Following in the Footsteps of Esther
Sam Rohrer: Well over 2,000 years ago in the sprawling kingdom of Persia, now Iran, Persia then, extending to over 127 different lands, a wicked Jew, and actually a Jew-hating man named Haman sought to initiate a plan for the destruction of all of the Jews at that time. The plan was divinely thwarted, and a remarkable deliverance was seen. A day of deliverance became a day of celebration for all Jews to this literal very day, right now, March 21st here in 2019 on the Hebrew calendar, though it’s always the 14th day of the month, Adar, in the transition from late winter into early spring.
Sam Rohrer: This is the day that we refer to as Purim. In Eastern cultures, they may refer to it as [Pureem 00:01:00], but we refer to it as Purim, as the more often said phrase here in the Western cultures. Now, the significance of this day, ladies and gentlemen, the personalities and the roles of the participants in that historic moment four centuries BC is not only significant to all Jews and to the nation of Israel today, but it’s really of importance and should be probably of more importance to all Christians both in substance of what happened and the many applications that can be made.
Sam Rohrer: And because of the historical and the spiritual richness of this celebration we call Purim, we’re going to devote the entire program today to this theme. Our title is this: Lessons of Purim for Such a Time as This. And with that introduction, let me welcome you to Stand in the Gap Today. I’m Sam Rohrer, and I’m going to be joined by the entire team, Dr. Gary Dull, and Dave Kistler, and a very knowledgeable and informed guest to help us walk through this exciting subject. His name is JB Bernstein. He is the founder and the president of Gates of Zion. That website for them is gatesofzion.net.
Sam Rohrer: The ministry of Gates of Zion is a catalyst to inspire, empower, and equip the saints to participate in the salvation of Israel and the world. He is a Jew by birth but now a Christian by second birth with a ministry to both Jews and Christians alike. JB, welcome to the program today. Glad you’re with us.
JB Bernstein: I am glad to be here, and let me make a little bit … It’s interesting, and I’ll be real quick: I am a Jew by birth, but I remain a Jew just in the same way Jesus was born a Jew, he died a Jew, and he rose from the dead and is coming back as a Jew. So, you see, most Christians think that a Jewish person that comes to faith in Jesus has become a Christian. But really the truth is that a Jew, a true Jew is a Jew who is one inwardly. So I have never changed from being Jewish, but I have obeyed the God of my fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and have the Messiah of Israel, of the Jewish people living in my heart. You guys who were not born Jewish in a sense; you become part of us, and you are grafted onto the olive tree. And-
Sam Rohrer: That’s it. JB, that’s true. Boy, I tell you, we could go into that in depth, and I’d like to in another program, but you talked about-
JB Bernstein: I just wanted to mention it, yeah.
Sam Rohrer: You talked about that. Take literally a minute here—just, you can’t go real long. Your testimony is on your website of gatesofzion.net. But take just a moment. You were born a Jew, but tell us how you came to accept Yeshua as Messiah.
JB Bernstein: It was many years ago. More than 40 years ago I was searching. I was like a lot of Jewish people, a lot of young people back in the ’60s and ’70s. And interestingly, after the recapture of Jerusalem in 1967, soon thereafter there was a revival with tens of thousands of Jewish young people. Our eyes were opened, and we were able to discover that the Messiah had come, and to our amazement and surprise, he was Jesus, whom we never learned much about at all. We just knew he was Jewish. We thought he started a new religion.
JB Bernstein: But until I met him and he came into my life, it was, I didn’t know anything about him. And what happened was I was meditating. I was delving into Eastern philosophy. And in the midst of meditating one Sabbath morning, the Lord spoke to me. I didn’t know it was him until later on, but he said, “You’re Jewish. What are you doing?” I was meditating like in an Indian-type style. And it was on early Saturday morning, which I knew was the Sabbath. And I decided I would test out the Sabbath and see what would happen if I observed it.
JB Bernstein: And I took a walk instead of driving. And all of a sudden out of nowhere, a man with a dark beard, piercing blue eyes out of nowhere approaches me and asks, “How’s your faith in Jesus?” And I said, “I’m Jewish. I don’t believe in Jesus.” And he said, “I’m Jewish, and I do.” And I said, “How can you?” And he whipped out a little Bible that he had in his back pocket and started showing me one scripture after another in the Hebrew scriptures translated into English. It sounded to me like Jesus.
