The Purim Iranian Threat
Shalom Dear Friends,
And happy Purim to each of you! Purim, falling this year on February 28, is the most joyous festival of the Jewish year. The holiday is based on the breathtaking events of the book of Esther. It celebrates God's miraculous deliverance of the Jews from a genocidal holocaust planned by a nefarious Persian governor, named Haman. Due to the intervention of Queen Esther, and prayer support of God's' people, the Jews were spared while Haman, together with his family, was executed instead.
|Scroll of the Book of Esther|
Now fast forward about 2,500 years. Ancient Persia has evolved into the modern day Islamic Republic of Iran. Sadly, there the spirit of Haman still lives on. Given the dire Iranian threat to Israel today, what might be the Word of the Lord to us this Purim?
PURIM AND THE IRANIAN THREAT: ARE WE OUT OF TIME?
Looking back to an article we wrote four years ago at Purim 2006, we read the following words: "Iran's threat to wipe Israel off the map is far more than mere rhetoric. According to Israeli news sources, Iran's nuclear program is now past the point where it can be destroyed. ... Israel understands that a preemptive strike on its part will result in a retaliatory hit by Iran in the future that, given Israel's small size, could erase the entire country. So for now, the Jewish nation sits and waits for the Western world to decide whatever it will do."
What's changed in four years?
How has the Iranian threat changed since our first article? In this updated analysis we simplify complex facts presented in the Israeli media, as objectively as we can. We then offer a biblically prophetic perspective. Finally, we provide a practical, Spirit led strategy for prayer.
Since we first soberly shared about the Iranian threat, Israel has engaged in two formal wars: Lebanon II against Hezbollah in 2006; and Operation Cast Lead against Hamas in 2008. These wars, fought against Iranian-backed terror groups under the direction of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, are generally regarded as moderately successful. On the one hand, rocket fire from Lebanon and Gaza into Israel has been (temporarily) reduced dramatically. On the other hand, critical deterrent power previously ascribed to the Israel Defense Forces has lessoned in the enemy's eyes. In addition, "legal" platform now exists in the international community for bringing war crimes charges and investigations---however biased---against Israel. What we now see is that any successful military defense of Israel is inversely related to world opinion or support of the Jewish State.
And in Iran?
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad seems to have rightly assessed, as did Adolf Hitler before World War II, that the world will do little or nothing to stop a threatened eradication of the Jews. In mid-February he boasted that the Islamic Republic possesses the capability to enrich uranium to levels needed for military purposes. These developments occurred while Iran remained a signatory to the international nuclear non-proliferation treaty, while the International Atomic Energy Commission issued toothless violations of the treaty, while the world watched his regime brutally repress those Iranians expressing opposition---and while Ahmadinejad continued calling for the destruction of Israel.
What in the world happened?
In 2007 the US National Intelligence Estimate on Iran concluded "with high confidence" that Teheran had halted its nuclear weapons program back in 2003. American officials now regard the report as mistaken. Nevertheless, the US response has tended toward delay, denial, and distraction. Two other nations wield considerable power over the Iranian threat due to their permanent status on the UN Security Council: China and Russia. However, China's day-to-day life depends on Iranian oil. And one of Russia's best customer in the financial sector is the Islamic Republic, with its voracious appetite for the purchase of high-level military equipment. China and Russia together bloc any unified international action. (We have ministered in both countries. We sincerely love the Russian and Chinese peoples and urge you to pray for them.)
The facts today
Just days ago, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu was asked by Russian leaders what proof Israel had that Iran wanted to build nuclear weapons. Netanyahu replied, that to summarize, the evidence was fourfold. First, Iran has an arsenal of long range ballistic missiles which reach not only into Israel, but well into Europe, including Russia. Second, Iran recently took out of hiding its secret uranium enrichment facility at Qom. Why, Netanyahu asked, build a secret enrichment facility if there is no intent to weaponize a nuclear program? Third, Ahmadinejad announced this month he would enrich uranium up to 80 percent---a level needed for only one purpose: the production of nuclear weapons. Finally, nonpublic intelligence information shared by key governments around the world corroborates Iran's weapons-oriented program. (The Jerusalem Post, "Iranian Threat 101," Herb Kleinon, February 19, 2010)
|Nuclear enrichment facility in Iran|
A best case scenario is the internal fall of Ahmadinejad and the Islamofascist Shi'ite regime that fuels him. It is reported that many Iranians are turning to faith in Yeshua daily, and that an undercurrent of revival could eventually shift political realities.
A window of opportunity for a regime implosion seemed to present itself after last summer's post-election uprising. However, Western democracies chose not to support the grass roots opposition, which has since been brutally quelled. In any case, revolutions typically take time---which we no longer have. Finally, a successor, even democratic government, would not necessarily abandon the nation's nuclear ambitions and anti-Israel theology. Therefore, an internal collapse---though likely to occur in the future---does not seem a viable solution to Iran's imminent threat.
|Underground church in Iran|
A second option is the imposition of economic sanctions against Iran. The international community continues to mull over in its global mind the efficacy of such sanctions. This mulling has gone on for several years. No agreement has been reached, and no effective agreement appears reachable in the immediate future. Notwithstanding, high ranking US military delegations visited Israel several days ago to make clear, according to news reports and/or rumors, that America does not support an Israeli defensive, pre-emptive strike.
