Tag Archive | Esther

The “Official” Snarky Guide To The Differences Between Christmas and Hannukah – Jeff Dunetz

bfb161220-hanukkah-harryIt is that time of year that Christians celebrate Christmas and Jews celebrate Hannukah, and all of us Messianic and Hebrew Roots folks are somewhere in the middle.

Actually, we’re not really in the middle.  Most of us have opted out of Christmas and opted into Hannukah.  Not because we have rejected Messiah Yeshua (Jesus Christ), mind you.  We understand that His birth happened in the fall, most likely at the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah in modern Jewish practice) rather than in December.  We also understand that all the Feasts of the Lord presented in Leviticus 23 are connected to Messiah’s redemptive and restorative work for the nation of Israel and all the world. 

The fact is, we celebrate Passover (Pesach), Unleavened Bread (Matzot), Firstfruits (Yom Habikkurim), Pentecost (Shavuot), Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah), Atonement (Yom Kippur), and Tabernacles (Sukkot) because God established them and called on His people to observe them “as a statute forever”.  That’s different from Christmas, which is a human tradition rather than a Divine decree.  Christmas is a Christianization of the old festivals our ancestors celebrated in honor of other gods before they learned about the One True God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  We have learned that our Messiah is Jewish, which is why we prefer to follow His example rather than the traditions which overshadowed and obscured His Jewishness and the Hebraic origins of our faith.

One might argue that Hannukah is a tradition as well.  Indeed it is, but it is rooted firmly in history as a tale of our God’s salvation of His people in a time of great distress.  Why is it not in the Bible?  Well, it is, in some canons.  The Catholic Bible still has 1st and 2nd Maccabees, the books that tell the Hannukah story.  There is also a mention of it in the New Testament:  John 10:22 tells us that Yeshua was in the Temple during the Feast of Dedication, which is another name for Hannukah.  The point is, the origin of Hannukah is no less real and no less miraculous than the origin of Purim as recorded in the book of Esther.  Our Jewish brethren established both feasts to commemorate the provision of the Almighty and His faithfulness to His covenant.  Is there a better reason to celebrate?

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A Yom Kippur Repentance From a Devout Non-Jew and My Jewish Response – Israel News

The Reconciliation Statute, St. Michael's Cathedral, Coventry, England.

The Reconciliation Statute, St. Michael’s Cathedral, Coventry, England.

Many people realized the significance of Ken Rank’s letter to the Jewish people when he published it last week.  We have only begun to see the impact of it.  Within a few short days it appeared as a guest blog piece in The Times of Israel, and today Breaking Israel News published it along with a deeply moving response by Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz.

In years to come, when our God has completed His work of bringing together the fragmented parts of His people, these two letters by Ken and Eliyahu will be counted as major milestones in the process of breaking down the wall between those of us from the Christian side and our brethren from the Jewish side.

Source: A Yom Kippur Repentance From a Devout Non-Jew and My Jewish Response – Israel News


A Yom Kippur Repentance From a Devout Non-Jews and My Jewish Response

Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz
October 11, 2016 
Originally published on Breaking Israel News

I received this letter from Ken Rank last week.  Rank founded United 2 Restore in order to bring Jews and Christians, or as he prefers to describe it, Judah and Ephraim closer together, in order to “re-build bridges of communication which have been previously burned”.  He sent me this letter as part of his personal teshuvah (repentance) for Yom Kippur.  My response to him was sincere, and I intend for it to be a part of my Yom Kippur prayers.

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What to Do When the World Blows Up: A Review of “Know the Time, Change Your World”, by Barry L. Miller

BFB150826 Know the TimeIt seems that everyone is expecting the world to change for the worse in September 2015.  That, at least, is a prevailing topic of conversation here in the United States.  I have been part of such discussions many times over the last few months, and regardless how the discussion begins, it invariably comes down to the question, “What do we do now?”

The people of YHVH should be paying attention to the signs of the times.  We are indeed on the brink of major changes to the world system, and these changes likely will involve a combination of economic, military, political, and civil unrest, with a few major natural disasters thrown in for good measure.  It is, after all, the end of the Shemitah, the seventh, or sabbatical, year in the seven-year cycle the Lord explained to Moses (Exodus 23:10-12; Leviticus 25:1-7; Deuteronomy 15:1-6, 31:9-13).  It is also the time of the fourth Blood Moon of the tetrad we have seen at Passover and Tabernacles over these last two years.  What, if anything, are we to do about all of this?

Happily, there is someone who has undertaken the task of answering that question in a rational, systematic fashion using principles derived straight from the Bible.  We can thank people like Rabbi Jonathan Cahn and Pastor Mark Biltz for bringing the Shemitah cycle to the attention of the world.  Now we can thank Barry L. Miller for helping us understand how to live within that cycle.  That is the message of his book Know the Time, Change Your World:  The Reappearance of the Seven- and Fifty-Year Biblical Cycles.

