The Book of Esther relates the historical narrative of Queen Esther and her heroic kinsman Mordechai. Esther is one of my favorite books of the Bible. I am probably prejudiced, as my given Hebrew name is Mordechai. My grandfather “Max” Cohen was a Mordechai and, in accordance with tradition, my parents named me after him. This was after he had died, because Jewish kids of European descent are not named after living relatives.
The Ashkenazic (European) custom names children after deceased parents or ancestors, not after living individuals. The reason for this tradition seems to be that a deceased person gains merit by having a descendant namesake. If the name is given while its bearer is still alive, this honor is no longer available (in the same family) after that person’s passing.
Most Jewish leaders agree that if a baby has been named after a living person, the child’s name should not be changed. However, it shouldn’t be the name the child goes by. This is especially the case when parents name their baby after a deceased relative and only later realize that a living grandparent shares the name.
Sephardic (Mediterranean) customs encourage naming children after any relative — living or deceased. Such naming is considered an honor for the relative.
I have gained further appreciation for the name Mordechai over my years of walking with Yeshua. Although the hero of ancient Israel was likely named after a Babylonian god of war, the outcome of his relationship with the True God has remained respected throughout the Ages.
Mordechai played a significant part in calling Esther to her destiny, which led to the Jewish people’s survival. Mordechai and Esther’s story became an integral part of the Gospel story. Had the enemies of God succeeded in wiping out the Jews, where would Yeshua have come from? God’s plan would not be subverted. As Jesus Himself said to the woman of Samaria in John 4:22–24:
“You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and now is when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Here is the essence of anti-Semitism through the Ages: The devil attempts to wipe out the Jews in order to thwart God’s fulfillment of His promises to Israel and His gift of salvation to the nations… and the devil always fails. He may win some battles, but the victory ultimately belongs to the Lord! Before the cross of Calvary, the adversary tried to prevent the birth of Jesus. Since the victory of Yeshua’s sacrificial death, the devil again is doing everything he can to wipe out the Jews and prevent their ingathering to the Promised Land.
Some people, while claiming identification with Christ, have persecuted the Jews: the European Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition are prime examples. The Nazi Holocaust mixed the theological roots of Martin Luther and the philosophy of German thinkers with Third Reich paganism. The Nazis employed the devil’s hatred for God’s ancient people with two goals in mind — one overt and another covert, perhaps hidden even to their own leaders.
The obvious goal was the extermination of the Jews in order to make a Germany, a Europe… a planet that was “judenrein” — Jew free. The underlying reason (that the Germans may not have known, but the devil certainly does) is that if and when the Jews return to their promised land, God’s prophetic clock begins ticking down to the return of Jesus and the ultimate defeat of Satan!
According to the Hebrew prophets, when the Jews are gathered to their land — for the second time, from all the Earth — Messiah will come to His people! The prophets foretold the Jews’ second return as an event distinct from the Babylonian captivity:
The following passages cannot refer to the re-gathering under Ezra and Nehemiah, because the authors clearly say that Israel will be re-gathered “a second time.”
- Isaiah 11:1–12:6
- First, Isaiah was writing before the first dispersion under Nebuchadnezzar (8th century B.C.). The return from Babylonian and Assyrian exile was the “first re-gathering” (Is. 10:20–27; 44:26–45:8). Moreover, this cannot refer to the re-gathering of the Exodus under Moses, because Isaiah promised a “remnant” will be re-gathered. The Exodus wasn’t a remnant; rather, all of Israel was gathered.
- Second, this passage states that this will be a global re-gathering (“from the islands of the sea… from the four corners of the earth”) rather than a local re-gathering.
- Third, the context explains that this is a global re-gathering at the end of history. In Isaiah 11:1–5, Isaiah speaks of the Branch (the Messiah). In verses 6–9, he speaks of the Messianic Kingdom. In verses 10–16, he speaks of the political or physical re-gathering of Israel. In chapter 12:1–6, he speaks of the spiritual re-gathering in Israel. This occurs during the time of King Messiah (11:10). Isaiah mentions the “Root of Jesse,” which is another term for the Messiah.
- Isaiah 11:11, 12
- Then it will happen on that day that the Lord will again recover the second time with His hand the remnant of His people, who will remain, from Assyria, Egypt, Pathros, Cush, Elam, Shinar, Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. 12 And He will lift up a standard for the nations, and will assemble the banished ones of Israel, and will gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.
- Jeremiah 31:38–40, 48:40–47>
- “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when the city will be rebuilt for the Lord from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate. 39 The measuring line will go out farther straight ahead to the hill Gareb; then it will turn to Goah. 40 And the whole valley of the dead bodies and of the ashes, and all the fields as far as the brook Kidron, to the corner of the Horse Gate toward the east, shall be holy to the Lord; it will not be plucked up or overthrown anymore forever.”
