FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
It’s that time of the year for Jews to celebrate the festive holiday of Purim, one of the delightful memories in Jewish history which makes the Jewish month of Adar (Feb/March) perhaps the happiest month of the year. They rejoice by reading the book of Esther, and playfully dressing up to disguise themselves, just as Queen Esther (at first) concealed her identity as a Jew from her husband, the Persian King Xerxes.
The festival of Purim will be held tomorrow, just ten days after Israeli commandos intercepted the Klos C cargo ship sailing under the flag of Panama on its way to the Gaza Strip. The Israelis escorted the ship to the southern Israel city port of Eilat, where the Israeli Defense Forces unloaded the cargo, followed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s inspection of the shipment. There for the whole world to see was an imposing arsenal consisting of hundreds of thousands of rounds of AK-47 ammunition, dozens of mortars, and the most imposing of all—forty long-range missiles capable of striking Tel Aviv, Jerusalem … and other cities deep into the heart of Israel. And, if these missiles could have or would have (in the future) been tipped with a nuclear warhead—even a tactical one—the tiny state of Israel would be transported to the state of oblivion.
From where did this destructive payload originate! Too easy of a question, right? None other than Iran, formerly known as the Persian Empire. It’s not enough that Iran supplies and sponsors and exports terrorism to Lebanon. Wasn’t it just two weeks ago or so that Israel took out some long-range missiles in Lebanon that had been transferred by Iran to its intended destination … the terrorist organization, Hezbollah.
Now, Iran is adding (aiding) another terrorist group, Hamas, to Iran’s import/export trade partners in crime. Just this past Tuesday Hamas renewed diplomatic relations with Iran and again boasted that Hamas would strike the “heart of the Zionist entity.” Hamas bragged that future clashes with Israel would result in missiles raining down on cities all over Israel. It only took two days to make good on their threat. Day before yesterday, the militant group Islamic Jihad launched some 60 rockets into Israel from the Gaza Strip. Fortunately (miraculously) no one was killed or even injured. Either the projectiles were deficient or the terrorist’s aim was bad, or angels diverted the rockets, or all of the above!
Although Islamic Jihad is a separate terrorist cell from Hamas, Israel holds Hamas responsible (rightfully so) for all terrorist attacks that originate from Gaza. Rightfully so because Hamas claims to be the only legitimate, duly elected, government for Gaza. If they’re going to assert that right, then they must bear the responsibility of controlling all extremist groups operating from the Gaza Strip
At the press conference that followed the viewing of the confiscated weapons in Eilat, Benjamin Netanyahu reminded the world (he had just articulated this during his meeting with US President Obama a few days earlier) of the malicious intentions and ominous threat Iran poses to Israel, but not just Israel … also to the United States. Said, Prime Minister Netanyahu about Iran: (this) “…brutal regime has not abandoned its deep involvement in terrorism, its systematic efforts to undermine peace and security throughout the Middle East and its ambition to destroy the state of Israel … Those engaged in self-deception must awaken from their slumber; we cannot allow Iran to continue building nuclear weapons.”
(Photo depicts M-302 missiles intercepted by Israeli commandos)
If anyone doubts Iran’s hateful objectives regarding Israel, it’s only necessary to wait a few days to hear yet another Iranian leader threaten Israel. For example, Iranian Brigadier General Hussein Salami recently affirmed that Iran’s military leaders are determined to destroy, “the Zionist regime of Israel.” Although Salami has threatened Israel before, his recent tirade seemed particularly hostile in an imminent sort of way. He went on to say, “Islam has given us this wish, capacity, and power to destroy the Zionist regime so that our hands will remain on the trigger from 1,400km away for the day when such an incident (confrontation with Israel) takes place.”
These intimidations were made the day after Benjamin Netanyahu’s held his press conference in Eilat with video exposure of the weapons captured from the Klos C ship. This time, Salami was referring to conventional weaponry … essentially boasting that Iran could take down Israel without nuclear capability, when they chose to do so. Notice, that he said, when such an incident takes place; rather than if it would occur. He went on to say, “Today we can destroy every spot which is under the Zionist regime’s control with any volume of fire power (that we want) right from here.” Meaning directly from Iran via remote control technology.
Moreover, Salami’s menacing threats echoed the innuendoes made a few weeks ago by Iranian Commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard, Major General Ali Jafari. Boasted Jafari, “We have recently acquired the capability to mount guided and precision-targeting missiles with pinpointing capabilities and bombs on drones, which is actually among branches of advanced hi-tech in this field.” This announcement followed Iran’s disclosure last November of a new drone called Fotros, which has a flying time of 30 hours, a range of 2000 kilometers, and an altitude of 25,000 feet. Furthermore, Fotros can be armed with air-to-surface rockets. Another drone labeled Karrar has similar flying capability plus a large explosive payload that could inflict massive damage and casualties within Israel.
