Purim 2017

He who keepeth Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps!  Praise the Lord!
Purim begins this evening, but the celebrations have already been going on for a few days.  While most of the Jewish people are still in both a physical and a spiritual exile — not in fellowship with their God — we who know the Father can rejoice in His sovereign providence to preserve His people as He still works to bring them back to Himself.  The only way He has given is through repentance and faith in His Son, the Lord Yeshua the Messiah/Jesus Christ, just as for each of us.
In the Scroll of Esther, it is written in ch 9 v 27 that Queen Esther and Mordecai instituted the custom that “the Jews established and imposed it upon themselves and their descendants and all who would join them, that without fail they should celebrate these two days (the 14th and 15th of the month Adar, which is the last month on the Jewish calendar) every year. . . .”
This celebration began about 2500 years ago, and continues till now. What is interesting to note for Gentile Christians is that this decree is for you, too!  You are ‘joined’ unto Israel and the Jewish people through your New Covenant relationship with Jesus, the King of the Jews and of Israel!  It reminds me of the shortest of the Psalms, 117, in which it is written that all you Gentiles and peoples should praise YHVH and extol Him.  Why?  Because His lovingkindness has been great towards the Israeli Jewish people, and His truth endures forever!
God has shown Himself faithful and powerful to keep His covenant commitments towards the children of Jacob/Israel in Egypt at the time of the Passover, in Persia/Iran in the days of Haman (an Agagite and descendant of Amalek and Esau/Edom), through the horrors of the Holocaust, and will yet do do through the final purging of Jacob’s Trouble.  So, it is for Gentile believers to join in with the purposes of God for the redemption of His chosen people, through whom salvation has come, and through whom the entire world is blessed, especially through the promised Seed, Yeshua/Jesus, who will yet rule over His people when He returns. Hallelu-Yah indeed!  This is good news for all who love Him and His people.

GOD TODAY THE SAME AS YESTERDAY – 3 Mar 2012

Ps 119:89-91   Forever, O Yehovah, Your Word is settled in the heavens.  Your faithfulness is to all generations; You have founded the earth, and it remains.  They stand to this day according to Your ordinances; for all are Your servants.

Our faith and hope are in the living God – the Creator and the Redeemer whom we have come to know and love personally as our Father through Jesus Christ – who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

The Jewish holiday of Purim is in a few days.  Sadly, much of the celebration has degenerated to being more like Halloween or Carnival, rather than a time to remember and to thank and praise our faithful God and Savior who reigns over all peoples and nations, working out all things to serve His great purposes.

This very fact of leaving God out demonstrates the abiding Word of God which we have in the Scroll of Esther, in which the name of Yehovah is not mentioned, nor even the word God.  Isn’t it interesting that the Hebrew name Esther means hidden?!

But now, as then, it is clear for those who believe to see that the Lord is overseeing to protect and preserve the lost sheep of the House of Israel:  “He who keeps Israelneither slumber nor sleeps.” (Ps 121:4)

Jesus and His apostles inform and warn us that the last days will be similar to former times.  The history and lessons of the Flood in Noah’s days; Sodom and Gomorrah in the days of Lot are written for us living at the end of the age because GOD TODAY IS THE SAME AS THEN, and so are human beings.  When the same things that incurred God’s righteous anger and judgments 4000, 5000 years ago are happening on a much larger global scale today, then we will also see the Lord Jesus Christ, who has received all authority in Heaven and Earth, act in righteous judgment against those who oppose the Holy God, His righteousness, and His people.

Purim is not only for the Jewish people, but was established also for those who would join them. (Es 9:27)  There are Gentiles who have joined themselves with the Jewish people, and the New Testament teaches that the Gentile Christians have been brought into theCommonwealth ofIsrael by the love and grace of the God of Israel.  It is for us to celebrate YEHOVAH GOD for His faithfulness, and His sovereign power and wisdom, in watching over us when the enemy rises up in hope of destroying us.

Persiaof Daniel’s day, and of Mordecai and Esther, isIrantoday.  The Iranian language is Parsi (Persian).  The Iranian Muslim spiritual leader who led the revolution in 1979 was the Ayatollah Khomeni.  The religious leader today is Khameni.  Both these names are the same as Haman, the famous enemy of the Jews, who was a descendant of Agag,Amalek,Edom/Esau.  What we see developing in the world today brings us back to the similar events described in the Scroll of Esther.  And as then, so now many Iranians respect the Jewish Israeli people, even as their leaders are willing to allow their annihilation.

