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“Bible History IS Secular History when given the truth, whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”

You are about to enter the world of “I didn’t know that” moments from the Bible!

 Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still; teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.

Proverbs 9:9

Paul Harvey, during his daily radio broadcasts, made famous the statement “The Rest of the Story.” He would tell the unfamiliar stories behind the familiar stories of men, feats, events and situations. Did you know the same is true of many “bible stories” found in the Old and New Testament scriptures? The following may not be quite the same as Mr. Harvey’s reviews of history, events and people, but they can be just as stunning, revealing, informative, and mind opening.

This publication will look at dozens of these surprising “aha moments” from miniJimscripture. Some will startle, some readers will find them particularly satisfying, and some will realize that history and the Bible are the same thing; a review of what was and remains an actuality. The Bible stories in scripture are space-limited and cannot publish everything surrounding, coinciding, or consequential to these stories. Some Bible time events are well-known and others not quite as well known but none the less found in scripture with a correlating “aha moment”. NOTE: The Bible and history are contemporaneous.

Included in this website are messages from others who serve our God; i.e. studied individuals such as ministers and Bible teachers.

Let’s explore some of these aha moments in scripture and have a ton of fun while doing so!!

– Dr. J

Bible Devotions or Bible Study?

Bible Devotions are like paying the minimum amount due on ones credit card debt. One seldom gains ground. Bible study is like paying the monthly balance in full plus something extra. We gain ground quickly!

 

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Esther Part 5

Here is a look at the issue of Esther in Persia through the eyes of Rabbi Menachem Posner. Do not take this as our recommendation of the truth but it is interesting to read. Undoubtedly there is much truth weaved into Rabbi Posner’s take but it includes his Judaism filters of truth. One brief example is the reason Mordechai refused to bow before Haman. Rabbi Posner says that Haman wore a necklace of which Mordechai observed as an idol. He refused to bow before an idol. His conjecture is a bit far-fetched. Haman was a sworn enemy of Jacob’s offspring. He was an Amalekite (Esau). Mordechai as was Haman were aware of the ancient division between Jacob and Esau as was Haman. Haman is of Esau’s lineage and Mordechai of is Jacob’s ancestry. Click the following link to read Rabbi Posner’s comments on the history of Queen Esther.

https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/4297202/jewish/Who-Was-Queen-Esther.htm

Esther 2:1 & 2 may suggest that King Ahasuerus had some after-the-fact regret for his actions per expelling of Vashti. Since her banishment was according to the laws of the Medes and Persians, there could not be a reversal of the decree. The king had his haram but did not have a queen to be by his side in public events.

BANISHED!

Esther 2:3 & 4 set the stage. The order went out to the providences over which King Ahasuerus ruled. These young women were gathered in the King’s harem in Susa (Shushan). Since this city was the seat of the government, and the Bible mentions Daniel being in Susa meaning Nehemiah and Ezra came from the same place. At minimum they resided there. The king’s eunuch Hegal (ESV) oversaw the King’s haram.

JIV: There are speculative thoughts, some with a basis for believing. The span between when Ahasuerus’s decree went out and the collection of young women to *candidate for the position of Queen was up to four years. During this time King Xerxes (Ahasuerus) invaded Greece. He was defeated but later King Philip of Macedonia taught his son, Alexander (soon to be called the Great) of this Persian invasion. 150 years later Alexander the Great destroyed the Persian empire.

*We say “candidate” but these women were not given a choice. This was a kingdom of many races, languages, and cultures. None of this mattered to Ahasuerus. The ancient historian Josephus says Ahasuerus had as many as 400 women selected.

The ESV states in Esther 2:4a, “the young woman who pleases the king”.  Cultural norms of today often put up a hurdle to understanding or excepting the term “pleases”. The king had a haram of any woman he pleased for whatever purpose he desired. He was looking for the one that would complement his status as a king, one of great beauty. After all this was his desired reasoning for Vashti to parade in royalty in front of his banquet hall nobles and prince audience. It was to magnify himself, not her. Even the Bible reflects upon this in Proverbs 12:4. [NASB] “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, But she who shames him is like rottenness in his bones”. Secular or Christian there is something of value to this that too many wives have lost. Esther 2:4b explains Vashti to the proverbial “T”.

Esther 2:5 gives us the locality, Shushan. Today the city is considered the cultural and political center of the regional Azerbaijani population, while for Armenians, Shusha also has a religious significance and claim to it. Both Armenians and Azerbaijanis have fought for decades for control of this area.

JIV NOTE: This town and area over the centuries has gone by multiple versions of the name Susa. Examples: Susa, Susi, Shushan, Shushi, etc. may be of interest to some, many of the ancient stone reliefs of Elamites show a dark-skinned people as the ruling class in this area of Susa. Perhaps this is a DNA trait of some of the descendants of Shem through his grandson Elam. A serious consideration: [Jeremiah 49:36]And upon Elam will I bring the four winds from the four quarters of heaven and will scatter them toward all those winds; and there shall be no nation whither the outcasts of Elam shall not come.” Try to find a nation in which there are not dark-skinned races present. Elamites are Hebrew descended from Shem, but all Hebrew are not Israelites. True Arabs are also Hebrew [line of Shem].

Esther 2:5 reiterates that these are Judean kingdom exiles who remained in this area of Persia, modern day Iran/Iraq. Most of the exiled were from either the Tribe of Judah or the Tribe of Benjamin. There may be a God-reason that so many Benjamites and Judean (Jews) remained in Persia and its surrounding region after their release from their 70 year captivity. Archeologists and historians have traced remnants of Beni-Israel (Benjamites) to India. Those who populate India are darker skinned but not Negro.

Verse 5 also identifies Mordechai. He is a Benjamites, who descended from the Tribe of Benjamin, that were Babylonian exiled captives from Judah many years earlier but did not return to Jerusalem. Keep in mind we are now talking about 480 B.C. About 140 years later Alexander the Great did exact revenge for the attacks on and in Greece from King Ahasuerus. Some commentaries wish to make Mordechai one of the original captives from Judah. This is questionable. He would be well over 100 years old at this time even if exiled as an infant. The exile dates recorded are 603, 597, and 587 B.C. The historic event of the Book of Esther was over 100 years afterwards.

Mordechai was an older cousin of Esther (her Hebrew name was Hadassah). Since she had been orphaned as a child she was taken in and reared by Mordechai. How or when her parents died is not a matter of any known record. One of her father’s siblings was a brother to the father of Mordechai. We know this as we are given the lineage of Mordechai in verse 5.

Esther 2:8 is very telling how this gathering of young virgins was accomplished. It was NOT by choice such as might be a Persian Beauty Pageant.

(YLT) “And it cometh to pass, in the word of the king, even his law, being heard, and in many young women being gathered unto Shushan the palace…” Look at the words LAW and GATHERED. These are not invitations. The word law is obvious. The word gathered is not so obvious. In the Hebrew, the word gathered is qâbats. It means to take hold of, grasp, collect. This is not a choice of the women but of those seeking to gather them.

