A popular expression describes what Jewish feasts are all about: “Our enemies tried to kill us. We survived. Let’s eat!”
The Feast of Esther (also known as Purim) certainly fits the bill. The genocidal Haman had his murderous cards in order – the date and planning for the Hebrew holocaust had been chosen based on the best horoscope (see Esther 3). An international massacre of all Jews in the Persian Empire (where most Jews lived) was planned and moving forward. But at the last moment, on a very strategic night, the God of Jacob gave King Ahasuerus insomnia (see Esther 6), and the rest is history. In a brilliant explosion of Genesis 12:3 grace, YHVH caused the wicked Haman to be hanged on his own gallows (Esther 7:9-10), along with his Jew-hating sons (Esther 9:13-14). The Jews of Persia “assembled to defend their lives and rid themselves of their enemies, and to kill 75,000 of those who hated them” (Esther 9:16). Mordecai and Esther then established a Jewish national holiday – a feast of thanksgiving to God – and called it Purim (in Hebrew, lots or dice): They decided to celebrate this feast annually, “because on those days the Jews rid themselves of their enemies. And it was a month which was turned for them from grief into joy, and from mourning into a holiday; that they were to make them days of feasting and rejoicing, and sending portions of food to one another, and gifts to the poor” (Esther 9:21-22).
The Festival of Lights, also called Hanukkah or the Feast of Dedication [of the Jerusalem Temple], was also a nationally ordained celebration, thanking God for His strength, strategy and victory in defeating the anti-Semitic Greek Seleucids led by Antiochus IV Epiphanes. Starting in the 160’s B.C., the Jewish people added this feast to our national calendar. Hanukkah took its place along with Purim, celebrating how the God of Jacob granted His people strategic victory, both in diplomatic spheres and on the battlefield. And once again, the Jewish proverb fits the narrative: “They tried to kill us. We survived. Let’s eat!”
The Nazi-led attempted genocide of the Jewish people – where approximately six million sons and daughters of Jacob were starved, tortured, kidnapped, gassed and burned – did not result in the Jewish people establishing another Jewish festival. This time, Jewish blood and suffering were not to be transformed into a happy holiday with special foods and toys. It is true that the Jewish State of Israel was reborn three years after the defeat of Hitler, but today in Israel Holocaust Remembrance Day is colored in somber tones and with great seriousness.
On earth as it is in Heaven
The threat to the Jewish people at the Feast of Purim was national genocide – the full destruction of all the seed of Jacob in both the Exile and in the Land of Israel (which in those days was called ‘Babylonia and Eber-Nari’ [‘beyond the River’] by the Persians. The threat to the Jewish people at the Feast of Hanukkah was the destruction of Jewish spiritual identity – by making the Bible and obedience to the covenants of Abraham and Moses illegal on pain of death.
- The Persian enemy wanted to destroy the Jewish body; the Seleucid enemy wanted to erase the Jewish spirit.
YHVH’s heart and strategy for the Jewish people involves restoration and redemption of both the material and the spiritual – the body on earth, and the spirit moving back into a living relationship with God. Eden will be restored, but not as a Garden. This time it will become the seat of Messiah’s throne in a City called Jerusalem. And those who follow Messiah Yeshua “shall not rest ‘til God has built Jerusalem in David’s green and pleasant land.”
After God restores and rescues, He calls for a feast
God loves celebrations, parties and feasts. That is the message of the Parable of the Prodigal Son: “But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, slaughter it, and let’s eat and celebrate! For this son of mine was dead and has come to life again. He was lost and has been found!’ And they began to celebrate” (Luke 15:22-24).
The celebration of Jewish feasts usually involves rejoicing, eating and drinking, according to Scripture:
- The kingdom of heaven is like a king who held a wedding feast for his son (Matthew 22:2)
- Then Abigail came to Nabal. And behold, he was having a feast in his house, like the feast of a king (1 Samuel 25:36)
- Then Solomon . . . came to Jerusalem and stood before the Ark of the Covenant of YHVH, and offered burnt offerings and made peace offerings, and held a feast for all his servants (1 Kings 3:14-16)
- Moreover, there were at my table 150 Jews and officials, besides those who came to us from the nations that were around us. Now that which was prepared for each day was one ox and six choice sheep. Also birds were prepared for me, and every ten days all sorts of wine were provided in abundance (Nehemiah 5:17-18)
- Then all the people went away to eat, drink, to send portions, and to celebrate a great celebration-feast, because they understood the words which had been made known to them (Nehemiah 8:12)
- In each and every province and in each and every city, wherever the king’s commandment and his decree arrived, there was joy and jubilation for the Jews, a feast and a holiday. And many among the peoples of the land became Jews, because the dread of the Jews had fallen on them. (Esther 8:17)
- And just as My Father has granted Me a kingdom, I grant you that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom. And you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Luke 22:29-30)
- Now YHVH of armies will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this Mountain – a banquet of aged wine, choice pieces with marrow, and refined, aged wine. And on this Mountain He will destroy the covering which is over all peoples, the veil which is stretched over all nations. He will swallow up death for all time. And YHVH God will wipe tears away from all faces, And He will remove the disgrace of His people from all the earth, for YHVH has spoken (Isaiah 25:6-8)
A Feast on the battlefield
King David rejoices in the fact that the God of Israel set up a feast table for him at a highly unusual venue – on the battlefield! “You prepare before my presence [Hebrew, my face] a table facing my enemies” (Psalm 23:5). David, like YHVH, was a man of war (see Exodus 15:3) and was accustomed to combat. But it takes faith in God’s protection and deliverance to lay down an M-16 and pick up a fork and knife in the middle of a raging war!
