It’s been a while since I’ve posted. A few thoughts.
Brussels – March 22; Paris – November 13; New York – September 11; Israel – Every Day
Evil reared its ugly head again on March 22nd in Brussels, causing a nation to mourn and the world to reel from shock. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for killing dozens and for injuring dozens more in the airport and in an underground train. Two of the terrorists blew themselves up, while a massive manhunt continues for the third person believed to have been involved. World leaders were quick to respond and to offer assistance to the authorities in Belgium.
Europe is a mess. Massive immigration from war-torn countries in the Middle East has caused a disruption of what was once referred to as the normal, “European way of life”. It has impacted cultural behavior, affected government thinking and brought about new “norms” in dealing with the problems generated by the almost uncontrolled immigration into Europe, as well as some areas of the Balkans. It is permissible for devout Islamists to insult and threaten other religions, but it is considered “Islamophobia” and “hate speech” when words are directed against those who want to establish an Islamic caliphate throughout Europe and the Middle East and then spread it to the rest of the world.
What happened in New York on September 11th changed the world, but not for the better. Supporters of the terrorists danced on the roof-tops and celebrated in the streets, while efforts were made to persuade non-Islamic populations that this was the act of extremists and that Islam is a religion of peace. The incredible thing is that people are still willing to buy the lie. A true follower of Islam is a true follower of the teachings of the Koran, which calls for a jihad, or a holy war, against the non-believers (infidels). These are not extremists. That is a term used by those who want to compromise with reality. They look upon those who are referred to as, or consider themselves to be, “moderate Moslems” as traitors. There is a bond of brotherhood that unites jihadis wherever they might be, whether it is in the U.S., France, Turkey, Bulgaria, Kenya, the Ivory Coast, or Belgium. They are living according to the rules of their book and their ideology today is the same as it was back in the time of Mohammed. The only difference, and it is a critical difference, is the role that the media plays today, allowing for world-wide viewing of acts of terror. An insult to their beliefs in one place will result in a terrorist act in another place.
The acts of terrorism that rocked the complacency of Paris only a few months ago were new for Paris, but not for the terrorists. What happened in Brussels is new for Brussels, but not new for terrorists. The same could be said for California, Istanbul, Ankara and a host of other places around the world. The West continues to fail to understand the mentality of groups like ISIS, Islamic Jihad, al-Qaida and the like. For them, might makes right, violent struggle is the means to achieve their end, ultimate victory and the establishment of their desired caliphate is the only way for them to bring in the 12th Imam, the Islamic messiah. They are dedicated to their cause and are encouraged to press on to establish Shariah law in every place where there is an Islamic community. An assault or attack on one member of the family in one place is avenged by another member of the family in another place. They see compromise from the West as weakness, Western decadence, culture and institutions, as well as its way of life, as all being antithetical to the teachings of the Koran. Therefore, they must be done away with. “Oh, when will they ever learn? Oh, when will they ever learn?” (Where Have All The Flowers Gone, by the late Pete Seeger, 1955)
|Photo posted on Facebook by Ariel Iluz,
who was in Belgium at the time in 2014
In August, 2014, while Hamas was firing rockets into the south of Israel, at a time when Israeli civilians were living in air-raid shelters and our soldiers were fighting against Hamas in Operation Protective Edge, Brussels Airport allowed a group of “Palestinians” and pro-BDSers to stage a fake blood pool in the middle of the terminal. Two days ago, at the same airport, the pool of blood became real and it had nothing to do with the Arab-Israeli conflict. I’ll leave everyone to draw their own conclusions regarding the two events, two years apart in the same airport terminal.
One would think that the world would begin to open its eyes, as well as its collective mind, to realize that the Arab-Israeli conflict is not the cause of all of the world’s ills. In fact, to those who bother to think, the problems here are deemed to be minuscule to the multitude of problems that exist elsewhere around the world. But, the media continues to ignore the reality that Israel has had more terrorist incidents directed against it and its citizens than any other country. In this month alone, we suffered 13 separate terrorist attacks. Many more attempted attacks were prevented by Israeli security forces. The media makes the message and that message is that terrorism exists only outside of Israel. When the media moguls are unable to reconcile their anti-Israel prejudice with the terrorism that Israel deals with 24/7, they leave Israel out of their reporting entirely. Sometimes, silence speaks louder than words, but it falls on deaf ears. The West is blind to what is obvious to all to live here.
What just happened in Brussels is only the latest demonstration of evil that so-called civilized societies have allowed to fester and don’t know how to contain. It is an attempt to express religious superiority and control over a world that has different values and belief systems than the Islamists and, therefore, those different values and belief systems must be eliminated. The Islamists follow in the way of Cain, “who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother” (1 John 3:12). Lest we forget, Cain committed murder following his unacceptable form of worship. God told him that sin is waiting to pounce on him and he if doesn’t master it, sin will destroy him. “Woe to them, for they have gone the way of Cain” (Jude 11).
Then again, the attitude of some is that what happened in Brussels doesn’t affect what they do in Argentina. Just ask the Obamas.