Sam Rohrer: Now, JB, you are both a spiritual and a physical son of Abraham. And we praise the Lord for that. But let’s talk about Purim here because we’re very limited in our time. And your testimony would be great. But from a Jewish perspective, share the significance of Purim and identify the setting and the key actors in this amazing story as is recorded in the Book of Esther in the Old Testament, if you could, please.
JB Bernstein: It starts out the King Ahasuerus, the ruler of Persia, which is present-day Iraq. Interesting, they caused problems back then, and they haven’t learned their lesson. They’re messing around with Israel again today. That’s another story. But what happened was one of the people that he’s put in charge, gave great authority was incensed and full of anger that Mordecai, the Jew, would not bow down to him.
JB Bernstein: And he had this evil plot hatched in his heart to annihilate all of the Jewish people. But at the same time, God was already at work, and he had the king, whose wife dishonored him, and the king put her away; she was no longer to come into his presence. And wise men told him to seek another wife, a virgin. And it turned out that Esther, who was Mordecai’s relative that he was raising up, he was her uncle, and she found favor out of all of these virgins in the eyes of the king. And-
Sam Rohrer: All right. And JB, I’m going to have to interrupt. We got a break here coming up. Ladies and gentlemen, we’re talking today about the lessons of Purim, which is today, for such time as this. We’ve identified it: Persia, Mordecai, Esther, the Book of Esther. When we come back in just a moment with our special guests JB Bernstein, founder of Gates of Zion, we’re going to talk a little bit more about Mordecai the man and his words.
Sam Rohrer: That was four centuries before, the days where the powerful and sprawling Persia was in place. Now, while the Book of Esther powerfully records the divine deliverance of the Jews from a governmentally mandated genocide or a possible, potential genocide of God’s people, and even though the book not once mentions the name of God, it highlights the power of God, and his name, and his ability to keep his word to his people. And it does showcase the lives in particular of two people. The one person, of course is Queen Esther, a young Jewish queen, who was used of God to intervene on behalf of her people, the Jews. The other was a Jewish leader named Mordecai, who played an instrumental role in the plan for deliverance and who then was later promoted by the king himself to a position of great kingdom-wide influence. Now, in this segment, we’re going to look more deeply into the man and the words of that man, Mordecai, and share some applications for today.
Sam Rohrer: JB Bernstein is our guest today. He is a Jewish-born individual. He’s the founder of the Gates of Zion and an evangelist to both Jews and Christians today. And the insights are significant. JB, I want you to pick up where we left off in the last segment. You laid out briefly kind of what I just went over, Persia, Mordecai, Esther. But let’s go right into the man Mordecai, whom you’ve mentioned. Share with us briefly, Mordecai, his relationship to Esther, and this part: why you believe Mordecai felt the responsibility and called out of God to step forward as he did in the defense of the Jews. Tell us a little bit about the man Mordecai.
JB Bernstein: Mordecai being a Jew, he didn’t bow down to Haman, so already he’s in trouble. And the Jewish people are worshipers of God. And so wherever the Jews have been scattered, they have been bringing that faith with them, and that has been the cause of much persecution. And that’s what was happening when Haman, who had the authority didn’t … Mordecai thought he wasn’t about to bow down to him. That happened. And also it’s really interesting to see how God worked behind the scenes with Mordecai finding out about this plot to kill the king. And then when Esther became queen, he told Esther. Esther told the king, and that plays a whole part in this as well.
Sam Rohrer: Let me ask you this: Upon learning of Haman’s plot to destroy the Jews, as you just said, Mordecai contacted Queen Esther, delivered to her a very specific message that could ultimately jeopardize her life. Can you share the words that he delivered to Esther and why that entire scenario is so incredible significant?
