The Lenten season began a few weeks ago which reminds us to focus our attention toward righteousness and spiritual intimacy with our Savior and Redeemer. This past week was Purim, the Jewish celebration of courage and rescue from the story in the book of Esther. In March 2020, my post provided insights to Purim if you want to refer back for more information. Esther's courage and God's redemption are always good reminders to encourage our faith. The story begins with a party to pridefully demonstrate wealth, excess, and power. Everything was wonderful, then it all changed.
This is what happened during the time of Xerxes, the Xerxes who ruled over 127 provinces stretching from India to Cush: At that time King Xerxes reigned from his royal throne in the citadel of Susa... For a full 180 days he displayed the vast wealth of his kingdom and the splendor and glory of his majesty. When these days were over, the king gave a banquet, lasting seven days... Esther 1:1-5 NKJV
The story describes how Esther eventually becomes Queen to King Xerxes; however, she hid the fact that she was Hebrew. Eventually, it becomes necessary for Esther to reveal her heritage in order to save her people from being plundered and killed. She was courageous and from her efforts the Jewish people were saved and there was great rejoicing.
As in the Esther story, many of us put on spiritual masks to protect the vulnerable places of our heart or our true feelings . We hide who we really are or how we feel mostly out of fear of a perceived or real threat. Like Esther, a follower of the Most High God may be persecuted or may not receive opportunities because of our spiritual heritage, so we try to protect ourselves, keep the truth secret. In our weakness, we convince ourselves that our citizenship as a Christ-follower will not be welcomed or accepted, so we hide, accept the lie, and keep secrets.
In the first month, which is the month of Nisan, in the twelfth year of King Ahasuerus, they cast Pur (that is, the lot), before Haman to determine the day and the month, until it fell on the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar.
And the letters were sent by couriers into all the king's provinces, to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate all the Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, and to plunder their possessions. Esther 3:7,13 NKJV
The plot to kill the Jews was determined by casting lots, like rolling the dice. The date selected was almost a full year from the date of the plot. During those twelve months, God was at work, moving circumstances, positioning people within events and times to provide salvation for His people.
"You are My witnesses," says the Lord, "And My servant whom I have chosen, That you may know and believe Me, And understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, Nor shall there be after Me. I, even I, am the Lord, And besides Me there is no savior. I have declared and saved, I have proclaimed, And there was no foreign god among you; Therefore you are My witnesses," Says the Lord, "that I am God. Isaiah 43:10-12 NKJV
Our scripture and meditation verses for the past two weeks highlighted the attribute of righteousness and the observance of Purim. As we seek Adonia's righteousness one week, we are reminded He holds our future the next. A truth worth celebrating is that YHVH is the righteous God, Redeemer and Savior. He will not be hidden or accept a lesser position in our lives. He will be exalted above all principalities, kingdoms and earthly powers because He alone is the Supreme Ruler of the Universe, Creator God. Christ has conquered all dominions and earthly powers. Salvation has come.
And Mordecai wrote these things and sent letters to all the Jews, near and far, who were in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, to establish among them that they should celebrate yearly the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar, as the days on which the Jews had rest from their enemies, as the month which was turned from sorrow to joy for them, and from mourning to a holiday; that they should make them days of feasting and joy, of sending presents to one another and gifts to the poor. Esther 9:20-22 NKJV
It has been almost a year to the day, March 8th,2020, the 12th of Adar in the Hebrew calendar, since the government urged citizens to wear masks in order to protect ourselves and others from an unseen virus. The face coverings added to the stress and fear of the serious illness. Friends are not easily identified, and facial expressions are hard to read. Hugs have been replaced with fist-bumps. Gatherings and community has been replaced with social distancing. The desire to protect ourselves moved us into our homes, increasing the isolation and anxiety. We have watched loved ones become infected and suffer the effects of the virus, many have experienced death. While many discuss how to eradicate the virus, few discuss God's purpose within the midst of this pandemic. At times our situation may be overwhelming, seemingly hopeless in the light of a global pandemic. Where is Esther? Who will intervene?
The Jews had light and gladness, joy and honor. And in every province and city, wherever the king's command and decree came, the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a holiday. Then many of the people of the land became Jews, because fear of the Jews fell upon them. Esther 8:16-17 NKJV
Purim is a call for all believers in Yeshua to courageously pray for those who do not know the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). If you remain silent relief and deliverance will come from another place. Who knows whether you have come for such a time as this? (Esther 4:14) Therefore, we are called to boldly step out in faith, rejecting fear, to bear witness that Christ is the only source of help (Hebrew 4:16). Speaking Truth, we must be His witnesses (Isaiah 44:8) to shine light in the darkness (John 12:46), so others may accept the Savior's comfort and protection in the midst of their situation. Have the courage of Esther.
Mighty YHVH, we beseach You in fasting and prayer to use Your children to share Your salvation to those sitting in darkness. May hearts be changed, O LORD, that those who do not know Your grace will seek Your face and acccept Your gift of salvation. Rescue those persecuted, in distress, suffering and in need of a King. Give us courage, Elohim, to fight for the down trodden, weak and enslaved. Provide wisdom to guide our actions, words and deeds so we may courageously shine Your light in our dark world for Your glory. Amen