Why must Netanyahu keep harping (that’s how he is perceived by Barack Obama and John Kerry) on the catastrophic danger that a nuclear-armed Iran or even a non-nuclear Iran poses to the entire world? It’s really pretty simple: The President of the United States and our State Department doesn’t get it, or isn’t listening, or isn’t that concerned. Or the worst scenario of all: Our government fully understands the potential threat of a nuclear Iran but is prepared to accept the risk. This in keeping with our President’s tacit recognition of the “peaceful” Muslim religion the world over, especially Muslim nations that are predominately Arab, which Iran is not … but it’s still embraces Islam.
The Meaning of Purim
Indeed, contemporary Iran is ruled by modern-day Haman(s)—the Persian megalomaniac that wanted to exterminate all the Jews—instead of a nostalgic return to the days of their ancient kings and their compassion for and benevolence toward the Jews. Before the wicked official Haman rose to power, it was Persia’s king Cyrus who released the Jews from captivity, and allowed them to return to Israel and rebuild their Temple. Thus, how ironic it is: While Israeli Jews and Jews still living in Gentile nations reminisce and celebrate the decree issued by Mordecai, the prominent Jewish leader and advisor to King Xerxes the Great of ancient Persia, the Iranian leaders of today’s Persia are once again threatening to wipe Israel from the face of the earth. These leaders would do well to remember the fate of Haman and those who followed him!
Purim means “lots” (pur equals lot, with the Hebrew suffix im making it plural) as in the casting of lots originally ordered by Haman, to set aside a date on which all Jews were to be slaughtered. The date selected a year in advance was March 7th, 473 B.C. When Queen Esther bravely told King Xerxes about this diabolical plot, the king ordered Haman to be executed instead of the Jews. The Jews then killed those Persians complicit with Haman in the plot against them. Then, in another twist of irony, this same date plus March 8th were chosen by the Jews to celebrate the miraculous deliverance of the Jews from certain extinction. Let’s read the Biblical passage:
“Mordecai recorded these events and sent letters to the Jews near and far, throughout all the provinces of King Xerxes, calling on them to celebrate an annual festival on these two days. He told them to celebrate these days with feasting and gladness and by giving gifts of food to each other and presents to the poor. This would commemorate a time when the Jews gained relief from their enemies, when their sorrow was turned into gladness and their mourning into joy. So the Jews accepted Mordecai’s proposal and adopted this annual custom” (Esther 9: 20-23).
Were it not for Mordecai’s counsel and Esther’s courage, Haman might have fulfilled his warped dream of genocide, just as Hitler almost did … no different from what the Ayatollah of Iran would do if he had just one nuclear weapon at his disposal. What makes Iran’s malevolent ambitions even more insanely criminal is that they couldn’t care less that hundreds of thousands of Arabs (most of whom are fellow Muslims) would also be incinerated alongside of the Jews in a nuclear strike against Israel. Or, thousands killed in a conventional attack on Israel.
“Who knows,” Mordecai said to Esther, “if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14).
Does Anyone Care?
Anyone and everyone who gives a hoot about this once great nation called the United States of America and who harbors at least a tiny bit of sympathy toward Israel should realize that today—right now as we speak—it is such a time as this. We need a Secretary of State who will stop chasing the elusive dream of pacifying modern Persian rulers who make vague and devious promises never to develop uranium or plutonium for a nuclear bomb; if the West would only lighten up on the sanctions that brought the Iranians to their economic knees. For such a time as this, we need a President who will look the Persian King (Iran’s President) in the eye and order him to stand down or face the consequences … not of tougher sanctions, but of US launched missiles raining down on nuclear reactors and the like. Tomorrow it may be too late. Today we need a Katie-bar-the-door Congress who takes Iran seriously and Israel even more seriously, when both of these nations know full well that Iran is not bluffing.
We the people must insist on a President and a Cabinet and a Congress who support Israel, not just with superficial words, but with meaningful actions such as (at least) equal criticism of the Palestinian Authority’s (led by Mahmoud Abbas) stubborn unwillingness to even acknowledge Israel as a Jewish State. I say equal, because President Obama has already accused Israel of jeopardizing the future of their own security and the so-called peace process by not halting all construction of new settlements in the West Bank. Some call that a self-fulfilling prophecy; meaning that any overt or covert hostility against Israel, will have been caused by Israel herself. And for what reason? Just because Israel is Jewish … no other reason is needed. Just because Israel is there … that’s excuse enough for Iran and Muslims everywhere to obliterate the Jewish State if they could.
Wake up America! That means you and me. Sit up and take notice Europe. There will be plenty of time to doze and slumber when we die! Of course, I say that facetiously (because I firmly believe in life after death) but I say it to get your attention. Are we, as suggested by Benjamin Netanyahu, “engaged in self-deception?” Do we really think that Iran is bluffing? They certainly didn’t bluff in 1979 when they stormed the US Embassy in Tehran and took dozens of Americans hostage, and kept them hostage for well over a year. Is their shipment of heavy armaments and ammunition to Hezbollah and Hamas just playing war games, or sabre rattling, or a show of bravado? Or would those weapons have been put to use? If you choose the latter of these options, you will have chosen correctly.
What is Different about today’s Iran?
