JERUSALEM, ISRAEL – Almost every Jewish holiday can be summarized by a single phrase.
“They tried to kill us, God protected us, let’s eat!”
This week – beginning Tuesday evening – the Jewish people here in Israel and around the world are celebrating the holiday of Purim.
It’s yet another time to use this funny but painfully true line.
Why? Because Purim is a holiday commemorating the biblical history – famously recalled in the biblical Book of Esther – in which an evil Iranian tyrant declared he was going to “annihilate” the entire Jewish race.
Yet God dramatically intervened to protect the Jewish people from genocide and then encouraged His chosen people to celebrate His kindness and protection.
That’s why every year, Jewish families here in Israel and around the world read through the entire Book of Esther as a family.
And in their synagogues.
To remember the precise details of the story.
And to thank God for His grace and mercy.
Though it may not be your tradition, I encourage you and your family to read the entire biblical account, as well.
After all, the leaders of Iran are once again actively planning to wipe Israel and the Jewish people off the face of the earth.
As we’ve reported on ALL ISRAEL NEWS in recent weeks, the Iranian regime has moved to enrich uranium to 84%, dangerously close to the 90% purity needed to build fully operational nuclear warheads.
Last November, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides told me on THE ROSENBERG REPORT that Iran is “very close to breakout” – that is, to making the decision to actually build atomic bombs that they could use against Israel, the U.S. and our Arab allies.
And consider the statements of Iranian leaders over the years.
Their intent could not be clearer.
“It is the mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to erase Israel from the map of the region.” —Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in January 2001
“One bomb is enough to destroy Israel. . . . In due time the Islamic world will have a military nuclear device.” —Iranian President Rafsanjani in December 2001
“Israel must be wiped off the map.” —Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on October 26, 2005
“Like it or not, the Zionist regime is heading toward annihilation. . . . The Zionist regime is a rotten, dried tree that will be eliminated by one storm . . . [because] its existence has harmed the dignity of Islamic nations.” —Ahmadinejad on April 14, 2006
These are just a few.
The full list goes on and on and on.
Back in 2011, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did an interview with Piers Morgan on CNN that is still worth noting.
He spoke directly of the emerging Iranian nuclear threat to Israel and the world.
And he called on the world – and particularly the U.S. – to take the lead in stopping Iran from getting The Bomb.
But then he added: “We always reserve the right to defend ourselves. That's been one of the tragedies of Jewish history, that the Jewish people were thrust into a state of defenselessness. We were attacked again and again and again with viciousness and never had the capacity to defend ourselves."
Netanyahu refused to acknowledge whether Israel herself possesses nuclear weapons.
But he did say: “We don't pose a threat to anyone. We don't call for anyone's annihilation. We don't foster terrorism. We don't threaten to obliterate countries with nuclear weapons. But we are threatened with all these threats. We have not fired thousands of rockets into our neighbors.”
It was an important interview, and I commend it to your attention. You can watch the video here.
To underscore that the Jewish people are facing annihilation again at the hands of a wicked Persian government, and we urgently need America’s help.
More than a decade has passed.
Yet today, the Iranian nuclear threat is far more urgent because the terror masters of Tehran are far closer to being able to destroy Israel – and Washington has done far too little to prevent Tehran from achieving its murderous ambitions.
That’s why it makes sense to read through every chapter of the Book of Esther, because it not only tells the story of great evil being planned by a Persian dictator but the story of two heroic believers – Mordechai and Esther – who prayed and fasted and encouraged others to do the same for the salvation of the Jewish nation.
In response to those faithful prayers, the Lord intervened in a dramatic and powerful way.
The evil president or prime minister of Iran (Haman) was removed from power and hanged.
The heart of the Supreme Leader of Iran (King Ahasuerus, also known as King Xerxes) was miraculously changed.
The Jews did have to fight.
But because of the Lord's supernatural intervention in the affairs of men, the Jewish people were saved from destruction.
What’s more, the biblical text makes clear that scores of Iranians were converted and became true followers of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
If you're a pastor or Bible teacher, would you consider preaching and teaching on the Book of Esther during your midweek service, or this coming Sunday?
If you're a father or mother, would you consider taking some time – ideally Tuesday evening, but any time this week – to take your children through the Book of Esther and help them understand God's love for the Jewish people and His heart for saving them when they prayed and fasted and pleaded for His help?
If you're a home fellowship group leader or a small group Bible leader, would you take time during this week's meeting to help followers of Jesus Christ remember how the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob saved the Jewish people from Iran once in history, and how He will do so again if His people will pray and fast as never before?
As believers, now is the time for us to rededicate ourselves to prayer and fasting for the Jewish people, the nation of Israel, and the Persian people, as well, that the Lord would bless them and rescue them and save them in His mercy.
As Mordecai told Queen Esther, “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?”
The Lord is going to rescue His people.
Who knows if He has put you in a certain place at a certain time of history to be His agent of redemption?
Joel C. Rosenberg is the editor-in-chief of ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and the President and CEO of Near East Media. A New York Times best-selling author, Middle East analyst, and Evangelical leader, he lives in Jerusalem with his wife and sons.