There is a bit of a debate going on among friends of mine over whether or not Hebrew Roots Christians should observe and celebrate Purim. (The same debate goes on over Hanukkah, too.) Up until today, I’ve tried to keep an open mind about this question and have not said a great deal one way or the other. However, this year I’ve decided to take the topic on and put my viewpoint out there for the world to see.
Purim is considered a “minor feast day” because it is not one of the major Feast Days YHVH established in the Torah. (Shabbat, Rosh Chodesh, Passover, Day of First Fruits, Feast of Matzah, Pentecost, Day of Shofars, Day of Atonement and Feast of Tabernacles are the major feasts in His Kingdom.) The celebration called Purim was established by Mordechai and Queen Esther (Hadassah) after Yahweh delivered the Israelites of post-Babylonian captivity, now living in the Persian Empire, from an evil plot to kill them all. That would have been quite a feat as the Persian Empire extended from Egypt to India! Yet, the Persian King Xerxes had been deceived by his chief advisor, Haman, and had agreed to decree this atrocity take place. Haman was an Amalekite whose people held a deep and ancient hatred for the Israelites.
When Queen Esther, a “hidden Jew”, revealed the plot and her own ethnicity to her husband, the King gave the Jews of his vast Kingdom full right to defend themselves on the day selected for their massacre. They did – and the results were staggering. Haman and his sons were hanged. Across the great empire, tens of thousands of Persian soldiers and authorities who had allied with Haman were killed. Mordechai, the Queen’s uncle, was then made Chief Advisor to the King and given vast power. Mordechai and Queen Esther declared a huge celebration to forever mark the anniversary of their miraculous deliverance. (All of these events are recorded in the Book of Esther.) The celebration of this historical event continues today and is one of the most joyful and fun days on the Hebrew calendar.
Some are of the opinion that Purim is a purely Jewish celebration and therefore not relevant to non-Jewish followers of Messiah Yeshua. That sort of puzzles me. Yeshua was and still is Jewish. He undoubtedly celebrated Purim with his family and friends – and with a greater understanding than any of us will ever have. After all, the events that the holiday remembers and honors took place across the Persian Empire and included his homeland of Judea. Frankly, if Haman had been successful with his plot to kill all Jews throughout the Persian Empire, Yeshua’s bloodline may have well been wiped out then and there. I choose to celebrate Purim simply to thank Yahweh for stopping what was certainly one of Satan’s evil attempts to prevent Messiah from being born! The question that comes to my mind is, “If Yeshua celebrated Purim and I am to live as He did, shouldn’t I celebrate Purim too?”
After all, the Apostle Paul makes it quite clear that the moment a Jew, Gentile, or pagan chooses to follow Yeshua as their Savior and King they become one in Him. He is our one true Shepherd and one true King. We become fellow citizens in His One Kingdom on earth – Israel. We are the fulfillment of Ezekiel 37! We have been grafted together, restored as one Kingdom of Israel in His Hand. The division that once separated Jews and Gentiles is gone. We have been reunited with our family. His original design and purpose for us has been fully restored.
Thus, what is important to Israel from those ancient days should be, in this day, important to all of us who are Israel today. We are brothers and sisters again. Remembering Queen Esther and the defeat of Haman, the Amalekite, is crucial to preserving our united history as YHVH’s people. Furthermore, Purim carries forward important truths and principles that we need to hold on to in our modern struggles in a world that is increasingly anti-Semitic and anti-Christian…a full out attack on anything and everything Messiah is to this broken world. We NEED Purim in our lives!
Personally, I find great joy in celebrating Purim. Sure, the costume parties and sweet foods, the fun of handing out secret gifts of food, and the plays and readings that recount the story of Esther are all wonderful fun. But it’s the heart of Purim that I love the most. The loving heart of our Father, the king of the universe, is seen in action once again as He delivers His children from destruction. The heart in us that should gratefully receive Him and rejoice in the great gift of simply being alive.
Yes, there are all sorts of man-made traditions that come with this holiday – just as there are with even the major Feast Days. Yeshua most certainly did warn us about man-made traditions. But He did not, as some would claim, condemn them. He condemned the practice of making them more important than keeping the instructions of our Father. The failure in our hearts to honor Him, the gift of life, and the people around us in the midst of our obedience is His greatest concern. The nonsense that failing to keep man-made traditions was some sort of sin was the mindset and practice that He was attacking. The only sin He is concerned about is failing to follow the marks set before us by His Word – that is true sin. The ridiculous additions added by religious men are far too complex and can easily destroy people. This He despised.
Therefore, in our fierce efforts to be “Biblical”, let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Unlike Christmas and Easter traditions, there is nothing pagan about celebrating Purim (or Hanukkah). In fact, on Purim, we celebrate the very things Yeshua came to give to us: our freedom from all death-filled decrees, and full access to His path for creating an abundant life, on earth as it is in heaven. Chag Sameach Purim!