Purim

The Meaning of Purim for the Christian Church

Super girlI haven’t thought much about Purim in awhile. It’s not something we observe in our home and I tend to think of Purim as being primarily for children, dressing in costume, playing games, telling jokes, that sort of thing. Back in the day, the congregation I used to attend observed Purim with a children’s play, which often took on some sort of Star Wars or other fantasy theme. But those days are gone, my children are grown, and my grandson isn’t even aware of Purim.

I received an audio CD from First Fruits of Zion (FFOZ) a number of days ago, but I didn’t get a chance to listen to it until I was weeding the backyard over the weekend. It’s interesting trying to pull weeds out of muddy plant beds, listening to D. Thomas Lancaster lecture about Purim to the congregation at Beth Immanuel Sabbath Fellowship, and periodically grab my pen and notebook to quickly jot down an important note or two. Fortunately, the sermon was just under thirty minutes, but it was frustrating not being able to actually start writing my commentary until after I finished getting rid of those pesky weeds (which took significantly longer than thirty minutes).

The sermon was originally delivered in 2008 but I can say that everything I heard was news to me.

As you most likely know, Purim is a holiday taken from the Megillah (Scroll) of Esther. To quote from MyJewishLearning.com:

Though Purim is a joy-filled holiday, its story might appear somber at first glance: It tells of the near-destruction of the Jewish people as decreed by Haman, an advisor to the Persian King Ahashuerus.

However, Ahashuerus’ newly crowned queen, Esther–who replaced Vashti when she was thrown out of the kingdom–is secretly a Jew. Due to her courage and her eventual role in saving the Jews, the story of Purim is known as “Megillat Esther,” or the Scroll of Esther.

Lancaster, in his sermon called “Purim 1946,” stated what most of us know, that it is the one book in Biblical canon that doesn’t mention God at all, and yet the mercy of God is quite evident. He also said what most traditional Jews and Christians agree upon, that this is a uniquely Jewish celebration. What the heck are Gentiles at Beth Immanuel or anywhere else, particularly Christians, doing celebrating Purim?

I’ll get to that.

The terrible events we read in the Book of Esther have been applied across all of Jewish history, for the evil that Haman did was perhaps the first recorded act of anti-Semitism, particularly with the goal of Jewish genocide. Across all the inquisitions, pogroms, persecutions, Talmud burnings, and even mass murder, we find the “Spirit of Haman” repeatedly returning to finish the job he started those many thousands of years ago. This “Spirit” is likened by Lancaster to a demonic force, and even the great dragon we find in Revelation 12.

The most obvious expression of this Spirit in recent history is in the person of Adolf Hitler and his bloody Holocaust, and I don’t think we’ve seen the last of such evil, especially with the rise in anti-Semitism we see in the world today, particularly in Muslim nations.

But the Scroll of Esther contains a secret, something hidden, as the presence of God was hidden in the text of the story.

But I will surely have concealed My face on that day because of all the evil that it did, for it had turned to gods of others.

Deuteronomy 31:18 (Stone Edition Tanakh)

Lancaster points out that the Hebrew word for “concealed” or “hidden” uses the same letters as the name “Esther,” so he believes there is a connection.

This won’t be obvious in Christian Bibles but you would see it in an actual Scroll of Esther and it’s even evident in my Tanakh.

In Esther 9:6-10 a list of the names of the ten sons of Haman appears, but in the actual scrolls which are read on Purim in synagogues, the names are listed in columns with the name of a son on one side, and the word “and” on the opposite side of the page or portion of the scroll. The significance of this isn’t in the arrangement of the names in the list, but that in the actual scroll and in my Tanakh, there are three Hebrew letters that are printed smaller than the rest: TAV, SHIN, ZAYAN. However, they don’t seem to spell any word in ancient Hebrew.

Hold onto that thought. I’ll return to it.

Lancaster points out a rather odd detail I’ve never noticed before. The names of Haman’s sons are listed as I explained above, indicating that they were among those who were killed by the Jewish people, and yet, just a few verses later, Esther makes the following request of King Ahasuerus, a second request after she asked that the Jewish people be allowed to defend themselves:

Esther replied, “If it pleases the king, let tomorrow also be given to the Jews who are in Shushan to act as they did today, and let Haman’s ten sons be hanged on the gallows.”

Esther 9:13 (Stone Edition Tanakh)

Purim MegillahWait a minute. The ten sons of Haman are already dead. What’s the point of hanging their dead bodies on the gallows? The answer is simple and rather gruesome. The ancient “gallows” isn’t the same thing we think about when we see a hanging in some film about the old American West. She wanted the dead bodies of Haman’s sons to be impaled on stakes and displayed, probably as a warning against anyone who would dare to rise up against the Jewish people.

This request is why Purim is celebrated by Jewish people for two days if they live in a walled city. But there’s a midrash about Esther’s use of the word “tomorrow.” The midrash says that there are two kinds of “tomorrow,” the tomorrow that is now, that is, the literal day that comes after today, and a tomorrow that is in the future, which is at some far but perhaps unknown point in the future.

Now we return to the three Hebrew letters that appear smaller than the rest in Jewish texts of Esther. You can’t read them as a word, but you can read them as a date, since each Hebrew letter has a numeric value. In this case the date is the year 5707. Remember that Hebrew years aren’t counted the way we do in the modern era. The New Year on the Hebrew Calendar is on the Festival of Rosh Hashanah, literally “head of the year,” which most recently was observed from September 4th to September 6th in 2013. The current year on the Jewish calendar is 5774. Do the math. The Jewish year 5707 is 1946 on modern calendars.

What’s so significant about 1946? The Nuremberg Trials:

The Nuremberg Trials were a series of military tribunals, held by the Allied forces after World War II, most notable for the prosecution of prominent members of the political, military, and economic leadership of Nazi Germany. The trials were held in the city of Nuremberg. The first, and best known of these trials, described as “the greatest trial in history” by Norman Birkett, one of the British judges who presided over it, was the trial of the major war criminals before the International Military Tribunal (IMT). Held between 20 November 1945 and 1 October 1946, the Tribunal was given the task of trying 23 of the most important political and military leaders of the Third Reich.