JB Bernstein: Well, Mordecai, he showed to Esther what was happening, that there was this plot, and the interesting thing is that Mordecai told Esther that, “Listen, even if you’re in the king’s palace …” and knowing the culture of Persia, the wife of the king, Vashti, who is no longer even allowed to come before him; we don’t even know what happened to her. And now Esther is only secure really in God. And Mordecai knew that. And he said to her, “Think not that even in the king’s palace you’ll escape any more than all the other Jews. If you keep silent at such a time as this, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another quarter, from another place. But you and your father’s house will perish.”
JB Bernstein: And then he said, which I believe is the keynote scripture for the entire Book of Esther, “And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this.” That is huge.
Sam Rohrer: It is huge. And of course later on in that same passage, she responded, Esther responded by saying, “If I perish, I perish.” That is a great lesson we learn from her. But Mordecai’s challenge to Esther to intervene on behalf of the Jews even if it might mean her death is very, very significant, and it goes along with what we talk about here on our program, Stand in the Gap. We take that phrase from Ezekiel 22:30. And we talked about the fact of standing in gap for truth.
Sam Rohrer: But as it relates to Purim and Mordecai and Esther and so forth, JB, by application, who are the Mordecais of our day? Who could they be in seeing the danger that’s before us to encourage other people to stand in the gap, whether it’s for the Jewish people or just for truth in general?
JB Bernstein: I would say that the application of Mordecai would be those who are called to leadership roles in the body of Messiah, and those who are pastors, those who are Messianic Rabbis, those who have authority; and they are to speak to Esther, and Esther really is the bride, the bride of the king, which is the body. The corporate body is Esther, and there’s the thing: Although in the Book of Esther, Haman stirred up the king to annihilate all of the Jewish people, well, the king of darkness, the prince of darkness and his demonic hosts, they are bent on annihilating all the followers, not only the followers of the Messiah, but the whole world.
JB Bernstein: He is a thief, and a robber, and the Lord said he’s a murder from the beginning. So really there is a sentence of murder, of a sentence of death upon the world, and we as the corporate Esther, the corporate body are called into the kingdom for such a time as this to do what God has called us to do, which is to bring deliverance through the effective proclamation of the gospel in all of its power and practicality and effectiveness. And that is something that is not happening these days.
Sam Rohrer: JB, that is a powerful statement that you just made. You stated who you believe the Mordecais are of this day, the Esthers of this day. Let’s drill down to this area. Who do you think are the Hamans of our day? We’re watching maybe in our lifetime or at least in recent memory the most unprecedented attack against the Jewish people. We have members of Congress, some of the freshmen members of our U.S. Congress that are making very, very anti-Israel statements. Are they the Hamans of our day, or is the Hamans of our day someone else?
JB Bernstein: Well, I’m going to share with you something that the Lord gave me. And it’ll answer that question plus more. The spirit of antisemitism and anti-zionism is one and the same spirit as antichrist. It’s the same spirit. The spirit that is against the Jews is the same spirit against all true followers of the king of the Jews. So the liberals are, they’re against everything that Christians stand for, and in the natural, they’re against Israel. They are not happy about the United States’ relationship with Israel. They are not happy about Christians taking a stand for the sanctity of life, certainly the proclamation of the gospel. It’s all one spirit, one package to come against everything that is of God.
Sam Rohrer: JB, that application, to me is really powerful, both from the Mordecai perspective, the Esther perspective, as you’re putting it, the bride of the king, interesting, meaning all of us who know the Lord and our preparation; and then you’re going there to the Haman and saying that the Haman of that day today is represented by the antichrist ideology or thought process that we know, according to the scripture, in the end days is going to become more and more. Now, do you think that the Jews of the day are perceiving what you are saying as the broader antichrist, anti-God generally mentality as they celebrate this day of Purim?
JB Bernstein: Well, I’m sure that Jewish people that are celebrating Purim today have it in their minds that modern-day Iran, which is modern-day Persia, is making a big mistake, because look what happened to them the last time they tried to do something to Israel, to the Jews. But at the same time, it’s our responsibility to wake them up to the spiritual ramifications of the spiritual warfare against them, which they do not see; they’re blind to that. But we as a body are blind to our responsibility because I believe we’re in a deep sleep.
