The Power of Prayer and Fasting and The Jewish People
In this episode of Inside The Epicenter, Carl introduces Kay Arthur, who delves into the powerful topic of fasting and its impact on seemingly impossible situations.
Drawing insights from the book of Esther, Kay Arthur shares practical teachings on fasting according to God’s will and how it can bring about positive outcomes.
Carl also addresses current events, emphasizing the need for prayer and fasting during times of crisis, particularly focusing on the Hamas-Israeli conflict.
Get ready to be inspired as we explore the importance of prayer and fasting in our lives today.
- [Kay] It's the seed of the evil one that wants to destroy the chosen nation, the chosen people of God Almighty. Because remember, Messiah is not here yet, and Messiah must come from Abraham's loins. He must come from the tribe of Judah. He must come from the house of David.
- [Carl] What do you know about fasting and how do you do it correctly? On many occasions through the Bible, people fasted and prayed and changed seemingly impossible situations. How did they do it? And what can we learn and apply to the situation in our day and time? And finally, with the Hamas attacks and the Israeli responses, we need to be praying and fasting over the epicenter now more than ever. Hi, and welcome to this episode of Inside the Epicenter with Joel Rosenberg, a podcast of The Joshua Fund, a ministry dedicated to blessing Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus. I'm Carl Mueller, executive director of The Joshua Fund. And today, we wanna present Kay Arthur, teaching on how to fast according to God's will. Using examples from the Book of Esther, she touches on how the people of Israel fasted in a time of distress and discusses the intentions of the enemies of the Jews in our time and why me must speak when we need to. Here's Kay Arthur.
- [Kay] Oh, oh. That we would have men in leadership that would recognize that there is a God in heaven who is supreme, who rules over all, that we would recognize that we are to show up at National Days of Prayer and honor that National Day of Prayer instead of calling a convocation and allowing the lesbians and the gays and the transvestites to come to the White House. What has happened to the United States of America? What has happened to the United States of America that now, we, as a nation, are turning our backs, so to speak, on Israel, and are not being valiant warriors to stand with the nation that was raised up by God from among the Gentiles to be a light unto the world and a light to the Gentiles, to redeem man from the bondage of sin by bringing the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the man that has been touched with the feeling of our infirmities to this earth so that you and I might have a high and merciful high priest who, in turn, would become the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world, who would satisfy the just and righteousness, a justice and righteousness of God through the propitiation of his blood so that God would be satisfied, raise him from the dead, and then bring him into power in the days to come to rule on the face of this earth. Oh, that we, as a nation, would bow our knees, and that we would cry out to God knowing that there is no deliverance apart from the sovereign will of God and that God hears. A ruler in present day Iran persuaded the king whose signet ring he held to sign an edict that would exterminate the Jewish people from his kingdom. He was a Medo-Persian king. His name was Ahasuerus. And I would like you to open your Bibles to Esther chapter one. Esther chapter one. I should have told you, if you didn't bring one, go get the inductive study Bible off the table because it is a Bible that is unique among Bibles in that it teaches you how to discover truth for yourself. It doesn't tell you what the text says, but it tells you how to determine what the text says. In Esther chapter one, it says, "Now, it took place in the days of Ahasuerus, the Ahasuerus who reigned from India to Ethiopia over 127 provinces, in those days as King Ahasuerus sat down on his royal throne which was at the citadel in Susa, in the third year of his reign he gave a banquet for all of his princes and attendants, and the army officers of Persia and Media, the nobles and the princes of his provinces being in his presence." Where was he? He was in Iran. He was 225 miles east of Babylon. He was a king who would be dead in 13 years, but he did not know it. He would be killed. He would be murdered. He was a king who at the time was 37 years old. And he had plans, he had plans for taking Greece. And so he was calling all the rulers and the provinces together. What was the year? The year was 483 B.C. And what I would like to do is I would like to take you and put you in the historical context of the Book of Esther so that you can look at what happened in the days and in the Book of Esther, and then we can take those truths as Romans says, Romans tells us that the things that were written beforehand were written for our instruction upon whom the end of the ages has come, and I'm blending that with 1 Corinthians, and that it was written for our encouragement and for our hope. So when we look at the Old Testament, we're getting instruction, we're getting encouragement, and we're getting hope. And so this is why Joel has asked me to teach from the Book of Esther. Now, I put this together, I'm not a whiz at a computer but I did this and printed these out at our own expense to bring them to you so that you might have this in front of you. So if you will please look at what we did, all right? And