Purim -- For Such A Time As This

Purim is almost here! Purim, a holiday commemorating the defeat of Haman and his plot to destroy the Jewish people, is celebrated by Jews everywhere. The name Purim comes from the word Pur, which means lots, referring to Haman choosing the day of the Jews' destruction by lot. The Book of Esther is read (called the Magilla), and whenever the name Haman is mentioned the children boo and make loud noises with their groggers (noise makers). Hamentashen, a triangular pastry filled with prune or poppy seed, is served. Purim truly is a joyous festival.

Aside from the traditional holiday celebrations, there are many wonderful lessons nestled in the Book of Esther. I'd like to look at one of my favorites.

In the fourth chapter, Mordecai, Esther's uncle, learns about the evil plot Haman has set in motion in order to wipe out the Jewish people. Mordecai rents his clothes and puts on sackcloth and ashes, goes into the midst of the city and cries loudly and bitterly (Esther 4:1). The act of tearing his clothes and wearing sackcloth and ashes is one of prayer and supplication before God.

Later, in verse 4, Esther learns of her uncle's behavior and tries to have him change clothes and come to her, but he refuses. So Esther sends one of her servants back to Mordecai to learn exactly what is happening. From her servant she learns of the plot. Mordecai has also asked Esther to take the evidence he has and go before the king to plead with him for the lives of her people.

It's at this time that Esther finds herself in a predicament. No one was allowed to come before the king without being summoned. Anyone who did ran the risk of being executed. It was within the king's power to receive a person who came before him uninvited, but if he rejected them it was execution. Esther relays this information to her uncle, also telling him that she hadn't been summoned for thirty days.

Mordecai was not deterred. In verse 13 and 14 he assures Esther that simply because she resides in the palace does not mean that she will escape the fate awaiting her Jewish brethren. He also tells her that if she does not help, deliverance will arise from elsewhere, but she and her father's house will perish. Then, on the heels of these rather harsh statements he challenges her spirit, "And who knows but that you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this and for this very occasion?"

Her response? "Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast for me; and neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. I also and my maids will fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law; and if I perish, I perish." (Esther 4:16) And if I perish, I perish.

Had God allowed Esther to be chosen by the king as a replacement for his disobedient wife so that she would be in the position to help deliver the Jewish people from destruction? It looks that way. Was Esther special? I don't think she was any different than any other Jewess of her time, save in one area.

We can see from her response to her uncle's entreaty that she was willing to place her life on the line. She was willing to give up her position in the king's house, her status, her authority, everything in order to do God's will. Now for the hard part. Are we that willing? Do we let our jobs, social status, bank accounts, anything at all, get in the way of our following God's will for our lives? Are we yet willing to lose our life that we may find it? (Matthew 10:39).

In all things we must be willing to set aside our own feelings, desires and ambitions in order that God's will would be done. For who knows but that you have come into the kingdom for such a time as this?

Most of the time we are probably not aware of the lives that God touches through us, nor the way that He works through our lives. It is vital for our spiritual growth, as well as for the spiritual growth of those around us, that we yield our lives to Jesus that He might work through us. We must be sensitive to the Shepherd's voice. We must know His peace, and allow His peace to rule our hearts and minds. In His peace we will know His will.

Wait! What happened to Esther? I'm glad you asked! She went before the king. He allowed her to come to the throne. She then told the king of Haman's plot to destroy the Jews.

And what of Haman? You'll have to read the Book of Esther! And don't forget your groggers and hamentashen!

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