The world is watching the latest negotiations in the Israel–Hamas war amid ongoing attacks by the Houthis and Hezbollah. In the meantime, we should not miss this headline from the Jerusalem Post: “Iran closer than ever to weaponizing uranium, building nuclear bomb.”
The Institute for Science and International Security is sounding the alarm and has upgraded its threat level to “Extreme Danger,” the highest of its six ratings, for the first time since the group began following the Iranian nuclear program in the 1990s. They warn that the country could make enough highly enriched uranium to fashion a nuclear explosive in a week and could build and deliver a weapon in “about six months.”
Why would Iran choose to do so?
And why is this such an “extreme danger” to the world?
If Iran acquires nuclear weapons
At first glance, today’s news seems less than alarming on the assumption that Iran knows a nuclear attack on Israel or the US would lead to a swift and devastating nuclear retaliation against their country.
But this goes both ways: a nuclear-armed Iran would likely feel protected from aggression by its enemies and thus emboldened to escalate its proxy war on Israel and the West. It would pose an immediate threat to countries without nuclear weapons such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia and would probably incite them to seek such weapons, further heightening tensions in the region.
Military action against Iran (likely from Israel) to prevent its acquisition of nuclear weapons would likely escalate the ongoing regional conflict. And there is always the chance of a catastrophic—if not apocalyptic—nuclear accident.
But there’s one other crucial factor we dare not overlook.
An Iranian apocalypse
As I noted in my book, The War in Israel, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) views its ultimate mission as preparing the way for the Mahdi (a Muslim messianic figure) to return and dominate the world for Islam. Preparations for this return escalated after Ayatollah Khamenei assumed the mantle of supreme leader in 1989 and especially in the aftermath of the 2009 anti-regime protests.
The IRGC views the existence of Israel as the “greatest barrier” to the reemergence of the Mahdi. Iran’s hardline clergy now claim that the “Jewish state will be destroyed before Mahdi’s arrival.”
If Iran can employ its regional proxies to force Israelis to abandon Israel, it will have achieved this necessary step in hastening the Mahdi’s return. If this strategy proves unsuccessful, will it turn to direct war with Israel?
If so, given the Israel Defense Forces’ overwhelming military superiority, would Iran utilize a strike-first nuclear weapon?
Bernard Lewis, the Princeton professor and renowned Middle East scholar, warned that the threat of many Iranians perishing in a war does not deter Iran’s leadership, which believes “it would be doing them a favor by giving them a free pass to heaven” as martyrs in a jihad. In a Wall Street Journal article, he added that to Iran’s leaders, an attack on Israel that killed Muslims would only speed them to heaven. And a response that devastated Iran “would have no meaning” since “what will matter will be the final destination of the dead—hell for the infidels, and heaven for the believers.”
For people with such a mindset, Lewis warned, mutually assured destruction “is not a constraint; it is an inducement.” And since many in Iran believe that the Mahdi will kill all the Jews when he comes, some may even believe that he would return to protect them from such retribution.
“Bad ideas have victims”
Israel and the West should obviously respond to this apocalyptic scenario by doing whatever is necessary to keep Iran from possessing nuclear weapons. Christians should also respond by praying fervently for a spiritual awakening that would transform Iran’s leaders from genocidal persecutors to Christ-following peacemakers. (If you doubt such a possibility, remember what Jesus did with Saul of Tarsus.)
But today’s discussion highlights one other point today:
Worldviews change the world.
Thousands have died and millions are being affected by Hamas’s vow to kill the Jews as demonstrated by its October 7 atrocities. From Russia to China to North Korea and Cuba, Marx’s communist ideology continues to impact and enslave millions. Moral relativism is fueling an epidemic of pornography, sexual confusion, drug overdoses, euthanasia, and suicide in the US.
I often quote this observation by my friend John Stonestreet: “Ideas have consequences. Bad ideas have victims.”
But here’s the good news: biblical ideas have victors.
Consider these facts:
The law of the Lᴏʀᴅ is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lᴏʀᴅ is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lᴏʀᴅ are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lᴏʀᴅ is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lᴏʀᴅ is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lᴏʀᴅ are true, and righteous altogether. . . .
By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward (Psalm 19:7–9, 11).
How fully will you experience the “great reward” of your Father today?
Wednesday news to know
- Hamas responds to Israel plan with three-stage proposal to end Gaza war
- US Senate unveils $118 billion bill on border security, aid for Ukraine, Israel
- Bolts appeared to be missing from Boeing 737 Max door plug that blew off midflight, NTSB says
- Alejandro Mayorkas survives House impeachment vote as GOP lawmakers defect
- On this day in history: The Beatles arrive in New York
Quote for the day
“The Bible was not given for our information but for our transformation.” —D. L. Moody