Inside Israel – Esther Fast / Purim 2011

Hi and welcome to Inside Israel! J of Jerusalem is back with us today after having pneumonia. So thankful she is doing better and has blessed us with a letter and look at Purim this year. Now, here’s J . . .

Tonight begins the ‘fast of Esther’ (ta’onit Esther’) which precedes Purim (Sat night through Sun night for the entire country, and Sun night through Mon night for Jerusalem – the ‘walled’ city).

Esther is a book that the founding fathers of the Church chose to include in the full Bible, and well so. It is so rich in understanding of the ongoing battle between good and evil and how that battle is fought by godly people; it is an important book for anyone who takes the Kingdom of God seriously, so it is beloved by the body.

For the Jews, it is a history book as well…and more, as the same battle continues today; therefore the book – and the season – is taken very seriously by those who are God fearing.

Twice this week, the same thing, the same words, was reported in the media: “Now the world will SURELY see and understand what Israel is up against!”; such a naive, hopeful cry! The first time was with the slaying of the parents and children in Samaria. The second was yesterday when Israel intercepted the ship Victoria, laden with weapons destined for Gaza via Egypt. The ship (in case you didn’t hear) originated in Syria and re-docked in Turkey. (so THAT is what was on the ‘benign’ Iranian ship that crossed through the Suez Canal last month on a ‘peace mission’ to Syria! Huh! Who would have guessed…!) Our navy intercepted it 200 miles out from our coast. In the first incident, Israeli response is always to build new homes where terrorist murders took place. 400 new housing unit tendors were given for Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria (where they have, in fact, been frozen, for nearly 2 years). The condemnation and consternation was quick in coming (against the 400 new apartments, that is!). The first international response I heard last night, concerning the intercepted ship was that we were ‘again’ engaging in ‘piracy’.

And so we approach the fast that is to remind us of Esther standing in the gap for the nation, while it was yet in exile. I think of her preparations, and then her approaching the king…and him holding out his scepter to her. She was prepared!

This morning I was reading John 11 with the account of Mary and Martha’s interaction with Jesus when He raised Lazarus. I read (11:35,36)“Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said ‘Take away the stone.’” Along side of that verse I had written at some point “Ezek 36:26”. Since I was reading, lifting up the scriptures to Him… I turned there to see where He had lead me sometime past and I read “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”

Jesus said…”Take away the stone…!” I began to pray for the taking away of the stones…first in my own heart…and then in the hearts of the people and the land. I remembered Campbell McAlpine, a great teacher, a true man of God, teaching that all sin is hidden in a deep pit, a cave, in the dark…and we fear ‘taking away the stone’, for ‘Lord! It stinketh!’ and surely it does! But when the Light of Life shines in and floods the darkness, the miracle is worked and the stink is GONE and new life comes forth, resurrected life, sometimes ‘wrapped in grave clothes’ for those around to remove, but LIFE none the less.

I was so encouraged, being exhausted from ongoing battles, to look back at the moment where He came to MY grave and split heaven and earth to roll away the stone… to call me forth… to breath new Life into me… and I remember that HE HASN’T STOPPED OR QUIT! With THAT knowledge I can walk on.

I leave now for our daughter’s house (it is my day off). She is NOT doing well after this newest Baby and I do ask for prayer. Our new Grandson cries if he is put down and so she has been sitting and holding him all day. Being in a new area, she has had no ‘adult fellowship’ and they have not gotten into a new fellowship yet, so I am going to take care of the children today and give her a day ‘out’.

You probably remember that Purim is a day (2 days) in Israel where people dress up in costume. In the past I have described all of the traditions and practices that take place here (I can send that to any of you who ask). I, myself, have never cared for costumes, but in the past children mostly dressed as Queen Esther, Mordachai, or other Biblical characters. Over the years it has given way to more worldly costumes. This year there has been commentary concerning the amount of gory and ‘pop’ costumes that are popular, and that disturbs me. I am thankful that most people DO read the book of Esther at least once during Purim and I am praying that it speaks deeply to hearts.

Thank you for remembering this people and nation in your prayers, according to The Word. Thank you for remembering our family, even as the disaster in Japan and revolutions demand our hearts cry. Thank you for your faithfulness.

I will close here as I must run to get the bus. God bless you all! Lovingly, your sis

ani b’derek

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