The Table Podcast

Ministering in the Middle East

In this episode, Dr. Darrell Bock and Joel Rosenberg discuss better understanding and ministering to people in the Middle East.

Rosenberg introduces the Joshua Fund
Rosenberg's novels and Middle East involvement
Radical, apocalyptic, and normative expressions of Islam
What are the 90% who are not radical or apocalyptic?
The state of Islam around the world
Bringing the gospel to Muslims
Bringing the Gospel to the Jews
What percentage of Muslims support Sharia Law?
Romans 1:16 and evangelism
Muslim interest in prophecy
Contrasting God's plans and human plans
Darrell Bock
Welcome to the Table Podcast, where we discuss issues of God and culture, brought to you by Dallas Theological Seminary.

I think you know who I am. This is Joel Rosenberg. It’s a pleasure to have Joel with us. What you don’t know – I asked the Hendricks Center stuff. By the way, let’s thank Kim Cook, Pam Cole, Heather Zimmerman, who helped make this possible. [applause]

I put together a tape of music at the start, and she was telling me – people would have a strange look about what this music was and that kind of thing. What you’ve got to realize is that you’ve got two Messianic Jews up here, who are about to engage in a conversation.

You might pray about that. And so the music that you were listening to when you came in, that sounded strange and foreign, was strange and foreign because it was Messianic Jewish music. So now, everyone’s going to want to buy the MP3 on the way out.

Joel, it’s a real pleasure to have you with us.

Joel Rosenberg
Thank you.
Dr. Darrell Bock
I’m going to introduce Joel, so that those of you who don’t know who he is, can find out, but most of you know. He’s a New York Times best-selling author. He’s written many books. I think this is one of the latest ones, if I’m not mistaken, The Third Target. And we’ve got others.

And what we’re going to do is a giveaway in a minute. Joel is involved in a ministry called, The Joshua Fund. Do you want to tell us a little bit about what that is?

Joel Rosenberg
Sure. Basically, when I started writing novels and they were all about disasters in the Middle East, and I began to get a sense form people thinking – well, okay, what do we do to actually make a difference, rather than just read one of your books? My wife and I didn’t have an answer for that.

So as we prayed about it, we ended up starting a ministry called, The Joshua Fund. It’s to mobilize Christians to bless Israel and her neighbors, in the name of Jesus, according to the Abraham at Covenant, Genesis 12:1-3. We believe that, even though I’m Jewish and want to reach my people with the Gospel, that God also loves the Palestinians, and the Syrians, and the Iraqis, and all the neighbors. So, that’s what we do. We think of ourselves somewhat as a hedge fund or a venture capital fund for ministries.

So, in other words, we will raise this money, and then invest it in ministries that are both educating the church about what God’s heart is for the region, as well as ministries that are doing evangelism, discipleship, church planting, pastor encouragement, and humanitarian relief, given the poverty and the trauma of disaster and refugees in the region. |

So that’s the objective. And that’s the side venture. I mean, that’s no really the main thing we do, but – I would just do that if I could, but the more people I know – no. Be a novelist.

Dr. Darrell Bock
And how recently was it that you moved to Israel?
Joel Rosenberg
We moved to Israel in August of 2014. I’m married to my wife, Lynn, for 25 years. We met at Syracuse University, in Campus Crusade for Christ. We have four sons, and they have all come with us. They are 21, 19, 17, and a precocious 11. Caleb, Jacob, Jonah, and Noah. And people say [crosstalk] –
Dr. Darrell Bock
So you want to get back to the flood?
Joel Rosenberg
Yeah. Exactly. When people say – why do you have a Noah? You have this big gap between Jonah and Noah? I’ll say – well, that’s because Jesus said, in Matthew 24, that he’s not coming back again until the days of Noah. So we thought, if we’re holding him back, we’d better have a Noah.

Yeah, we moved there in August of 2014. It happened to be at a time when the Palestinian terrorists of Gaza were firing 4,500 thank-you presents to welcome the Rosenbergs. We’re so glad you’re here. Why don’t you just run to a bomb shelter immediately?

Do not pass go. Do not collect 200 shekels. That was an exciting way to start.

Dr. Darrell Bock
That’s exactly right. What I’m going to do is, we’re going to talk about Israel, Islam, and the Middle East.
Joel Rosenberg
Just the easy topics tonight.
Dr. Darrell Bock
That’s right. If we get to the Middle East it’ll be interesting. And so, Joel, I thought could begin by giving us kind of a short summary of the topic, and then I’m going to interview him for a short period. Then we’ll take a touch of a break. And then there’ll be time for questions from the floor. You can see the microphones on the corner. So, if you want to ask questions, you can do that. I’ll just note that we are recording this for the Table. So anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law, because it will go public. So, just keep that in mind as you interact with Joel.

So, Joel, the floor is yours.

Joel Rosenberg
Thank you, Darrell. What a joy. Nice to be hear. Let me just start with just a few minutes, to give you a little bit of context, and then I’m happy to go wherever you want the conversation to go. I’m a failed political consultant. That’s my actual professional pedigree.

Everyone that I ever worked for, lost. [Laughter] You laugh because it’s not your career. I helped Steve Forbes lose two presidential campaigns and about $70 million of his daughter’s inheritance money. I worked for Jack Kemp and Bill Bennett, both of whom decided not to run, even though they were leading in the polls.

I worked for Natan Sharansky, the deputy prime minister of Israel. He got so frustrated with politics, he quit entirely. I worked for Prime Minister Netanyahu on his comeback campaign team, in the year 2000. It took him nine years to come back. I played no useful role.

So this was my life. And I decided to get out, to get out of politics. I went through political detox. I got out. I got clean. Though, in 2016, I need a patch for all the political activity going on out there now. My friends always are trying to get me to work for some campaign that they want to lose. [Laughter] But anyway, God pulled me out of that.

So I shifted out of politics and decided to start making things up for a living. Fortunately, we have a title for that – a novelist. But my friends thought I was making things up when I was working for the political folks. My first novel was called, The Last Jihad, and I began writing it in January of 2001. The Last Jihad, the first page, puts you inside the cockpit of a jet plane, coming in on a Kamikaze attack mission, into an American city.