On October 1st, the first verdicts were handed down, the death sentences of twelve Nazi war criminals, including a man named Julius Streicher:

[He] was a prominent Nazi prior to World War II. He was the founder and publisher of Der Stürmer newspaper, which became a central element of the Nazi propaganda machine. His publishing firm also released three anti-Semitic books for children, including the 1938 Der Giftpilz (“The Toadstool” or “The Poison-Mushroom”), one of the most widespread pieces of propaganda, which purported to warn about insidious dangers Jews posed by using the metaphor of an attractive yet deadly mushroom.

Of the twelve men sentenced to death, one of them was not present during the verdict and through a legal circumstance, was not executed. Another man committed suicide the night before the hangings (the Tribunal deemed these men unworthy of being extinguished by firing squad as would have been the case in a traditional military execution).

Julius Streicher
Julius Streicher

The hangings took place on October 16th, 1946. Streicher was defiant to the end and seconds before he was hung, Streicher venomously cried out, “Purimfest 1946!”

It was nowhere near the festival of Purim, which is usually in late winter or early spring, but it was Hoshanna Rabbah, the seventh day of Sukkot, which is also called “The Great Salvation.”

But of the twelve men sentenced to die on the gallows, only ten of the most vile and hateful Nazis, including the great anti-Semite Julius Streicher, died as did the ten sons of Haman so many thousands of years before. There are indeed two tomorrows, if you’ll accept it. There is a tomorrow that is now and a tomorrow that is in the future. The tomorrow Esther spoke of was the next day, but based on the Hebrew letters written smaller than the others in the list of Haman’s sons (and I have no idea how the tradition began), the tomorrow of the future was October 16th 1946.

I wonder if this is the last time though that we’ll face such heinous persecution of the Jews with the result of more “sons of Haman” dying on the gallows as payment for their crimes?

A date hidden in the Scroll of Esther with a prophetic message, much as the face of God is hidden in the Megillah. But according to Lancaster, that’s not the only hidden prophesy:

Mordechai left the king’s presence clad in royal apparel of turquoise and white with a large gold crown and a robe of fine linen and purple; then the city of Shushan was cheerful and glad. The Jews had light and gladness and joy and honor. And in every province, and in every city, every place where the king’s word and his decree reached, the Jews had gladness and joy, a feast and a holiday. Moreover, many from among the people of the land professed themselves Jews, for fear of the Jews had fallen upon them.

Esther 9:15-17 (Stone Edition Tanakh)

Read literally, we see the victory of the Jews in that ancient land we know today as Iran, where Mordechai, the uncle of Esther (her Hebrew name was Hadassah) was elevated very high and made very great in the Kingdom, and the Jewish people, at that point in history, knew peace, gladness, and joy, and they had light and honor in every province under the rule of the King.

But…

But if you expand the scope of these verses to contain the Messianic Age, if the King is King Messiah, and the Jews are not just the Jews in King Ahasuerus’ kingdom, but the Jews from all over the world, who have been returned, all of them, from exile to their land, the Land of Israel, then you see a perfect picture of the Messianic Kingdom and described in numerous other prophesies in the Tanakh.

Except for one thing. What about the latter part of verse 17?

Moreover, many from among the people of the land professed themselves Jews, for fear of the Jews had fallen upon them.

I’ve heard this verse interpreted to mean that many Gentiles in the land converted to Judaism. Others have said they only pretended to be Jews for fear of retribution. Still, another way of looking at this sentence is that many people threw in their lot with the Jewish people, not taking on Jewish identity as such, but being overtly supportive of the Jewish people and Jewish practices.

But if this too is a prophesy as Lancaster suggests, what does it mean for believing Gentiles today? For Lancaster personally, it means pursuing the worship of Hashem, God of the Hebrews, through the study and practice of Messianic Judaism. Remember, the Bible says that in the last days, many nations will rise up against Israel, and the Holy Nation will almost be defeated, that is, until God comes to defend Israel and the Jewish people.

Once again, and for the final time, Israel will almost be wiped out and in the last moments, when all hope seems lost, God will once again save His people and destroy their enemies. And just as in ancient Persia, those people who are not Jewish will likely fear being taken also as the enemies of the Jews. What better way to be known to be a friend of the Jewish nation and an ally of Israel than to come alongside them right now, before the trouble starts or at least before the last war starts? That is what Lancaster seems to be doing right now.

PogromI’m not saying that we all have to join Messianic Judaism, but consider this. Lancaster didn’t touch on this topic, but how many “sons of Haman” in the last nearly two-thousand years have been part of the Church of Jesus Christ? How many pogroms, persecutions, maimings, and murders have been engineered by people calling themselves “Christians”. You can justify it by saying they weren’t really “Christians” but the fact remains that normative Christianity in a variety of forms has been deeply involved in harassing the Jewish people and attempting to eradicate Judaism by destroying volumes Talmud, scores of Torah scrolls, and innumerable synagogues.

The darkest moments of the history of the Church are just as stained with the blood of Jews as was the soul of Julius Streicher, or the Spirit of Haman.

Just a few short years ago, Evangelical Christianity was a great supporter of Jewish Zionism, the belief that the nation of Israel is a Jewish nation. But recent stories in The Blaze, Charisma News and other Christian media outlets seems to show that Evangelicals are distancing themselves from supporting Israel. This is also true of Palestinian Evangelicals, and some of these groups seem to be instead backing those who could be the modern-day equivalents of the sons of Haman.

I can see I’ve made a mistake in thinking of Purim as primarily a children’s holiday. This year, Purim is observed from sundown on Saturday, March 15th until sundown on the following day. Listening to Lancaster’s sermon and realizing the implications as I was on my hands and knees pulling weeds out of the mud, I saw Purim as warning and cautionary tale. We in the Christian church, in its many denominations and expressions, cannot afford to take the prophesies Lancaster says are in the Scroll of Esther for granted.

I don’t believe October 16th, 1946 is the last time we’ll see “sons of Haman” publicly executed for crimes against humanity and especially the Jewish people. I believe there will come a day when God will fight for His people, the Jewish people, and Israel will be victorious, and the survivors of the nations who were enemies of the Jews will be very, very afraid, and they will be ordered by God to send representatives to Jerusalem to observe Sukkot each year, and to give glory and honor to Israel’s ruler, King Messiah (Zechariah 14:16).

We in the Church need to decide which side of Biblical prophesy we want to be on. Do we want to be for the Jews or against them? Will we come alongside the Jewish people in the final war, or will we learn to fear them because we pulled away from Israel?