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Fox Byte 5775 #17: Yitro (Jethro)

יִתְרוֹ

In a tremendous breach of protocol, Queen Esther (Tiffany Dupont) approaches the throne of King Xerxes (Lou Goss).  From the 2006 film One Night with the King (photo:  Box Office Mojo).

The climactic scene of One Night with the King.  In a tremendous breach of protocol, Queen Esther (Tiffany Dupont) approaches the throne of King Xerxes (Lou Goss).  (Photo: Box Office Mojo).

Just because a person enjoys the favor of the king does not mean they can do as they please.  This is not some antiquated concept that no longer applies to modern days.  A king may have the power to take a life, but a president, a general, an employer, or even a parent has the power to revoke privileges, inflict punishment, cut off access, and otherwise make life miserable for someone who gets on their bad side.  Whether the setting is before a throne, in an office, or around a kitchen table, those who disregard the authority figure’s protocol will suffer the consequences.

A timeless example of this principle is in the ancient story of Esther, the Jewish exile who became queen of the mighty Xerxes I (Ahasuerus) of Persia.  When advised of a plot by the king’s Grand Vizier, Haman, to annihilate her people, Esther takes it upon herself to intervene.  Protocol dictates that she cannot come into the king’s presence unless he summons her, yet the situation is urgent and Esther has little choice but to enter the throne room unbidden.  She does so, willing to trade her own life for the lives of the Jewish nation.  Her trust is ultimately in her God, but she goes also in the knowledge that she has the favor of King Xerxes and knows him intimately.  He should understand that she would not break protocol unless she had very good reason.  Perhaps the most stunning portrayal of this story is in the 2006 movie, One Night with the King, starring Tiffany Dupont as Esther and Lou Goss as Xerxes.  In the great climactic scene in the throne room, Esther humbly yet purposefully approaches the king, undeterred by the calls for her death.  She stands at last in front of the throne, raising pleading eyes to the king, and awaits his decision to take her head in payment for her breach of protocol, or extend to her his scepter as a token of forgiveness and continued favor.

We know the rest of the story:  the king extends his scepter and grants Esther’s petition to attend a series of banquets at which she calls on him for salvation from Haman’s wicked plot.  By the king’s command, Haman receives his just reward and Esther and her uncle Mordecai proceed with actions in the king’s name to preempt the genocide.  What we do not often realize, and what Esther and Xerxes themselves probably did not know, is that they were acting on principles that God Himself had established from the beginning, and which He had communicated to His people at Mount Sinai.

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Fox Byte 5775 #4: VaYera (And He Appeared)

וַיֵּרָא

During Operation Desert Storm, the 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized) executed the famous "Left Hook" around the Iraqi army positions defending that nation's border with Saudi Arabia.  (Peter G. Varisano, On Guard at Sunset, U.S. Army Center of Military History.)

During Operation Desert Storm, the 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized) executed the famous “Left Hook” around the Iraqi army positions defending that nation’s border with Saudi Arabia. (Peter G. Varisano, Victory Division Soldier On Guard at Sunset, U.S. Army Center of Military History.)

On a certain winter’s day early in my Army career a distinguished visitor stopped by our office.  This gentleman was Chief of Staff of 24th Infantry Division, the third highest ranking officer of the division and our senior supervisor.  His rank of colonel, his position as Chief of Staff, and his 30 years of service as a warrior of the United States conferred on him a high degree of honor and respect.  The occasion of his appearance in our office was his farewell visit to the staff.  Not only would he be leaving us, he would be retiring from the Army.  As usual with such events, we had received word ahead of time that the Chief would be in the area.  When he arrived we jumped to our feet, stood at attention, and waited patiently as he made his way around the room, shaking hands and speaking to every person.  Whether we had known the man long or not, all of us understood the protocol required to honor a person of his rank and position.

Except for one soldier.  For some reason it never occurred to her to stand up and come out from behind her desk when the colonel approached her.  She sat there and allowed him to reach over the desk to shake her hand, and then returned to her work when he walked away.  In all fairness, she was very young – not more than 19, and accustomed to the easy standards of her rural upbringing that regarded all people as social equals.  The rigid rank structure of the Army, with its pomp and circumstance, was yet foreign to her.  Nevertheless, her carefree demeanor and lack of respect for the colonel horrified me as the officer responsible for her conduct, and my warrant officer, the man who supervised our younger soldiers.  We knew that the fault lay not with this ignorant young soldier, but with us who should have taught her better.

The people of God should also be taught better about our attitudes toward the Creator Who breathed life into us.

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When Empires Die: Thoughts on the Centennial of World War I

When Empires Die was originally published June 28-July 28, 2014, as a six-part series.  The original six part format is accessible here.

