The Scroll of Esther is read in the synagogues every year for Purim. If you do not know the story of the history, read it at home. The Purim celebrations by Jews around the world today are far from the manner prescribed by Mordecai and Esther almost 2500 years ago. What is remarkable, though, is that his holiday is still being observed: it still has relevance for us today, even as believers in Jesus. Purim is not one of the appointed times given by YHVH to Israel, but a set time by His people in appreciation of God’s sovereignty – even though they did not acknowledge Him personally – and this holiday of the Jewish people was accepted by the Lord.
We – and the rest of humanity – place ourselves in danger when we ignore God’s voice and His mighty deeds which ascribe glory to Him alone. The holiday of Purim reminds us of this real and present danger when God’s people – the Jews and Christians– ignore His grace and faithfulness to His purposes of redemption. (The Holocaust is another grave reminder of failing to heed the Providence of the LORD to keep His prophetic and covenantal promises). The LORD remains faithful in His love and for His Holy Name’s sake, even when we do not.
Esther 4:13-14 God’s sovereignty and faithfulness, and our own personal responsibility
Ezra 1:1-4 the proclamation of Cyrus, King of Persia
The events which happened to the Jews at the time of Queen Esther and Mordecai occurred about 50-60 years after King Cyrus had issued the call for the people of the LORD to return to the Land of Israel to rebuild the Temple of the LORD in Jerusalem. Most of the Jews did not go up but rather remained in the galut (exile). They apparently preferred the life amongst the people who served other gods and had little taste for returning to the harsh life of rebuilding society under the Hand of God.
Nonetheless, the LORD had left some believers in Persia in order to preserve His people and a testimony for His Name. The scroll of Esther is notable for not mentioning God directly. While it is evident throughout the book that the God of Heaven was overseeing and intervening through events here on Earth, it is also a picture of the galut mentality that the Name of the true God is forgotten by His people. Practically and spiritually the people are in exile: they do not know who their God is, and have no personal relationship with Him. They celebrate their freedom like pagans rather than in a manner worthy of Him who has called them to serve Him who is Lord over all.
This is the present reality of Israel – both within the land and without. Because of unbelief and unwillingness to return to the LORD, the Father of Israel, through His beloved Son Yeshua, the Jewish people continue to find themselves threatened with annihilation by those who oppose them for being the people chosen by God, and primarily rely on their own skills and power to prevail.
Just as the LORD has kept His Word in the past – when He preserved and redeemed His people out of Egypt, and again delivered them from destruction by their enemies like Haman, and again saved a remnant through the Holocaust and re-established a sovereign nation-state in our own day – so too will God be faithful to Himself and to Messiah Jesus, who died on the cross to allow God to accomplish all His purposes for His people, and bring the Jewish people and Israel through its worst crisis. In doing so, He will also save many other people as well, just as in Egypt, Persia, Europe, when they saw Him act on behalf of His chosen – even while they were outside His full covering. Praise the LORD!
Es. 9:27 – For believers in Jesus – whether Jewish or not — the story of Purim has lessons for us:
What is God’s Name? – Many who are called Christian/Messianic live their lives as if in exile: not actively representing the Kingdom of Messiah in the country in which we live; not confessing the Name of Jesus before men out of fear or because of what public faith in Him requires of us. We can either serve the Lord Jesus or not, willingly or not, but He will ever remain faithful and true to His name.
Jesus outside our worship. – There are local churches who, in the Lord’s eyes, have kept Him outside; they are in spiritual exile, yet He calls to those inside to repent and return to Him, and so He to them.
Pagan spirit in celebrations. – Many called Christian celebrate their sacred days in a manner more like the heathen than honoring the holy God who purchased them with His own blood.
Vengeance is YHVH’s. – When we are far from the close relationship with our Father in Heaven, we often resort to carnal and desperate means for protecting ourselves from our enemies. That itself should be a clue to us that perhaps we are not where we should be. Vengeance is the LORD’s! He will judge and war against those who curse His people and seek to wipe them out.
Remnant suffers for righteousness sake. – Mordecai and Esther were willing to suffer for righteousness sake in order to honor God and to seek protection for their people against their enemy, who only seeks his own glory. They represent a believing remnant who fear the LORD and identify with His/their people.
Israel and the Church will prevail! – The faithfulness of God to Israel gives comfort and hope to the believers in Jesus. God’s sovereignty and providence work all things together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purposes. No weapon formed, not even the gates of Hades, will prevail against the people whom God has chosen for His inheritance and glory!