Thursday, November 23, 2017

11-23-17 Harbinger of the Messiah


Harbinger of the Messiah :: By Matt Ward


“Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me. . .” (Mal. 3:1).
There are three prerequisites before Jesus Christ can return to this earth. First, Israel needs to exist as a nation state. Second, the Jewish Temple needs to be rebuilt.  Finally, an Altar needs to be placed and properly consecrated inside the Temple so that sacrifice can once again be offered in Jerusalem to the Lord God.
As in the First Coming of Christ, the Second Coming will also involve a personal return of the Messiah to the actual, physical land of Israel, making its existence and rebirth in the last days an absolute necessity.
Equally, before the Second Coming can happen, a Jewish Temple needs to be rebuilt in Jerusalem with a functioning Holy Altar inside it. This is so that – at some point in the near future – one man, the Antichrist, can come forth and “…confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him” (Daniel 9:27).
Today, in 2017, the nation of Israel already exists and has existed for close to one full, biblical generation (Psalm 90:10). At the same time, the world is suddenly awash with talk of rebuilding the Jewish Temple. The Jewish Temple is one of the last pieces of the jigsaw puzzle that yet needs to fall into place before the end can come.
The second Temple of Jesus’ time was constructed over a period of thirty to forty years. If the Temple were to be constructed today, it would be built in a mere fraction of that time. The Temple Institute in Israel has already made many of the sacred artifacts needed for use in the Temple, as well as prefabricated large sections of the Temple structure itself so that, when the time comes, these pre-made sections can be taken straight to the site and built into the larger superstructure of the Temple quickly and efficiently, with a minimum of fuss.
It is, however, not that simple. There are huge, seemingly overwhelming problems to overcome before a Temple can ever be rebuilt.
For political and safety reasons, rebuilding a Temple would seem almost an impossibility at present. Islam currently controls the Temple Mount, and for Jews to destroy the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque so as to build the Jewish Temple, it would likely provoke an immediate world war. As insurmountable as this problem may seem at present, I sincerely believe that it will be resolved one way or another very soon, clearing the way for rebuilding work to begin.
Amazingly though, the current political impediments regarding Islam and the Temple Mount area are not even the most significant problems faced when considering rebuilding the Temple. There are greater issues to deal with before even a single brick can be laid.
The first insurmountable obstacle faced when considering re-establishing the sacrificial system with a Temple concerns the ashes and blood of a Red Heifer.  Red Heifers are absolutely critical to the rededication process of the Temple in two ways: First, the ashes of a red heifer that has been sacrificed in a ritually clean place (Numbers 19:9), are pivotal to the process of rededicating the Temple itself, and especially the Holy Altar, where the heifer’s blood would be sprinkled. Without both the blood and the ashes, there is no rededication and no re-establishment of sacrifice.
This presents an insurmountable problem for Israel that is not often discussed, and it regards the actual sacrifice of the red heifer itself prior to any potential, future rededication of the Temple. Biblically-pure red heifers must be sacrificed in a certain way, in a certain place, and the place of sacrifice must be ritually clean and pure (Numbers19:9). There are no such ritually clean places that exist in Israel today— not even one. This means that no red heifer, even if one could be found, could be sacrificed; because it would be made immediately unclean by the place of sacrifice itself, and would therefore be unfit for use in the Temple.
The reason for this is because, in order to make a place ritually pure enough to sacrifice a red heifer according the exacting standards of Mosaic Law, the place of sacrifice itself needs to be scattered with the ashes of another previously sacrificed red heifer. It is a terrible catch-22 situation.
The solution within Judaism has traditionally been to keep safe the ashes from previous red heifer sacrifices, of which there have been between seven and nine throughout Jewish history, so that future acceptable and pure sacrifices can take place whenever needed.
During the first and second Temples, these ashes were divided into three parts: One portion was given to the Levites guarding the Temple itself; the second portion was stored on the Mount of Olives to be used in the purification of the priests; and the remaining third was placed in a wall which faced the Women’s Gallery of the Temple. According to Numbers 19:9, a portion was also to be kept outside the camp. None of these ashes have been seen since the Romans smashed Jerusalem in 70 AD. The assumption is that they have been, and remain to this day, hidden.
Another insurmountable problem, and the current focus of a raging debate within Judaism, is exactly who has the authority to begin the rebuilding process of the Temple itself? Is it God, the Messiah or someone else? Nobody really knows, and there is as yet no consensus within Judaism on this absolutely vital issue.
Without resolution of this pivotal problem regarding exactly who has the authority to rebuild, there can be no Temple; and these are the reasons why:
