killing babies and chopping their heads off is not the same as the police, or in this case the army, instituted by God to protect and to crush the enemy, and that’s, but that level of moral equivalence—but in a world where people don’t know who men and women are, you know, are they gonna know what right and wrong is what, who are the good guys and bad guys?
So watch for this.
Greg Laurie: Yeah.
Joel Rosenberg: It’s why I do what I do with all original news and my show on TBN, the Rosenberg Report to try to get the truth out there and, and educate Christians so they can pray and help in a very, you know, with knowledge.
Greg Laurie: Right. Let’s sort of pull the camera back ’cause you know, you’re definitely an expert on Bible prophecy. You’ve written about it in your novels, but you speak on it. Talking about Iran backing Hamas. That seems to me to be an established fact that Iran is backing Hamas. And we know that there’s a close relationship now that has developed between Iran and Russia that’s very unique.
And it’s only happened fairly recently. And I don’t understand why that would be in question with our government as to the Iranian connection to Hamas. I know you’ve spoken out about that. What are your thoughts?
Joel Rosenberg: Well, unfortunately leaders at the highest level in the United States are saying that they don’t see any connection between this attack, and they don’t say—they say we have no evidence that it was directed by Iran.
Wait a minute, in a court of law in Orange County, if somebody holds a gun and points it at you and it goes off, let’s say Alec Baldwin, but let’s—you know, let’s take him out of the—but like, “I didn’t mean it, I didn’t know it was going to happen,” but if you aim a loaded gun at somebody’s face and it goes off.
You’re guilty of murder, maybe manslaughter, but you can’t say—so Iran has built Hamas into a terrorist organization, given them weapons, given them training, given them money, and if you say at the last minute, well, they didn’t give the direction, maybe, on this specific, like, “Go do this,” they’re still guilty.
So, why would the American government right now be letting Iran, the biggest terror regime on the planet, why let them off the hook? But I think we will find out that there was actually directives. It doesn’t really matter. You know, you have to be willfully blind to to say that Iran is not in charge.
Now, the danger is, and this is what’s up on All Israel News right now as our lead story, the risk is that Iran will direct another terrorist organization, known as Hezbollah, in Lebanon to launch a second front against us. Hezbollah is much bigger, much stronger. They have 150,000 missiles, much more powerful, even with precision guidance.
So the rockets that come out of Gaza—it’s like a Russian roulette, they just point in one way and they just go, but they don’t have precision guidance. Many of the missiles coming out of Lebanon do, so the danger is—I wrote a novel about that too, The Beirut Protocol, that was two years ago, like, that scenario that I wrote about fictionally, let’s pray it’s fiction, but it might not be.
Now prophetically, all right, let’s do the short version of the prophecies. Look, could this set into motion the War of Gog and Magog? It could, but it’s not playing out right now the way the text says, so I think that’s unlikely. I think, here’s what’s more likely. Israel is making peace with all of its neighbors, increasingly, but until—but Ezekiel 38 says that Israelis are feeling—are living securely in the land.
Greg Laurie: That’s right.
Joel Rosenberg: And they don’t have gates and bars. Well, we have a wall between us and Gaza, but they blew it up, and there’s a wall between Israel and the West Bank. That’s why we’ve been so secure. Those walls probably won’t exist when the war of Gog and Magog actually takes place. So what would have to happen?
Well, by killing so many Jews, Israelis no—Israeli government no longer can say, well, we’ll try to do a few pinprick airstrikes. No, we’re preparing for a full-on invasion, and what will happen? It will be bloody. Greg, your people have to be prepared that they’re going to see terrible casualties on the Israeli side.
And many of my friends, young men—I had two sons that served in the army, but they— one, you know, one of them in a special forces unit, he was so badly injured in his time in the army that they don’t—they’re not calling them back up in reserve, but I have, they’ve got, friends that are in right now. They’re on the board. They’re ready to go in. I think what’s going to happen—I think there’s going to be a full-on invasion, and it’s going to be very bloody, and there’s going to be a lot of deaths on both sides, a lot of casualties, but then I think Hamas will have been cleaned out, finally, from Gaza, and then a moderate government, hopefully, will be established, and they, and they’ll want to rebuild and, you know, have a peaceful life on the Mediterranean, and, you know, they could have a Palestinian paradise.
Remember, Israel doesn’t occupy the Gaza Strip. In 2005, our Prime Minister pulled all Israeli civilians and all Israeli soldiers out of the Gaza Strip and gave the territory to the Palestinian people as a gift, saying, “Look, you want it, we don’t. There it is. It’s yours. Have a paradise. Build a paradise.”
But they built a terror—I mean, Hamas took over and built a terror regime instead. So we need to be praying for the two million Palestinians who live under the reign of terror of Hamas. We have compassion on them. We gotta pray that the leaders of Hamas will convert to Jesus or die. And then we got to pray that this war will be successful, and it’ll be over.
And then there may be an actual defeat formally and finally of the Palestinian armed resistance movement. And they’ll finally say, look, rather than peace we’ve all—the Palestinian leadership has always wanted, they don’t want peace with Israel, they want peace instead of Israel, they want all of Israel, but if they finally lose the way the Japanese lost, I mean, not with nuclear weapons, I’m not saying that, the way the Japanese, the Germans, once a country is fully defeated, they can become peaceful and go, “All right, we,” you know, “we’re, we’re not going to fight anymore, let’s build a healthy society,” that’s what we want. And if that were to happen over the next few months, years, that would really set into motion as something that right now feels so dark, but could in fact be part of God’s prophetic plan.