this is a chart from the times of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther, because if you're going to appreciate what is happening in the Book of Esther, you have to have it in its historical context and you have to have it in its geographical context so that you can really grasp what is going on. So if you will look at that chart, you will see in the center the Book of Ezra. Do you see the Book of Ezra? Alright, what is the Book of Ezra about? The Book of Ezra is a fulfillment, and this is very important, a fulfillment of a prophecy that God gave in the days of Isaiah. And this is awesome, 150, about 150 years before it would ever happen, what God did is he had Isaiah the prophet write a prophecy about a king who would come on the scene and be operating 150 years later. The name of that king would be Cyrus. So if you will go up to the top of the chart, you will see the kings of Persia and there you see Cyrus. And he said, "I have called you by name because I want my people to understand that I am the Lord and there is no other." In other words, "I am God. I am in charge of everything. I create good and I create adversity. I create light, I create darkness. I create good, I create adversity. I am the Lord who does all these things." And he wants them to understand in the middle of the chaos that is coming, because it was prosperous days at the beginning of Isaiah's reign and it was prosperous for the northern kingdom when Jeroboam II the second was ruling and also when the king was ruling over the southern kingdom, then Uzziah was the king, and it was prosperous times. And the nation had no idea what they were going through but God was sending prophet after prophet after prophet to warn them that a holy God in heaven expects his holy people to be holy, even as he is holy and as he wrote in the Book of Leviticus. And so he's warning them of the judgment that is to come. He's telling them also though that judgment is coming but there is hope because while I am going to send you outta the land and he has Jeremiah write and tell them, "You will be outta the land for 70 years. That is my punishment upon you because you did not honor and did not keep my commandments regarding the land and you owe me 70 years of the land being lying fallow." And so he says, "I am going to do this, but I want you to know, I will bring you back." Why? Because God watches over his word to perform it. Because he has spoken so it will come to pass. So in the Book of Ezra, you have God, and this is very important that you understand this, you have God laying it on the hearts of certain Jews that are in Babylon to return and come back to the land. And Ezra opens up saying that God stirred the hearts of some of the people to come back to the land. So the setting of Esther, which comes after the beginning of Ezra, the setting of Esther is taking place. Let's say, let me get my maps straight, okay? Over here is the Sea of Galilee. My elbow's the Dead Sea. Jerusalem's right about here, okay? But over past the desert and over here is Iran and Iraq. Babylon, modern day Babylon. So he's going to bring the people back. Not all of them. Some of them will stay in Babylon. Those that stay in Babylon are to help those to come back. They come back because God has stirred their hearts. But what you see when you come to the Book of Esther is you see in Esther chapter two that there's a Jew that did not return but stayed in Iran. Go to Esther chapter two. Now, I'm putting you in context. I hope I'm not confusing you. But if I am, hangeth thou in there. Oh baby, we will be back. Okay, so Esther chapter two. In Esther chapter two, what happens is, in chapter one, he throws the banquet, the king throws the banquet. He invites his wife Vashti to come and to stand before the people because he has a beautiful kingdom and he has a beautiful wife and he wants to show her off. Vashti digs in her heels and she says, "I'm not coming." He talks to the men and the men, the rulers of the country decide, "Hey, if she doesn't show up, we're in trouble when we go home. Because if the queen refused the king, then our wives are going to refuse us. So let's get rid of the queen." So chapter one, Vashti is deposed as being the queen of Ahasuerus. In chapter two, what you have is you have a Jew that did not return under Ezra back to the land of Israel. You have a Jew that stayed in the kingdom that was taken over by the Medes and the Persians. And it says in verse five, "Now there was, at the Citadel in Susa, it says, a Jew whose name was Mordecai, born the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjamite, who had been taken into exile from Jerusalem with the captives who had been exiled with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had exiled. He was bringing up Hadassah, that is Esther, his uncle's daughter, for she had no father or mother. Now the young lady was beautiful of form and face and when her father and her mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter. Now what happens in chapter one, Vashti is deposed. In chapter two, they're looking for a new queen. So they have Miss Persia contest and he sends his men throughout the kingdom looking for beautiful girls. Oh, you're beautiful. You're beautiful, you're beautiful. And they bring them back to the king, back to the palace, back to where all the women in his harem are kept and they go through a beautifying process and then they spend a night with the king. And then the king, after spending a night with all these women, is going to decide who is going to be the queen, the new queen to take Vashti. So Esther chapter two is the story of how Esther