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Is war coming with Iran?

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad jokes with journalists as he waits to meet with India's Minister for New and Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah (not pictured) in Tehran March 4, 2012 (Credit: Reuters/Caren Firouz)Henry Kissinger believes that the United States should assume Iran is actively preparing to build nuclear weapons.  The former secretary of state appeared on CNN yesterday, where he gave his opinion on this growing debate.  Last night, the former head of Mossad appeared on CBS to argue against attacking Iran.  Why all the furor?

Some argue that we should bomb Iranian nuclear sites now, since deterrence has apparently failed to halt their nuclear program.  They believe that a nuclear Iran would threaten our interests in the Middle East for decades and spark a nuclear arms race in the region.  Others counter that we could not neutralize Iran's nuclear program with military strikes and believe that an attack, even if successful, would delay Iran's program at best.  At worst, it would cause Iran's proxies to attack Israel and provoke war in the region.

Fareed Zakaria's weekend blog adds that a nuclear Iran would not necessarily provoke other nations in the Middle East to seek their own nuclear weapons.  North Korea's nuclear capacity did not lead South Korea or Japan to respond in kind; Saudi Arabia and Egypt did not seek nuclear arms when Israel obtained them.  Zakaria believes that Iran is a "rational actor."  He defines the term: "a rational actor, in economic or international relations, is someone who is concerned about his survival.  The one thing we know about Iran's leaders is that they are concerned about their survival."

I agree.  But what do they believe will ensure it?  Iranian President Ahmadinejad has repeatedly told his people that the Mahdi, a kind of Shiite Muslim Messiah, would appear to dominate the world for Islam if Muslims attack Israel.  He believes that this Mahdi would then protect Muslims from Western retribution.  As one who has studied Islam for many years, I believe we should take his statements seriously.  As a Christian, I believe we should intercede fervently for a great spiritual awakening in Iran.  And we should give our fears about the future to God today.

Paul assured the Romans that "you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship" (Romans 8:15).  Note the word "again"--they were slaves to fear before the Spirit made them God's children.  Now they need have no such fear, for the Lord of the universe is their Father and ours.

Yesterday Janet and I were in Houston for our son Ryan's birthday.  We visited Tallowood Baptist Church, where we heard Dr. Duane Brooks, Tallowood's longtime pastor and a dear friend.  He delivered a profound sermon on this text, during which he made a statement I wrote in my journal: "All our fears are caused by calculating without God."  He's absolutely right.

What fears have found you today?  Have you been calculating without God?  Joel encouraged the frightened nation of Israel to "be not afraid, O land; be glad and rejoice.  Surely the Lord has done great things" (Joel 2:21).  What "great things" has he done for you?

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