Esther 2:8 & 9 The Greek historian Herodotus mentions Hegai as being an officer of king Ahasuerus. Hadassah aka Esther won the favor of Hegai. Like the history of Daniel winning favor with Potiphar, the Egyptian jailer, and later the Pharaoh himself, Esther over a thousand years later, won favor with her overlord; in a real sense, watchdog. Esther was given maids to help or assist her every need plus moved to a better location in the king’s palace to await her training. All on the orders of Hegai. It is not mentioned in scripture, but this did not make her popular with the other young maidens who were “taken” to be with the king to see if she would win the crown of the queen.

Esther 2:10Esther had not revealed her people or her kindred, for Mordecai had commanded her that she should not reveal it” [LITV]. This raises questions about how the captive Judeans were viewed by the local populous. Mordechai “warned Esther” by command to not reveal she was of Israeli descent, a Jew of Judah; Benjamite DNA. Verse 11 tells us that Mordechai daily “walked in front of the gate” of the court or house where these maidens were kept.

NOTE: The word Jew does not represent all Israelites. It originated as a derogatory word used by the king of the Northern Kingdom of Israel [II Kings 16:6] when he planned to attack his cousins in the southern kingdom of Judah (Jew-dah).

The next two verses (Esther 2:12 & 13) tell us something few think of or wish not to admit. The maidens were not brought in as groups but one at a time.  Before jumping to one’s preconceived cultural norms or personal conclusions, even Isaac’s wife was a selection process. It was under different circumstances but not a proposal and choice of Rebekah. She was destined to be Isaac’s wife according to God’s hand. Who is to say, other than Mordechai, Esther was not born for this very purpose as reads Esther 4:14. Exodus 9:16 is another proclamation of the same sort. [MKJV] “But indeed for this purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.” Add to this Romans 9:13. Esther may well have been born for this sole purpose in life, to save her people from annihilation in Persian controlled territories.

Esther 2:14She goes in the evening of, and on the morning, she returns to the second house of the women, into the hand of Shaashgaz the king’s eunuch who kept the concubines. She does not come into the king anymore, unless the king delights in her, and she is called by name”. Hello world!!! The maiden goes into the King’s chambers in the evening and returns to the Harem in the morning? This is the reason many Rabbi say she was raped. The culture back then would say otherwise.

Rev. Dr. Jstark
2020

Esther Part 4

NO

Esther 1:10 – 22 explain the sequence of events leading up to Vashti’s refusal, removal, and ruling. She refused to do as the king asked probably with encouragement from somewhat intoxicated “noble wives,” she raised concerns of this becoming a universal problem with other husbands and families, and the king issuing a ruling throughout his mixed empire that married women are to be subject, as has been the culture since forever, to their husbands.

Vashti must have been a woman of extreme beauty. It is probably her opinion of herself. We cannot comment much on these circumstances as there is little to which we can deduce otherwise. The word in “refused” in Verse 12 may add insight. It is mâ’ên in the Hebrew. This means it was not a simple “no thank you oh king”. As Strong’s Dictionary defines it…X-utterly. A NO; not a no thanks. Who knows how things may have turned out had she simply said, “no thank you, oh King?” This request for her to wear the royal crown is why some daring Bible commentators suggest she was asked to appear wearing only the royal crown. This is a stretch.

Jewish commentaries state that she was willing to do so but was smit by God with Leprosy as she prepared to parade in front of the king and nobles of Persia and Media. This too is a stretch as nothing suggests this in the content or context of the Book of Esther.

 Esther 1:13 “Then the king said to the wise men who understood the times [NKJV]. Where also have we read this statement “who understood the times”? Daniel was one who understood the times. The Christmas Maji were also identified as people who understood the times. I Chronicles 12:32 identifies the men of the Tribe of Issachar as having this ability. Might these wisemen of the King’s court be somehow connected by DNA to these who are identified as blessed with this gift? The Bible does not identify these wise men as folks who THINK or CLAIM to understand the times. It is stated in verse 13 as a foregone fact. Something to toss around in our minds. We Teach – You Decide.

Esther 1:14 seems to address this thought. The Tribe of Issachar, those who understood the times, had been dispersed by the Assyrians along with the other nine northern Tribes of Israel back in 722 B.C. This is some 250 years later. If this was a God-given ability to the men of Issachar, they had multiplied many times over since the Assyrian dispersion. We do not know this “know the times ability” went with them, but it is a dot that might be connected. Do some personal research and see what you find. This area is included to being where some of the ten tribes of Israel were dispersed, i.e. amongst the Medes and into the Zagros Mountains, it has grounds for consideration.

Esther 1:16 – 18 explains the case in front of the wise men who knew the times and the laws of the Medes and Persians.

According to the Brenton translation: And Muchaeus said to the king and to the princes, [the] Queen has not wronged the king only, but also all the king’s rulers and princes: for he has told them the words of the queen, and how she disobeyed the king. As then, said he, she refused to obey king Artaxerxes,

so this day shall the other ladies of the chiefs of the Persians and Medes, having heard what she said to the king, dare in the same way to dishonor their husbands.

The results of the impromptu conference in the King’s banquet hall that day were simple. Return by law of the Medes and Persians what was assumed to be customary up to this event. In these territories of the Middle East and in many Asian countries, this is still the custom. This issue did not completely go away though, that being women (wives) demanding not equal justice but a change in customs. The Apostle Paul had to address it again around 50 A.D.

Ephesians 5:22 “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord”. [Apostle Paul; KJV] What is the crux of seeming to be disobedient or argumentative? [Read James 4]

Rev. Dr. Jstark
2021

Esther Part Three

Esther Part Three

What has Daniel 9:1 have to do with understanding history and the Book of Esther? Look at the following graphic illustration. There is much confusion and contradictory statements even in Bible commentaries about rulers in Babylon, Media, Persia and who was what and when was Esther.

Daniel 9:1 states “In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the lineage of the Medes, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans” [NASB]

Secularist often refuse to allow for similar names to be distinctly different rulers. If Ahasuerus was a Mede and his son Darius a ruler in Babylon (Chaldeans), where does Esther fit? Assume the larger circle is the Persian-Median Empire. King Herrod of the New Testament was called a king, but he was not the ONLY king within the Roman Empire; only one of four King Herrod.


Here is a brief of the situations at, around or near the time of Esther. Hebrew name: Hadassah.

50,000 plus captives from Judah returned to Jerusalem, Judah under Cyrus II (the Great)

Zerubbabel, Nehemiah, Ezra, Daniel, Esther, Mordecai, all part of the same lifespan

Three kingdoms in one: Persia, Babylon, Media all to eventually fall under Cyrus II of Persia

According to Herodotus, the Achaemenian Cyrus (II) the Great of Persia was King Astyages’ of Media grandson through his daughter Mandane.

The Medes and the Persians are the two arms in Daniel’s interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s Statue Dream [Daniel 2].

Medes were the weaker group as mentioned by Daniel; the left hand

Medes were actually more of a confederacy of six tribes of people: The six Median tribes resided in Media proper, the triangular area between Rhagae, Aspadana and Ecbatana In present-day Iran, that is the area between Tehran, Isfahan and Hamadan, respectively. Of the Mede tribes, the Magi resided in Rhagae, modern Tehran.

