Jerusalem

Finding the Spirit of Haman in the Church

Recently a number of leaders in the Protestant community of the United States have urged the endorsement of far-reaching and unilateral political commitments to the people and land of Israel in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, citing Holy Scripture as the basis for those commitments. To strengthen their endorsement, several of these leaders have also insisted that they speak on behalf of the seventy million people who constitute the American evangelical community.

It is good and necessary for evangelical leaders to speak out on the great moral issues of our day in obedience to Christ’s call for his disciples to be salt and light in the world. It is quite another thing, however, when leaders call for commitments that are based upon a serious misreading of Holy Scripture. In such instances, it is good and necessary for other evangelical leaders to speak out as well. We do so here in the hope that we may contribute to the cause of the Lord Christ, apart from whom there can never be true and lasting peace in the world.

At the heart of the political commitments in question are two fatally flawed propositions. First, some are teaching that God’s alleged favor toward Israel today is based upon ethnic descent rather than upon the grace of Christ alone, as proclaimed in the Gospel. Second, others are teaching that the Bible’s promises concerning the land are fulfilled in a special political region or “Holy Land,” perpetually set apart by God for one ethnic group alone. As a result of these false claims, large segments of the evangelical community, our fellow citizens, and our government are being misled with regard to the Bible’s teachings regarding the people of God, the land of Israel, and the impartiality of the Gospel.

In what follows, we make our convictions public. We do so acknowledging the genuine evangelical faith of many who will not agree with us. Knowing that we may incur their disfavor, we are nevertheless constrained by Scripture and by conscience to publish the following propositions for the cause of Christ and truth.

-from the introduction to
“An Open Letter to Evangelicals and Other Interested Parties:
The People of God, the Land of Israel, and the Impartiality of the Gospel”
Also known as the “Knox Seminary letter”
found at BibleResearcher.com

A few days ago, I had a private email conversation with someone over a number of issues and the name of a well-known Evangelical Christian Pastor came up in connection with the letter I quoted above (he’s supposed to be one of the later — but not one of the original — signatories). The association wasn’t complementary and having looked up and read the letter after finishing the email dialog, I can understand why.

From an Evangelical Christian point of view, when you read the ten points listed plus the rest of this letter’s content, you probably wouldn’t bat an eye. Nothing would seem amiss in the text of the letter and you’d probably think of it as standard, Evangelical Christian doctrine.

Sadly, it is standard Evangelical Christian doctrine and thereby hangs a tale.

I’m writing this “meditation” several days before you’ll read it. I’ve set it to publish automatically early (in my time zone) on Sunday morning, when millions of Christians across the country are getting ready to go to church. Today is also Purim, the celebration that is commanded of the Jews of Ahashuerus’ ancient Persian Kingdom, ”their descendants and all who joined them…” (Esther 9:27 – NRSV).

”All who joined them” is an interesting phrase because it seemingly refers to the objects of the following statement:

In every province and in every city, wherever the king’s command and his edict came, there was gladness and joy among the Jews, a festival and a holiday. Furthermore, many of the peoples of the country professed to be Jews, because the fear of the Jews had fallen upon them. (emph. mine)

Esther 8:17 (NRSV)

I mentioned before that we aren’t quite sure exactly what that statement means except that obviously many non-Jews became strongly affiliated, perhaps even to the point of conversion, with the Jewish people. They were the ones who ”joined them” and thus they, along with all their descendants, have received a commandment to perpetually celebrate two days of Purim each year.

The descendants of the Jews in that ancient Persian land are considered today to be all Jews everywhere, but what about the descendants of the Gentiles who joined with the Jews? If they were only converts to Judaism, then their descendants are also Jews. If ”professing to be Jews” however, meant pretending to be Jewish or perhaps coming alongside the Jewish people in fellowship and solidarity, then they are something else. Modern day Iranians perhaps, since King Ahasuerus’ kingdom realm is part of modern-day Iran? Those Gentile descendants could have traveled far and wide in the thousands of years since Esther (Hadassah) and Mordechai walked the earth. Today, they could be anyone.

I don’t think I can expand the concept so far as to “command” all Gentiles everywhere to celebrate Purim (although, why not, since it’s such a fun holiday?). So assuming we’re not just talking about born-Jews and proselytes today, who joins or comes alongside the Jews today?