Now this was nine months before September 11th. The plot leads from the Kamikaze attack, to an American President launching a war, to take out Sadam Hussein and his regime in Iraq. That book I was finishing on the morning of September 11th of 2001.

In the town house where my wife and kids and I were living at the time, 15 minutes away from the Washington-Dallas Airport where, at that moment, Flight 77, from American Airlines, was being hijacked, turned around, flown over our house, and into the Pentagon.

And, you know, the novel didn’t release until November of 2002, and no one had ever heard of it. No one had ever heard of me. But because the book just seemed ripped out of the headlines – the ones that had happened, and then we were in the midst of this massive national and global debate over whether we should go to war in Iraq.

And so the book hit right into that moment. Now don’t go to where, whether you think we should have or shouldn’t have. Think about you as a first novelist, writing a novel about whether we do or not, and then suddenly – boom. And I had never been on radio or television in my life.

And in 60 days, I was on 160 radio and TV shows. One of them was in my home town of Rochester, New York, where I grew up. And I’ll just say that – actually, my first interview was with Hannity Radio and then on Hannity on television. That’s how I started.

It was daunting. I felt like Marsha Brady looking into the camera going… Anyway, that’s an old reference. [Laughter] But the next day, I was on a radio show for my home town, and I don’t remember it. My publishers didn’t think – nobody knew me, so it was hard to find people.

I knew Hannity because I had worked with him for a while. I hadn’t helped him to lose anything. But nobody knew me, so they thought, well, home town – we’ll go to a radio show there and try to get him on something. Obviously many more were interested.

But, all that to say, this guy was on a rock station. I don’t know if it was the only station they could find that wanted to interview me. So this was my second interview. So it’s Wednesday morning. The book came out Tuesday, and I’m on the show with a guy named, Brother Weiss, on a rock station.

I remember the station. I didn’t listen to it because I wasn’t a rocker as they were in the day. So anyway, he’s like – dude. This is amazing. How could you have known the Muslims were going to hijack a plane and fly into a city. And I said, well I didn’t know.

And he went – well, this is amazing. And then this whole thing with Iraq, and now here we were. And he says – are you a Heeb? I said, I’m sorry, what? He said – a Heeb. A Hebrew. Are you a Hebrew? I’m Jewish. Are you? I said – oh, okay. You know I thought, Hebrew National Hot Dog.

What am I? I’d never actually been called that. So I was just totally unprepared. I said – well, I’m Jewish on my father’s side, and gentile on my mom’s side. I said – why do you ask? He said – well, at the end of your book, you’ve got all of these characters, and they’re all talking about Jesus, don’t they?

I said, well, yes. What are you, an evangelical? A born again? It just sounded radioactive coming off of his tongue, right? [Laughter] So I said, well Mr. Weiss, I believe that Jesus is the Messiah. Yes, I do. He said – well, I don’t understand that. How can you be Jewish and believe in Jesus?

I said – well, again, Brother Weiss, it is an interesting story, but I am sure you don’t have time for me to get into it on the show. We can talk about the novel. No, no, no, no. Listen, listen. It’s one thing to have a guy who writes fiction and it comes true. To talk to a guy like that, that’s one thing.

But to have Jew who believes in Jesus, this I’ve got to hear, son. And so he held me on until after the break and forced me to give my testimony.

Dr. Darrell Bock
What a thing.
Joel Rosenberg
And it was exciting. And that set into motion so many programs, where, we not only talked about the geopolitical realities of being threatened by radical Islam – not all of Islam, but radical Islam – and what that means, and why I had written a book like this.

But with so many of the shows – a high percentage – people would say – how can you be a name like, Rosenberg, and believe in Jesus? What is that? And that was the most exciting thing, Darrell. I’d never even imagined. We prayed for the Lord to use this novel in some way to be useful for the Kingdom.

And that’s really what set my new career into motion. And, believe me. Nobody’s more surprised than me, except for my wife.

Dr. Darrell Bock
So now you’re a winning novelist.
Joel Rosenberg
There’s three million copies in print. They’ve all been New York Times best-sellers. Now that you know that I’m a failed political consultant, you know that I couldn’t have done this. Listen, I had never even taken a class on writing a novel. I didn’t even read novels as much.

I mean I lived in Washington, and I read non-fiction. I rarely, even Clancy and Grisham. I’m Jewish, but I’m one of the few Jewish people in America that didn’t get the financial gene. I’m not your stockbroker, or your accountant, or your hedge fund manager.

I’m not your doctor, or your lawyer, or your chiropractor. I sort of didn’t get the whole, very lucrative set of skills that most Jews get. I got the gift of making things up. But the Lord has used that, the more that I was willing to surrender it, and I’m just shocked at what has happened, but gratified.

And the doors that have opened for the Gospel with Jews, with Muslims, with others – it really is more than I could have hoped for, dreamt of, or imagined.

Dr. Darrell Bock
Well, let’s talk about Israel and Islam in the Middle East. And I really like the way you help people sort through thinking about Islam. So I’m going to ask you a very specific question, and that is, the difference between radical Islam, apocalyptic Islam, and Islam?
Joel Rosenberg
And how much time did you say we had?
Dr. Darrell Bock
You need to do this in 30 words or less. No. [Laughs]
Joel Rosenberg
I want to be clear. And I pick up a point I made a moment ago, but only in passing. We’re not talking about 1.6 billion Muslims that are the danger. If you look at all the research that has been done, and a lot of research has been done – the Gallop Poll, Pew Research have done just massive surveys throughout all the Arab world, the Islamic world.

The studies keep coming back, so somewhere between seven and 10 percent of the Islamic world subscribe to a violent, Jihadist theology or ideology. So you can say, and you should say, that the vast majority of Muslims are not violent.

Now, the seven to 10 percent doesn’t mean they’re necessarily engaged in violence. But if you ask them questions from every which way, you find out that they support ISIS. The support suicide bombing, that they believe in these types of things.

And so you begin to categorize them and say – all right, well this is a group that believes in violent Jihad. So the good news is that 90 percent of them don’t. But in a world of 1.6 billion Muslims, 10 percent is 160 million people. So if you were to group them all in their own country, the Islamic Republic of Radicalstan, for example, this would be half of the size of the United States.