I’ve already declared myself as a Gentile who studies Messianic Judaism, but Lancaster’s sermon gave me more reasons to believe that this decision is the correct one. No, I’m not telling everyone in all your local churches that you have to be like me. But then again, I’m a Gentile who studies Messianic Judaism and who attends a Baptist church. Maybe the proper response to Purim this year for Christians is to study the Scroll of Esther, consider the prophesies it contains, and make a choice about which side you’re on, Mordechai’s or Haman’s. I believe my church supports Israel and the Jewish people to the best of their ability and understanding, but we can be better. It wouldn’t hurt as you practice Christianity in the church and in your lives to maybe study from a Messianic Jewish perspective…just a little bit.

You can go to the Beth Immanuel audio page to listen to Purim 1946. I strongly recommend it. Purim is coming soon. So is the Messiah.

He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

Revelation 22:20 (NASB)

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34 thoughts on “The Meaning of Purim for the Christian Church”

  1. As an ex-Hebrew Roots believer and one who sympathizes with Israel and really do respect and love Judaism. I think standing with Israel is hard these days. The political plight that hands over Israel is hard to bear. Their seeming insistence for war, over the very possible threat by Iran didn’t sit well with those who are war weary. Isreal knows, it needs American lives for that war to win it and much of the church here isn’t feeling like sending their children to fight another war that wasn’t started by the nation that we are purposing to fight (as in first show if physical force.) That said is not hard to wonder why the church is shying away at the moment. Even with that there is an ever increasing tide of people who are sympathetic to judaism and working to educate people on our relationship as gentiles to them.

    Now i would like to point out that while Christians are the most regularly pointed to for there nature of stamping out the roots of the faith in which they came. This justification was biblical in nature. If God choose to wipe out the canaanites using Israel as it’s force of purification then why would God not do it again for his people the church. I wouldn’t attribute anti-simitism until later than most people usually do, simply because, given the writing that the church had, and seeing God very obvious judgment on the Jews (from their view) after their annialation by Rome. It would naturally breed a belief of supersessionism. Jews held fast to old things that made no sense to the Christian as time went on and continued that souterrain further

  2. Sorry about the first post didn’t get to spell check myself or proof read it, I accidentally clicked the send button.

    As an ex-Hebrew Roots believer and one who sympathizes with Israel and really do respect and love Judaism. I think standing with Israel is hard these days. The political plight that hangs over Israel is hard to bear. Their seeming insistence for war, over the very possible threat by Iran didn’t sit well with those who are war weary. Israel knows, it needs American lives for that war to win it and much of the church here isn’t feeling like sending their children to fight another war that wasn’t started by the nation that we are purposing to fight (as in first show if physical force.) That said is not hard to wonder why the church is shying away at the moment. Even with that there is an ever increasing tide of people who are sympathetic to Judaism and working to educate people on our relationship as gentiles to them.

    Now I would like to point out that while Christians are the most regularly pointed to for their nature of stamping out the roots of the faith in which they came. This justification was biblical in nature. If God choose to wipe out the Canaanites using Israel as it’s force of purification then why would God not do it again for his people the church. I wouldn’t attribute anti-Semitism until later than most people usually do, simply because, given the writing that the church had, and seeing God very obvious judgment on the Jews (from their view) after their annihilation by Rome. It would naturally breed a belief of supersessionism. Jews held fast to old things that made no sense to the Christian, and as time went on that separation continued further eventually turning into a hatred based on misconception and too few people to rebuttal the accusations against them. I would never try to justify the injustice that has been done to the Jewish people through history but I have a hard time looking and ignoring the picture of their start in the land and the treatment of the natives given through the bible and then giving a blind eye how terrible people like Hitler can come up with such a scheme to purge their “holy land” using the bible.

    As for Purim I never celebrated it because it wasn’t a “Biblical” Holiday. I really never looked at the History of it. It was a good and interesting read. I will keep up with your Blog.

  3. I can understand, to a degree, why Christians might not connect to the modern state of Israel with a population that is mostly secular, and a political and military infrastructure that seems to operate like most other nations, rather than Israel as it will be in the Messianic Age, but if we don’t stand by her now, when will it be a good time? I strongly suspect the U.S. will be one of those nations that eventually will send troops *against* Israel in the final war, with what the Bible tells us are dire consequences. Evangelicals might be getting a bit short sighted.

    I’m not sure I follow your second paragraph, but it sounds like you’re saying that there is some sort of justification for God using the church against Israel in the current age. I don’t think I can agree with that. And although it’s a historical reality, I don’t think the history of the church’s actions against the Jewish people is justified either. The Biblical interpretations that led to such crimes were designed to deliberately disconnect Gentile Christianity from Judaism and then to continually repress Judaism and Jewish people for many centuries.

    If I’m misunderstanding what you’re saying Jim, please let me know. The core point of this blog post is that the Christian church in all of its branches may see itself in the catbird’s seat right now relative to Israel and Judaism, but when Messiah comes, that’s going to change.

  4. I just saw you’re revised comment Jim so maybe I didn’t get the full flavor of your opinion.

    I understand why a lot of Hebrew Roots people might shy away from observing Purim since it isn’t one of the moadim, but the last part of Esther 9 could be interpreted as a command for future generations of Jews to observe Purim. Given Lancaster’s sermon, I think there is at least some justification for us to at least pay attention.

  5. Yeah I was worried my second part of the comment wasn’t clear enough. You don’t know me from a stranger on the street. 🙂

    Is there ever really a good time for anything? That’s how I look at it. I stand by Israel even with their rather frivolous actions in the Middle East. I do believe that they are a catalyst for good. Yet in this I’m not really talking about the political establishment I’m talking about God’s people in the land serving God. Yet I can still see why churches can shake away from their stance as the relationship between the Jew and Gentile in God is fragile and easily broken right now.

    That said NO I do NOT want to in any way justify the actions of the church or Hitler for their actions. I’m sorry that it even came out that way. I do however understand them, and how they came to their justifications that brought about their actions. These justifications using God’s treatment of the peoples outside of God’s people in Scripture, will be used again, well heck, it is already in some circles, this time targeting Muslims. I believe it’s equally important to know how these things come about, and to see the evil from them. If we can’t look at what brought about the church’s view on Judaism, and how Hitler could have brought about such a monstrous regime, then we are bound to continue the very easy to follow pattern of destruction to another people.

