The End is in the Beginning...
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For Zion’s sake I will not be silent, And for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest…”Isaiah 62:1

 Dear Partner and Friend of Israel,

God is awesome and as we look at His Word we can see that indeed nothing is happening or going to happen in the world today that He already does not have a plan for. He simply works in ways that we cannot fully comprehend and as His Word says: “His ways are not our ways!” After struggling with a title for this message we simple named it “The End is in the Beginning!”

We would like to go back to the time when Julie & I first arrived in Turkey in 1998. We worked with Iranian refugees taking care of their physical and spiritual needs. It was during this time that we met Sharo a young Iranian man who had to flee for his life over the border into Turkey because his wife and family wanted to kill him because he changed his faith and passport to Christian.  Sharo held on to his tattered Farsi Bible and inside was a photograph of the tomb of what he referred to as his kind king Cyrus.’ And as we think back now we never fully understood why this ‘king Cyrus’ was so important! Sharo went on to work with us for a year and half after the devastating earthquakes of 1999 and helped us set up a Hope Center (in the heart of the epicenter of the second earthquake) that we were privileged to co-found together with the Ankara International Church to bring aid the victims. Finally he was accepted in the USA on his refugee status. He certainly left something inside us; King Cyrus – but did he know that His ‘kind king’ was the son of Esther? We didn’t at the time? Did he know his ‘kind king’ helped the Jews? We have read through Esther, Nehemiah, Ezra and Daniel 5 and never made the connection ourselves simply because this is never taught.

The Bible is truly like a diamond mine and the Word of God especially in the Old Testament is like diamonds that we need to search and dig into to find its riches. And as we started out to write this teaching we set out to study; King Cyrus, Esther and Mordecai. We simply found a wealth of information and share some with you.

 We are reminded of a saying; “The future is the mind of God! Where there is no hope in the future, there is no power in the present.” John C. Maxwell.

Consider Isaiah 46: 9 -11 (MSG) “Remember your history, your long and rich history. I am GOD, the only God you've had or ever will have-- incomparable, irreplaceable - From the very beginning telling you what the ending will be, All along letting you in on what is going to happen, Assuring you, 'I'm in this for the long haul, I'll do exactly what I set out to do,' Calling that eagle, Cyrus, out of the east, from a far Country the man I chose to help me. I've said it, and I’ll most certainly do it. I've planned it, so it's as good as done.”

The study on 1) Esther leads us to consider her husband 2) King Ahasuerus (Ahasuerus is a title meaning: Mighty and claimed by several kings of Persia) and 3) their son Cyrus. According to the Dake’s Bible (Page490), the 5th king Ahasurerus or Darius the Mede as in Daniel 5, was the husband of Esther and the father of Cyrus. (Esther 1:1)

The events of the books of Esther came before those of Ezra and Nehemiah and the happenings of Nehemiah 1:1 – 7:4 came before Ezra. The reasons why we don’t have clear understanding who the kings were simply because of the names were changed into English; i.e. The Persian name for Cyrus (according to the Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary) is actually Koresh.

Now that you are somewhat confused…! Consider this amazing prophecy: Isaiah, who prophesied from about 740-681 B.C, called Cyrus by name almost 150 years before he ruled (559-530 B.C.)!  God did this to show mankind that He is God, and that there is none like He is.

Historians were so moved by this prophecy and that Isaiah also predicting that Jerusalem would fall more than 100 years before it happened in 586 B.C also the prophecy that the Temple would be rebuilt 200 years before it happened. It is clear that these prophecies came from God, who only knows the future.

Let’s look at: Isaiah 44: 28; 45: 1-7 “… who says of Cyrus, He is My shepherd, and shall do all My pleasure; even saying to Jerusalem, You shall be built (Nehemiah); and to the temple, Your foundation shall be laid (Ezra). So says Jehovah to His anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have made strong in order to humble nations before him. And I will loosen the loins of kings, to open before him the two-leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut. I will go before you, and make hills level. I will break in pieces the bronze gates, and cut the iron bars in two. And I will give you the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that you may know that I am Jehovah, who calls you by your name, the God of Israel. For Jacob My servant's sake, and Israel My elect, I have even entitled you. I have named you, though you have not known me.