The Maji were a tribe descended from the Northern Kingdom of Israel exiles. The Tribe of Issachar: Sun, moon and stars (1 Chronicles 12:32)

The Three Maji Kings of Christmas celebrity status were from a Tribe of people called Maji, Zoroastrians. Likely from the Tribe of Issachar who were star gazers. It was them to whom the Bethlehem star was revealed.

Hmmm? To an Israelite group the Star of Bethlehem Messiah appeared?

The Two horns of Daniel’s ram vision in Daniel 8 are the Medes and Persians.

Assyria disperses the Kingdom of Israel, the Northern ten Tribes of Israel [722 B.C.]

Assyria defeated by Medes and Babylonians [around 610 B.C.]

Lydians defeated by the Medes (around 547 B.C.]

Babylonians defeated by the Medes and Persians [539 B.C.]

Persians conquered Medes. (the last king of Mede, Astyages, was the grandfather of the Persian king Cyrus II) [549 B.C.]

Cyrus II takes control of former Babylon moving one of Persia’s three capitals to Susa (aka: Shushan) Originally established by a grandson of Shem [Elam]. It became a Persian capital around 539 B.C.

Daniel and Esther’s tombs are claimed to be in Susa.

Daniel is held in great esteem by Jews, Muslims, & Christians just as is Abraham. Order of their origination: Jews – Christians – Islam

ESTHER CHAPTER 1

Esther 1:1Now it came to pass in the days of Ahasuerus (this was the Ahasuerus who reigned over one hundred and twenty-seven provinces, from India to Ethiopia)

1:2 in those days when King Ahasuerus sat on the throne of his kingdom, which was in Shushan the citadel”. Ahasuerus was a bitter enemy of the Greeks for which Persia paid a great price 150 years later when Alexander the Great [337 B.C.] marched on Persia in revenge for the previous attacks by Ahasuerus-Xerxes in Greece/Macedonia. Shushan or Susa is to this very day the legendary tomb sites of Daniel, Esther, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego. Susa (Shusha) is in the Zagros Mountains. This is where the bible and historians tell us large populations of ten Northern Kingdom of Israelis were exiled by the Assyrian.

JIV NOTE: Babylon was no longer the capital of this territory of former Babylon. It was primarily Shusha/Susa. Ahasuerus fought the Greeks in the Battle at Thermopylae [480 B.C.] The last days of Daniel’s life was in Susa.

Esther 1:3 in the third year of his reign he made a feast for all his officials and servants—the powers of Persia and Media, the nobles, and the princes of the provinces being before him

This is uncanny in that is precisely how the Medes three years earlier conquered the Babylonians killing co-regent king Belteshazzar…with a great feast, royal wines, and golden goblets. This similarity includes verse 4 when the riches of his kingdom were displayed to all who were present. The difference is obvious in verses 5-8 of Esther. For seven days it included the population, not just the royalty and nobles.

Another difference was Belteshazzar expected his guests to drink heavily. Verse 1:8 says drinking was an option of everyone by rule of Ahasuerus.

ENTER QUEEN VASHTI – Est 1:9 Queen Vashti also made a feast for the women in the royal palace which belonged to King Ahasuerus.

Beautiful Queen

There are controversies over exactly what King Xerxes had ordered Vashti to do. She was to adorn the royal crown of the Queen but here is where things are subject to unfounded translation interpretations and guess work. She was without doubt a beautiful woman. Her origin is not mentioned but guess work makes her of Persian descent. Without listing all the lacking evidence speculations per her appearance, what we do know is she refused to come before the guests of Ahasuerus per his request.

Since she too was holding a banquet for the wives of the king’s royal guests, these too had been drinking something other than river water or sparkling lemonade [humor intended]. Excess drinking can make one unusually bold, sometimes stupid in actions and verbalized opinions. She was with a great multitude of other wives who all share one thing common this time in history. These wives were supposedly subject to their husbands’ wishes. It would not take much imagination to conclude Vashti did not come to a refusal on her own. There had to be many women who did not enjoy being subject to husbands yet alone male domination. Why is this an easy consideration? Look at the 19th and 20 centuries around the world and in America. DIDDO! The word used for Queen Vashti’s feast in Hebrew is mishteh. It means to drink as in festivity.

What could make a bolder revolutionary statement than the Queen of Persia standing up to her husband’s wishes. The wise guys in the other banquet had good reason to fear this disobedience spreading throughout the empire. It did not just occur to them at this juncture. Their home lives behind closed doors likely gave them grounds for fear of a women’s united revolution. We will not discuss the pros and cons of our current century political hot potato. Let the Bible stand on its own merits. Ephesians 5:2 would not be written for another 500 years. We often forget the last four words of Ephesians 5:2…”as unto the Lord.”

Question: How well do men AND women submit unto the Lord today?

Rev. Dr. Jstark
 2020

Esther: Introduction Part 2

Study the Times of Esther: Before and After

Studying Esther without the “how it got there” or what is its influence and application today. Let us take a moment and look at some interesting facts that lead up to and followed the time of Queen Esther.

To the right is a look at where Shushan is located. Here it is called SUSA. None-the-less it is just another name for Shushan. It I said that the tomb of Daniel is in this city. Other places claim his tomb but this one is the most likely because scriptures tell us Daniel spent time there as a government official under Darius (appointed ruler over Babylonian territory captured by the Persians and Medes. One may wish to examine the secular history around Daniel and Susa (Shushan). Go to http://www.biblesearchers.com/prophecy/daniel/daniel8-1.shtml for one good website for so doing.

Click on either  Shushan, the capital in the Province of Elam and the River U’lai or Cyrus, Darius and Artaxerses are the same King of the Medes and the Persians according to the Seder Olam Rabbah. One may also wish to click on The Palace at Shushan or The Tomb of Daniel.

We disagree with some of this website’s conclusions, but it is mind tickling and an educational moment or two to read. It began as the capital of Elam. Elam was in the line of Shem (Noah’s son). Esther is from a line of Benjamites taken captive along with Judah. The time of Esther is about 140 years after Nebuchadnezzar dispersed and took captive the Judeans of Judah. Judah was dominated by many Benjamites and a significant population Judeans [Tribe of Judah] with a smattering of members from the other Tribes of Israel.

(Jeremiah 49:34-39) I will shatter Elam before their foes, before those who want to kill them; I will bring disaster on them, even my fierce anger,” declares the Lord. “I will pursue them with the sword until I have made an end of them. I will set my throne in Elam and destroy her king and officials,” declares the Lord. Yet I will restore the fortunes of Elam in days to come,” declares the Lord. Remember that one of the capitals of Persia was Susa of Elam.

Alexander the Great died in Babylon “city”. The Babylonian Empire had a second capital in Susa/Shushan. This is the setting of the Book of Esther. The Israelis who were originally Babylonian captives from Judah, but did not return to Judah when released, by choice remained in Babylon and later Persia. This was a significant population of mostly Benjamites and Judeans with some Levites.

AHA MOMENT: The two main Benjamite characters of the Book of Esther are Esther and Mordecai. Their names are corruptions of the Babylonian gods Isthar and Marduk. Esther’s Hebrew name was Hadassah which interestingly means Myrtle as in the myrtle tree of Zechariah’s vision in his book, chapter 1:1-17.

