The Holy Bible is a treasure chest; I love to dig for the gems that can be mined from it. One of my favorite continuous mining excursions is the book of Esther. The season of Purim is upon us. Today I wanted to take a few moments and share with you some of my thoughts for this year’s Purim season and why you should consider setting aside some time for it. First, In Esther 9 we find that Purim should be observed yearly.
“Wherefore they called these days Purim after the name of Pur. Therefore for all the words of this letter, and of that which they had seen concerning this matter, and which had come unto them, The Jews ordained, and took upon them, and upon their seed, and upon all such as joined themselves unto them, so as it should not fail, that they would keep these two days according to their writing, and according to their appointed time every year; And that these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, every family, every province, and every city; and that these days of Purim should not fail from among the Jews, nor the memorial of them perish from their seed.”
I delight in celebrating all Jewish holidays, even the less publicized ones such as Purim and Hanukkah. I’m always learning something new from them, so I have a few thoughts for this season that I want to share with you today.
This past January I was in my office studying. Out of the blue I was prompted to look ahead to February on my calendar. I was a bit amazed when I saw two days highlighted in February that said “Purim Katan and Shushan Purim Katan”. I thought I had missed something as I thought Purim this year is in March. And at that point I couldn’t recall seeing Purim written “Purim Katan” knowing that katan in Hebrew means “little”. Well my studying took a different course from that moment. Are you aware that this year is a leap year in the Jewish calendar? The leap year adds two Adars known as Adar I and Adar II. This gave us opportunity to observe Purim not only once this year, but twice. The Little Purim has passed. The activities were nearly the same as the Shushan Purim that we will be celebrating this week, except Jewish tradition tells us that fasting isn’t part of the Little Purim. So, I’ve been weighing out how to express what I am feeling for this season, especially since my book, Esther’s Days of Purification, has become a Bible Study worldwide. Of course I am awed that others are preaching the message that I’ve written but let me tell you I’m more awed of some of the other things I’ve felt since that moment in my office when discovering that we had two months of Adar in 2011.
Friends, please take note, this is the season of “Purim, Purim”. I’m reminded that when one reads Scripture and God says something twice it is time for us to “perk up our ears” and hear what the Spirit is saying. He is speaking in every way possible; nations are not only rising one against another, their internal conflicts are on the fore front of our daily news. The price of commodities is increasing daily with many economists telling us to prepare for much larger increases of them. Worldwide violent storms, flooding, tsunamis and earthquakes have increased since last year’s Purim; they are becoming common place instead of things of the past. Then we have the on-going crunch down on Israel and the Jewish people, the latest happening this past weekend with the cold murder of the family of five in the God-ordained, Biblical land of Samaria. I truly feel as the Lord is telling us, the Bride of Yeshua, to “Arise, Arise . . . this is the season of Esther, Esther”.
While my Esther’s Days of Purification book is a study on the 12 months of Esther’s preparation to meet the King I want to highlight a few things to consider between now and Purim next year (2012). I know this blog is lengthy, but please let me explain my heart and look into a few things in Scripture and Jewish thought.
In Chapter 3 we read of Haman’s plot to destroy the Jewish people, his anger and intention coming when Mordecai refused to bow done to him. Haman knew that Mordecai’s refusal was religiously motivated. I can only guess the hatred in his eyes saw beyond punishing Mordecai only; it was to destroy all the Jewish people. Haman was granted the King’s scribes to write the decree being sent out to all the nations in the first month, the month of Nisan. The plot for the Jews to lose their life was scheduled for 11 months later, in the month of Adar.