Interesting Facts on the Titles of Persian Kings:

Ahasuerus simply means: Mighty Artaxerxes or Xerxes simply means: The Great King; Darius simply means: the Restrainer / Maintainer it‘s like saying; Pharaoh, Czar, Sultan, Shah etc However Esther’s Ahasuerus is referred to as Darius the Mede and Xerxes as well. This is important as it is to do with genealogy.

Now that we have established that God called Cyrus 150 years before he was even born or 200 years before he made the decree to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple. (Nehemiah and Ezra)

Isn’t it amazing how God took Esther an orphan, made her queen, gave her favor with the King and through them came King Cyrus?

What an awesome God we serve and as we can see with certainty - accomplishes his awesome Word, a prophetic promise spoken 150 – 200 years before to be fulfilled at the time when Israel needed to be delivered and be restored.

In your and our lifetime we are privileged to see prophecy unfolding before our very eyes, Israel restored back to being a nation 1948, Jews returning to the land as God promised the prophetic promise planned long before it even was set to begin to happen.

5 things God used Cyrus to accomplish:

- Be a Shepard of God’s people Israel (Is 44: 28)

- Perform God’s pleasure in liberating the Jews  (Is 44: 28; 45:13)

- Decree the building of Jerusalem Nehemiah

- Decree the rebuilding of the Temple of God at     Jerusalem - Ezra (Is 44:28)

- Subdue nations (Is 45:1)

God delivers His people in mysteriously unique ways. The story of Esther demonstrated God’s plan of deliverance through the trembling faith of a young Queen’s petition.  Most of the stories about Esther seem to focus on her beauty, her selection and preparation as a candidate as queen.

We would like to challenge it from another perspective involving the prophetic word about Cyrus who would follow through after his mother, Queen Esther.

Esther was raised up as an instrument in the hand of God to avert the destruction of the Jewish people, and to afford them protection and forward their wealth and peace in their captivity, is also manifest from the Scripture account.”

King Ahasuerus, often identified as King Xerxes, held a one hundred and eighty-day feast to exemplify his great and finest capital, Susa.  Est. 1: 6-7 speaks of the feast, mentioning the “marble pillars, and also couches of gold and silver as a mosaic pavement, marble, mother-of pearl and precious stones…”All one hundred and twenty provinces stretching from India to Ethiopia gathered to acknowledge the King. So from this we can establish why he was called the ‘great’ king.

The king’s search for a new wife would open the window to fulfill God’s will for Esther and the Jewish people. The marriage resulted in the birth of Cyrus, in fulfillment of Isaiah 44: 25 – 45:4. And the part taken by Esther and Mordecai in his training explains all we read of Cyrus in Ezra and Nehemiah.

Mordecai (her cousin) had adopted Esther as his own daughter when she was orphaned. Scripture records Mordecai as one “who had been carried away from Jerusalem” by Nebuchadnezzar. (Presumably he was the descendant of an exiled Jerusalem family since Nebuchadnezzar had ruled many years before Xerxes.) 

Mordecai ordered Esther to conceal the fact that she was Jewish. After Esther became queen Mordecai could communicate to her through his position at the palace. Playing a major role in the deliverance of the Jews, Mordecai remained loyal to God, not bowing to Haman the Agagite, (Jew-hater who was of the descendents of the Amalekites – arch enemies of Israel).

When Haman heard about Mordecai the Jew not bowing to him, he began to notice him and a deep hatred burned in his heart to plot the total destruction of the Jews. (Est. 3: 5 – 6) This was another one of Satan’s attempts to destroy the people of God through whom the Messiah would come.

The casting of lots from month to month was to see which would be the most favorable time to request the destruction of the Jews. (Is. 47: 13)  Perhaps if Haman had known the outcome he would not have the report on Mordecai.

In (Est. 3: 10) the king without thinking of what could be behind this plot, took off his ring and gave it to seal a decree and Haman gave 10,000 talents of silver for the destruction of all the Jews in his kingdom.  The day before the Passover of the Jews (Vs. 12), which was always to be the 14th day of the first month, Nisan (April), messengers were sent to all the provinces that on the 13th day of the coming month (Adar or March) that the Jews should be killed and all their property taken by those who would carry out the order.