A 2nd Aha: Go back just a few years, maybe 60 years when Cyrus the Great released the Judean captives in his conquered lands, this included multiple tens-of-thousands of dispersed Northern Kingdom Israelites originally exiled by the Assyrians and living within the other conquered lands of Cyrus.

Why is history before, during, and after the Book of Esther so significant. Why is it even included in the Old Testament? We borrow from Robert Mock’s MD article The Festival of Purim his insightful questions.

“What if Esther did not exist, or she did not respond to the calling of God and be willing to give up her life for her people.  Within eight years, Ahasuerus was assassinated by a courtier, Artabanus.  No doubt, Ezra, the lawyer and scribe, was alive at the time of Esther.  Fifteen years later, under the rule of Artaxerxes I, Ezra leads the second group of Jews back to the Holy Land in 458 BC.  Was Artaxerxes I, the son of Esther and Ahasueras (Xerxes I)?  Without Esther, would Ezra have been killed in the genocide? Without Ezra, would the compilation of the Tanach, the Old Testament, been completed?  Without Esther, would Nehemiah, the governor, have been killed? Would the third migration back to Israel have never occurred?  Maybe there would not have been enough Jews to migrate back to the Land”.

Esther and the Book of Esther may be the common denominator for each of the above scenarios offered by Dr. Robert Mock. There were many Persian kings but only a few have any role in God’s expressed interest in Israelites during the time up to and after Esther. It may be little more than a technicality in our review of whose who in this article but read on. This was a combined empire of the Medes and the Persians when it all began. Eventually the Persians conquered the Medes. When one runs across the name of Astyages, son of Cyaxares, he is NOT a king of the Medo-Persian Empire. He is the last king of the independent Medes in the Mede and Persian alliance. He ruled on his half of the empire 100 years after the time of Esther. This would be the far eastern borders of today’s Iran.

AHA MOMENT: The brother-in-law of Astyages was none other than Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and Daniel’s time. It was his sister who was the queen for which Nebuchadnezzar built the “Hanging Gardens” of Babylon. Talk about family in-fighting, Astyages was dethroned by Cyrus of Persia, his grandson. He lived out his life in Persia.

Another point of aha in the Book of Esther is the villain Haman. He is an Amalekite. He is in the line and Tribe of Amalec the grandson of Esau. A reading of the Book of Esther might leave one thinking that the dispute between Mordecai and Haman was simply personal. If that is so, then why would Haman seek the execution of all “Jews” in Persia even though there is doubt Haman knew Queen Esther was a Jewess? It goes much deeper. It goes all the way back to the feud between Isaac and Esau. They were then and remain today bitter enemies. It was the Amalekites of the Negev north of Egypt that refused Moses and the Israelites from Egyptian captivity of 400+years to pass through their lands in route to the lands of the Canaanites, Israel’s Promised Land.

The author of the Book of Esther is not identified. Most knowledgeable history buffs of the Bible conclude it must have been Mordecai who penned this Bible history. It is logical to conclude that one who was an eyewitness might be the author of greatest knowledge. Besides, Mordecai was significant to this book. His part was as important as was Esther if not a bit more so.

The events in the pages of Esther began around the 3rd year of Xerxes’ reign putting it around 583 B.C. They continued at least up to and after the twelfth year of Ahasuerus (Xerxes) most likely up to 573 B.C. Xerxes was assassinated assassination in 465 BC at the hands of Artabanus, the commander of the royal bodyguard. (Hmmm? Some bodyguard).

Let us close this part 2 of Esther with a quote from Charles Spurgeon.

Oh! That you studied your Bibles more! Oh! That we all did! How we could plead the promises! How often we should prevail with God when we could hold him to his word, and say, ‘Fulfill this word unto thy servant, whereon thou hast caused me to hope.’ Oh! It is grand praying when our mouth is full of God’s word, for there is no word that can prevail with him like his own.” (Spurgeon)

JIV: This includes seeking wisdom and understanding [Colossians 1:9; NASB]

“For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding”

Rev. Dr. Jstark
2021

Introductory Comments to the Book of Esther

Something taken out of historical content, isolated from the surrounding histories, lacks in full understanding of any given context. It is awareness without much understanding. This is the reason for the following graphic. Scripture sometimes advances in years between chapters and sometimes between verse. This distorts the value of the in between events in history. The Book of Esther is one of these points of skipped years. Example: Esther 1:3 states “in the third year of Ahasuerus’s reign”. Esther 2:16 is four years later…”in the seventh year of his reign”. Esther 3:7 we read “in the twelfth year of his reign”. This is another four years later than Esther 2:16. In short, a minimum of 8 years of blank history passes between Esther 1:3 and Esther 3:7. It isn’t blank but not sometimes covered in the Bible.

What else surrounded Esther’s background in history? We cannot give a good mental awareness, knowledge, and understanding of histories that lead up to the Book of Esther unless we explain a few things in world and Bible history prior to, at the time of, and after the Book of Esther. This is where we will begin this study of Esther. The hollow orange section with the red “X” in the following chronology identifies a time-period for which we know Esther became wife of King Xerxes. It is likely she lived on as Queen Mother after his death, but for how long we do not know. We do understand that King Ahasuerus died in 465 B.C. The bold red rectangular box shows that Bible history is extended to the end of this chart. Charts can be discouraging when one tries to look at it in general. Read each item within its own context of history. This is how we define aha moments.

We do not like to inundate our articles with graphs and charts because so many spend zero time examining them even if for their own personal gain and added insight. Plus, we have a problem with Persian historians. We have multiple “historians” who juggle kingships and years to best fit his or her assumptions, perspectives, or motives. The following is as accurate as we have found. It comes from a worthy read:

https://www.bible-history.com/old-testament/persian-kings.html

JIV NOTE: Satraps of provinces within the Persian Empire were also called Kings. King Herod of the Christmas history in Judea was a Satrap of the Emperor of Rome but called a king.

2 Chronicles 36:23 – Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath the LORD God of heaven given me; and he hath charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which [is] in Judah. Who [is there] among you of all his people? The LORD his God [be] with him and let him go up.

JIV NOTE: Cyrus the Great of Persia released the Jews of Babylon and elsewhere with his empire borders to return to Judah or specifically Jerusalem. Most opted to move elsewhere of to stay put.

This chart reveals the later demise of the Persian Empire (Achaemenid dynasty). The Persian Empire was founded by Cyrus the Great who conquered Babylon in 536 BC. The Persian Empire succeeded the Babylonian Empire. It was Cyrus (King of Persia) who issued the famous decree for the Jews to return to their homeland to rebuild their Temple. [JIV NOTE: Darius was king of Babylon, not Persia) Under Darius the second Temple of Zerubbabel was completed; and under Xerxes, or Ahasuerus, the events recorded in the Book of Esther in the Bible happened. Under Artaxerxes I the Jewish state was reformed by Ezra, and the walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt by Nehemiah. The capital of the Persian Empire was Shushan. The Empire lasted a little more than 200 years and came to an end in *330 BC.”

