God’s Redemptive Plans and Purim

John 5: 1-15 records that Jesus went up to Jerusalem during a “feast of the Jews” to the Pool of Bethesda to heal a certain man who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. The Bible does not specify which feast, but many scholars believe it was the Feast of Purim which is celebrated every year in remembrance of Esther’s intercession on behalf of the Jewish people before the Persian King Ahasuerus which saved them from annihilation. King Ahasuerus reigned over 127 provinces from India to Ethiopia – a large amount of territory. Had Haman’s wicked plot succeeded all Jews under the King’s rule would have been killed and Jesus could not have been born. It is always the enemy’s goal to stop God’s redemptive plans.

This blog is dealing with two examples of how God showed Himself to be more powerful than the enemy and all false gods, bringing deliverance to an individual and to His people as a nation.

The first example is of Jesus at the Pool of Bethesda.

The Pool of Bethesda was a pagan shrine to a counterfeit healing god (either the Greek god Asclepius or the Semitic healing god Eshmun). It doesn’t really matter the name of the god. Suffice it to say the god was NOT the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The “angel” mentioned was a demon. By going to the Pool of Bethesda Jesus was confronting the worship of false healing gods. He healed the man instantly, delivering him from a thirty-eight year long infirmity! Jesus showed Himself to be the Great Physician! This is an example of how Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8).

The second example is how God uses people even in unbelief to bring about deliverance for His covenant people. The Book of Esther does not mention God, nor prayer. It does mention fasting but fasting is not an exclusive practice of Jews and Christians. So while Mordecai and Esther were obviously Jewish, could they have been of a more secular kind, rather than practicing and keeping the statues and ordinances of God? Mordecai and Esther were living in Persia, which today is modern day Iran, far from Jerusalem. They chose not to return to Jerusalem although free to do so. King Cyrus’ decree (Ezra 1:1) to allow the Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild their temple happened about 50 years earlier. They and many other Jews had decided to stay in a foreign land that did not worship God. Ever wonder why?

Regardless, God is all over the Book of Esther although He is not mentioned. He raised up Mordecai and Esther on behalf of His people to save their lives! Just as God stirred up the spirit of King Cyrus (a Gentile) in the Book of Ezra, He stirred up the spirit of Mordecai and Esther (both Jewish). He gave Esther much favor before King Ahasuerus so that he reversed Haman’s evil antisemitic plot to commit genocide. Haman hung on the gallows he had built for Mordecai. The Feast of Purim was instituted and is still kept today.

The spirit of Haman is alive and well today. Haman was jealous of Mordecai. Haman was an Agagite and Agag was the King of the Amalekites who hated and warred against God’s people. We see this spirit operating throughout history against the Jews. It wants to annihilate the Jews. This is the spirit that operates through Hamas and other terrorist groups today. Please hear and believe what they openly say. It is their agenda to kill Jews and drive them off the land of Israel.

There is at time for peace and a time for war Ecclesiastes tells us. This is a time that Israel is at war, and it is a war she must win. There is no choice really. If a cease-fire happens before Hamas is eliminated, it means Israel loses because Hamas will rearm and will strike again and again. Hamas, Hizbollah, Palestinian Authority, Fatah, Houthis, and every other terrorist group (all backed by Iran) are for war, not peace. The only reason they want a cease-fire is so they have time to rearm and up their game against Israel.

For those of us who live in the West, it may be difficult to understand that a people group is so bent on destruction and death. After all, aren’t they like us? Surely they want peace, we think. Surely, they want their children to live. NO, they do not! They applaud those that kill Jews! They had parties in the streets of Gaza on October 7th celebrating the slaughter of innocent people and the capture of hostages, most of whom, by the way, are still in captivity after almost six months! Our western mindset needs a paradigm shift so we understand what we, not only the Jews, are up against. The Jihadist agenda is first the killing of Jews and then the killing of Christians. In their minds, “Israel is the little satan” and “America (which represents the West) is the big satan.” Do not be fooled! They are coming for us also. It’s just a matter of time unless we fight and win!

As disciples of Jesus we should make it a priority to stand with the Jewish people at this time. Pray for them. Send help. Advocate for them. Do not allow the extremely biased media and political agendas to be the only voices people hear. Do your homework. Study the history and know what the Bible says! Do not be silent! Speak up! We do not want to be like the majority of the Church during the Holocaust and look the other way.

Let us remember WHO our God is! He is greater! He is healer! He is deliverer! His purposes are always redemptive. He has shown Himself to be faithful over and over and over again, not just to individuals but also to a nation! He will come to the rescue of Israel and to our rescue, but it is our job to stand on the walls and pray and act!! Be a restorer and join God in His plan of redemption of individuals and the nations!