After such a devilish decree the King and Haman sat down to drink; but the people were perplexed. (Vs. 15)

Mordecai did what most godly men do in the time of trouble, fasted and prayed. Furthermore he walked the streets in bitter wailing and he came to the king’s gate even though no man was allowed to do so in sackcloth (Est. 4: 1 – 2), also in every province there was morning among the Jews (Vs. 3).

One can imagine the effect such a decree had on all Israel – having the knowledge that they would be exterminated on the 13th day of the coming month which would be March (Adar, 3:13). All the tribes were involved, not only Judah and Benjamin. Being of the Northern or Southern division made no difference; the decree concerned all the seed of Jacob (Vs. 3). The Jews were: mourning, fasting, weeping and wailing.

Esther found out about the decree through her cousin’s unlawful act of going before the king in sackcloth and being in bitter mourning (Vs. 1 – 4). Otherwise she may have been so sheltered from the outside world that she may have not been aware. Her reaction to seeing her cousin in such a state at the king’s gate was that of grief. She sent raiment’s of clothing to clothe him so that he might not be arrested for his appearance in sackcloth. From Mordecai’s viewpoint desperate action needed to be taken; so he rejected the clothing. Esther then sent a messenger to find out what the trouble was (Vs. 5 – 6).

Mordecai’s Answer to Esther; he sent word of all that had happened to him (vs. 7); he told of the sum of money which Haman had promised to pay the king’s treasurers for the destruction of the Jews; He sent her a copy of the decree to destroy all the Jews (Vs.  8); he charged that she go to the king to make supplication and request before him for her people.

Up to this time it was not known to the king that he had married a Jewess and that he had made a decree to destroy her people.

Esther’s reply to Mordecai through her messenger was that he knew it could mean her death even to approach the king in the inner court if he had not called her. And he had not called her for 30 days! (Vs. 10 -12) The etiquette of the Persian court was very strict. To come into the king’s presence without being summoned was a capital crime; and severity of the Persian punishments may be seen in the fact that an act like this was dealt with the same as murder or rebellion. The intruder was instantly put to death by the attendants unless the king, by extending his golden scepter, showed his approval of the act. It was well understood therefore, that whoever appeared before the king deliberately risked their life. (Thus it was an evidence of the influence Esther had over the king when he extended his scepter!) (Vs. 10 – 12)

Mordecai’s answer to Esther was that it could mean her death if she did not go to the king and have this decree cancelled; she could not escape any more than the other Jews, if she held her peace at this time she would fail to be the deliverer of the Jews and the deliverer would come from another source. Her father’s house would be destroyed along with all the others; and she no doubt had come to the kingdom for ‘a time such as this!Est. 4: 13 – 14

Esther’s decision was to face all dangers for her people! Her reply to Mordecai was that the Jews should fast and pray for her, that she and her maidens would do likewise and then she would go to the king though it was contrary to the law. She consecrated “to perish if need be (Vs. 15-16). Mordecai did according to what Esther had commanded. (Vs. 17)

The Hebrew day begins at sunset and one complete day was 24 hours so night or day meant fasting this whole time. On the third day – following the third night, Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the king’s house. (Imagine how her heart must have been beating!) He was seated on the throne in the royal house over against the gate. (Est. 5: 1– 3)

She must have felt a great relief when he held out his scepter in favor to her! Especially when he enquired of her request and promised it would be granted to half his kingdom.

Here we can see clearly how God worked out every detail of the plan for the good of His people. The queens’ simple request was that he and Haman make haste to attend a banquet prepared by her (Vs. 1 – 5). The king must have seen that there was something behind the mere banquet, that is why his second request to know what it was that she wanted and the second promise of his kingdom. (Vs. 3, 6) Esther sensed that the King believed there was something back of her invitation to the banquet so she promised to tell him what her request was at a banquet the following day. (Vs. 8)

When Haman heard of the invitation and command for him to attend the banquet with the king and queen, he went forth with great joy and a glad heart (Vs. 9). He boasted to his wife and friends about the invitation and that he was the only person invited to a banquet with the king and queen which reveals the smallness of his character and demonstrates his pride. Yet all this avails me nothing as long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king's gate.” (Vs. 14) Haman’s wife and friends devised a plan whereby his happiness could be complete. They suggested that Gallows be made and that he should speak to the king about hanging Mordecai thereon and that he should then proceed to the banquet merrily. The plan sounded so perfect to Haman so he commanded the gallows to be built even before he spoke to the king about the matter. It never entered his mind that the request would be denied since the request had been granted for the destruction of every Jew at a later date.