The 330 B.C. demise of the Persian Empire had much to do with Queen Esther’s king-husband Ahasuerus [aka Xerxes 130 years earlier]. JIV NOTE: Some translations confuse things even more by suggesting that Xerxes was aka Artaxerxes. Persian records are far from exacting.

Yes, this is too much history for some readers. Without this knowledge, how does one confirm its value in paralleling secular histories and Bible facts over the same time periods. There is NO CONFLICT since bible and secular histories are simultaneous or concurrent events. Bible and secular histories are not individual and different. They are both a common and often simultaneous history of our world through the eyes of their authors but often not connected by the dots. One is not fact and the other a religion. It is religion that puts a false spin on their disconnect by not connecting the dots. The same is TRUE of secular revisionist historians. Connecting some of these dots is our role at Ahabiblemoments.com. We make the connections because it all adds up to ONE HISTORY.

Following is an exert from excellent research done by Mary Jane Chaignot:

King Ahasuerus

By Mary Jane Chaignot

  • Scholars are uncertain which king is referred to by this name.
  • For a long time, they believed it was another name for Xerxes I, who reigned from 485-465 BCE.
  • He was the son of Darius I of Persia; his mother was the daughter of Cyrus the Great.
  • During his reign, he had to deal with revolts in Egypt and Babylon.
  • He was successful in both ventures, but highly unpopular in Babylon after melting down the revered statue of the idol Marduk. Some scholars think this might have been the cause of subsequent rebellions by the Babylonians.
  • He was also in command during the Battle at Thermopylae when 300 Spartans and 1000 Greeks stood up to the entire Persian army. Though the Spartans were ultimately defeated (by the treachery of a fellow countryman), their stand allowed the people of Athens time to vacate the city.
  • The city of Athens was destroyed (whether on purpose or by accident is a matter of debate), which led to high anti-Persian sentiment.
  • After unsuccessfully trying to defeat the Greeks on the sea, Xerxes had to return to Babylon to deal with further unrest in that area.
  • This is most likely due to his representation in the Book of Esther, and it surely didn’t hurt that he had destroyed the statue of Marduk.
  • According to Josephus, “after the death of Xerxes, the kingdom came to be transferred to his son, Cyrus, whom the Greeks called Artaxerxes.”
  • Josephus claims this king married a Jewish wife, who was responsible for saving the Jews.
  • He goes on to relate the story of Vashti, Esther, and Mordecai.
  • Daniel 9:1 also mentions Ahasuerus, who was supposedly the father of Darius, King of Media. Unfortunately, no such individual is given secular documentation. [JIV NOTE] Why? Perhaps because he may have been the son of the Jewess Queen Esther. *Leviticus Rabbah 13:5 states this Darius to be the son of Queen Esther. *Hebrew Midrash scholars.

https://biblewise.com/bible_study/characters/king-ahasuerus.php

This will help connect the elusive bible and secular history dots, give the reader points of reference, and eliminate confusion or give guidance in some true Bible student minds; those who wish to go beyond the “milk of the Word and the isolated stories within the Bible”.

Rev. Dr. Jstark
2021

Prevailing Hope – When Life Hurts

Real Life…..REAL HOPE

Life is not easy. We all face challenges. Some people seem to have it easy, while others have more than their share.Whether your pain is small or large, the truth is the same. There is Hope. Prevailing Hope -When Life Hurts is about how to face challenges head-on with a Living Hope that will not let you down.

About the author:
Brenda McKee learned from a young age that life is tough and sometimes it really HURTS. During her 30 plus year battle with Multiple Sclerosis and other severe health issues, along with the heartbreak of domestic violence, Brenda has endured with prevailing hope and been an inspiration to many! With her faith in a loving God and her service dog at her side, Brenda finds triumph in the midst of tragedy, with lots of laughs along the way. Her story gives something exceptional and beautiful to the world

About the book:
Prevailing HOPE is my story, and my heart – to give you hope in the midst of all we go through on this earth. It’s my journey, and how the Lord has shown me how I can be okay, even when life is not okay. My prayer is that all who read this, will draw closer to the Source of All Hope – the Lord Jesus Christ. This book is NOT a pity story, easy answers, or me saying it’s going to be okay; it may not – but WE CAN BE! This book IS ABOUT real stuff we face, hope in the midst of pain, finding REAL joy and strength, and how we can enjoy life every day.

“Prevailing Hope: When Life Hurts,” is now available to buy on Amazon

The Book of Esther

Introduction to Esther

How does one discuss or explain verses in a Bible book that does not even mention God, Jehovah, heaven, eternity, End Time, Prophets, or prophesies from the prophets or other books in the Old Testament? Since a verse-by-verse approach is not fitting for a book that constitutes an inclusive segment within history and being that the Book of Esther is the LAST book of history in the Bible, we need to take the surrounding events that played up to this event around 480 B.C. to perhaps 465 B.C.

Let’ begin with a timeline. Why? If it is the last historical book of the Old Testament that means historical event led up to it. It also means it has an influence on things that followed. This history of Esther and the Jews results from the hundreds of thousand if not millions of Jews (Judeans) including those from the kingdom of Judah who were also taken captive who did not return to Jerusalem with Zerubbabel, Nehemiah or Ezra. But she undoubtedly knew of them and the return of 50,000 to 60,000 Judeans shortly before her birth.

STAY TUNE for the Timeline next week!!

Zechariah Chapter 14

Insightful and key chapter into what is going to happen “On That Day”

This critical chapter regarding the end of End Time events cannot or should not be commented upon until one has read it from scripture. We will highlight each verse as we read through Zechariah 14 using the MKJV and comment accordingly one verse at a time. There is victory in Jesus. This chapter gives us great insight into what is going to happen beginning On That Day.

The Coming Day of the Lord

What happens beginning On That Day

Zec 14:1  Behold, the day of Jehovah comes, and your spoil shall be divided in your midst.

This is the beginning of On That Day we read throughout Zechariah.

Zec 14:2  For I will gather all nations to battle against Jerusalem; and the city shall be taken, and the houses plundered, and the women raped. And half of the city shall go into exile, and the rest of the people shall not be cut off from the city.

ALL NATIONS

All nations mean ALL nations. America is part of all nations. She is already heading down that road with the election loss of President Trump. Even the millions of Jews in New York could not find it in their hearts to support him. He made Jerusalem the embassy center/capital of Israel for the USA. Why are we so blinded?

Zec 14:3  And Jehovah shall go out and fight against those nations, like the day He fought in the day of battle. cf. Zechariah 12:9. The Targum [aka: Tanakh] of Judaism adds “at the Red Sea.”  There are multiple of other war incidents where God intervenes on behalf of Israel. We should not ignore them.

Zec 14:4  And His feet shall stand in that day on the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall divide from its middle, from the east and to the west, a very great valley. And half of the mountain shall move toward the north, and half of it toward the south.

As in the day of Egyptian captivity and escape, God divided the Red Sea so Israelites had an escape route. This passage may imply the same thing, that is, the dividing of a mountain range blocking their escape path “in that day.”

Zec 14:5  And you shall flee to the valley of My mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach to Azal. And you shall flee as you fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. And Jehovah my God shall come, and all the saints with you.