First, the problem of who has the authority to begin the rebuilding process exists because nobody today really knows exactly where the Holy of Holies from the Second Temple is located on the Temple Mount. This is the reason why Jews are forbidden from entering the precise area where the second Temple was built, in case they inadvertently stand on the sacred and consecrated area which housed the Holy of Holies. To do so, even inadvertently, is punishable by death under Mosaic Law.
The second major stumbling block is that all Jews are currently ritually impure, which also prevents any Jews from entering the precise area where the Temple used to stand. In order to become ritually pure, Jews would need the ashes of a red heifer, which would need to be administered by a priest who could trace his family and ancestral lineage back far enough to validate his claim to the priesthood. No such red heifer ashes exist and no priest currently exists who can trace his lineage to such an exacting standard, as is required. The reason is that when Israel and Judah were dispersed to the four corners of the world and thrust into the Diaspora, all such lineage records were lost.
This means that, under Mosaic Law, there are no priests eligible to ever administer the ashes of a red heifer and, therefore, be able to make Jews ritually pure enough to ever enter the Temple complex area. It is another terrible catch-22 situation, but it is not the last.
The next major problem concerns the Altar of the Temple itself, specifically the location of the Altar. The Law of Moses is very precise about exactly where the Altar must be located. It cannot simply go anywhere; it needs to go in exactly the right place. To put the Altar anywhere else is expressly forbidden. When they built the Second Temple, the Jews used reliable witnesses who could testify as to the correct spot. In fact, the prophets Haggai, Zephaniah and Malachi are believed within Judaism to have been the three witnesses used to verify the Altar’s correct location.
No such witnesses exist today. Even if a Temple could be built, they could never offer sacrifice in it as they simply do not know where to locate the Altar. They have absolutely no idea where it should go, no idea whatsoever.
Assuming that they were able to rebuild the Temple in exactly the right spot and then locate the Altar allowing for sacrifice also in exactly the right spot, the Temple would still need priests whose genealogy can be absolutely determined and verified. No such verification exists anymore. It would be a Temple with no priests.
Yet another major issue is that, in order to have a Temple, there needs to be a High Priest. There can be no functioning Temple without a functioning High Priest. To appoint a High Priest there needs to be a Sanhedrin, 70 to 71 ordained rabbis acting as the Supreme Council of all Israel. There can currently be no legitimate Sanhedrin that satisfies Mosaic Law because each rabbi must satisfy Mosaic Ordination, which was transmitted from rabbi to rabbi since the time of Moses. Mosaic Ordination ceased in 358 AD because of persecution; therefore, there can be no legitimate Sanhedrin and no legitimate High Priest.
These problems are insurmountable. There is no human solution to them.
Jewish tradition, though, does provide an answer, as does scripture. In scripture, the person who may well supply the necessary authority to begin the rebuilding process of the Third Temple is the Prophet Elijah himself. Jesus, in Matthew’s Gospel, revealed that at the end Elijah, “will restore all things” (Matthew 17:11).
According to Jewish tradition, it will be Elijah who will reveal himself to the Jews before the advent of Messiah. In revealing himself, he will also answer all questions and resolve all doubts. In the Tanakh we are told of Elijah: “…at the appointed time, it is written, you are destined to calm the wrath of God before it breaks out in fury, to turn the hearts of parents to their children, and to restore the tribes of Jacob” (Sirach 48:10).
In the Wisdom of Joshua ben Sira, Elijah’s end-time mandate is described as being fourfold in nature. He will herald the Messiah, calm God’s fury against an Israel that is initially in unbelief, restore familial peace, and restore the 12 tribes of Israel.
In Talmudic literature it was not uncommon to believe that Elijah would visit rabbis to help solve particularly difficult legal problems. Thus, when confronted with reconciling impossibly conflicting laws or rituals, the rabbis would set aside any decision “until Elijah comes.” This is one of them.
Jesus Christ, in his First Coming, said that “Elijah truly shall come first and will restore all things” (Matthew 17:11). The prophetic reference by Jesus to the “restoration of all things” is a reference to the restoration of God’s worship system. We should expect Elijah, therefore, when he returns, to restore a proper understanding of how the worship system that God instituted at Mount Sinai and the worship system that Jesus Christ instituted at Jerusalem work together in the salvation of any in the last days who will believe and worship God the Father, especially for the Jewish people.
Thus, as Malachi describes, “he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers.” When these two aspects of the Father’s worship system are restored and understood in the light of his plan for the salvation of humanity, and are believed by those Jews he calls to salvation, it will be said that the hearts of the fathers are turned to the sons and the sons to the fathers. There will be perfect harmony between the fathers who taught righteousness like the Patriarchs, Moses, Aaron and the Apostles, and all the sons who are taught righteousness and have come to believe through faith.
