By Martin Cisneros
For this month's ministry letter, since Purim is in another week, this year, I want to briefly answer a couple of online articles that I found last night that had many, many really great points in them. One of them had only the fewest of things that I took extreme objection to their being said the way they were said without qualifiers or further examples of who was being talked about in very broad language regarding Replacement Theology that may have more closely represented the Replacement Theology envisioned by Amillennialists instead of Postmillennialists, since there is quite a difference, and greater difference still with Postmillennialists who are also Christian Universalists! The articles I'll be making a few comments on are at these links:
http://hebrew4christians.com/Holidays/Winter_Holidays/Purim/Scandal/scandal.html (Example: the Jewish scholar Maimonides (the Rambam) praised Esther as being close in rank to that of the Torah itself: "When the Messiah comes, only Esther and the Torah will remain" (Mishneh Torah, Megillah). This particular article goes on to critique Replacement Theology, which is what I partially talk about below, on my way towards other things about the Book of Esther.)
http://www.religionfacts.com/judaism/holidays/purim.htm (Example: Purim is such a joyous holiday that the rabbis teach it will still be observed in the messianic age, when most other holidays will be abolished. Midrash Mishlei 9.)
There's a difference between Replacement Theology and Anti-Semitism. Replacement Theology DOESN'T SAY that Israel shall never be restored to God and be leader of the nations, as Isaiah says. Perhaps one could find a scholar or two, or quasi-scholar, to say that, but there's no difference between Replacement Theology and believing the Church has the blessings that were 1st given to disobedient Israel, such as Deuteronomy 8:18, the Abrahamic Conversion of the nations being promised, etc. AntiSemitism that says God has eternally abandoned Israel is rooted in the mistranslation and Augustinian heresy of eternal punishment, because eternal punishment can't be established without the reading of Romans 9 that claims it says God's cursed them forever. Jan Bonda's "The One Purpose of God: An Answer to the Doctrine of Eternal Punishment" will help with this, even if you've bought that the everlasting mountains that shall surely be replaced must be as enduring as the everlasting name of God, i.e. the normal bit of nonsense from Augustine that tries to make Matthew 25:46 of equally eternal duration THAT'S FOUNDATIONAL TO saying God's PERMANENTLY done with Israel.
Additionally, the story of Esther is the story of the New Testament doctrine of the abolishment of death because God DOES reverse a decree of death and this happens at the very end of the Jewish religious calendar FOR A REASON because it's St. Paul's Universalistic doctrine from 1Corinthians 15 when all rule, all authority, and all power is abolished and all must be reheaded in Christ in the dispensation of the fullness of times, according to Ephesians 1:8-10. To say that Haman only represents AntiSemitism is a very SURFACE LEVEL reading of the Book of Esther! The feast of Purim is given as a feast to 127 Provinces throughout the middle east from India to Ethiopia, including Jerusalem, or it's an international festival given to commemorate the great conversion of the pagans that occurs at the end of time, that by the end of time have been the Jews who were blinded in their unbelief and are grafted back into what belonged to them all of this time. It's the biggest conversion of the nations to happen in Old Testament times and it prefigured the New Covenant as a Gospel to the nations by being a feast of the nations that have been joined to the Covenantal blessings that were once Israel's and shall again someday be Israel's in the fullest sense. Purim being at the end of the religious calendar, again, sees the restoration to God of all that's been prodigal during every other era that was typified by the Mosaic feasts of the Lord!
Few Replacement Theologians of modern times reject God's protectiveness over Israel, in the way that God cares for the rest of the nations, according to Acts 17 with seeing to their times and seasons, but yes, Israel shall be grafted in again, for God is able to graft them in again, so that all of Israel SHALL BE SAVED; absolutely all of Israel and not just those Jews living in some last generation, or those combined with a sampling of saved Jews from the New Testament onwards. No, the Bible says all of Israel shall be saved, just as those that died in Adam must certainly be made alive in Christ without exception and without qualification 'cause in Colossians 1 they were all created through Christ before they were birthed through the Adamic line and Christ came to seek and to save merely what had come out of Him in the beginning of time, anyway, according to Colossians 1.