This would be the eighth or ninth largest country on the planet. So it’s not insignificant. The issue isn’t that the vast majority aren’t like this. We should say it. That’s good. And we should affirm it. And a growing number of the 90 percent are looking at the 10 and going – or the four, or the two, and thinking – if that’s Islam, I don’t want to be a part of it.

So, that’s the vast majority. Then you break it down to the radicals. Radicals are people who believe that Islam is the answer and Jihad is the way, to all the problems that they face. And the shortest way to put it is that, radical Islam seeks to attack us as infidels – Jews, Christians, Pagans on the West – whatever religion or act thereof.

The goal of attacking us is to get us to leave their holy lands and their holy places. So they’re using violence to achieve an end, which is to get us to leave their part of the world. That’s radical Islam as fast as I can summarize it. That’s Al Qaeda. That’s the Taliban. That’s the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, and so forth.

So that’s radical Islam. Now a subset of radical Islam is what I call apocalyptic Islam. This is the theme of my new series, The Third Target, and the most recent one, The First Hostage. Apocalyptic Muslims are all radicals and they’re all Muslims. Not every Muslim is a radical, but every radical is a Muslim, within this context.

And not every radical is an apocalyptic Muslim, but every apocalyptic Muslim is a radical Muslim. Radical Islam wants to attack us. Apocalyptic Islam openly speaks of annihilating us. Why? They don’t want to just remove us from a region?

They are trying to set up a regional kingdom or Caliphate for their messiah, so-called, the Mahdi, to come. And he will then establish a global Islamic kingdom, and he will establish justice and peace in their eschatology. So this is important. It’s important in public policy to understand the difference between Islam, radical Islam, and apocalyptic Islam.

The reason apocalyptic Islam is so important, and why I’m writing about it now is because the leaders of two nation states – not just one, but two – are driven by this. Iran – their leaders are driven by this apocalyptic eschatology, and the leaders of ISIS, the Islamic state, are driven by it.

They have differences. We can talk about them if you’d like, but what’s important is to understand, this is substantively, significantly, quantitatively different and much more dangerous than just radical Islam, and certainly, the broader Islamic world.

Dr. Darrell Bock
I want to come back to the large group. When you were talking about [crosstalk] –
Joel Rosenberg
Let me just say this. It’s not just important for public policy, I failed to say, it’s important in terms of the church, to understand this in terms of the Gospel, and in terms of the mission.
Dr. Darrell Bock
So we say that 90 percent of Muslims are not either apocalyptic or radical, so what are they?
Joel Rosenberg
I wrote a book called, Inside the Revolution in 2009. That’s a non-fiction book, very heavy, enlarged, end-time. I don’t know I did that. But anyway, the story is a gift that keeps on giving, so my editor didn’t have the heart to stop me. In the book, I divide the book into three sections.

I wasn’t focusing much on apocalyptic at the time. It sort of emerged in my clarity of thinking. But the radicals is part one. The reformers are part two. And the revivalists are part three. All of them are important. But then there’s others. The vast majority, I would say, are the rank and file, meaning, they’re not playing tennis.

They’re in the stands at Wimbledon, and they’re watching the radicals take on the reformers. The reformers are like King Abdullah, of Jordan, President al-Sisi, in Egypt, King Mohammed VI in Morocco. Previously, you would have said, the Turks; although, under Erdogan, things have gone crazy.

But people who are saying – Islam is the answer but violent jihad is not the way – you know, we need reform. We need change. We need openness, and moderation, and we need to open things up not shut things down in terms of Islam. But the vast majority of Muslims are rank and file.

They are watching the debate, and they have very little voice. But what happens matters, and they’re struggling with – what is the definition of Islam? Because the radicals, and certainly the apocalyptics, are saying – here’s the chapters. Here’s the verses.

Don’t tell us we’re not Muslims. And then King Abdullah, and King Mohammed, they came out and – no, no, no. So I have a chapter, if you’re interested, in Inside the Revolution in the radical section, the Theology of the Radicals. I go specifically to their Quran and the Hadith, sort of their Talmud, as it were.

Dr. Darrell Bock
Their tradition.
Joel Rosenberg
Their other traditions. And I say – what do the radicals say? What’s their theological argument, so we understand it? And there are verses that you can draw right out of the Quran and the Hadith that talk about these types of violence and then justify it. But then in the reformer section, I’ve got a chapter called, the Theology of the Reformers.

When they say, no, no, no, the radicals are hijacking our religion – what’s their theological case? And it’s fascinating to read it side-by-side. And the shortest way to put it is – both cases are actually in the text. And the simplest way to understand it is that, in the course of the life of Mohammed, he changed from trying to win over Jews and Christians as, people of the book.

That’s the language he was using when he was trying to say – and I’m the completion of your prophets. I’m the last prophet. I’m the one that Moses said was coming and everyone had to listen to me, he said. And so when he was trying to win them over – oh, we’re all people of the book, sort of the Rodney King version of Islam theology.

Can’t we all just get along – you know, back in the ‘90s in LA? Okay, never mind. That sort of ecumenical sense of it. But once he realized that the Jews and the Christians weren’t going to buy this, he turned violent. And the language of violence, of killing Jews and Christians, this began to emerge.

So you have both. And the good news is, most Muslims don’t read the text – that’s good. Or they don’t study it, or they don’t understand it, or they’re not being taught a radical version of it. But once you start to press in, all of those violent verses are there, and so this is where the radicals and the apocalyptic Muslims justify this.

And so the rank and file is watching the debate, which is just at a feverish pitch right now. And they’re struggling. They can’t speak out loud for fear of being arrested, or beaten, or killed. But they’re internally wondering – if the radicals are right, is that me? And those that are saying it is, they’re joining and becoming foreign fighters. If they’re saying – that’s ridiculous.

If that’s Islam, I can’t be part of that – they’re beginning to turn on satellite television or go on the web and begin searching. What’s true? Because if it’s not this, and this is my whole culture in life, what is true? Is there a God? How do I know him? And this is what God is doing.

The God of the Bible is letting the radicals and the apocalyptic Muslims create a firestorm. It’s satanically driven, but the sovereignty of God is allowing it to happen. Why? To shake the Muslim world like it’s never bene shaken in 14 centuries, to get people to think.

