Epicenter: Why the Current Rumblings in the Middle East Will Change Your Future, 2.0 Version, by Joel C. Rosenberg.

May 6th, 2019

I like to review older books that made predictions or observations about the near future to see if those predictions and observations held up. For one thing, it tells me the worth of reading the author’s following works. One such book is Epicenter by Joel C. Rosenberg, written originally in 2006 and updated to version 2.0 in 2008.

If you’ve watched Fox News or listened to Rush Limbaugh, Joel Rosenberg will be familiar to you. He is known for his novels that take Biblical prophecies as a premise for story building. Epicenter is a non-fiction survey of the Gog and Magog prophecy of Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39, which the author used as a setting for his novel The Ezekiel Option. It examines the world political situation at the time and evaluates how well it fits the conditions of Ezekiel’s prophetic setting.

The yet unfulfilled prophecies in the last chapters of Ezekiel appear to be written in the chronological order in which they will occur. Chapters 36 and 37 deal with the restoration of Israel in the last days, which has happened in modern times. The prophecies of chapters 40 and beyond appear to be set in apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic times. The prophecy of chapters 38 and 39 fit into history sometime after Israel is re-established as a nation, but sometime before the end of the age. Plausibly, that time could be now.

The prophecy is addressed to a future political leaded named Gog from a land to the “uttermost north” relative to Israel, and lists the nations that he leads as Magog, Rosh, Meshech and Tubal. This leader’s armies and those of his allies will invade Israel, but the invasion will fail due to divine intervention, which will wake up the world to God’s existence. Gog’s allies are listed as Persia, Cush, Phut, Togarmah, and Gomer. Epicenter identifies these nations – Rosh as Russia, Meshech as Moscow, Tubal as Tobolsk (in Russia), Magog as the former Soviet republics of Central Asia, Persia as Iran, Cush as Ethiopia, Phut as Libya, Togarmah as the Turkic peoples also of Central Asia or perhaps Turkey itself or Armenia, and Gomer as possibly Germany. It then examines the then-current dispositions of those nations toward Israel, principally Russia and Iran, and discusses the possibility that Vladimir Putin is Gog.

Epicenter is written as a thesis of the plausibility of the Gog prophecy occurring in the near future, but it’s more of an exposition of the prophetic event as it would occur in our times, rather than an assertion that it is imminent. The author is not afraid to address difficulties with this thesis, such as the apparent participation of Germany and Turkey in the invading coalition, both of which seemed highly implausible in 2006. To his credit, Joel Rosenberg avoids the tendency of Bible prophecy teachers to bend interpretation of prophecy to the current political situation; instead, he takes bible prophecy for what it says, and takes the posture that the political situation will change to match the prophetic setting.

The scenario of the Gog prophecy occurring in the near future as presented in Epicenter, remains as plausible now as it did a decade ago, and in some respects, more so. Russia and Iran in particular, seem to fit as candidates for the Ezekiel prophecy as before. Perhaps most telling of the continued plausibility of the prophecy’s fulfilment in the near future is that the author’s website, www.joelrosenberg.com, still features this book among his non-fiction writings.

Even more stark, is what the prophecy implies about future USA-Israeli relations. The Ezekiel prophecy states that Israel will stand alone, and Epicenter dutifully points this out. Other nations will question the intent of Gog, but no one other than God is declared as acting on Israel’s behalf. When Epicenter was written in 2006, then updated in 2008, the United States of America was committed to Israeli security. However, the tenure of the Obama administration put continuation of this policy into doubt, and despite the current Trump administration’s strong backing of Israel, the vicissitudes of American politics are such that it is plausible that a successor administration would abandon the USA’s long alliance with Israel.

I recommend Epicenter as an introduction to interpreting and understanding Ezekiel 38 and 39. Joel Rosenberg’s careful examination of the possibility that this prophetic event may occur in our lifetime will leave the reader watchful of the developing foreign policies of the nations who are its players.

A Second Look At Second Look

May 5th, 2019

After nearly a decade of inactivity, I’ve decided to revisit this blog. I hope you will find it useful.

The first topic will be to at last deliver a promised review of Epicenter by Joel C. Rosenberg. This was to be third of a trilogy of reviews of books about, what was in 2009, the immediate future. The first two books were America Alone by Marc Steyn, and Antichrist: Islam’s Awaited Messiah, by Joel Richardson. I intend to revisit these books in subsequent posts to examine how well their predictions or warnings have held up in 10 years.

Thematically, this blog remains A Second Look at books, culture, and God-related topics that have some age to them but still hold relevance for today. Naturally, my perspective has changed in ten years, and you may see less about gaming and musicianship than before. What draws my attention more in these times is the imminent approach of both The Last Days of the current Biblical age, and my own last days in this mortal shell.

The Bass Project

July 11th, 2010

Update on The Sax Project. I’m playing sax still but the project itself is on hold. I started playing with the worship team at church, but switched to bass guitar about a year ago, and now I’m pretty much entrenched as their bass player. Bass presents none of the issues that sax does, so it’s been easy to contribute to the worship environment in an effective way.

In the time I played sax with the worship team, it was much as I thought it would be and expressed here in the blog. Perhaps the only thing different was how often I subbed for other instruments we didn’t have – usually strings. We didn’t have a lead electric guitar during that time, so I played a few guitar intros and bridge leads. The band now has an electric guitar and a second keyboard to play synth strings.