    The early churches persecution of Jews I would chalk up to separation and no clear desire from Jews to be understood by Gentiles and the same from Gentles. It was very quickly that the faith’s were separated once the church began to establish itself, mostly using the same method and ways of teaching as the Jews did in the synagogue. The seeming “need” for the Jewish-ness of the faith was undermined simply by the success of Christianity, and the downfall of Judaism. Later clear pent up, unstopped disdain from the church, of something they didn’t even begin to understand, morphed into anti-Semitism. I hope that clarifies what I was saying some, on both of those points.

    As for the celebration of it, I think it’s a great holiday now. 🙂 I gladly shed my weirdly legalistic nonsense views on the holidays a long time ago. In fact the Holidays and my research into them was the main reason for me leaving the Hebrew Roots congregation I was in. Way to much conspiracy and crazy biblical interpretation for me, at least once my eyes were open to it.

  6. Thanks for setting me straight, Jim. Sometimes these “text-only” communications venues can leave something to be desired. The past, for what it’s worth, is behind us, and I think as believers, we need to be looking ahead, not only at the immediate future, but the ultimate future. I think that means leaving the old prejudices and issues behind and embracing the realization of the coming of King Messiah and what that will mean, especially for Israel, but also for all the earth.

  7. “we need to be looking ahead, not only at the immediate future, but the ultimate future” True, and good words. I look forward to reading more of your work here when I’m able.

  8. @Jim — Did you say something about “frivolous” Israeli actions in the Middle East? To what, pray tell, do you refer? I’m glad you stand by Israel despite this reservation; but I’m rather curious to understand your viewpoint, since I would never have thought to consider frivolity as an Israeli governmental motivation.

  9. James, this is without a doubt the most “haunting” of all the posts of yours I’ve read. the hair on my neck is on end.

    I just visited the Harvard Law School Library site to review the process of Nuremberg to address a Holocaust denier’s trolling on an Amazon.com book review site of a Palestinian book, so it’s fresh in my mind. When I read your words: “The Jewish year 5707 is 1946 on modern calendars” it took my breath away. I am “aghast” but not “surprised” to find this out. Purim has always unsettled me. I’ve spent alot of time with Holocaust survivors. I saw my first tattoo from Auschwitz at a Purim reading of the Megillah back in 1989 on the arm of a woman sitting across from me in a Messianic synagogue. The “when” and “where” of that surreal and horrific sight has never left me. Tears were rolling down her cheek as the noisemakers whirred at the mention of Haman’s name. The next week I made an appointment with staff at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles and my journey into the kingdom of night had begun. It all began at Purim for me; twenty years of studying and teaching the Holocaust.

    I’ve always viewed Purim as being both “tomorrows” but never realized it. Reading your words was somehow like being vindicated. After reading your post I don’t know whether to “spit or wind my watch,” as they say. I’m in a mild state of shock, I suppose. But I’m grateful that someone, somewhere put in writing what I’ve been feeling for two decades. It’s as if the connection between the dates was tattooed on my soul all this time and I’ve just discovered its presence.

    You’ve really touched a nerve here, James. In a good way. I sense that more will come from this…

    There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
    Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
    – Hamlet (1.5.167-8)

    Is the Lancaster material your reading or listening to available at FFOZ? Thanks, James, for this.

  10. I posted the link in the body of the blog post, but here it is again, Dan:

    Purim audio.

    There are three links to sermons on that page. Click the one that says “Purim 1946”.

    The original research into this isn’t Lancaster’s, which he states on the recording. Apparently, this isn’t new information in some streams of Judaism, such as here however, not everyone agrees.

    BTW, Lancaster was relatively light on the history of Julius Streicher but Jewish Virtual Library has more details specifically about his hatred of the Jewish people.

  11. Thank you, Proclaim Liberty! I too was wondering about all ‘those frivolous things’ Israel does in their search to start a war! Further I would point out G-d’s people in the Land serving G-d are the Israeli’s and they are not looking for a war……Israel just had ships en route to their country carrying tons and tons of weapons … Personally, I’m not so sure Israel needs America…

  12. Thanks for the link, Steve.

    Pat, in the end, the world will need Israel, not the other way around. They will be the head, not the tail.

  13. @ ProclaimLiberty
    By frivolous I was inferring to the handling of accusations that Iran is building a Nuke to destroy them, their handling of the nations around them, the weakening relationship they have with their best ally (thanks partly by Netanyahu disapproval of Obama, and also because well… Obama.. our great *cough* leader.) and the war that they and Iran are “working” towards. I say working towards and this was my main inference with “frivolous” because of their constant prodding of Iran and Iran prodding back. We still don’t have any evidence what so ever of Iran being able to make a nuclear grade Plutonium or even close to it (which by the way wouldn’t be that hard to come by from Either China, Russia, or North Korea.) Yet Israel has been busy making war with Iran by killing one of its nuclear scientists, and striking Iran’s equipment in Syria. All based on possible intent to strike them. These are not sustainable actions, Israel’s actions are leading to a justifiable cause for military action from Iran. America and Europe are holding the Iran at bay, Israel is picking a fight in my view, a fight that Iran would love to have a reason to get into, as long as it looks enough like they are the martyr to the worlds stage.

    I try not to come down so hard on Israel as I realize that their existence is what is being threatened. With that at stake it’s hard not to react as defensively as they do. Iran is no saint and I have no desire what so ever to defend them. It’s leaders were (and probably still are) very vocal towards the existence of Israel being fraudulent in their view. Yet I don’t want another war in which America will be dragged into. I have many family members in the service and some that soon will be. I don’t mind a fight, as long as it’s due to a true act of war. I don’t want to get into something that we can avoid in a peaceful way. To me the frivolousness is how eagerly everyone seems to throw their vote for war or military strikes. I say we go if we have to, war will come if it is necessary. This isn’t a war of guns and bullets it’s a war of belief, that’s a much harder war to fight and one that’s seldom won.

    @Steve Petersen
    Thanks for the neat link I will go through that a bit.

