Amidst all the trauma and tension in the Middle East, let’s stop for a moment and focus on some good news — the Biblical story of God supernaturally preventing genocide and saving His people.
This week, we celebrate Purim. This is the ancient Jewish holiday we read about the Book of Esther in the Old Testament. It celebrates the remarkable story of how the Lord used two faithful believers — Mordechai and Esther — and a movement of prayer and fasting to save the Jewish people from an evil Persian regime determine to annihilate them.
Several years ago, you may recall that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu presented President Obama a decorated copy of an Esther Scroll telling the Biblical story. They discussed the parallels between ancient times and today.
There are many remarkable parallels, as I describe here in a video blog.
Here are four ways you 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. To read the Book of Esther on-line, please click here. To read notes of a message I gave to the National Religious Broadcasters convention in 2010 on “Israel, The Iran Threat, and Modern Day Lessons From The Book of Esther,” please click here. Or perhaps you might watch the video blog we made above for The Joshua Fund.
- Pray– We are to praise the God of Israel that He saved and redeemed the Jewish people. We are also to thank Him that He also saved so many Persian (Iranian) people who turned to the Living God at the end of the story (many people miss this part). Especially this year we should follow Mordechai and Esther’s example by praying and fasting for the redemption of the Jewish people amidst the current tensions with an evil Persian regime that wants to annihilate them. Let us also be praying faithfully for the Persian people to be saved and redeemed, as well.
- Give — On Purim, the Lord encourages us to give food and other gifts to the poor. As 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.” May we be faithful to the Lord in giving to the poor and needy and vulnerable, as well.
- Go — As you celebrate Purim with family and friends, start praying about going on a tour of Israel, and perhaps Jordan, as well. Come visit the Biblical sites of the Holy Land, walk where Abraham, Isaac and Jacob walked. See the places where our Lord Jesus Christ loved and served people and preached the good news of the Kingdom of God. Study the Scriptures in the places where so many of them were written, and discover how to be a blessing to Jews and Arabs (and Persians!) in our day. After all, Christ commanded us to love our neighbor, and to love our enemies. What better way to do that than to come visit the epicenter where it all began!
May the Lord bless you, and all of Israel, and all of the Persian people this Purim season.
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