Jerusalemites revel during Purim festivities in the downtown neighborhood of Nahlaot.
(photo credit:MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
On Purim next week, Jews will sit down to read the megila, most without realizing that Esther’s eternal lessons serve to not only inspire Jews, but many Christian Zionists as well.
One verse in particular from the Book of Esther has become the rallying cry for pro-Israel Christians to support the people and the land of Israel. In the fourth chapter of the Book of Esther, Mordechai approaches the queen and begs her to intercede on behalf of the Jewish People, who are being threatened by the evil Haman. Esther has kept her faith a secret and so is not personally in any danger.
Nevertheless, Mordechai tells her that she was chosen for a specific purpose, to be in the right place at the right time: “For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will come to the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish; and who knows whether you attained your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14) This proves to be the turning point in the story. Mordechai’s question inspires Esther to bravely step forward and defend her people, thwarting Haman’s scheme and saving the nation of Israel from genocide.
Christians find parallels to their own experience in this moving passage. They see antisemitism on the rise all over the world and are concerned about the growing threats against the State of Israel. Like Esther, Christian Zionists know they are not personally at risk but believe they are uniquely positioned to stand with the nation of Israel “for such a time as this.”
In my work on behalf of Israel365 and Breaking Israel News, I have had the good fortune to meet countless pro-Israel Christians.
I am constantly impressed by their love for the Bible along with their eagerness to support Israel. I have heard over and over again the phrase “for such a time as this” as a primary source for their spiritual activism.
A close friend of mine, Reverend Rebecca Brimmer of Bridges for Peace, a Jerusalem- based Christian organization, explained to her global community of supporters, “In many encounters with Israeli leadership I have been thanked for the support of Christians. There is growing recognition that we are the best friends Israel has in the world today.”
Rebecca sees similarities with her mission and the story of Esther.
“I am full of awe as I realize the pivotal role God has given us,” she said. “Think of this: we have been chosen by God to be alive in this time in history when God is fulfilling His prophetic word to the nation and people of Israel in the sight of the entire world. He could have chosen any time in history for us to sojourn on this planet, but in His infinite wisdom, God chose us ‘for such a time as this.’” Bridges for Peace is not the only pro-Israel Christian group to find inspiration in Esther 4:14. The well known Texas-based group Christians United for Israel (CUFI), under the leadership of Pastor John Hagee, sells T-shirts and hoodies with this verse emblazoned on the front. “For such a time as this” has become a tagline to motivate Christians regarding the urgency of standing with Israel.
The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) offers seminars all over the world called “For Such a Time as This” on the dangers of antisemitism. The seminar educates non-Jews about the horrors of the Holocaust and is led by instructors who have received training from Yad Vashem.
Through their seminar, the ICEJ aims to “raise up an Esther generation” in order “to stand with the Jewish People.”
When Haman first presented his genocidal plot against the Jews to King Achashverosh, he denounced a despised nation “scattered and dispersed among the other peoples in all the provinces of your realm, whose laws are different from those of any other people and who do not obey the king’s laws; and it is not in Your Majesty’s interest to tolerate them.” (Esther 3:8) Throughout our history the Jews have had few friends and many accusers, as Haman’s accusation has surfaced in nearly every generation. Thankfully, today, there are millions of Christians all over the world returning to the texts of our Tanach and the stories of the Hebrew Bible. We should all go into Purim with extra “joy and gladness” in appreciation of the many non- Jews who are following in the footsteps of Queen Esther to stand with Israel “for such a time as this.”
The author, a rabbi, is the director of Israel365, a newsletter that connects 150,000 people to Israel every day, and serves as publisher of Breaking Israel News. He is also editor of The Israel Bible, highlighting the significance of the land and the people of Israel. He lives with his family in Ramat Beit Shemesh and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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