Children love fairy tales. Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White have captivated the hearts of youngsters for decades. For some who love reading the Bible, the Book of Esther lies half-way between angel-dust fantasy and ancient Jewish legend. Liberal Bible scholars glance at the book’s imperial beauty pageants, 180 day wine feasts, foiled assassination attempts, evil villains and secret identities – and consider the whole story to be a pious fiction. A Sorbonne academic taught it that way in a Jewish Studies course I took at McGill University. Among charismatics, the book is often seen as an allegorical love story between Jesus (aka King Ahasuerus) and Esther (aka the Bride of Christ). The first to use those interpretative spectacles was Rabanus Maurus Magnentius (780 – 856 A.D.; aka Rhabanus) a Frankish Benedictine monk, theologian, poet and military writer who later became Archbishop of Mainz.
But the Scroll of Esther has a lot to say when read accurately. This Book holds a prophetic key to Last Days events. Certain ancient Middle Eastern dynamics are once again surfacing, and demonic arrows are again flying through the air against the Jews: the majority of Jacob’s sons and daughters are still in exile; the dragon’s eggs of genocidal efforts against them are once again being hatched in Iran (ancient Persia); and the boiling pot of anti-Semitism is overflowing across the face of our planet. It sounds like an Esther-like solution might once again be needed in our day. What lessons can be learned from the Scroll of Esther from this perspective?
Jewish intelligence networks in Iran
A dear and departed brother in the Lord often warned believers to be careful of three temptations in ministry – the three ‘G’s – girls , gold and glory. For a more woman-sensitive approach, one could substitute the term ‘girls’ with the term ‘guys.’ The Scroll of Esther is awash with these dynamics. King Ahasuerus is a king-sized womanizer (Esther 2:12-14); gold – whether bribes or booty – plays a central role in the book (Esther 3:9-14); and Haman’s narcissistic desire for glory (Esther 3:4-6) is the fuel which sets his anti-Semitism on fire.
Mordechai was similar to the modern Mossad: he wisely had Esther go undercover in order to be in a position to influence the powers-that-be (Esther 1:10,20). He hung out at the city gates (where gossip and intrigue are the daily bread), passing on the enemy intelligence he had gained directly to the king through his contact Esther (Esther 1:11,19,21-23). He was also a strategic and spiritual thinker, responding to Haman’s threats by alerting his agent and calling the Jewish community into ardent intercession (Esther 4:13-17). When the opportunity presented itself, he knew what strategic military plans to activate in order to rescue his nation (Esther 8:7-14).
Peacemaker in Persia
In King Solomon’s proverbs (Proverbs 10:1), he advises the Jewish people on how to make war: “Prepare plans by consultation, and make war by wise guidance” (Proverbs 20:18). In Tractate Sanhedrin 67A of the Babylonian Talmud, the biblical principle (Number 25:17-18; Judges 8:18-21) is rephrased: “If someone comes to kill you, rise up and kill him first!” Mordechai consulted with King Ahasuerus and decided to annihilate those who, like Hitler in days to come, were planning to carry out genocide on the entire Jewish nation:
- Mordecai commanded the Jews, the satraps, the governors, and the officials of the provinces . . . in the name of King Ahasuerus, and sealed it with the king’s signet ring, and sent letters by couriers on horses, riding on royal relay horses, offspring of racing mares. In the letters the king granted the Jews who were in each and every city the right to assemble and to defend their lives, to destroy, kill, and eliminate the entire army of any people or province which was going to attack them (Esther 8:9-11)
- On the day when the enemies of the Jews hoped to gain the mastery over them, it turned out to the contrary so that the Jews themselves gained mastery over those who hated them. The Jews assembled in their cities throughout the provinces of King Ahasuerus to attack those who sought to harm them; and no one could stand against them, because the dread of them had fallen on all the peoples. Even all the officials of the provinces, the satraps, the governors, and those who were doing the king’s business were supporting the Jews, because the dread of Mordecai had fallen on them . . . So the Jews struck all their enemies with the sword, killing and destroying; and they did as they pleased to those who hated them. At the citadel in Susa the Jews killed and eliminated five hundred men, and they killed . . . the ten sons of Haman the son of Hammedatha, the Jews’ enemy. But they did not lay their hands on the plunder . . . The Jews who were in Susa assembled also on the fourteenth day of the month Adar and killed three hundred men in Susa, but they did not lay their hands on the plunder. Now the rest of the Jews who were in the king’s provinces assembled, to defend their lives and rid themselves of their enemies, and to kill seventy-five thousand of those who hated them. But they did not lay their hands on the plunder. Esther 9:1-16
Messiah Yeshua (also known as the Prince of Peace) is at the same time a Mighty Warrior, as Moses said in Exodus 15:3: “YHVH is a warrior; YHVH is His name!”: “Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to face the one coming against him with twenty thousand?” (Luke 14:31). On the Feast of Purim YHVH raised up the entire Jewish people as an army. This army confronted the haters of Israel face-to-face, and through war defeated them decisively. In Queen Esther’s day and in our own as well, the gifts and calling of God on the Jewish people, the Apostle tells us, are irrevocable – without repentance (Romans 11:29).