becomes the queen. Now, when she becomes the queen, she is a Jewish, but Mordecai who has raised her has told her, "You cannot tell anyone that you are a Jew." So here's the picture. You have Jews over here living back in the land. They have returned from the exile. You have Jews that are still in the land. They are still there and among them is Esther and Mordecai. And so in Esther chapter two, and if you will look, you will see down here, Esther chapter two, Esther becomes queen. Alright, now, I want you to see one thing about the end of chapter two. The end of Esther chapter two. "In those days, while Mordecai was sitting at the king's gate, these two men," two, I can't pronounce their names, "two of the king's officials from those who guarded the door became angry and sought to lay hands on King of Ahasuerus. But the plot became known to Mordecai. He told Queen Esther and Esther informed the king in Mordecai's name. Esther goes to the king and she says, 'Mordecai has discovered that there is a plot to kill you. These two men are involved in the plot.' And so then those two men, when the plot was investigated and found to be so, they were both hanged on a gallows. And it was written in the book of the chronicles of the kings in the king's presence." They kept books of everything that went on in the kingdom. So they wrote it down and they put it away. The Book of Esther, chapter one, we have a king who's planning a battle. And chapter one, the year is now, in chapter one, 483 B.C. Now, in Esther chapter two, it is four years later, if you have an inductive study Bible, it would tell you that in the margin next to verse 15 and 16. And then what you have is you have Esther becoming the queen. So it is four years after Vashti has been deposed. Then God, in this incredible story, because when you sit down to read Esther, it's quick and it's fast and you read it quickly and you don't wanna put it down because you're just absolutely fascinated by the book. But here is this tiny little story just tucked in about a plot to kill the king. When you come to Esther chapter three in this fast moving event, the enemy steps on the stage. The enemy steps on the stage and reveals who he is. It is Haman. And Haman is an Agagite, and the Agagites are part of the Amalekites, and the Amalekites are the perennial enemies of the Jews. You go all the way back to Exodus 17, and you see that the Amalekites are the ones that are always going to give the Jews trouble. So you have a king that has a queen and doesn't know that she's Jewish. You have a king that has a servant by the name of Mordecai, does not know that he's Jewish. But you have a man by the name of Haman and Haman is wearing the signet ring of the king. And so Haman looks at Mordecai and Mordecai when he walks by Mordecai, Mordecai doesn't bow. He doesn't think of it very much. He doesn't really notice him until one day, the men point out to Haman that Mordecai is not bowing to you. Now watch what happens, verse five of chapter three. "When Haman saw that Mordecai neither bowed down nor paid homage to him, Haman was filled with rage. But he disdained to lay hands on Mordecai alone." Alone, for they had told him who the people of Mordecai were. Therefore, Haman sought to destroy all the Jews, the people of Mordecai, who were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus, a kingdom that goes from India to Ethiopia, a kingdom that includes Jerusalem where the Jews have returned, a kingdom over which he has supreme rule because Cyrus and Darius the Mede took it away from the Babylonians. And now, according to the prophecies of Daniel, the Medes and the Persians are ruling. And so as God is unfolding the story, we find out that there is Haman, an Agagite, who is an Amalekite who hates the Jews. And he wants to get rid of every single Jew. We go to Israel, we take teaching tours every year in Israel. They're heavy, heavy teaching. We teach the whole Book of Revelation at Megiddo. And I mean the whole arrest trial and crucifixion of Jesus Christ at the house of Caiaphas that we rent, we do this every single year. And in the process, we get to know many of the Jewish people in the land and we come to love them. And I remember, one day, and this is years ago when Arafat was making trouble for the Jews and would stand on television in broadcast in Israel and say how, you know, he just wants part of that land. He wants to be friends of the Jews. But one night, we were invited to go to the home of the man that ran the Jerusalem Post. And when we got to the door, my husband and I, to have dinner with him, he says, "Come in here quick." And he had television on from the Arab states and there was Arafat standing there and saying how he wanted to drive the Jews into the sea. This is their intention and this is why, in the sovereignty of God, none of the peace agreements have made because they want more, they want it all, and they will not be content until they drive the Jews. And I'm talking about enemies of Jews. I'm not just talking about Arabs because I have Arab friends that are believers, as Joel was saying, but there's an element. It's the seed of the evil one that wants to destroy the chosen nation, the chosen people of God Almighty. Because remember, Messiah is not here yet, and Messiah must come from Abraham's loins. He must come from the tribe of Judah. He must come from the house of David. And all of that is laid down in the scriptures. And so they wanna get rid of the Jews. And this is what he said. "In the first month, which is the month Nisan and the 12th year of King Ahasuerus," it is we have moved from chapter one from the third year to