Sunday, March 1, 2015

Purim and the Right to Defend

Now in the twelfth month, that is, the month of Adar, on the thirteenth day, the time came for the king’s command and his decree to be executed. On the day that the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, the opposite occurred, in that the Jews themselves overpowered those who hated them. The Jews gathered together in their cities throughout all the provinces of King Ahasuerus to lay hands on those who sought their harm. And no one could withstand them, because fear of them fell upon all people. And all the officials of the provinces, the satraps, the governors, and all those doing the king’s work, helped the Jews, because the fear of Mordecai fell upon them. For Mordecai was great in the king’s palace, and his fame spread throughout all the provinces; for this man Mordecai became increasingly prominent. Thus the Jews defeated all their enemies with the stroke of the sword, with slaughter and destruction, and did what they pleased with those who hated them.                Esther 9:1-5  NKJV

One of my favorite stories in the Bible is found in the book of Esther, which recounts the story of how God arranged for the Jewish people to be saved from annihilation.  I say arranged, because in His infinite wisdom He arranges for Esther, a Jewish girl taken in captivity in the time of Nebuchadnezzar, to somehow become the Queen of Babylon.  It is a wonderful story of palace intrigue, corruption, and ultimate justice which is worthy of a Hollywood movie.  It has always been a staple in my years of teaching and was easily one of the most favorite of my high school classes.

The plot, in a nutshell, revolves around the attempt by Haman, an official in the king’s court, to completely destroy all of the Jews because of a personal dislike of Mordecai, a Jew who had adopted Queen Esther when her parents were killed.  Of course, Haman had no idea Queen Esther was a Jew, nor her relationship with Mordecai, which placed Esther in a perfect position to foil the plot.  After Haman had tricked the King into signing a decree which called for all of the Jews to be killed, Esther revealed to the King the fact that she herself was a Jew, and exposed the entire evil plot of Haman for what it really was.

The King was incensed, and ordered Haman to be hung on the very gallows he had built to hang Mordecai on, and, because he could not rescind his own decree, wrote another which allowed the Jews to defend themselves from their enemies, and anyone who intended harm to come their way.  The annual festival of Purim is a celebration of this deliverance of the Jews from the plot by Haman to completely annihilate them.  This celebration in Israel is one of the most joyous, including the giving of gifts, wearing costumes, singing, eating, drinking, and of course reading the Book of Esther in the synagogue.

If you have followed my blog for any length of time, you probably understand that I find it increasingly hard to believe in coincidence in a world created by an omnipotent God.  I especially don’t believe it coincidence when major events relating to the nation of Israel occur on the anniversaries of their Holy Days and festivals, which, if you have studied at all, you know have happened with great regularity throughout history.  Which brings us to the subject of Purim, and the reason for discussing it today.

In late 2002, the United States began a building up of forces in the Middle East with the apparent intent of deposing the ruler of Iraq, Sadaam Hussein, who was pursuing the capability of weapons of mass destruction with the stated intent of using them on the nation of Israel. I had been invited to lecture on the situation in the Middle East in early 2003 and was in the process of preparing when I noticed the Festival of Purim on my calendar was just a couple of weeks away. Reminded of the story of Esther, the first thought that went through my mind was what if history was about to repeat itself with God's sense of timing thrown in for good measure?

 As the world was watching and waiting, I contacted a few friends in the ministry and shared my thoughts about the possibility that an attack on Iraq could occur on the very anniversary of the deliverance of Israel some 2500 years earlier. So what exactly happened?  The festival of Purim, the 14th of Adar, occurred on Wednesday March 19, 2003, the very day the first bombs dropped on Baghdad.  Now do you begin to understand why I feel there is no such thing as coincidence in God’s world?  But to echo that famous line from the telemarketers on television, “but wait, there’s more!”, which now brings us to the reason I chose to bring this all up.

I’m sure by now the majority of the world knows of the attempts by this administration, as well as others, to negotiate a treaty with Iran concerning their quest for nuclear power, and the fear by many that their true intent is to produce nuclear weapons.  Obviously, because of their stated desire to see the complete destruction of Israel, and the proximity of the two nations, it follows that the nation of Israel seems to be much more concerned about this than the current administration of the United States seems to be.  This would explain, I am sure, one of the many reasons Benjamin Netanyahu will be speaking to Congress this week. 

Of course, by now I need not mention the controversy surrounding this speech, and the lengths to which the administration, has and is, going in order to show how much they disagree with the message that is certain to be vocalized in the words of Prime Minister Netanyahu.  I’m not a prophet, but I am reasonably certain that the point is going to be made that if no one else is willing to defend the nation of Israel, they are prepared to do it on their own.  Oh, and one more thing I almost forgot to mention.
Tuesday is when Benjamin Netanyahu addresses Congress about Israel’s concern for the safety of their existence. 

Wednesday is Purim.

Just coincidence.

 And Mordecai wrote these things and sent letters to all the Jews, near and far, who [were] in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, to establish among them that they should celebrate yearly the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar, as the days on which the Jews had rest from their enemies, as the month which was turned from sorrow to joy for them, and from mourning to a holiday; that they should make them days of feasting and joy, of sending presents to one another and gifts to the poor. So the Jews accepted the custom which they had begun, as Mordecai had written to them, because Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had plotted against the Jews to annihilate them, and had cast Pur (that [is], the lot), to consume them and destroy them; but when [Esther] came before the king, he commanded by letter that this wicked plot which [Haman] had devised against the Jews should return on his own head, and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows. So they called these days Purim, after the name Pur. Therefore, because of all the words of this letter, what they had seen concerning this matter, and what had happened to them,        Esther 9:20-26 NKJV

We all need to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Keep watching.