This earthquake is also mentioned in Amos 1:1 “Amos’ earthquake”. Plus we read of the return of the raptured saints along with Jesus. This is the beginning of the end for political correctness, Satan, his minions, antisemitism, antichristianity…

Zec 14:6  And it will be in that day, there shall not be light; the glorious ones shall shrink.

            See next verse…

Zec 14:7  And it will be one day which shall be known to Jehovah, neither day nor night; but it will happen that at evening time it shall be light.

“…one day which shall be known to Jehovah”. This simply means the day of world history reckoning is known only to God the Father. Neither day nor night? John 8:12 points out that Jesus will be the light of the world. He will become the light of the world.

Zec 14:8  And it shall be in that day, living waters shall go out from Jerusalem [under the throne: Revelation 22:1]; half of them shall go toward the eastern sea, and half of them toward the western sea. In summer and in winter it shall be.

The eastern Sea is the Mediterranean and the western sea is the Jordan connected to the Dead Sea. All will become as fresh water, no longer salt for the seas. [Revelation 21:1]. The elevation of Jerusalem will be raised so “crystal clear and healing waters” can flow in opposite directions from under the throne of Jesus.

Zec 14:9  And Jehovah shall be King over all the earth; in that day there shall be one Jehovah, and His name shall be one. The Millennial Reign of Christ from Jerusalem. Back in Zechariah 13 we studied that ALL idols will no longer exist in object form or in mind.

Zec 14:10  All the land shall be turned as a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem. And it shall rise and dwell in its place, from Benjamin’s Gate to the place of the First Gate; to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananeel to the king’s winepresses.

Micah 1:3,4; Revelation 16:20 The highest place [on earth] shall be Jerusalem for it will rise above all others.

Zec 14:11  And they shall dwell in it, and there shall never again be a shutting in, but Jerusalem shall dwell safely. Ezekiel 34:28; Isaiah 40:4 “God’s hand will be over his chosen and they will KNOW that he is their God and they his people”. All past sin will be wiped from their minds.

Zec 14:12  And this shall be the plague with which Jehovah will strike all the peoples who have fought against Jerusalem. Their flesh shall rot while they stand on their feet, and their eyes shall rot in their sockets. And their tongue shall rot in their mouth.

This is the effect of nuclear fallout upon exposure to it. One’s flesh shall melt while s/he stands on foot. This is God’s hand of judgment.

Zec 14:13  And it shall be in that day a great panic of Jehovah [for he] shall be among them And they shall each one lay hold of his neighbor, and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbor. As in the day of Jehosephat, God simply caused great confusion amongst the attacking troops who were lined up against Israel. God confused them and they slew each other while still in their own camp. Perhaps it isn’t so odd that the Battle of Armageddon is fought in the Valley of Jezreel; aka Valley of Jehosephat [2 Chronicles 20:1-30] also known as the Kidron Valley which is between the Mount of Olives and Jerusalem. What city is near these places? City of Margeddo.

Zec 14:14  And Judah also shall fight at Jerusalem; and the wealth of all the nations all around shall be gathered, gold, and silver, and clothing in great abundance.

Obviously the enemy is routed if not wiped off the face of the world. The fact that Judah is mentioned and not identified as Israel is confusing. Commentary after commentary venture down roads of guessing. Some commentaries say Judah will fight against Jerusalem, in Jerusalem, with Jerusalem, at Jerusalem, etc.

They ”also fight” means in this KJV verse [in Hebrew] to “pull together, assemble against, join [gam]”

Zec 14:15  And so shall be the plague of the horse, the mule, the camel, and the ass, and of all the beasts which shall be in these tents, like this plague.

A neutron bomb [see 14:12 comments] being used is guess work but since the same deterioration that happens to the enemy will also happen to other living creatures OUTSIDE of Jerusalem/Israel. The common denominator is something as effective as radiation fallout. Isaiah 31:4 points out that God’s hand of protection is over his chosen but not over the living things in the camps of their enemies.

Zec 14:16  And it shall be, everyone who is left of all the nations which came up against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, Jehovah of Hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.

This is not an option or choice without consequence. See Zechariah 14:17,18. No rain for a year if no one from any nation attends this required annual Festival of Tabernacles, sometimes called Festival of Tents in Jerusalem. One may think this to be very harsh, but that same person does not understand holiness and why God created Adam. We have spent our entire history trying to make God fit into OUR definition of life on earth.

Zec 14:17  And it shall be, whoever  will not come up from all the families of the earth to Jerusalem to worship the King, Jehovah of Hosts, even on them shall be no rain.

Worshiping the King of kings is not an option without consequence. How this global travel will be done is a mystery, but it is not an option. This will distinguish between the goats and the sheep. No longer will there be quasi-denominational or religious factors. After the end of the 1,000 Millennial Reign God will judge the intent of each person’s heart. No longer will there be fake news and false worship. Denominationalism is GONE! Denominationalism is a great enemy of following Jesus. There are no two or three ways about the truth. Denominations continue to want THEIR’S to be the one and only way.

Zec 14:18  And if the family of Egypt does not go up, nor come in, they shall have no rain, but the plague [no rain for a year] with which Jehovah shall strike the nations who do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles [Tents].

Read between the lines. No rain for their crops means people will still work for a living. Even the Dead Sea will by then produce a fishing industry [Ezekiel 47:8,9].

Zec 14:19  This shall be Egypt’s offense, and the offense of all the nations who do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.

Let this verse be self-evident. All eyes will be upon the light on the hillside, that being Jerusalem. They will finally be the light of the world. Isaiah 49:3 states: He said to me, “Israel, you are my servant; because of you, people will praise me.”

Zec 14:20  In that day there shall be on the bells of the horses, HOLY TO JEHOVAH. And the pots in Jehovah’s house shall be like the bowls before the altar.

Exodus 28:36 is the precedence. [LITV] He said to me, “Israel, you are my servant;
because of you, people will praise me.”
This is repeated in Isaiah 29:3. No more vote for me or the other guy, mileages, school funds, environmental issues, etc. There will be one central government situated in Jerusalem, Israel.

Zec 14:21  Yea, every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holy to Jehovah of Hosts. And all those who sacrifice shall come and take of them, and boil in them. And in that day there shall no longer be a trader in the house of Jehovah of Hosts.

This is not a verse for which a full understanding from a “do it our way” christian seeks to hear. We refer to those who are religious but do not make Christ central to their life. God will demand full allegiance and consecrated [holy] living… “In That Day.” It is obvious people will still have choices. All will know the truth but still some think denial will somehow make it the way s/he wishes it to be. It is these people who rise-up against God/Jesus once Satan is released from his 1,000 Millennial bondage…but only for a little while.

Rev. Dr. Jstark
2020

Zechariah Chapter 13

The subject matter of chapter 13 is well defined in the first two verse. We are using the ESV this time. It is more inclusive and understandable than are some other translations.

Zechariah 13:1,2 “On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness.

“And on that day, declares the LORD of hosts, I will cut off the names of the *idols from the land, so that they shall be remembered no more. I will remove from the land the prophets and the spirit of uncleanness.

*Idols: hinderances blocking our fellowship and commitment to God alone.