Luther and Esther
The Protestant Reformer Martin Luther is quoted in his Tischreden (Table Talk) as hostile to the Book of Esther: “I am so hostile to this book [2nd Maccabees] and that of Esther, that I wish they did not exist. They are too Judaizing, and contain many heathen improprieties.” Luther viewed the Jewish people through Augustinian lenses, eventually seeing them as chosen for temporal punishment and not as the key to world revival. The military triumph of the Jewish people over Persian anti-Semites did not fit well into his worldview, as evinced in his book Von den Jüden und iren Lügen (On the Jews and Their Lies):
- What shall we Christians do with this rejected and condemned people, the Jews? First, to set fire to their synagogues or schools … This is to be done in honor of our Lord and of Christendom, so that God might see that we are Christians . . . Second, I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed. Third, I advise that all their prayer books and Talmudic writings, in which such idolatry, lies, cursing, and blasphemy are taught, be taken from them. Fourth, I advise that their rabbis be forbidden to teach henceforth on pain of loss of life and limb … Fifth, I advise that safe-conduct on the highways be abolished completely for the Jews. For they have no business in the countryside . . . But if we are afraid that they might harm us or our wives, children, servants, cattle, etc., . . . then let us emulate the common sense of other nations such as France, Spain, Bohemia, etc., . . . eject them forever from the country.
It seems that Luther did not grasp the huge irony of him calling for murder and destruction against the Jewish people on the one hand, while simultaneously proclaiming Mordechai’s battlefield victories against Iranian anti-Semites as being too Jewish, too heathen and too full of impropriety.
Today there are still some in the Christian church who would prefer to ignore Mordechai and Esther’s defense of their own people as carnal, or even condemn Jewish triumphs as contemptible in the sight of God. Yet the word of God lets us know that YHVH still fights for Israel (Exodus 15:1-21; Psalm 139:21-22), still curses the Jewish people’s enemies (Genesis 12:3), and still will roar over their enemies like a lion (Number 23:19-24).
Purim and Ezekiel’s Army
The prophet Ezekiel spoke into the future, proclaiming that YHVH would return His Jewish people to their Promised Land by the Spirit, but without them having the fullness of the Spirit (Ezekiel 37:8-10, 14). When Israel would receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit, they would ‘rise from the dead’ and be transformed into hel gadol me’od me’od – ‘a mighty army much much’ (the literal Hebrew). Such passages as Psalm 110:1-3 and Zechariah 12:1-9 shimmer with revelation regarding this future army. And Purim points us to a past reflection of a coming reality. Even as Haman was hanged on the gallows he had built for Mordechai, so the modern enemies of the Jewish people will be soundly trounced and their own weapons will come to naught: “No weapon that is formed against you will succeed, and you will condemn every tongue that accuses you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of YHVH, and their vindication is from Me, declares YHVH” (Isaiah 54:17).
How should we then pray?
- Pray for God to grant clear vision and burning faith to the Jewish people regarding His vindication and triumphs yet to come
- Pray for YHVH to stir up increased intercession among believers worldwide for these issues
- 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,
Donations can be sent to:
FINAL FRONTIER MINISTRIES
BOX 121971 NASHVILLE TN 37212-1971 USA
Donations can also be made on-line (by PayPal) through: www.davidstent.org