Elijah will also be the necessary authority to reveal the exact location of the Holy of Holies and the precise location of the Altar, as well as where the previously sacrificed red heifer ashes currently lie. It will be Elijah who will restore the 12 Tribes of Israel, revealing to the priesthood their exact genealogies, reinstituting Mosaic ordination for Rabbis; therefore, finally allowing for the reestablishment of a legitimate Sanhedrin and High Priest.
And to further satisfy Mosaic Law, which prescribes the presence of Two Witnesses as being necessary for legal satisfaction (Deuteronomy 19:15), Elijah will also likely return with another great prophet of old, a second “Witness,” who will serve to validate his judgments. Many speculate, and it can only be speculation, that this second witness could possibly be the man through whom the Law was initially delivered—Moses himself.
The picture we see revealed in Revelation, during the first half of the Tribulation period, reflects this.
“And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth. And if anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies. And if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this manner” (Revelation 11: 4-5).
In the book of Jude, we come across what seems to be a strange passage detailing Michael the Archangel contesting with Satan over the body of Moses:
“But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, ‘the Lord rebuke you’” (Jude 1:9).
In its original form, this word ‘dispute’ or ‘contest’ can denote extreme violence. The Archangel Michael and Satan weren’t merely having a heated debate over the body of Moses; they were engaged in combat. And the text insinuates it was extremely violent combat at that. They were involved in a brutal fight over the body of the Servant of the Lord, Moses.
It is highly likely that the reason for this was that God had not yet finished with Moses, or his body. The body of Moses would be needed again, first during the ministry of Jesus, where he would appear alongside Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration:
“Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus” (Matt. 17:3). But he could  potentially be needed a second time, at the end of this age, accompanying Elijah once more to give a testimony to mankind from the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
This testimony of the “Two Witnesses” will be during the first 42 months of the Tribulation Period, and it will be a testimony of Jesus Christ against Antichrist to a world largely without testimony, due to the removal of the Church.
It will be at the midpoint of this Tribulation, after one thousand two hundred and sixty days, that the Beast will rise up and slay these Two Witnesses, but only when they have finished their testimony.
“When they finish their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them…and not allow their dead bodies to be put into graves…” (Revelation 11:7-9).
It cannot be merely incidental that 1,260 days is also 42 months exactly, the amount of time God gives for the first half of the Tribulation period. It cannot also be merely coincidence that the amount of time the Jewish priesthood would need to perform all the necessary purification rights and rituals prescribed in the Torah, to purify and inaugurate the new Temple, would also last exactly 42 months, from the initial ritual of purification to the final one.
42 months of testimony, 42 months to compete purification, 42 months designated for the first half of the Tribulation.
Scripture tells us that at the midpoint of the Tribulation, after 42 months, the Temple will be desecrated by the Antichrist. We know from scripture that, at the midpoint of the Tribulation, the Antichrist will set up the Abomination that causes Desolation in the Holy of Holies of this new Temple (Dan. 9:27), and then declare himself to be God.
This is the starting point for the last 42-month period known as the Great Tribulation, a time of distress unequaled since man has been on the earth.
Jewish tradition teaches, and scripture seems to strongly suggest, that Elijah will soon return to the Jewish people, I believe after the increasingly imminent Rapture of the church. He will then, in the words of Jesus Christ, “restore all things” (Matthew 17:11). In essence, this would mean reappointing the building work for the Temple; reinstituting the rabbinical priesthood according to the Law of Moses; defining who is eligible for the priesthood and who is not; reforming the Sanhedrin, which would then oversee the appointment of a new High Priest; and it would almost certainly involve protecting the Temple Mount, as many will come against them with “fire that comes out from their mouths.”
Elijah is the Harbinger of the Messiah. According to scripture he will return very soon, and he will turn the hearts of many in Israel back to their God and begin the process of preparing them individually and corporately to once again meet their God.
“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son” (Zechariah 12:10).
Their Mashiach Nagid, their Messiah and King, will come to them, “and in this way all Israel will be saved.”  As it is written: “The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob” (Romans 11:26).
That day of national salvation for Israel fast approaches, but before that day is the Rapture of the Church!
Maranatha!