We again read the identifying words of “on that Day”. Our previous chapter article comments have defined the meaning of On That Day as the coming of Christ. At minimum the conclusion of the 7-year tribulation in not only Israel but the world i.e. Daniel’s 70th week as found in Daniel 9. Chapter 9 begins with Daniel praying for Israel, acknowledging the nation’s sins against God, and asking for God’s mercy. As Daniel prayed, the angel Gabriel appeared to him and gave him a vision of Israel’s future. [cf. see our ahabiblemoments commentary on Daniel 9 then continue below]

The future to which Daniel is directed by the angel Gabriel is spelled out in the Book of Zechariah. Verse 1 and 2 are multiple and incredibly significant events.

  1. On that day…not a traditional 24-hour day, but the turning point in God’s plans for his creation. “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done” [Matthew 6:9 and Luke 11:2] now begins.
  2. A cleansing fountain is opened (in Israel)
    1. This cleansing includes the mind, memories, bad deeds, wrongful hearts, false intentions of those surviving members of God’s chosen people of Israel. The seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
  3. To whom? The House of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem
    1. The church of the Gentile age is not even hinted
    1. Do not spiritualize what is not there. The First Church of anything is NOT mentioned including the Papal Roman church and global denominational branches
  4. Cut off the names of idols
    1. This is major. Distractors will no longer be remembered by those being cleansed by the “fountain” in Israel. A totally clean memory of God alone will be on minds.
    1. As we will find out at the end of this chapter, 2/3rds of Israeli life is gone. Only 1/3rd remains. They receive a second chance of salvation entering the Millennial Reign.
  5. This is God speaking through Zechariah about THAT DAY that begins the transition of this world to the Kingdom of God with Jesus on the throne. It is not a traditional 24-hour period but a beginning of a new time, a new age, a new world rule. ”Thy kingdom [IS] come”.
  6. Idol worship will be cut off. The names or memories of any god other than Jehovah-God will no longer be on the minds of Israelites.
  7. Removal of distractors and deception in Jerusalem and Israel.
    1. David Guzik says it well: “Idolatry and false prophecy were the two principle ways Israel was led astray from God. God not only provides a fountain to cleanse, but He also promises to cut off the source of uncleanness – in this case, idolatry and false prophecy.”
    1. This includes any type of substitute or distractor that impeded worship of God by man.

All of this is packed into the first just two verses of Zechariah 13. A study in and of itself.

Verse 3 needs a bit of insight. We read that the sons of some will be “thrust through by their own parents” for continuing to prophecy in this land of Israel. The sons will know (yadda) that they are false prophets seeking recognition in that land by their appearance including the wearing the traditional animal skin clothing. The Hebrew word for through is dâqar. It can mean to be fed no longer, tossed out, starved, reviled [Strong 1856]. We should not automatically think it as thrust with a spear, knife, or sword. We must also allow for it. It will be like a parent disowning a child. ”You are no longer our son” is the interpretation of strongest value.

Zechariah 13:4,5 offer additional consideration to the above dâqar. They must still be among the living to deny their being prophets, claiming to be mere farmers, to be shamed by others including themselves, etc. Verse 6 gives us additional understanding of the corner into which these “sons” have painted themselves. It was a tradition in bible times and in the dark ages of the Catholic Church [and other religious groups] up to today, to validate their honesty and chastity by wounding themselves with whips, knives, or devises to leave bodily wounds visible to others in hopes of being held in awe for their sincerity. These wounds are thought to somehow increase their viewed honesty of intent. This is false pretentiousness. These “sons” who will claim to be farmers, not prophets, would have callused hands, not bleeding hands. They will also lack the dark tans and rough skin of active farmers.

BEWARE OF WOLVES IN SHEEP’S CLOTHING

V6:Wounds from the home of a friend.” When a false prophet wanted to make an example or public statement of his predictions or prophecies, he would wound himself while taking a vow in the name of God for his truthfulness. Recall the prophets of Baal and Elijah [I Kings 16]. Between verse 5 and verse 6 of Zechariah 13 we find this false prophet being caught changing his story. In v5 he claims to be a farmer. In v6 he claims to have provided evidence to a friend of his prophetic sincerity. One should consider that this is the basic meaning of taking the Lord’s name in vain, i.e. to prophecy or make false claims using God’s name as a witness to his prophesying truthfulness by making a vow. He may also be claiming to have had a fallout with a friend and received his wounds from a fight at his friend’s house.

Zechariah 13:7 changes the focus. Now Zechariah isolates his discussion to the false shepherds of the flocks in Israeli towns and villages. That is, the people (flocks) over whom s/he has authority but do not have their interests at heart. Commentaries are divided over this verse. Some see it as the cross and crucifixion of Jesus some 600 years later. Some see it as the continued scattering of the Tribes of Israel to the four corners of the earth with or without provocation. But Zechariah is talking to those who returned from Babylonian captivity. This is long after the ten tribes of the Northern Kingdom of Israel were scattered by the Assyrians in 722 B.C. The Babylonian remnant to whom Zechariah is prophesying will later be dispersed by Alexander the Great (Greek) and the Romans. However, Zechariah is discussing a time 2,000 or so years later “On the Day” at the end of the Tribulation yet to come.

Zechariah 13:8 is another controversial verse or prophecy. It is best to take this verse just how it is presented. Two-thirds of those living in Israel (Jerusalem) will die at the hands of their enemy. One third will survive. The answer to this dilemma is in a question itself. What will it take for the stubborn Israelites to accept the Messiah who their descendants will crucify? It will demand that they be put into an impossible situation of which there is no escape. Any intervention will need to be from God. They will know it and no longer deny him. This is the summation and the beginning of every verse that says “in or on that day” statement throughout the entire Book of Zechariah. His prophesies mark the end of the way it was and the beginning of the way it will be during the Millennial Reign. The Messiah Jesus will finally be recognized and accepted as their King on the Throne of David. Jesus is in the DNA line of David, a Judean from the Tribe of Judah.

This slaughter of 2/3rds of Israelis in Israel will be at the hands of all nations aligned against then. Those who have since the establishment of Israel have been the thorn-in-the-side of the world, particularly against *Satan since King David made Jerusalem his home and capital city of Israel. This takes us back to Zechariah 12:3 keeping us within the context of who is being discussed and prophesied about by Zechariah. The church of believers is no longer on earth. They had been raptured but return with Christ in the clouds to rule and judge alongside of him.

*This issue between man and Satan goes back to Genesis 3:15. “And I will put enmity between thee [Satan] and the woman [Israel; God’s chosen], and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” [KJV]

What a day that will be,
When my Jesus I shall see,
And I look upon His face,
The One who saved me by His grace;
When He takes me by the hand,
And leads me through the Promised Land,
What a day, glorious day that will be.

(Bill and Gloria Gaither)

Rev Dr. Jstark
2020

Zechariah Chapter 12

Chapter 9 is about the final judgement of the enemies of Israel.
Chapter 10 is about the promised restoration of Israel, not as two separate kingdoms.
Chapter 11 is about the doomed within the flock of Israel and leadership.
Chapter 12- When all is lost, God steps in.