The Scroll of Esther – The Presence of Him Who is Invisible
Some stories, like true vintage wine, become better with age. One of them is the story of the exodus of the children of Israel from Egypt. We are commanded to tell the story from generation to generation. It reveals the presence of God, His might, His power and His holiness and ability to save the people whom He has chosen (Deut. 7:7-8). These attributes of God are also present, and He remains mighty to save, even when He is not in the forefront of the action, but in the background and even when He is not referred to or mentioned by name. This is the situation in the Scroll of Esther (Megillat Esther).
We know the story and is a great one. It is a story of absence – absence from the country where the sons of Jacob were to shine, to prosper, to worship God in the majesty of His holiness, to be blessed and to be a blessing. It is a story of the absence of a national leadership amongst the captives from Judea and Samaria who were taken first to Babylon during the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar, some of whom were later brought to Persia (modern-day Iran) and who were living during the reign of King Ahashverush (Ahasuerus). It is a story where the absence of God in the lives of the captives stands out by the failure to refer to Him. It is a story that serves as the background for the complaint of the people, as revealed in the explanation of the vision of the dry bones in Ezekiel, namely, an absence of hope: “Then He said to me, ‘Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel; behold, they say, “Our bones are dried up and our hope has perished. We are completely cut off”.'” (Ezekiel. 37:11)
On the day of Purim, the day “when the king’s command and edict were about to be executed, on the day when the enemies of the Jews hoped to gain the mastery over them, it was turned to the contrary so that the Jews themselves gained the mastery over those who hated them”. (Esther 9:1) The plan was not to kill a few dozen people, but to destroy an entire nation, all of the Jews in the kingdom of Persia.
We look at the story with the benefit of hindsight. It is written for us and we can see how the pieces that seem disjointed all fit together and reveal the Hand of God and His unseen presence among His people, during one of the lowest times in the history of the nation of Israel. The major players are Mordechai, his niece Hadassah (whose name in exile was changed to Esther), King Ahashverush, who ruled over 127 provinces from India to Ethiopia and Haman, to whom the king gave exceedingly great authority. The king commanded that all of his servants, who were at the king’s gate, were to bow down and pay homage to Haman. But, Mordechai did neither.
From a political perspective, we see a “situation developing”. One man, who was at the king’s gate (i.e., was part of those who were close to the seat of power and who were able to come in and go out of the court without a special permit), defied the command of the king and would not bow down. It is recorded for us that Mordechai was living in the citadel of Susa. He was a descendant of Kish, who was a Benjamite and part of the upper class families who were taken captive and exiled along with King Jeconiah of Judah. (Esther 1:5-6) Another famous descendant of Kish was Saul, Israel’s first king, who disobeyed the Lord’s instructions given through Samuel the prophet, to strike and totally destroy Amalek. King Saul defeated the Amalekites, but allowed their king, Agag, to live – an act of disobedience that resulted in the Lord rejecting Saul from being king. Ultimately, the prophet Samuel killed Agag.
But, Haman is said to be “the son of Hammedatha the Agagite”. So, the consequences of Saul’s disobedience had future consequences for the nation of Israel. The descendants of Agag came to distant lands and some of them, like Haman, ended up in the service of the king of Persia. And so, once again, a descendant of Kish meets up with a powerful Amalekite.
However, not only is Mordechai a descendant of Kish, he is also a Benjamite. Benjamin was the last son of Jacob. He was born after Jacob’s name was changed to Israel, after Jacob crossed the Jabbok and after he and all of his household bowed down before Esau. (Gen. 32-33, 35:16-18) Therefore, Benjamin, who was the only son of Jacob who was born in the land of Israel, did not bow down before Esau. And, his descendant, Mordechai, stood his ground, as well, and did not bow down before Haman. When questioned by the king’s servants why he refused to bow, his answer was that “he was a Jew”. (Esther 3:5) The refusal of Mordechai to bow down before Haman “filled him with rage”. When he was told “who the people of Mordechai were … Haman sought to destroy all the Jews, the people of Mordechai, who were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahashverush (Ahasuerus)”. (Esther 3:5-6) Lots (Purim) were cast to determine the day that this would take place.
Haman’s understanding went beyond the simple fact that there are a people under the king’s rule who have a different religion. The issue was not the existence of a different religious belief, which could be tolerated, but rather, the Jewish people, whose existence would not be tolerated by the descendant of Agag, the Amalekite. After all, only Mordechai refused to bow down, but the entire nation would suffer the consequences of his act of defiance.
The rest of the story continues, with Haman convincing the king to issue an edict that the Jewish people be destroyed. Haman was even willing to pay money into the king’s treasury if the king would agree to his request. Mordechai publicly demonstrated against the king’s edict and enlisted his niece, Hadassah (i.e., Esther, after whom the Scroll is named) to appeal to the king. Esther had been chosen to replace the deposed Queen Vashti, when the latter refused to appear before the king and his drunken friends, who had been partying for seven days. Esther explained to Mordechai that her life would be endangered if she came into the presence of the king without being summoned. Mordechai wisely explained the situation in a clear and unequivocal manner: “Do not imagine that you in the king’s palace can escape any more than all the Jews. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13-14) Things don’t get much clearer than that. Esther understood the gravity of the situation and that it was not her life only that was at risk, but those of the Jewish people who were under the rule and reign and authority of the king – her husband.