Islam does not encourage thinking. It means submission. You do not think. You do not question. You do not ask. And now they’re questioning. Now they’re thinking. Now they’re asking. And many are coming to Christ. More Muslims have come to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and have renounced Islam, in the last 40 years, than in the last 14 centuries, and I think there’s much more to come.

Dr. Darrell Bock
So if we put this all together, where it leaves us is that we’ve got a situation in which the radicalizing of Islam has produced a discomfort for many Muslims. I’m familiar with a ministry called, Iran Alive. I am sure you know what I’m talking about.
Joel Rosenberg
Dr. Darrell Bock
Actually, its headquartered in Carrollton, here in Texas.
Joel Rosenberg
Hormoz Shariat.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yes. That’s right.
Joel Rosenberg
A dear friend.
Dr. Darrell Bock
A dear friend.
Joel Rosenberg
I’ve been with him in December.
Dr. Darrell Bock
We’ve been at conferences where he has spoken and where we’ve both spoken at well.
Joel Rosenberg
I call him the Billy Graham of Iran.
Dr. Darrell Bock
And he’s talking about millions of Muslims who watch his show by satellite, many of whom have come to the Lord. The other stories that we hear are about refugees in places like Lebanon, where the church’s ministry to Muslims has actually brought many Muslims to Christ.

So I’m assuming you’re hearing these stories as well.

Joel Rosenberg
We’re hearing them because we’re engaged in them. The Joshua Fund funds – 20 percent of our funding goes to ministries in the Arab world – Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, and Iraq. I’ve been on four trips into Iraq, so far and Jordan numerous times. Actually, I was in Jordan doing research for these books.

I met with the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister, the Interior Minister, one of the Princes. So we are working on the ground with refugees, with the persecuted church, and we’re operating at several different levels, trying to share the gospel with anyone and everyone we can, but mostly to help local ministries do that work.

So we’re getting first-hand intel back, and that’s the key. You have to understand that darkness is falling. Evil is on the offensive in the Middle East and North Africa, and the forces of freedom are in retreat, much of that because the United States, is physically in retreat.

That being said, this is the greatest era for the Gospel in history. So Hormoz Shariat, the head of this ministry, a former Shia Muslim, who came to Christ here in the United States, after being a radical Muslim, shouting – death to America, death to America. Then he and his wife thought, well maybe not death to America quite yet.

We’d like to go to graduate school over there. [Laughter] And it was here in the United States, actually in Southern California, that they both nearly got a divorce, but then both came to faith in Jesus Christ. Now he would say – listen, Joel. From a human rights perspective.

From an American perspective, I would love to see Iran open up and have a real reformer government. But I will tell you, this is the perfect storm of conditions right now that’s causing 80 million Muslims in Iran to head towards the exits, at least in their hearts and minds, about Islam. The 40 something years of radical and apocalyptic Islam that they are living under is so horrific, that this is what’s causing Muslims to think – I’m out. And there are millions of Muslims in Iran who have come to Christ.

And, as a Jew, I’m incredibly jealous. We’re not seeing that level of response to the Gospel yet. We’re seeing more openness among Jews than ever before. We might end up covering some of that. But you couldn’t have asked for a better government, from the perspective of the Gospel, than the Ayatollah Khomeini and the Ayatollah Jomeini. And this helps.

As American believers, we just have to constantly think, there’s a public policy perspective, and then there’s Jesus foreign policy. These are not in contradiction. The American government should be protecting us from apocalyptic and radical Muslims, and neutralizing their nuclear forces and all the rest of that.

At the same time, the church has a separate agenda. We’re not supposed to be defeating and neutralizing our enemy. We’re supposed to be loving them, and sharing the Gospel with them, and even loving, and serving, and praying for them. So we’ve got to think Biblically about these things, and understand there’s different roles for government and for the church, or we’re going to miss the moment.

Dr. Darrell Bock
I have some friends who minister in Albania. They’re dealing with some of the refugees coming out of the Middle East. And they’re doing very creative things like, when someone enters into their country, they’re giving them a cell phone, so they can communicate with one another.

But, in the cell phone, and they ask they Muslims who they’re giving the cell phone to, saying – we’re going to give you a cell phone. But on the cell phone, there also is in the chip, a Bible. Would you be interested in having it and reading it? And many, many of the refugees say yes.

And so when he was describing this ministry to me over an email, I was just amazed at one, the creativity of it, and two, the opportunity that it created because what happens in some cases is that they’re reading these texts and starting to ask questions about what it is that they’re reading.

Joel Rosenberg
Amen. And we’re seeing a similar thing. We don’t do it with cell phones, but we’re providing basically a little MP3 player that has the New Testament in the local language and ear buds. And so what happens is, they can listen. You know, they’ve got nothing to do in these refugee camps.

And so you can sit around and listen to the Bible. My first experience with this – at first I thought, I don’t know – is that going to work? And this was a number of years ago. And so, one of my friends on our staff said let me take some into the region and let’s just see what the pastors say, if they can use them.

A long story short, my friend dropped some of these for a guy who said – we’ve never used anything like this, but sure. Leave some, and we’ll see what happens. Well this guy worked for The Bible Society, and a Muslim woman, a veiled woman, came in one day and asked for a Bible.

She was looking all around. She was very nervous. He gave her an Arabic New Testament. She slipped it in and took off. A week or two later, she came back in tears because her husband had found the Bible and yelled at her, screamed at her, and told her – don’t ever let this be in this house again and she said – I’ve got to bring it back.

And so, she left it on the desk and started to head to the door. And she was crying and suddenly this guy remembered – oh, wait, I have these MP3 players. He said – wait, wait, wait, ma’am. And he explained what it was and he said – would you want this?

And she said, oh, yes. So what she would do – she would put it under her veil while she was vacuuming or washing the dishes, and her husband was watching al Jazeera, and she was listening to –

Dr. Darrell Bock
Vacuuming with Jesus.
Joel Rosenberg
Yeah, and nobody was the wiser. So God is using all kinds of creative ways, but it requires to say – yes. These people are lost. But they’re trapped by satan. And we were trapped by satan, and thank God, someone didn’t say – nuke them until they glow.

