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Shani Ferguson
Por Shani Ferguson
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Costumes, «Ozney Haman» (Haman ears) cookies and the Book of Esther is how Israelis celebrate this holiday

Happy Purim!

He Saved Us Once, He Will Save Us Again!

If you live outside of Israel, you likely won’t find many people around you celebrating this happy holiday. But in Israel it’s all the rage this week. Unfortunately, the weather is not as cheery. It’s snowing in Jerusalem Not the beautiful kind of snow that sticks and dresses the city in white. Just the cold, wet, ruin-your-costume kind of snow. But it’s hard to complain about the weather when we’re celebrating surviving an attempt at our annihilation. While this prayer letter will pray into the Purim theme, we continue to be involved in rescue efforts in Ukraine and absorbing newly arrived Ukrainian Jews in the land. We’ll cover the incredible stories in the next Maoz Israel Report.

The persecution of the Jewish people has happened as long as we have been a people. And this is the case in the book of Esther, the central figure of the holiday of Purim. If you walk around Israel all this week, you’ll see young and old in creative costumes as is the custom. Wearing costumes on Purim is an allusion to the nature of the Purim miracle, where the details of the story are miracles hidden within natural events. We eat special cookies called «Haman Ears,» a triangular filled-pocket pastry (yes, we have a strange sense of humor); and we read the book of Esther out loud where we “boo” for Haman and “cheer” for Mordecai and Esther. It’s a fun holiday with a serious theme of God’s preservation at its core. And it’s just as relevant today as it was 2,500 years ago. We know that God shows us His ways in the stories of the Bible—and so let us pray into them for our lives and the lives of others.

  • Father, thank you for being Lord over all times and seasons. You are a God who, at any moment, can turn things around in our personal lives and in world events.
  • When people devise evil plans, Lord, place your people in the right places at the right times to become aware of these plans and speak up for righteousness like Mordecai, who dared to bring light to the agenda of the enemy and save the King’s life. (Esther 2:21-23)
  • Help us and the people of Israel to revere You more than anyone else. Lord, give us boldness like Mordecai to refuse to bow down before anyone but the Living God. Even when the pressure was on, he chose daily not to bow. (Esther 3:1-4)
  • Haman looked for a way to destroy ALL the Jews throughout the entire empire of Xerxes. (Esther 3:6) He was not alone in his hatred towards Jews. But You used him bring the issue to the surface and then wipe it out. Protect those being persecuted because of their Jewish heritage and defeat those who are of the spirit of Haman. (Esther 3:6)
  • From the beginning of the Jewish race, the calling to be set apart has also brought persecution and has drawn the unwanted focus and pressure to conform and be like everyone else. (Esther 3:8-9) Cause the nations to view favorably and respect Israel’s calling to be set apart.
  • Lord, when anti-Semitic events are minimized by the media, may the Church be at the forefront of standing up and calling it what it is—EVIL—an assault on YOU. Lord, please help us to be bold like Mordecai and go out into the city, fast, weep and grieve over the spirit and mandate of Haman. Lord, remove apathy from our lives. (Esther 4:1-2)
  • Lord, show us when You are calling us to be Esther. Help us to realize the seriousness of what is happening around us. We have been placed in positions to effect change – let us not waste opportunities.: «Don’t think for a moment that because you’re in the palace you will escape when all other Jews are killed. If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?» (Esther 4:13-14)
  • Give us the courage of Esther to say, «If I must die, I must die» —to draw a line in the sand and choose to live our lives as those who stand up against evil. Please help us to refuse to be silent. (Esther 4:16)
  • Lord, thank You for the favor You gave Queen Esther when she approached the throne of King Xerxes. Grant favor to Your people in authority who have the power to make a change in protocol. We pray that you would put people in places of influence who would repent for anti-Semitic behavior in the past and lead their nations in a new direction. We thank You for the countries that have made a bold stand for Israel. Lord, help them continue on this path and bless them for standing with Israel. (Esther 5:1-3)
  • Lord, demonstrate Your loyalty towards Your promises for Your people. Help those who devise plans against Your people realize that their tactics are in vain, like Haman’s advisers and wife Zeresh said, «Since Mordecai—this man who has humiliated you—is of Jewish birth, you will never succeed in your plans against him. It will be fatal to continue opposing him.» (Esther 6:13)
  • We pray for Israelis and Jewish people celebrating Purim around the world this week. Lord, help them have a desire to go back and read the story of Esther and see Your protection and provision differently. Help them to see it as more than a holiday to party and dress up, but to grasp Your love that has not and will not abandon them. (Esther 9:20-32)
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