“They shall bring you clear oil of beaten olives for the light,
to raise up a lamp perpetually…” (Exodus 27:20)
“You, O LORD, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into lightץ”
(Psalm 18:28 NIV)
Because this is the week preceding Purim (next Sunday), we feel to devote this Update to an examination of the dynamics surrounding that pertinent festival. At the same time, we would encourage you to pray:
* For wisdom, direction and courage for our Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu as the time nears when he must have formed a coalition if Israel is to go into this next season unified and strong.
* There have been signs in the heavens over this past week (Luke 21:25)—an asteroid coming nearer than any in recorded history to the earth, and a meteor exploding catastrophically over Russia. It is a time soberly to seek the Lord, and humbly to pray for “an ear to hear what the Ruach haKodesh (Holy Spirit/Holy Wind) is saying to the congregations.
*This week Pope Benedict became the first Pope in some 600 years to resign, saying he no longer felt physically capable of fulfilling his office. In a further act of humility, Benedict on Sunday called on believers, “I beg you to continue praying for me and for the next pope.” We believe it to be an act of humility on our parts, before an omnipotent God, to do so—and to pray a renewal in life, truth and guidance among the millions of Roman Catholics in the world. And we pray for the government of that body to be brought into God’s order and government for the season ahead. And that the next leader be one who blesses God’s sovereign purposes and pronouncements on His ancient land and people Israel.
This coming Sunday (beginning sundown Saturday evening) is Purim—the day Jews celebrate their remarkable deliverance in 483 B.C. Persia (present day Iran) from a plot to exterminate them. The Scroll (book) of Esther will be read—there are Purim plays and costumes, and special pastries and desserts and wine. In most of the Jewish world, Purim is celebrated on the 14th of Adar (24 February this year)—but in Jerusalem, Jaffa and other ‘walled cities’ it will be celebrated (as in ancient Shushan—“Susa”; see Esther 9:18-19), the following day.
200-year old Megilat-Esther (Scroll of Esther) on Parchment, handed
down from Norma Sarvis’s Jewish ancestors in Belarus.
Although these are days for rejoicing and feasting (Esther 9:18-19)—they are preceded by days of soberness of spirit and fasting. Esther 9:31 tells of Mordechai and Queen Esther prescribing times for fasting and lamentation, recalling those which the Queen had called for her Jewish subjects when their entire race was in danger of annihilation and she was preparing herself to seek the favour of the King.
Purim is a season when we are especially made aware of the Spirit of Amalek, with which our Lord continues to war, from generation to generation (Ex. 17:15-16). The Amalekites were a real people, who throughout the Hebrew Scriptures epitomize and symbolize the spirit of anti-Semitism. They were Israel’s first enemies after leaving Egypt. They preyed on her, picking off the weak straggling in the rear (Deut. 25:17-19, this week’s special additional Torah portion).
God grants “no quarter” to those who threaten His Covenant purposes; their remembrance was to be “blotted out from under heaven.” When King Saul failed to do this (I Sam. 15—this week’s Haftarah), his kingdom was torn away from him; indeed, it would be an Amalekite who in the end claimed to have killed him (II Sam. 1:6-10). Centuries later, it would be Haman, a descendant of Agag (the Amalekite king whom Saul had spared) who, as recorded in the Book of Esther, would contrive to ignite the first Holocaust. With the hatred Satan has for Israel and her redemptive call, it is indeed a divine miracle flying over her (Exodus 17:15) which has sustained her and brought her, still an entity and with her ancient language restored, back to her native Land.
In recent years, this Spirit of Amalek has again manifest itself in Persia (Iran), whose leaders, having again prophesied annihilation of the Jews, are working furiously to devise weapons capable of bringing their prophecies to fulfillment.
Wednesday evening (February 20th at sundown) observant Jews began a one-day fast. We would encourage you to take this season seriously. Read through the Book of Esther; perhaps the Lord may lead you to join with us in the fast.
We find the following prayer points, written a year ago by our friend and Director of Succat Hallel in Jerusalem Rick Ridings, to be of even more pertinence and relevance today.
1. That the Mordecais and Esthers of our time will hear the call of the Holy Spirit concerning the urgency of the hour, and will not be distracted or lulled into slumber by a false sense of security.
2. For continued success of the covert war against Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon. On Nov. 8, 2011, I received a vision in one of our watches here in Succat Hallel in Jerusalem. I saw something resembling a Tower of Babel being built in Iran, representing a working together of various nations to stand against God. I sensed it represented their nuclear weapons program. As they were bringing final stones to place on top, then lightning from heaven struck it, and the top level of stones fell off (not all), producing a set-back to their nuclear efforts. Then waves coming from the worship in houses of prayer in the Middle East washed away sand in Iran, and uncovered and exposed hidden things. I felt this vision was confirmed by news reports on Nov. 11 of a great explosion at an Iranian top-secret, military facility, which “shook windows” 30 km. away in Tehran.
Let us believe for much confusion and division upon the demonic powers bent on destroying Israel (2 Chron. 20).
3. For a clear understanding to come to the decision-makers in Jerusalem and Washington, DC to do the right thing at the right time. (Esther 7:3-6)
4. Let us proclaim a reversal of every Satanic decree to destroy Israel, and that “Haman” will be hung upon his own gallows. (Esther 7:9,10; Ps. 33:10-12)
5. For Iran (Persia), let us pray for the Lord to bring shame upon His enemies in such a way that they will begin to seek the Name of the Lord, to know Who is the True and Living God (See Psalm 83, especially verse 16).
6. For Israel, let us pray that the God of Esther will once again bring great deliverance and joy to His ancient people, and that they will give all the glory to Him (Esther 9:20-22).