They said to us – hey. Darrell needs Jesus. Joel needs Jesus. You need Jesus. And we’ve got to see these people as hostages. They’re not the enemy. They are often agents of the enemy, but so was Saul. And we’re very happy – you in particular [Laughter] with a story that Luke tells us of the power of how Christ transformed a religious Jewish terrorist, in Damascus, I might ask, or at least on the road to it. And, you know, there’s other people on the road to Damascus that need Jesus right now. So this is the heart we have to have. It comes from the scriptures.

Matthew chapter 4 is all about how, as Jesus preaches the Gospel of the Kingdom, the news spreads to all Syria. Well, what a great verse. We need to Good News of the Gospel, not the Caliphate, the Gospel of the Kingdom of Christ to go throughout all of Syria right now.

But it takes risks. It takes courage, and it takes a belief that Matthew 24:14 is true. This Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in the whole world, as a testimony to all nations, and then the end shall come. And that’s the difference between apocalyptic Islam and Biblical eschatology.

Apocalyptic eschatology says their job is to kill as many people as possible, and then their Messiah will come. And Christ told us, in Matthew 24:14, try to save as many people as possible, in the power of the Holy Spirit, and then the Lord will come to set up His Kingdom.

This is the photographic negative of these two eschatologies. We both want a kingdom. We both believe the Messiah is coming soon. But their goal is genocide, and our objective is the Gospel.

Dr. Darrell Bock
Well, we’ve got time for questions. So if you have a question, go ahead and line up at the mikes. Let’s talk a little bit about the ministry that goes on to the Jewish community that you’re a part of, and then we’ll start to take questions from the floor.
Joel Rosenberg
The Lord has, again, opened up these doors for me. Just my narrow angle – my father came to faith in 1973. He was raised orthodox Jewish in Brooklyn. His family of orthodox Jews had escaped out of Russia, in the early years of the twentieth century, when the Czar was overseeing the pogroms, and they got out.

By the grace of God, they got to the United States, and like any good Jewish family, they set up a shop in Brooklyn. I’m not sure where a good Jewish family would live, but if it wasn’t Brooklyn, I’m sure it’s fine.

Dr. Darrell Bock
Yeah. It’s in the city.
Joel Rosenberg
Okay. But when my father came to faith in 1973, six months after my mom, he thought he was the first Jew since the Apostle Paul who believed this stuff. He had never heard of a Jew who believed in Jesus. He had never heard of this. He had never met one. And in 1973, there weren’t that many.

What year did you come to faith?

Dr. Darrell Bock
In 1976.
Joel Rosenberg
And I was 1975. God was moving His Spirit, not just among Jews, but the whole Jesus movement. All that to say, I didn’t know I was Jewish until the fifth grade. You’re like – your name is Joel Rosenberg. You must have been the dumbest kid in the class.

Nevertheless, I didn’t know because my parents didn’t tell me. My father had had such bad experiences with Jewishness that he didn’t want to talk about it. He married a gentile. He moved to California for a long time. He thought that was gentile and that was the promised land, you know, [Laughter] La Hoya, California.

My point is that it sort of stumbled out one day, and I was like, what? You’re Jewish? Does that mean I’m Jewish? How did this never come up? [Laughter] You know, it was a kind of interesting revelation. Over the course of my life, I’ve been so intrigued with – what does that mean?

And, why do so few Jews know the Lord? I’m just so excited that I live in a season where Jews are so open. And, I believe we’ve gone from about 2,000 Jewish people on the planet who believed in Jesus as the Messiah, in 1967 – that was the year I was born – fewer than 2,000.

Today, I believe it’s more than 300,000. Now, in a world of 14.5 million Jewish people, that’s not nearly enough. But the trend line is something I like. And Jews look for signs, and so that’s one of mine. And I’m excited by the movement, and I’m excited by the openness.

This is right at the moment where a lot of the church worldwide, even in the states, don’t want to talk about Jewish evangelism. It’s too sensitive. We don’t want to offend the Jews. That’s satan masking things up, right at the moment where, Jews are more interested in talking about Jesus than ever.

A lot of the churches are shutting down on the topic, and to me, that’s the ultimate act of anti-Semitism is to deny a Jewish person the opportunity to hear that our Messiah has come. And then we get to make a decision, one way or another, for or against.

But we’ve got to be engaged in the Gospel for all people, starting with the Jews, and of course the Muslims, and everyone else. I’ll stop there.

Dr. Darrell Bock
Well we’ve got someone at a mike. So go ahead and ask your question.
Audience Member
Thank you so much for coming here.
Joel Rosenberg
Sure. I’m honored.
Audience Member
I read the research that Pew has done on Muslims across the world. And I remember hearing a speaker talk about. And he was labeling the 50 percent or more of Jews who want Sharia Law to be the law of the land. He was labeling them as radicals. And I wanted you to speak on that.

What would say to this man who is labeling these 50 percent or more who want Sharia Law to be the law of the land as radical? And how you respond to him saying that?

Joel Rosenberg
Was it the law in a Muslim country or here in the United States?
Audience Member
Anywhere. He said about 50 percent of the world population of the Muslims want the Sharia Law to be the law of the land.
Joel Rosenberg
I can understand why someone would characterize that as radical. It certainly is radical by the American Constitutional standards. We have freedom of religion, but Sharia Law requires complete abrogation of the Constitution in favor of Islamic Law. So that would be unconstitutional.

People don’t have the freedom to scrap our Constitution. Yeah, Sharia Law, when it’s really done the way it’s supposed to be done, is brutal. It’s anti-woman. It’s anti-religious freedom. It is brutal. I sort of expect a Muslim to want Sharia Law because it’s what they know.

So I don’t immediately consider that a radical position in terms of trying to say – would they use violence to go and get it? To want something is not the same as to impose something, right? I want every Muslim to come to Jesus, but I’m not a crusader or an inquisitor. I want every Jew to know Jesus. But I’m not a Nazi. So there’s a difference between – not that the Nazis wanted the Jews to come to Jesus – let’s be. [Laughter] What I mean is, there have been people who have done horrible things, in the name/or at least in the impression of Christendom, that have been horrible.

Wanting people to believe something, and forcing someone to believe something is different. The questions that I look at that help me to determine whether somebody’s a radical is by the definition of – would the use violence to achieve their ends?

