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The E.Newspaper By Dr. Howdy, Ph.D. A.P.E., N.U.T.
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Preparing For The Mahdi
Recently, the leaders of six nations, including the United States and Great Britain, met to discuss Iran's restarting its nuclear research program. To quote Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Iran's actions "crossed the threshold."
What threshold? The threshold between actions that are irritating or worrisome and those that keep you up at night. This is especially true of Iran if you understand the religious -- and, I would say, scary -- vision that shapes Iranian President Ahmadinejad's decisions.
Iran's president is not only a devout Shiite Muslim; he is also what is known as a Mahdaviat. The term means "one who believes in and prepares for the Mahdi." The Mahdi, also known as the "Twelfth Imam," is the Shiite equivalent of a messiah: "the restorer of religion and justice who will rule before the end of the world."
For Ahmadinejad, preparing for the Mahdi has included "secretly [instructing] the [Tehran] city council to build a grand avenue to prepare for the Mahdi," the building of a special mosque dedicated to the cult of the Mahdi, and construction of a railroad line to transport pilgrims there.
And his "preparation" is not limited to actions within Iran: When he addressed the UN, Ahmadinejad prayed for God to "hasten the emergence of . . . the Promised One . . . that will fill this world with justice and peace."
By "peace," he does not mean an Isaiah-like "peaceable kingdom." As political scientist John von Heyking has noted, some Mahdaviats go beyond believing that the Mahdi will "return to save the world when it had descended into chaos." Some of them believe that they can hasten that process by more chaos; and there is good reason to suspect that Iran's president is one of these.
If this sounds familiar, it ought to: In my book KINGDOMS IN CONFLICT, I wrote about a fictitious evangelical American president who learns about a plot to blow up the Mosque on the Dome of the Rock. While he knows that this will lead to an all-out war in the Middle East, he hesitates because his beliefs tell him that this will hasten Christ's return. The results of his hesitation are catastrophic.
I am not the only one who has noticed the parallels. Ross Douthat of the ATLANTIC MONTHLY wrote that no Christian, regardless of eschatology, thinks God is commanding him to nuke Tel Aviv. Nor is he hosting Holocaust- denial conferences as Ahmadinejad is.
What's more, from the start Christianity, unlike Islam, has distinguished between the two kingdoms: God's and man's. That is why Augustine wrote the CITY OF GOD. And that is why I wrote my book describing the two kingdoms, titled KINGDOMS IN CONFLICT. But there's no such distinction in Islam.
Ahmadinejad's beliefs and his call for the destruction of Israel make Iran's nuclear program even more ominous. And it would be the height of folly for the West to regard his carefully chosen words as mere hyperbole or bombast for internal Iranian consumption. It also ought to make us wonder what people like British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw are thinking about when Straw says that we should not "rush" to impose sanctions. Iran is a ticking time bomb.
As Richard Weaver noted, ideas have consequences, and the sooner world leaders understand this, the better we'll all sleep.
"At this time, we lack corroborating information suggesting that al-Qaeda is prepared to attack the United States in the near term," said Homeland Security spokeswoman Michelle Petrovich. "But we recognize that al-Qaeda remains committed to striking the homeland."
Check out the new look of http://www.leftbehind.com that will premiere early next week.
THE INDWELLING by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins
Chapter 1, Part 1
BUCK braced himself with his elbow crooked around a scaffolding pole. Thousands of panicked people fleeing the scene had, like him, started and involuntarily turned away from the deafening gunshot. It had come from perhaps a hundred feet to Buck’s right and was so loud he would not have been surprised if even those at the back of the throng of some two million had heard it plainly.
He was no expert, but to Buck it had sounded like a high-powered rifle. The only weapon smaller that had emitted such a report was the ugly handgun Carpathia had used to destroy the skulls of Moishe and Eli three days before. Actually, the sounds were eerily similar. Had Carpathia’s own weapon been fired? Might someone on his own staff have targeted him?
The lectern had shattered loudly as well, like a tree branch split by lightning. And that gigantic backdrop sailing into the distance ... Buck wanted to bolt with the rest of the crowd, but he worried about Chaim. Had he been hit? And where was Jacov? Just ten minutes before, Jacov had waited below stage left where Buck could see him. No way Chaim’s friend and aide would abandon him during a crisis.
As people stampeded by, some went under the scaffold, most went around it, and some jostled both Buck and the support poles, making the structure sway. Buck held tight and looked to where giant speakers three stories up leaned this way and that, threatening their flimsy plywood supports.
Buck could choose his poison: step into the surging crowd and risk being trampled or step up a few feet on the angled crossbar. He stepped up and immediately felt the fluidity of the structure. It bounced and seemed to want to spin as Buck looked toward the platform over the tops of a thousand streaking heads. He had heard Carpathia’s lament and Fortunato’s keening, but suddenly the sound—at least in the speakers above him—went dead.
