Purim 2023: G-d's Faithfulness to His Chosen People

On March 6th and 7th 2023, the Jewish people will celebrate Purim or The Feast of Lots. It is a triumphant time which symbolizes G-d's faithfulness to the protection and prosperity of the Jewish people.

For us as gentiles, it is a wonderful time to acknowledge the Jewish communities "chosenness" as the apple of G-d's eye, and by extension, anyone born again as a Christian can partake in this "chosenness".

"What Purim reaffirms to Christians and Jews alike is the fact that the everyday life is infused with G-d's presence and is under His control" (One For Israel).

A Simple Summary of Esther (The Purim Story)

King Ahasuerus whose kingdom stretched from India to Ethiopia (ancient Persia) threw a party to celebrate and acknowledge his reign and success. First, he threw a 180-day party with representatives from all 127 of the regions under his control, and after that, he threw a week-long party just for residents from his capital city of Shushan. At the same time as his week-long party celebrating his kingdom, his wife Queen Vashti hosted a party in the women's quarters to include the Shushanite women.

The King (who was intoxicated) ordered his seven Eunnuch elders to bring his wife to his party so he could show her off to the other men, and she refused. When she made him look foolish, the King was embarrassed and by the advisement of the Eunuchs, he had his wife banished.

The King still needed a queen though, so Ahasuerus and his officers organized a contest of beauty, where he would choose from a pool of women brought before him, who would become his new wife.

The winner of the beauty contest happened to be a Jewish girl who lived in the capital city of Susa with her cousin Mordecai.

Esther kept her Jewish identity a secret, as Mordecai instructed her to do. Meanwhile, the king's advisor, Haman, became very angry with Mordecai because he refused to bow down to him. Haman decided to take revenge by convincing the king to issue a decree to kill all the Jews in the empire.

Mordecai learned of Haman's plan and urged Esther to reveal her Jewish identity to the king and plead for her people. Esther was hesitant, as it was against the law to approach the king without being summoned, but she ultimately agreed to take the risk.

Esther invited the king and Haman to a banquet, where she revealed her Jewish identity and told the king about Haman's plot. The king was outraged and ordered Haman to be executed. Esther then convinced the king to issue a new decree allowing the Jews to defend themselves against their attackers.

The Jews successfully defended themselves and celebrated their victory on the 13th and 14th of Adar, which is celebrated today as the festival of Purim.

The book of Esther concludes with the establishment of the holiday of Purim, which commemorates the salvation of the Jews from destruction.

A Special Prayer

In an honourable act of reliance on the Father, many Jews will be adding a special prayer to their Amidah (central prayer at 3 services each weekday). This special addition to their prayer is called Al ha-Nissim – "For the Miracles". How powerful would it be if we added this consideration to our prayer life? We should remember to thank Yahweh for His incredible and gracious provision in our lives.

Here is the Al ha-Nissim:

(And) for the miracles and for the redemption and for the mighty acts and for the salvation and for the wars

that You have done for our forefathers in those days in this season.

In the days of Mordechai and Esther, in Shushan, the capital,

when Haman, the wicked, rose up against them

and sought to destroy, to slay, and to exterminate all the Jews

young and old, infants and women,

on the same day, on the thirteenth of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar,

and to plunder their possessions;

But You, in Your abundant mercy, nullified his counsel and frustrated his intention and caused his design to return upon his own head and they hanged him and his sons on the gallows.

How The Jewish People Will be Celebrating Purim This Year

Some of the typical ways that Purim is celebrated include:

1) Reading the Book of Esther: The story of Purim is told in the Book of Esther (The Megillah), which is read in synagogues and often in public gatherings on the holiday.

2) Wearing costumes: It is traditional for children and adults to dress up in costumes on Purim, often as characters from the Book of Esther.

3) Giving gifts of food: Jewish people often give gifts of food, known as mishloach manot, to friends and family on Purim.

4) Eating a festive meal: Many people have a festive meal on Purim, often featuring traditional foods like hamantaschen (triangular pastries filled with fruit or poppy seeds).

5) Giving to charity: It is also customary to give to charity on Purim, to help ensure that everyone in the community can celebrate the holiday.


Should Christians Be Celebrating Purim Aswell?

There is great value in the Book of Esther, and its portrayal of the Hamanic archetype, that is those with anti-Semitic tendencies. Some theologians have criticized the book of Esther because it goes against their desire to corroborate supersessionism (replacement theology). Esther clearly describes G-d's providential protection for ethnic Israel, and some theologians believe that rather than the Christian church merely partaking in Israel's destiny, it replaces it. Some consider the book to be about the Church entirely, disregarding Israel.

For those who believe in Israel's divine place in God's spoken world, the book of Esther is a beautiful story about G-d's faithfulness to His people, until the very end. G-d's promises for Israel will absolutely be fulfilled. 

Let's agree as Christians that we will use this Purim holiday to continue building powerful relationships between the Jewish and Christian communities. Pray for peace and understanding. Acknowledge the place of each of us in G-d's glorious purpose. 

If the Father provides divine opportunities for you to minister to a member of the Jewish community, please be informed and sensitive to their Purim celebrations, and endeavour to bless them with free Gospel literature (click here).


Here's a Poem About This Special Time of the Year

In the land of Persia, so long ago
A tale was told, a story to know
Of a queen named Esther, so brave and true
And a king named Ahasuerus, ruling the Jews

But a wicked man, named Haman, did plot
To destroy the Jews, his plan was sought
But Esther knew, she had to act
To save her people, and stop the attack

So she spoke to the king, with courage and grace
And Haman's plan was stopped, in its evil place
And the Jews were saved, they could celebrate
Purim, a time of joy, to commemorate

We eat hamantaschen, so sweet and so round
And we dress up in costumes, in fun we abound
We read the megillah, the story so great
Of Esther and Mordechai, their bravery innate

So let us remember, the lesson so clear
That even in darkness, there's hope to appear
And bring joy and light, to all who come.

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