And Christ specifically told us not to do that, right? He said, in front of Pilate, if my Kingdom were of this world, them My followers would be using violence to overthrow you – I’m paraphrasing – and resist this arrest. But My Kingdom is not of this world.

It’s a Kingdom. He’s a King, and He’s coming. But as followers of Christ, we’re not supposed to engage in forcibly imposing our views. Does that help sift it through a little bit?

Audience Member
Yeah. It did a little bit.
Dr. Darrell Bock
I want to chime in because if I were to ask people in this room – how many people would want America to live by Christian principles, I’d get a pretty high percentage of people in this room. But if I were to turn around and say – how many people think we should impose that by violence – I’d get a very different number.
Joel Rosenberg
I hope so. That’s never worked out well for Jews.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yeah. I know. I actually think that one of the important aspects of this conversation that we’re having is thinking through and understand the fact that Islam is not a monolith. That there are a variety of Muslims out there and a variety of ways that Muslims view what’s going on in the world out there.

There are huge pockets of Islam that dislike what is happening on the more radicals of the elements of the spectrum of Islam. And from a geopolitical point of view, having them as allies in this discussion is almost necessary.

Joel Rosenberg
It’s essential, absolutely. That puts us in the same room with people who want and – well, what do you believe? And I’m having all kinds of conversations about Jesus.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Exactly right. And people who react to violence when it’s coming, in fact, their reaction to violence is – that’s not us, and please don’t equate me with them. That’s the reaction that you get. I’ve been in rooms where I’ve heard Muslims say this. And so that’s a very, very important thing to understand about the complexity of what it is that we’re dealing with when you just utter the word, Islam.

Okay – over here. A question.

Audience Member
I have a question about Islam, but before I ask it, when you made a comment about Jewish evangelism, it made me think of a couple of guys that I went to DTS with many years ago, who are Jewish brothers, Arnold Fruchtenbaum and Barry Leventhal.
Dr. Darrell Bock
You’re speaking of two good friends. Go ahead.
Audience Member
Joel Rosenberg
You have good company.
Audience Member
They are great men. Both of them have written, in detail, not necessarily extensively, but in detail about Romans 1, wherein we are commanded, according to them, and I’ve come to agree with that position, but I surely would like to ask both of you men, because of your Jewish background – where Paul says, it is to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

And their position on that is that the evangelism of a church, of an individual, of the church, should begin in the Jewish community. That’s how they understand that passage. And they make a great argument for that view, and I was just wondering how you gentlemen feel about that?

Joel Rosenberg
Well, that’s a whole doctoral dissertation. If I get the others right, can I get something for it? I’ll let you get an answer before me.
Dr. Darrell Bock
You can just be further at the end of the day. [Laughs]
Joel Rosenberg
First of all, this was the Apostle Paul’s model. But I think that, if you were a missionary in Papua, New Guinea, it would be hard to find a Jewish community before you shared with some person in the jungle. I think the church needs to have a very forward-leaning ministry to the Jewish people.

And any church in a community that has Jewish people ought to engage in reaching Jewish people and not think of it as – we love the Jews; therefore, we don’t want to offend them. That’s a mistake. I forget who the missionary was, maybe Hudson Taylor, had a friend who used to send him a check every year. But he would have a little note. Oh. This guy was Jewish, doing a Jewish ministry, and Hudson Taylor sent him a check.

And he would say, to Jew first, and then this guy would send him a check, and it would say, to the gentiles and the Greeks as well; although, he was in China, but still. [Laughter] You could see that the principle was the key. As much as you can apply the principle as possible, but again, there are some places you’re not going to find Jewish people.

Audience Member
Not to put you on the spot, because I’ve never had a chance to talk to anybody about this. I read their work but I had not talked to either of them about this.
Dr. Darrell Bock
I’ll just let you know, this is a short answer to the question that fills it in.
Joel Rosenberg
And you helped write a book on it
Dr. Darrell Bock
Exactly where I’m going. I edited a book with Mitch Glaser called, To the Jew First, that actually is a look at this whole idea from a variety of angles.
Joel Rosenberg
An excellent book. I love it. I should have said it first. I highly recommend it.
Audience Member
I’ll go get it.
Dr. Darrell Bock
So that actually walks through the texts, discusses the passages, and the principles that are involved, etc. There’s no way in the space of an answer here we can deal with that. But I’d simply commend that book for your attention. [Laughter]
Audience Member
Twenty-five years ago, there was no awareness of the Mahdi, or the twelfth Imam, in a general way in the world. Here we are now confronted by a very vastly growing awareness of Christ’s second coming within the Christian community, and then the Islamic counterfeit.

My question is, how do you see that in a general, end-of-times, prophetic kind of mindset, and the fact that we’ve got both of these now, the awareness is growing, and they’re obviously diametrically opposed to each other?

Joel Rosenberg
For me personally, I’m happy as a clam, and that’s not even Kosher, so. [Laughter] But we’re under the New Testament, anyway, so. [Laughter] Hallelujah. Let’s just be clear, for the record, since we’re on the record. I’m really happy about the New Testament because of shellfish, but is that my main reason for loving the covenant?

It’s on the list low, low. Pork as well. But anyway, that’s just my hashtag. I’m just saying. [Laughter] My interest is, I would say, almost primarily, Bible prophecy. Obviously I’m interested in geopolitics, but my novels deal with political, what if scenarios.

And some of them, I marry a geopolitical scenario with taking a look at some of the Bible prophecies that will happen in the end times and thinking – I don’t know when they’ll happen. And I don’t know exactly how they will happen. But having studied them a lot, let’s run a war game exercise.

Let’s write a novel or a series of novels that would examine, how might we get from the geopolitical situation that we’re currently in, to that? Wouldn’t that be interesting? It interests me and, it turns out, it’s interested a few others. It allows me in a story to engage people’s imagination about topics they wouldn’t otherwise have shown interest in.

To me, that’s Jesus teaching me, come follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men. His way with me is to have me fish by starting off a novel with an explosion, an assassination, or something horrific, and drawing you in on a geopolitical, spiritual, and emotional journey, where you’re picking up information that you weren’t necessarily thinking you wanted.

