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Is war in the Middle East imminent?

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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The 125,000 IRGC fighters are responsible for the protection and survival of the Iranian regime, February 24, 2012 (Credit: Safwat Sayed via Flickr)

The Democratic and Republican National Conventions are now over.  The two parties disagreed on nearly every subject they discussed—the economy, the effectiveness of President Obama’s policies, the future of Medicare, and so on.  But both candidates make the same claim in one area: their support for Israel.  That support may well be tested in coming weeks.

Let’s connect the dots on a map.

Iran is now sending its most experienced troops to help Syria’s dictator remain in power.  If successful, Tehran will maintain the ability to attack Israel from her northeast border.  Hezbollah, the Islamic party in power in Lebanon, warned earlier this week of impending attacks on Israel if Iranian nuclear sites are harmed.  Iran could use their military to attack Israel from the northwest.  Seeking to deter strikes on its nuclear sites, Iran is building a missile defense system, to become operational by next March.  And it claims that it will have warships off the coast of America “in the next few years.”

Meanwhile, Admiral James Winnefeld, vice chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, visited Israel yesterday.  After the visit, Israel’s defense minister stated that his country believes time is running out to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, but the U.S. opposes Israeli military action now.

The same day, Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met in Cairo.  Morsi has already attended foreign policy meetings in China and Iran.  In Beijing, he asked the Chinese government to increase its investment in the Egyptian economy from $500 million to $3 billion.  In Tehran, he sought to strengthen relations with the Iranian government.  His Muslim Brotherhood, if backed by Iran and China, could threaten Israel from the south and partner with the Palestinians in attacking Israel from the west and east.

These developments may indicate that war in the Middle East is more imminent than it has been in decades.  Or they may not indicate a military confrontation at all.  Here’s the good news: God is raising up believers across the region in unprecedented numbers.  There are as many as two million Christians now in Iran; missionaries expect as many as a million Egyptians to come to Christ over the next year.  God is powerfully at work across the Muslim world.

The ultimate answer to war in the Middle East and conflict in every human heart is the same: the transforming work of God’s Spirit.  Will you “pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Psalm 122:6) and for a great spiritual awakening in the Middle East?  And will you ask the Spirit to make you an instrument of his peace wherever you go today?