The Jerusalem Prayer List – March 12, 2014
Joseph Shulam – From Jerusalem, Israel

Back home at last and getting acclimated!  Purim is knocking at the door.  Israel has had almost no winter this year, but normally in Purim the winter comes.  Most Purim Festivals are welcomed by heaven with rain, and now it is finally raining a good rain and there is even hail falling.  Everyone is happy to see the rain finally come to this land.  The almond trees are blooming with beautiful white and pink blooms and even some of the spring flowers are already adorning the hills of Jerusalem.  We are preparing the party in our congregation for Sunday afternoon.  Purim in Jerusalem comes one day after Tel-Aviv and Haifa and most of the world, because Jerusalem is a walled city and according to the book of Ester walled cities received the news of Purim one day late.  So, in Jerusalem Purim is on Sunday this year and in the rest of the world it is on Saturday.  Tomorrow is the fast day of Queen Ester.  The book of Ester almost did not get into the cannon of the Bible.  Both Christians and Jews tried to keep the book of Ester out of the Cannon.  The reasons for this are clear:

1.    God is not mentioned in the book of Ester at all, not by any name!
2.    The morality of Ester and Mordechai is questionable.
3.    There is no great moral lesson that is visible at first sight.
4.    There are no elements of worship or praise for the Lord.

With all this said, I am very happy that the book of Ester is in the Cannon of God’s Inspired Word.  The reason that I am very happy is because the book of Ester is a clear demonstration for all that even when God is not visible in a direct revelation and in a theophany The Almighty is still there directing the affairs of men who are not perfect and who don’t always do things just right.  To be honest with you all, even today in my own life, I don’t have communication with the Creator of the World every day or even every year and the Word of God is still for me in the shadows and under the clouds.  There are rare times that I can see something between the clouds in vaguely.  These rare glimpses are often like the book of Ester, I know that God is there and that He directs my steps, but I keep searching His hand, grapping in the dark, trying to see Him, although I can see His deeds in my life and in the life of Israel and know that although I don’t see things clearly.  In the book of Ester, you see the development of the story and the placing of the characters in the stage of History.  You see the characters move and do things that you think are so wrong and so stupid, but in the end what seemed so wrong and for the wrong reasons, turns out to be just the right thing that brings salvation to the Jews in the Persian Empire.

Here are a few examples:
1.     Mordechai the Jew sends his niece to participate in a beauty pageant for the Persian King to look for another virgin to use in his bed.  Is this the right thing to do for a righteous Jew?  Is it right for a Jew to send a member of his family to become a concubine to a Gentile King?
2.    Mordechai the Jew is teaching Ester to deceive the King and the palace workers and hide that she is a Jew.  In practice this means that she is not going to eat kosher food in the pagan King’s palace. This means that she is not going to keep the Sabbath like a good Jew should.
3.    Mordechai is being lurking about the palace of the King and actually spying to find something that could be useful.  He hears the two officers of the King planning a revolt against the King.  He in fact snitches on the two and tells the palace.
4.    Ester in a very clever way plans a trap for Haman and implicates him in her bedroom.
5.    The Jews of Susa and Ester and full of vengeance against their enemies and they go out on a killing spree one full day and Ester asks for a second day to be given to the Jews so that they can go on killing their enemies.

We could go on with these analyses of the issues that the book of Ester raises.  However, for me all these that could seem negative things about the book of Ester, turn out to be the wonderful thing about the book.  God can use people who are not perfect and in fact have some serious flaws and even without direct revelation can affect salvation for His children.  On the other hand people like Haman and his family can have great honor and status in the eyes of the kings and rulers of this world, but in fact they are full of impure and evil thoughts motivated by hate and racism.  The best lesson of the book of Ester is that the first can become quickly last and the last can suddenly at a flip of a coin become first.

Of course for today’s world one of the most important lessons from the book of Ester is that God can use women as agents of change and salvation for His people.  Even when women like Ester is in the wrong place in the eyes of others from her nation and tribe, God can use her and in fact God can place her though circumstances might not be 100% Kosher. I like this lesson and the book of Ester very much, also because it is my birthday.

You pray for God to put you in the right place and for the right time and in the end use you for salvation and blessing to your people and to the people of God.  You pray that even though you might not have a direct and clear revelation with an audible voice from heaven or a vision like Paul on the road to Damascus, God will place you and use you in the right place and like the right time.    You might not think that you are in the right place now, but who knows you might be just where God wants you to be and you might be there just for a day like today.  Every one of us who is a born again disciple of Yeshua has his day where God gives him a chance to shine and stand up and may be change the destiny of the World or at least his own family and community.  We need pray to have the courage to say to God when He knocks on our door what Ester said: “I will go, and if I perish, I perish!”

The Netivyah building is really going on very fast and the building already looks beautiful on the outside.  Tomorrow we are going to spend most of the day with our Architects and Engineers and builders to plan the inside the final plan.  We are now entering the more expensive part of the building process, the interior, the kitchen, the bathrooms, and the prayer hall.

We need your prayers for wisdom and for the means to pay for these most important aspects of this new building.  I realize that people don’t want to invest funds into stones and mortar, but the truth is that this building project has already accomplished great spiritual victories that far outweigh any of the physical aspects of the building.  Now we have passed the rational stage of the financial needs, we are now stepping into the area of the miraculous and the divine appointment.  I know that God is speaking to some of you with a divine appointment to do something significant for Jerusalem and for His Kingdom.  Whoever knows me knows that I don’t say things like this flippantly or lightly.  You pray about it my dear brothers and pray for Jerusalem and for Netivyah.

Udi our dear brother is struggling, and he is in much need for God’s merciful hand to touch him with miraculous healing.  Please continue to pray for Udi!   Also please keep the following brothers and sisters in your prayers: Ahuva, Leah, Ilana, Sara and Zvi, Zvi D., David S., Tatiana, Miriam, Sarit, Chana S., and Marcia. Around the world I ask you to pray for Tim Tucker, Ruby, Satu-Maria, Anna Maija, Anna, Paulo, Mrs. Sadako, Ms. Shoko, Debbie Melucci, Heather, The nephew of Miriam and Elijahu Schmitt, Ray….., Ging, Gabriel, and Sarina Quaack.

I ask you to keep Danah and Noaam, our daughter and grand-daughter in your prayers.

Pray for the schemes of the terrorists who seek to kill and damage and destroy any chances for peace in the world to be turned around like God turned around Haman’s schemes to destroy the Jewish people.  Pray with me that the evil that terrorist plan for God’s children worldwide will turn into blessings for both God’s Children and the children of the terrorists ought to become disciples of God and the Messiah.

God can do it in a flash of a minute and we need to have the faith and ask Him to do it as soon as possible.  The world might not see God working but like in the book of Ester He is Working and directing the steps of men by day and night, and he knows how to turn the evil into good for those whom He love and who love Him.

God bless you my dear brothers and sisters and please keep praying and supporting the Lord’s Work in Israel,

Joseph Shulam

P.S. – We pray for the Lord to bless your service and work for Him in Japan, Korea, China, Singapore, Brazil, Spain, Finland, Germany, United States, and the whole world.