The Word: Now Esther spoke again to the king, fell down at his feet, and implored him with tears to counteract the evil of Haman the Agagite, and the scheme which he had devised against the Jews. And the king held out the golden sceptre toward Esther. So Esther arose and stood before the king, and said, “If it pleases the king, and if I have found favour in his sight… let it be written to revoke the letters devised by Haman… which he wrote to annihilate the Jews who are in all the king’s provinces. For how can I endure to see the evil that will come to my people? Or how can I endure to see the destruction of my countrymen?” Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther and Mordecai the Jew, “Indeed, I have given Esther the house of Haman, and they have hanged him on the gallows because he tried to lay his hand on the Jews. You yourselves write a decree for the Jews, as you please, in the king’s name, and seal it with the king’s signet ring; for a letter which is written in the king’s name and sealed with the king’s signet ring no one can revoke.” (Esther 8:3-8)
Pointers for prayer: The Festival of Purim is being celebrated throughout Israel, commemorating a major victory over oppression and recounting the story of Esther. Purim is the most festive of Jewish holidays, a time of prizes, costumes and treats. However, unlike the TV ads for an all new improved quick fix to life’s difficult issues, there is no fast solution for those living in Israel, nor for those standing with her. And in all of this, we can become very weary and frustrated. I remember the comedian Alan King once stating, “A short summary of every Jewish holiday: They tried to kill us. We won. Let’s eat.” Well it certainly seems like Purim was right at the forefront of his mind. Haman sought to annihilate the Jewish people, but God (although not mentioned in the book of Esther) intervened. As Esther spoke to the king, she fell down at his feet and implored him with tears. Let us, likewise fall face down before the King of kings, implored Him with tears, and continue to intercede for the nation and people of Israel. Please pray that the LORD God would sustain Israel, and those who stand with her. May our weariness be lifted, and joys fill our hearts (The Jews had light and gladness, joy and honour. Esther 8:16-17). May this be a time of breakthrough when we see curses turned into blessings.
Please continue to uphold in your prayers both the Jewish people and the Arabs throughout the Middle East. Remember too, the troubles of Christian Arabs living in the Muslim world. Many Christians are suffering great persecution and death simply because of their faith. Pray that Christians in Islamic countries would know the LORD’s peace and protection in their lives.
In last week’s report, I covered the lighter side of Purim in the first of a two week report. This week we look at the more challenging issues regarding the theme of Purim.
In many ways, as I often state, the very survival of the Jewish people throughout history is nothing short of miraculous. The very fact that Israel exist as a nation today stands in testimony to the existence of God who acts in history. By any historical measure, the Jewish people should have disappeared long ago. Whether it is the evil desires of Haman or the wicked schemes of the Roman Empire; whether it’s the horror of the Nazi regime or the modern threat of the Palestinian Authority/Hamas terrorists, Israel have miraculously survived when all others have perished, and Israel will continue to survive because God has proclaimed it so in His Word. Again I’d like to pick up on the quote I used last week from David Ben Gurion, the first Prime Minister of the modern State of Israel who once stated: “A Jew who does not believe in miracles is not a realist.” Why did he say that? Simply because miracles are the only possible explanation for the existence of the Jewish people today. This is what Purim is about. However today, as in past times with Israel, we need to see a miracle.
The Festival of Purim commemorates a major victory over oppression and potential genocide and is told within the pages of the Hebrew Scriptures (or the Christian ‘Old Testament’), in the book of Esther. Purim takes place on the fourteenth and fifteenth days of Adar in the Jewish calendar. As mentioned last week, this year’s religious events in spring appear to be slightly ‘out of sync’ to the norm. Often the Seder meal (Passover) falls around the Easter period – which makes much more sense when enabling the church to understand her Hebraic roots. However, Easter 2016 is a lot earlier this year, which means, rather strangely, that Purim, which begins tonight (Wednesday, March 23) and ends in the evening of Thursday, March 24 falls the day before ‘Good Friday’. So this year there is almost one month’s difference to the time of Easter finishing and Passover starting – which begins in the evening of Friday, April 22 and ends in the evening of Saturday, April 30, 2016. Yet Purim 2016 should not be overlooked by the Church, or indeed anyone who supports the nation of Israel, and here’s why…
It states in Esther 9:17: ‘And they gained relief on the fourteenth, making it a day of feasting and gladness’. Why the celebration? It is for the victory over the order of Haman to annihilate the Jewish people. In response to Haman’s threat, Esther called for a time of fasting and prayer. God heard their cries, and delivered the people of Israel from certain destruction. It is interesting that today in 2016, many groups have this same agenda, such as the Terrorist organisation with a very similar name to Haman, called Hamas, who still threatens to destroy the Jewish people. It could also be the constant threat of knife stabbings from the Palestinian Authority controlled and incited youth. It could be the evil desires of the terrorist group Isis, who are still carrying out acts of murderous insanity as I write, with the latest atrocities of attacks in Belgium this week. It could even be from the more sinister BDS campaigner’s, many of whom have been lulled on board by lies and ignorance. Or it could be the simple old cloak of darkness that never lies down – the age old anti-Semitism.
