Purim: Being Saved From Our Enemies

The Book of Esther is an all but forgotten book in most Christian circles-but every year, at Purim, the story is read and celebrated in synagogues. Celebrations include reading a Megillah- a small scroll that contains a book of the Bible. As the book of Esther is read, the people make loud noises as the good and bad characters in the story are mentioned. They applaud the name of Mordecai and boo Haman. Children dress in costumes like the characters, presents are given, and much food and drink is consumed.

Purim is not listed with Israel’s feasts in Leviticus 23. Nonetheless, it is based on the Biblical story of Queen Esther and tells of the demise of a wicked man named Haman. Purim is a time for the Father’s people to rejoice in His ability to save them from their enemies.

The enemy in this story is Haman, a descendant of Amalek. King Saul was supposed to kill all of the Amalekites when he conquered them, but he spared their king, Agag. This refusal to totally annihilate the Amalekites cost Saul his kingdom. YHVH had devoted them to destruction and not one of them was to be spared. These attackers of Israel were such a serious threat that Gideon wanted reassurance from the Almighty before he would engage them in battle. King David, too, later had to fight with them (Leviticus 27:28-29; Numbers 14:25,43,45; Judges 6:3,33; 7:12; 1 Samuel 13:13-14; 15:18-24; 27:8; 30:1,18; 2 Samuel 1:1). When King Saul had met them in battle, he did not kill off their king, and they consequently continued to plague Israel. By the time of Queen Esther, one of their heirs, Haman, had become an official in the court of King Ahasuerus in ancient Persia.

The story of Esther tells of Queen Vashti, who refused to go to a banquet hosted by King Ahasuerus (or Xerxes). She was consequently banished, and Ahasuerus began to search for a new queen. Among the contestants was young Esther, a beautiful orphaned Hebrew girl from the tribe of Judah. Mordecai was her uncle, and he had taken Esther under his wing.

It is interesting to note that, when Esther first came to the king’s court to be prepared to meet the king, she was placed under the care of Hegai, who was the king’s eunuch, meaning, his valet, his “helper,” if you will. And, when Esther’s turn came to be examined by King Ahasuerus, she asked to be arrayed only in what Hegai, the king’s eunuch/helper suggested for her. So it was that Esther won the favor of everyone who saw her (Esther 2:15).

The king’s helper knew what the king liked. Esther wisely listened to his counsel and thus won the king’s heart. Similarly, the Holy Spirit is the “Helper” of our King, Messiah Yeshua (John 16:7). And, we would do well to similarly ask His Helper to clothe us in the way that He knows is best for us. Then, our appearance will be pleasing in the eyes of our King.

Returning to our story, we see that Haman was a powerful man who liked the praise of men, and to have them bow before him. But, Mordecai, the Jew, who daily sat by the king’s gate, refused to bow before Haman.

Angered by Mordecai’s refusal to submit to his ways, Haman plotted to have King Ahasuerus authorize a royal decree calling for the death of an unspecified nation-one that Haman claimed was not being “loyal” to the king. Haman then casts lots, or dice, to determine the day for this planned annihilation. The Hebrew word for lots is “pur,” and the name Purim comes from this casting.

Thus a day was set to annihilate the Jewish people. Hearing of this evil plan, both Mordecai and Esther asked their fellow Jews to join them in fasting and prayer. Esther then took her life in her hands, by appearing unannounced before her king. Her plan was to reveal Haman’s hidden plot to destroy her people. To accomplish this, she invited both the king and Haman to join her for a special dinner.

After the dinner, the king was so pleased with Esther that he offered her up to half of his kingdom. Had Esther not been a spiritual woman, her head might have been turned with such an earthly temptation, but Esther wanted something greater than earthly possessions. She wanted to save her people. So, she simply asked that the King and Haman might return for dinner the next day.

That night, Haman ordered workers to build a gallows on which he planned to have Mordecai hung the next day. But, unbeknownst to Haman, King Ahasuerus was not able to sleep that night, so he had his servants read to him from the chronicles of his reign. Thus, he was reminded of a story about Mordecai-who had discovered and exposed an assassination plot against the king. Mordecai had saved the king’s life and Ahasuerus wondered if he had ever been properly rewarded for his loyalty.

In the morning, Haman appeared before the king, his heart full of a murderous plot. But, before he could say anything, Ahasuerus asked Haman how he thought someone who had saved the kings life should be rewarded. Vainly thinking the king was speaking of him, Haman suggested that the person should be wrapped in one of the king’s royal robes, placed on one of his horses, have a royal crest placed on its head, and be led about the kingdom by one of the king’s most noble princes.

“Excellent,” said the king. “Go at once and do this for Mordecai the Jew who sits at the king’s gate.”

