Iran, Israel, and the Threat of Annihilation: Modern Day Lessons from The Book of Esther
Joel C. Rosenberg
“It is the mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to erase Israel from the map of the region.” —Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in January 2001
“One bomb is enough to destroy Israel. . . . In due time the Islamic world will have a military nuclear device.” —Iranian president Rafsanjani in December 2001
“Israel must be wiped off the map.” —Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on October 26, 2005
“Like it or not, the Zionist regime is heading toward annihilation. . . . The Zionist regime is a rotten, dried tree that will be eliminated by one storm . . . [because] its existence has harmed the dignity of Islamic nations.” —Ahmadinejad on April 14, 2006
Just days before the Jewish holiday of Purim begins, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did an interview with Piers Morgan on CNN worth noting. He spoke directly of the Iranian nuclear threat to Israel and the world.
"It's very clear what they [the Iranians] are doing. They've enriched enough material now almost for three nuclear bombs. They tried to re-enrich it again, but that's what they're doing. They're building long-range ICBMs, not only to reach us." He called on the world -- and particularly the U.S. -- to take the leading in stopping Iran from getting the Bomb. But he added: "We always reserve the right to defend ourselves. That's been one of the tragedies of Jewish history, that the Jewish people were thrust into a state of defenselessness. We were attacked again and again and again with viciousness and never had the capacity to defend ourselves."
Netanyahu refused to acknowledge whether Israel herself possesses nuclear weapons. But he did say: "We don't pose a threat to anyone. We don't call for anyone's annihilation. We don't foster terrorism. We don't threaten to obliterate countries with nuclear weapons. But we are threatened with all these threats. We have not fired thousands of rockets into our neighbors."
Israelis also face Iranian-backed terrorism that struck again in a particularly evil way with the murder of an entire Jewish family while they slept in their beds. "Prime Minister, there was a horrific murder of the Fogel family last week, the details of which are chilling to read," noted Morgan. "What was your reaction to that? And where are you with the investigation into the perpetrators?"
Netanyahu replied: "This was horrific. It was savagery. I mean, several Palestinian terrorists came into a home of this Jewish family, the West Bank. They stabbed a three-month-old baby girl in the heart, cut her throat. They stabbed her four-year-old brother in the heart, cuts him in the throat. They stabbed the father with another child and stabbed the mother and left them dying in blood. And I visited the family and saw the 12-year-old girl, a sister, who came home and saw this unbelievable massacre. So obviously the first response is sheer horror. And my second response was to send a message to the settlers to contain their rage and not respond, because we'd have a cycle of reprisals. So I asked them not to take the law in their own hands, not to have vigilante actions, because this would -- could generate a bloodbath. I thought that was important to stop that. But we're now looking for the killers. We'll find them."
It was an important interview, and I commend it to your attention. Watch Video
That said, it should be remembered that this is not the first time in history when the Jewish people have been threatened with annihilation from Persian/Iranian leaders who hated them without cause. The Book of Esther tells the story of how two heroic believers — Mordechai and Esther — prayed and fasted and encouraged others to do the same.
In response to those faithful prayers, the Lord intervened in a dramatic and powerful way. The evil President or Prime Minister of Iran (Haman) was removed from power and hanged. The heart of the Supreme Leader of Iran (King Ahausuerus, also known as King Xerxes) was miraculously changed. The Jews did have to fight. But by the Lord's supernatural intevention in the affairs of men, the Jewish people were saved from destruction and scores of Iranians converted and became true followers of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
This year, the holiday of “Purim” commemorating these events falls on the evening of Saturday, March 19th and Sunday, March 20th.
If you're a pastor or Bible teacher, would you consider preaching and teaching on the Book of Esther that Sunday, or take a few moments during another part of your service to touch on the story and its relevance to our times?
If you're a father or mother, would you consider taking some time -- ideally Sunday evening -- to take your children through the Book of Esther and help them understand God's love for the Jewish people and His heart for saving them when they prayed and fasted?
If you're a home fellowship group leader or a small group Bible leader, would you take time during this week's meeting to help followers of Jesus Christ remember how the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob saved the Jewish people from Iran once in history, and how He will do so again if His people will pray and fast as never before?
Now is the time for believers to rededicate ourselves to prayer and fasting for the Jewish people, the nation of Israel, and the Persian people, as well, that the Lord would bless them and rescue them and save them in His mercy.
As Mordecai told Queen Esther, "Do not imagine that you in the king's palace can escape any more than all the Jews. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father's house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?"
The Lord is going to rescue His people. Who knows if He has put you in a certain place at a certain time of history to be His agent of redemption?