Friday, February 22, 2013

The Jewish Holiday Purim: Queen Esther Stood for "Such A Time As This"

I'm writing this on the eve of the Jewish holiday, Purim (poo’rim). If you’re familiar with the Old Testament, you’ll know that this began in the book of Esther. It recounts events that occurred during the reign of the Persian King Xerxes (486 to 465 B.C.). Xerxes is also known in the Bible as Ahasuerus.

Esther was an exceptionally beautiful commoner selected by Xerxes to be his new queen, after Queen Vashti defied him. Unbeknown to the king, the beautiful Esther was also Jewish.

Esther's cousin Mordecai found out about a plot by the commander of the king's army, Haman, to kill all the Jews in the country. He asks Esther to go and plead with the king to overturn this order.

Going before the king without an invitation could mean punishment by death, even to his own wife. But Mordecai tells her, “Who knows but that you were born for such a time as this?”
And Esther answers, “…I will go to the king even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:14). She was the only person God had placed in a position to bargain for this. Besides, if they did kill all the Jews, she herself would not be spared if her Jewish faith and heritage was found out.

Before approaching the throne, Esther fasts and prays for three days. Mordecai has all the Jewish people in their region do the same. In the end, Esther succeeds far beyond her own expectations: Not only does the King rescind Haman’s order to kill the Jews, but has the scheming Haman hanged on the scaffold originally prepared for Mordecai. Xerxes also elevates Mordecai to a place of respect in the King’s palace, because Esther credits her cousin with the discovery of the plot.

From that day to this, the Jewish people celebrate Esther’s victory with great feasts and joyfulness. Purim usually falls in late February or early March.

Although this historic event was a triumph of good over evil, it should remind us of the seriousness of anti-Semitism, which we haven't been able to eradicate to this day – and to the growth of persecution against Christians which is costing lives around the world where there is hatred of Christianity.
The time is coming when, if unprepared in our Bible knowledge and belief, American Christians and Jewish believers may be in for a shock when our persecution goes beyond mere angry words and vandalism of property.

Every day we're seeing new affronts to scriptural faith in the name of “diversity” which is anything but: It's the new tolerance being intolerant of anything biblical and God-driven in favor of atheism and most importantly, certain other Middle Eastern beliefs running contrary to God’s Word. Christians in other countries are forfeiting their lives today in large numbers.
But rather than being alarmed and scared, we must remember Jesus’ words in Luke 21:12-20:

“…They will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. This will result in your being witnesses to them"...

(An opportunity to share the saving grace of Jesus!)

..."But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. All men will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish.By standing firm you will gain life.

20 “When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near." (NIV)

Sound familiar? Let’s not appear scared to the world, but confident in the fact that all these things must take place before Jesus returns. That will make us like Esther - good examples and standing strong "For Such a Time as This."

If you'd like to know more about the Jewish People, order my book in the right hand column, What Every Christian Should Know about the Jewish People at Amazon or Wine Press.

Queen Esther depiction by Edwin Long (1829-1891) found in Public Domain at Wikimedia Commons.
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