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Shalom and greetings to each of you, my dear friends and supporters, in the name of our Lord, Yeshua HaMashiach, Jesus the Messiah. Since my last letter to you, our Messianic fellowship, Tikvah BaMidbar (Hope in the Desert) has celebrated Purim: The Feast of Lots, and Passover.
What is Purim?
The festival of Purim is celebrated every year on the 14th of the Hebrew month of Adar (which corresponds with the month of March). It is one of the most joyful Jewish holidays, commemorating a time when the Jewish people living in Persia were saved from extermination. The account of this festival is written in the Book of Esther, called the “Megillah” or scroll. The Book of Esther is unusual in that it is the only book of the Bible that does not contain the name of God, although we can see His hand of promise, protection, and providence on every page.
The Persian Empire of the fourth century BCE extended over 127 provinces, and all the Jews were its subjects. When King Ahasuerus had his wife, Vashti, deposed for failing to follow his orders, he orchestrated a beauty contest to find a new queen. A beautiful Jewish girl, Esther, found favor in his eyes and became the new queen, without divulging her Jewish identity, as advised by her cousin, Mordecai. Meanwhile, the anti-Semitic Haman was appointed prime minister of the empire. Mordecai defied the king’s orders and refused to bow down to Haman. Haman was incensed and convinced the king to issue a decree ordering the extermination of all the Jews on the 13th of Adar—a date chosen by a lottery—to cast “Pur,” the lot, which Haman devised.
Mordecai galvanized all Jews, including Esther, convincing them to repent, fast and pray. Esther then asked to come into the king’s presence, which was a dangerous thing to do; without being summoned, she could have been put to death. She invited the king and Haman to join her for a feast, at which she revealed Haman’s plot and her Jewish identity to the king. Haman was hanged on the gallows that had been prepared for Mordecai, and Mordecai was appointed prime minister in his stead. A new decree was issued—granting the Jewish people the right to defend themselves against their adversaries. On the 13th day of Adar, the Jewish people mobilized and destroyed their enemies. On the 14th day of Adar, they rested and celebrated their victory.
Ann & David Wimberly with Vi Berger
Mordecai sent letters to all the Jewish people residing in the provinces of King Ahasuerus to establish the 14th and 15th days of the month of Adar as a yearly holiday of feasting and joy, of sending presents to one another, and gifts to the poor (Esther 9:20-22). And such has been the custom. The Book of Esther is read and those listening can get quite rowdy, as they are encouraged to boo, hiss, stamp their feet or rattle gragers (noisemakers) whenever Haman’s name is read so that his name is blotted out. Costumes are also worn, portraying the main characters of the Book of Esther (see photo) or other creative ones for children. Another reason for wearing costumes on Purim is to minimize the embarrassment and recognition of the poor who collect charity on this day—since it is a day when charity is given to anyone who stretches out his hand. Traditional treats on Purim are hamantaschen, triangular fruit-filled cookies representing Haman’s three-cornered hat.
In my previous letter, I asked you to join me in prayer for our 24th Citywide Messianic Passover Seder on April 7. Thank you! God blessed our outreach with an attendance of 300 people (see photo). Two individuals (that we know of) prayed to receive the Lord that night. This was a very special Passover anniversary for me, personally. It was exactly 24 years ago that Dr. Charles Halff, founder of CJF Ministries, asked my late husband, Barry, and me to pray about moving to Phoenix to establish a Messianic Jewish ministry. He had a burden for the more than 100,000 Jewish people living here without an outreach to them. We held our first Citywide Messianic Passover Seder 24 years ago. I know Barry is celebrating as he basks in the Shekinah glory of his Messiah. Many seeds were planted in Jewish hearts as they saw, for the first time, the foreshadowing of the Messiah in the Passover. I praise God that an unsaved Jewish man I’ve been praying for agreed to attend, and for the Gentile woman I had the privilege of leading to the Lord at a Bible study. I praise the Lord for all of the guests who invited and brought unsaved Jewish and Gentile friends and family members—and for my Gentile brethren who came to learn more about the Jewish roots of their faith. Special thanks to the wonderful leaders of our Seder: Dr. Rick Efird, David Wimbley, and Peter Wilson, and to our gifted singers/musicians: Cara FitzRandolph and JJ Bautista.
Passover Seder 2017
Thank you, always, for your faithful financial gifts and prayers that make all things possible. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account (Phil 4:17).
In Messiah’s love and mine,
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Scottsdale, AZ 85267
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