Dear friends in Messiah,
John and I had planned this little "getaway" trip to celebrate our anniversary some time ago. We had been looking forward to it so much, believing there would be lovely weather, a nice pool and hot tub to soak in, DVD player in the room to watch a few good movies. Escape! Pleasure! But God said, "No." He literally sequestered us in our small room, unable to go out because of cold and stormy weather. The hotel staff had lied; there were no DVD players and no way to play a movie. The pop machine stole my money twice, no soda for me. OK, perhaps we can at least relax in the hot tub, we thought. "Sorry," the desk clerk informed us, "it isn't working."
It didn't take rocket science to figure out the messages God was sending us: "Stop seeking your own pleasure and seek ME." Once He had my attention, I became grateful instead of bitter. I haven't had this kind of time at home in ages, to just sit with my Lord and listen; to journal His words and ponder His direction. The words have not been easy to hear, but I'm so blessed that He persevered with me and literally "forced" me into a place where I could no longer ignore or dismiss Him with all my busyness and distractions!
Twenty-one Christians were be-headed on a Mediterranean shore, and Father did not allow me to shrug it off as another news story. He made me face those images head-on, looking deeply into the countenances of those brave, faithful followers of Jesus, wondering at the pure shalom I saw there. Their lips were moving as their heads were severed, and someone who viewed it in the Middle East, and who could understand their language, said they were saying, "JESUS CHRIST IS LORD."
Just before I left on this little trip I had asked the Spirit to tell me if there was a book on my shelf that He desired for me to re-read. He caused my eyes to fall on Mark Buchanan's powerful book, "Your God is Too Safe." I've been reading it daily, avidly, knowing it was re-kindling a FIRE of the Holy Spirit in me that has been quenched, buried under ashes of daily routine. But this morning's chapter really astonished me, as it seemed to answer painful questions I'd been asking since seeing the images of these 21 martyrs. In this chapter Mr. Buchanan is asking many difficult questions about why life seems so unfair; why some children die young, why those who love and serve the Lord all their lives die in auto crashes or lose everything in a house fire, why the evil get rich and the good are poor. Fourteen years after this book was written, I ask WHY 21 FAITHFUL BELIEVERS AND SERVANTS OF YESHUA HAD TO DIE SUCH CRUEL, HORRIFIC DEATHS. Buchanan writes, "It's not about life being fair. It's about acceptance. It's about God accepting us as His own, the ones He loves. It's not about being spared from untimely or difficult death. It's about being spared the 'second death' - the death of unbridgeable separation, oblivion and torment, a writhing crowd of teeth-gnashers, and the desolation of unending aloneness. The right thing is to have faith! Faith in the One who doesn't always remedy life's unfairness, but who does far better: He redeems it - its unfairness, its brokenness, its disease and death. And He says to us: TODAY YOU WILL BE WITH ME IN PARADISE!"
As if that answer was not enough to spur us on toward that kind of overcoming faith, I then received a post through the organization Tikun, with no author named. I hope this washes you in tears, as it did me, calling each one of us to crucify our flesh and tear down our worldly idols, so that we might be made worthy to be persecuted or even killed for our faith, only to fall into the embrace of the LIVING GOD! I hope it forever removes from me the desire
to have movies or treats or perfect weather to console my flesh. Here is part of the article from Tikun:
*Consider the number of the martyrs … 21. That is 3 times 7. Three in Hebrew is perfection. Seven is complete. 21 martyrs tells us something is “perfectly complete” or “completed to perfection” … which indicates that this is a work of YHVH. The Lord allowed this event, and He chose those, whom He could trust for this assignment, so that the Kingdom of YHVH could expand in the Middle East.
**Remember that the blood of the martyrs flowed onto the sand and into the seawater? Scripture tells us in Revelation 12 that we overcome by the Blood of the Lamb, by the word of our testimony, and by surrendering our lives unto death, rather than recanting our faith to keep on living. Those 21 martyrs were ONE (echad) with the Messiah in the fellowship of His suffering and death. As they were IN Him, and as He was IN them, His blood was mingled with the holy blood of their own sacrifice. The blood of the martyrs for Yeshua is holy, and it is powerful. Wherever it touches, revival is released. Martyrs’ blood ALWAYS fertilizes revival. Yeshua’s blood was mingled with theirs as it flowed onto the land and into the sea. The currents and tides of the sea will carry and is carrying that life-giving blood the full length of the Mediterranean coastline, and to every country connected to it. Just think about that! What a game changer that will be in the region!
Those precious 21 men, whose heads were removed because they held to the testimony of Yeshua, and because of His word, are now seated victoriously in heaven. They are awaiting the time, when Yeshua will return to the earth to defeat all the enemies, who stand against His reality and sovereignty. These martyrs will return with Him to rule as His governors across the face of the earth for 1,000 years. Even when the final battle comes, when satan and all of his forces will finally be cast in the lake of fire, these chosen ones will never taste death again. They are living their eternal victory right now. They are in the presence of the Lord NOW, and they will be perpetually in fellowship with Him as He rules on the earth and then throughout eternity. They were chosen for this honor, and they didn’t fail Him. They presented Him with the BEST GIFT and with the greatest honor they could give. Oh, that each of us would do the same!! This recent event of martyrdom has hopefully changed all of us in the true Body of Messiah. Hopefully it has opened our eyes to see our lives and our deaths in a different life. Hopefully, it has inspired us to deeper a faith, and caused us to let go of the fear that satan speaks to us constantly. When Yeshua said that He would be with us TO THE END, He also indicated by His words that He would be with us IN OUR END …
Friends in Messiah,
I just read this little post this morning and it answered the question I've been asking the Father: "What should we do to celebrate Purim this year?" The parallel we have this year to the original Purim and Esther Fast is astonishing. THIS YEAR let us not have little skits where we "boo Haman" and "cheer Mordecai." This year let us remain steadfast in praying and fasting for the people of Israel, and for the leaders of this nation. Let us not just read about Esther, but let us BE Esther, fasting and interceding.....FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS!
Once there was a King in Shushan, the most powerful ruler in the world who had a strong disdain, dislike or perhaps even hatred of Jews.
Today there is a President in Washington, the most powerful ruler in the world, who many say has a disdain for Israel the country of the Jews.
Once there was a Persian (Now Iran) who wanted to kill all the Jews, but needed the King's authorization to proceed with his plan.
Today there are Persians (Iranians) who want to kill all the Jews, but needs the President's authorization to proceed with their plan.
The King didn't really care, as long as there was something in it for him - lots of money.
The President doesn't really care, as long as there is something in it for him - a deal with the Persians.
The Jewish Queen wanted to tell the King and expose to him what really is happening, but going in to talk to the King was dangerous.
The Jewish Prime Minister wants to tell the President and his Congress and expose the truth, but going to talk to the Congress is dangerous and could back-fire.
Some people thought Esther should not go, it would just anger the King and make things worse.
Some people think Bibi should not go, it will just anger the President and make things worse.
She asked the Jews to fast and pray for the success of her mission. They did so, the King accepted her words and the plot to destroy them was thwarted.
Will we fast and pray for the success of his mission? Will the President and Congress accept his words? Will the plot to destroy us be thwarted?
We commemorate Esther's plea to the King by fasting on Ta'anit Esther.
*The Prime Minister of Israel has been invited to address the United States Congress on March 3.**
*This year Ta'anit Esther falls on March 3.**
Kelly Ferrari Mills