“Those from among you shall build the old waste places; You shall raise up the foundations of many generations. And you shall be called the Repairer of the breach, the Restorer of streets to dwell in.” Isaiah 58:12 (NKJV)

Betsy Roy is the Director of Women of the Word and has been traveling to Israel on a regular basis since 2005. She leads prayer and ministry trips as well as tours.

Betsy and her husband Jim have three married daughters and five grandchildren and live in Massachusetts.

What is the Real Hanukkah Miracle?

Hanukkah took place in 165 B.C. and has something to say to us today. It should move us to prayer and action! 

Should Christians even care about Hanukkah? The answer is “yes” because according to John 10:22 (NLT) Jesus was in Jerusalem at the Temple during “the Festival of Dedication” (Hanukkah). While Hanukkah is a celebration of the victory won during the Maccabean revolt it also points to Jesus because it is also known as the Festival of Lights and Jesus is the Light of the World. Most importantly if what happened during Hanukkah had not happened the Jewish people would have been wiped out and so our Savior would not have been born. Think about that for a moment. 

God brought a victory to the Jewish people against all odds during the Maccabean revolt – the real Miracle. But there also had to be people for God to use that were willing to stand up to the injustices of an oppressive regimen. Enter the Maccabee family which were of the tribe of Levi and therefore had a divine calling to be priests of the Lord. Jerusalem and the Temple were under the control of Antiochus IV Epiphanes (means “God Manifest”- oh my!). He persecuted the Jews, decreeing that they could not keep the Sabbath, nor celebrate their Feasts, nor read their Bible. They were forced to participate in pagan practices. Antiochus went so far as to desecrate the altar in the Temple by sacrificing a pig on it to Zeus! Under the leadership of the Maccabees the Jews said “NO!”, revolted and ultimately succeeded. 

The Legend of the Hanukkah menorah.

The legend that a one day supply of oil to light the menorah was found that lasted for eight days did not come into play until about 400 years after the Maccabean revolt and is probably a fake-news miracle! 

An Eight Day Festival

It does seem that the reason that the Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah), which is a celebration of the rededication of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem lasts for eight days is because the Jewish people were not able to celebrate the eight day Feast of Tabernacles (or Booths) that year because it was forbidden. So when victory was won and the Temple rededicated in the winter the people celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles. This is recorded in 2 Maccabees 10:5-8, written less than 100 years after the event and is more likely. Regardless, the tradition of lighting the Hanukkah menorah is over eight days and a beautiful symbol of how God empowered a people willing to stand against oppression and for HIS ways.

“Even if all the nations that live under the rule of the king obey him, and have chosen to obey his commandments, everyone of them abandoning the religion of their ancestors, I and my sons and my brothers will continue to live by the covenant of our ancestors. Far be it from us to desert the law and the ordinances.  We will not obey the king’s words by turning aside from our religion to the right hand or to the left.”  (Matthias Maccabee, 1 Maccabees 2:19-22)

God will bring deliverance to His people even in extremely dire circumstances!

That is the real miracle! But He is looking for people who will co-labor with Him in the working out of the victory. That’s what speaks to us today. The Hanukkah story is a source of inspiration and also a call to stand-up and not bow to a godless society! Will you be one who will continue to pray and say NO to abortion on demand, NO to gay marriage, NO to the loss of religious freedom in our nation for Christians and Jews, NO to secular humanism, marxism, socialism and the like and say YES to upholding God’s commandments and ways, and YES to fighting? I pray that you will.  

A Hanukkah Miracle

Recently Karen Davis and Chaya Mizrachi joined us on Zoom from Israel for a special time of anointed worship, messages and prayer for the US and Israel. Karen spoke powerfully on “A Hanukkah Miracle” about the ongoing struggle of the Sons (and Daughters) of Zion (those that believe in the One true God) against the Sons of Greece (the world). See Zechariah 9:13. This is where we are! God is rousing us to fight the good fight of faith!. Chaya told us a very moving, inspiring and personal family story regarding how Jews were saved in Bulgaria during WW2. They were saved because the King of Bulgaria and the Church rose up and said “NO!” to Jews being deported to the death camps! The King lost his life over it! 

For more history on what happened in Bulgaria watch the 30 minute film put out by Frontier Alliance International entitled “The Fox and the Fuhrer”. Definitely worth the watch! For more understanding on Hanukkah read articles written by Avner Boskey, a Messianic believer who lives with his wife Rachel in Israel.

Betsy Roy is the Director of Women of the Word, an inter-generational ministry dedicated to helping women grow as disciples of Jesus by applying God’s Word through the power of the Holy Spirit. WOW holds conferences, retreats, Bible seminars and trips to Israel

Betsy and her husband Jim lead the trips to Israel, which include visiting with local believers, both Messianic and Arab. Together they have 3 daughters and 4 grandchildren who are the delight of their hearts. God’s mercy endures from generation to generation.