Monday, November 20, 2017

11-20-17 The Word Today

DEVOTION FOR MONDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2017
Romans 2:1–8
GOD’S PATIENCE LEADS US TO REPENTANCE
“The Savior Is Waiting” by Ralph Carmichael is a famous gospel song and hymn of invitation.
“If you’ll take one step toward the Savior, my friend,
You’ll find His arms open wide.
Receive Him and all of your darkness will end;
Within your heart He’ll abide.
Time after time He has waited before,
And now He is waiting again
To see if you’re willing to open the door—O how He wants to come in.”
How amazing that the Son of God Himself “waits”! As we saw yesterday, God’s waiting is not exactly the same as ours; all that happens is His plan, not ours. But in another sense, His patience is a model for our patience and waiting, because God’s desires should be our desires. What God desires is repentance, what He offers is grace. 
Those who reject grace can expect only judgment. Unlike human judgment, which is flawed and hypocritical, divine judgment is consistent and truthful (vv. 1–3; see Matt. 7:1–2). That God’s judgment is delayed does not mean it has been escaped. No evasion or deception could do that. To even think that God will not hold sinners to account is to “show contempt for the riches of his kindness” (v. 4). The only reason that they’re not immediately judged is that God is patient. In His forbearance (also called “longsuffering”), He is waiting so that His love can lead more people to repentance.
Paul was writing here to moralists, that is, people who do their best and assume it will be good enough to get to heaven. But they’re wrong (v. 5). God will judge based on actions, but no one’s actions are good enough (vv. 6, 8). The only way to live as described in verse 7 is by faith!
APPLY THE WORD
Paul described his testimony as an example of Christ’s “immense patience” (see 1 Tim. 1:16). Sharing your testimony—the story of how you came to faith—is a great way to share the good news of salvation. Are you prepared and looking for opportunities to share your story in ways that make the gospel clear and show God’s patient love? 