Buck glanced up just in time to see a ten-foot-square speaker box tumble from the top. "Look out!" he shrieked to the crowd, but no one heard or noticed. He up again to be sure he was out of the way. The box snapped its umbilical like string, which redirected its path some fifteen feet away from the tower. Buck watched in horror as a woman was crushed beneath it and several other men and women were staggered. A man tried to drag the victim from beneath the speaker, but the crowd behind him never slowed. Suddenly the running mass became a cauldron of humanity, trampling each other in their desperation to get free of the carnage.
Buck could not help. The entire scaffolding was pivoting, and he felt himself swing left. He hung on, not daring to drop into the torrent of screaming bodies. He caught sight of Jacov at last, trying to make his way up the side steps to the platform where Carpathia’s security detail brandished Uzis.
A helicopter attempted to land near the stage but had to wait until the crowd cleared. Chaim sat motionless in his chair, facing to Buck’s right, away from Carpathia and Fortunato. He appeared stiff, his head cocked and rigid, as if unable to move. If he had not been shot, Buck wondered if he’d had another stroke, or worse, a heart attack. He knew if Jacov could get to him, he would protect Chaim and get him somewhere safe.
Buck tried to keep an eye on Jacov while Fortunato waved at the helicopters, pleading with one to land and get Carpathia out of there. Jacov finally broke free and sprinted up the steps, only to be dealt a blow from the butt end of an Uzi that knocked him off his feet and into the crowd.
The impact snapped Jacov’s head back so violently that Buck was certain he was unconscious and unable to protect himself from trampling. Buck leaped off the scaffold and into the fray, fighting his way toward Jacov. He moved around the fallen speaker box and felt the sticky blood underfoot.
As Buck neared where he thought Jacov should be he took one more look at the platform before the angle would obscure his view. Chaim’s chair was moving! He was headed full speed toward the back of the platform.
Had he leaned against the joystick? Was he out of control? If he didn’t stop or turn, he would pitch twelve feet to the pavement and certain death. His head was still cocked, his body stiff. Buck reached Jacov, who lay splayed, his head awkwardly flopped to one side, eyes staring, limbs limp. A sob worked its way to Buck’s throat as he elbowed stragglers out of the way and knelt to put a thumb and fore-finger to Jacov’s throat. No pulse.
Buck wanted to drag the body from the scene but feared he would be recognized despite his extensive facial scars. There was nothing he could do for Jacov. But what about Chaim? Buck sprinted left around the platform and skidded to a stop at the back corner, from where he could see Chaim’s wheelchair crumpled on the ground, backstage center. The heavy batteries had broken open and lay twenty feet from the chair, which had one wheel bent almost in half, seat pad missing, and a footrest broken off. Was Buck about to find another friend dead?
He loped to the mangled chair and searched the area, including under the platform. Besides splinters from what he was sure had been the lectern, he found nothing. How could Chaim have survived this? Many of the world rulers had scrambled off the back of the stage, certainly having to turn and hang from the edge first to serious injury. Even then, many would have had to have suffered sprained or broken ankles. But an elderly stroke victim riding in a metal chair twelve feet to concrete? Buck feared Chaim could not have survived. But who would have carried him off?
A chopper landed on the other side of the platform, and medical personnel rushed the stage. The security detail fanned out and began descending the stairs to clear the area.
Four emergency medical technicians crowded around Carpathia and Fortunato while others attended the trampled and the crushed, including the woman beneath the speaker box. Jacov was lifted into a body bag. Buck nearly wept at having to leave his brother that way, yet he knew Jacov was in heaven. He ran to catch up with the crowd now spilling into the streets.
Buck knew Jacov was dead. From the wound at the back of Carpathia’s head, he assumed Nicolae was dead or soon would be. And he had to assume Chaim was dead too.
Buck longed for the end of all this and the glorious appearing of Christ. But that was still another three and a half years off.