Any Persian law written in the name of the king and signed with his signet ring can not be altered. (Dan 6:8,12,15)  Praise the Lord that this is also true about HIS laws and covenants!  Who do you think has the final word and victory?!  Jesus is seated far above the creation that He made; the Earth is His footstool! (Eph 1:17-23)

Let us look at three decrees that were made around 2400 years ago in Persia/Iran:

Es 1:19  If it please the king, let there be a royal command from him, and let it be written among the laws of the Persians and the Medes, so that it may not be changed, that Vashti come no more before King Ahasuerus. And let the king give her royal state to another who is better than she is.

Es 3:8-13   And Haman said to King Ahasuerus, There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the people, in all the provinces of your kingdom. And their laws are different from all people, neither do they keep the king’s laws. And it is not for the king’s gain to allow them to live.  If it pleases the king, let it be written that they may be destroyed. And I will pay ten thousand talents of silver to the hands of those who have charge of the business, to bring it into the king’s treasuries.  And the king took his ring from his hand, and gave it to Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the Jews’ enemy.  And the king said to Haman, The silver is given to you, the people also, to do with them as seems good to you.  Then the king’s scribes were called on the thirteenth day of the first month, and there was written according to all that Haman had commanded to the king’s lieutenants, and to the governors who were over every province, and to the rulers of every people of every province, according to the writing of it, and to every people according to their language. It was written in the name of King Ahasuerus and sealed with the king’s ring.  And the letters were sent by postal riders into all the king’s provinces, to destroy, to kill, and to cause to perish, all Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day, on the thirteenth of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar, and to take what they owned for a prize.

Es 8:7-8,1112  And King Ahasuerus said to Esther the queen and to Mordecai the Jew, Behold, I have given Esther the house of Haman, and have hanged him on the wooden gallows, because he laid his hand on the Jews.  And you write for the Jews as it pleases you, in the king’s name, and seal it with the king’s ring. For the writing which is written in the king’s name and sealed with the king’s ring, no man may turn back. . . In them the king granted the Jews in every city to gather themselves, and to stand for their life, to destroy, to kill and to cause to perish, all the power of the people and province who desired to attack them, little ones and women, and to take what they owned for a prize, Esther 8:12  on one day in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, on the thirteenth of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar.

As we saw last week, the spirit of Islam was already operating long before the religion of Islam was founded, and, too, the spirit of rabbinic Judaism and of the Christian faith long before their establishment.  The two decrees by the Persians against women and the Jewish people are still in force today. Iran, with her allies, is once again seeking to attack and to destroy the Jewish people andIsrael. Israel, according to the law written by Mordecai the Jew and by Queen Esther in the King’s name, and signed with his ring, is preparing to defend herself.

God will act for His own holy name’s sake, and that all the peoples and nations would fear Him, the Most High God, who alone forgives sins. (Ps 83:16-18 [17-19 Heb]; Ps 130:4; Phlp 2:9-11)

The Holy Spirit is working among the Gentile believers and the nations to bring them to praise Him for His lovingkindness to Israel.  The shortest Psalm bears witness to this:  O praise Yehovah, all nations; praise Him, all peoples.  For His merciful kindness is great toward us; and the truth of Yehovah endures forever.  Hallelu-Yah! (Ps 117)

GOD IS REDEEMING ISRAEL TODAY: THE FIRST AND THE LAST – 19 Mar 2011

YHVH God is the same God today as in the days of Mordecai and Esther, acting sovereignly and “behind the scenes” to watch over His people, while also performing His word.

Rom 1:16   For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Messiah, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first, and also for the Greek.
–historic precedence (Mt 10:5-6; 15:24; Acts 3:26; 13:46)
–not a personal obligation
–primarily about the demonstration of God’s power in saving, delivering, setting free the Chosen People, with the pride of life and the stronghold of religious self-righteousness  (consider also Rom 2:9-10 judgment and honor to the Jew first)

Balfour Declaration   “the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people” (see Ezek 36:23-25)
–significant for us today:  not a Jewish state, but a state for the Jewish people
–Jewish, Zionist state excludes from its understanding believers in Yeshua/Jesus as Messiah, the Son of God.
–Judaism (Pharasaic, Talmudic, Rabbinic) rejects Jesus as being God’s Anointed One, and of salvation by grace, through faith in YHVH and in His Word
–rejection and hostility to Jesus and the gospel, and of the righteousness of God
–works of law; self-righteousness; seeks man’s approval; uncircumcised heart
–Today the world is actively working to nullify the Balfour Declaration.
–God used man and the world powers to carry out His sovereign will for bringing back the Jewish people to the Land of promise, both in 1917 and in 1947.

