“And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!” - Esther 4:16
I am not a political reporter. I am not a reporter of any type even though I often feel that is what I end up doing in certain situations. That being understood, when I do comment on events and political developments I readily admit that I do so from an overtly biased position. I say this because, whether it is political news or otherwise, I try to view everything through a spiritual lens; I try to look at it from a biblical point of view.
Today I am viewing dramatic political developments from that biblical perspective but I also have to admit I’m observing them through my tears. Yes, as I peck away at my keyboard, tears stream down my face because I am truly inspired, increasingly sad and, most of all, overwhelmed with a sense of foreboding that is both fearful and exciting. All of these emotions have been conjured because I watched and listened as the Prime Minister of Israel delivered a stunning and, in my opinion, eloquent argument to the U.S. Congress about the dangers of an impending nuclear deal with the mullahs of Iran.
I was inspired by the fact that, in spite of the political fallout at home and here in the U.S., he was unwavering in his convictions and his opposition to any deal that would enable Iran to become even more dangerous. His clear and ominous statement keeps ringing in my ears: “The greatest danger facing our world is the marriage of militant Islam with nuclear weapons.” In a Reaganesque manner he brought his concerns and those of the state of Israel (including those who are politically and ideologically opposed to him) to the U.S. Congress and the American people and expertly presented the argument why this looming deal with the Iranians is dangerous and, frankly, morally wrong.
As I listened, I did not hear the words of a man seeking political office but a nation’s leader who, upon recognizing the potential dangers ahead for his countrymen and his friends, had the courage and resolve to speak up in the face of evil and to contend with those who would conspire with that evil. I did not hear the ramblings of a career politician who spoke in circles trying to explain different shades of gray but of a concerned leader who spoke directly to the issue, firmly demonstrating the difference between black and white, right and wrong.
I did not hear a man who felt compelled to apologize to his enemies for his nation and its ancient heritage but one who eloquently defended that nation and its moral and biblical right to exist in spite of the fact that many – so-called friends and foe alike – ridiculed his words. Some of these alleged friends said that they were nearly moved to tears themselves but not because they were inspired, but because they were “saddened” and “offended” by what they perceived to be a condescending tone toward the U.S. in the Prime Minister’s words. (Those people apparently didn’t feel that way when the President of Mexico lectured Congress on state and local laws a few years ago).
In stark contrast to that accusation I have to say that I was very impressed with the fact that he was a gentleman, emphatically expressing his gratitude to the Congress, to the President and to Americans for their support of Israel. In fact, in one of the only times I wasn’t entirely convinced of his sincerity, he went so far as to compliment the very individuals who are presently working to close a deal with Iran – those who advocate a plan he had come to argue against. So to his credit, unlike some who shall remain unmentioned, instead of attempting to build himself up by tearing others down, he chose to follow in the footsteps of the patriarch Jacob who, knowing very well that God and Right was on his side, elected to humble himself before his estranged brother Esau (Gen. 33:3).
I’m sure that if Mr. Netanyahu and I were to sit down and discuss different issues we would quickly find that we have vast political differences. Furthermore, the accolades I am throwing his way should not be interpreted as a blanket approval of everything he says or does or, for that matter, every policy adopted by the State of Israel. Still, in today’s speech I didn’t see and hear a politician - I saw and heard a leader. I observed one who, for the moment at least, has chosen to put the welfare of his nation ahead of his personal ambition and political career. As I said, I was inspired to tears.
Yet my tears were also tears of sadness. I am overcome with an incredible melancholy because we, in the U.S., are suffering from a severe and dangerous drought - not of water but of leaders. We have an overabundance of politicians but relatively few leaders. Our dilemma reminds me of the sentiment conveyed in the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner: “Water, water everywhere nor any drop to drink.” The salty taste of my tears only serves to reinforce that sense of aimless drifting, of loss and, were it not for God, hopelessness.
