Purim: Remembering the Days of Queen Esther
By Messianic Rabbi Joe Bell
According to the decree of Mordecai and Esther as recorded in Esther 9:20-32, the Feast of Purim was to be celebrated on the 14th and 15th of Adar, and it was established and confirmed that this feast should be celebrated and remembered throughout all future generations as a memorial of how the Jews were miraculously saved from the evil plot of the Jew hater, Haman!
To this day, Purim is still observed around the world by reading the scroll of the book of Esther (the Megillah), putting on elaborate comedy plays of the Esther Story, sending food gifts to one another, and making charity contributions. Mordecai said, "the celebration of Purim is the time when the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration. He wrote them to observe the days as days of feasting and joy and giving presence of food to one another and gifts to the poor." (Esther 9:22)
This year, Purim falls on March 16th and 17th and Jews, Messianic Jews, and some Christians will be remembering and celebrating the incredible story of Esther and Mordecai during this time. It amazes me that in ancient Persia (which is modern-day Iran), a Jewish man arose to become the Prime Minister, even in the midst of severe anti-Semitism. 2,500 years ago, Mordecai the Jew became the Prime Minister of "Iran" and defeated the same diabolical political/spiritual force of anti-Semitism that we face in our world today.
The incredible story of intrigue and danger centers around another decree; a decree by Haman to destroy all the Jews in the Persian Empire. Miraculously, God lifted up Esther and her Uncle Mordecai to bring deliverance to their fellow Jews. When Queen Esther discovered the plot to destroy her people, she called for a three day fast and then hosted two banquets for the King and his chief advisor, Haman, the Agagite. During the second banquet, Esther stirred up her courage to inform the king of Haman’s wicked plan to destroy the Jews.
Initially, Esther resisted this call to act on behalf of her people. She was understandably afraid of the King. Nevertheless, her uncle Mordecai sent these famous words to her, exhorting her to step up to the challenge and to take action: “Do not think that because you are in the king's house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13-14).
Called to make a decision:
Queen Esther had to make a conscious decision to help her Jewish people. She knew that she could lose her life if she went before the king uninvited. Yeshua (Jesus) said, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the Gospel’s, the same shall save it,” (Mark 8:35). Answering the call of God for your life means being willing to lose your old life to follow Yeshua. "Not my will, Lord, Your will be done".
Helping God's chosen people today still requires a decision, a choice. There is no gray area. It’s black and white. Is God calling you to be an Esther, to help save the Jewish people in our generation?
Do the Jewish people need to be saved?
January 27th was “International Holocaust Remembrance Day.” On the eve of that day, 17,000 people in France marched through the streets of Paris shouting: “Jews, out of France!” “Jews, France is not yours!” “The story of the gas chamber is bull***!” According to the article, “At one point, in a show of raw, seething hatred, the crowd simply spits out the word “Jew, Jew, Jew!” You can watch the march here: video
France has the third largest population of Jewish people in the world, so this is no small event. I spoke with a friend of mine who is a retired Marine officer and former strategic analyst, and he equated the parade in France last month to the “Brown-Shirt” marches in Nazi Germany. My friend said, "France today is Germany in 1933". In 1933, the Jews had about six years to get out of Germany, so how long do you think the Jews in France have today? Another friend, who leads a ministry that helps Jewish people return to Israel from the West, received a desperate letter from a rabbi in France pleading for assistance in bringing his family to Israel. We are actively working to help this man and his family, and to bring more awareness to the people in France of the danger they are in. They need help now, and we are working on a plan to do just that.
In other recent Anti-Jewish news, the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said he, “will not recognize Israel as a Jewish State and will not sign a peace deal that does not include eastern Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state.” To make matters worse, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry concurrently threatened Israel with a possible international boycott if Israel fails to reach a peace accord with the Palestinians.
Yuval Steinitz, Israel’s intelligence and strategic Affairs Minister said that, “Israel cannot be expected to negotiate with a gun to its head when we are discussing matters which are most critical to our national interests.” Naftali Bennett, the Industry Minister said, “We expect of our friends in the world to stand by our side against the attempts to impose an anti-Semitic boycott on Israel, and not to be their mouthpiece.”
What will You Do?
Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”
Friends, the politically correct new way to be anti-Semitic is to say one is anti-Zionist. They say, “Oh, I have nothing against Jews… It’s Israel I have a problem with". I’m sorry, but if you have a problem with Israel, you have a problem with Jews.
James wrote that, “Faith without works is dead.” (James 2:20). Many people tell me they love Israel and the Jewish people, but what they do tangibly and the priorities they choose is the real testimony of their conviction. The Bible explains in Matthew 25:31-46 that God will judge all peoples based on how they treated the Jewish people. God says He will separate the sheep from the goats based on what each person did for even the least of Jesus’ brethren (the Jewish people). This passage is confirmed in Joel 3:1-2, “When I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat. Then I will enter into judgment with them there on behalf of My people and My inheritance, Israel, whom I have scattered among the nations; and they have divided up My land…”
Nations of the world are threatening to boycott Israel if Israel refuses to divide the land including Jerusalem, the land God promised to Abraham (see Gen 15:18-21), and the land King David bought in order to build the Temple where the spirit of God rested for centuries.
What will you do? Will you remain Silent? The name of our ministry is taken from Isaiah 62, “For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not keep quiet, until her righteousness goes forth like brightness, and her salvation like a burning torch,” (Isaiah 62:1). At For Zion’s Sake Ministries we have helped bring millions of dollars’ worth of humanitarian aid for the needy in Israel through our efforts with The MJAA’s Joseph Project.
Tens of thousands of people in Israel, both Jew and Arab, receive the necessities of life because many of you contributed at one time or another. We face modern day Hamans and a look into the eyes of history repeating itself on the world stage. God promises that if we ACT on behalf of the Jewish people and share in the work of saving them physically and spiritually, greater riches will come to the world.
“But if their (the Jews) transgression means riches for the world, and their (the Jews) loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their fullness bring!” (Romans 11:12).
Friend, you have been called to royalty in Messiah Yeshua, and you are a child of the King of Kings for "such a time as this". Will you decide to act as Queen Esther did? The Jewish people and the land of Israel need real friends today. They need friends in Israel; they need friends in France. Our work is enormous and the job ahead is fraught with danger and sacrifice. Will you be one of those who, like Queen Esther, was not afraid to lay down her way of life and poured herself into the plan that God had for her generation? If you are one of those, I pray that all the blessings of Esther, beauty, favor, meekness, prosperity, wisdom, grace, love, courage and victory, will come upon you, and that God will lead you in what you should do.
In Yeshua’s love,
Rabbi Joe and Dawn Bell