now the 12th year of King Ahasuerus. The year is 473 B.C. They cast pur, pur was locked. And what they did was they sat there and they went through the calendar and they cast, so to speak, the pur, the dice, to find out when is the most propitious time with the gods to put the Jews to death. And so they came up with the date. And the date would be until the 12th month, that is the month Adar. And then Haman said to King Ahasuerus, now, listen carefully, "There is a certain people scattered and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom. Their laws are different from those of all other people. They do not observe the king's laws. So it is not in the king's interest to let them remain. If it be pleasing to the king, let it be decreed that they be destroyed, and I will put 10,000 talents of silver into the hands of those who carry on the king's business. You let me do this and I'll give you money for your coffers and it will help you cover of course the cost of war which he has just endured." So the king took off his signet ring and he gave it to Haman, and Haman then made a decree. Now, listen, the king didn't know who the people were. The king didn't know that they were Jews. And if you study carefully, and when we teach you to study the Bible inductively, and that's what the inductive study Bible is about, helping you discover truth for yourself. But when you study the Bible carefully, when you observe the who and the what and the when and the where and the why and the how, when you begin to read and see certain words repeated and then you begin to mark those, what you're going to see, just the word Jew, not even in reference to the people of Mordecai, which were Jews also, the word Jew in this short little book is used over 51 times in the book. But the king doesn't know that he's putting to death the Jews. So the decree goes out in verse 13 of chapter three. "Letters were sent by couriers to all the king's provinces," now, listen, "to destroy, to kill, to annihilate all the Jews, both young and old, women and children, in one day, the 13th day of the 12th month, which is the month Adar, and seize their possessions as plunder." In other words, okay, come on. On the 13th month of Adar, I'm supposed to stay in the light, excuse me, but on the 13th month of Adar, this is what you can do. You can kill every single Jew you can find. And every single Jew that you find, you can take and have their possessions. Their house can be yours. All of their jewels can be yours. All their money, all their clothes, it's yours. It's a decree. It is signed by the king. So the decree goes out. And what happens? Look at chapter four. Chapter four in the Book of Esther is the pivotal point. And what you see is you see, if you'll look back down here at your little chart, you'll see in chapter two, Esther becomes queen. In chapter three, you'll see Haman's edict to destroy the Jews. And then we come to Esther chapter four. "When Mordecai learned all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the midst of the city and wailed loudly and bitterly. He went as far as the king's gate for no one was to enter the king's gate in sackcloth." You don't make kings unhappy. You keep kings happy. You keep them blissful. You keep them ignorant and you don't cause any sorrow or any consternation because after all he's the king and he shouldn't be disturbed. And so it says, "In each and every province where the command and decree of the king came, there was great mourning among the Jews," and you would mark Jews. I mark 'em all with a blue star of David, "but now there was great morning among the Jews," listen to what it says, "with fasting, weeping, and wailing, and many lay on sackcloth and ashes." Esther does not know what is going on. She does not have the slightest idea. She hears about Mordecai. She hears about Mordecai in sackcloth and she sends him a suit of clothes and she said, "Tell Mordecai to get that sackcloth off and put on a suit of clothes suitable the king's liable to see you. Verse seven, and Mordecai told him all that had happened to him, this man, and the exact amount of money that Haman had promised to apply to the king's treasuries, now listen, for the destruction of the Jews. He also gave him a copy of the entire edict and he informed him of what was going on. And so then they take this word back to Esther who knows nothing of this. Verse 13, then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, listen carefully, "Do not imagine that you, in the king's palace, can escape more than all the Jews, for if you, Esther, remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place. Listen, I want you to know, God is not going to let the Jews be wiped out because God has a purpose, God has a plan, God sits on his throne. But you have been brought to royalty to the kingdom for such a time as this." What you and I need to understand, precious ones, that's laid out for this story by way of instruction, by way of example, what God has said and what he has written in his word, is the very words of God. They will never be changed. They will never be altered. They are pure and unadulterated truth from Genesis 1:1 all the way through the end of Revelation, this is the word of God, breathe by God. And Jesus said, "Man is to live by every word that comes out of the mouth of God." What he has purpose will come to pass. What he has planned, no one can thwart. No one will stop it. And yet this is the awesome enigma of it all. He allows you and me, as part of his family, as part of the church of Jesus Christ, as part of those that were chosen in him as Ephesians one says, before the foundation of the world, so that we could be holy and blameless and fulfill the kind intention of his will, God has allowed you and I to be involved in kingdom affairs. And what God is saying through Mordecai to Esther is this. If you remain silent at this time, Esther, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father's house will perish. You're not the savior of the Jews, but you have a responsibility to use what God has given you to be part of the solution. And then he says, "And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this. Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai, 'Go assemble all the Jews who were found in Susa and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days or night. I and my maidens will also fast in the same way. And thus I will go into the king, which is not according to the law.'" And then what does it say? You know the scripture, don't you? And if I, you say it with me. if I what? "'If I perish, I perish.' So Mordecai went away and did just as Esther had commanded him." What did Esther called for? Esther called for three days of fasting. Three days of neither eating and drinking so that she could go into the king. And if the king did not hold out his scepter, if the king did not bid her to come into his presence but instead because she had disturbed the king decreed that she be banished in the harem forever or put to death, whatever happened, Esther says, "If you will back me." I have people that say we've got your back. There's nothing like somebody that's got your back, somebody that you can trust. She says, "If you will back me in prayer and in fasting, I will go. And if I perish, I perish. I'm willing to die in order to do what God has allowed me to do." What is fasting? Fasting is the remembrance that God is God and he rules over the affairs of man. As I've been contemplating this and thinking, "Okay, how do I teach this to you? What do I teach? How would I describe fasting to you?" The word for fasting in the Hebrew, T-S-U-M, comes from a root word that means this, to cover the mouth. To cover the mouth. The word is T-S-U-M. That's the Hebrew. The Greek is nesteuo, N-E-S-T-E-U-O, which means to abstain from food. And as I grappled with how I would define fasting for you, this is what I came up with. Fasting, and I'll repeat it in just a minute, but fasting is when the soul, sensing its own impotence, covers its mouth before omnipotence and cries for his intervention. Fasting is when the soul, when you and I, when our being senses its own impotence, its own inability to do, to act, to resolve, to solve, to accomplish anything we know, God, amen, I'm impotent. Here's a situation. Lord, look at what's happening in the United States of America. Lord, look at what's happening in our government. Lord, look at what's happening in the church. And we sense, "I'm just a soul, and I recognize my own impotence. Who am I?" And yet God says we've attained royalty for such a time as this. We belong to the King of kings. We are the bride of Christ. We have an intimate relationship with him. So fasting is when the soul senses its own impotence and covers its mouth. Covers its mouth. I will not eat. And covers its mouth before omnipotence and cries out for his intervention.
- [Carl] Our verse of the day today is found in Matthew 17:21, "But an evil spirit of this kind is only driven out by prayer and fasting." And our prayer requests today are number one, pray for Israel, that the peace of God will reign again in Israel and that their hearts will be open to the gospel and the truth of the word. And second, pray for Christians around the world that their hearts would be open to praying for Israel, supporting Israel, and giving to Israel at this crucial time.
- [Kay] Jesus said in Matthew chapter six, "When you fast." He's assuming that we will fast. When we go back to the word of God, we find that Moses fasted. We find that David fasted. We find, as you look at this chart, and I won't have time to go over it with you because we started late, but if you look at this chart, you will see that in the days of Ezra, in the days of Nehemiah, in the days of Zechariah, all of those mention fasting. You find people seeking God because they realize their own impotence and they recognize their sin, as it was said here, their corporate sin, and they begin to seek God because he alone can move. Now, he is going to move. He's going to bring his word to pass. But God, in his mystery, uses the vehicle of prayer and fasting and humiliation and humbling of our souls. To fast is to humble your soul. It is to cover your mouth. It is just to seek God. It is to be desperate for God. It is to say to God, "God, I need help. God, help. Help, God, help." And so what you see in the Book of Esther, I don't know if you realize it, but God is never mentioned in the Book of Esther. Jerusalem is never mentioned in the Book of Esther. The temple is never mentioned in the Book of Esther. Where is God in the Book of Esther? He's not mentioned. He's not spoken about. He's not declared. God is there though. God is in the shadows. He's in the shadows. But in the shadows, God is sitting on his throne. He never leaves his throne. His sovereignty rules over all. So when Esther says the Jews are already praying and fasting, they have a history of it. They know. They have seen the word of God come to pass because they have seen the captivity take place. That God prophesied through Jeremiah, Isaiah and Jeremiah and Ezekiel and Joel and others in the scriptures. They have seen it come to pass. But in the Book of Esther, God is not mentioned but he's all over the place and he's all over the