So it is that Haman had to acknowledge Mordecai and the fact that he was greatly esteemed by the king of the realm.

That twist of fate alone should have been enough to stop Haman. He was even warned by his family to stop, but Haman had murder in his heart. He would not be satisfied with anything less than the total annihilation of anyone who would not bow before his boastful spirit.

That night, the king and Haman went to dine with Queen Esther, and once again, the king asked her, “What is your petition? It will be given you. What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be granted.”

Esther answered, “If I have found favor with you, O king, and if it pleases your majesty, grant me my life-this is my petition. And spare my people-this is my request. For I and my people have been sold for destruction and slaughter and annihilation. If we had merely been sold as male and female slaves, I would have kept quiet, because no such distress would justify disturbing the king.”

The king then asked, “Who is he? Where is the man who has dared to do such a thing?”

Esther answered, “The adversary and enemy is this vile Haman.”

Haman was terrified. The king, being in a rage, strode out into the palace garden, and Haman then began to beg Queen Esther for his life. Then, as the king was returning to the banquet hall, Haman was falling on the couch where Esther was reclining. This caused the king to exclaim, “Will he even molest the queen while she is with me in the house?”

Due to this “death-worthy” act, one of the kings attendants said, “A gallows seventy-five feet high stands by Haman’s house. He had it made for Mordecai, who spoke up to help the king.”

The king replied, “Hang him on it!” So they hanged Haman on the gallows he had so gleefully prepared for Mordecai.

Haman was hanged on the exact gallows that he had built for Mordecai. Furthermore, that same day, the king gave to Esther, Haman’s estate. And, she told the king how she was related to Mordecai. With this news, the king took off his signet ring, which he had reclaimed from Haman, and he presented it to Mordecai. And, Esther then appointed Mordecai as the ruler over Haman’s estate.

Next, Esther pleaded with the king to put an end to Haman’s evil plan to destroy the Jews in all of the king’s provinces. So, he told her to “write another decree in the king’s name in behalf of the Jews as seems best to you, and seal it with the king’s signet ring-for no document written in the king’s name and sealed with his ring can be revoked.” A decree was thus written in the king’s name that granted to the Jews the right to annihilate any armed force that might attack them and their women and children; and to plunder the property of their enemies.

The day appointed for the Jews to do this was the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar.

That day, Mordecai left the king’s presence wearing royal garments of blue and white, a large crown of gold and a purple robe of fine linen. And, the king’s city of Susa held a joyous celebration. For the Jews it was a time of happiness and honor. In every province there was feasting and celebrating. And, in that day, many of the people became Jews because they feared them and their God-who was so obviously protecting them.

Thus was sorrow turned to joy, and a time of mourning into a feast day.

This is truly an awesome story of deliverance, yet, some people have little regard for the Book of Esther because the name of God is not found in its pages. While His “name” is not mentioned, we clearly see His mighty right arm of protection in action (Psalm 98:2; Isaiah 56:1). His name may not be written in the text, but signs of His salvation abound in the story.

We therefore suggest that Purim celebrations can be times for us to proclaim the good news of the salvation of our God. They can be times when we rejoice and know that our God will protect us from attacks from the enemy.

All of us have had, or perhaps are presently having, times when we need to be delivered from our enemies. But let us trust that, like Mordecai and Esther, our God can save us.

Some enemies are more evil in their intent than others. Some are like Haman, they want our destruction and will not be happy with anything less. But, our enemies do not scare our God. He can turn the tables on perverse people in the blink of an eye. He can cause the destruction once planned for others to be used against the perpetrator.

People can appear to be “Nobles in the Court,” when in reality, they have evil intent toward those who will not bow before their ignoble claims. We need to trust that they will one day be brought to justice. We need to rest in the fact that, one day they will fall, and their wickedness will be exposed.

As we celebrate Purim and tell this story about Israel’s deliverance, let us determine the following in our hearts:

When we hear the name of Haman, if we have any hatred in our hearts for others, let us “boo” it away. If we know brethren who are walking in destructive hatred, let us seek to privately counsel them to repent and be healed before it is too late.

When we hear the name of Mordecai, let us “applaud” his many good traits: taking care of orphans, refusing to bow to evil, and repenting with fasting when he hears of the evil plans of others against him.

When we hear the name of Queen Esther, let us “applaud” her many good traits. Let us acknowledge this Queen for having been more concerned with the well-being of her family than with having position or possessions. Most of all, let us applaud her for being wise enough to want the king’s helper to dress her; and, let us determine in our hearts that we, too, want our “King’s Helper” to clothe us in a way that will please our King, Messiah Yeshua. Let us determine in our hearts that we want to yield to the Almighty’s Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit).

