Words of Faith 6-29-2021
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2008, 2021
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
<>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <><<><
 Mordecai recorded these events, and he sent letters to all the Jews throughout the provinces of King Xerxes, near and far,  to have them celebrate annually the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar  as the time when the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration. He wrote them to observe the days as days of feasting and joy and giving presents of food to one another and gifts to the poor.
 So the Jews agreed to continue the celebration they had begun, doing what Mordecai had written to them.  For Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had plotted against the Jews to destroy them and had cast the pur (that is, the lot) for their ruin and destruction.  But when the plot came to the King's attention, he issued written orders that the evil scheme Haman had devised against the Jews should come back onto his own head, and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows.  (Therefore these days were called Purim, from the word pur.) Because of everything written in this letter and because of what they had seen and what had happened to them,  the Jews took it upon themselves to establish the custom that they and their descendants and all who join them should without fail observe these two days every year, in the way prescribed and at the time appointed.  These days should be remembered and observed in every generation by every family, and in every province and in every city. And these days of Purim should never cease to be celebrated by the Jews, nor should the memory of them die out among their descendants.
 So Queen Esther, daughter of Abihail, along with Mordecai the Jew, wrote with full authority to confirm this second letter concerning Purim.  And Mordecai sent letters to all the Jews in the 127 provinces of the kingdom of Xerxes‑‑words of goodwill and assurance‑‑  to establish these days of Purim at their designated times, as Mordecai the Jew and Queen Esther had decreed for them, and as they had established for themselves and their descendants in regard to their times of fasting and lamentation.  Esther's decree confirmed these regulations about Purim, and it was written down in the records.
So, what is Purim? Purim is the festival that comes out of the events recorded in the book of Esther. The word 'Purim' means "lots" or "dice" and recalls how Haman chose by casting lots the day on which his terror would befall the Jewish people.
Although Purim is a "minor" festival established by the Jewish people (9:27) rather than directly by God, it one of the most fun and happy times in Jewish life. Children dress in costumes and gather for parties that are filled with frivolity and a carnival-like atmosphere. The story of Esther is reenacted, often in a melodrama complete with noisemakers and stamping to blot out the name of Haman each time it is mentioned.
Over the year, Rabbis have sanctioned the frivolity of Purim to the point of declaring that it was laudable to become so intoxicated at the celebration that one could no longer distinguish between the phrases Barukh Mordekhai ("Blessed by Mordecai) and Arur Haman ("Cursed be Haman") in a song that follows the reading of Esther. The festival also includes a fast to commemorate the fast of Esther before going to the King and a prayer of thanksgiving for deliverance.
And what is it all about? Don't miss the text: "Have them celebrate annually the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar as the time when the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration. He wrote them to observe the days as days of feasting and joy and giving presents of food to one another and gifts to the poor (9:21‑22)."
At Purim, families gather in communities of faith. Gifts are given to one another and to the poor. The joy of deliverance is celebrated. Thanks is given to God. Even with all the difficulties in the story of Esther, Purim celebrates the providential care of God over His people. Even more, Purim celebrates the care of God in spite of the humanness of our decisions. That God cares for His people (sometimes despite his people) ‑‑ should give us great hope! Despite the possibility that Esther and Mordecai may have been motivated by ambition‑‑ or may have stepped into the passions of human vengeance‑‑ God still placed them in positions of power where He could preserve His people. We could certainly do worse. Given the many secular "holidays" that we observe, we might ask why Christians chose to discard Purim?
Well, can we celebrate Purim? It sure sounds fun. The costumes that children wear are great. It is certainly a more Biblical celebration than something like Halloween. Can we enjoy the reenacting of the story in the form of a melodrama‑‑ hissing at Haman and cheering Mordecai?
Yes. But take care to celebrate carefully and remember with some regret that thousands of people died during the victory and that vengeance is far more human than divine.
Lord, I give thanks to You for Your deliverance of the Jewish people from which You brought forth Your Messiah. Thank You for the gift of salvation that came through a history in which You were always at work. Help me to see You at work around me today. In Jesus' name. Amen.
<>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <><
© Jeffrey D. Hoy 2008, 2021
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy - Faith Fellowship Church (EFCA)
2820 Business Center Blvd.
Melbourne, Florida 32940 (321)-259-7200
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
SUBSCRIPTIONS - To receive the Words of Faith devotion five days a week, send an E-mail message addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org. To stop receiving Words of Faith, send an E-mail message addressed to email@example.com.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
The Words of Faith devotion is published five days a week by E-mail, excluding Federal holidays. Please feel free to forward this devotion to a friend who might be blessed by this devotion. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is quoted from the New International Version (R) of The Holy Bible. Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. Words of Faith (c) 1997, 2010 Jeffrey D. Hoy. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to forward this copyrighted material or use portions of it with appropriate notation of the source for non-profit purposes.
More in Daily Devotional
June 1, 2023Due Diligence
May 31, 2023Reading, Preaching, and Teaching
May 30, 2023Because You Are Young