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How to solve the problem of Iran

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei attends a meeting with Iranian nuclear scientists and managers in Tehran February 22, 2012 (Credit: Reuters/Khamenei.ir/Handout)

Iran is presently the greatest threat to the global economy, according to the economist who predicted the credit crisis.  Nouriel Roubini believes that a confrontation between Iran and the West could lead to financial catastrophe.  American military leaders view Iran in even starker terms, labeling its nuclear build-up an “existential threat” to the existence of Israel and a danger to the entire Middle East.

The Islamic Republic of Iran has been a problem for America for six decades.  In 1953, the Iranian Prime Minister was overthrown in a coup led by the U.S.  Our purpose was to empower the “Shah” (Persian for “king”), our ally against Communism and radical Islam.  Unrest sparked a political revolution that deposed the Shah on January 16, 1979, leading to the elevation of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini as the Supreme Leader of the nation.

On November 4 of that year, Iranian students seized the American embassy and held 52 hostages for 444 days.  Khomeini labeled America “the Great Satan,” further poisoning relations between our countries.  When he died on June 3, 1989, 3.5 million people attended his funeral.  He was succeeded by Ali Hosseini Khamenei as Supreme Leader of the nation.

While President Ahmadinejad makes more headlines, Khamenei is the undisputed authority in Iran today.  He was supervisor of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards and served as president of Iran.  In 1981, an assassination attempt cost him the use of his right arm.  Upon Khomeini’s death in 1989, he was elevated to Supreme Leader.

Ali Khamenei’s theology is what makes him especially dangerous to the West.  He is a “Twelver,” believing that the “twelfth imam” after the Prophet Muhammad will one day dominate the world for Islam.  This Messiah-like figure is known to Shiites as the Mahdi (“Guided One”).  Many in Khamenei’s sect believe that the Mahdi has not yet reappeared because Islam tolerates the existence of Israel.  If Muslims would ever attack the Jewish state, the Mahdi would return to protect them from retribution.

This eschatology makes Iran’s drive for nuclear capability especially frightening.  With missiles that are already capable of reaching Israel, Ali Khamenei could create another Holocaust in six minutes.  Negotiations and sanctions have so far not deterred his nuclear ambitions.  War with Iran may be in our future.

But there’s another solution to the problem of Iran.  As I stated yesterday, Jesus is appearing to thousands of Muslims all over the world.  They already believe that he was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, ascended to heaven and will return at the end of history.  Now more of them are turning to him as Lord than ever before.  What would happen if Supreme Leader Khamenei met Jesus and came to view Israel and the world biblically?  Would you join me this week in praying daily for Christ to manifest himself to Ali Khamenei, and for this critical world leader to trust him as his Lord and King?