Israel and the Jewish people face many threats these days — from a nuclear Iran, from terrorist rocket fire out of Gaza, from Syrian chemical weapons, and from rising anti-Semitism and a global movement to isolate and delegitimize Israel, especially pernicious in Europe, to name just a few.
Sometimes Jews wonder, “Why are we the Chosen People? How has that worked out well for us? The Pharoah chose us. Hitler chose us. Stalin chose us. The ayatollahs chose us. Choose someone else, Lord, please!” It’s a sad but understandable sentiment.
As we see current threats — and as we remember the horrors of the Holocaust and the Nazi regime’s determination to annihilate all the Jews of Europe — we need to remember that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob has never forgotten or forsaken the people He sovereignly chosen. We have, all too often, forgotten Him. But He has never forgotten us.
Indeed, that is why His Word commanded us to celebrate Purim, which takes place this weekend.
Purim is the Jewish holiday that celebrates the remarkable story of how the God of Israel used two faithful believers — Esther and Mordechai — and a movement of prayer and fasting to rescue the Jewish people from an evil Persian regime determine to annihilate them.
Remember: the evil Persian leader Haman literally used the language of annihilation all those years ago. As we read in Esther 3:13, “Letters were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate all the Jews, both young and old, women and children, in one day….”
The Bible tells believers throughout the ages to celebrate this important holiday. This weekend, I will be teaching at a Baptist church in Tampa about the Jewish holiday of Purim, and why it is so important, and how from ancient Persia to Hitler’s Germany to modern Iran, Purim reminds us of God’s faithful love for and sovereign protection of the Jewish people from those who seek to destroy them.
Here are four ways you and your family can celebrate this year:
- Learn – Jewish families around the world read the Book of Esther as a family to remember all the details of this amazing story, and Christians should, too. Study the story in its own historic context, to understand what was really happening, and the enormous faith and courage it took for Mordechai and Esther to do what they did. Then consider how the lessons in the historical account apply to Israel’s challenges today’s, and your own. To read the Book of Esther on-line, please click here.
- Pray– We are to praise the God of Israel that He is the Redeemer of the Jewish people, and of all people. We should thank Him that He also saved so many Persian people who turned to the Living God at the end of the story (many people miss this part). And especially in these times, we should follow Mordechai and Esther’s example by praying and fasting for the redemption of the Jewish people amidst this current showdown with an evil Persian regime that wants to annihilate them, and praying for the Persian people to be saved as well. Who knows if God has chosen us for a time such as this?
- Give — In the Biblical account, the Lord encourages us to give food and other gifts to the poor. We read in Esther 9:20-22, “Then Mordecai recorded these events, and he sent letters to all the Jews who were in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, both near and far, obliging them to celebrate the fourteenth day of the month Adar, and the fifteenth day of the same month, annually, because on those days the Jews rid themselves of their enemies, and it was a month which was turned for them from sorrow into gladness and from mourning into a holiday; that they should make them days of feasting and rejoicing and sending portions of food to one another and gifts to the poor.” Consider how you can give to the Jewish people today and be a blessing to Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus.
- Go — If you’d like to invest to a ministry that is providing food and other gifts to the poor and needy in the Land of Israel, please go to The Joshua Fund’s website at www.joshuafund.net.
May the Lord bless you, and all of Israel, and all of the Persian people this Purim season.