Having spoken to many Jewish friends over the past few weeks in the UK, and monitored various UK groups expressing their fear on Social Media such as Facebook, the regular condemnation of Israel by the UN might actually be fuelling the rise of anti-Semitism within Europe. For the Jewish people living in Israel, they must get tired of being blamed for their only crime of trying to live in peace and by doing what every nation has the right to do, and that is defend themselves. For many who argue against the Jewish people in Israel, they actually blame the State of Israel for the problems, because, they say, “each significant surge of anti-Semitism comes at each of Israel’s wars.” They state that Israel is to blame for the wars, its conduct and the ensuing anti-Semitism.
Back on January 30, 2016, I reported on my blog page, and posted on my personal Facebook wall that, taking into account what France had recently gone through with suffering Islamic terrorist attacks, would they now act with more empathy towards Israel? In my article I wrote, “The horrific Paris terrorist attacks last year were met with shock and panic. The Paris attacks were the worst in France’s recent history. So what next, an increase in US-NATO military actions in Syria and Iraq? Maybe an understanding in how dangerous it is to do deals with terrorist? Maybe an outside chance of understanding how hard it must be for Israel to battle with constant terrorist attacks? Actually, no, instead France expects Israel to negotiate with a terrorist organisation – the PLO – or the Palestinian Authority as it is known today to create an official Palestinian state. And if Israel refuse? Simple… France will recognise this Palestinian terrorist group as an official State anyway!” Has there been no lessons from terrorism learnt here? Of course this week, we have been shocked once again by further Islamic terrorist attacks. Brussels has been hit by twin blasts that hit Zaventem airport on Tuesday, with 11 people reported killed, and another explosion hitting Maelbeek metro station near the EU headquarters an hour later, leaving another 20 people dead. Brussels police have issued a wanted notice for a man seen pushing a luggage trolley through the airport. He was pictured in CCTV footage with two other suspects who are believed to have died in the blasts.
Police released surveillance image of suspects before the explosions that killed at least 31 people and injured more than 100 others. Once again ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks. Our hearts have to go out to the families of those who have perished, and these terrorist attacks have to be condemned by the highest EU and UN Authorities. However, who is it that the EU and the UN condemn on a regular basis? Is it Isis, or Abbas’s Palestinian Authority or Hamas? No, they condemn Israel and still demand Israel to accept another Islamic State in Israel’s heart land – the mountains of Israel – or Judea and Samaria. So how is it that those Politicians, who’s own countries are today suffering the same Islamic terrorist attacks as Israel suffer don’t see things the same way?
Watchman what do you see?
When Israelis look around them, they see the brutal civil war in Syria, and ISIS in the Golan Heights and on the border with Egypt. They see Hezbollah strengthening its position to the north, and Hamas turning Gaza into a staging grounds of terror. Let’s face the facts – the UN must know that Hamas does not hide its intention to prepare for the next round of conflict, and continues to build up its terror infrastructure – above ground and below.
Hamas’ officials boast of rocket factories operating day and night. They are upgrading their arsenal with longer range missiles. Hamas is also rebuilding its network of terror tunnels. These tunnels are an underground expressway of terror, leading straight into the heart of Israeli towns and cities. Yet even as Hamas plans attacks against Israeli citizens, and despite the constant threat of rocket attacks, Israel is taking steps to improve the well-being of the people in Gaza. In the past year alone, Israel has invested millions of dollars to triple the capacity of the Gaza crossing, allowing a thousand trucks filled with building material and goods to enter the Gaza Strip every day. However, as we all know, Hamas shamefully seizes supplies intended to help the people of Gaza, in order to rebuild its terror infrastructure. The people who condemn Israel – and we need to include all who stand with the BDS campaigns – need to face a reality check. The greatest opponent of the well-being of the people of Gaza is Hamas themselves.