Why has God not been thanked by us as individuals or corporately for the many times he has stepped in to make things right? We have discussed this topic before in ahabiblemoments articles. Here is another reason this chapter is an exclusive covenant to Israel. They failed and continue to fail through the ages, up to the writing of this article, to recognize God’s hand. We assume the good we experience is simply providential. Give me help until I see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. I will make it the rest of the way on my own. This is still the deluded but basic belief of Israelis. It was true in their wilderness wandering and remains true today.

ATTENTION PLEASE!

Chapter 12 speaks to this. Pay attention. This is exclusive to Israelis feeling this way, that is, this End Time discussion at this “in that day” moment in Zechariah. Believers (the real church) are raptured. They no longer are on earth at this prophetic point in Zechariah.

We seldom recommend the CEV (Contemporary English Version) as a primary Bible text, but it does make for simplified reading, often at the expense of full disclosure, the wrong wording or exclusions. Here is how the CEV opens Zechariah 12:1. It is good and simple and well worded for them.

“This is a message from the LORD about Israel: I am the LORD! I stretched out the heavens; I put the earth on its foundations and gave breath to humans” [CEV].

Simply put AND factual as a direct message from God to Israel (No church of Bible believers involved in this passage).  Christians be they Gentile or Jew are raptured by then. It leaves no doubt as to whom the target market is in Zechariah chapter 12:1. Do not spiritualize this passage in an unscriptural attempt to try and include the Church. This passage is to Israel, specifically Jerusalem. This passage is the definitive meaning of Romans 8:31b. “If God be for us, who can be against us”.

Zechariah 12:2 “to make Jerusalem a cup of trembling.” We have many life examples of paranoia; absolute fear of one thing or another. Zechariah 12 tells of a global fear of Jerusalem. God is now in the driver’s seat. Other nations who have aligned themselves against her are catatonic. They are frozen in place and shaking. We do not have a good English word for this but in Hebrew it is called ra‛al. This means one is not looking from a distance but is standing right in front of their reason for “shaking in their boots” [absolute paranoia].

Zechariah 12:3 “and all the nations of the world will be gathered against it” [Brenton Bible Version]. There are many times we try to spiritualize scripture to make it sound better, to be less threatening, just thought but not an actuality, to be more positive, perhaps analogous or meaning something else safer or less fatal by spiritualizing. The people of Jerusalem are strong because the LORD Almighty is their God. This is the essence of verses 1-5. Zechariah 12:3 is even more troubling.

How can the USA align itself against Israel? It seems impossible. How can the 6 or 7 million Jews in New York alone not speak up to defend their native promised homeland of Israel and Jerusalem. This time in scripture and Zechariah prophesy will be the mother of all deceptions.

ALL NATIONS

Verse 3, last line is not a metaphor. It says ALL NATIONS. The most recent 2020 USA national elections highly suggest that the USA is or already has produced a seismic shift away from Biblical standards. All nations cannot be redefined as meaning most nations. Not according to Zechariah 12:3. ALL NATIONS! Either America no longer exists or is aligned against Israel as part of ALL NATIONS. It should be genuinely concerning to believers. However, if believers are already raptured, this question is put to rest. Christians no longer occupy the earth as a body of believers.

But “God” we shout in today’s failure to take God at His word…there are many believers in America. God may respond…believers perhaps but are they absolute followers? Even the demons of Hell believe there is a Father God, Son Jesus Christ, and a real Holy Spirit. Yet they show no evidence of following in Christ’s footsteps. Aha-bible-moments suggests this is not an issue since the church of true believers is raptured before then.

Zechariah 12:4 [5, 6, &7] “In that day…” We continue to read these three words in Zechariah. Verse 4 begins with in that day as does verse 6. One should ask: what is THAT DAY? It is a day yet to be revealed. Not a 24-hour traditional day but a specific beginning to an end time series of events. No one will be guessing when THAT DAY reveals itself like the sun in the eastern horizon. All will see it, but few will have the Bible knowledge of what is happening in the sequence of historical events…End Time!

Verse 6 tells us that surrounding nations will be destroyed by God through the hands of “the captains of many” in Judah Israel. The Lord will save the tabernacles, tents, houses of Judah (Israel). The word used to describe these places is ‘ôhel. It can be translated places of worship, tents, homes, or people. To keep it within context since this is the Lord speaking in chapter 12, it means no one in Judah will think him or herself other than God is saving them. Not their missile defense, jets, rockets, powerful bombs, troops, or air force. Nothing with or of themselves will be their salvation at that moment of In ThatDay (V7).

Zechariah 12:8 & 9 is one statement. God will shelter those left in Jerusalem and will shâmad (annihilate) their enemies [cf. Zechariah 13:8]. The KJV says “to seek (bâqash) out and destroy.” It by no means suggests some aligned against Israel will somehow survive or hide from God’s wrath.

Here is insight for believers. The Hebrew word bâqash (seek) is analogous to how a believer is to worship God and pray!!!!! Do we get this? It is prayer and worship with fervor. Not a “Now I lay me down to sleep” type of praying or repetitious recital of the Lord’s Prayer. It is bâqash. Absolute commitment to worship and prayer. Is this missing in churches today? YES! Is it missing in Christians as individuals? Hmmm? Can bâqash be assigned a place in a bulletin?

The remainder of Zechariah is prophetic about the Christ (messiah) yet to come in Israel’s and humanity’s history. This is the New Testament being revealed in Old Testament scripture. Remember well. The original church after the death and resurrection of Jesus did not have a New Testament. They relied heavily upon scripture like Zechariah and Isaiah. This is an unconditional promise from God to Israel. He did send their [and our] Messiah but they crucified him. Gentiles crucify Him daily by not accepting Him as Lord, Savior, and living a life of prayer and worship. Too busy living “their” lives. One may also consider that many claiming believers also crucify him via their lack of a bâqash commiment.

In conclusion of Zechariah 12 we look at the only exception to covenants between God and mankind that is not conditioned with “if you____, the I (God)___”. It is Jeremiah 31:31. The NIV writes… “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah.” This is a one-way covenant and precisely what Zechariah is conveying. The only unconditional covenant this writer can find in scripture. Israelis will no longer need to first do this so God can do this or that. It is not a bargain or conditional covenant-promise. We know this from other passages of absolute support for this one and only unconditional covenant; one that is NOT conditioned upon us doing something first. Are there those who are Christian in name only? [cf. Romans 10:9]

JIV NOTE: For the bâqash Bible student inquiry, read Jeremiah 30 before delving into this verse in Jeremiah 31.

Ezekiel 37:24-25;

And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them. And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children’s children for ever: and my servant David shall be their prince forever. [Not a conditional covenant but one that will be fulfilled by God]

Jeremiah 23:3-4;

And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase. I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: they will fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither will the be lacking in anything says the Lord God. [Not a conditional covenant but one that will be fulfilled by God]

Hebrew 10:16

“This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” After that time? This is when the “if you__, then I will covenant types” are no longer conditional. God himself is setting the table. It is the Millennial Reign. God is supreme and there are no more prerequisites for him or Jeremiah 31:31.

There are several other supporting verses. Do not simply take our word for it. Look them up and learn.

We teach-You Decide

Rev Dr. Jstark
2020