Life Imitates Outlandish Fiction

If it hadn’t been for John McCain’s run for the presidency and his inexplicable courting of pastor Hagee, I never would have heard about this and I probably wouldn’t have believed it.
There are these particular American Christians who, while they hate Jews (and Catholics), nevertheless have an alliance with particular right-wing Israelis who share their interest in hastening Armageddon.
It gets weirder. According to old testament prophecy, Armageddon will occur only after some prerequisites have been met, and one of those is that “the Temple” will be rebuilt. Sane Israelis are in no hurry to see this happen, but those groups I just mentioned are very eager to make it happen. The hitch is that for the temple to be built a flawless red heifer has to be sacrificed.
So there are actually Christians in Texas doing their best to breed a flawless red heifer. In 2002 one was born, but it had to reach a certain age before it could be sacrificed and right before it matured, it got a few white hairs on its tail. Prophecy thwarted!
This doesn’t quite exactly have to do with Arabs or Arabic, but I just couldn’t resist posting about it. This site here has a lot of good information and some links if you want to find out more and see a photo of the red heifer before it got its white hairs.

Quotes from the linked page:

Christian and Jewish fundamentalists have joined together in a plan to move the world toward the End of Days now. The Christians want Armageddon and Christ’s immediate return. The Jews expect the age of peace and world rabbinical rule.
This isn’t fantasy. It’s happening right now. (We back up that statement with links to real-world sources in the chapter summaries you’ll find in the sidebar.) And it’s extremely dangerous, because what they’re planning to do includes:

Blowing up a Muslim shrine at the risk of a world holy war and provoking Iran to attack Israel.

Our eschatological heifer story begins on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, where tens of millions of Jews, Muslims, and Christians believe the central events of each tradition’s Last Days will play out. The site, the Biblical Mount Moriah, was the site of the Hebrews’ First Temple, destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC, and the Second Temple, which the Romans leveled in 70 AD. Muslims, believing the site to be the place from which the Prophet Mohammed ascended into Heaven atop a steed, began in 685 to build the Noble Sanctuary, a 35-acre site in Jerusalem’s walled Old City, containing the Dome of the Rock shrine and the al Aqsa mosque.

To Jews who adhere to ancient tradition, whose number include religious Israeli nationalists, the long-awaited Messiah will return to become the king of Israel and high priest of a rebuilt Temple, which can only be on Temple Mount. For Christian fundamentalists, Jesus Christ’s return at the height of the battle of Armageddon, in which forces of the Antichrist clash in Israel with a 200 million-man army from the East, will require a Third Temple from which the Lord will begin a millennial reign. And for Muslims, an Antichrist figure called the Dajal will be a Jew who will lead an all-encompassing war against Islam, which will culminate in the return of Jesus (as a Muslim prophet), the Kaaba, or Sacred Rock in Mecca, transporting itself to Jerusalem, and final judgment in the valley just below the Noble Sanctuary.

“What happens at that one spot, more than anywhere else, quickens expectations of the End in three religions. And at that spot, the danger of provoking catastrophe is greatest,” writes Israeli journalist Gershom Gorenberg in The End of Days, his 2000 book about the apocalyptic struggle over the Temple Mount.

So how does the calf recently born in Israel figure into things? As Gorenberg explains, the ashes of a flawless red heifer — an extremely rare creature — were required by the ancient Hebrews to purify worshipers who went into the Temple to pray. In modern times, rabbinical law forbids Jews from setting foot on the Temple Mount, thus violating the site where the Holy of Holies dwelled, until and unless they are ritually purified. Without a perfect red heifer to sacrifice, the Third Temple cannot be built, and Moshiach — the Messiah — will not come. Writes Gorenberg, “[Israeli] government officials and military leaders could only regard the requirement for the missing heifer as a stroke of sheer good fortune preventing conflict over the Mount.”

Before Jesus can return, according to Biblical prophecy, Israel must be attacked from the north. That’s why we attacked Iraq – to provoke an assault on Israel. But Saddam fell too fast and never got to do it. Now we’re going to try it again. Just ask John McCain’s friend John Hagee.

The pages of [pastor Hagee’s book] Jerusalem Countdown provide a peculiar mix of biblical prophecy, purported inside information from Israeli government officials, and a mixed-up, pared-down lesson in nuclear physics. “I wrote this book in April 2005, and when people read it, they will think I wrote it late last night after the FOX News report,” says the author without a trace of irony. “It’s that close to where we are and beyond.” Oddly enough he predicted, allegedly relying on information from a “reliable” Israeli source, that Iran would have a nuclear weapon ready by April 2006 — the month during which Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced that Iran had enriched uranium, although apparently not nearly enough to make a bomb.

The particulars of Iran’s nuclear program, however, do not seem to interest Hagee. In many of his appearances last winter, before the Iranian president’s announcement, he glossed over the obstacles faced by Tehran in creating a viable nuclear weapon, arguing that “once you have enriched uranium, the genie is out of the bottle.” (His command of politics in Islamic countries is similarly flawed; he repeatedly has called Iranian religious fundamentalists “Wahabbists,” even though Wahabbism is a form of Sunni Islam, and the overwhelming majority of Iranians are Shiites.) Last March, he claimed that within a month, “Iran will have the nuclear — the enriched uranium to make the — have the nuclear capability to make a bomb, a suitcase bomb, a missile head, or anything they want to do with it.” That statement is blatantly false, even according to the most pessimistic assessments of Iran’s nuclear prowess, but Hagee’s purpose is to frighten his listeners, not to inform them.

In Hagee’s telling, Israel has no choice but to strike at Iran’s nuclear facilities, with or without America’s help. The strike will provoke Russia — which wants Persian Gulf oil — to lead an army of Arab nations against Israel. Then God will wipe out all but one-sixth of the Russian-led army, as the world watches “with shock and awe,” he says, lending either a divine quality to the Bush administration phrase or a Bush-like quality to God’s wrath.

But Hagee doesn’t stop there. He adds that Ezekiel predicts fire upon those who “live in security in the coastlands.” From this sentence he concludes that there will be judgment upon all who stood by while the Russian-led force invaded Israel, and issues a stark warning to the United States to intervene: “Could it be that America, who refuses to defend Israel from the Russian invasion, will experience nuclear warfare on our east and west coasts?” He says yes, citing Genesis 12:3, in which God said to Israel: “I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you.”

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