UnityThe most obvious answer are the Gentiles participating in the various streams of Messianic Judaism and Hebrew Roots. None of the Gentile populations in the numerous branches of those two movements directly claims to be Jewish (with the exception of adherents to Two-House Theology) but all have an affiliation with the Jewish people and Israel to one type and degree or another. In my little corner of Messianic Judaism, it is common to say that Gentiles have come alongside Israel, we have joined them, not as Jews, but maybe like the Gentiles in Shushan.

Then it’s obvious that we non-Jews who are in some way among Jews in Jewish communities (or primarily Gentile communities who affiliate with Jewish or Hebrew practices in the case of Hebrew Roots) are, along with the Jews, commanded to celebrate Purim. And again, as I said before, I think there are excellent reasons for all Christians everywhere to celebrate Purim as well.

But obviously not all Christians will agree with that statement. Probably most Christians won’t agree with that statement, and certainly the original and later signatories of the aforementioned open letter would absolutely not agree with me.

I was tempted to go over each point of the letter and write a rebuttal, but since that letter has been around since 2002, plenty of other rebuttals already exist, including an article at pre-trib.org and the Rapture Ready discussion forum (not that I’m likely to agree with all the points or perspectives of either population, but I do want to illustrate that not all “normative” Christians go along with the Knox Seminary letter).

Just a few days ago, as I’m writing this, Tim at the Onesimus Files blog, wrote a short but powerful article with accompanying links in support of Israel as remaining in God’s promises and refuting that the Gentile Church has replaced “earthly Israel” as the “spiritual” or “new Israel.” A day or so later, Judah Himango at his blog Kineti L’Tziyon wrote Purim: 5 unusual lessons for Yeshua’s disciples (and for those of you who may not know, “Yeshua” is the original Hebrew name for “Jesus”).

I don’t always agree with either Tim’s or Judah’s perspectives on certain things, but we do agree that God has not done away with the centrality of Israel in God’s prophetic, Messianic promises, and that the non-Jewish people of the world must come alongside the Jewish people by becoming disciples of “the King of the Jews,” who came once as Yeshua ben Yosef and who will return in power as Yeshua ben David, and through the worship of the God of all, the One God, Israel’s God.

I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.

Genesis 12:3 (NRSV)

That’s God speaking to Abram (later named Abraham) and blessing him with an eternal blessing that applies to all of his descendants through Isaac and Jacob who today are the Jewish people. God not only promises to bless the nations who bless Abraham and his descendants and to curse those who curse them, but He inserts a veiled promise that all the families, the nations of the earth shall be blessed by Abraham’s seed, Messiah.

Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ.

Galatians 3:16 (NASB)

So we non-Jewish disciples of the Jewish Messiah come alongside Israel through Messiah, the seed of Abraham through whom the entire world will ultimately be blessed.

Roger Waters
Roger Waters

We can say that those people who are not Jewish and who have not come to faith in Jesus Christ have no obligation to observe Purim. However some atheists and agnostics and people of other religions do “bless” or support the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state and who think well of the Jewish people, though it’s popular in secular society worldwide to refer to Israel as an “apartheid state” and to demand a boycott of Israel’s products and services, thus bringing themselves under a curse (they don’t believe the God of Israel exists and thus that the curse exists, but the Messiah hasn’t returned yet).

But are any authentically believing and faithful Christians under the same curse?

Bad Christian theology regarding the “Holy Land” contributed to the tragic cruelty of the Crusades in the Middle Ages. Lamentably, bad Christian theology is today attributing to secular Israel a divine mandate to conquer and hold Palestine, with the consequence that the Palestinian people are marginalized and regarded as virtual “Canaanites.” This doctrine is both contrary to the teaching of the New Testament and a violation of the Gospel mandate. In addition, this theology puts those Christians who are urging the violent seizure and occupation of Palestinian land in moral jeopardy of their own bloodguiltiness. Are we as Christians not called to pray for and work for peace, warning both parties to this conflict that those who live by the sword will die by the sword? Only the Gospel of Jesus Christ can bring both temporal reconciliation and the hope of an eternal and heavenly inheritance to the Israeli and the Palestinian. Only through Jesus Christ can anyone know peace on earth.

-from point ten of the Knox Seminary “open letter”

This is in direct contradiction to God’s giving the land of Israel to the Jewish people in perpetuity (see Genesis 15:18 and 17:8 … also see ”The Bible on Jewish Links to the Holy Land” at Jewish Virtual Library).

