Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Joel C. Rosenberg

Joel C. Rosenberg is the New York Times best-selling author of the fiction novels The Last Jihad, The Last Days, The Ezekiel Option, The Copper Scroll and Dead Heat. He also wrote the non-fiction Epicenter: How the Current Rumblings in the Middle East Will Change Your World.

Joel's Jewish grandparents escaped from Russia in the early part of the twentieth century due to religious persecution and raised his father in an Orthodox Jewish household. By the time Joel was born, his parents practiced no faith. They both eventually became born again Christians and Joel, too, at age 17. He says he considers himself a Messianic Jew, believing Jesus is the promised Messiah.

His career as a political advisor and consultant changed after client Benjamin Netanyahu lost an election in 1999 and Joel wrote his first book, The Last Jihad, sent to the publisher before 9/11, but not published until early 2002.

I didn't notice his work until The Ezekiel Option came out. By then I was busy and wanted to read the first two before this new one, and simply did not have the time to do so. Last summer our church bought the series for the library and I was able to read them in order.

I was struck by a number of things besides his view of biblical prophecy. In each of the books at least one individual went through the process of coming to believe in Jesus as the Messiah and their personal savior.

Not everyone who hears the gospel does. And, some who do change their beliefs later. It is a very personal decision and often impacts entire families. In some countries changing religious beliefs can become a death sentence. In others, it causes family rifts that cannot be healed. I remember meeting a gentleman whose family held a full funeral service, complete with casket, grave and headstone, in response to his acceptance of Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior.

Many look upon one’s faith as an accident of birth. What would one expect of a child born in Tel Aviv as opposed to Medina? Mumbai or Narita? Tenochtitlan or Salt Lake City? Yet, a child raised in any of these cities would have opportunity to hear of religions other than their own.

Christ explained it thus:

Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. [Matthew 13:18-23 KJV]

Whether any religion is shown through a book considered holy or a recent best-seller, we come to it with certain pre-conceived notions. In each instance, we would do well to:

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. [2 Timothy 2:15 KJV]

Emulating some of my favorite people:

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. [Acts 17:11 KJV]

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