Sam Rohrer: We talked about Mordecai in the last segment. We’re going to talk now about Esther. The observance of Purim is a time of celebration for all Jews. We’ve talked about it. It’s been observed from the time that all of this happened, this divine deliverance four centuries BC. The Bible tells us that all of scripture is for our admonition. It’s for our instruction. It’s for our learning.
Sam Rohrer: The people that God chose to include by name in the Bible are there not accidentally. The stories that are recorded are intentional. And the lessons learned, or should be learnable by us are not just for a matter of confirming certain historical facts, but for our understanding of the great power of God, not only then, but also the power of God today.
Sam Rohrer: The principles contained in each account, each story have an application to our lives as God’s people today, and they have for any person in any time in any age. The life of Mordecai and his words to Esther are extraordinarily instructive. The life and the decision of Esther the queen, who made the decision to risk her life for her people is also enormously instructive for all of us today. And with that, JB Bernstein, I want to get you back in here now. And I want to continue. Your insights have been really wonderful so far. I want to go now to the young Jewish girl who became the queen. That’s a magnificent story in itself. But I want to go here: When the words of Mordecai came to her, where he said, “You need to go before the king,” which going in unannounced could result in her death, I know she had to have considered the cost. She had to have weighed the risk. But she went ahead anyways and did it.
Sam Rohrer: Would you share a few practical insights, perhaps, into this young girl, Esther, what we know about her, and what we may know about her deliberation, and why Mordecai’s words to her about coming to he kingdom for such a time as this was so significant for her and then for us today?
JB Bernstein: When Mordecai told Esther about what was going to happen, the decree against the Jewish people, he told her, “You and your father’s house will perish if you don’t do something.” And it’s so significant that he said, “Who knows whether you come into … that you’ve become queen for such a time as this.” So the parallel is, “I have chosen you before the foundation of the world. I have appointed you to go and bear fruit. As the father has sent me,” Jesus said, “So I send you.”
JB Bernstein: Now, when Esther knew what was at stake here, her reply to Mordecai was, “Go gather all the Jewish people in the city and hold a fast on my behalf. And for three days and nights, and we’ll also fast.” And so the first thing, there’s a pattern of what is needed in order to bring deliverance. In order to get God to move somehow, we are to fast and to pray. That’s something else that’s somewhat lost today.
JB Bernstein: And so the entire Jewish community fasted and prayed, and then Esther took the chance to go into the presence of the king, which was a dangerous thing. But we have access into the presence of the king. We are able to go not only before the throne of grace, but into the most holy place in the very presence of God. And the word enjoins us to do that with boldness. And how often do we do that? And how often do we do that in order to beseech God to save those who are perishing? That’s where Esther’s heart was at. That’s where our heart needs to be.
JB Bernstein: The situation back then was urgent. But the situation now is unseen but just as urgent. And Paul actually said, “Be urgent. Preach the word in season and out of season.” That is the application.
Sam Rohrer: The results of Esther’s decision of course was the cause of great deliverance. And it hints the reason for the observation of Purim today. Can you go into some of the specifics of exactly what happened when Esther went before the king and how what was certainly assured to be the destruction of the Jewish people turned into the deliverance of the Jewish people? We know the story here, but some of our listeners may not, or maybe they’ve forgotten it and need to be reminded.
JB Bernstein: Well, then Esther went and made a petition. She came in to the king and found favor. And the king asked, “What is your petition? It shall be granted you,” and he said, “even half my kingdom.” I mean, she had tremendous favor with the king just like we do. Like the Lord says, “All that is mine is yours.” You know what I’m saying? And it says, “And it’s God’s good pleasure to give us the kingdom.” Isn’t that awesome?
JB Bernstein: And so the petition was, “If the king and Haman come tomorrow to a dinner, which I will prepare for them,” and that’s what she said before the king, and eventually she told the king what was going on. This is I believe after three times. And Esther said to the king that, “I am about to be killed! Let my life be given me at my petition and my people at my request; for we are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be slain, and to be annihilated.”
JB Bernstein: And she said, “Even if we were sold merely as slaves, I would’ve held my peace, but our affliction is not to be compared with the lost of the king,” because of course he would lose his wife; he would lose her, and then he goes, “Who is he? And where is he that would presume to do this?” And Haman was right there. And Esther said, “A foe and enemy, this wicked Haman.” And then Haman was, it says, “in terror for the king and the queen.”