The quote from the “open letter’s” point ten reminds me of something called Christ at the Checkpoint which, according to their About Us page, exists:

To Challenge Evangelicals To Take Responsibility To Help Resolve the Conflicts in Israel-Palestine By Engaging With the Teaching of Jesus on the Kingdom of God.

That sounds very nice, except under About Us/Manifesto, one of the twelve points listed states:

Any exclusive claim to land of the Bible in the name of God is not in line with the teaching of Scripture.

I have no idea how any Christian who reads and understands the Bible can make such a statement, but I said before that recent news articles report Evangelicals pulling away from supporting a Jewish Israel. Sadly, it actually makes sense for Evangelical Christians to turn a cold shoulder toward Israel and the Jewish people. It took Hitler’s ghastly Holocaust to shock the Christian church out of centuries of anti-Semitism and supersessionism, but World War Two ended nearly seventy years ago, and if I know one thing about human beings, we’re very shortsighted and of limited memory.

Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.

-Edmund Burke

It seems that even those who (probably) do know the history of the Holocaust are (unfortunately) destined to repeat it as well, at least to the degree of denying that Israel is a Jewish state in accordance to the promises of God, and agreeing that it is not only reasonable but Biblical to carve up Israel into Israel and “Palestine.”

I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse…

Genesis 12:3 (NRSV)

Uh-oh.

Rosh Pina ProjectThe Rosh Pina Project has been running a rather lengthy series on the 2014 Christ at the Checkpoint (CaTC) event (which ended on Friday the 14th) from a Messianic Jewish perspective.  Several authors on this blog have posted detailed commentaries and multiple videos of this year’s event, so if you want to learn more, the Rosh Pina Project is the place to go.

I find it ironic that the image in the banner at the CaTC homepage quotes Matthew 6:10, ”Your Kingdom Come.” I can only imagine that the folks at Bethlehem Bible College and the other CaTC supporters and allies believe that when God’s Kingdom comes upon the return of Jesus, the way they, and the folks who signed the Knox Seminary open letter, view God’s Kingdom lines up with the complete elimination of Jewish possession of Israel. The fact that point nine of the open letter states, The entitlement of any one ethnic or religious group to territory in the Middle East called the “Holy Land” cannot be supported by Scripture. In fact, the land promises specific to Israel in the Old Testament were fulfilled under Joshua,” is, to me, a clear indication that the letter’s writers and signatories have no idea what God has promised Israel or what “Thy Kingdom Come” means.

I realize that makes me sound arrogant beyond belief. All of the signatories are Pastors and theologians with doctorate degrees up the wazoo, and I’m just one guy with no doctorate degrees and just a heck of a lot of chutzpah (and with chutzpah in mind, I invite anyone who agrees with the Knox Seminary letter and/or CaTC’s mission to watch The First Fruits of Zion episode Thy Kingdom Come for a bit of illumination).

I know it seems strange to say that there are Christians, well-known Christian Pastors even, who could be cursed by God because these well-known (and probably lots of not well-known) Christians believe ”the land promises specific to Israel in the Old Testament were fulfilled under Joshua,” and that ”bad Christian theology is today attributing to secular Israel a divine mandate to conquer and hold Palestine.” Really. They should just join the BDS Movement and be done with it. I bet they’re big fans of Roger Waters’ vile opinions on Israel.

If these Christians are banking on ”He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved,” (Mark 16:16) they should remember Jesus also said:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?’ Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.’”

Matthew 7:21-23 (NRSV)

SheepRemember the parable of the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25:31-46). I used to think it was about being judged by how we do or don’t show kindness and compassion to others, especially strangers, but a year or so ago, I heard an alternative interpretation from a teacher at the church I attend, that Jesus is specifically addressing those Gentile believers who did not care for the disadvantaged, the hungry, thirsty, or naked of Israel, the Jewish people.

Imagine that.

I really hate to say this since I know it will hurt a lot of people’s feelings and make a lot of Christians mad at me, but the only conclusion I can pull out of all of this is that the “Spirit of Haman” not only roams the Islamic mosques and madrassas (seminaries) but that “Spirit” can also be found in some of our churches and seminaries. It breaks my heart to say that because there are a lot of good people in the church who indeed to love Israel and believe it is for the Jews only, but the evidence has been mounting that much of Christianity is turning away in the “Spirit of Haman” and bringing upon themselves the curse promised in the Abrahamic covenant, and the curse of Haman and his ten sons.