The remaining option is the military resort. Many evangelical Christians believe Israel will go it alone and preemptively attack Iran. However, most Israelis do not share this opinion. The Netanyahu administration states it does not intend to strike Iran; however, "all options remain on the table." But news sources agree Israel does not have the ability to wipe out Iran's capabilities as it did in 1981 with Iraq or 2007 with Syria. Developments on the ground have rendered the situation nearly impossible for a military assault to succeed. One of several key factors is that Turkey, formerly a friend of Israel, is now aligning at varying, new levels with Iran, Syria and the Palestinians. So the use of Turkey's airspace---very helpful for an Israeli strike on Iran---is no longer available as in the past. Of course, high level Israeli military and intelligence sources have access to information not reported in the media. So despite all we've said, a military raid should not be ruled out.
Consensus: Regional War is Coming
While Israeli debates on Iran show no sign of abating, the more imminent concern is that our next war---whenever it occurs and with whomever---will be regional in scope with widespread devastation. The next battle ground is expected to be the Israeli home front itself. What's worse is that nonconventional payloads (biological, chemical, nuclear, etc.) are expected by most intelligence officials. The focus is no longer on the traditional military capacities of our immediate neighboring states, but rather on the nonconventional threat to do us harm by al-Qaida, Hamas, Hizbullah, Syria---and of course, Iran. All five of those players are incontrovertibly scheming, right now, to damage Israel. And there is another quintet - Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Libya - which, in the dispassionate, nondiplomatic analysis of the intelligence community, cannot be discounted as potentially joining them. (The Jerusalem Post, "If he got it, would he use it?" David Horowitz, February 12, 2010)
Israel is undergoing regular civil defense related drills, and gas masks are soon to be redistributed to its citizens. Nevertheless, it is openly acknowledged that the country is quite unprepared for the massive, wide-scale terror attacks we're told are soon coming. And so, four Purims after we first wrote on this matter, we are left with the same conclusion: the Jewish nation sits and waits for the Western world to decide whatever it will do.
|Israeli homefront war preparations|
Returning to the book of Esther, it is instructive to note the cause for Haman's attempted annihilation of the Jews. The proud power monger had decreed that he be worshiped throughout the empire. A righteous Jew name Mordecai refused to do so. "When Haman saw that Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor, he was enraged. Yet having learned who Mordecai's people were, he [Haman] scorned the idea of killing only Mordecai. Instead, Haman looked for a way to destroy all Mordecai's people, the Jews, throughout the whole kingdom..." (Esther 3:5-6) It was the worship of the God of Israel that roused satan's fury.
The devil is desperately trying to prevent Israel from worshiping her God in Spirit and in Truth. Yet a growing remnant of Jews have either come to faith in Messiah or are opening their hearts to Him. Satan knows that when this worshiping remnant reaches its critical mass, and when a Jewish Jerusalem welcomes back her King his time and space in the earth realm ends. (See Matt. 23:37-39; Rev. 20:3) Yeshua declared satan was a murderer from the beginning (John 8:44). As the last days unfold, he will prove himself a murderer up to the end.
In the end, one thing will make a difference: You, the Bride of Messiah. As His Bride and favored one, you are the Esther of today. How will you respond to the very real and present threat to Israel? History plainly teaches that while God will not allow the Jewish people be totally wiped out, millions of us could be murdered in the process. Know for a fact that the intercessory prayers, campaigns, strategies and support of the true Church will shape the future---and history. As Mordecai urged Esther long ago, "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 [into the Kingdom] for such a time as this?" (Esther 4:14) You, dear saints, have a high calling and glorious destiny ahead. Yeshua's Bride is about to enter her finest hour.
|Esther before the king|
Call to Action: How to Pray
► AMALEK. The spirit of Haman is related to the spirit of Amalek. God declared He Himself would war against this spirit throughout human history. Amalek is a type of antichrist principality, which means it is also viciously anti-Jewish. As an intercessor, prophetically declare the Word of Yahweh's victory over Amalek. "The Lord said to Moses...."I will completely blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven. ... The Lord will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation." (Ex. 17:14, 16 )
► PRINCE OF PERSIA. The Islamic Republic of Iran is affected by an evil principality identified in the Word as the "prince of Persia." According to Daniel 10:10-21, this demonic spiritual power battles against the purposes of God. The prince of Persia wars against Israel, the archangel Michael and Michael's heavenly troops. Prophetically pray and decree victory in the heavenlies according to God's purposes for Israel, as in Daniel 10.