- Ezek. 37:11–12, 14, 21–22, 25
- “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel… 12 I will bring you into the land of Israel… 14 I will put My Spirit within you and you will come to life, and I will place you on your own land. Then you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken and done it,” declares the Lord… 21 “Behold, I will take the sons of Israel from among the nations where they have gone, and I will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land 22 and I will make them one nation in the land … 25 They will live on the land that I gave to Jacob My servant, in which your fathers lived; and they will live on it, they, and their sons and their sons’ sons, forever; and David My servant will be their prince forever.”
- Hos. 3:4–5
- For the sons of Israel will remain for many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar and without ephod or household idols. Afterward the sons of Israel will return and seek the Lord their God [religious restoration] and David their king [political restoration]; and they will come trembling to the Lord and to His goodness in the last days.
- Zech. 10:8–10
- “I will whistle for them to gather them together, for I have redeemed them; and they will be as numerous as they were before. 9 When I scatter them among the peoples, they will remember Me in far countries, and they with their children will live and come back. 10 I will bring them back from the land of Egypt and gather them from Assyria; and I will bring them into the land of Gilead and Lebanon until no room can be found for them.”
Believers must get excited about the current ingathering. Remember, when God brings His people UP from exile into the Land, good things will happen for all mankind!
I often speak about the concurrent blessings for Israel and the Church. After the Babylonian exile, Jesus appears on the scene in human form. It is “prophetically logical” (my phrase) that the worldwide re-gathering and restoration of Israel will lead to the coming of Messiah! We know this is the return of Yeshua, the Lion of Judah: King of the Jews and Savior of the world.
You can get an early view of the Land He loves by coming with us on a study tour. We would love to host you in the Holy Land. Please call Sandra, our Zola Tours manager, at 214-696-9760 to discuss options. You may also email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.levitt.com/tours.
This month we’re in Israel on the spring 2016 study tour. Please select your trip from fall 2016’s tour options:
Israel Sep 18–27: $4,288 Israel & Petra Sep 18–30: $5,288 Greece & Israel Sep 12–27: $6,988 Greece, Israel, & Petra Sep 12–30: $7,988 Prices include taxes, tips, & fuel surcharge (subject to change).
As I write this letter, I am preparing for a one-day trip to Texas to meet with leaders of the underground Chinese Church. They will interview me regarding Zola Levitt Presents’s gates of Jerusalem television series that they’re adapting into a Bible study. Katharine and I will take additional TV footage for the Mount of Olives interview that we shot with them last fall.
This ministry is wise with your gifts of funds — and we need generous support to take full advantage of our visit to Auschwitz, where we plan to record a television series on the dreadful Holocaust and the wonderful restoration of the Jewish nation in Israel that followed.
You can see the Gates programs that caught the attention of the Chinese heroes of the faith this month on Zola Levitt Presents when we continue airing the encore presentation of Jerusalem: Ancient Gates / Future Glory. Please watch for a new TV program during the week of Purim, which this year begins at sunset on
- The Jaffa Gate
- Repeatedly destroyed and rebuilt, the Jaffa Gate opens to the West and symbolizes the Gospel going out to the gentiles. Guests include Tom Hess, director of Jerusalem House of Prayer for All Nations; and faith-filled Holocaust survivor Phillip Meyers, founder of Immanuel Tours.
- The New Gate
- The New Gate, as its name implies, is the most recent gate and gives access to the Christian Quarter of the Old City. It provides a picture of God’s heart for unity. Guests include David Parsons, with the ICEJ; and fiery supporter of Israel Jan Willem van der Hoeven, director of the International Christian Zionist Center (ICZC).
- The Damascus Gate
- Pointing toward Syria’s capital, the busy Damascus Gate is a window to the North and to the Moslem world. Guests include archaeologist Shimon Gibson and Jan Willem van der Hoeven.
- Purim (Special Holiday Program)
- This program features teaching from Myles and Katharine while also including interviews with Messianic Believers living in Israel. We discover how they celebrate and remember this special holiday that has been recognized by the Jewish people everywhere for millennia.
Then, Jerusalem: Ancient Gates / Future Glory continues.
- Herod’s Gate
- Herod’s Gate dates back to the time of Herod the Great. The historical site of many attacks, it represents today’s ongoing spiritual battles. Guests include Tamar Hayardeni and our friend Rosemary Schindler, a lover of Israel and the Jewish people.
Look up; we live in amazing times! Keep your eyes on the Lord and pray as He commands in Psalm 122:6:
“Sha’alu shalom Yerushalayim!” — Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!
Your brother and messenger,
P.S. You have a wonderful opportunity to share with others the reason for the hope that resides in you! Be like Esther: Declare your allegiance to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob… and His people.