I wish I could have written a light, comedic “meditation” for today as a celebration of life and joy, but I discovered I’m not a comedy writer. I’m just a voice in the wilderness calling the churches of the nations back from where they’ve wandered off, pleading with them to repent of their ways, begging them to return to God before it’s too late.

John was a prophet in the wilderness and he called many Jews back to repentance in his day. I’m just a guy with a blog and I’m no prophet at all.

My friend Dan Hennessy is building an educational venture using “smart technology” to inform secondary and college-age students about the Holocaust. He’s developed a slogan for this “underground operation:”

“Education is resistance. Support the resistance.”

In our recent conversation, I countered with a quote from the film Terminator Salvation (2009) spoken by John Connor (actor Christian Bale) in the film’s trailer:

Humans have a strength that cannot be measured. This is John Connor. If you are listening to this, you are the resistance.

Like the scattered remnants of humanity all but decimated by the machines in John Connor’s fictional future world, I’m just a man alone or among a small group of partisans, fighting against a much larger and imposing force. But, like those celluloid (though movies aren’t on celluloid film anymore) resistance fighters, I’m just listening to a contraband radio set, so to speak, listening to words of freedom that have been all but forgotten, cherishing allies that have been thrown under the bus of “Christian political correctness.”

But I can hear a voice and because I’m listening, I am the resistance. Learn about Purim. Learn why the Knox Seminary open letter and Christ at the Checkpoint are tragically wrong about what the Bible says. I did so by becoming a student of Messianic Judaism but that’s not the only way. Become part of the resistance by blessing Israel and not cursing it, for surely we will all be judged by how we have treated Christ’s “little ones.”

If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither! Let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy.

Psalm 137:5-6 (NRSV)

And I say with some irony, Chag Sameach Purim. Have a joyous Festival of Purim.

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22 thoughts on “Finding the Spirit of Haman in the Church”

  1. Y’know, James, I don’t think you’ve quite caught the flavor of this whole “Purimschpiel” thing. On the other hand, it’s probably also true that neither has most of your target audience. Then again, clowning around in April Fool’s style for Purim seems, on the surface, incompatible with the serious implications of seeing the havoc threatened and wrought by the free-ranging Spirit of Amalek whose representation in his descendant Haman the Agagite was only one of many such events. May our continued memory of his evil help us in each generation to blot out and eradicate his plans, however often they may arise.

  2. The people of Israel have always constituted the people of God in an eternal sense even before Yeshua. There is no other people of God or community of God. Maybe a better way to say it is the community of Israel always constituted the people of God.

    With that being said if Gentiles are part of the people of God and/or the community of God then Gentiles will celebrate Purim in a congregational sense.

  3. @PL: I had to look up “Purimschpiel” but I guess you’re right. On the other hand, I admitted above that I’m not a comedy writer. I just couldn’t think of anything to say that would be funny.

    @Macher: I think that some Christians better hurry up and get with the program before it’s too late.

  4. James, we are certainly on the same page concerning “how” or “if” Christians should “observe” Purim if your thinking in the same detail as I am: by stopping to teach the lessons of the book of Esther and its link to the Holocaust, in costume or not. Actually, I agree with Proclaim that “clowning around” is an odd way to “celebrate” such an 11th hour escape from annihilation.

    Resistance starts at home, spiritually, emotionally, and often, socially, as well. I just introduced myself by phone to the new Reform rabbi in town. We are going to get together to discuss a small interfaith Yom HaShoah event for April’s Remembrance Day, as I have no public speaking gig booked elsewhere at this point. As part of that discussion I will be reserving a place at the next local Interfaith Council meeting to discuss holding a Holocaust remembrance event next year at Purim. It will be a “Christian Holocaust Remembrance” or a Holocaust remembrance event hosted by Christians, whichever seems best to those so inclined. In the event that there are no takers, I will paint as accurate a picture as possible, in love, of course, of the moral quandary all find themselves in who continue to propagate the Silence that was, and is, and will be, should the entire Christian world continue to behave as though deaf and dumb to its responsibility to the past; especially as the spirit of Haman/Amalek rises up against Israel in the manner it is now.