In Chapter 4 we find that when Mordecai heard of the fate of the Jews, he may have been one of the first to know as he often is found in front of the King’s Gate. It is probably that his heart was full of grief when he heard the decree, perhaps he felt he was responsible for the decree when he took his stance not to bow to Haman. Tearing his garments and putting the sackcloth and ashes was his response. Then he proceeded to go out in the midst of the city crying loud and bitterly even to the King’s gate, the same gate where he refused to bow. Perhaps his cry was one for the King to have mercy on his people and to change the decree, but access to the king wasn’t allowed as he wasn’t dressed properly. “For none shall enter the King’s gate clothed with sackcloth.” Esther 4:2
It was Mordecai’s public outcry where Esther’s maidens and chamberlains heard him. They reported to Queen Esther, who then herself became sad and full of grief. She sent him new garments; he refused. Esther didn’t understand Mordecai’s sorrow. She sent Hatach, a chamberlain she trusted with her personal life, with a message to Mordecai to find out “what was going on”. (Hatach’s name means “why wilt”). Jewish scholars say that Esther was modest and she lived her life quietly as she remembered Mordecai’s words not to reveal who she was so she was unaware of the decree. (Esther 2:10)
Another point that the Jewish scholars report is that Hatach was wise. He randomly, but purposely, “ran into” Mordecai in the city square in front of the King’s gate. This was a safe place to converse; no one would be able to spy on them nor would they think anything was out of the ordinary as they were in the open square. Mordecai shared the news of the future of the Jewish people. He sent Hatach not only a written copy of the decree to give to Esther but charge to her to go to the King and petition for the lives of their people. Hatach did as instructed, delivering the decree and plea of Mordecai to Esther. One could only guess how faint Esther became upon hearing the planned fate of her people. Perhaps, from Mordecai’s message to her, she sensed it was time to reveal herself as Jewish to the king. (As we study Esther we find that she does reveal herself to the King during the second banquet, perhaps one more reason why she called the second banquet. She may have been hesitant to reveal herself during the first banquet.)
Sending response back to Mordecai, Esther shared her concerns of what seemed to be her own doom. Everyone knew the law that no one, including the queen, could enter the inner court without being summoned; it was a death sentence. She also added that she hadn’t been with the king for thirty days. Perhaps Esther’s strategy was that the king would call for her soon; this would give the chance to plea for her people.
Esther’s response was given to Mordecai. He commanded, with firmness in his words, what Esther must do, and why. (In Hebrew command is ‘a^mar” and is first found as God commanded that there be light, and there was light.) Mordecai’s words, found in Esther 4:13 & 14 have been used in numerous sermons and are as important as the day that they were penned. “And Mordecai commanded them to answer Esther, Do not think within yourself that you shall escape in the king’s house more than all the Jews. For if you are completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance shall arise to the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house shall be destroyed. And who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time like this?”
Esther’s response to Mordecai was to send word to her people that resided in Shushan to fast and pray for three days and nights; she along with her handmaidens would do the same.
Friends, this week is Purim. May I suggest that you pray-fully read the book of Esther this week; it only takes a few minutes. On Thursday (Weds night at Sundown) is the Fast of Esther and this year’s Purim in on the 20th and 21st. The story continues to take on more meaning to me each time I read about and think about current situations. But as I reflected and have written on this portion of Esther today I am wondering if we shouldn’t take our fasting and intercession one step further this year, beginning now until Purim 2012. With the understanding that chapters 3 and 4 took place over an eleven month period of time brings additional light into the story. It did back when it was written, and I believe it is important today. Israel and the Jewish people need us to pray and stand with them more than ever.
The calendar of God written in the Bible has no errors or coincidence. You see, the decree written to destroy the Jews was written on Nisan 13. This date is important; it is the day that is known as Bedikt Chametz, the day to use candlelight to get all the leaven out of our homes before the next day which is the eve of Pesach, Nisan 14. Symbolically speaking leaven is our words, bad doctrine, our vices and sin.
We have thirty days between Purim and Pesach; thirty days to reflect and consider our “leaven”. What will our prayers, intercession and involvement concerning Israel be in the coming months? I hope that many of you will consider that this year’s call of God in this season of Esther, Esther has been highlighted not only to me, but to you. It is time to pray and intercede for her people as never before.
In a few weeks I plan to send or even personally take Purim “portions” and Pesach blessings to Israel. Pesach is often a time when additional finances for grocery vouchers are needed for the special foods that accompany Pesach Seders. I also want to take this opportunity to invite you to consider going to Israel this year. If you are interested in going this fall for the Feast of Tabernacles please contact me via e-mail at PreciousOils@aol.com. Tentative dates (2011) are October 9th to 20th.
In His Service,