It is amazing to me to consider how far we have digressed just in the 52 years I’ve been around. True, the world has never been and never will be perfect but let’s face it: things weren’t always this bad where leadership is concerned. In times past, I can remember leaders who were strong, resolute and who would speak forcefully in defense and support of their nation. When the welfare of the country was on the line, they would be willing to lay aside politics for the common good of America. True, there were many career politicians even then but on occasion a leader would step up to the front.
Just today I found myself thinking back to a time in early 1989 and reminiscing about one of those I considered to be a leader. I remember listening to the Great Communicator as he prepared to leave office and as he spoke, I felt a great sense of pride for my country and gratitude for this man that had led us for eight years. Unfortunately, that was the last time I remember feeling inspired by an elected official – until today. Then it was the President of the United States; today it was the Prime Minister of Israel. And today I found myself wishing - you are invited to imagine what and why – and that left me sad.
I have to say though, more than inspiration and sadness, my tears were brought on by the overwhelming sense that I have just witnessed a fateful and historic event that has national, global, prophetic and eternal implications. Through my tears I see the Hand of God – the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – positioning people and orchestrating events just as He has always done throughout the history of the world. More to the point: today’s events underscore the notion that, just as in the book of Esther and the story of Purim – a book and a story where He is never mentioned by name – God is moving behind the scenes, unnoticed by most, preparing to bring about something miraculous and earth-changing. In the days of Esther it was to expose the wicked plans of Haman and deliver His people. I am convinced that today’s developments have something to do with the same thing. Only time will tell just what but this I know - something is getting ready to happen!
Learning from History
“Time present and time past are both perhaps present in time future and time future contained in time past.” – T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets
Over the last few weeks a lot of attention has been given to the political drama leading up to this speech. Because the invitation to speak did not come from the President, Netanyahu's appearance before Congress was deemed by the White House and many Democrats to be a breach of protocol (an interesting point when you consider Esther's decision to approach the king). Many of the Prime Minister's detractors denounced his presence as nothing more than political theater, choosing instead to boycott the speech altogether.
Many have drawn attention to the historical ramifications of a third Netanyahu speech to a joint session of Congress. Some have pointed out the interesting timing of the speech in that it coincides with the season called Purim as recorded in the book of Esther. Moreover, they have suggested that Netanyahu’s mission to warn of the dangers of this potential agreement with Iran is synonymous with Esther’s exposure of Haman’s wicked plot against the Jews. In his address, Netanyahu himself invoked the name of Esther and referred to the story of Purim as he laid out his objections to this proposed deal. It is in that vein of thought that I wish to add my two cents.
I have long been a firm believer that history repeats itself, not because of Eliot’s musings but because it is a biblical concept found throughout the Scripture (e.g. Isa 46:8-10, Eccl 3:15). In my view, past and current events continually demonstrate this truth and consequently reinforce my belief that this is so. Today’s developments are yet another example of this and, considering the timing of the speech and its potential relationship with the story of Purim, bolster my belief that it is the God of Israel who has orchestrated it all. He really is in control!
This isn’t the first time He has moved upon nations and leaders at this special time of year. In 2003, about this time of year, I was speaking at a Prophecy Conference and I suggested that, because the first Gulf War concluded on Purim (Feb. 28, 1991), the expected second war with Hussein’s Iraq might commence on Purim. As it turned out, the Second Gulf War began on March 19, 2003, which was 15 Adar on the Hebrew calendar, also known as Shushan Purim (Esther 9:20-22). As a result of that war Saddam Hussein, like Haman, eventually went to the gallows – literally.
My suggestion – not prediction - was based entirely on the belief that historical cycles repeat again and again. Moreover, where Israel is concerned, these historical events tend to unfold on or around significant days on the Hebrew calendar, including Purim. I feel it is important to make note of this because it is my belief that it is happening again. I am convinced we have just witnessed another of these recurring significant events. Furthermore, because it has coincided with an important date in Israel’s history and contains similar themes to an ancient event, we should probably anticipate even more dramatic developments and soon.
