This weeks Torah portion will center around the festival of Purim. Purim which means the casting of lots is celebrated by Jews all over the world, but guess what, you as fellow believers can celebrate this festival as well. Why you may ask should we who are not of Jewish decent celebrate a Jewish festival. Well the answer lies within the story of Purim. Each year during Purim, the 14th day of the Hebrew month of Adar, Jews celebrate by reading, acting and dressing up in characters of the biblical story of Esther. Unfortunately many Christian believers do not know the story of Esther simply because most pastors think of this as a Jewish book and miss the full point of the story. Today however you will learn the full meaning of this minor but important biblical feast. It is also the only book in the bible where God’s name is not mentioned, however His presence is felt throughout. Although I suggest you read the entire book- below is a summary of the highlights. This year Purim begins on Saturday March 15th. Hope you enjoy.
It was during the reign of King Achashverosh (Xerxes) who ruled a vast empire, with his royal palace in the city of Shushan. The story takes place after the Babylonian exile and the return of many Jews back to Judah to rebuild the Temple. However many Jews stayed behind in what would be modern day Persia. King Achashverosh had a royal servant by the name of Haman. As you will see Haman is a type of anti-messiah. At the start of this story the king throws a royal ball, however his wife, Queen Vashti decides not to attend, and so the king removes her from the palace and begins the search for a new queen. All the beautiful women(virgins) of Shushan and the surrounding areas were to be brought to the palace to see which one would replace Queen Vashti. Among the beautiful virgins was a Jewish woman, Hadahssah or Esther who was the niece of Mordecai. Mordecai was one of the Jews that came from a family that decided not to return to Judah after the exile. Now Esther was instructed by her uncle to keep her Jewish heritage a secret during her time at the royal palace. She quickly won the favor of the kings staff and was given much attention. Of all the women the king had to choose from, he favored Esther and made her queen. Mordecai would often sit at the palace gates, and one day overheard of a plot to kill the king. Mordecai reported this to Esther who told the king and gave her uncle credit for revealing this plot. He would later be remembered for this heroic deed and given a great honor by the king, but that does not happen until much later.
The king also selected one of his men, Haman to advance in his ranks. Haman would go into the city and order all those before him to bow in his presence. However, Mordecai would not bow, as a Jew he would not bow to any man, only to God. Haman was very angered by Mordecai and found out that he was a Jew. Haman could not tolerate these people who did not follow the kings rules, nor bow down to him. So he decided to have the king sign a royal decree ordering that the entire Jewish race be destroyed. Haman had the kings order sent throughout the kingdom, that every Jew of all ages be slain on a particular day, the 13th day of Adar. Mordecai learned of the fate of the Jews and tore his clothes and sat in ashes and sackcloth as was the custom when hearing or witnessing tragedy. Esther also learned of the fate of the Jews, but the king had no knowledge of her heritage. Mordecai approached Esther and asks her to help and influence the king and save the Jews of the land. This was no easy task for Esther. That is because the king had a rule, no one of his wives could ever go to him unless he called for them. Esther took a big chance, risking her own life by going to the king. She had a plan though, to expose Haman to the king by inviting the king and Haman to a dinner. When the king accepted, as well as Haman, who was always wanting approval arrived at the reception, Esther not only revealed her own identity as a Jew but also her uncle Mordecai, whom the king liked because he had saved his life by exposing the plot to have the king killed. Esther then reminded the king that Haman had abused his power by having the king agree to slaying all of the Jews on the 13th day of Adar. The king became furious at Haman. Haman had planned to hang Mordecai, but instead it was Haman who hung from his very own gallows. The king reversed the his previous order regarding the Jews and thus Esther and Mordecai saved the Jewish race from being slaughtered simply because they were different. Mordecai and Esther had written in the annals that Purim should be celebrated by all generations. Purim again refers to the drawing of lots, like picking cards to decide the fate of someone.
Haman was indeed an anti-messiah, just as Hitler was and Pharaoh before him. There have been others as well throughout history who were determined to wipe out the Jewish race. We celebrate the survival of the Jews and you as a believer should as well. Why? Because without the Jews the birth of a Jewish king, Yeshua (Jesus) would not have been possible. Yeshua was to be born as a Jew, yes just as it was written by the prophets and throughout the Old Testament. He was to come from the lineage of King David, also a Jew, also born in Bethlehem. This was a promise from God. Yeshua was to be born a Jew, lived his life as a Jew and died a Jew. And yes if you are wondering, Yeshua celebrated Purim as all the Jews of His time did. So you as fellow believers should read the book of Esther and celebrate Purim to honor Yeshua. For as Yeshua Himself said “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.” John 4:22
Purim is celebrated by dressing up in costumes and staging plays about the story of Esther. This is great fun and every time Esther is mentioned exclaims “Ah” and every time Haman is mention people jeer and use groggers that make a horrible sound. When Mordecai is mentioned everyone cheers. This is great fun. The festival is also celebrated by sending gifts such a Hamentash, a fruit filled pastry made in the shape of Haman’s hate, a triangle. Also this is a time for Tzedakah, or giving to charity. We celebrate that God performed a miracle, placing Esther in a position to save the Jewish people, giving her the boldness she needed and the ear of King Achashverosh who had the power to change history. Without the Jewish race their would be no Yeshua so we give God the glory for this miracle and know that the LORD will never leave us nor forsake us.
Praise God for His love endures forever.
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