Sam Rohrer: It’s amazing how God turned that around. It’s interesting to note, JB, that even though God’s name is not mentioned in the book of Esther, we can see God working between the lines of everything that takes place in that particular book.
JB Bernstein: Everything. I think its purpose in a sense, God is not shouting and revealing himself physically in our lives, but he’s involved moment by moment.
Sam Rohrer: Absolutely.
JB Bernstein: And he’s involved moment by moment in the Book of Esther. And then Haman is hung on the very gallows he prepared for Mordecai. So God always has the last laugh.
Sam Rohrer: He does. And he gets his way and his will. Well, who would the Esthers be today if we could bring it up to where we are right now in 2019?
JB Bernstein: I believe the Esthers are all those who come to churches, congregations on Sunday and Saturday and are sitting there listening to messages, and that the message to them is, would it not be that you’ve come into the kingdom for such a time as this? And the time such as this is the days we’re living in where wickedness is increasing, the darkness is getting darker, people are more lost than ever, and the only hope is salvation through the Messiah. And I believe people need to realize that we are called. And I mentioned it before. The Lord spoke and said, “As the Father as sent me, so I send you.” He also said, “He who does not gather with me, scatters.” So I believe that Ester is every single one who names the name of the Lord, who has received the Holy Spirit, and has come into the kingdom for such a time as this.
Sam Rohrer: Ladies and gentlemen, I hope as you’re listening to the program that I can tell you right now, I am greatly encouraged as I think of this application. Each one of you listening to this program, you wonder, “Do I have a role to play?” You sure do. If you’re a believer in Jesus Christ, you have access to the king just like Esther did. Many of you are prayer warriors. Continue to do so because you can play a part. Wherever you are, we are here for such a time as this. Take that opportunity. Open your mouth. Let the power of God be known. Stand in the gap of truth.
Sam Rohrer: As we now role into our last segment, I’m going to try and summarize the program today. Our theme has been The Lessons of Purim for Such a Time as This. Of course you know we’re talking about that being the special day today of observance of Purim. That goes back to the Book of Esther that records the remarkable and divine deliverance of the Jews, effectuated obviously by God, no question about it. He superintended, but he chose to use the lives of Mordecai and Queen Esther in a very particular way.
Sam Rohrer: Our guest today, JB Bernstein, is the founder of Gates of Zion, born a Jew, still a Jew, who has accepted Yeshua as savior and has been able to provide some really very special insights into this powerful story in our application from today. And if you want to go to that site that he has, you can go there, gatesofzion.net. Very easy to remember: gatesofzion.net. And if you’re led to help in prayer or financially, you can all do it right there on that site.
Sam Rohrer: With the entire Book of Esther recounting God’s divine deliverance of his people, the evil enemy embodied in the figure of Haman, mighty King Ahasuerus, the young Jewish Queen Esther, and her wise and courageous Uncle Mordecai, within the context of a mighty Persian Empire, in which the Jews were captives at that point, it’s clearly an exciting story.
Sam Rohrer: But you know what? It’s more than a story—it’s history with a real focus on the power of God to do the miraculous and to use average people just willing to be used of God to save the lives of his people and so many more. Those lessons and applications are what we should remember about this importance and this important observation or observance called Purim being observed this very day worldwide.
Sam Rohrer: Now, to conclude the program today, I’m going to ask for a few more applications from JB, and then Dave, and then Gary. JB, let me go to you first, here. You’ve already made some applications from the life and the choices of Mordecai and Esther. We’ve asked you to make them today. But you as a man born into a Jewish home, having trusted Yeshua as savior many years ago, and now a Jewish evangelist to both the Jews and Christians, how would you take now all the things that have been said, and sum up the entire Book of Esther, the observance of Purim? Do that for our listeners across the nation, most of whom would be Christians. Make the application or the top-line applications, however you do that, to our listeners today to walk away from this program saying, “I now know about Purim. And I now know how I should apply this to my life.” What would you say?