On that note it is just as important to point out that, in the story of Purim, it is not necessarily the Persians who are the aggressors. True, the king of Persia issued the decree that threatened the Jews with annihilation and we assume that it would have been Persians who would, in large part, carry out the decree. Nevertheless, the king of Persia did not conceive and instigate the plan – that was the brainchild of the wicked Haman and according to Scripture, he was NOT a Persian but an Agagite (Esther 3:1).
To be referred to as an Agagite means that Haman was of the royal lineage of the people of Amalek, Agag being the title given to those chieftains (1 Sam. 15:8). According to the Bible, Amalek was a fierce antagonist toward Israel who, on one occasion, attacked Israel’s weakest citizens at the rear of the column as they journeyed from Egypt toward Canaan (Dt. 25:17-18). You could say that their tactic was to stab Israel in the back when they weren’t looking. The reason for this hatred and desire to make war against God’s people is, no doubt, due to their ancestry - Amalek was Esau’s grandson (Gen 36:12).
Therefore I must stress that it was not a Persian who desired to eradicate the Jews of long ago but a relative – a relative whose family believed they had been slighted by, even supplanted by, the descendants of Jacob. Gripped with jealousy and seemingly provided the opportunity to destroy them, this particular descendant of Esau tried desperately to rid the world of those he considered to be his mortal enemy. It was an Amalekite who devised the plan intended to destroy the Jews and it was he who convinced the Persians that Israel was intent on undermining their culture and kingdom.
If the past constitutes a pattern for our current scenario, then the Persians are easily identified; they are the Iranians. Granted, while the Persians of long ago were not the primary culprits in the story of Purim, no reasonable person really believes the current Iranian government wants peace with Israel. To the contrary, they are a legitimate and growing threat to the stability of the Middle East and the world just as surely as the Nazi regime was a threat to Europe and the world in the 1930s. On that note, I find it fascinating that the word Iran is derived from an old Persian word pronounced aryan. In fact, the name Iran is believed to mean “land of the Aryans.” Could it be a mere coincidence that this word connects two evil and anti-Israel regimes?
While we’re thinking in those terms, consider that it was Winston Churchill, before he was the British Prime Minister, who tried desperately to warn Britain and the West of the growing threat festering in Germany. He was largely ignored and we all know what happened as a result. The aggressive nature of Hitler and the Nazis was met with olive branches, appeasement and agreements made by pacifists convinced that they had “achieved peace in our time.” Of course, to achieve that “peace,” British PM Neville Chamberlain had to agree to hand over a piece of tiny Czechoslovakia, which the Nazis later used as a foothold to take over the rest of that nation. This all sounds so familiar doesn’t it? In fact, the current situation brings to mind what Friedrich Hegel said: “We learn from history that we do not learn from history.”
Interestingly enough, there are many who are comparing Netanyahu to Winston Churchill and, in my opinion, rightfully so. Ironically or perhaps not, Netanyahu and Churchill are the only foreign leaders who have been invited to address a joint session of Congress three times. I find that fact to be striking considering that both tried to warn their respective generations about the perils of appeasement in the face of blatant aggression. I also find it of interest that Obama, who certainly doesn’t have high regard for Bibi, reportedly doesn’t care too much for Churchill and possibly Great Britain at large.
You will remember that soon after taking office, Obama removed the bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office and had it returned to Great Britain. Speculation swirled as to the reason for this affront to our longest standing ally. Some believed it was due to Obama’s disdain for British Imperial rule over his father’s native Kenya. Some believed it was even more personal – a genuine dislike of Churchill and what he represented. I find it noteworthy because, coupled with his obvious disdain for Netanyahu, it implies the President has a general dislike for anyone or anything that represents strong and historic ties to the U.S. It would seem that he wishes to break those bonds that bind us and replace them with questionable relationships with nations such as Iran. If so, that would be consistent with his pledge to fundamentally transform America as President. I should point out here that his senior adviser, Valerie Jarrett - a woman who reportedly wields great power in the White House - was born in Iran. I'd also like to mention that, according to Breitbart.com, upon arriving at the Capitol, Prime Minister Netanyahu was presented with a bust of … wait for it … Winston Churchill).