We Wish You a Blessed Purim!
     Angus and Batya Wooten

Used by permission

 

Elders Dan and Kathy Collier

We welcome our newest addition as B’Ney Yosef North America Elders, Dan and Kathy Collier.

After moving from Nashville, Tennessee, Kathy and Dan met in Seattle, Washington in 1963 where Dan was attending the University of Washington studying a business curriculum. They were married shortly thereafter, have remained so for 56 years. They moved to Nashville to finish his business degree a year later.

They have two children, Brooks and Laurie (in eternity), 5 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren.

They became believers in 1972, and over the years, Dan has served as an elder, pastor, teacher and has led a local congregation for 10 years having interacted locally with other congregations in their area and in other states as well. They have been in the Messianic walk for over 20 years.

Dan has been very active in business initiatives locally, nationally and internationally and for 5 years represented an Israeli company in the US.

Kathy has been an interior designer in the Nashville area for over 36 years managing her own construction crew, both designing and building as needed on her jobs.

 

BYNA: 2020 Calendar Considerations

As Hebrews in exile, we are subject to at least two major calendars; i.e., methods of dividing and naming days, weeks, months, and years. Practically speaking, it is impossible to live and work in “the world” without making concessions to their standard calendar, which is the Gregorian. Although there are many culture-based calendars that are not the Gregorian, every culture on the planet recognizes and refers to the Gregorian calendar as a common standard.

The Hebrew calendar, like almost all non-Gregorian calendars, is lunisolar, meaning essentially that the changing of the months is based on phases of the moon and changes from one year to the next are based on the relative position of the Sun in relation to the Earth.

Biblical references to times and dates are generally in relation to the Hebrew calendar.

The calendar can easily become a subject of much discussion, disagreement, and controversy. Agreeing on exactly which day(s) to observe the various moedim (appointed times; i.e., times appointed by YHVH through the instructions of Torah) can be challenging, and brethren have been known to discontinue fellowship over these types of disagreements.

Our hope, desire, and intent at BYNA is to extend love, grace, and understanding toward any who might disagree so that the spirits of worship, devotion, obedience, grace, peace, and righteousness might prevail.

With that in mind, we offer the following “calendar,” not as an expression of legal exactitude, but as a guide for personal consideration, examination, and observance.

We include the biblical Feasts as well as some Jewish traditional commemorations and some Israeli civil holidays, for your information and as a reference for further study and research.

We present this in the context of the Gregorian year designated 2020, which includes the last several months of the Jewish year 5780 and the first few months of the Jewish year 5781.

In the Hebrew manner of reckoning, the day begins at sundown, so the translation to Gregorian requires a two-date span of reference.

Keeping Shabbat – Exodus 31:13-17, 35:2-3, Lev. 23:3, 26:2, Deut. 15:12-15, 28:9, Is. 58:13-14, Jer. 17:21-27

Rosh Chodesh (New Moon) – means “beginning, head, or renewal” (Num 10: 10, Num 28:11-15, Ps 81:3)

 

* Traditional Jewish Holiday/Festivals (not Biblical)

Moedim as identified in Torah

 

*Asarah B’Tevet – commemoration of Nebuchadnezzar’s siege of Jerusalem in 425 BCE.  1/7 (10 Tevet) A day of fasting for Jews.

*Tu B’Shevat – Jewish new year of the trees.  2/10 (15 Shevat)

Rosh Chodesh (New Moon) Tevet / Shevat

Sundown 1/26 to sundown 1/27

Rosh Chodesh (New Moon) Shevat / Adar

Sundown 2/25 to sundown 2/26

*Purim (Feast of Lots)

Sundown 3/9 to sundown 3/10 (14 Adar)

Rosh Chodesh (New Moon) Adar / Nisan

*Rosh Hashanah (biblical: Exodus 12:2)

Sundown 3/25 to sundown 3/26

Our understanding of how the first three commanded feasts should be observed…

Pesach (Passover) one night – (Lev 23:5, Deut. 16:1) this is when the commemorative meal should be shared among immediate family (traditional Jewish Seder is somewhat more elaborate than what scripture calls for)

Sundown 4/7 (since 14 Nisan begins at sundown 4/7)

Feast of Matzot (Unleavened Bread) SOLEMN ASSEMBLY (Ex. 12:15-20)

(aka holy convocation to commence Matzot; essentially an “extra” Shabbat)

Sundown 4/8 to sundown 4/9

Matzot (Unleavened Bread)

Sundown 4/8 to sundown 4/16

Matzot (Unleavened Bread) SOLEMN ASSEMBLY

(aka holy convocation to end Matzot: essentially an “extra” Shabbat)