JB Bernstein: I would say that it’s time for a wake-up call in the body, if there’s anything to take from this holiday that’s being celebrated by Jewish people throughout the world today. And the interesting thing is that this 14th day of the month of Adar and the 15th day year by year has been celebrated for well over 2,000 years. That in itself is a testimony of the truth of the Bible. It’s some history that is true. And so it’s interesting: Israel is the only nation ever to have lost its homeland and to be restored to it. And that was only in 1948, and Jerusalem being restored in 1967.
JB Bernstein: We are in crucial times, and I would say the takeaway with this is why not do what Esther proclaimed to the Jewish people, and we will, to receive that, ask pray, and go to your pastor. Go to the Mordecais in your life. Go to your pastors. Go to those who are in charge of the congregation, the church, and say, “We need to rescue those who are being away to death.” It actually says that in Proverbs: “Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.”
JB Bernstein: And we have the calling to rescue them. And I would say pray, even fast. Restore that ancient discipline that the Messiah himself did for 40 days. Do it for one day. Do it. You know what I’m saying? And then go to the authorities in your church and say, “Look, we need to begin to send out the saints. We want to be equipped. We want to know how to talk to people to rescue them from this edict of death, not by Haman, but by the prince of darkness, who has come to steal, kill, and destroy.”
Sam Rohrer: Excellent.
JB Bernstein: That really should be our response.
Sam Rohrer: Excellent, JB. Dave, let me go to you. You’re also an evangelist, as JB is. Take this application, if you could, and make some application about this matter of Purim. And perhaps apply it to those who may find themselves in positions of authority. Perhaps they’re in government or other. JB has mentioned the pastor as a Mordecai, perhaps. But there are many that you work with that are in positions of government as an Esther was.
Dave Kistler: Sam, I see two applications here: obviously the gospel application that JB has continued through the program to powerfully reiterate is the number one application. There are people that are on their way to a Christ-less eternity that need to be delivered. And they’re under, as JB said so powerfully, a sentence of death right now. We must carry the truth of Jesus Christ to them.
Dave Kistler: But I see also a national application. Sam, right now we are watching a turn in this country to where the people of God, the Christian community is facing the potential loss of freedom. We’re seeing Christianity under attack. There is this equality bill that is working its way through the House of Representatives that very little has been said about up to this point. We need to be speaking up if we’re a leader in the religious community. And certainly our leaders in Washington D.C. need to stand up and do the right thing on behalf of the religious liberty that we’ve enjoyed in this country. So I think there is a national application as well as certainly a gospel application.
Sam Rohrer: For such a time as this, Dave. Gary, let me go to you. JB has referenced the pastors in the pulpit, perhaps, as a likeness to Mordecai. Take it from there. What would you say, application to this observance today to the pulpit? And I’m going to throw into there parents, mom and dad, because they’re authorities in the home as well.
Gary Dull: Well, and I want to broaden that to all Christians. And I want to speak directly to our audience today. Ladies and gentlemen, the Lord has called you into this time for such a purpose. He has a special task for you. It’s a precious privilege particularly for you to do the will of God, to stand for truth, to stand in the gap. Are you willing to follow his leading? Or does the Lord have to replace you with an instrument more yielded to his will?
Gary Dull: God will bring about his purpose for sure. But you may be passed by if you say, “No, I’m not willing.” God has brought you into this age, this time, this hour for such a time as this. Will you be willing to stand in the gap for truth? Will you be willing to say, as Esther said, “I perish, I perish, but I’m going to do the will of God”? That’s my challenge to you whether you’re a pastor, a parent, a grandparent, or whatever you are. As a Christian, God has called you for such a time as this. What are you going to do about it?
Sam Rohrer: Gary, what a superb application; and, Dave, same, for those who are in office, positions of authority; and JB, so eloquently stated all the way through this program today. Ladies and gentlemen, I hope and I pray that this focus today on Purim, probably the only time you’ve heard a program like this before, will make this day a day to remember, and when you hear Esther, about Esther, and Mordecai, and Persia, and Iran of the day, that you would think of the things we’ve talked about today. Stand in the gap for truth, ladies and gentlemen, where you are.