Purim is the account of the salvation of the Jewish people from their enemy and amazingly God is not mentioned in the account even once! The Jewish people call this ‘‘hester panim’’ the hidden face of God. But if we look closer at the story we find that God was working behind the scenes through Esther and Mordechai to bring about the deliverance of His people. What we can see is Mordecai’s and Esther’s faith and trust in God.
The first lesson is the power of prayer. Esther called a fast because she knew that she could do nothing without prayer. Similarly, Moses, during the battle against Amalek, raised his arms toward heaven. When his arms lowered Amalek prevailed and when raised Israel won. They both knew an eternal truth; that the power to prevail against the enemy comes when we look to God. They both knew that they could achieve nothing unless God was with them.
And like Esther we are still encouraged not to fear but to trust in God as our strength and salvation. (Isaiah 12:6) And to lift our eyes to God and rejoice in all that He gives to us, to be strong in His Strength and to trust in His Word.
Esther knows her people’s history, which a history of God’s redemptive work. She must have recalled the Exodus from slavery and how God delivered them from Pharaoh. This isn’t the first time that her people have been in trouble and she must have remembered how faithful her God was to deliver them. This is the ground of her hope and faith, the activity of God’s in the life of her people.
This crisis transforms Esther from a girl lacking both confidence in herself and in God into a courageous leader. Taking charge of Mordecai’s effort to stop Haman, she devises a risky plan that uses her beauty, charm, and political astuteness to save her people. In doing so, she reveals her true identity as both a Jew and a woman of action, and shows us how anyone can use their talent, strength, and wit to change the course of history if they too will step forward as Esther did.
1 Corinthians 2:5 … that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
2 Corinthians 5:7 … for we walk by faith, not by sight.
The second lesson is faith is not just belief, faith requires action and Esther must act and so she dresses and enters the king’s court knowing her fate and that of her people are in God’s hands but God goes in with her. She has not been called for by the king for over 30 days she must have feared that his affection had cooled and more than that to enter his court uninvited was to risk death but prayer had strengthened her and given her a plan. The prayers of the people moved God to act and caused the king’s heart to warm once again to Esther. Having won his favour she is asked what she would like – even as much as half his kingdom but Esther asks only that the king and Haman come to a banquet that she will organize for them.
James 5:16 The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
Through prayer and leaning on God, and by walking by faith she has found an authority and confidence that comes through walking in obedience to God. She heard God’s challenge through Mordecai “for such a time as this” and she stepped up because she has learned along the way to trust God’s ability to preserve her life and this has changed her. She is no longer afraid! She is a woman who has learned to walk by faith and has discovered what God can do when we say yes to Him. This is our third lesson.
As a result, Mordecai was given the signet ring, a symbol of royal authority that king had previously given to Haman so that he could carry out his final solution exterminate the Jewish people. But there was no final solution because the Lord will not allow it and will always raise allies to come to the aid of His People. The Jewish people remain central in God’s plans and He still cares for them.
This is the warning from the Purim story, Haman hated the Jewish people and desired their destruction, but in the end, he died on the very gallows he had built to hang Mordechai and sadly his ten sons are also killed. The ultimate punishment in those days was the death of your sons meaning the end of your family line. Haman’s plan for the destruction of the Jewish people ends up being turned on him. We see that the promise that God gave to Abraham, He continues to keep “He who blesses Israel I will bless, But He who curse Israel I will curse”. God cares what happens to His people Israel and He honours His Word. This final lesson is the warning that this often overlooked in this joyous holiday.
We as God’s people have a divine responsibility to stand with Israel and the Jewish people in prayer and in sharing the Gospel. Let us learn the lessons that build our faith but let us also heed the warning!