Reversing the Curse (Purim)
2017 is the year of divine reversals. So says Jane Hamon, Senior Pastor at Vision Church in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida. She points to Esther 9:1 that says, "On the very day when the enemies of the Jews hoped to gain mastery over them, the reverse occurred" or "it was turned to the contrary." (NAS) The Hebrew word for reverse is haphak which means to turn around or transform. The same word is used in Deuteronomy 23:5. "The Lord your God would not listen to Balaam but turned (haphak) the curse into a blessing for you, because the Lord your God loves you."
Sadly, those who would curse God's people have remained throughout history. Recently, the news has been ripe with reports of anti-Semitic incidents. In the Philadelphia region a Jewish cemetery named Mount Carmel was desecrated by individuals whose intent was to curse the Jewish people. Praise God for the members of different faiths who rose up to combat anti-Semitism. They came to the cemetery to change what had happened. Trash was removed, leaves were raked, and broken headstones were lifted up and repaired. Shoulder-to-shoulder they stood with the Jewish people as they turned the curse into a blessing.
The life of the apostle Paul (Who’s original name was Saul) is a perfect picture of a divine reversal. He was obsessed with persecuting those "who belonged to the Way." (Acts 9:2) On his trip to Damascus to arrest Believers he had an encounter with the One True God. As he fell to the ground, a voice from heaven asked, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" (Acts 9:4) The Lord blinded him for three days. During that time he came to know the truth and became God's "chosen instrument" to carry the Lord's name "before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel." (Acts 9:15) As we know from reading the New Testament, Paul explains God's plan of redemption (reversing the curse) for all nations in the books that he has written.
Paul writes about his ministry in the book of Romans. He is grieved that his own people are not walking with the Lord. "Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious...I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them." (Romans 11:11, 13-14)
God allowed His chosen people to fall away so that the Gentile nations could become part of the family of God. That means every Gentile Believer has a responsibility to show God's love to the world, but especially the Jewish people. God's desire is for "the apple of His eye" to return to Him. The gospel is meant to be shared. Paul says, "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first to the Jew and then for the Gentile." (Romans 1:16)
The love of Christ was demonstrated to the families whose loved ones were buried at Mount Carmel Cemetery. We as Believers must continue to demonstrate God's love to the Jews. We must provoke them to jealousy through our actions and by showing them the awesome, loving relationship we have with the Lord. The celebration of Purim is occurring right now. The book of Esther is being read in synagogues around the world. Four verses will be highlighted: Esther 2:5, 8:15-16 and 10:3. These verses describe Mordecai, Esther's cousin, and how he rose to a position of honor after being targeted for murder. Mordecai (representing the Holy Spirit) guided Esther (representing the Church) so that the actions she took reversed the curse that was decreed against the Jews. The Holy Spirit is still standing by us today to guide us in all truth and to encourage us to be living examples of the Lord's love that draws the Jews home to their Messiah. Are we listening and hearing and responding? We are meant to be part of God's plan to turn the curse into a blessing.
Joan E. Mathias