In the meantime though, God was intervening when Mordecai was saved Haman began to fall! (Est. 6: 1 – 14). God always makes a way for His people in a crisis. The very night before Haman was to request the life of Mordecai, Jehovah, the covenant God of Israel was working invisibly to save His chosen nation. He caused sleep to pass from the king who became interested in the record book of the kings.  Ahasuerus had servants read the records before him; it was found that Mordecai had told of the plot to assassinate the king!  He asked what honour had been given to Mordecai and the answer was – none! (Vs. 1 – 3)

Isn’t it just amazing! The very same honour Haman described for himself went to Mordecai the Jew. Now look at verse 13: “And Haman told Zeresh his wife and all his friends every thing that had happened to him. Then his wise men and Zeresh his wife said to him, If Mordecai is of the seed of the Jews, before whom you have begun to fall, you shall not prevail against him but shall surely fall before him.” The wise men made a true prediction – that if Mordecai was of the seed of the Jews then he would not prevail against the man and he would surely fall before him! Mordecai was saved and Haman began to fall.

Having received three definite promises from the king that he would grant her request even to half of his kingdom (5: 3, 6; 7: 2), Esther simply requested the only thing anyone could request under the circumstances, she asked for her own life and the lives  of her people. Est. 7: 3 – 4). In Vs. 10 we see the enemy of the Jews, Haman hanged on the same gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai.

Esther fell down at the feet of the king with tears, making her heart warming plea for her people. The king held out the golden scepter again for her to touch and once again she had found favor in his sight. Est. 8: 4

King Ahasurerus gave the house of Haman to Esther and set Mordecai over it (Vs. 1-2). The Jews triumphed at last over the ancient enemy of Israel as God had predicted (Exodus 17: 16; Numbers 25:7; 1 Samuel 15:8, 32)

The King became a great king in all the earth and was great unto all the Jews. For Mordecai the Jew was second only to king Ahasuerus, and great among the Jews, and accepted of the multitude of his brethren, seeking the welfare of his people, and speaking peace to all his seed.”

The fact that Mordecai and Esther were Jews helps to explain much concerning Cyrus, the son of Esther, and his zeal for God and the Jews, as predicted in prophecy and recorded in history. In Ezra 1: 1 – 4 we can clearly see that the Lord called Cyrus. In verse 2 this knowledge of God was given to Cyrus by his mother the Jewish queen Esther, and by Mordecai and Nehemiah. He was brought up in Jewish training and taught about God and His Word. No doubt Jehovah who had predicted his name and work 150 – 200 years before fulfillment also spoke to him personally or made His will known to him in some other way.

Esther; The queen of Ahasuerus, and heroine of the book that bears her name! She was a Jewess named Hadassah (the myrtle), her Persian name means star. Esther appears in the Bible as a “woman of deep piety, faith, courage, patriotism, and caution, combined with resolution; a dutiful daughter to her adopted father, docile and obedient to his counsels, and anxious to share the king's favor with him for the good of the Jewish people.

The purpose of the book of Esther: To show by whom and how the great deliverance of the Jews in all lands came about; to record the institution of the feast of Purim; and to reveal the historical background of the liberator of the Jews from captivity – Cyrus, the son of Esther and Darius the Mede. (Dake’s Bible Pg. 521)

God’s church is very much a part of God’s redemptive plan for the world. Not only are we called to take God’s message to the nations, but the day is long overdue for us to be reconciled to Israel and the Jewish people. Yeshua (Jesus) is the one who is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility. (Eph 2:14) While this has not manifested itself throughout Christian history, God’s Word is sure and we will see even this come to pass. But, it all starts with one step towards one another. We as Christians need to take the first steps.

May God bless you with His perfect Shalom,

Alf & Julie Saunders

06th October, 2008

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