What makes Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran’s recent threats against Israel different from those just a few years ago? Two things come to mind: (1) Iran’s imams including the supreme Ayatollah are now convinced that the 12th Imam Mahdi (their version of a Messiah) will not appear until or unless Muslims have launched a massive Jihad (holy war) against the infidels. In general, the infidels are all Christians and Jews. Specifically, these two groups are identified and represented by the United States and Israel, respectively. So, it behooves Iran and other militant Islamic nations/groups to initiate an intifada against their hated rival Israel. (2) Iran’s leaders realize that the United States along with other members of the G5 + 1 group (England, Germany, France, Russia, and China) have painted the former red line yellow. That the entire world, therefore, will do little or nothing to keep Iran from going nuclear. That America’s red-line commitments (to keep Iran non-nuclear) are empty and meaningless. That our President is essentially an isolationist and has retreated from any and all confrontations with Islamic nations.
Like Haman, some 2500 years ago, Iran’s leaders are tired of waiting. They are on the verge of casting lots and of throwing caution to the wind. They are on the precipice of date setting, just as Haman did when he enticed the Persians of his day to cast lots for a date, and then annihilate all Jews when that time arrived. (See Esther, Chapter 3). They seem anxious to “test the waters” of Western resolve. So, too, is Iran’s primary ally and supporter, Russia, flexing her military muscles, as is China … another tacit ally of Iran. Then, there’s the rogue nation of North Korea that continues to belligerently flaunt their inter-continental ballistic missile program, all the while challenging the United States and EU to do something about it.
Never before have we seen and heard so many “rumors of war” predicted by Jesus as recorded in Matthew Chapter 24. Jesus said there would be wars and threats of war that would be part of the end-times activities. I believe that this order or sequence of words was not random or arbitrary. Meaning that wars engulfing the whole world came first (the massive 20th century conflagrations of World War I and World War II), followed by an incessant and mounting crescendo of saber-rattling in this 21st century, unprecedented since the birth of Messiah.
What Can We Do?
We all wonder, even sometimes to the point of despair or at least resignation to the destiny of it all: How can I make a difference? My own thought is that we can start by being fully aware of what is happening in the world, especially the Middle East and Israel. Then study the Scriptures like never before, particularly prophecies of the last days. Then lend our support to Israel, especially Messianic Ministries. Or determine to support Israel with our thoughts, words, and prayers. As Israel goes, so goes the entire world. All of God’s end-time plans and actions are focused on and around Israel. Those who are antagonistic toward Israel, will experience God’s hostility toward them … individually and as a nation. Those who truly care about Israel and the Jews will be blessed by God himself.
Most of all pray, as prayer can accomplish incredible things. It can unleash the awesome power of the true and living God against the forces of evil. It can lead to God’s protection of all that is good in this world, including the apple of his eye, Israel. It can hasten the return of our great and glorious Savior, Messiah Jesus; to set up his kingdom of righteousness, justice, and peace. He will make all things new, and right, and eternal.
“Pray for peace in Jerusalem. May all who love this city prosper” (Psalms 122:6). In Hebrew the first part of this verse reads, “Sha’alu Shalom Yerushalayim.”
Whose Side Are We On?
The end of the story found in the book of Esther goes like this: “Then Queen Esther … wrote another letter putting the queen’s full authority behind Mordecai’s letter to establish the Festival of Purim … an annual celebration of these days at the appointed time…” (Esther 9:29-31).
Then the last verse in the book of Esther: “Mordecai the Jew became the prime minister, with authority next to that of King Xerxes himself. He was very great among the Jews, who held him in high esteem, because he continued to work for the good of his people and to speak up for the welfare of all their descendants” (Esther 10:3).
Be an Esther and a Mordecai in your family, circle of friends, church, community, and nation. Speak up for Esther’s and Mordecai’s descendants, the Jews. Stand up for Israel … be counted with them. Thank the Most High God for restoring Israel’s people to their land. Honor him for all the amazing things he has done for Israel and for his church, those who belong to Christ. Praise him for who he is and what he has done, and will do.
Whose side are you on? As for me, I prefer to be on the winning side. God the Father and God the Son will have the final say in this matter. For those individuals and nations who would dare oppose God’s chosen people and promised land, here is what they can expect at the hands of Messiah when he returns, “I crushed the nations in my anger and made them stagger and fall to the ground, spilling their blood upon the earth” (Isaiah 63:6).
For those who have been redeemed by Israel’s Messiah, who love and support the people and land of Israel, there are hundreds of wonderful promises found in the pages of the Bible for our welfare and eternal destiny with the Lord, the Holy One of Israel (as He is frequently referred to by the prophet Isaiah).
“For since the world began, no ear has heard, and no eye has seen a God like you, who works for those who wait for him!” (Isaiah 64:4). Imagine … we wait upon the Lord and he works for us!
But while we wait upon the Holy One of Israel, we also say and do what Isaiah said: “Because I love Zion, I will not keep still. Because my heart yearns for Jerusalem, I cannot remain silent. I will not stop praying for her until her righteousness shines like the dawn, and her salvation blazes like a burning torch” (Isaiah 62:1).
For Such a Time as This