11-20-17 Daily Devotion

November 20, 2017

Strengthen Yourself in the Lord

After an exhausting three-day journey, David and his men finally arrived home to find a scene of devastation. Their homes were burned to the ground, and their families were missing. Utter despair engulfed them. David’s distress soon increased when his men’s grief turned into bitter anger and they spoke of stoning him.
Most of us won’t experience this extreme a situation, but we can identify with David’s discouragement. Sometimes despair follows a personal tragedy or loss, but it can also result from the weariness of ongoing daily pressures. Family problems, financial difficulties, and health issues may make discouragement a constant companion. The same can happen with emotional struggles over feelings of unworthiness, failure to overcome an addictive habit, the pain of criticism, or fear of inadequacy.
Despair can afflict anyone unexpectedly, but the Lord doesn’t want us to linger in a fog of depression. We often can’t avoid the situations that lead us into discouragement, but we do have a choice whether to stay in that condition. Instead of caving in to misery, David chose to strengthen himself in the Lord. He recognized that God was the only one who could give him the proper perspective on the problem and provide the guidance he needed.
When you’re discouraged, where do you turn? Perhaps the last thing you want to do is read Scripture and pray—initially, the passages may seem like meaningless words, and your prayers might feel empty. But if you persist in crying out to God, you’ll eventually experience His comforting strength.
Bible in One Year: Acts 25-26

11-20-17 Psalm 78

Psalm 78King James Version (KJV)

78 Give ear, O my people, to my law: incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old:
Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us.
We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done.
For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children:
That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children:
That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments:
And might not be as their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation; a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not stedfast with God.
The children of Ephraim, being armed, and carrying bows, turned back in the day of battle.
10 They kept not the covenant of God, and refused to walk in his law;
11 And forgat his works, and his wonders that he had shewed them.
12 Marvellous things did he in the sight of their fathers, in the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan.
13 He divided the sea, and caused them to pass through; and he made the waters to stand as an heap.
14 In the daytime also he led them with a cloud, and all the night with a light of fire.
15 He clave the rocks in the wilderness, and gave them drink as out of the great depths.
16 He brought streams also out of the rock, and caused waters to run down like rivers.
17 And they sinned yet more against him by provoking the most High in the wilderness.
18 And they tempted God in their heart by asking meat for their lust.
19 Yea, they spake against God; they said, Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?
20 Behold, he smote the rock, that the waters gushed out, and the streams overflowed; can he give bread also? can he provide flesh for his people?
21 Therefore the Lord heard this, and was wroth: so a fire was kindled against Jacob, and anger also came up against Israel;
22 Because they believed not in God, and trusted not in his salvation:
23 Though he had commanded the clouds from above, and opened the doors of heaven,
24 And had rained down manna upon them to eat, and had given them of the corn of heaven.
25 Man did eat angels' food: he sent them meat to the full.
26 He caused an east wind to blow in the heaven: and by his power he brought in the south wind.
27 He rained flesh also upon them as dust, and feathered fowls like as the sand of the sea:
28 And he let it fall in the midst of their camp, round about their habitations.