Purim teaches us about the abolishment of death that's long after the other feasts, times and seasons of the Lord's judgments and restorations have taken place, and all that remains to be abolished is the decree of death, the last enemy. Being last on God's religious calendar isn't without significance because all of God's promises of both destruction and restoration must be fulfilled and here in Esther we have the killing of the carnal nature at long last that's been behind Antisemitism, behind Anti-women ideas that have been preached with the seeming endorsement of the Apostles of the New Testament, and every other erroneous idea as the angels of God are plucking from all that's ever been said ANYWHERE all that offends and are casting it into the Lake of Fire. Here at the close of God's religious calendar, Death, Hell, and Satan are trying to gather against the people of God in unwalled villages, as it says in Ezekiel 38, 39, and Revelation 20, and we've got the fire that's overtaken them at Hannukah and is the state of things from Hannukah 'til the couple of days before the actual 2 day Feast of Purim.
If Hannukah were to be seen as the Lake of Fire judgment in Revelation 20 because of it's insistence upon prolonged fire, such as the unquenchable fires mentioned in the Old Testament over natural Jerusalem, in Jeremiah, and the sacrifices that have since been quenched many eons ago, then this is clearly talking about those eons that the last two chapters of Revelation have gone into that are between Hannukah and Purim, though I realize that's a loaded set of comments that neither of us can prove or disprove because Biblical teaching on Hannukah is more IMPLICIT across the New Testament rather than having a whole book devoted to it, as with the book of Esther, then with allowing for Hannukah to be that bridge between the present order and the ultimate eternal order that nobody can pass through 'cept by fire, then Esther is very clearly the abolishment of every death decree that there's ever been and the reasons for every death decree that's ever been issued being exposed and refuted, and Mordecai is seen in the last verse of Esther in the Isaiah chapters 9 through role of Christ Jesus speaking prosperity, as the Prince of Prosperity, to all his countrymen that essentially make up the known world of the time because the burdens and yokes have been removed and destroyed and there's no hurting nor destroying in all of God's holy mountain!
As you know, one name of God is given as an acrostic in Purim 4 times and another Hebrew name of God is given once in Purim as an acrostic.
This pictures the 4 Gospels and the Book of Acts that though covering events during many feasts of the Bible in the 1st Century through Christ and the Church are each written in such a way as to be celebratory of God's ongoing reversals of the Decree of Death implicit in the casting of the lots that's mentioned in the 4 Gospels and Acts. Even when it comes to the casting of the lot in Acts, it's after the death decree of Judas, though someone else later, a religious Jew named Saul of Tarsus, could be regarded as a Judas who was betraying his Lord and is restored in Acts 9 and pursues His Lord everywhere He leads 'til his own death in Acts 28 at Purim with the last verse of Acts mirroring the last verse of Esther.
Other reasons why Paul's death at Purim makes sense from Acts 28 and from the overall construction of the book of Acts if Luke was trying to portray all of the Providence of God across the whole religious calendar of Israel as being from the beginning with Christ at Passover and through St. Paul at the close of the Jewish calendar, but that's not the purpose of this email to explore that. Some translations of Acts 28 will even imply we have the very last words St. Paul ever spoke that the book of Isaiah said to keep saying 'til the Temple was destroyed, implying Paul's death was in 70AD rather than 4 to 6 years earlier as is assumed by tradition. Jerusalem was destroyed later in the year, but with Paul being killed at Purim, who in the view of the Jews of Rome was dying for his own sins, as was the assumption of Lord Jesus's death in Isaiah 53, and here in the death of Paul we would have had a double-fulfillment of the "not for himself" from Isaiah 53, that death decree that took Paul's life was reversed in the destruction of Jerusalem.