But your adrenalin is pumping, and it’s now 5:00or 6:00 in the morning, and you’re about to email me, cursing me, because you have to get up in an hour for work, and you’ve been up all night reading. This is my main objective. [Laughter]

Dr. Darrell Bock
Sleep deprivation.
Joel Rosenberg
Sleep deprivation. It’s worked in every type of terrorist situation, and that’s how we deal with terrorism, with sleep deprivation. So This is my main objective. So I’m trying to entertain. You know, Howard Hendrix – we’re in the Howard Hendrix Center. He used to say – you don’t want your students to be saying – when does this end?

But you want them to say – how does this end? With a story, you ask, how does this story end? That’s what keeps people moving? That’s drama. The student is like – is this on the test? When is this class over? And you’re thinking that now, I know. [Laughter]

And I’m not sure I know the answer. That’s his department. But the story allows me to pull people in, and I can have Arab characters. Somebody might go, that’s the bad guy, and it turns out not to be. He turns out to be a hero – not because he’s an Arab or not because he’s a Muslim – but because he’s a human being who sees evil and decides – I’m going to take action.

And that helps somebody differently than a nonfiction book or an op-ed. My current series – part of it is about ISIS trying to launch a genocidal attach with chemical weapons. And one of the countries they’re trying to overthrow is Jordan. The King of Jordan is an intriguing man to me.

He is a descendant of the prophet Mohammed, a false prophet. So I don’t start my books with Islam is a satanically-driven religion. Yes, of course. It was false prophecies, and dreams, and visions from the enemy. But I don’t start that way because I’m trying to draw people in.

And when I was doing the series and the research, I thought maybe – I sat with two CIA directors to talk about these things and the former head of the Mossad in Israel. Maybe I ought to go and talk with a Sunni Muslim, maybe in Jordan, if I’m going to write a novel about how these things might play out.

And they let me come to sit with their prime minister, their foreign minister, the interior minister, and the prince, as a Jew, who believes in Jesus, who worked for Netanyahu. I’m not exactly a poster child for the person they want to spend time with, especially when I told the ambassador in Washington.

And what this book is about is the potential overthrow and assassination of your king and kingdom. Would you help me? [Laughter] Not to do that but to run the war game, to let people see – why is that bad? Not just for your country, but for ours, and for the world.

But this allows me to go. And what’s amazing on that trip was – we’re sitting with the prime minister, and he’s saying – okay, yeah. I want to talk about your topic but, how can we get more Christians to come to Jordan? How come Israel is getting all of the Christians? I said – well, have you been reaching out to Christians? Well, no, not exactly. Well, let’s start there. I had a two and a half hour conversation with one of the highest ranking people in the country about Jesus. And he was making the case to me – oh, Jesus was probably baptized on the eastern side of Jordan [Laughter] because the Gospel of John says that John the Baptizer was in Bethany, on the other side of Jordan.

The other side from where? From the Israel side. He was like – Elijah. Elijah was on our side. That’s where he was born. And where did he go up to heaven? Our side. Okay. Where did Elisha get the mantle? Our side. It was fascinating. I’m in a meeting, with a physical descendant of Mohammed.

This was from the family. And we’re talking about Jesus. We’re talking about the prophets. This is not a photo op. We’re having a conversation. Why? Because I came to write a book about the overthrow of his country. This wasn’t the king. But I believe you can engage people with common threats, and respect, and a lot of prayer, and a desire to love people for the Gospel.

Can I just go through one other anecdote on this topic? Several years ago, a friend of mine who loves in Morocco, in business, happened to give a copy of one of my novels to the director of Islamic Affairs. The guy is in charge of 33,000 mosques and was one of the advisors to the king on Islamic affairs, also a family descendant from Mohammed.

And so this guy read one of my novels. And he was coming to meet Condoleeza Rice – this was back in the Bush Administration – in Washington. And he said, does your friend live in Washington? Yes. Can I go and have dinner with him? This is a fascinating novel. Really.

So my friend calls me and I said – who is this really? Come on. We just had Passover here. You’re saying that the head of Morocco’s 33,000 mosques wants to come and have dinner with me? Okay. So fascinating. And we had a lovely dinner party for him. We invited some friends over.

Then he invited me to Morocco. I said, okay. So we made the plan, and I went over. He had a dinner party in his house. And after saying an Islamic blessing over the meal – which was an amazing meal, I might add – _____, and the rice in big piles of stuff. It was just amazing. Obviously, I had too much. But he sits down, and he’s got the head of homeland security from Morocco and all of these other big wigs. There were 20 people in the room. And he says – okay, something has been bothering me. I said, okay.

Your name is Rosenberg, right? That’s Jewish, isn’t it? But when I was at your house, you describe yourself as an evangelical Christian, a follower of Jesus. I’ve been wondering. I don’t understand how you can be Jewish and believe in Jewish. Would you share with me and my friends – how is that possible?

I’m thinking to myself, Lord, you are kidding me. If I was Elaine in Seinfeld – get out. Are you kidding me? Okay, let’s have that conversation. Now, that’s not a normal day in the life of everybody, but I believe this is the moment. And we’ve got to distinguish between people who are evil and people who are lost.

And even the people who are evil are lost. Sometimes we’re going to be Stephen, and we’re going to preach the Gospel right to the religious terrorist, Saul, and we’re going to die for it. And sometimes, we’re going to be sharing the Gospel with somebody, and their eyes are going to open, and they’re going to come into the Kingdom.

And sometimes we’re just planting seeds, and we’re not going to see fruit right away. But this is the moment. This is what God is doing. Don’t see the evil. We have to understand evil is evil. Jesus didn’t say these are not enemies, but they’re misunderstood. You have to study them carefully.

No. He says – they’re enemies. Fine. They’re enemies. Do you love them? That’s a big convicting question. I meet a lot of my readers who say – I didn’t before I started reading your book, and I’m still struggling now, but I’m sort of getting one of your point – one of my points.

