The season of Purim has arrived! The remembrance and celebration of the life of Queen Esther is one of the most exuberant on the Hebrew calendar. The story is so very inspiring because, in these Last Days, it is our story. Not since the Holocaust years of the last century have we been faced with such stark choices regarding standing for our faith, our King, our lifestyle, our people, and our Land (Israel) as we do right now. If you have not read the Book of Esther lately, this is the time to do so. We are truly a generation born “for such a time as this.”
Purim is “the upside down story” – the story of a “hidden God” working on behalf of His people. He is not spoken of in the Biblical account, yet His hand in every aspect of the events in Esther’s life are very evident. The results of His work in the hearts and lives of His obedient ones in those days reveal that what we see with our natural eyes is often far from what our King is doing for us.
The word “purim” means “casting of lots”. In the account, it is the enemy of the Jews within the Persian Empire, Haman the Agagite (Amalekite), who sets out to destroy the Jewish people. (See I Samuel 15 for the background of Haman’s people.) He chooses the date for their slaughter by the casting of lots – the roll of the dice. Imagine the dismay of the Jewish people to learn that their destiny had been decided on by man per a roll of chance. I think many of us can relate to that thought and all the feelings that come with it. I know I can.
But that was not the reality of their situation – not from God’s eyes. YHVH does nothing by chance. There are no coincidences with Him – and the Hebrew mindset does not believe so either. This should speak volumes to us today as we watch the unfolding of diabolical evils in today’s world – and in our own country. When measured against the life-giving Torah, the world around us looks bad – really bad – and seems to be getting worse every day. It’s as if we have no control over our destiny…that the evil in this world is set out to destroy us at every turn. There are days when life seems nothing better than a game of chance. Let’s be honest – that seems to be our reality – in the natural realms that is.
Yet what does “the Hidden God” see? What are His plans for us? My favorite verse – my life’s verse – is Jeremiah 29:11-14. “For I know what plans I have in mind for you,” says Yahweh, “plans for well-being, not for bad things; so that you can hope and a future. When you call to me and pray to me, I will listen to you. When you seek me, you will find me, provided you seek me wholeheartedly; and I will let you find me,” says Yahweh. “Then I will reverse your exile.” We have His great promise that when we, like the Jews of Esther’s day, turn to Him wholeheartedly and call to Him in our prayers, He will save us and carry out His good plans for us.
Yahweh, in our darkest hours, can often seem hidden from our sight – but He is always there and always waiting for us to trust Him wholeheartedly with our lives. He is always working on behalf of those who love Him and follow His Instructions. When we are fully His, it takes little effort on His part to turn our world – our lives – upside down. The key is for us – as it was for Esther and her people – is to remember who we are, become obedient, cry out to Him and pray…to seek Him wholeheartedly. In Esther’s story it took obedience to the plan that Yahweh revealed to her so that the plot could be uncovered, and the heart of a human king turned to favor the Jews rather than destroy them.
I trust that this weekend will encourage you, as it does me, to believe Father for what seems like the impossible and death-like circumstances in your life. Just as many of you, I have my own “deathlike” circumstances staring me down too. I am believing my Father for great things to happen right now! As we celebrate Purim this weekend and as we deepen our commitment to follow His Ways and seek Him wholeheartedly, we know that He will turn our story upside down. He will show us the plan and reveal our roles to bring it into our reality. He has a plan for us – for our well-being, full of hope and a good future. The Haman’s in our life will be taken down by His hidden yet mighty outstretched hand. Amen!
Father is ready and waiting to turn all our life-stories upside down. Just like Esther, for some of us this will mean changes that might be unpopular or even put our very lives in danger. It is not popular right now to reveal our identities as Children of the Most High, living by and standing for His Kingdom. Are we willing to have Esther’s courage? “If I perish, I perish.” The times we live in as we await our King’s return – the arrival of our Groom – will increasingly require that kind of courage. Each of us needs to make our choice and practice now, in the little things and the large. The Haman-types are on the rise. The ultimate Haman – the antiMessiah of the Last Days– will reveal himself soon. How will you respond?
This year, in union with all in our family Israel, enjoy Purim. Celebrate our ongoing deliverance and give jubilant praise to our Deliverer. Have a party, sing and dance! Enjoy the freedom and abundance that YHVH has provided for us. Our times of mourning are to be turned into a joyous holiday! Anonymously send portions of food as gifts to one another. Give generous gifts to the poor and widowed in your community. Remember who you are and to who you belong – and rejoice in your identity!
Shabbat Zachor – Sabbath of Remembrance, the Sabbath immediately before Purim
Esther 9:20 – 10:3
Ephesians 2: 1-22 and 6:10-16
Weekly Scripture Readings for March 7, 2020
Torah: Exodus 27:20 – 30:10
Haftarah: I Samuel 15:2-34 and Ezekiel 43:10-27
B’rit Hadashah: Philippians 4:4-20
Purim Readings (14-15 Adar / March 9-10, 2020)
The Book of Esther