Where did you get the idea for this book?

When the idea came, I wasn’t even thinking about writing a novel. It was July 31, 1997, the day after a terrorist bombing in Israel had killed 15 civilians, and I was in prayer “for the peace of Jerusalem” and the safety of Jews everywhere, as the Bible instructs Christian believers in Psalms 122:6. As I was praying, I thought, “Since U.S. military assets are in the region, maybe, God, you could have them intervene on Israel’s behalf in case of war.” After prayer, it came to mind that having pilots do this as a rogue mission could make an exciting story. I soon began sketching out an outline for a work of fiction.

Are you advocating that U.S. military aviators violate orders to undertake unauthorized airstrikes in defense of Israel should the opportunity present itself?

Absolutely NOT! As I make clear in the book, military officers have an obligation to follow the lawful orders of their superiors. In addition, 1 Peter 2:13-14 says believers are subject to the civilian authorities whom God has placed over us. These requirements should never be countermanded except in the case of an unmistakably clear and direct word from the Throne.

Have you updated the eBook to reflect pertinent developments in the world that have taken place since its original publication on smashwords.com in January 2012?

Indeed I have. The book now has extensive revisions and updates, including treatment of the threat ISIS represents. These changes were made in May and early June 2015, right before I published the second edition on amazon's Kindle site. However, the Free Preview page on my website still contains the original version, as I was not able to paste new material there without more help. To read the free preview of the revised novel, please go to its Kindle page at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00Z4KHUY0 and click on the cover image.

What is the best way to order your eBook?

When I joined KDP Select, a service of Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing, I was required to "unpublish" my book from smashwords.com, where the first edition appeared in January 2012, because KDP Select requires authors to have their eBooks exclusively available there. So now, the only place to order the novel is through Amazon's Kindle Store at my book's specific page, which can be reached through either of the Order Now buttons on this site's Home page.

Why did you write this book?

I think good Christian fiction should have a ministry purpose. Frank Peretti introduced many believers to the reality of spiritual warfare. The Left Behind series portrayed a realistic scenario of the end times and emphasized the necessity of a believer’s personal salvation to be ready to meet the Lord. My intention with this book is to help more Christians understand that God still loves the Jewish people and has a great plan for Israel. In fact, the Bible makes clear that support for the Jewish people is divinely ordained (Gen. 12:3). While God obviously loves the Palestinians and other Arab peoples and has plans to bless them as well (Gen. 16:10; 21:13,18), Christians should understand that the jihadists' hatred of Israel, and indeed all anti-semitic vitriol, is satanically inspired. Finally, I also would like to see more Christians involved in supporting Jewish evangelism through ministries such as Sid Roth's Messianic Vision.

Are you planning to write anymore military thrillers?

Not in the near future at least. I plan to write two more thriller-style books with some of the characters from Sword of the Covenant, and I have a much different kind of Christian-fiction series planned as well. But those storylines will not involve military adventures.

Because Muslims use a lunar calendar, the Islamic holy month of Ramadan has not fallen in November, as your story has it placed, for quite a few years. Are you a lazy researcher?

When I started researching and writing the book in the late 1990s, Ramadan was in the fall. Autumn worked for other elements of my story too. But as completion of the first draft dragged on and publication was even further delayed, the timing of Ramadan moved earlier in our Western calendar each year. Despite that, I decided to keep it there in my story. When author David Baldacci once fudged the timeline of Soviet leadership to suit one of his thrillers, he referred to something like “novelist’s license” to allow this. That works for me too!

Which Christian and other novelists have influenced you the most?

My favorite Christian author is Joel C. Rosenberg. His Last Jihad series and a follow-up triad, which started with The Twelfth Imam, plus subsequent thrillers The Auschwitz Escape and The Third Target are the best examples of Christian thriller fiction I have ever read. In the 1980s, Frank Peretti broke new ground for what Christian fiction could do -- vividly describing the realities of spiritual warfare -- and his work impressed me greatly. I also admire and enjoy the giifted and prolific Ted Dekker's work. A fresh, unique voice is that of Messianic Rabbi Jonathan Cahn, whose breakout novel, The Harbinger, and the nonfiction follow-up The Mystery of the Shemitah, bring dire warnings that divine judgment for the United States lies ahead if people do not turn to God in a big way. His prose is backed up by meticulous biblical and historical research. And I heartily recommend his latest, The Book of Mysteries. Rabbi Cahn's 365-day allegory combines quick bites of great storytelling with the depth of biblical insight that can only come from a Spirit-filled Hebrew scholar.

Among secular writers, I like the aforementioned Baldacci because he used to write such a wide range of thrillers. Daniel Silva, in my opinion, is without peer in the realm of spy thrillers. Brad Thor and the late Vince Flynn are/were aces; Flynn successor Kyle Mills is carrying on the Mitch Rapp series quite nicely. Barry Eisler writes with a literary quality that is rare among thriller authors. In the sub-genre of military thrillers, Dale Brown and Larry Bond are my favorites. Mark Greaney, Mike Maden and one or two others keep the sausage factory humming at Tom Clancy Enterprises. I also enjoy the works of Ward Larsen, Lee Child, Clive Cussler, Keith Thomson and sometimes W.E.B. Griffin.

Why is Sword of the Covenant available only as an eBook and not in print?

I tried for many years to get it published by a traditional publisher. I even had a literary agent pitching it to both Christian and secular publishing houses without success. Editors for the most part liked the story but didn’t think it was executed very well. It wasn’t until I was introduced to freelance editor (and published novelist) John DeSimone through the Christian Manuscript Critique Service that I learned how to better craft thriller fiction. Even after I felt I had sufficiently polished the manuscript and my agent was ready to shop the project again, I concluded that the exploding market for eBooks offered me a better chance for exposure than traditional publishing – especially with the long lead time it takes to get a printed book out and the competition for a place on the shrinking shelf space in the nation’s dwindling number of bookstores. If Sword sells well enough here to get the attention of a traditional publisher who wants to pick it up, I am open to that.

Rosenberg’s Last Jihad series has Israel sitting atop newly discovered oil wealth. Was your book’s fictional mention of that nation’s oil and gas discoveries taken from his work?

No. The first draft of my book was finished (in March 2003) before I ever saw the first of Rosenberg’s novels. (I came to his party a few years late and started with the third installment of The Last Jihad series, The Ezekiel Option.) My idea to have Israel finding oil and natural gas was inspired by the work of John M. Brown’s company, Zion Oil & Gas Inc. (Amex: ZN), which is drilling for petroleum in the coastal area of Israel between Tel Aviv and Haifa. Hal Lindsey has reported on Brown's work for many years.