I.  THE ROAD TO SARAJEVO

Archduke Franz Ferdinand and Duchess Sophie with their three children in 1910

Archduke Franz Ferdinand and Duchess Sophie with their three children in 1910

The world took a giant step toward death on June 28, 1914.  On that day a young atheist shot and killed a prominent Catholic and his wife in an obscure Southeast European city.  Within five years, four world empires were dismembered and two new ones arose in their place.  Within 40 years, three more global empires breathed their last as the new world system spawned in 1914 grew to maturity.  Today, one hundred years later, that world system wheezes with its own death rattle, soon to expire in the process of giving birth to yet another global system which may be the last – and worst – of its kind.

As a historian, a political scientist, a soldier, and an intelligence professional, I cannot let the centennial of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s assassination pass without pausing to remember what his life and death meant to the world.  The circumstances that brought the Archduke and his wife, the Duchess Sophie, to Sarajevo, Bosnia, are not difficult to explain, but to understand the significance of their deaths, both in their day and in ours, requires a detailed explanation.  If that explanation seems too focused on Europe, the simple reason is that Europe in 1914 ruled the entire world.  No nation outside Europe – neither ancient India, nor populous China, nor even the rising powers of America and Japan – was immune to events that shook the state system of the Continent.  If we are to know why the world went to war in 1914, we must look at the major players of that state system.  Only then can we begin to discern what happened to the world in the summer of 1914, and what is happening to the world now in the summer of 2014.

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When Empires Die: Thoughts on the Centennial of World War I, Part VI

TO SURVIVE THE COMING NIGHT

"Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" Viktor M. Vasnetsov

Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
Viktor M. Vasnetsov

Is the Apocalypse Nigh?

If this truly is the beginning of the end of this age, then we should expect wars and rumors of war to increase until the entire globe is consumed, just as it was in the Great War of 1914-1918, and again in the Second World War of 1939-1945.  Depending on one’s perspective, the Tribulation either begins with or is immediately preceded by this period of escalating war.  This is the time of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the rider of a White Horse going out to conquer, the rider on the Red Horse who takes peace from the earth, the rider on the Black Horse bringing famine, and the Pale Horse bearing Death and Hades.  In short order these Horsemen bring an end to the lives of one fourth of the population of the planet.  The Horsemen are followed by the revelation of multitudes of martyrs slain for their adherence to the Word of God who ask how long before the Lord will judge the world and avenge their blood.  They are told to wait until the number of martyrs yet to die is complete.  Then comes a great earthquake and many signs in the heavens, followed by the selection of the special servants of God (12,000 from each tribe of Israel, 144,000 total) and the deliverance of multitudes from the Great Tribulation.  After that comes silence in heaven for a short time, and then the judgment of God begins in earnest.

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When Empires Die: Thoughts on the Centennial of World War I, Part V

THE LAST SUMMER OF THE WORLD

"Interview Between Jesus and Nicodemus" James Tissot Brooklyn Museum

Interview Between Jesus and Nicodemus
James Tissot
Brooklyn Museum

A Matter of Life and Death

In truth God has placed the choice of life or death in front of every person from the beginning of time.  Consider what He said to our ancestors.  In the Garden of Eden there was the stark choice between the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which brought death (Genesis 2:8-16).  When the Lord spoke through Moses to explain His standards of righteousness to our fathers and mothers on the edge of the Promised Land, He said,

I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.  (Deuteronomy 30:19-20 NKJV, emphasis added)

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Why Amalek Matters

"The Victory of Joshua over the Amalekites" Nicolas Poussin

“The Victory of Joshua over the Amalekites”
Nicolas Poussin

A Jewish friend once told me that in some Jewish circles the way to celebrate Purim is to drink so much at the party that it becomes difficult to distinguish Esther from Haman.  I have not been to such a Purim party, but I do understand (thanks to certain indiscretions in my misspent youth) what it means to forget what happened at a party.  It seems to me that God wanted His people to observe the events of Purim, but probably not in that particular way.

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Assorted Antichrists

BFB140217 Types of AntichristIt is a peculiar thing that the book of Esther does not mention God, particularly since the hand of God is evident throughout the story.  In brief, the story is that Haman, the Grand Vizier of Persia in the reign of King Xerxes, became consumed with hatred at the Jews because Esther’s kinsman Mordechai refused to bow down to him.  Haman determined to gain revenge not only against Mordechai, but against all the Jews.  His plan was to manipulate the king into issuing a decree that on the thirteenth day of the month of Adar all the enemies of the Jews throughout the Persian Empire could rise up and kill them.  God’s plan of salvation was already in motion for He had brought Esther in to the palace as Xerxes’ new queen.  He worked through Esther to reveal Haman’s plot to the king.  At the king’s order, Haman and his sons were executed, and Mordechai and Esther had authority to issue another decree in the king’s name for the Jews to rise up against their enemies on the very day that they were to have been slaughtered.  Since that time, Jews have celebrated the feast of Purim every year on the fourteenth day of Adar. Please click here to continue reading

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