Gen 15:16    “But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet   complete.”  (see also with respect to God not being a respecter of persons:  Ezek 14:6-23; Rom 2:11)
–righteous ways of YHVH, and He has not changed; giving us an example for a pattern
–return of the Jews when the iniquity of the Muslims was fully exposed; when the British had reneged from their own commitments and obligations; when the Church, through unbelief and arrogance had presumed that God had finished withIsrael already; when the Arab Christians had largely become Islamized in their thinking and outlook, especially regarding the promises of God to the Jewish people and Israel as a nation
–amongst Christians in the West and in the Middle East, a lack of sympathy over the calamity of the Jews in the Holocaust
–Yeshua/Jesus will open the seals of judgment near the end of the end of the age when the iniquity is full in all the nations, including Israel, against the Word of God and Jesus, and against Israel as God’s chosen land and people.  His righteous judgments will be necessary for the sake of His Holy Name.
–Jerusalem is still being trampled down by the Gentiles until today; the Biblical city is in what today is East Jerusalem,

Lev 26:40-46    The Israelis/Jewish people are required by the LORD to admit and confess her guilt and sins against Him, despite the sins of other peoples and countries against them.
–The Law and commandments of YHVH’s covenant are given to the children of Israel, and she is obligated to Him in a way different from the other nations.

As Christian believers God is looking for those who will stand in faith for His holy name’s sake concerning Israel – like Moses and Paul – and not fall away from Him due to Israel’s continued unbelief and unrighteousness, as the voices of the world would tempt us to do.  Yeshua also willingly took upon Himself the reproaches of the Father, and was thrown out of the vineyard – outside the camp – bearing His reproach, being a scapegoat. (Eng Ps 69:6-9; Ezek 36:21-24; Heb 13:13)

PURIM: SOME LESSONS FOR US

The Scroll of Esther is read in the synagogues every year for Purim.  This holiday is still being observed:  it still has relevance for us today, even for Gentile believers in Jesus.  Haman presents us with a type of the antichrist in his spirit, and a descendant of Agag, of Amalek, of Esau, the hostile fraternal twin brother of Jacob.

Today I want to look at just a couple of events in the book for us as believers to consider:
Es 2:5-18   Esther’s natural beauty; her humility and wisdom; the king’s servant, Hegai, the eunuch who took care of the women (virgins)   

The believer and his/her lengthy preparation for spiritual beauty to appear before the King.

Eph 5:25-27   Messiah loves the Church that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, That He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.

This gives us confidence to approach the King with reverence and hope, having done our all to please him.

Heb 4:16   Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Es 3:1-6   Mordecai would not bow down or worship Haman because Mordecai was a Jew; Haman, in his pride and wrath, sought to kill not only Mordecai, but all the Jews, the people of Mordecai (and of Esther).
      Gen 3:15   enmity between the Seed of the woman, and the seed of the serpent
      Mt 4:8-10; Ex 20:3-5; Dt 6:4-5,13-14   The Jew and Christian are to worship YHVH God, and serve Him only.  Hear, O Israel, YHVH our God, YHVH is one!  (Hear, O Israel, YHVH our God is one YHVH!)
      Rom 2:29   He is a Jew who is one inwardly, and whose circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit and not in the letter, and whose praise is not from men, but from God.

We, too, are called to be discerning and bold to not worship or serve the god of this world, even as we give honor to kings and all in authority.  The spirit of antichrist seeks to take the ultimate honor and worship for himself, depriving the sole privilege to Whom it rightly belongs:  to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

As Esther – as the Bride – prepares herself not only to come before the King and find favor in his eyes, but also as one who honors him as a wife to her husband, she is in the right place at the right time to both understand and to intercede effectively for her people and for her own self and family as she accepts her true identity before him and in the face of the enemy.   

The Holy Spirit is sanctifying us to prepare us for the spiritual warfare to come, and to make us ready for the coming of the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is God and Deliverer of His people.  He will defeat forever Amalek, and give rest to His people from all their enemies, so that we may worship Him in Spirit and truth.  

GOD HIDDEN UNTIL YESHUA REVEALED – 26 Mar 2005

Everyone knows that neither the word “God” nor His name YHVH appears in the scroll of Esther, which is read in the synagogues every Purim.  The story of God’s faithfulness and deliverance for His people, even when they (we) do not remember Him gives all of us hope.  It also reminds us that God is acting “behind the scenes”, not visibly.  Tomorrow is the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ by most of the Christian believers in the world, and most of Israel ignores that truth, and is busy celebrating Purim as if they still do not believe He is active in our affairs.