God throws a party in unexpected places – like the Sinai Desert. Some of those who mocked Moses and YHVH in the desert “spoke against God, saying, ‘Can God [really] prepare a table in the wilderness?’” (Psalm 78:19). The God of Jacob responds that He has no difficulty throwing a banquet in the sands. God can prepare that festive table, and He will turn into the Triumphant Enemy against our sworn enemies: “But if you truly obey [My Angel’s] voice and do all that I say, then I will be an Enemy to your enemies and an Adversary to your adversaries” (Exodus 23:22).
The time has come
In the words of the famous song by Jewish musician-and-satirist Tom Lehrer (‘Hanukkah in Santa Monica’), it’s that time of year once again! But unbeknown to most Jews and Gentiles, Hanukkah is not really about a miracle which never happened (see https://davidstent.org/hanukkah-the-fake-news-the-real-news-and-the-kosher-message/ ). It’s about the ‘pre-IDF IDF’ – the ancient Jewish army led by the High Priestly family of Matisyahu who defeated the Grecian superpower operating out of Syria. The Maccabees were godly warriors who knew how to fight on the battlefield and how to call out to YHVH à la Numbers 10:9. These people “who knew their God did exploits,” preserved the faithful remnant of the Jewish people – those who worshipped YHVH and waited for the coming of Messiah (see Daniel 11:30-33).
Today the nation of Israel faces jihadi forces like Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood in Qatar, the Houthis in Yemen, the Islamic Republic of Iran (the original abode of Haman), etc. All of the above terrorist groups are actively planning our destruction. They are encircling the Land of Israel with murderous jihadi forces. They are being cheered on by criminally ignorant gangs of woke demonstrators, who chant for Israel’s and the Jewish people’s destruction. On top of that, all superpowers of the world are united in the Machiavellian goal of shrinking the Jewish state down to what Abba Eban called in 1969 ‘Auschwitz borders.’
The prophet Ezekiel spoke through the mists of time, prophesying of a day when the God of Jacob would regather His Jewish people back to their own land:
- Behold, I am going to open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves, My people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel . . . I will place you on your own land (Ezekiel 37:12-14)
So according to YHVH’s biblical declaration, the Land of Israel is not Palestinian land or Arab land. It is the Land that the God of Jacob bequeathed to the sons and daughters of Jacob alone.
When the Jewish people come back home to their homeland – a work activated by the Holy Spirit even though the Jewish people are not yet filled by the Holy Spirit – Ezekiel prophesies that they will come alive and be filled with the Ruach HaKodesh. That infilling will transform the entire nation into something even greater and more magnificent than the Maccabean army: the Ezekiel 37 Army.
- “I will bring you into the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Lord . . . And I will put My Spirit within you and you will come to life.” “So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath entered them, and they came to life and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army” [in Hebrew, an army, a big one, much much] (Ezekiel 37:12-14, 10)
Happy Hanukkah, one and all!
How should we then pray?
- Pray for Hamas’ cruel terror dictatorship in Gaza to be finally shattered and all chains broken off the Palestinians living there
- Pray for jihadi deception, dissimulation and lying to be uncovered and rejected by world leaders
- Pray for justice, clarity, moral courage, discernment and divine strategies for Israel’s leadership in utterly destroying the Hamas threat
- Pray for minimal loss of life on Israel’s side and for those Gazans who are truly innocent
- Pray for the physical rescue of the approximately 130 Israelis (including babies) kidnapped by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and PFLP/PLO. Some hostages are being tortured, raped and starved (this based on testimonies of recently released hostages). Hamas is holding onto many corpses as well for bargaining power.
- Pray that the outstretched arm of YHVH will not return before it brings justice to God’s enemies
- Pray for the raising up of Ezekiel’s prophetic Jewish army throughout the earth
Your prayers and support hold up our arms and are the very practical enablement of God to us in the work He has called us to do.
In Messiah Yeshua,
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