    @Pat
    I agree in the end Israel only needs God. If it wants to act on its own, it is a free nation. Who knows it might end up just Israel, you never know with this president. Yet we will be brought into it if it happens soon, and if it involves Iran. I think of all the women and children that will suffer on both side for this and simply don’t want to see that happen if it’s avoidable. As for the rockets.. This is nothing new… It’s been old news for a very long time that Iran was selling weapons to Hamas. This is my point though how is Israel using this not so new information? They are telling the world “See this is what Iran is doing now!” to continue to build a case for war. I see the justification, I see the desire for it to do good, but I also know men seeking peace are never going to find it by making war.

  14. @Jim — It seems that perhaps you mean “inept” rather than “frivolous”. Nonetheless, what you refer to as a “war” in which Israel has presumably “attacked” persons or facilities critical to the Iranian nuclear program, which I’m not sure has been proven, would be entirely consistent with a policy of self-defense. Iran has been attacking Israel through its Hezbollah proxies for many years, and continues to supply weapons for this express purpose (some of which were just seized along with the ship that was transporting them within the past week). Multiple Iranian leaders have denied Israel’s right to exist; Ahmedinajad denied not only the Holocaust but also explicitly expressed his intentions that Iran should obliterate Israel from the face of the earth. He is not the only Iranian leader to express such views. These leaders’ pronouncements must be taken at face value. Muslim are fond of high-flown rhetoric, but that is not an excuse to disbelieve that they will enact it if possible. History has shown that they will do so. If we look back even to fairly recent European history, we can see that national leaders should have taken at face value Adolf Hitler’s statements in his book Mein Kampf. If they had done so, the Holocaust might have been prevented, along with the massive slaughter of the second world war. Israel cannot afford to ignore such views and the actions that are almost certain to derive from them. If America and Europe fail to hold Iran sufficiently “at bay”, Israel will be left with no choice but extreme direct action to prevent another holocaust. After the last one, the Jewish people expressed a vow in the words “Never Again!”. Our survival can never be left in the hands of others, though all help is welcome. If we have difficulty in “selling” that notion to the world, particularly to America and Europe, that is regrettable; but it cannot be allowed to deter us from defending ourselves by all possible means. It is not our job to “handle” the nations of the world or those around us, whether smoothly or ineptly. They are sovereign states and must handle themselves. We can state our case with all appropriate legal and moral justification, but we have seen it ignored all too frequently in favor of someone else’s notion of realpolitik or national self-interest.

    Israel is not picking fights with anyone. We have been under siege from before we were even authorized by the UN to declare statehood, with no let-up. We have had to defend ourselves in several hot wars as well as ongoing “cold” ones. We are still actively under rocket attacks from Hamas in Gaza, whenever they can get their hands on additional ammunition. We are under active attack in the court of public opinion via the BDS movement and continual false and exaggerated Palestinian claims. The “Spirit of Amalek” still walks abroad to deceive whomever he can, undeterred by the defeat of Haman the son of Agag the son of Amalek some 2500 years ago. It is still necessary in every generation to be aware of his views and to continue trying to erase them from the hearts of men. This is not Jewish paranoia; it is an all-too-sober evaluation of long-standing historical example. Purim commemorates a victory, but the battle continues. This is why Purim matters, not only to Jews, but to all the non-Jews whose dedication to the G-d of Israel impels them to come to our aid.

  15. @Jim: I don’t think we (Christians, the U.S.) can treat our nation’s interactions and relationship with Israel the way we do any other country. Israel is unique. It is the only nation that has ever been ruled directly by God and it is the only nation where the Messiah will be seated on his throne and rule not only Israel but the entire world.

    Is Israel as she exists today imperfect? Of course. But that doesn’t mean she’s not in the flow of Biblical history that leads to Messiah’s glorious return.

    I don’t think Israel is dragging us into anything. I think we (the U.S) is the one that continually is trying to weaken Israel’s defense by promoting the so-called “two-state solution” which only makes me think of Hitler’s “final solution” for the Jewish people.

    I’m also aware that Iran wages a remotely controlled war against Israel through Hizbollah and Hamas, and they’ve done so for decades. With Purim fast approaching, as PL says, we should be reminded of the “Spirit of Amalek” which is very much in evidence in our modern era, continually seeking the annihilation of the Jewish people.

    The Bible says there is going to be a war, a terrible war, with Israel at the center. It won’t be Israel that drags us into that war, it will be God. We simply have to decide which side we want to be on.

    Oh, and I have a son who is a former Marine. If he hadn’t been disabled (plus gotten married and had a son), he might still be in the Corp, but he’s never ruled out serving in the IDF (my wife is Jewish which makes our children Jewish).

    First Fruits of Zion President Boaz Michael’s daughter just finished her service with the Israeli Air Force.

    Yes, it’s dangerous. It’s a dangerous world. I’m a father of three (adult) children and one grandchild. I don’t want to see our young men and women go off to war anymore than you do. But I don’t want to see Israel wiped off the map, either. I don’t think God would allow that, but I do believe the Bible speaks of Israel *almost* being destroyed in that future war before God intervenes.

    I wrote this blog post after listening to Lancaster’s sermon as a reminder that we have a duty as non-Jewish believers to support Israel not only in its future perfected state, but right now. I believe God is with Israel right now even as God is with us as individuals, even though we’re imperfect, even though we make mistakes, and even though we sometimes act against God’s will. God is with us, as imperfect as we are right now and we know someday we will be perfected.

    God is with imperfect Israel right now, too and someday she will also be perfected. We must go where God is. God is with Israel.

  16. @ProclaimLiberty
    Your right that frivolous probably isn’t the best word to use. Although I wouldn’t use inept as that implies that ignorance, or them being dumb. I do believe that their actions are purposeful and carefully calculated.

    The idea that Iran and Hezbollah, or any other terrorist groups are intricately connected are unprovable at least in the sense of Iran purposely helping them directly. If it were provable in the sense that Iran is helping them directly it would have been proven, and action would no doubt be taken. If Israel was able to make this connection stick and work, they would have long ago. Instead Iran is doing something that is questionably legal (that I’m aware of.) They are selling arms of theirs to third parties and giving “donations” to these groups. I’m certain they know where the weapons and money are going to, but it’s ideologies that link them not patronage.

    Ahmedinajad was and is an idiotic stooge of propaganda for Iran’s agenda, and I don’t agree that the statements he or others make should be taken at face value, at all. If every threat against Israel as a nation were taken seriously there would be no Muslims left in the world. They are comments made to stir a deep LONG running emotion of hatred towards Israel and Christians. No one here is disbelieving that the threat of war and destruction are real, that’s not even a question in my mind. The question is who are we going to let start the war? I am not saying Israel should ignore it, and move on, just that these actions that they seem to be running head first into should be carefully examined, and all other means should be taken to stay away from all out war. I really think you took my comment of caution and criticism of the Israeli government the wrong way.