situation. Because if she's saying, "You go and you have the people fast for three days and three nights," and she doesn't even say pray, what are they fasting to? Because fasting is sensing your own impotence. Fasting is going to God and being hungry, so hungry for God that you lay aside your hunger for food. This is a total fast. When you go through the scriptures, you'll see a total fast. No food, no drink. When you go through the scriptures and you look at Daniel 10, you will see Daniel putting aside all pleasant food. So there's a partial fast also. There are fasts that last for one meal. There are fasts that last for a day. There are fasts that have lasted for 40 days. Seeking God because you are desperate for God. Have you ever wondered, precious one? Have you ever wondered, ever asked where is God? Have you ever wondered where he is because he's silent, because he's off the scene? Do you wonder where God is right now in the history of the United States of America? Are you a person that prayed diligently for the election, not just of the president, but the election of other officials, and you didn't see it come out the way that you thought that it should come out? And you didn't see men that were elected that feared God, that honored God, that stood by the word of God so that if God says abortion is sin, and he does say that because he's the one that opens the womb. So if you didn't see a man that stood on the side of God when it comes to abortion and when it comes to morality and when it comes to homosexuality and lesbianism and adultery and you didn't see that person get elected, but eventually in some congressman, some senator, you see somebody that is exposed and you learn about it and you're grieved and you think, where is God? The place to find him is in fasting. The place to find him is in the humbling of yourself. So when you get to Esther chapter three, and I'm sorry that I'm having to go to Esther chapter four, that I'm having to go so fast, but what you see is you see Esther calling for a fast and being willing to perish if necessary. Chapter five verse one. And one of the things that we teach you when you study the word of God, if God mentions time, time is important. And it says in chapter five verse one, "Now it came about on the third day that Esther put on a royal robes." How long have they been fasting? Three days. Are they still fasting? Yes. On the third day while they are fasting, 'cause they're fasting for three full days, Esther puts on her royal robes, stands in the inner court, and verse two, "When the king saw Esther standing in the court, she obtained favor in his sight and the king extended to Esther the golden scepter, which was in his hand." Verse three, "Then the king said to her, 'What is troubling you, O Queen Esther? What is your request? Even up to half of the kingdom, it shall be given you." And Esther says, 'If it pleases the king, may the king and Haman come this day to the banquet that I have prepared for them?'" Do you know the story? Do you know the story? It's an exciting story, isn't it? But why a banquet? When you're fasting and you're seeking God and you're on your face before him and you know your own impotence and you're listening for his direction, you're seeking his console, you're asking him what to do. And she had it all planned out. So they go to the dinner and the king wants to know, "What do you want?" And she said, "I want you to come to another banquet." So he says yes. Haman goes home. He is thrilled. He has been at a banquet with just the king and the queen and just Haman. And he's on the way home and he sees Mordecai. Ruins his day. Has to wait all these months for this Jew to be exterminated with all the others. He goes home and he tells his family. His family said, "Hey, why don't you just build a gallows and tomorrow you can hang Haman on the gallows." "That's good. I'll build a gallows and I will do it." And it says, "Have a gallows," verse 14, "50 cubits high made, and in the morning ask the king to have Mordecai hanged on it. Then go joyfully to the king to the banquet." God's not mentioned. Prayer's not mentioned. The temple's not mentioned. The Jews are back in the land. The Jews and the land in Jerusalem are going to be killed. The Jews from India to Ethiopia are going to be killed. It's an edict coming from Iran. Anything sound familiar here? I can't wait to read Joel's new book, "The Twelfth Imam." We know the end of the story, Joel knows. But what about the details in between and what can we learn from the scriptures? And so here, this Iranian, is going to hang Mordecai in the morning. Kinda rhymes, Mordecai in the morning. In chapter six, the king can't sleep all night. All night the king cannot sleep. There's a verse that says it's the Lord that gives his beloved sleep. There's a verse that says the heart of the king is in the hand of God. He can't sleep. He needs something to do. There's no television. So he gets the books of the chronicles up. He happens to open the books and have the right book to read about the time when Mordecai reported two men that were going to kill him and all of a sudden he's calling in his man and he's saying, "What did we do for this man by the name of Mordecai?" "Nothing." "He saved my life. We've gotta do something." And so he desires to do something and Haman comes to work early. He sees Haman and he says to Haman, "What would you do if you wanted to honor a man?" Haman's thinking, "It's me." And then he says, "Oh, I'd get the king's garments, I'd get the king's crown, I'd get the king's horse, and I would parade this man through the city." I love it. I absolutely love it. Don't you