    Surely we must interpret the times, as Yeshua taught of his first coming, with regard to his second coming. Is not the spirit of Amalek animating the White House/State Dept,, as well; though that might be a matter of opinion? Hasn’t John Kerry just backed off the foundational American position in support of the Israeli demand that the PA acknowledge Israel’s right to exist? This is emboldening all of Israel’s enemies, to include those dark inner bastions of anti-Israel-ism within what is commonly called “the Church” right now? The Jewish Sages speak of the spirit of Amalek as having done just that at Rephidim: of emboldening the rest of the nations to rise up against Israel by way of the irrational attack of Amalek there, cooling the healthy climate of fear of the God of Israel among the goyim that dominated in the wake of HaShem’s dramatic rescue of Jacob from the hands of Pharoah in Egypt.

    Perhaps I’m being a bit too specific here, but I think it is up to Messianic “Christians/Gentiles” in particular, along with kindred Christians, to organize and promote a Purim-based memorial project linked to stop each year to teach the contemporaneous lessons of the Haman-Hitler link while remembering the Holocaust simultaneously. Ministries like FFOZ and “Christians For Israel International” in The Netherlands and the ICEJ in Jerusalem might see the value in such a timely act of resistance as we read about this time of escalating antisemitism. Christians For Israel International does wonderful work in Europe, even raising funds to build memorials on hitherto unknown mass graves left behind by the Nazis and their minions. There is also the March For Remembrance organization which works in Europe and here, as well. I will be contacting those groups about the possibility of launching the enterprise next spring.

    It increasingly seems to me that the Purim narrative from the past should become the shofar-blast of the present in defense of the future that Messiah will one day ensure. Such an effort constitutes a resistance-based way to “occupy” until Moschiach comes.

    The character of John Connor is right: if anyone is listening, they ARE the resistance. But if no one is talking, there’s nothing to hear.

    Thanks for the mention, every bit helps to get a resistance movement going. One that operates at multiple levels: in schools, within the Christian and Messianic communities, and interfaith organizations like Hillel, Newman, etc. The best thing about the slogan is the truth that it speaks:

    Education is resistance. Support the resistance.

  5. In this war, there are no innocent bystanders. When any Christian ignores this situation, they have already made their choice.

  6. Right. Absolutely. I would not want to stand in the shoes of those who have made a conscious choice to ignore the situation, as silence is complicity. But I wonder how much of the Great Yawning Christian Silence is a conscious matter of choice and how much could be made up of pure, unadulterated ignorance? The situation with Israel today is so politically complex, operating within a skewed theological framework. If pure ignorance is different from true “goat-ish” behavior, and such a naive Christian is part of an anti-Israel church environment, then there is still time to move some unknowing sheep from the line on the left to the line on the right, so to speak, and afford them the opportunity to straighten out their loyalties: to The Church or The King.

    As I finished that last sentence I had a very haunting thought occur to me that sent shivers down my spine: it’s been my experience in speaking with survivors regarding the selection process at Auschwitz, as well reading literature on Auschwitz and other camps, that once separated into male and female lines upon arrival that “left” was for the young, weak, sick, etc. and “right” was for the mature, healthy and strong. So it was that “life” was associated with being in the “right” line and “death” with the “left” line, even as the “sheep” line up on the right in Matthew 25 and the “goats” on the left.

    Theologically significant or not, haunting, it is.

  7. James said “@Macher: I think that some Christians better hurry up and get with the program before it’s too late.”

    Elaborate

  8. It also occurs to me that [from Aish.com]: “…as the Kabbalists point out the numerical value of Amalek — 240 — is the same as safek, meaning “doubt,” that the energy of Amalek is to create doubts about what is true and real in this world, and of God’s role in directing events in the best possible way.”

    Another good reason to move forward with the Purim Initiative, this is.

    And as concerns “doubt,” I’ve been confronted nowhere with more influential doubt as to what and how I believe as a “Messianic-minded” believer, than within the evangelical Christian community. It’s capacity for “doubt” for anything not explicitly “Christian” runs very, very deep. It is here that I see the spirit of Amalek/Haman constricting the view of Christianity, even as Egypt is Mitzrayim (?) which means “constriction,” “limitation,” it is as though the Christian Church did not come out of Egypt with Israel, metaphorically speaking, but rather, is still behaving too much like the gentile Egyptians, not wanting to leave “home.”

    As some Israelites doubted the words of HaShem through Moses and Aaron, so many Christians still do.

  9. It’s startling how, as you say, these peeps with “degrees up the wazoo” can completely disregard scripture, saying the land promises were fulfilled under Joshua!? What the…?

    So, how much of scripture does that require us to exterminate? INCLUDING THE NEW COVENANT! Lol! Have they ever read Ez 36, or Jer 33? Dear lord… This would be funny, if it wasn’t so pathetic and tragic.