It was obvious to me that Mr. Netanyahu, like Churchill, felt compelled to speak up and warn people of the impending danger in spite of the political risks involved. In this way he most certainly followed in the footsteps of Churchill and, more importantly, those of Mordechai who was desperately concerned about the future of his people. By sounding the alarm in a very clear and concise manner, the Prime Minister made it clear that, like Esther, he must use his position and influence to try and prevent the evil decree from becoming a reality. However, in warning of Iran’s intentions, did he reveal a covert plot or just reaffirm that Israel’s destruction was their long-stated goal? In other words, if the Iranians are the Persians and Netanyahu is Esther’s male counterpart (by the way, Esther was from the tribe of Benjamin), then who is Haman in this scenario? Who is the Agagite and spiritual heir of Amalek that plots with the Iranians to isolate and ultimately destroy the Jewish people? Who claims to be their kinsman and yet seeks their destruction?
Israel Is Not Alone
There were a few things toward the end of Netanyahu’s speech that, to me, stood out above and beyond everything he said. The first thing was, “I … urge the leaders of the world not to repeat the mistakes of the past. Not to sacrifice the future for the present; not to ignore aggression in the hopes of gaining an illusory peace. But I can guarantee you this; the days when the Jewish people remained passive in the face of genocidal enemies, those days are over.… For the first time in 100 generations, we, the Jewish people, can defend ourselves. This is why, as a prime minister of Israel, I can promise you one more thing: Even if Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand.”
To me it seemed as if he were saying directly to the Obama Administration and the U.S. at large: “We are prepared to do what needs to be done with you or without you.” If you think about it that is what Esther’s courage accomplished for her people. The king’s decree had been made and there was no reversing it. However, because of her actions, another decree was made that allowed the Jews to defend themselves against those who would exterminate them. In the end, the gallows intended for them were used to hang those who conspired against them. Might it be that this is what we see taking shape before our eyes? Is Israel preparing to act alone? Are those who conspire against Israel and those who would make back room deals with her enemies, leaving her vulnerable to attack, erecting their own gallows? Are we about to witness key events foretold of by the prophets of old?
I also found this statement to be of great importance:
“But I know that Israel does not stand alone. I know that America stands with Israel. I know that you stand with Israel.”
I hope that he is right and that America does stand with Israel but considering present circumstances I’m not so sure. Regardless of what America and its leaders decide to do, I am confident there is One who will defend His people. There is One who will always stand with Israel and it might just be that dramatic events must transpire to make it clear to His people – in the Land and abroad - that He is the only One they can depend on. In the end, it is a certainty that Israel does not stand alone!
Though we can be certain of very little where politics are concerned, given the historic events of the day, it will be interesting to see what transpires in the next few days, weeks and months. I’m certainly not making any predictions but I feel confident in saying that the world is about to become a very interesting and, most likely, fearful place. In spite of that probability, I believe that God’s people should be inspired to do as Prime Minister Netanyahu did today – speak up for what is right in spite of the risks. We should follow in the footsteps of Mordechai and Esther, people just like you and me, who realized that they had come into the kingdom for such a time as this. Likewise, we must be willing to do what is right and honorable regardless of the consequences. Our creed should be that of Esther’s: “If I perish, I perish.”
But with that thought in mind, I want to remind you of one of the last things Netanyahu said to Congress. Pointing to the picture of Moses in the House chamber, he recalled the words of the great Lawgiver who admonished Israel as they prepared to enter the land of Promise:
“Be strong and resolute, neither fear nor dread them.”
That sentiment, ladies and gentlemen, seems as good a way as any to conclude my summary of what has been, to me, a day of inspiration, some sadness and a profound and enduring belief that our Father in Heaven really is in control. Because I know that to be true, and because I know that He has brought me into the Kingdom for such a time as this, I can take courage, I can be strong and I can boldly approach the King of all kings!