How many times do we ask or cry out, Where was/is God?!  During and since the Holocaust many Jews and Christians have asked and wondered, Where was God?  This, of course, brings reproach to Him in the eyes of the unbelievers when His own people do not believe that He is around and is very much aware of what is happening.  When we speak or agree with that, it is further evidence that we do not know Him or His Word as He would want us to.

Because God is not seen, the enemies of His people – the Amalekites, the Hamans of history — do not believe He even exists.  The Lord our God is looking for those who believe in Him without seeing, and who fear Him and do righteousness in the expectation of God’s judgment after our death. 

Don’t you long to see God!?  The Apostle Peter says that even though we don’t see Him, yet we love the Lord (1Pt 1:6-9,13-16).  How often do we cry out to God not to hide His face from us?  We want, we need to know He is with us and for us and mindful of us.  He has put it into the spirit of man – especially of us who have received God’s own Spirit – to want to be with Him.  God wants to be with us!  He walked in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve were there.  Jesus is coming again to be with His people and the world He has made.

But in the meantime, He is hiding His face; He is keeping a low profile.  Let’s look together at some verses from both the O.T. and the N.T.:

Dt 31:16-18  God hides His face because of our evil deeds and idolatry against His covenant.
Is 53:3  It is Messiah Yeshua/Christ Jesus who hides His face from men, because people generally despise Him and hold Him in low esteem.
Ezek 39:21-29  God has hidden His face because of sin, but He will again shine His face upon Israel when He gives her His Spirit.
Ps 13   The believers can also experience feeling that God has left him, but yet He trusts in His lovingkindness and offers a sacrifice of praise to Him who has been so good to him.
Jn 7:2-5   the brothers of Jesus admitted that His works were not being done openly
Rev 6:12-17   In God’s day of vengeance and wrath, men will want God to hide His face from them.  God is Light, and the the darkness can not be in His Presence.

How many times did Jesus say to His disciples, or to those He healed or delivered, not to tell people who He was or what He did?  When Jesus was here, He said He came to do and say just as He saw His Father – God – do.  Jesus came as a bondservant, not as the Lord of Glory.  He hid Himself from a people whose hearts He knew did not want Him – the Holy One of Israel – because of their unbelief.  Even when Judas betrayed Him and came out with those to arrest Him, he had to identify Him with a kiss:  they did not know who Jesus was despite all His ministry and antagonism to Him!  Jesus says that the Holy Spirit convicts the world of righteousness in that He ascended back to the Father and the world does not see Him because of the sin of not believing in Him as the Son of God (Jn 16:5-11).  He further says to Israel that they will not see Him again until they say, Blessed is He who comes in the name YHVH (cp Hos 5:15). 

There is hope in the grace and truth of God which Jesus brought with Him.  There is the “until”; there is the time of repentance and restitution of all things by the grace of God ruling through His righteousness.   He is hidden, but we see His Hand throughout history and our own lives.  Each passing year reminds us that God is protecting and preserving us, even when we are not noticing and making His Name known.  God is waiting for His own people – Israel and the Church – to repent of our sins and self-righteousness so that Jesus can return in great power and glory.  The Holy Spirit is working to bring this about.

Meanwhile, the world is to see God in us, the Body of Messiah.  We are His face to the world today.  Who do they see?  What do they see?  What someone thinks of us will affect how and what they think about our God and our Lord.  There came a time when Queen Esther had to rise up and identify herself as one of God’s people – as a Jew – so that the God of Israel could act through her testimony and warning to bring deliverance to His people and to put the fear of God in others when He defeated those who opposed Him in His people.  We, too, as Messianic believers today may be called upon to rise up and speak up on behalf of our people, risking our own lives and position to do so for the sake of the Kingdom of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ.

We see Jesus by faith; we have received a measure of His Spirit.  We want to see His Face and touch Him.  He is coming again, never to leave again those who love Him and hope in Him.  Amalek will be forgotten; Haman will be forgotten.  But God our Father and the Lord Jesus will never again be forgotten by those whom He has created or by those whom He has chosen for Himself.

Jesus is risen and is Lord of all!

The Spirit and the Bride say, Come!