    No, I’m not surprised. I’ve met one of the signatories to the “open letter” and even wrote about him in my post “The Not So Great Debate”. He was shockingly rude and arrogant to his opponent, and then to me, when I came up to enquire about this thing called “replacement theology” which, until then, I’d never heard of.

    Re: Purimschpiel. I inadvertently created one with an old friend. Stopping by her place the other night and mentioning Purim, it unfolded from there. By the end she was “breaking bread and thanking Esther” (Oy) and wanting to join the Jews. :-).

  10. Now i have a question. The last evangelical I heard putting down the importance of Israel, used the fact that many Jews don’t even believe in Israel. Apparently (from his view) they don’t believe that this Israel is anything and the Israel of the Bible can only be brought about by Messiah himself. I have no clue if that claim is true about Jews believing that our not but i would be interested in hearing yours and PL’s opinion if you have heard that. This is a thoughtful article and i really did find it encouraging and challenging.

  11. @Dan: It is haunting…and terrifying.

    @Macher: What I mean is that those people in the Church, those Pastors, those churches who publicly come out against Isarel will have to give an accounting, in my opinion, just like the nations who will go up against Israel in the great war. Once Messiah returns, it may be too late for them and they may well be counted among the goats rather than the sheep.

    @Sojourning: Well, maybe we should be a little thankful to Esther for providing we Gentiles with another example of how to come alongside the Jewish people. 😉

    @scshadowmaster: There have been Jews who have been “anti-Zionist” and opposed to the establishment of a modern state of Israel from the very beginning. Many Orthodox Jews opposed didn’t want the modern state to be formed because they believed (and many still believe) that only Messiah is to restore the true state of Israel. Today, many secular and religiously liberal Jew support the two-state solution believing (amazingly after all the acts of terror against them) that it will promote peace and cease the “persecution” and “occupation” of Palenstinian people and land.

    As far as an evangelical opinion against Israel based on what certain Jews may believe, I’d be more concerned about what the Bible says. To me, Israel is Israel. If it’s not a theocracy now as in ancient days, who cares? It will be again once Messiah returns. The Land is the Land. When the Jews were exiled, it became a desert. Now that they’ve returned, great portions of it are green and productive. The fact that the modern state of Israel exists at all in the face of the overwhelming opposition it has faced since 1948 is a miracle, actually probably a long series of miracles. By rights, Israel should have been smashed flat in the first Arab attack against her, but somehow, she always manages to win. It believe that’s the hand of God.

  12. Okay, i really didn’t know if that was even for real or not. How do they come to that conclusion? is it some form Midrash or do they get it from scripture?

  13. @scshadowmaster: As I understand it, from a good friend who is now the retired cantor of the local Reform synagogue, there are Orthodox or ultra-Orthodox Jewish groups who see the modern-day Zionist movement as secular, having nothing to do with Messiah, therefore the state of Israel, as it stands today, is illegitimate. They maintain that Israel can only be re-established miraculously by the Messiah. As I understand it, they believe in the Jewish right to the Land of Israel, but only at the time of the redemption.

    Is this correct everyone, anyone?

  14. Yes, Dan, such groups and doctrines exist. It is also the source of the current controversy over conscripting Israeli haredim into national service or the IDF like everyone else and no longer automatically exempting them under the presumption of intensive uninterruptable Torah study.

    Some in such groups also are unconvinced that the scroll of Esther should ever have been accepted as part of the Tenakh, because it nowhere shows the revealed face of HaShem, but only His hidden operation behind the scenery of a circumstance and actions that are very foreign to Judaism, including intermarriage, hiding one’s Jewish identity, deceptiveness, palace intrigues, and even failure to return from foreign exile to the land of Israel at a time when it was possible to do so. One must think more broadly to see HaShem’s hand in it, and similarly in the restoration of the modern “secular” State of Israel, perhaps also considering the stages of redemption implied in Yehezkel’s dry-bones vision where the spirit was the last element to be restored.

    Such folks therefore also take a dim view of the revelry over the Purim victory, which is the basis of the “clowning around” and of the long-standing Jewish response of humor in the face of centuries of atrocity.

  15. Thank you James. I don’t mind being revealed as the person involved in the email discussion. We know the Jerusalem will be a cup of trembling, and a stone that will crush many. Since we are told that the bride will be without spot or blemish, I suspect that the blemishes are being removed, and Israel is the spot revealer and the Holy One of Israel is the spot remover.