love it? I used to be able to do it until I broke my ankle. Makes you wanna click your heels. God is God. He sits on his throne. People have been fasting. They have been seeking God. They have not mentioned his name, but they're fasting. And God is at work and you see him unfolding this. You see that back here in chapter two, Mordecai was not honored because God has his own timing. And if there is a delay, there is a purpose. God sits on his throne. And fasting gives you access to the throne and to the omnipotence on that throne. And so he cannot sleep. Mordecai is paraded through the city by Haman and Haman's day is ruined. And listen to what it says. He goes home to his wife and his wise men and they say in verse 13 of chapter six, "If Mordecai be whom you have begun to fall is of Jewish origin, you will not overcome him, but you will certainly fall before him." She says those words, the king sends his messengers, they get Haman, and they bring him to banquet number two. Why didn't it happen at the first banquet? Because as she fasted, God laid out for her. You see a woman of purpose. You see a woman who knows exactly what she's doing. You see a woman that is under control. Because when you fast, when you recognize your own impotence, that you are powerless, that you are just a human being on this planet earth, one individual but you, on your face before God, covering your mouth, keeping from the food and saying, "You are the very bread by which I live. Your word is the very bread by which I live and I am seeking you and I am humbling myself and I am crying out to you as people of old did, as laid out in the word of God, as Jesus did, the Son of God, as the church did, as the saints down through the ages have done, as we work in Israel. We have a ministry in Israel where our books are translated into Hebrew, where we are teaching people to discover truth for themselves, taking them through the scripture so that God can open the eyes of their understanding. And this book was supposed to be here for the book table and somehow it got messed up. But in Israel, this book is in Hebrew. It's a key principles of biblical fasting. You can get it by going to precept.org. Our order form is on the back of this and you can get it that way and you can go online and for 7.99, you can go through and learn key principles of biblical fasting. And this is what they're doing in Israel. And as these Jews are learning, saved and lost are learning about fasting, they're seeing, hey, me, here in this circumstance, in this situation, whatever it is, and Wayne described it to you so beautifully, of all the different circumstances, I have access to God on his throne through fasting, through covering my mouth and crying out to God for his leadership. And the rest of the Book of Esther is all about, it's all about what happens. Because this, this, just like in basketball, there is a pivotal point. There is a point where you turn and fasting brings you in that humiliation and that dependence before God to a pivotal point. I can tell you about times in my life when I have fasted, and just the other day, because I had two critical, critical things facing me, and one had to do with one of my children. And I was crying after God for a breakthrough. Seeking him because I couldn't do a thing and only he could. And crying out and going without the food and with every hunger pain, knowing that there is a God on his throne who does according to his will and the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth, one who no man can stay his hand and no man can say unto him, "What doest thou?" And knowing that through the humiliation and through the humbling and the acknowledging that we are impotent, crying out to God and gloriously, awesomely seeing God move and work a miracle. Does it always come to pass right away? No. But look at what happened here. So the king goes, Haman goes to the banquet, and then Esther exposes him and she says, "If it pleases the king, may the king and Haman come this day to the banquet." They go and they're sitting at the banquet. And when he asks what her petition is, then she says to him in chapter seven, "If I have found favor in your sight, O king," verse three, "If it pleases the king, let my life be given me as my petition and my people as my request." She now makes known that she's a Jew. "For we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed, to be annihilated. Now, if we had only been sold as slaves, men and women, I would've remained silent for the trouble would not be commensurate with the annoyance to the king. Then King Ahasuerus asked Queen Esther, "Who is he? Where is he? Who would presume to do this?" You see, the king never knew that it was Jews. He never knew that he was married to a Jewish. He never knew that Mordecai that he just honored was a Jew. Haman knew it, an Iranian knew it, that was determined to destroy the Jews. But there is a God in heaven and as he has purposed so it shall come to pass. He has planned and no one can thwart it. And so she says, 'A foe, an enemy is this wicked Haman.' Then Haman became terrified before the king and queen. The king arose in his anger from drinking wine, went into the palace garden he was steaming." This guy had a hot temper, and you see it throughout the book. Haman stayed to beg for his life for he saw that harm had been determined to him against the king. When the king returned from the palace garden into the place they were drinking wine, Haman had fallen on the couch where Esther was. And the king said, 'Will he even assault the queen with me in the house?' And as the word went out of the king's mouth, they covered