    Israel is a nation, a secular nation at that. They are up for the same critique as America, Germany or Iran. I won’t spare them from the same views I make towards America or anywhere else when it comes to policies or governance. I do however believe that Israel is special, and is an exception simply because of the hardship of her people, and they are God’s people. I will never write Israel off, and I’m a gentile but I would die in the soil of Israel or anywhere else before I would let any nation trample and commit crimes against Israel like crimes that have been brought against God’s people in the past.

    I don’t think we can agree about Israel looking for a fight. You and I view this too differently. I respect your views and I fully understand that the siege (I like that analogy by the way) of their land that has been going on since well before their official status as a nation, but that doesn’t make them right to make and seek justifiable reasons to go war with a nation that doesn’t like or want them. All God’s people are called to a higher calling and wanting war in any way, shape, or form is no different from how the rest of the world thinks.

    @James
    Is Israel being run by God right now, in the same sense as what’s given in scripture? I get what you’re saying but there is a large separation from the biblical model of governance and the current. I look at standing behind Israel as something more than agreeing with the decisions it’s leaders make.

    You have kids as you said, so do I. When your child is making a decisions that could prove disasters, do you try to steer him away from those actions, or do you support it and hope for the best?
    That’s how I view Israel. I would hope that the picture of Armageddon in Revelation, is not a real picture, but instead some form of allegory show God’s glorification. I can hope, but I also grew up being taught it is for sure a thing that’s going to happen. In hoping, I don’t want to see this come about, but if this literal interpretation is correct then God will make this happen, no matter what I think, nor anyone else. I stand with Israel in its imperfect state, and believe that the message of Purim is important and very valid, but until the time when Messiah comes and takes the seat on his throne, I will continue to desire sober minds making decisions that affect the lives of its people.

  17. Jim said: Is Israel being run by God right now, in the same sense as what’s given in scripture? I get what you’re saying but there is a large separation from the biblical model of governance and the current.

    I understand what you’re saying, but as I mentioned above, even if God is not currently operating as King of Israel as He did in days of old, that hardly means God has abandoned Israel and does not have plans for her. I’m not going to wait under Messiah returns to start caring for Israel and the Jewish people. Having a Jewish family makes what happens to Israel kind of a personal matter to me. When all the dust settles and Messiah is ruling in Jerusalem, I want to be counted on the side of those he fought for and all the exiles he returned to the Land.

    I would hope that the picture of Armageddon in Revelation, is not a real picture, but instead some form of allegory show God’s glorification.

    I lost my faith in the allegories of the “end times” a long time ago. I agree that the terrible things spoken of in the Bible are going to actually happen and the world is going to get very, very bad…much worse than they are now.

    I’m not a resident in Israel and I certainly don’t have inside information about how her politicians and military officers think or make decisions. I’m sure they are thinking and acting, for the most part, like secular human beings and perhaps like their counterparts in other nations, But even if they don’t realize it currently, Israel is a one-of-a-kind nation, not just because it’s the Jewish nation, but because God made many, many promises to Israel…promises He is going to keep, some even in spite of political and military leaders.

  18. I get and totally understand where your coming from. I have never put a lot of faith in our understanding of how it’s going to all go down in the end. Yet, growing up a Baptist and then Hebrew Roots my only real end times understanding is the literal one. So I still tend to stick to that interpretation. Also I don’t want you to think that I’m saying, I think God is separated from his people or the nation of Israel. There isn’t an answer book of what will happen from here until the goings on at the end, if Israel and the nations around it can spare itself some suffering until the time which is set by God, then by all means let’s try for that. We don’t know if Messiah is coming tomorrow, 200, or even 2000 years from now. I couldn’t believe in the Bible, if I didn’t believe in the promises that he made to his people were one day to be fulfilled though.

  19. @Jim — “Inept” does not connote ignorance, but rather clumsiness or insufficient skill. The Iranian arms supply is not in doubt, as indicated by the obvious source of manufacture for these armaments and the tracing of their shipment path when they have been intercepted as has occurred a number of times. An example can be seen even today as Netanyahu was photographed with the Iranian armaments seized just a few days ago in the background immediately behind him. Whether or not any third parties are involved is irrelevant. The decades-long Iranian sponsorship of Hezbollah is also not in doubt. The issue is what actions are other nations willing to accede to in the UN, even among those few nations that consider state-sponsored terrorism illegal. Note also that the one-and-only reason that Israel ever gets involved in active warfare is for self-defense against immediate threats or actual attacks. Israel does not EVER seek excuses to go to war with anyone (period; full stop). We don’t need to seek excuses; there are already too many of them constantly being flung at us, and we ignore most of them because we do not allow others to set our defense agenda unless there is no other choice to ensure survival. And when was the last time YOU had to hurry into an emergency shelter because air raid sirens were warning you that rockets had been fired and were falling less than 50 miles away, some of which might well be able to reach as far as your own location? As for your analogy of steering a child away from a dangerous course — I’m afraid it is the US that tends to be the naïve one in Mideast and Islamic matters, even despite some hard lessons learned in Iraq and Afghanistan (not to neglect Libya) since “9/11/01”. As for the return of the Messiah, there are scriptural hints that we could now be looking at something between 20 – 30 years rather than another 200 or 2000 (some think even less, but I think they have ignored some important info). We may not know “the day or the hour”, but for those who “watch” as we are commanded to do there are signs that we should be looking up “for our redemption draweth nigh”. In any case, “there’s no time like the present” to be preparing our hearts, our minds, and maybe even also our physical capabilities and emergency supplies. There are enough dangers inherent in the birth-pangs of the Messiah’s coming to justify such things even now.