God Still Faithful When His People Are Not – 23 Feb 2002

The Scroll of Esther is read in the synagogues every year for Purim.  If you do not know the story of the history, read it at home.  The Purim celebrations  by Jews around the world today are far from the manner prescribed by Mordecai and Esther almost 2500 years ago.  What is remarkable, though, is that his holiday is still being observed:  it still has relevance for us today, even as believers in Jesus.  Purim is not one of the appointed times given by YHVH to Israel, but a set time by His people in appreciation of God’s sovereignty – even though they did not acknowledge Him personally – and this holiday of the Jewish people was accepted by the Lord.

We – and the rest of humanity – place ourselves in danger when we ignore God’s voice and His mighty deeds which ascribe glory to Him alone.  The holiday of Purim reminds us of this real and present danger when God’s people – the Jews and Christians– ignore His grace and faithfulness to His purposes of redemption.  (The Holocaust is another grave reminder of failing to heed the Providence of the LORD to keep His prophetic and covenantal promises).  The LORD remains faithful in His love and for His Holy Name’s sake, even when we do not.

Esther 4:13-14 God’s sovereignty and faithfulness, and our own personal responsibility

Ezra 1:1-4 the proclamation of Cyrus, King of Persia

 The events which happened to the Jews at the time of Queen Esther and Mordecai occurred about 50-60 years after King Cyrus had issued the call for the people of the LORD to return to the Land of Israel to rebuild the Temple of the LORD in Jerusalem.  Most of the Jews did not go up but rather remained in the galut (exile).  They apparently preferred the life amongst the people who served other gods and had little taste for returning to the harsh life of rebuilding society under the Hand of God.

Nonetheless, the LORD had left some believers in Persia in order to preserve His people and a testimony for His Name.  The scroll of Esther is notable for not mentioning God directly.  While it is evident throughout the book that the God of Heaven was overseeing and intervening through events here on Earth, it is also a picture of the galut mentality that the Name of the true God is forgotten by His people.  Practically and spiritually the people are in exile:  they do not know who their God is, and have no personal relationship with Him. They celebrate their freedom like pagans rather than in a manner worthy of Him who has called them to serve Him who is Lord over all.

This is the present reality of Israel – both within the land and without.  Because of unbelief and unwillingness to return to the LORD, the Father of Israel, through His beloved Son Yeshua, the Jewish people continue to find themselves threatened with annihilation by those who oppose them for being the people chosen by God, and primarily rely on their own skills and power to prevail.

Just as the LORD has kept His Word in the past – when He preserved and redeemed His people out of Egypt, and again delivered them from destruction by their enemies like Haman, and again saved a remnant through the Holocaust and re-established a sovereign nation-state in our own day – so too will God be faithful to Himself and to Messiah Jesus, who died on the cross to allow God to accomplish all His purposes for His people, and bring the Jewish people and Israel through its worst crisis.  In doing so, He will also save many other people as well, just as in Egypt, Persia, Europe, when they saw Him act on behalf of His chosen – even while they were outside His full covering.  Praise the LORD!

Es. 9:27 – For believers in Jesus – whether Jewish or not — the story of Purim has lessons for us:

What is God’s Name? – Many who are called Christian/Messianic live their lives as if in exile:  not actively representing the Kingdom of Messiah in the country in which we live; not confessing the Name of Jesus before men out of fear or because of what public faith in Him requires of us.  We can either serve the Lord Jesus or not, willingly or not, but He will ever remain faithful and true to His name.

Jesus outside our worship. – There are local churches who, in the Lord’s eyes, have kept Him outside; they are in spiritual exile, yet He calls to those inside to repent and return to Him, and so He to them.

Pagan spirit in celebrations. – Many called Christian celebrate their sacred days in a manner more like the heathen than honoring the holy God who purchased them with His own blood.

Vengeance is YHVH’s. – When we are far from the close relationship with our Father in Heaven, we often resort to carnal and desperate means for protecting ourselves from our enemies.  That itself should be a clue to us that perhaps we are not where we should be.  Vengeance is the LORD’s!  He will judge and war against those who curse His people and seek to wipe them out.

Remnant suffers for righteousness sake. – Mordecai and Esther were willing to suffer for righteousness sake in order to honor God and to seek protection for their people against their enemy, who only seeks his own glory.  They represent a believing remnant who fear the LORD and identify with His/their people.

Israel and the Church will prevail! – The faithfulness of God to Israel gives comfort and hope to the believers in Jesus.  God’s sovereignty and providence work all things together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.  No weapon formed, not even the gates of Hades, will prevail against the people whom God has chosen for His inheritance and glory!