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For Such a Time as This
Just for the record, most Jews pronounce it poor’-ihm. It simply means lots, as in the casting of lots, because that process was critical to the whole story of how the Lord moved to save His people Israel from total annihilation.
Based on the Book of Esther, this is absolutely the most joyous of all the celebrations in Judaism. Although it is not commanded directly by God, it is called for by the main character in Esther.
Curiously, God is not mentioned by name in the entire book. However, the fact that Esther is included in the canon of scripture shows there is clear evidence of His presence. Indeed, it is easy to see God’s Hand throughout the story.
Set in the ancient Persian Empire, the Book of Esther recounts an amazingly vicious attempt to wipe out the entire population of Jewish people from the known world. It depicts a clear cut battle between supernatural evil and supernatural righteousness, and in doing so is a both a lesson about trusting God, as well as a foreboding warning of great tragedy.
Modern day observance of Purim usually includes the reading of the magillah (scroll of Esther), followed by an hilarious “Spiel” which roundly mocks the villain of the story, the wicked Haman. In fact, it is traditional to blot out his name with booing and noise making. Some synagogues will have a Purim carnival with games and food.
The primary food of this observance is hamantaschen, a delicious three cornered pastry filled with fruit jelly. It is probably translated best as Haman’s pockets, but is typically referred to as Haman’s ears, or hat. Eating this cookie is not only tasty, but a symbol of God’s victory over
this evil man.
Reading the Book of Esther is easy - it is literally one of the easiest reads in the entire Bible - and of course it is worthwhile. The theme of Esther is God’s faithfulness to keep His covenant with Israel, although He is not directly mentioned.
Let’s look at a few key points:
- A Jewish girl, Esther (her given name was Hadassah), is selected by Ahasuerus, the King of Persia, to be his Queen, although she does not reveal her Jewish identity.
- Her cousin (often improperly called her uncle) Mordecai, who is the father figure in her life, is a solid citizen of the kingdom who reports a plot to assassinate Ahasuerus.
Haman is the antagonist who becomes the king’s number one advisor. He reveals supernatural evil when he schemes to kill all the Jewish people throughout the empire, simply because Mordecai refuses to bow down to him. He casts lots (Purim) to determine when he should execute his evil plan.
- Upon hearing of the death sentence for his people, Mordecai implores Esther to intervene with the king, who still doesn’t know she is Jewish. When she hesitates because royal protocol threatens death if she comes to the king without invitation, Mordecai responds, “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?”
- Esther calls for a three day fast, after which she approaches and is welcomed by the king, who then agrees to her request for a banquet with just Haman and the king.
- Haman, in the interim, is so furious about Mordecai that he decides to build a fifty foot high gallows to hang him, without waiting for the scheduled mass slaughter of all Jews. But at a second banquet with Esther and the king, Esther reveals her Jewishness, which reverses the king’s sentiments about Haman, who is then hanged on the gallows he had intended for Mordecai.
- Mordecai is elevated to the position previously held by Haman and is able to offset the decree to destroy the Jews.
There is, however, a deeper message in this story, and that is the spiritual nature of anti-Semitism.
Haman’s unbelievable hatred of the Jewish people has no rational basis, other than one Jewish man refuses to honor him. That’s why we refer to it as supernatural evil - it is framed by the powers of spiritual darkness.
If Satan can eliminate the Jewish people, either by death or assimilation into non-Jewishness, then the promise of Yeshua to return to Israel in Matthew 23:39 cannot be fulfilled. In that passage, our Messiah requires Jewish people to welcome Him back to earth.
Now see how the thwarted plans of Haman have been repeated through the centuries in the crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, the pograms and of course the Holocaust. Satan is behind all of it. The same goes for the current situation in the Middle East where the Muslim nations have vowed to destroy Israel.
But in the end, just like in Esther, the Hand of God will prevail!
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