    So I am going to get radical here. Most Christians believe they are saved based upon what they believe; they are still messing with Plato. Yeshua said, “My sheep hear my voice and they know me and they follow me; they will not follow the voice of another.” They follow the voice of another because they are filled with the spirit of another. Those who follow another voice are not my brethren. They are not misunderstood and misunderstanding sheep; they are wolves. Yes, there are sheep left in the wolves’ dens, and our job is to lead them out into good pasture.

    So you will again distinguish between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him.
    Mal. 3:18 Notice the verse doesn’t mention right or wrong theology or what one has belief or faith in. It is very simple: righteous or unrighteous, serves God or not.

    Surely there are many midrash, but my take from the text of Megillah Esther is that citizens of the Medio-Persian Empire joined the Jewish people in the same way other people’s of Egypt did; they saw that the God of the Jews was mighty in delivering his people, and decided to leave their puny pagan gods and serve the God of Israel. I was reading an article in Tablet about how Christians are currently enamored with Esther via books, bible studies and unfortunately schlocky films. If they read the text more closely, that the non-Jews joined their Jewish neighbors and left their own religion, they might hold the book more at arm’s length. I suspect these in-depth ladies’ bible studies leave that verse out.

    I suppose the joyous and even raucous nature of Purim looks forward to a time when we will look upon all our enemies with derision, every man safe under his own vine and fig tree (in the land) with no one to make him afraid.

    @Dan H.: You are aware of March of Remembrance?

    @James: You said you weren’t a humorist. I think I am, and I believe, as Steven Berkowitz mentioned, that schizoid thinking and self-deprecating humor have been bred into us since childhood. http://endtimechaverim.wordpress.com/2014/03/12/the-purim-play-you-missed-or-everything-i-needed-to-learn-i-didnt-learn-in-hebrew-school/

  16. Reblogged this on Endtime Chaverim and commented:

    Thank you James. I don’t mind being revealed as the person involved in the email discussion. We know the Jerusalem will be a cup of trembling, and a stone that will crush many. Since we are told that the bride will be without spot or blemish, I suspect that the blemishes are being removed, and Israel is the spot revealer and the Holy One of Israel is the spot remover.

    So I am going to get radical here. Most Christians believe they are saved based upon what they believe; they are still messing with Plato. Yeshua said, “My sheep hear my voice and they know me and they follow me; they will not follow the voice of another.” They follow the voice of another because they are filled with the spirit of another. Those who follow another voice are not my brethren. They are not misunderstood and misunderstanding sheep; they are wolves. Yes, there are sheep left in the wolves’ dens, and our job is to lead them out into good pasture.

    So you will again distinguish between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him.
    Mal. 3:18 Notice the verse doesn’t mention right or wrong theology or what one has belief or faith in. It is very simple: righteous or unrighteous, serves God or not.

    Surely there are many midrash, but my take from the text of Megillah Esther is that citizens of the Medio-Persian Empire joined the Jewish people in the same way other people’s of Egypt did; they saw that the God of the Jews was mighty in delivering his people, and decided to leave their puny pagan gods and serve the God of Israel. I was reading an article in Tablet about how Christians are currently enamored with Esther via books, bible studies and unfortunately schlocky films. If they read the text more closely, that the non-Jews joined their Jewish neighbors and left their own religion, they might hold the book more at arm’s length. I suspect these in-depth ladies’ bible studies leave that verse out.

    I suppose the joyous and even raucous nature of Purim looks forward to a time when we will look upon all our enemies with derision, every man safe under his own vine and fig tree (in the land) with no one to make him afraid.

    @Dan H.: You are aware of March of Remembrance?

    @James: You said you weren’t a humorist. I think I am, and I believe, as Steven Berkowitz mentioned, that schizoid thinking and self-deprecating humor have been bred into us since childhood. http://endtimechaverim.wordpress.com/2014/03/12/the-purim-play-you-missed-or-everything-i-needed-to-learn-i-didnt-learn-in-hebrew-school/

  17. I wanted to quote some of one of the articles you (James) linked to in your opening meditation. As it turns out, the part is related also to one of the comments in this comments section — one that mentioned inclusion of Esther in the Jewish bible is questioned by some Jews.

    [Its inclusion was also questioned by Luther for Christians.]