29 So they did eat, and were well filled: for he gave them their own desire;
30 They were not estranged from their lust. But while their meat was yet in their mouths,
31 The wrath of God came upon them, and slew the fattest of them, and smote down the chosen men of Israel.
32 For all this they sinned still, and believed not for his wondrous works.
33 Therefore their days did he consume in vanity, and their years in trouble.
34 When he slew them, then they sought him: and they returned and enquired early after God.
35 And they remembered that God was their rock, and the high God their redeemer.
36 Nevertheless they did flatter him with their mouth, and they lied unto him with their tongues.
37 For their heart was not right with him, neither were they stedfast in his covenant.
38 But he, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not: yea, many a time turned he his anger away, and did not stir up all his wrath.
39 For he remembered that they were but flesh; a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again.
40 How oft did they provoke him in the wilderness, and grieve him in the desert!
41 Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel.
42 They remembered not his hand, nor the day when he delivered them from the enemy.
43 How he had wrought his signs in Egypt, and his wonders in the field of Zoan.
44 And had turned their rivers into blood; and their floods, that they could not drink.
45 He sent divers sorts of flies among them, which devoured them; and frogs, which destroyed them.
46 He gave also their increase unto the caterpiller, and their labour unto the locust.
47 He destroyed their vines with hail, and their sycomore trees with frost.
48 He gave up their cattle also to the hail, and their flocks to hot thunderbolts.
49 He cast upon them the fierceness of his anger, wrath, and indignation, and trouble, by sending evil angels among them.
50 He made a way to his anger; he spared not their soul from death, but gave their life over to the pestilence;
51 And smote all the firstborn in Egypt; the chief of their strength in the tabernacles of Ham:
52 But made his own people to go forth like sheep, and guided them in the wilderness like a flock.
53 And he led them on safely, so that they feared not: but the sea overwhelmed their enemies.
54 And he brought them to the border of his sanctuary, even to this mountain, which his right hand had purchased.
55 He cast out the heathen also before them, and divided them an inheritance by line, and made the tribes of Israel to dwell in their tents.
56 Yet they tempted and provoked the most high God, and kept not his testimonies:
57 But turned back, and dealt unfaithfully like their fathers: they were turned aside like a deceitful bow.
58 For they provoked him to anger with their high places, and moved him to jealousy with their graven images.
59 When God heard this, he was wroth, and greatly abhorred Israel:
60 So that he forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh, the tent which he placed among men;
61 And delivered his strength into captivity, and his glory into the enemy's hand.
62 He gave his people over also unto the sword; and was wroth with his inheritance.
63 The fire consumed their young men; and their maidens were not given to marriage.
64 Their priests fell by the sword; and their widows made no lamentation.
65 Then the Lord awaked as one out of sleep, and like a mighty man that shouteth by reason of wine.
66 And he smote his enemies in the hinder parts: he put them to a perpetual reproach.
67 Moreover he refused the tabernacle of Joseph, and chose not the tribe of Ephraim:
68 But chose the tribe of Judah, the mount Zion which he loved.
69 And he built his sanctuary like high palaces, like the earth which he hath established for ever.
70 He chose David also his servant, and took him from the sheepfolds:
71 From following the ewes great with young he brought him to feed Jacob his people, and Israel his inheritance.
72 So he fed them according to the integrity of his heart; and guided them by the skilfulness of his hands.
King James Version (KJV)
Public Domain

