Purim - The Hidden Meaning
Purim, meaning ‘lots’, is the celebration of the divine deliverance of the Jews from the plot devised by wicked Haman. Esther, whose original name was Hadassah (from Myrtle which means 'righteous'), was the woman chosen by the king of the Persian empire (King Xerxes), to replace Vashti after she was banished from his presence for failing to come to him when he called for her. This action was to dissuade other women from doing the same.
The name Esther is derived from the Hebrew word Hester, which means ‘hidden’. The name also means 'star' and originated from Persia. I was recently reminded by a relative who's very knowledgeable about the feasts, that in the book of Esther, God is not mentioned at all by name. God Himself is hidden in this book. This fact alone is one of the very things that I find most interesting about the celebration of Purim. Why? Because even though God is actively working throughout the entire book, there is no direct intervention by God.
God’s providential grace is eventually made known after the plot to kill the Jewish people becomes apparent. Esther grows concerned when she hears of the plot and her cousin Mordecai asks her to use her privileged position as queen to approach the king and plead for favour. This in itself could be risky due to the law that could lead to her death if she approaches the king and he chooses not to extend his scepter. A risky move considering what happened to Vashti.The Jews fasted for three days in preparation before Esther appealed to the King.
After she sent a message to share her concern, her cousin sent back a word saying, "For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" (Esther 4:14).
At this stage, we realise that the Lord had ordered the steps of men to place Esther in the right position for the right time. She was the deliverance that was ‘hidden’ from all. This work of God was an act of divine providence and reminds us that the Lord is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is sovereign over all people and He works both overtly and covertly. Who has known the mind of God (Romans 11:34) and who is like Him (Psalm 113:5)?
Isaiah 55:9 says, ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’
Before Esther even knew why she was shown such favour by the king and chosen to be his wife, the Lord had her placed in position for this moment in time. The Lord can choose to orchestrate the deliverance of men so silently, yet so powerfully as illustrated in this true story.
For me, it’s a time to remember God’s grace in my own life. How much He has cared for me even before I knew Him. His active work in my life, even when I never knew it, as well as deliverance of the greatest kind through knowing Jesus Christ (Yeshua Hamashiach). Jesus is the hidden Deliverer of Israel that was concealed up until two thousand years ago. He is still hidden from the eyes of many, but no one will miss His imminent return. Today, when we know Jesus, our life is hidden in Christ (Colossians 3:3) and we may approach the throne of grace.
Beloved, we can take great comfort in knowing that before we even realise our need, the Lord has already made a way of provision. This aspect alone should bring comfort during times of trouble.
The timing is another aspect we mustn't ignore. "Such a time as this" are key words in helping us to understand that His deliverance is made in His timing. The Lord has His reasons of why His timing is perfect. He is never too early or too late. Hallelujah!
Amazingly, Haman, who was the villain at this time, was a descendant of the Amalekite king that Saul (a descendant of Kish) was supposed to kill, but instead, disobeyed God. If Saul had've obeyed God, this event would have never come about. Even more amazingly, Mordecai was a descendant of Kish, like Saul. What was not previously finished by Kish's original son Saul, was now complete by another son of Kish, Mordecai. This is also another comforting aspect of how God watches over every detail, and even when things go off course because of the rebellion of man, we come to realise that the Lord's will eventually wins out over man's will. King's of the earth are no match for the King of Kings. He can harden the heart of a king (Exodus 14:4) and in the case of King Xerxes, soften the heart of kings.
For those of you who are interested in how Purim is celebrated, here is a very brief look. Purim will be celebrated on the 14th of the Hebrew month of Adar. Jewish people all around the world will take part in some way. This year, it begins on Wednesday night, February 28th, and continues through to Thursday March 1st (March 2nd in Jerusalem). A good holiday is never without good food so there’s always plenty of food, in addition to the giving of food/gifts, charity towards at least two people, reading the whole book (twice) and a whole lot of fun. It’s a time to let your hair down.Why do we celebrate this way?
These are,“the days on which the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month that had been turned for them from sorrow into gladness and from mourning into a holiday; that they should make them days of feasting and gladness, days for sending gifts of food to one another and gifts to the poor.” (Esther 9:22)
Today, my heart is made joyous at the work of God’s hand. May His deliverance be not hidden from you.
Join the celebration
Join in with some Purim celebration right now! Here's two of my favourite songs. The groups are the Maccabeats and The Fountainheads.
-- By Judah Ayling