We’ll have to see.
Greg Laurie: Yeah. You know, 2 Chronicles 7:14 is often quoted, but in this particular situation, it’s really contextual because it was given by God to Israel. When He says, “If my people which 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, forgive their sin, and heal their land.”
Joel, tell us a little bit about the spiritual state of Israel, specifically focused on the church. And by that, I mean, believers in Jesus. I know you have. Messianic Jews like yourself who have embraced Jesus as your Messiah. But then there are Gentiles in the Arab world— people who’ve come to Christ as well—in Palestine.
So talk about the work of the Holy Spirit among people on both sides of this conflict right now in Israel.
Joel Rosenberg: Sure. Well, two things on that. The first thing is God often allows, and we see this all throughout scripture, he allows terrible things to happen to Israel. to wake us up, shake us, and it’s not that—it’s not that the evil is the thing that God wants, but He’s gonna—He sort of lets go of Israel a bit, and lets the evil come that Satan is—why?
To get people to turn to Him. And unfortunately most Israelis are not looking to Jesus. They’re not looking to the Bible. They don’t read the Bible. So, as you know, we started 17 years ago, my wife and me, a ministry called the Joshua Fund. And over the last 17 years, by the total grace of God, we were sort of blown away by the whole thing.
The Lord has allowed us to raise and invest almost a hundred million dollars in strengthening the local church in Israel and the Palestinian territories—and Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt, and humanitarian relief, and my main focus, educating the church to understand God’s love and plan for Israel and our neighbors and the prophecies over the future and how to invest in and strengthen the church today so it can fulfill the Great Commission, which has not been fulfilled in 2,000 years.
You know, we, we often say, Greg, I’ve said it to you, if it were easy to reach Israel with the gospel, it would have been done by now. It’s the first country. He came to his own. the Jews, and his own received them not. But we are heading towards a Romans 11:26 world, where all Israel will get saved. So to make that concise, the Joshua Fund is literally on the front lines.
I mean, we have humanitarian relief, teams all over the country on a normal day, but especially right now. And people could, you know, if they’re thinking, well, how do I help? Help through the Joshua Fund. Not only are we doing the gospel and strengthening pastors and, and equipping the church in very practical and specific ways, but we’re doing humanitarian relief all through the local churches so that—nobody knows about the Joshua Fund in Israel. But they receive the humanitarian relief and the emergency aid through local Israeli and Palestinian believers who love Jesus and speak the language and are your neighbors. That’s the most practical way to bless Israel right now. And the needs are enormous.
Greg Laurie: Oh, absolutely. And for anybody watching this, I completely endorse what you’re doing and you’ve been doing it for so long and doing it so well.
So I just wanted to close: Thank you again for this time. But how can we best pray for you and the nation right now of Israel?
Joel Rosenberg: Well, I appreciate it. Well, for the nation, obviously, we need to pray that our leaders, yes, come together. I’m encouraged by today. We broke the story, actually, at All Israel News. Nobody else had reported yet that there was going to be this unity government, but we, we broke that story, and it’s now being confirmed. So, remember the scriptures that say the sons of Issachar were men who understood the times and knew what Israel should do. Right. We need to pray because none of our leaders know Jesus personally, and so, and most aren’t even religious, they don’t read the Bible.
So that’s why we have to intercede, right? That’s what the Christians do. We intercede for people who don’t have the wisdom of God because they don’t have God’s spirit in them. We need to do that. We need to pray and intercede for Israelis and Palestinians who are grieving right now. And they’re not going to experience the peace that passes all comprehension, because they don’t know the God of peace.
But we can intercede, just like Abraham interceded for Sodom and Gomorrah, and I’m not saying Israel is Sodom and Gomorrah right now, but, but that’s intercession, right? Just as Jesus prayed and wept over the city of Jerusalem, saying, my people don’t even understand this, Lord, help them, even from the cross, “Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they’re doing.”
So those are the ways to pray—comfort, healing, victory, rescuing the hostages, but also praying for the believers to be witnesses. I know a lot of believers who are in the combat units, they’re getting ready to go into harm’s way, and they may never come home, but they may be a witness, a bold witness for Yeshua, Jesus, while they’re in motion.
And then for us, you’re asking, look, we need courage. We need stamina. It is around the clock here. And you know, we need to be walking in the Spirit every moment. It’s easy to get so frantic trying to serve the Lord in a crisis that you’re starting to move past your supply lines. You’re not sitting and having a good quiet time.
You know, you’re praying, but it’s like you’re eating cotton candy throughout the day. Like, you’re not—the Lord’s with you, but you need to slow down and just let the Lord speak. Thinking of one last thing, Elijah and Elisha. It was Elisha and his young servant, you know, young servant wakes up, gets out of the tent, you know, looks around, he’s surrounded by an enemy and he’s freaking out and Elisha says something.
He says, Lord, open his eyes that he can see that there’s more of us than them. And, you know, you can feel it in the scriptures, you know, it doesn’t say it, but the guy must have been like, you gotta be kidding me. What’s this guy smoking? But Elisha prayed, the young man’s eyes were opened. And he saw the chariots of fire.