    This is the bulk of elucidation on lessons “4” and “5” at the link:

    ……

    God can use people who do not fit the religious mold

    Many of the pioneers and founders of the modern state of Israel were secular, agnostic, or even atheist.

    Theodore Herzl, the 19th century founder of Zionism, was agnostic. His opposition? The religious.

    Herzl visited many nations and diplomats in hopes to garner support for a Jewish state in Palestine. When he approached the Pope and the Catholic Church, the Pope refused, saying that unless Jews converted to Christianity, the Church would not support a Jewish state.

    Herzl saw opposition even among his own people. Certain European Orthodox Jewish communities opposed Herzl and his plan for a Jewish state in Palestine. They […] believed that only messiah could restore the Jewish people to Israel.

    Religious people stood in the way of […] plans for the creation of the modern State of Israel.

    And in that same generation, Eliezer Ben Yehuda moved to Israel nearly a century before its founding and pushed for the resurrection of the Hebrew language. His major opponent? Jerusalem’s ultra-Orthdox community. They opposed Ben Yehuda’s Hebrew-only newspaper, HaZvi, eventually shutting it down after a year of fierce opposition. Restoring the holy language to a common tongue was a grave sin, you see.

    Again, it was religious people who stood in the way […].

    Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion, was by most accounts an agnostic or Jewish atheist. It was through his leadership Israel survived its first decade, a perilous decade characterized by repeated invasions from the Islamic world, motivated by the same anti-Semitic spirit that motivated Haman.

    Ben Gurion received little help from the ultra-religious. While the nascent Jewish state was fighting for its very existence, the ultra-religious sought exemption from military service in order to continue religious school. (A decision that is being overturned as I write this post.)

    I tell you all these things to drive a point back to Esther and Mordechai.

    In the book of Esther, like the founding of the State of Israel, God is hidden, and yet thoroughly present. And his work is accomplished through means religious people do not expect. Sometimes, it is religious people who are opposing God. Perhaps God used secular people because their ears were not so clogged by theology and dogma.

    We view Esther and Mordechai as righteous individuals today, even though we know little about their faith life. And what we do know of them isn’t exactly a perfect picture of religious life. Both were engaged with a pagan nation, working in the government of an idolatrous imperial power, eating at treif banquets held by a pagan king.

    Heck, Esther was wed to a pagan gentile! And if that weren’t enough, she was a WOMAN! You know, those people that Judaism restricts from singing, wearing tallits, or carrying Torah scrolls at the Western Wall.

    (And – be honest – how many of us religious people would balk at the idea of our daughter marrying a pagan leader? Perhaps it was for this reason Esther was an orphan!)

    Religious people balk at such things, and yet God accomplished his purposes despite the circumstances. Sometimes, religion can get in the way of us seeing clearly the divine plan.

    As Messiah’s disciples, let us be opened to the possibility that God is at work outside our niche, and can work through people who don’t fit the religious mold.

    Revelation of truth in its due time

    When Esther was to marry the king, she did not reveal her true identity as a daughter of Abraham. Had Esther strolled into the King’s court announcing she was a Jewess, perhaps she may never have wed the king, and in return, never had the opportunity to save Israel.

    Messiah’s disciples can learn something from this. First, many of Yeshua’s disciples wear their faith on their sleeve. I understand why, but sometimes it is a turn-off for people. If we instead showed kindness and service — did good works without expectation of return — and without worrying about pushing our belief in Messiah, it can yield good fruit.

    Esther did reveal herself to the King — but only when the time was right. This is an example for us as Yeshua’s disciples. “Preach Messiah always, and if necessary, use words.”

    Lessons learned from Esther

    1. The Jewish people are still central to God’s plans. We can say with Mordechai’s boldness and confidence, “relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise”, regardless of the theological forecasts of the religious.
    2. Like in the days of Esther, many will attach themselves to Israel, and yet, God’s promises to the Jewish people are not cancelled.
    3. God works through unlikely people. Esther and Mordechai both took on names from the pagan world, worked and lived in a pagan culture, and yet God used them for good.
    4. God works in ways that often confounds the religious. Esther was not a model religious figure, and yet God used this unlikely soul to accomplish salvation for Israel.
    5. God’s timing is not our own. Religious people can often be blustering, impatient, angry, indignant…but Esther’s example is one of patience, fasting, quiet trusting. In this end, this is what swayed the pagan king.

    Take in these lessons from Esther, fine Kineti reader, as you remember […].

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