Purim and the Spiritual Battle Over Iran
This year Purim is celebrated on 9th and 10th March.
It is time to pray for Iran! There is an intense spiritual battle over the nation, which affects Israel, Christians, the region, and the whole world. It is therefore your battle too.
Iran/Persia has a dual role in Purim, the Feast of Esther. The Persian official Haman is the arch-enemy of the Jews and seeks to wipe them out. Meanwhile, King Xerxes both condemns and saves the Jewish people through his actions. That dichotomy continues today.
Iranian proxy Hezbollah, recently unveiled a statue to Qasem Soleimani the brutal Iranian commander assassinated in a recent US missile strike. The statue stands in South Lebanon, facing Israel, deliberately symbolic of Iran’s stated intention to “liberate Palestine” by “wiping Israel off the map”.
Shiite Iran is not only anti-Israel, but also anti-Christian. It is in ninth place in the world for persecution against believers, according to Open Doors informed world watch list: “All ethnic Persians are seen as Muslims. An ethnic Persian who leaves Islam can face the death penalty or imprisonment for ‘crimes against national security.’ ”
Iran also threatens the world, through overt attempts to develop nuclear weapons. The controversial 2015 Iran nuclear deal framework seeks to control Iran’s nuclear programme and limit it to civilian purposes, in return for the lifting of sanctions. In 2018, Trump’s government pulled out of the deal, claiming Iran broke the terms.
Daniel, during the reign of Cyrus King of Persia (today’s Iran), after a three-week fast, personally encountered the intense battle associated with Persia (note that Michael is the arch-angel of Israel according to Daniel 12:1):
But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. Daniel 10:13
Biblical Elam was located in the south-west of today’s Iran. Elam was the first son of Shem, the son of Noah, making the Elamites a Semitic people and inheritors of blessing. In Jeremiah 49:35-39, we find a key prophecy concerning Elam, spoken during the reign of evil Zedekiah, the last king of Judah before Babylon conquered the nation.
The prophesy clearly had historic fulfilment, but seems to still have “echoes” of relevance in the Middle East today.
The Babylonians shattered Elam/Persia. King Cyrus (600-530BC), founder of the Persian Achaemenid Empire, later conquered the Babylonian empire, and likely the Persians who had been scattered by Nebuchadnezzar (“to the four corners of the heavens”) returned at that point. Cyrus issued “the edict of restoration” (2 Chronicles 36:22-23), enabling Jewish exiles to return to the land and rebuild the city of Jerusalem. According to Isaiah 45:1, God anointed him for this task, the only Biblical non-Jew to be called “messiah” or “anointed one.” In this way, God began to “set his throne in Elam” by making it instrumental in the restoration of Jerusalem.
Cyrus came from today’s Fars province of Iran, almost exactly the location of ancient Elam and began his conquest from there. The Persian Empire was itself finally savagely plundered and “shattered” from 334BC, at the hands of Alexander the Great, also fulfilling the prophecies of Daniel.
The restoration which Jeremiah prophesied was further fulfilled through revival which took place in Jerusalem. In Acts 2:9, we read that “Elamites” were among those responding to Peter’s preaching, surely returning home with the gospel message.
God’s shattering and restoration of Iran continues today. Iranians who have fled the regime can again be found in “the four corners of the heavens.” Many Iranian refugees are believers in Yeshua and instinctively love Israel. In Iran itself, the church has by far the world’s fastest (evangelical) growth, according to research by reputable Operation World, at 19.6% per year in 2020.
Iran is called to regional leadership, as in the time of Xerxes, Cyrus and also Kedorlaomer king of Elam (Genesis 14:1 and 14:4). That leadership can be for evil, or for revival. Let us join Daniel in the spiritual battle for Iran, asking the Lord to drive out evil and “establish his throne in Elam”, safeguarding his children, Israel, and the peace of the world.