The Ruth and Esther Keys
by Asher Intrater, , Revive Israel
The emergence of the underground church of China over the last 30 years has dramatically changed the composition and make-up of the international ecclesia: with their large numbers, experience with persecution, faith in supernatural intervention, oriental history, emphasis on house churches, and the "back to Jerusalem" vision. Because of their "family-ancestor" culture, they also bring a unique view of "extended family" order to the international Body of Messiah. Their presence has changed our ecclesiology (understanding of the meaning and form of the international church).
Chinese and international leaders, coordinated by David Demian, brought thousands of Christians to worship the Lord in Jerusalem in November 2014 - inspired by Zechariah 8:22, "many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem ..." David Demian is an Egyptian Arab, and there was wide representation not only from East Asian churches and Western churches, but also Arab Christians. At that conference, and in subsequent "Global Gatherings", Messianic Jewish leaders from Israel came on the stage to honor our Arab Christian brothers and sisters, and kneeled down in repentance for our own sins of pride and unfaithfulness. The result was rather shocking. The Arab Christians were deeply touched by the display of love and humility; almost stunned to find themselves being blessed by Messianic Jews.
A Ruth Vow
David responded by leading the entire international community represented there (including Chinese and Arabs) in a "Ruth" covenantal vow to the Jewish people, that "Your people will be my people" (Ruth 1:16). I felt this moment to be an historic turning point. Until now, those who had a "Ruth calling" were seen only as minority Christians whom the Lord had touched with a special love and loyalty to the Jewish people.
Because of the involvement of both Chinese and Arab Christians in this covenantal commitment, a spiritual shift is taking place. The "Ruth calling" is not to be the exception but the rule, not something unusual but the norm, not the minority but the majority. Ruth should represent a picture of ALL true Christians.
This gives a new perspective on what we would call a "Ruth Ecclesiology": The International Church Ecclesia is essentially connected to Israel. This connection comes by covenant with the God of Israel through the Messiah of Israel (Ephesians 2:12, 19). The connection between Israel and the Church is redefining them both as to their original biblical meaning: The essence of the identity of Israel is a godly nation that is extended spiritually into the other nations through the Church; and the Church is essentially an international spiritual body rooted in Israel as its point of origin. The identity of the Church is linked to Israel; and the identity of Israel is linked to the Church.
Dan Juster has called this "the dual restoration of Israel and the Church." It links Israel-ology and Ecclesiology into one. We believe this to be the original view of the apostles toward Israel and the Church. In our day, this apostolic view of "ecclesiology" is being restored. The Messianic Jewish "Remnant" plays a bridging role of being the Church within Israel, and Israel within the Church.
Today and Tomorrow
A restorationist view of ecclesiology also has an effect on one's eschatology (study of the End Times). Ecclesiology affects Eschatology. Restorationist ecclesiology should lead to a restorationist eschatology. How we view Israel and the Church today affects how we see End Times prophecies being fulfilled tomorrow. If Israel and the Church are connected to one another in their origin, they will be connected to one another in their destiny.
This shared identity affects how we see the coming of the kingdom of God. We could say, "Israel plus the Church equals the Kingdom of God." Or, "the relationship between Israel and the Church gives birth to the Kingdom of God on Earth."
The books of Ruth and Esther describe real historic events, but may also be seen as parables with prophetic meaning. Ruth contains a message about the relationship between Israel and the Church. This is what we call "Ruth Ecclesiology". In a similar fashion, the book of Esther contains a message about the End Times. We call this: "Esther Eschatology".
The life stories of these two women contain the unfolding mystery of Israel and the Church, and of End Times prophecies.
Esther may be seen as a symbol of the Church, the bride of Messiah. She is sharing intimacy, grace and beauty with her husband, the King. But then a crisis occurs. Esther is called to the kingdom "for such a time as this" (Esther 4:14). And what "time" is that? It is a time of unprecedented international crisis. And what is that crisis? - an attempt to kill all the Jews.
The attempt to kill the Jews happens not only at the hands of Haman (Esther 3:6), but also Pharaoh (Exodus 1:16), Herod (Matthew 2:16) and in the End Times (Ezekiel 38-39, Zechariah 13-14). Spiritual warfare ultimately climaxes in an attempt to kill the Jews. We can see this genocidal tendency both in Nazism and in Islamic Jihad. In the end times, an attempt to kill the Jews could very well target all. Christians who believe in Yeshua as the King of the Jews, or see themselves aligned with the nation of Israel.
Interestingly, the description of Haman in Esther 3:7; 8:1; 9:10,24 is "Tsorer" which is the word commonly used in modern Hebrew for "Antichrist" and the root of the Old Testament word for the "Tribulation". Haman may be seen as an Antichrist figure in this End Times parable of the coming Tribulation.
Esther is warned by Mordechai in a prophetic message of the urgency for her to intercede with the king on behalf of the Jews during this worldwide crisis. She is at first reluctant to hear what seems to be an overly intense and negative message. She even tries to make excuses to avoid her own involvement in the crisis, but Mordechai is persistent to show her the necessity of her role in intercession.
The Warning Demands a Response
For years apostolic and prophetic voices have been trying to warn about the upcoming impending crisis and tribulations. Many believers seem uninterested. Still others have been taught that they will not have a part in this crisis because they will have already been raptured to heaven. We don't see it this way at all. For this reason, we have yearly organized an "Esther's fast" with local Arab Christians and Messianic Jews here in Israel, broadcasted by live stream to partners and prayer warriors around the world (Esther 4:16).
Many have not grasped the urgency of this "Esther-type" view of the end times. Perhaps it sounds too intense, too negative, too Jewish.
The Good News
However, the story has a happy ending! After an extremely difficult time of intercession, tribulation and spiritual warfare, there is a sudden and miraculous intervention of God that affects the entire world. The murderous decree is cancelled. The evil forces are destroyed (9:17). History is changed. A great revival takes place. Many "join themselves" to the Jews (Esther 9:27).
Finally, the righteous take possession of the government over all the nations (8:2, 9:3, 10:3). All the people are made happy. Peace abounds and feasts are celebrated. This is a beautiful picture of the kingdom of God on earth. Purim is a time of great joy. Let's join together in this Esther and Mordecai calling for spiritual battle to win the victory in the end times.
This article was previously published as a two-part series on 25Feb16 and 03Mar16 here and here on the Revive Israel website and on 01Mar16 and 15Mar16 here and here on Kehila News Israel.
© Copyright Tikkun International Ministries. All rights reserved.