Rayford felt a fool, running with the crowd, the hem of his robe in his hands to keep from tripping. He had dropped the Saber and its box and wanted to use his arms for more speed. But he had to run like a woman in a long skirt. Adrenaline carried him, because he felt fast as ever, regardless. Rayford really wanted to shed the robe and turban, but the last thing he needed just then was to look like a Westerner. Had he murdered Carpathia? He had tried to, intended to, but couldn’t pull the trigger. Then, when he was bumped and the gun went off, he couldn’t imagine he’d been lucky enough to find his target. Could the bul-let have ricocheted off the lectern and into Carpathia? Could it also have passed through him and taken out the backdrop? It didn’t seem possible. If he had killed the potentate, there was certainly no satisfaction in it, no relief or sense of accomplishment. As he hurried along, the screams and moans of Carpathia’s faithful all around him, Rayford felt he was running from a prison of his own making. He was sucking wind by the time the crowd thinned and began to disperse, and when he stopped to bend at the waist, hands on his hips, to catch his breath, a couple hurrying past said, "Isn’t it awful? They think he’s dead!" "It’s awful," Rayford gasped, not looking at them. Assuming TV cameras had caught everything, espe-cially him with the gun raised, it wouldn’t be long before he would be sought. As soon as he was away from the busy streets, he shed the garb and stuffed it in a trash barrel. He found his car, eager to get to Tel Aviv and out of Israel before it became impossible. Mac stood near the back of the throng, far enough from the gun that the report didn’t reach his ears until after the massive crowd began to move. While others near him shrieked and gasped and pleaded to know what was going on, he kept his eyes on the stage, relief washing over him. So, he would not have to sacrifice himself and Abdullah to be sure Carpathia was dead. From the commotion down front and from his view of the platform via jumbo screens nearby, it was clear to Mac that Nicolae had suffered the massive head wound believers knew was coming. Ever the professional, Mac knew what would be expected of him. He slid his cell phone from his jacket and dialed the Tel Aviv tower. "You got a jockey certi-fied to shuttle the 216 to Jerusalem?" "Already looking, sir. This is a tragedy." "Yeah." Mac dialed Abdullah. From the limited noise in the background, he could tell his first officer was not at the Gala. "You hear, Ab?" "I heard. Shall I go get the Phoenix?" "Hang loose; they’re trying to get it here. I saw you leave the hotel. Where are you?" "Doctor Pita’s. I suppose I’ll look suspicious finishing my meal when the big boss is dying and everyone else has run into the streets looking for a TV." "Stick it in your pocket, and if you don’t hear from me, meet me at Jerusalem Airport in an hour." Mac made his way to the front of the plaza as the place emptied in a frenzy. He flashed his ID when neces-sary, and by the time he reached the platform, it was clear Carpathia was in the final throes of life. His wrists were drawn up under his chin, eyes shut tight and bleeding, blood trickling also from his ears and mouth, and his legs shook violently, toes pointed, knees locked. "Oh, he’s gone! He’s gone!" Leon wailed. "Someone do something." The four emergency medical technicians, portable mon-itors beeping, knelt over Carpathia. They cleared his mouth so they could administer oxygen, studied a blood pressure gauge, pumped his chest, cradled his head, and tried to stanch the flow from a wound that left them kneeling in more blood than it seemed a body could hold. Mac peeked past the panicky Fortunato to see Carpathia’s normally tanned hands and face already pale. No one could survive this, and Mac wondered if the bodily movements were merely posthumous reflexes. "There is a hospital nearby, Commander," one of the EMTs said, which threw Fortunato into a rage. He had just made eye contact with Mac and seemed about to say something when he turned on the EMT. "Are you crazy? These—these people are not qualified! We must get him to New Babylon." He turned to Mac. "Is the 216 ready?" "On its way from Tel Aviv. Should be able to lift off in an hour." "An hour?! Should we helicopter him straight to Tel Aviv?" "Jerusalem Airport will be faster," Mac said. "There’s no room to stabilize him in a chopper, sir," the EMT said. "We have no choice!" Fortunato said. "An ambulance would be too slow."
"But an ambulance has equipment that might—" "Just get him into the chopper!" Fortunato said. But as the EMT turned away looking disgusted, a female colleague looked up at him. Carpathia was still. "No vitals," she said. "He’s flat lined." "No!" Leon bellowed, bullying his way between them and kneeling in Nicolae’s blood. Again he leaned over the body, but rather than holding Carpathia to him, he buried his face in the lifeless chest and sobbed aloud. Security Chief Walter Moon dismissed the EMTs with a nod, and as they gathered up their equipment and went for the gurney, he gently pulled Leon away from Carpathia. "Don’t drape the body," he said. "Let’s load ’im up now. Say nothing about his condition until we’re back home." "Who did this, Walter?" Fortunato whined. "Did we catch him?" Moon shrugged and shook his head. Buck ran toward the hostel. He dialed Chaim’s number again, as he had all along the way. Still busy. The people in Chaim’s house—Stefan the valet, Jacov’s wife, Hannelore, and Hannelore’s mother—had to have been watching on TV and were likely calling anyone they knew for news of their loved ones. Finally, Hannelore answered. "Jacov!" she shouted. "No, Hannelore, this is Greg North." "Buck!" she wailed. "What happened? Where—" Hannelore!" Buck said. "Your phone is not secure!" "I don’t care anymore, Buck! If we die, we die! Where is Jacov? What happened to Chaim?" "I need to meet you somewhere, Hannelore. If Chaim shows up there—" "Chaim is all right?" "I don’t know. I didn’t see him after—" "Did you see Jacov?" "Meet me, Hannelore. Call me from another phone and—" "Buck, you tell me right now! Did you see him?" "I saw him." "Is he alive?" "Hannelore—" "Buck, is he dead?" "I’m sorry. Yes." She began to wail, and in the background Buck heard a scream. Hannelore’s mother? Had she deduced the news? "Buck, they’re here!" "What? Who?" He heard a door smashing, a yell, another scream. "GC!" she whispered fiercely. And the phone went dead. Onboard the Phoenix 216, Nicolae Carpathia’s personal physician examined him and pronounced him dead. "Where were you?" Leon demanded. "You could have done something." "Where I was supposed to be, Commander," the doc- tor said, "in the auxiliary trailer a hundred yards behind the platform. Security would not let me out, fearing more gunfire."