Daily Prayer for November 20

Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt
Lord, my strength and my fortress, my refuge in time of distress, to you the nations will come from the ends of the earth and say, "Our ancestors possessed nothing but false gods, worthless idols that did them no good." Jeremiah 16:19, NIV
Lord our God, we come to you burdened and driven by every kind of need and oppression, but you will bring light into every situation; in your great goodness and faithfulness you will continue to help. We come to you because you are our help. We want to draw strength from your Word so that we can remain steadfast in these times, awaiting your help and already finding joy and certainty in our expectation. For your kingdom is coming, and your will is being done on earth as in heaven. Amen.

Who invented Thanksgiving?


11-20-17 Saudis,Iran on Path to Very, Very Bloody War


Saudis, Iran on path to 'very, very bloody' war - Greg Corombos - http://www.wnd.com/2017/11/saudis-iran-on-path-to-very-very-bloody-war/
'This could get extraordinarily messy ... Israel may be drawn into it'
While the world tries to interpret Saudi Arabia's moves to clamp down on corruption and watches the kingdom accuse Iran of an "act of war," a former Reagan administration Pentagon official says Saudi Arabia is gearing up for the very real possibility of a "very, very bloody" war with Iran.
Within the past several days, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is next in line to the Saudi throne, has ordered the arrests of many government officials, including 11 princes, on allegations of corruption. More recently, the crown prince accused Iran of an "act of war" after Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen launched an Iranian missile toward the Saudi capital of Riyadh.
The Houthis admit firing the missile, and Saudi investigators say the fragments prove the missile is from Iran. Furthermore, the Saudi-friendly prime minister of Lebanon abruptly resigned, and many other elements of the Lebanese government are loyal to the Shiite regime in Iran.
So are the events of the past week just the latest developments in an unstable region or something far more significant?
Frank Gaffney is president of the Center for Security Policy, and he served as an assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration. He said these recent events are very significant.
"Something is moving, for sure," Gaffney told WND and Radio America. "I think this is a lot bigger than chess pieces. I think this is nothing less than tectonic shifts taking place throughout the region."
Gaffney said Iran's goal of creating a "Shiite Crescent" is greatly disturbing to the Saudis. The crescent is a continuous stretch of Iranian-dominated areas that stretches from the southern end of the Red Sea through Yemen to Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, all the way to the Mediterranean Sea.
He said Crown Prince Salman is bracing for a major fight to prevent Iran control of the entire region.
"I think what is teeing up, as I see it, is probably a very, very bloody war in that part of the world, and it may not be confined to that part of the world," Gaffney said.
He said the Iran threat is growing in multiple respects.
"The Iranians are establishing hegemonic control of large parts of this very strategically significant region," Gaffney said. "They aspire to do more, and I think they are willing to do everything from Shiite militia in Iraq and Syria through their own Quds force and Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps."
He also also suspects Iran is prepared to use ballistic missiles with non-conventional warheads (chemical, biological or nuclear) in order to assert an iron grip on the region, and he would not be surprised to see the fighting spread to other parts of the Middle East.
"It could go beyond that," Gaffney explained. "Turkey is a factor in all of this. The central Asian republics beyond [are also at risk]. This could get extraordinarily messy, and then it goes without saying that Israel may be drawn into it."
So is this "tectonic shift" a result of the natural tides of history in the region, dating back to the Shiite-Sunni divide over a thousand years ago, or have specific policies accelerated the specter of an ugly sectarian war in the region?
Gaffney said the forces of history are obviously a major factor, but he said policy moves made in the Obama and George W. Bush administration are also coming back to haunt the neighborhood. Gaffney blasted Obama for the 2015 nuclear deal and slammed the Bush administration for eliminating the Iraq army in the early days of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
"The principle impediment to Iranian ambitions (the Iraqi army) was removed," Gaffney said. "The damage done during the Bush years in that respect has been greatly compounded by the policy of Barack Obama in greatly enhancing the power of the Iranian regime."
But why is the crown prince focused on rooting out corruption when so many national security concerns are on the front burner?
"It seems pretty clearly aimed not so much at dealing with the corrupt officials, because, if that were in fact the object, I think every single one of them would be rounded up.  It's about power.  It's about consolidating his hold on it before his father (King Salman) passes from the scene," said Gaffney.
"He's clearing the decks for action against the principal, and increasingly existential threat to the kingdom, which is the Islamic Republic of Iran," he added.
Gaffney insists that labeling Iran an "existential threat" against Saudi Arabia is not an exaggeration.
"If they don't do something about this, presumably with the help of the United States, they will be encircled and the resources on which they still rely on very heavily - namely the sale of petroleum - can be cut off at will through the Persian Gulf or the Red Sea by the Iranians or their proxies," he said.
Even with massive military resources courtesy of the U.S., Gaffney does not believe the Saudis can match the Iranians without help. He said Egypt and Jordan would be heavily recruited to join the fray, along with possible U.S. air power.
Her said the Saudis don't have the personnel to do the job.
"They've got an enormous amount of very advanced equipment," Gaffney said. "They just don't have many people who have either the skills or the will to wield it in defense of the kingdom or their interests more broadly."
As for the Trump administration's position as events unfold in the Middle East, Gaffney said the U.S. ought to be publicly on the side of the Saudis. However, he said the most important tactical policy is to stop Iran's nuclear program.
"Our interests at the moment lie with trying to deprive the Iranians of their nuclear and other ambitions," he said. "And that's going to be vastly harder today than it was before Barack Obama started greatly enabling those ambitions."