As for sax itself, I’ve moved off the alto in favor of soprano and tenor. Due to some health issues, I knocked off sax altogether for a few months last year, though I could still play bass. Played soprano in the Christmas concert in 2009 after a hurried attempt to revive the embouchure. Not sure about 2010′s concert. So in the short term, I don’t know what I’ll be doing with sax on the worship front. My current effort is aimed at developing a set list for a new cover band (secular).

Antichrist: Islam’s Awaited Messiah, by Joel Richardson

June 10th, 2009

One thing that makes interpretation of apocalyptic Bible prophecy difficult is the many disparate passages in scripture, so that the task of tying them together into a coherent and comprehensible, end-time narrative is daunting. Authors and teachers who attempt to do this very thing ironically often exacerbate this problem by injecting their own notions, arising from speculation on how the prophecies might play out, or through attempting to impose current political alignments onto prophetic passages. The result is that the body of thought in the Christian world on end-time prophecy is muddled, and Christians inadvertently present an uncertain message to non-Christians.

Occasionally, a work arises that brings clarity rather than confusion to our understanding. Such is the case with the opening chapters of Antichrist: Islam’s Awaited Messiah, where author Joel Richardson compares three principle characters of Islamic eschatology – the Mahdi, the returned prophet Isa (Jesus), and the Islamic antichrist Dijjal – with the three principals of Biblical eschatology – the Antichrist, False Prophet, and Messiah Jesus. Though characterized from opposing perspectives, the parallels between these persons is uncanny and immediately recognizable to anyone who has devoted time to reading and understanding Bible prophecy. Read the rest of this entry »

America Alone, by Mark Steyn

January 19th, 2009

In America Alone, Mark Steyn (of National Review, talk radio, and occasionally Fox News) cites various worldwide demographic trends to extrapolate a view of the future geopolitical landscape, particularly with respect to the growth of Islam. Some claims in the book I found notable are -

  • World population will stabilize in 30 years.
  • US population will remain stable as immigration compensates for low birth rate.
  • Russia will cease to exist in a generation, if its population trend continues.
  • Europe is turning Islam.

Read the rest of this entry »

Days Ahead

January 19th, 2009

Back at last. One thing I’ve done since the last post is read (or listen to) several books, including three that built upon each other topically (by accident – I didn’t chose them for that reason), and which I will review here in upcoming days.

  • America Alone, by Mark Steyn
  • Antichrist: Islam’s Awaited Messiah, by Joel Richardson
  • Epicenter, by Joel C. Rosenberg

Given that this blog is entitled On Second Look, I can evade (quite conveniently) comprehensive summaries of the text, assuming the reader has already seen reviews such as those at amazon.com, and instead focus on offering my appraisal.

Still At It

October 10th, 2008

Been awhile. But there’s been progress on the music front.

Since August I’ve been practicing with the church worship team. They like my sound OK, so it remains for me to get the material down. Most of them are participating in the Pastor’s December 7 concert, but I’m not, so I have to time work on the main stuff until then.

I’ve made an upgrade to the student model alto (Yamaha YAS-23) by replacing the neck with Yamaha’s G1 neck, which is what they put on higher end saxes. Basically, I upgraded the tone of the YAS-23 for $300, without having to cough up the cash for the next-level model. I played a YAS-475 (intermediate model) in the music store, but didn’t notice any tone improvement, though the key action was clearly better.

I am considering getting another Vandoren V16 mouthpiece for the alto, this time an A6S to complement the A7M I currently have. The A7M gave me the tone I wanted, but practicing with electronically amplified instruments, I find the need to cut a bit more, not in volume, but with more character from overtones that I would get from a smaller chamber. I will also try out other makes as I get the opportunity.

There’s more to tell, but why do it all in one post?

Why I Believe In God

June 18th, 2008

I could give reasons why I should believe in God, with the obvious implication that you should, too. For example, I could say that I contemplated the physics of the universe and concluded that it must be made by design, and so it must have an ingenious, powerful and benevolent creator. But in my case, that is not so. I considered God’s works only after I believed.

I could say my life was messed up and I needed divine help to straighten it out. While I did need to clean up my act, that was not the reason either.

I could say that I have witnessed miracles that undermined all contrary argument and persuaded me beyond doubt that God is. But not until I believed did I ever see a miracle.

You see, I don’t accept God as a proposition, or concept, or personification of a creed or hope. God himself drew me, so I sought him out in turn. I love who he is, and desire his friendship. Therefore, I choose to follow him.

As Jesus said to his disciples, “You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you…” and “No man can come to me, unless my Father draws him;”.

So it remains for each of us to, as the psalmist put it, “hear his voice and not harden your heart”.

Prince Caspian

May 19th, 2008

This past weekend I saw the movie The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. I’ll say up front that it’s worth seeing, though there were a few things I wish had been done better. Be warned that there are spoilers in this review, and it assumes you are familiar with the first movie (or book) in the series – The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Read the rest of this entry »

I guess it doesn’t stay in Vegas…

May 6th, 2008

Well Norm’s gonna send the guys from Vegas after me if I don’t start blogging again.

My favorite gaming board – Consimworld – has recently launched a social network. I’ve registered there, so I’ll post wargaming stuff on that site, although sporadically. Consimworld Expo is coming up soon (week after Memorial Day), so hopefully I’ve have material to post about.

On the music front, I’m undergoing an intense 3-month preparation for a do-or-die audition for the church worship team come August. If successful, I intend to spin amateur musicianship off into its own blog, making this a God-blog only. For God-blogging I have a couple of topics in mind.