Remember Purim and the book of Esther
We’ll soon be right on the date for Purim. In the Rabbinic calendar, it is observed this weekend. When was the last time you read the book of Esther? ALL scripture is given for our edification, so we should read it.
The book of Hadassah (Myrtle) – that was her Hebrew name – is all about the plot to destroy the Jewish people. OK, you know her as Esther. But the real spirit behind that plot to wipe out all the Jews had a more sinister target: if Haman could wipe out all Jews, then we also wipe out the possibility of having a Jewish Messiah!
I urge you to read the short book. There are several sub-plots you shouldn’t miss:
• How mightily Yehowah used a strong woman of faith to deliver all of Judah from being exterminated. Remember that when we are people of God, there no longer should be a huge distinction between male and female, spiritually speaking. You’ve seen that in Galatians 3:26, right? We have heard so many sermons and spent so many hours on the men who were spiritual heroes that it is high time to give some time and attention to the women who shine through as well. Esther – or Hadassah (her real name) – manages the events in this short book very masterfully, smoothly and powerfully. In fact, the way she manages events would have been impossible for a man to have done. Mordecai, her cousin, does urge her on, but the real hero in this story of Purim is the woman Hadassah, renamed Esther by her pagan husband. Her faith and courage were demonstrated in Esther 4:16-17 when she calls for a fast of 3 days and then states her cause, and wraps it up with – "and if I perish, I perish".
• The word "God" – or Elohim – is nowhere seen in the entire book, but the HAND of Elohim is definitely visible in all the events that transpire. When everything seems to be going against you, realize that Yehowah has not taken a leave of absence. He’s there, even though we can’t always “see” or “hear” Him. He’s especially there in our darkest hours. I’m having to learn over and over again to praise even at the midnight hour, when we’re all bruised and cut up and languishing in our spiritual jail. I speak of Paul and Barnabas in Acts 16:22-30. Please read that whole account. At midnight, they began to sing praises in spite of their dire predicament and pain. What happened? Their chains were loosed and dropped to the prison floor with a loud clang, and the jail doors were opened. But not until they began to praise. We can trust God to turn our deep sorrows eventually to great joy, a lesson I’m still learning. But first, we praise and thank Him in all things, and for all things, for HE will turn everything eventually into good if we commit all things to Him in praise and thanksgiving (Rom. 8:28; Phil. 4:6). In our darkest hours, that’s hard to remember, but we MUST learn it, as children of God.
This same lesson rings loud and clear in the book of Esther. The situation was dire, but when Esther and her court fasted and prayed and sought their Maker, He was there. He always was there.
• "Pur" = a lot that is cast to determine a date. Purim is plural, so it means "lots". Haman cast lots to determine the date he would exterminate the Jews, an early example of ethnic cleansing. In the change of events that took place (you’ll have to read the story yourself), Purim to Jews today stands for the way the Almighty gave them deliverance from their enemies. Esther 9:26-28 explains how Jews set these 2 days aside each year as a Jewish festival to remember their miraculous deliverance. This is a Jewish holiday and I would certainly keep it in remembrance if I were a Jew. But even as a non-Jew, I still thank God for Purim because it also made it possible then for us all to have our Savior Yeshua be born many years later. Some believe the feast Yeshua kept in John 5 was Purim, for it fell on a Sabbath. The ONLY feast that fell on a Sabbath day from 27-38 AD was Purim. Just a thought. Purim is not one of God’s commanded feasts in Leviticus 23, but it is a feast for Jews and it is mentioned in Scripture.
26 So they called these days Purim, after the name Pur. Therefore, because of all the words of this letter, what they had seen concerning this matter, and what had happened to them, 27 the Jews established and imposed it upon themselves and their descendants and all who would join them, that without fail they should celebrate these two days every year, according to the written instructions and according to the prescribed time, 28 that these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, every family, every province, and every city, that these days of Purim should not fail to be observed among the Jews, and that the memory of them should not perish among their descendants.
• When we don’t obey God fully, the consequences can hit doubly hard years later.
Oh how well I have experienced this lesson. And maybe you have too. Haman, a type of Satan and enemy of the people of God, was an Amalekite. More than that, Haman was an Agagite, a descendant of king Agag, whom Saul failed to kill. God had commanded Saul to wipe out the memory of the Amalekite people (see 1 Samuel 15) and everything that pertained to them, because they had attacked Israel at Rephidim (Exodus 17) and continually picked off the stragglers, the old and weak. Saul kept Agag alive, as well as the choicest livestock. Apparently Agag had sired a son as well, who also escaped extermination. This son went on to become a forefather of Haman in the book of Esther. Interestingly enough, Mordecai was a Benjaminite, as was King Saul. I’ve often wondered if in fact we might find out later that Mordecai was a descendant of King Saul. I’ve also wondered if some of the most hateful antagonists against Israel today aren’t descendants of the survivors of ancient Amalek. Just a thought.
• Yehowah (YHVH) often speaks to us through His body – fellow believers. We should be attuned to that possibility. In this case, God spoke through Mordecai, Hadassah’s cousin. No, he wasn’t her uncle. They were cousins (read Esther 2:5-7,15 carefully). In Esther 2:15 we see that Esther’s father was Mordecai’s uncle. That makes Esther and Mordecai cousins! (I don’t know why so many say he was her uncle. I may have done so as well in the past. That’s careless reading of the scriptures.) Anyway, cousin Mordecai gives her great admonition to act, for she may have been brought to her high station in life as queen for this very moment. She listened to God speaking to her through her cousin.
• We all would do well to remember Mordecai’s admonition, as it applies to us all at various times in our lives. There are times to act and speak up and be people of courage and faith.
Esther 4:14 -- “For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"
My brothers and sisters, we have been brought to the kingdom of God! There will be times to speak up, to act, to step out in faith.
• Remember who makes up the BRIDE of the King of kings today: YOU and I do! Remember the real spirit behind Haman will try to destroy the Bride of Christ today too.
There’s a lot more that can be said about this wonderful book and this wonderful woman Hadassah. What an inspiration she is to me and to all who appreciate women of great strength, courage and faith.