Sundown 4/15 to sundown 4/16

Our understanding is that First Fruits should be observed on “the morrow” of the regular Shabbat that happens in the midst of Matzot. Shavuot should always be on a Yom Rishon; thus, counting omer from one Yom Rishon (First Fruits) to another, seven weeks later. Leviticus 23:15-16

Bikkurim (First Fruits) commence the Counting of the Omer (Deut. 16:9-12)

Sundown 4/11 to sundown 4/12

*Yom Hasho’ah (Holocaust Remembrance Day)

Sundown 4/20 to sundown 4/21 (27 Nisan)

Rosh Chodesh (New Moon) Nisan / Iyyar

Sundown 4/24 to sundown 4/25

*Yom HaZichron (Israel Memorial Day)

Sundown 4/28 to sundown 4/29 (5 Iyyar)

*Yom HaAtzma’ut (Israel Independence Day)

Sundown 4/29 to sundown 4/30

*Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day)

Sundown 5/21 to sundown 5/22

Rosh Chodesh (New Moon) Iyyar / Sivan

Sundown 5/23 to sundown 5/24

Shavu’ot (Feast of Weeks) (Lev 23:5, Deut. 16:1)

Sundown 5/30 to sundown 5/31

Rosh Chodesh (New Moon) Sivan / Tammuz

Sundown 6/22 to sundown 6/23

*Tzom Tammuz (Fast of Tammuz)

Sundown 7/8 to sundown 7/9 (17 Tammuz)

Rosh Chodesh (New Moon) Tammuz / Av

Sundown 7/21 to sundown 7/22

*Tisha B’Av (Ninth of Av)

Sundown 7/29 to sundown 7/30

*Tu B’Av (15th of Av)

Sundown 8/4 to sundown 8/5 (15 Av)

Rosh Chodesh (New Moon) Av / Elul

Sundown 8/20 to sundown 8/21

40 Days of Repentance / Teshuvah (all of Elul plus first ten days of Tishrei)

Sundown 8/20 to sundown 9/27

Yom Teruah (Feast of Trumpets) (Lev 23:23-24)

Rosh Chodesh (New Moon) Elul / Tishrei

Rosh Hashanah (Civil New Year)

Sundown 9/18 to sundown 9/19

Days of Awe 

Sundown 9/18 to sundown 9/28

Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) (10 Tishrei) – SOLEMN ASSEMBLY (Lev 23:27)

Sundown 9/27 to sundown 9/28

*Tashlikh (Micha 7:18-20, Ps 33, 118:5-9. 130)

Afternoon of 9/20

Sukkot (Feast of Booths/Tabernacles) (Lev 23:41-43, Deut 16:13-17)

Sundown 10/2 to sundown 10/9 (15 Tishrei thru 21 Tishrei)

SOLEMN ASSEMBLIES

Sundown 10/2 to sundown 10/3 – beginning of Sukkot

Sundown 10/8 to sundown 10/9 – end of Sukkot

*Shemini Atzeret (Eighth Day)

Sundown 10/9 to sundown 10/10

*Simchat Torah

Sundown 10/10 to sundown 10/11

Rosh Chodesh (New Moon) Tishrei / Cheshvan

Sundown 10/18 to sundown 10/19

*Yom HaAliyah (Israel Immigration Day)

Sundown 10/24 to sundown 10/25 (7 Cheshvan)

Rosh Chodesh (New Moon) Cheshvan / Kislev

Sundown 11/16 to sundown 11/17

*Chanukah (Feast of Dedication / Festival of Lights)

Sundown 12/10 to sundown 12/18

Rosh Chodesh (New Moon) Kislev / Tevet

Sundown 12/15 to sundown 12/16

*Asarah B’Tevet

Sundown 12/24 to sundown 12/25

Reunion Roadmap 1/11/2020

Reunion Roadmap 1/11/2020

We open 2020 with a new interview series featuring Solomon Lopez and our own Tzefania Pappas! Throughout this month, they will tell the story of Beyond the Mountain, a ministry initiative birthed in their first meeting at the Third B’ney Yosef Congress in Ariel, Israel. What is Beyond the Mountain? As they explain, it’s an outreach of compassion and healing to address some long-overlooked wounds that continue to hinder even the most seasoned followers of Yeshua and prevent our coming together as the family of our Father in heaven.

Gathering Family is the subject of this week’s midrash from  Barry Philips and David Jones – specifically, the covenant family of Israel into which we are adopted. Solomon carries that theme a bit further with some music from his new album, “Out of that Place,” which you can hear and acquire at www.hebraism.org.

Want to know more about Beyond the Mountain? Find them on Facebook, or visit their webpage at: www.beyondthemountain.org/.