Dr. Darrell Bock
Okay time for one last question.
Joel Rosenberg
Sorry. That was an extended DVD answer. I apologize.
Audience Member
Let me just kind of go back a little bit to this progression of career and [crosstalk] –
Dr. Darrell Bock
Failure as a political consultant.
Audience Member
A political consultant, yes. And, I guess, I’m interested a little bit about – okay. I want to write a book, and the topic in question came up. Or I’m interested in being an advocate of Jesus Christ to the community of the Muslim world. Just kind of walk me through that.
Joel Rosenberg
I never thought that. Yeah, I will. I was despondent when everybody lost.
Dr. Darrell Bock
It’s tough to lose.
Joel Rosenberg
It is tough to lose. And you think, at some point, someone is going to look at the resume and ask – why exactly am I hiring you because there are other people, like winners, who know how to do this. And I thought, Lord, you’ve got to be kidding me. And I was just doing some consulting.

And I didn’t have a client for a while. And then someone wanted me to write a book about some provision in the Puerto Rican tax policy and I was like – oh, I can’t. This guy was offering me $40,000.00 to write this book to just get rid of this one provision.

And I said to my wife – I don’t care if we go bankrupt, which, we were nearly at that point. I said – I can’t write a book that nobody cares about. My life is going nowhere. Ten years of doing this, I could have gone to DTS several times. I could be a missionary.

I could have gone to graduate school in some other way. Lord, you’re killing me here. What is the point? I was very low, and I began to get a sense that he wanted me to write a series of novels about Ezekiel 38 and Ezekiel 39. And I went – I don’t think so. No. No, no, no.

You don’t understand. I’m sorry. That’s who I was. I was like, Lord, anything but that. Not Puerto Rican tax policy, but pretty much anything I do, I’ll do for you. I’m narrowing a few categories I don’t want to do for you, just come on. I’m writing books no one reads.

I’m writing op-eds no one cares about and speeches no one listens to. These are my loaves and fishes. You can take this. You can bless this. You can break this and feed people with this. Please. But don’t make me write about prophecy. I don’t want to look like I’m from Area 51. [Laughter]

I don’t want to do that. And the Lord was not having any of that. And I said, Tim LaHay sold $65 million copies. You don’t need another one. And I don’t even read novels. And I don’t even write. I admit. I admit, I guess, now on the record. Had the Lord said, would you just take a deep breath, and have some decaf, and just do what I say, and maybe I’ll put you in Morocco.

Maybe you’ll be sitting in Rabat sharing the Gospel with a Muslim who oversees 33,000 mosques. And I would have gone – oh, that would be fun. Or maybe you’ll get to sit with the president of the Philippines and talk about Jesus and – oh, that would be fun.

And maybe the head of the CIA. I didn’t see any of that. I just thought – this is ridiculous. I don’t want to be identified. So I came kicking and screaming. I am not a good strategist for myself. Political strategy was my career and communication strategy.

And I think we’ve made it clear now that I don’t know how to do it. And this was the Lord’s point, in part, one to take me not to Dallas, which I love, but he wanted my political communications graduate school to be in very hard-edged international and national politics, to hear how to make an argument to skeptics, and to cynics, to teach Bible prophecy not to the choir in Dallas, but to people who think you’re a lunatic – and they’re within the church.

Who don’t want to deal with the 27 percent of Scripture that’s eschatology and yet have to and need to. So that’s part of it. He wanted me to learn from Rush Limbaugh, and Bebe Netanyahu, and Steve Forbes, and Bill Bennett, and Jack Kemp, how to make an argument, and then sift it through biblically and say – okay now, take a little here and there, but now, that’s part of it.

But the other part of it was to write Tom Clancy-esk political thrillers, but I needed 10 years of geopolitical experience. I need not primarily in my case, I guess, from the Lord, the theological training and the ancient thing. But what I needed was to know how to blow things up, and make things exciting, in a very realistic political thriller, so that when I fished, I would be drawing people in who wouldn’t be thrown by that – that’s ridiculous.

That would never happen. Because of the stories He wanted me to be telling. He wanted me to be telling stories about prophecy, not how they would exactly happen or when, but to get people thinking – well I never even knew about these prophecies. And the church is hardly teaching prophecy anymore.

So this is God’s way for me. But I’m just saying, I didn’t want to do it. I thought it was ridiculous, and this is why God gets all the credit, and I get zero. Because if it was up to me, I wouldn’t have done it. And I’m just grateful that the Lord is grateful to morons. [Laughter] I’ll close with this true sentence actually. My wife literally, I mean, she has the spiritual gift of discernment. I have the gift of obliviousness and my whole life is trying to trust the Lord to override my inability to see the obvious. And, as a Russian Jew, I’m a pessimist about everything.

The glass is half full. Of course they’re holding it. It’ll all be gone by tomorrow and maybe by today. So I have to trust God that my pessimism about life helps me write worst-case scenario thrillers. But it has to be balanced by the spirit and a wonderful gentile spirit filled wife, who says, it’s not all bad.

Jesus is moving. He does love you and all of us. So let’s just not get absorbed in only the bad. That’s my story and, unfortunately, I’m stuck with it now because that’s what God is doing. I mean fortunately all the parts about me that’s so not pleasant. But I’m grateful that God is a great God.

I’ll close with this. I have an Indian pastor, literally from India who discipled my wife and I in college. And he was the on-site Hendricks. Hendricks was only on audio tape for me – but Dr. Koshi, from India. And he would say, Joel – lead piece of a prayer, hearing and a prayer answering God, a wonder-working God, which I often needed English-to-English translation to understand, what are you talking about?

What? Joel and Lynn, we serve a prayer hearing and a prayer answering God, a wonder-working God. And it’s so true.

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Darrell L. Bock
Dr. Bock is senior research professor of New Testament and executive director for cultural engagement at Dallas Theological Seminary. He has authored or edited more than forty books, including Jesus according to Scripture: Restoring the Portrait from the Gospels, Jesus in Context: Background Readings for Gospel Study, Studying the Historical Jesus: A Guide to Sources and Methods, Jesus the Messiah: Tracing the Promises, Expectations, and Coming of Israel’s King, Who Is Jesus?: Linking the Historical Jesus with the Christ of Faith, and Key Events in the Life of the Historical Jesus: A Collaborative Exploration of Context and Coherence.
Joel Rosenberg
Joel C. Rosenberg is an American communications strategist, author of the Last Jihad series, founder of The Joshua Fund, and an Evangelical Christian.
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