Sunday, July 20, 2008
Esther 9:16-Ch 10 This happened on the thirteenth day of the month of Adar, and on the fourteenth they rested and made it a day of feasting and joy.Purim Celebrated The Jews in Susa, however, had assembled on the thirteenth and fourteenth, and then on the fifteenth they rested and made it a day of feasting and joy. That is why rural Jews—those living in villages—observe the fourteenth of the month of Adar as a day of joy and feasting, a day for giving presents to each other. Mordecai recorded these events, and he sent letters to all the Jews throughout the provinces of King Xerxes, near and far, to have them celebrate annually the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar as the time when the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration. He wrote them to observe the days as days of feasting and joy and giving presents of food to one another and gifts to the poor. So the Jews agreed to continue the celebration they had begun, doing what Mordecai had written to them. For Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had plotted against the Jews to destroy them and had cast the pur (that is, the lot) for their ruin and destruction. But when the plot came to the king's attention, he issued written orders that the evil scheme Haman had devised against the Jews should come back onto his own head, and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows. (Therefore these days were called Purim, from the word pur .) Because of everything written in this letter and because of what they had seen and what had happened to them, the Jews took it upon themselves to establish the custom that they and their descendants and all who join them should without fail observe these two days every year, in the way prescribed and at the time appointed. These days should be remembered and observed in every generation by every family, and in every province and in every city. And these days of Purim should never cease to be celebrated by the Jews, nor should the memory of them die out among their descendants. So Queen Esther, daughter of Abihail, along with Mordecai the Jew, wrote with full authority to confirm this second letter concerning Purim. And Mordecai sent letters to all the Jews in the 127 provinces of the kingdom of Xerxes—words of goodwill and assurance- to establish these days of Purim at their designated times, as Mordecai the Jew and Queen Esther had decreed for them, and as they had established for themselves and their descendants in regard to their times of fasting and lamentation. Esther's decree confirmed these regulations about Purim, and it was written down in the records. King Xerxes imposed tribute throughout the empire, to its distant shores. And all his acts of power and might, together with a full account of the greatness of Mordecai to which the king had raised him, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Media and Persia? Mordecai the Jew was second in rank to King Xerxes, preeminent among the Jews, and held in high esteem by his many fellow Jews, because he worked for the good of his people and spoke up for the welfare of all the Jews.
This is such a great history lesson on the holiday of Purim. We get to see why it is celebrated, when it is celebrated and how it is celebrated. But more importantly there is something else to see here.
The Jews are celebrating because an order from the king came allowing enemies of the Jews to kill them, then another order from the king came and said Jews could defend themselves - then they were victorious. This is all they knew. They didn't know that Haman was jealous of Mordecai and that Haman should have never been born and that Mordecai had refused to bow and that Haman had built a gallows to kill Mordecai on - all they knew is that their lives were threatened and they were victorious. Only in the end, when Mordecai issued a letter to everyone explaining exactly what had happened, did they completely understand. How wonderful.
We are so different today - we hem-haw and procrastinate before we finally give in. My kids do this - I tell them to do something and they want an explanation of why they have to do it, how long they have to get it done, or can they do it later. If we simply are obedient to God - we will be victorious. God will let us know exactly what came about and why it needed to be done in His time - and then we will see the reason to celebrate.
Many of us who have been through trials and yet stayed obedient to God and saw the miracle that came of it - are able to look back and understand why things happened the way they did, even though we didn't understand while it was happening. Maybe we will never know in this life, but being obedient to what God asks of us will always lead to victory.
The story of Esther began with a feast of pagans and ended in a feast for God's people. We, too, will celebrate one day at our own feast and Jesus will be the host. Thank you for joining me as I studied the book of Esther - I look forward to what the next blog will be.