While Israelis live under the shadow of threat from Hamas in the south, they also see the dark cloud of Hezbollah in the North. This terror group is committed to the destruction of Israel, and grows stronger and more sophisticated every day. As I write, Hezbollah has over one hundred thousand rockets ready to be fired at Israeli cities. Hezbollah also has long-range missiles that can target any place in Israel, and has obtained advanced strategic weapons systems. Hezbollah’s actions demonstrate their disregard for human life. Hezbollah has embedded most of its military infrastructure in the villages of south Lebanon, storing weapons in private homes and stationing missiles next to kindergartens. Take, for example, the village of Muhaybib in South Lebanon. In this small town, sources state that Hezbollah has nine arms storage sites, five rocket-launching sites, four infantry positions, three underground tunnels three anti-tank positions, and a command post in the centre of the village. Twenty five military sites in a town with only ninety houses!
In another village of Shaqra with a population of about four thousand people the IDF has identified four hundred military sites. Hezbollah has transformed these villages into terror outposts. This is the true face of Hezbollah – a brutal organization which deliberately targets Israeli civilians, and uses Lebanese civilians as human shields. And of course the link between Hamas and Hezbollah is the Islamic Republic of Iran, of whom the USA and the UN are lifting restrictions!
Wherever there is terror, there is Iran. Iran is the primary destabilizing factor in the Middle East, funding instability and chaos throughout the region. Iran also has a proven track record of defying every UN Council’s resolutions. Is it a co-incidence that the Book of Esther is set in Susa, where king Ahasverus (Xerxes) threatened the Jews with genocide and Esther saved them? The modern Iranian town of Shush is located at the site of ancient Susa. It appears that the spirit of Haman lives on.
The Palestinian Authority:
Regarding peace talks with the PA, Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu has called on President Abbas and the Palestinian Authority to resume negotiations on many occasions, but the PA continues to refuse. Sadly, when the PA leadership is not negotiating, it is inciting, as we can see from the recent terrorist attacks in Israel. Instead of working to improve the lives of the Palestinians, the PA encourages terror by providing stipends for terrorists and their families. As we heard from Itamar Marcus at this year’s Lobby Day at Westminster, the more horrific the attack, the higher the reward. The payments can be up to three thousand five hundred dollars per month. This in a place where the average salary is just over six hundred dollars. Numerous terrorists have admitted to committing heinous acts of terror in order to qualify for a lifetime stipend “awarded” only to those who spent at least five years in Israeli prison. For the Arab Palestinians, terror pays and it is their leadership that rewards the taking of innocent life with lots of European tax payer’s money.
Even toys are used as tools to poison children’s minds and inflame their hearts. Israel recently stopped a shipment of thousands of dolls dressed as terrorists, with stones in hand, destined for children in the West Bank. The ‘educational purpose’ of these terror dolls is clear- to serve as role models for young Palestinians. Such incitement is at the root of the wave of terror Israel is facing. In a television interview with Deutsche Welle on Wednesday, the Palestinian prime minister rejected questions about disunity and corruption within the Palestinian Authority, and insisted the PA is committed to “non-violent resistance” against Israel, while repeatedly refusing to condemn stabbing attacks against Israelis. Interviewed in Ramallah by “Conflict Zone” host Tim Sebastian, Rami Hamdallah deflected each question about the PA by referring to Israel. View the interviews on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gD7UXDQPACo and here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2PxYHwf9YwU
Could the ‘spirit of Haman’ also be root of evil that motivates the Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions machine (BDS)? They point the finger of blame at the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and the State of Israel? But do the BDS groups and others such as the Palestinian Solidarity Campaigners need any reasons or excuses? Was this hatred of Jews not happening before 1948? Yes, of course we know it was – just look at the slaughter of Jews by Arabs in Hebron in 1929. And worse, Europe in the 1930s and then the Holocaust! Yes of course those who hate the Jews will use any excuse they can, but even if Netanyahu (whether you love him or hate him, support him or not) was no longer the PM, the hatred would still remain, for if Hamas and all these other people actually got what they wanted and totally annihilate Israel, so that the State was no more, would the hatred die? Well, as mentioned, look back 70 years plus, to prove this would indeed continue.
Despite all these threats of attacks from Terrorists, and “salt being rubbed in wounds” by the UN etc., Israelis are still intent on celebrating their joyous and fun packed holidays with Purim. With spring bringing new life all over Israel and the scent of orange blossoms in the air, who can blame the Israelis for their hope of a better future?
(Middle East News Correspondent) Tweet me @David_CFI
Sources: Unless stated, personal sources throughout Israel, Israeli Embassy London, The Jerusalem Post, i24news.tv/en/ & Israel National Radio