COMMENTARY: For Such a Time as This!
It’s time to make amends for our indifference by taking on the role of Esther – intervening on behalf of Israel
As Jews the world over next week mark a feast they have celebrated annually for the past 2,500 years, it presents a perfect opportunity for the church to step into the breach on behalf of God’s chosen people.
The feast of Purim recalls the time when a beautiful young orphan queen known as Esther saved her people from annihilation in ancient Persia.
Her identity as a Jew was a secret at the time of her accession to the throne as the potential for anti-Semitism was so great that the Bible’s account of her heroics only mentions God in code.
But when her guardian, Morcedai, alerted her to Haman’s genocidal plot against all the Jews in an empire stretching from India to Egypt, he challenged her with these words: _“If you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” _(Esther 4.14)
She knew it would be dangerous to approach the king without being summoned but, just as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego risked the fiery furnace rather than compromise their faith, Esther too bit the bullet, defiantly declaring: _“If I perish, I perish.” _(Esther 4.16)
Is it not time for the church to stand up for the Jews as Esther did? The church in Germany were, for the most part, silent as they watched Hitler’s anti-Semitic cancer spread.
Thankfully, para-church organisations like Christian Friends of Israel, representing thousands of individual Christians, have until now played the part of Mordecai in their attempt to alert the church to the dangers.
One of them, Christians United for Israel, has actually launched a campaign called Operation Mordecai, warning of the danger posed by Iran (modern-day Persia) to Israel and the West, and is encouraging churches to nail their colours to the mast by showing corporate support for Israel rather than leaving it to individual believers.
Israel’s existence – and by extension that of the Jewish people – is threatened once again. First Pharaoh tried to obliterate them, then Haman, followed by Herod and Hitler. Now the likes of Hamas are inflicting their murder and mayhem on Israel’s southern borders while, in the north, Hezbollah have some 120,000 missiles hidden among Lebanon’s civilian population.
At the same time, a harrowing new wave of anti-Semitism is sweeping across Europe and America, while in Britain we are witnessing an unholy alliance between hard-left Labour and far-right Islamists viciously persecuting innocent Jews.
The Tory government has made a start in repenting of past sins committed against the Jews. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has apologised for blocking those trying to escape the Nazi butchers and for holding others in detention camps like Atlit, near Haifa. And Home Secretary Sajid Javid has finally pronounced a full ban on Hezbollah.
But the church in Britain – as a whole – has badly neglected the Jews. We are not only responsible for the scourge of social engineering now blighting our beloved country, but also for the disgraceful scandal of anti-Semitism within the Labour Party.
Where were the strong voices of support for Israel over the years?
Do we really think God has reneged on his promise of everlasting love for the Jews (Jeremiah 31.3)?
Do we realise that such belief gives carte blanche to the sort of unbridled hatred for Israel pronounced by many of those seeking to wrest power from the Conservatives?
Jeremy Corbyn and his close allies – like terror groups Hezbollah and Hamas – believe Israel has no right to exist.
It’s time to make amends for our indifference by taking on the role of Esther – intervening on behalf of an endangered people, both in prayer and action.
In modern Persia, the ayatollahs are determined to wipe Israel off the map, using nuclear weapons if necessary. But the tables were turned on the anti-Semites of ancient Persia. Haman literally made a rope on which to hang himself and the evil scheme he had devised came back on his own head. Those who dare to stand against the Jews or their Messiah will surely come to ruin!
Indeed, the tables were turned on Germany, and it all came back on their own heads as their cities were reduced to rubble – Darmstadt, for instance, had its own 9/11 when, on September 11th 1944, the city was destroyed, leaving 12,000 dead and many more homeless.
Similar devastation awaits those who touch the apple of God’s eye today (Zechariah 2.8).
Charles Gardner is author of Israel the Chosen, available from Amazon; Peace in Jerusalem, available from olivepresspublisher.com; and A Nation Reborn, available from Christian Publications International