Iran’s elections have produced a new president. Hassan Rouhani is hailed as a highly educated, religious moderate, fluent in five languages, and the only cleric in the runnings. He vowed to restore dignity to his country, and to seek to steer towards moderation and away from global isolationism[1]. After the crazed, anti-Semitic rantings of Ahmadinejad, can Israel relax a little, now that Iran apparently has a more reasonable leader at the helm?
Benjamin Netanyahu is not lowering his guard, that’s for sure. He pointed out that it is the Khamenei, not the president, who sets Iran’s nuclear policy, and warned against “wishful thinking”[2].
In the Bible, Ezekiel 38 and 39 describe an enormous and catastrophic battle between Israel and Gog and Magog, often thought to be Russia and Iran. From a Biblical prophecy point of view, it seems that Iran is not likely to turn and become good friends with Israel any time soon. And as our Iranian friends who left their country and the Muslim faith have told us, the nation remains fiercely anti-Semitic, making children yell, “death to Israel!” every morning at school.

But perhaps this development will buy more time for people to come to faith both in Israel and in Iran, and indeed the whole region, before it is engulfed in devastating conflict. Certainly, God seems to be holding the door open for Iranians to come to faith in numbers never seen before. Wherever they may be in the world, Iranians seem to be accepting Jesus, the Jewish Messiah, and even more astonishingly, many are receiving his heart for Israel too!

It seems that the gospel spread out from Jerusalem, was prevented by the Holy Spirit from going East by the Holy Spirit, called West by the “Macedonian Man” and has swept the globe in that clockwise direction since the first century:

“Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. (Acts 16:6-10)

The gospel went West into Europe, North America, Africa, and South America, to China, North Korea, and is continuing its journey home. Today, China is blessed with countless millions of believers, determined to carry out their call to take the gospel “Back To Jerusalem”, through the harshest, most hostile countries left unreached by the gospel, before coming back to Israel where it all began[3]. It now appears to be Iran’s turn to receive the grace and outpouring of the Spirit in unusual measure, as Muslims are having dreams and visions of Jesus, and coming to faith in unprecedented numbers.
Perhaps this new President may not be able to prevent the inevitable, and perhaps he may not be Israel’s number one fan, but perhaps he is God’s way of keeping the door open just a little bit longer for more people to be saved.
Time to relax? No! Time to pray in the harvest! Please pray for the protection of Israel, for the salvation of Israelis, and also for the protection of those Iranians who have found the truth in Jesus. Life is not easy for believers in Iran. But let’s pray for even more Muslim Iranians to find peace and comfort in him, and also to share his heart for his beloved Israel, refusing hatred, and sharing in the brotherhood of all believers.
To read further suggestions about how to pray, click here for Joel Rosenberg’s blog
[1] Profile: Hassan Rouhani BBC news 15/6/2013
[2] HaAretz 16/6/2013
[3] “Back To Jerusalem: Three Chinese House Church Leaders Share Their Vision to Complete the Great Commission”, Paul Hattaway
Photo by Arman Taherian on Unsplash

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