► ESTHER ARISE. Pray for God's "Esthers" of today to arise in humility and boldness. Being an Esther is first about character formation, and then about living as an intercessory mouthpiece---both to the King of Heaven and to kings of the earth. The godly character of Queen Esther is evident in her response to Mordecai's plea to intercede before the king--an act that could have cost Esther her life. She states, "Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish." (Esther 4:16)
► MORDECAI ARISE. Mordecai innocently "instigated" the crisis with Haman through worship. But he also provided the solution. First, he dearly loved Esther, who also was a Jew. Second, he wisely counseled her to speak to the king. He urged her "to go into the king's presence to beg for mercy and plead with him for her people." .... "Do not think," he told her, "that because you are in the king's house you alone of all the Jews will escape." (Esther 4:8, 13) Please ask God to release many "Mordecais" who worship Him alone, and who therefore carry an anointing to counsel and help release the "Esthers."
► A NEW DECREE. After Haman's decree was written, according to the law of Persia, it could not be revoked. However, it could be overridden by a subsequent decree issued at the same or higher level of authority. Pray for the release from heaven and into the earth realm of another decree by the King of Kings to override Iran's present decree against Israel. "Now 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." (Esther 8:8)
► REPENTANCE. According to the Scriptures, Mordecai did not sin so as to arouse Haman's ire; he merely refused to worship any god but the Lord. Sadly, the same cannot be said concerning Israel as a State today. Like any other unregenerate nation, the Jewish people as a whole are not walking with God. Pray for an outpouring of the Spirit on our nation, that we might sincerely repent for any and all embrace of evil, that God might forgive our sin and heal/protect our land. "And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look [toward] me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son." (Zechariah 12:10)
► SOVEREIGN SOLUTION. It seems to us the best "option" regarding Iran is a sovereign intervention by God that glorifies Him alone. Ask Him to deal sovereignly with Iran so that a military option becomes unnecessary. "The Lord foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance." (Psalm 33:10-12)
► SALVATION OF PERSIA. Pray for the salvation of the precious Iranian people and strengthening of the Church in that land. Pray for the God's prophetic destiny for Persia/Iran to be fulfilled. In biblical times she served as a supportive friend to Israel. (See 2 Chronicles 36, Ezra 1 and 4) Pray for the last days' Church of Persia/Iran to align with the Jewish nation as a powerful means to Israel's salvation. "I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse..." (Genesis 12:3)
► WAR. If God's will is the execution of a military option, pray He will make this very clear to Israeli authorities. Pray fervently for the Israeli armed forces (IDF). Ask for a spirit of grace and supplication that would bring them to know Yeshua as Captain of the Armies of Heaven. Pray for honest, accurate, supernatural intelligence. Pray for warrior angelic protection, strategy and supernatural strength. Pray that God would put all those---and only those---in position who should be in military or intelligence positions. Please pray the IDF would abolish its murderous policy of offering free abortion to pregnant soldiers. (This not only grieves God but opens a door to the spirit of death.) Pray that if God wants Israel to attack Iran, she would do so despite world pressure, and do so successfully, victoriously, supernaturally, and with minimal collateral damage. Pray that such attack (and war following, if that occurs) would turn many hearts to Yeshua. "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:...a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time for war and a time for peace." (Eccles. 3:1, 3, 8) "It is God who arms me with strength....He trains my hands for battle." (Psalm 18:32, 34)
► AHMADINEJAD. Pray for Ahmadinejad and the mullahs that control him. Lift him up into the hands of the fearsome God of Israel! "The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord; He directs it like a watercourse wherever He pleases. (Proverbs 21:1)
► PROACTIVE INITIATIVES.
We believe the most important call to the Body of Messiah is prayer and fasting, even as Esther urged God's people to pray and fast with her before she approached the king. This year, the annual three day Fast of Esther (Esther 4:15-16) takes place February 25-27. Will you join the Jewish people for these three days as we seek God for deliverance? Believers throughout Israel will be gathering in Jerusalem this Friday, February 26, for this purpose. We also encourage you to ask the Spirit about writing/emailing/phoning/faxing your elected political officials, local newspapers, clergy leaders, and others in your personal sphere of influence. God will show many of you ways to creatively express your voice, speaking Christ-centered truth in love.
|Hundreds of Chinese Christians rally in Jerusalem to support Israel|
► MISCELLANEOUS. We encourage you to continue praying regarding (1) needed rainfall in Israel, as the past month has been unseasonably warm and dry; (2) IDF soldier Gilat Shalit, still held captive in Gaza, as negotiations for his release have collapsed; (3) mounting anti-Semitism on American college campuses ominously reflecting a forthcoming generation of potentially anti-Israel, antiSemitic leaders; and (4) the nations' rage against Israel over her presumed (not proven) murder in Dubai of a dangerous terrorist mastermind, when most of those same nations use similar secret forces for similar covert operations---and for which biblical precedent can be said to exist (see Judges 3:12-28). "You will arise and have compassion on Zion, for it is time to show favor to her; the appointed time has come" (Psalm 102:13).
THANK YOU FOR YOUR LOVE FOR THE LORD AND HIS PEOPLE!