  20. James, as the ideas emanating from this post have absorbed into my consciousness and “stewed” within me, it dawns upon me what the meaning of Purim for the Church might be transformed into in a post-Auschwitz world – a time to:

    1) read the Megillah and

    2) remember, memorialize and teach the Holocaust

    I envision churches across the globe gathering to read the historical account of Haman’s genocidal plan being turned upon he and his sons, then engaging in the real-time battle to confront the assault on the memory of the Holocaust by educating their congregations on the subject of the Shoah. When Boaz initiated the webinar of my presentation on the Holocaust he polled the audiences across 7 continents and less than 1% of participants (between 400 and 1,000 or more on three successive nights) had learned about the Holocaust in church environments. I find this appalling, if to be expected. The Church needs to stand up now on this subject that it ignored less than 70 years ago. The memory of the Holocaust is under attack from multiple directions and it is linked to the legitimacy of the Jewish state. Now is the time for Christians to stand up and take leadership on this issue that we have left upon the shoulders of the Jewish people for so long. it is time to make this right, as the spirit of Amalek raises its ugly head and seeks to erase, not only Israel, from the map, but the memory of the Holocaust from the world’s collective conscience.

    Purim casts the biblical shadow of Amalek down through the ages to us today and each occasion of it offers the Church an unequaled opportunity to rise up and engage that encroaching shadow by blasting the light of knowledge and remembrance into its midst for the entire watching world to see. I can’t even find the words to express how strongly this is impressed upon me, that the time is now to initiate this resistance operation.

    For Christians to take hold of Purim and harness its historic and spiritual power would accomplish multiple objectives at once:

    • For the working out of HaShem’s justice as a matter of tikkun ha’olam, repair of the world;
    • For the sake of great healing between Messianic Jewish and Messianic Gentile elements of leadership within the Messianic community;
    • For the sake of unprecedented healing between a more fully united Messianic leadership and a divinely inspired segment of traditional Christian leadership (e.g. the church);
    • For the sake of bearing a repentance-driven, positive witness to a worldwide Jewish community that is (understandably) suspicious of Christianity, due its history of anti-Jewish legislation and behavior toward them;
    • For the sake of bearing witness of HaShem before the eyes of the lost, watching world;
    • For the sake of hastening the coming of Messiah, as both we and he long to be reunited in his everlasting love.

    Does anyone catch the vision of this that I am experiencing right now? I see this — given the unspeakably grave consequences of Christian failure during the Holocaust and the obvious link to the defeat of Haman long ago — as the meaning that Purim OUGHT to have for the Christian Church today.

  21. That all sounds like a fabulous idea Dan, but I don’t see this becoming a trend in Christian churches in the near future, primarily because Shoah and its logical association with Purim doesn’t make much of an impression. For most Christians, it has nothing to do with Jesus, the Gospel, and the plan of individual salvation.

    Well, it really has a lot to do with Jesus, the Gospel, and perhaps ultimately, who God will recognize as sons and daughters, but it will be a long, uphill battle to convince more than a handful of Pastors that this is a good idea.

    Even if you sent an eBlast (remember, I work with marketing people) to thousands, tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands of churches in the U.S., Canada, and Europe containing a link to this blog post, the vast majority of Pastors and Church boards wouldn’t “get it” (more’s the pity).

    But you’re right, Dan. Purim is a fabulous opportunity to teach Christians about their/our responsibilities to Israel and the Jewish people not only in the present, but in the future, Messianic Age as well.

    Seems a shame, especially since this year, Purim starts Saturday at sundown and is celebrated all day Sunday. Can you imagine churches all over the world celebrating Purim by reading the Megillah, studying the Holocaust, dressing in costumes, laughing, singing, and dedicating themselves to coming alongside Israel as servants of King Messiah?

  22. Of course. I can never forget the Fogel family. It breaks my heart to this day. And to think that the murderers were released as part of the “peace process.” Most reprehensible irony. It’s a blessing that you’ve remembered them on this day.

    And I agree with your assessment of Christianity’s continued chronic post-Auschwitz indifference to the Holocaust, hence, the Jewish people. And yet… perhaps HaShem desires to offer the vision-impaired, benumbed, somnambulistic Christian Church a blue chip opportunity to redeem itself as regards the subject of its sin of indifference? I think it’s worth a bit more push. We live in prophetically opportune times.

  23. @ProclaimLiberty
    I saw the pictures and read the story. It’s simply ridiculous the effort taken to undermine the Israel. Still It was made clear that this was to get attention, by having a crowd of 70 foreign journalists. The message is loud and clear as to the desires of the Israeli government. Are they wrong for feeling this way? Heck no, as I stated before. Does that make their decision to drum up nations for action the right one? I would say no. I can see how personal this is for you, and It also seems that you live there. I can’t understand what it’s like living under that kind of pressure, and stress that an Israeli citizen has to live though. I want Israel to be at peace and have rockets stopped being launched into it. Yet that still doesn’t mean that getting into a war with one of the prominent suppliers is the answer. I’m asking this in all seriousness and I’m not trying to disrespect you by asking this, but I am seriously wondering how you see it.

    Let’s say Israel goes to war, either by itself, with the help of the U.S. or even with the U.N. backing it. We win, then what? We follow the same very poor pattern of installing a leader that agrees with our agenda? We install another leader that is head of the oppositions reigning party? What do you think would happen in the rest of the Arab world when they see Iran toppled by western and Israeli powers? Finally how could this improve what’s happening with Hamas and Hezbollah, when there are already other countries that would happily fill the void in supply?

    You said, “I’m afraid it is the US that tends to be the naïve one in Mideast and Islamic matters, even despite some hard lessons learned in Iraq and Afghanistan”

    First, when I was making the child analogy I was talking about my personal view on wanting to avoid war, hence I said “That’s how I view Israel.” I didn’t say I was speaking for anyone but myself, I can’t speak for our president or anyone else as to their approval or disapproval. Second, I couldn’t agree more about our lack of understanding there and in the rest of the middle east. We know NOTHING about the middle east its culture, religion, or lands. It’s obvious because of our continued failure in Iraq, and Afghanistan, and well heck even Libya, Egypt, Pakistan, and Syria. Our policies only work to rile up the regions further breeding hate and distrust.

    Now I want to apologize to James. I feel bad, and like I hijacked his comments with a total side tangent. I want to hear your response ProclaimLiberty, but I think we might should stop there, unless we want to go back to the subject of this post. Still I want you both to know I’ve really enjoyed this conversation/fellowship.

  24. Jim if I really thought you’d gone completely off topic, I could always have just not approved your comments. This conversation does apply to the theme of my blog post in discussing how different believers relate to Israel as seen through the “lens” of Purim. I don’t mind disagreement and debate as long as it is civil and all parties respect one another. I only put my foot down (generally) when bashing and name calling enter the picture and conflict becomes personalized.

