Esther and the season of Purim

It is the time of “Purim” right now for the Jews, not a holiday exactly, but a time of remembrance. Remembering the story of Esther and how with God’s sovereign power and a willing Esther (and her father by adoption Mordecai), the Jewish people were saved from annihilation.

ImageEsther is a beautiful story of the Old Testament that takes place about 475 BC.  Many would claim that it is all legend, with little or no basis in truth.  But recent archaeological discoveries again seem to confirm the time and the places mentioned in the book of Esther.  A cuneiform tablet found near Babylon mentions a scribe by the name of Mardukaya; possibly the Hebrew name for the Gentile word “Mordecai”.  The time and place and person fit the story perfectly.

Esther is quite simply a story of good and evil and miraculous deliverance in the face of impossible odds.  Mordecai will not bow down before the evil, proud, and power hungry Haman, because Mordecai bows only before the Lord. An outraged Haman is second in command to only King Xerxes, and plots to win Xerxes approval to murder not only Mordecai, but the entire Jewish race within Xerxes’ considerable borders: from Ethiopia clear through the Middle East to India.

ImageQueen Vashti is deposed, King Xerxes needs a new queen, and Esther is chosen from among all the beautiful maidens in the kingdom to find favor with the King. No one knows that Esther is Jewish, not even evil Haman.  Mordecai tells Esther that she has been put in this position in order to be used of God to rescue her people.  She is reluctant at first, maybe just plain scared out of her wits!  But Mordecai speaks to her and tells her that it is “for such a time as this” that God has placed her in a position of influence. And Esther receives the courage to say I’ll do it even though it’s forbidden to approach the king with this, and “If I die, I die”…

ImageWith her fellow Jews fasting and praying for her, Esther approaches the king and is offered the golden scepter of mercy and acceptance and favor. The King tells her to ask for anything, up to half his kingdom, and it will be given to her.  She asks the King to attend a banquet that she will give, only for him and for Haman.  The king happily agrees.  At the banquet, the king again tells Esther to ask for anything she wants… but she again asks for another private meeting with just the King and with evil Haman.  All this time Haman is plotting against the Jews, and has a gallows built 75′ tall on which to hang Mordecai.

ImageThe night before the second meeting, the King can’t sleep.  He asks to be read to from the official records of the kingdom, and hears the story of how Mordecai himself saved the King’s life by reporting a plot to assassinate the King. He decides to reward Mordecai the next day and a mortified Haman becomes the very vehicle through which Mordecai is honored.  In the meantime, the three come together again, and again the King tells Esther to ask for whatever she might ask.  Esther replies “give me my life, me and my people…for we’ve been sold to be massacred, eliminated by an enemy, an adversary: this evil Haman!”

And what the evil one intended is turned back on himself.  He is hung on his own gallows, the Jews are rescued and Mordecai and Esther are given places of honor and power second only to the King himself, even given evil Haman’s own estate. Mordecai and Esther proclaim that the Jews will forever celebrate the Purim on this date to remember their deliverance.  “Mordecai worked hard for the good of his people; he cared for the peace and prosperity of his race”…

Elsewhere in Old Testament, in the book of Numbers, chapter 24, Balaam prophesies these words, saying this is the “decree of a man with 20/20 vision… a man who hears godly speech, who knows whats going on with the High God, who sees what The Strong God reveals… and sees what is real.  I see him, but not right now, I perceive him, but not right here; A star rises from Jacob, a SCEPTER from Israel…”

The scepter has been provided, been offered and extended to us… why not grab hold with both hands and enter in to the story He has for your life… “for such a time as this”…

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1 Response to Esther and the season of Purim

  1. joel says:

    Nice set of pictures, I really like the first one of Esther.

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