She requested that all of the Jews in Susa fast (and impliedly, pray) for her and not eat or drink for three days. She and her maidens would do the same and afterwards, she would go to the king, contrary to law, and, as she said: “If I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16) And she and they did so and on the third day, the fate of Esther and the Jewish people was decided. The sentence of death had already been passed. Now, would the sentence of death be carried out, or will there be life? The golden scepter was extended to her and with it, life for her and eventually, life for the Jewish people. She chose the manner of presenting her petition to the king and the timing of it. In the meantime, the king had a bout with insomnia and had the chronicles of the kingdom read to him. It was then that he learned that Mordechai discovered and informed about a plot to kill the king, who now decided to publicly honor and reward him by dressing him in royal garments and having him paraded through the city square on a horse, on which the king had ridden. Haman was appointed to do this for Mordechai and to proclaim before all the people “Thus it shall be done to the man whom the king desire to honor.” (Esther 6:10-11) This further enraged Haman.
When Esther revealed to the king what Haman had done, the king issued another edict that allowed the Jews to defend themselves, inasmuch as by law, he could not cancel his own decree. Haman was the recipient of the king’s wrath, as he and his ten sons were hanged on the gallows and what had been meant for evil was turned around for good. (Esther chpt. 9) Mordechai recorded the events and sent letters to all the Jews in all the provinces under the authority and rule of King Ahasverush (Ahasuerus), obliging them to annually celebrate the 14th and 15th days of the Hebrew month of Adar, “because on those days the Jews rid themselves of their enemies and it was a month which was turned for them from sorrow into gladness and from mourning into a holiday … for Haman the son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the adversary of all the Jews, had schemed against the Jews to destroy them and had cast Pur, that is the lot, to disturb them and destroy them…Therefore they called these days Purim after the name Pur…So these days were to be remembered and celebrated throughout every generation, every family, every province and every city; and these days of Purim were not to fail from among the Jews, or their memory fade from their descendants…The command of Esther established these customs for Purim and it was written in the book.” (Esther 9:20-32)
At the end of the story, Mordehai was exalted to a position of power and authority, second only to the king himself. He was “great among the Jews and in favor with his many kinsmen, one who sought the good of his people and one who spoke for the welfare of his whole nation.” (Esther 10:3)
There is much that this story reveals and many aspects of it have significant, and indeed, eternal ramifications and applications for those within the Messianic community, as well as for the whole world. We see how the Hand of God was moving behind the scene, using the drunken feast of the king to embarrass the then queen, who was removed because of her disobedience to the command of the king (by the way, there was significant reason for that refusal); the choosing of Esther to replace her; the positioning of Mordechai as one who was at the king’s gate and his overhearing the plot to kill the king; his being of the descendants of the tribe of Benjamin; his refusal to bow before Haman the Agagite; the unsuccessful attempt to destroy the Jewish people and Mordechai’s being exalted with power and authority, second only to the king himself.
Our God reigns! “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.” (Prov. 16:33) What the enemy of our souls meant for bad, God used for good.
Israel sorely needs men like Mordechai today. He was the godly remnant amongst a people who believed that God had forsaken them. He represented the hope of a national restoration, when there had not yet been any experience with exile. Living outside the land, away from the Temple service, away from the place where God commanded the blessing, was all that the people knew. Yet, one man stood in the gap. He said “no”. He would not bow down to man and certainly not to a descent of those who sought to destroy the Jewish people. He was from the “old school” that believed and still believes that God and God alone is to be worshipped. Before Him, every knee will bow and every tongue shall swear allegiance (Isaiah 45:23; Romans 14:11). Indeed, one day, at the very “name of Yeshua, every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue will acknowledge that Messiah Yeshua is Lord” (Philippians 2:10-11)
We see and experience that once again, the nations conspire together against God and against His people, saying, “Come, and let us wipe them out as a nation that the name of Israel be remembered no more” (Psalm 83:4). The Mullahs of Iran (the princes of Persia) again threaten to destroy the nation and the people which God has raised up to be a blessing throughout this earth (Gen. 12:1-3). We need to pray that God would raise up His Mordechais, those who are not willing to bow before the Obamas, the Kerrys, the Rouhanis and the Abbases of this world, as well as the leaders of the United Nations and European Union. We need people to proclaim who they are and, by extension, who we are as we face the plans and pursuits of nations to divide this land and scatter God’s people. God doesn’t change. He remains the same yesterday, today and forever! A little faith can move mountains. “When a man’s ways are pleasing to the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” (Proverbs 16:7)
Who knows whether we are alive for just such a time as this! The Hamans are many, but the Mordechais are few. © Marvin S. Kramer
And THAT was The Week That Was.
For I have heard the whispering of many, “Terror is on every side!” While they took counsel together against me, they schemed to take away my life … O love the LORD, all you His godly ones! The LORD preserves the faithful and fully recompenses the proud doer. Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who hope in the LORD. (Psalm 31:13, 23-24)
Bless, Be Blessed and Be a Blessing.