  25. @Jim — We touched on the notion of “inept” handling of Israel’s situation. Here we have a concrete example of belligerent and arguably illegal activity by one of the “family of nations”. How would you go about alerting a world that prefers to turn a blind eye toward such behavior? Wouldn’t you invite as many journalists as possible to carry this information to their respective readers? How else would you invite the attention that such activity deserves? Among democracies, this is a common means for requesting action to band together to influence the wrongdoer. I agree that group influence and moral suasion (and possibly economic sanctions) are better than war, if they can be applied effectively. However, such tactics are notably ineffective against strong ideological motivations, which characterize this conflict particularly.

    Now, you have repeatedly insinuated that Israel wants to incite war against Iran, and you have questioned the effectiveness of doing so with the notion of replacing its leaders with others who agree with “our” agenda. I’m curious what you think this “agenda” to be? If the new leaders support and pursue values that are better than the previous ones, is this not an improvement? If surrounding leaders see negative pressure against one set of values and positive support for others, do you think they will be influenced for or against the values that receive positive support? In general, national leaders tend to incline toward whatever they perceive as the locus of power. Is there power committed to support democratic rule, individual liberty, educational and economic opportunity, care for one’s neighbor comparable to one’s own self-interest, and other such humanely positive notions? How much effectiveness is sufficient? Certainly the minimum ought to be whatever is enough to halt belligerent behavior against other nations. Frequently this is the most that can be achieved by war; and its effectiveness may be limited to however long the affected nation requires to rebuild its capabilities to become belligerent again; and so the cycle must be repeated. The effort may even need to be broadened against other (e.g., Arab or Muslim) nations who fail to accept the sanctions against an initial (e.g., non-Arab Persian Islamic) nation. I suspect that the proverbial jury of history is still deliberating over the effectiveness of removing Saddam Hussein from Iraq and bin-Laden from the leadership of Al-Qaida. The Taliban also is regaining influence, regrettably. One may wonder if this may be attributed to an insufficient dedication and application of power from the more civilized nations in support of the positive values I cited. From a prophetic perspective, one might conclude that such efforts will continue to be insufficiently effective until the Messiah arrives. Meanwhile, Israel will continue to shine light amidst the darkness arrayed against her, bring publicity to bear upon her enemies, and take whatever defensive (or even offensive) action is required to pursue Jewish survival, undeterred by those who continue to curse and threaten her.

    In the same vein, I recommend considering the wisdom of two similar observations; one by an English American preacher and lecturer named Charles Frederic Aked, who in 1916 said “It has been said that for evil men to accomplish their purpose it is only necessary that good men should do nothing”; and a second by the Irish statesman and philosopher Edmund Burke, who in 1770 said “When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.” Need I say more?

  26. @ProclaimLiberty
    Yes I would let the world know, but only if it was to further my cause, a cause in this case, which is being used to justify future action. I don’t think they can get their attention more than they have, honestly. Israel is condemned for attacking those very people who are shooting the rockets into your country so it’s not hard to think that any other form of defense or offense, is going to be negatively charged towards them. I would look into more sanctions, and also with the given evidence that they wouldn’t have a hard time getting approval to check more of the ships contents that are coming from Iran. A blockade for Iranian shipping coming into the Red Sea isn’t without merit at least for a little while. You know, I really don’t believe that there is an effective way to stop strong Ideology and belief, if there is we haven’t found it yet. Take Iraq for example, we put a leader in that was seemingly going to respect Israel, and us. What do we have? A huge flipping mess that’s fighting itself from within and that very same leader looks disdainfully at Israel and America. The same is happening in Afghanistan also.

    Now, I was using the word agenda in a broad sense, not using inferring negativity to it. Every person and every country have an agenda of sorts that is not necessarily bad or good. Israel’s would be, to protect itself by whatever means it sees fit and to promote a healthy democratic environment. I have to admit though after doing some light reading last night I have to smack my forehead at my ignorance of past relations between Israel and the US. Sometimes the History we are taught is rather contrary to the truth and I can see that what I was taught about how “helpful” we have been to Israel through its history, is a grossly overstated. America has historically only sought to please its own agenda when it comes to Israel, I think my view is changing simply by seeing our lack of support unless it suits us.

    I think in a normal situation, that exerting pressure for leaders to change, whether militarily or though economic sanctions would work to change minds towards ideals that would release pressure. Same goes for a leadership change. However and you know this as well as I do, is this the way Muslim run countries react historically? How have Palestinians handled being subject to the Israeli government? This again is a war of ideology and belief which cannot be won in the sense that a war with an aggressor can be. I think I a prime example of belief surviving is Judaism. How many nations tried to wipe it out? Instead it became stronger and grew more each time it was attempted to be stamped out. Islam shares that commonality, in that it won’t sit quietly when someone that doesn’t believe in it takes root in their leadership. Even the possibility that they could be lead by any western power, or Israeli power would be enough for a revolt in most regions. While I agree that there is usually a cycle, this seems to be short lived when it comes to Arab nations, and Israel. In most circumstances I would say, that it would be worth it, this one I would avoid if at all possible.

    “The effort may even need to be broadened against other (e.g., Arab or Muslim) nations who fail to accept the sanctions against an initial (e.g., non-Arab Persian Islamic) nation.” Now you’re talking about fighting the entire middle east, to possibly have an impact on changing the ideals of one nation.

    I agree with you some, that Iraq and Afghanistan could most likely been improved by more leadership on our part. Our leaders nature are to say and do the right things to get elected, the rest tends not to matter so much. There is still a large disconnect between the east and west, that cannot be stopped.

    Most definitely until the messianic age this will continue, if it didn’t we wouldn’t have nearly as much to look forward too. Until then I can’t help but desire that messianic age here and now. I think that above all I just want to make sure all other avenues are taken and that we are making peace to the best of our abilities, and to live in the same way as Yashua, and react as necessary while still keeping in mind how he and the apostles faced death for them selves.

  27. Reblogged this on Morning Meditations and commented:

    I posted this one last year and I think the message needs to be repeated. Purim definitely has applications to the Christian Church. If only they would listen.

  28. Great post, James! Chag Sameach Purim, and thank you for loving the people, Messiah, and God of Israel!

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