Haman's face. And one of the eunuchs said, 'Behold, the gallows standing at Haman's house, 50 cubits high.'" It's 150 feet, which Haman made for Mordecai who spoke good on behalf of the king. And the king said, "Hang him on it." He hung on the gallows that he had made for the Jews. When you go through the word of God and you look at the scriptures and you get to Zechariah, the second to last, the second to last book in the old and our Old Testament, you find the Jews coming and saying to the prophet, "We fasted this month. We fasted this month. We fasted this month." They fast every Yom Kippur. They still do it. "We fasted, we fasted, we fasted." Have you ever fasted for the Jews on Yom Kippur? On the day that they are fasting and ask God to bless them and ask God to open the eyes of their understanding? One of the women that is on our staff with precept ministries in Israel was saved during the Yom Kippur war. Who was praying? Who was fasting? Who was seeking God during that time? And so what you see is you see in Esther, and my time is up because we want you to go to lunch. We think we want you to go to lunch, might wanna stay and pray. When you read the rest of the Book of Esther, what you find out is Haman is hanged and you find that the fast becomes a feast and rest from the enemies and rejoicing. When you get to the Book of Zechariah in chapter seven, I believe it is, in chapter seven, and they say, "What day should we fast? We've been fasting all this time." He says to them, "Are you fasting for you? Or are you fasting for me?" Isaiah 58 is your passage on fasting. And if you get the book, "The Principles of Biblical Fasting," you will study inductively what God says about fasting. You will see it for yourself. But when you look at it, you see that fasting must be done God's way. It is not for you to get your way. It's not for you to lord it over other people. It is for you to humble yourself before God and to seek his face. And what happens in the Book of Zechariah? In the next chapter, he says now about the fasting, "I want you to know that your fasting is going to be turned into feasting." That to me is the end of fasting. The end of fasting is for me to so rest in God, to so commit the situation to God, to know that I have done everything that I can do. I have prayed but I have taken in another step and I have fasted. I have recognized my impotence. I have covered my mouth. I have cried out for the intervention of omnipotence. I have done all that I can. And when you've done all that you can, then there is a time of feasting. There is a time of rejoicing. If you've ever wondered, if you've ever asked where is God, try fasting. When difficult times come and you can't see God, when his name is not being spoken and you're gonna hear less of it and less of it in the United States of America, when his being is not openly, publicly recognized, when God is not honored as God, and you're seeing that, aren't you? When persecution comes and you're challenged by your own safety or standing as a valiant warrior on the front lines for the word of God, and you're willing to say, "If I perish, I perish," try fasting. It will give you courage. It will give you confidence. When God seems silent, when he seems to be in the shadows, when you wonder where he has gone and his back seems turned to you, run to the throne of grace, try fasting. And then watch God move in his sovereignty. Let's pray. Oh, Father, I've left out so much, but you've given us a book, your book, your word, your truth, your means of understanding you, your means of being right with you, your means, Father, of humiliation and confession as they will see as they read these scriptures of how Daniel came before you in fasting and confess the sins of his people, knowing that the 70 years were up, knowing that they were going to go back, knowing, oh God, that you were on your throne. He sought you and you gave him a revelation in Daniel chapter nine that took him all the way to the time when the enemy would be destroyed and Jerusalem would be restored and the king would sit on his throne. Oh Father, may we know there's no retirement in the time of war. And may we, as the general was saying, get off of the pews and onto the battle lines. And may we go, Father, with the weapons, using the weapons that you have given us, weapons, Father, that are mighty, weapons that are divine, prayer and fasting and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, and the confidence that if we perish, it's okay because we're absent from the body and we're present with the Lord. And we then will hear your well done because we have fought the good fight, we have kept the faith, we have finished the course, and there's a crown of righteousness laid up for us because we have loved your appearing. Thank you, Lord. Thank you, in Jesus' name. We thank you for the coming king, amen.
- [Carl] Well, thank you for joining us in this presentation from Kay Arthur. And I hope you've come to understand a little bit of the importance of fasting in our contemporary lives and how we as Christians can pray concerning the events around us. If you've found this podcast really valuable, please get in touch with us. Let us know who you are. Are you someone who's searching for Jesus? Do you have a question you want Joel to answer? Go to joshuafund.com and click on Contact us. Your feedback is incredibly valuable to us as we develop this podcast. And as always, you can check out our show notes for anything you heard on the podcast that you'd like more information on. For Joel Rosenberg and the entire Joshua Fund ministry team, I'm Carl Mueller. Thanks for listening.