St. Paul had heralded the coming of the New Temples not made with hands and ensured the Gospel going forth into all 127 Provinces that are mentioned in Esther, whether or not he personally got to take it there or took it there in the legacy of his disciples. The Book of Esther is what closes God's religious calendar for a reason, and that reason is various things from the New Covenant and the supplementing of all we understand the feasts of Moses to teach with the rest of a Biblical eschatology that we get from St. Paul, and once we've seen it in St. Paul, we're of course able to implicitly see it all over the Bible. Don't limit Esther to a tract against AntiSemitism, because it has all of the riches of the close of God's Biblical plan and when you see how few are listed among the dead in the Book of Esther, it's genuinely miraculous that there were so few enemies to be abolished at the close of God's prophetic year, when considering it was such a vast empire!
Even if you weren't anywhere near seeing the truth of the Universal Restoration (i.e. EVERY prodigal son coming home EVENTUALLY) because of all of the translational issues to work through and a lot of the leaven of the Pharisees to work through, compare the numbers given at the close of the book of Esther to our day with a likely comparison being in the really really low millions compared to 7 to 10 billion on the planet as this century progresses! This is the close of God's prophetic calendar, and whether you're seeing it as typifying actual human foes being put down, Ephesians 6 spiritual hierarchies that are being put down, or the 2Peter 3 works of man being burned up, the prophetic percentages that are implicit for the close of God's redemptive pursuits is genuinely astonishingly low numbers we're talking about by that time period!
It's the revelation of Creation's final Jubilee, when all of Creation is reaching it's zenith as all that God ever intended, through the incessantly faithful proclamation of the Gospel, as it's falling [in it's totality] into the full extent of God's love in the dispensation of the fullness of times, according to Ephesians 1:8-10 and Ephesians 3:14-21 after every type, shadow, partial fulfillment, and prophetic silhouette has already passed and the final jots and tittles of Scripture are coming to pass! I know that none of us have been taught to read it that deeply, but the multifaceted layers of every thought being brought captive to the obedience of Christ are genuinely there to be understood and enjoyed as the Father of the Prodigal Son is finally able to go inside to BOTH SONS being in harmony with Him and with one another! He was outside the gates looking for His prodigals to come home from Passover through Hannukah, having to judge what was evil along the way while rescuing and blessing and promoting those He was making good, but this is the time when there's rest for all, romance in every home, and a content Father (King Ahasuerus), Son (Mordecai), and Holy Spirit (Esther).
Vashti was the shame of man's self effort outside of any Covenantal context that couldn't approach the throne, Esther's the one who stayed behind the veil absorbing all of the sweet smelling aromas of the tabernacle/temple/whatever 'til she was fully called upon to serve the interests of the King and of her people. Mordecai was unquestionably the suffering, exhorting, resurrected and reigning Son of the King, suffering in the sackcloth, exhorting and rebuking Esther who is also a figure head of her people, resurrected as he's going through the triumphal procession that Haman had to be humiliated and made a public spectacle by, and Mordecai reigning from the moment he got the signet ring and new garments. Vashti's also the picture of Israel that was divorced and the conversions at the end of the Book of Esther are as much the restoration of Israel, prophetically, as of what's left to be restored of the Gentiles that hadn't previously known God and His Christ!
It supplies a lot of silhouettes for questions about the last two chapters of Revelation and beyond that aren't EVER answered for those who see the book of Revelation as the close of Biblical revelation rather than 1Corinthians 15 being the close. 'Til all of St. Paul's message is fully understood in every chapter and every line of what he wrote, in it's totality, the Book of Esther gives us a more victorious picture of the consummation of all things than most Christians have been taught to entertain! It's the close of all of God's purposes in the prophetic types, shadows, and things to be fulfilled in His religious calendar, and it's GLORIOUS!!! It's peace on earth and good will towards men, as it says in the last sentence or two of the Book of Esther.
In 2012 Purim begins on March 8th and I believe it starts on February 24th in 2013. To read more of what I've posted online about the Book of Esther and the Biblical two day feast of Purim, go to this webpage: