Today is Purim. You may have noticed it on your calendar and wondered briefly what it meant. Even if you don’t know what Purim is – you likely know the story behind the celebration. It is an ancient Jewish holiday that began when a very unlikely young woman stepped in to her greatest day.
Yes, I’m talking about Esther. For a minute, forget everything you know about the story – and about the movie One Night With the King, if you’ve seen it. You might be too familiar with the Bible story to see the awesome significance, and though the movie was splendidly beautiful, it may not accurately depict the story. (But, yes, I’ve chosen to use the images from the movie on my blog.)
If you read it again with fresh eyes, Esther’s story leaps off the page with life-size drama.You should read it for yourself again today, but I’ll sum it up for you here:
Jewish, exiled, orphaned Hadassah, raised by her cousin Mordecai, is taken into the King’s Harem to participate in a beauty contest for the crown. In fairy-tale like fashion she wins the favor of King Xerxes and he places the crown on her head. A Jewish orphan girl – Queen of the entire Persian empire. Her destiny seems to be in Someone else’s hands. Her parents were taken from her; her freedom was taken from her. She will never fulfill any dreams she might have had for a normal family. She shares her husband with an empire. She may not even go before him without being called upon.
She learns of a plot to completely annihilate her people – God’s people – the Jews. Who has issued this decree? Haman, who hates the Jews. It is sealed with the King’s signet ring; it cannot be revoked.
She has to decide if she will risk her life to break the law and go before the King without being summoned. He hasn’t even called for her in 30 days – has she lost favor with him?
Mordecai, her cousin, reminds her that perhaps she has risen to her unlikely position
“for such a time as this.”
After asking all the Jews in Persia to fast – and fasting herself – she puts on her royal robes. She dresses for success, and says, “if I perish, I perish.” She goes before the King.
Not only does she find favor with him again, she exquisitely draws together a plan and very successfully saves her people. The King’s decree cannot be revoked, but a new decree is issued, giving the Jews the right to fight for their lives, and kill anyone who tries to harm them.
And this is just what they did. After killing thousands of the Jews’s enemies across the provinces, the Jews rested – and celebrated. Another decree was sent out declaring that at this time every year the Jews will celebrate their rescue, their victory. The time of feasting and celebration would be called Purim. Purim were the lots that were cast in Haman’s presence to decide which day the annihilation of the Jews would take place.
Today is Purim. You may not be a Jew, but you can certainly appreciate the significance of this day – a celebration because the lives of you and your family have been saved. There are so many more intriguing details of this story – read it all right there in your Bible.
And thank God today that He has provided Jesus – who gave His life so YOU might live.