FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS… It all began with a government official who had an intense personal prejudice and hatred for a group of people who had become part of his nation. He used his position of governance to schedule their total annihilation. God intervened, prompting an unlikely savior of the people through these timeless words: "And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”
Though the exiled remnant of Israel, known as Judah, were allowed to return to their homeland, some chose to remain in Persia where they had lived for over 50 years. To avoid anti-Semitism, they kept their nationality a secret, and even used Persian names. A “lot” was cast (Hebrew word "Purim") by the evil, scheming Persian Prime Minister Haman, to select the date for the annihilation of every single person of Judah who remained in Persia. “…The command was to kill all the Jews on a single day. The day was to be the 13th day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar. And the command was to take everything that belonged to the Jews.” Esther 3:13
In response, a beautiful young Jewish woman chosen to marry the Persian King, Xerxes, was encouraged by her cousin, Mordecai, to go to the King and intervene on behalf of her people. Mordecai sent her a letter penned with the unforgettable words: "And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”
This young woman's Persian name was Esther, but she was born with the Hebrew name Hadassah, which represents righteousness. She certainly lived out her name when she went to King Xerxes without being summoned, an offense punishable by death. Fearlessly, she revealed her hidden Jewish heritage, and begged for mercy for herself and her people. She successfully interceded, and secured the lives of the remnant Jewish nation. She also set a trap for the evil Haman which resulted in his execution. The edict by King Xerxes that had previously doomed the remaining Jewish people to death, was reversed, and the very same King gave the Jews the royal right to defend themselves and to pay their enemies back. And in little more than two months!
Less than 9 months following the King's announcement of the scheduled assault, the Jewish people routed their enemy when they attacked. Chapter 9 of Esther tells the story and this one sentence stands out. "...No one could stand against them, because the people of all other nationalities were afraid of them."
The most unlikely of saviors stepped forward and in just a few short months, delivered their nation from certain destruction. God intervened in the affairs of mankind, bringing his chosen servant, Esther, to the place where she would exalt Him by trusting Him with her life. As a result, the remnant of Israel defeated their enemies in only 2 days. Esther became Queen of Persia, the largest empire on the earth during her lifetime. Mordecai became preeminent among the Jews, second in ruling rank to King Xerxes himself.
Esther 9 give us these summarizing verses. “Mordecai wrote everything down that had happened, and then he sent letters to all the Jews in all of King Xerxes’ provinces. He sent letters far and near. He did this to tell the Jews to celebrate Purim every year on the 14th and 15th days of the month of Adar. They were to celebrate those days because on those days the Jews got rid of their enemies. And they were also to celebrate that month as the month when their sadness was turned into joy. It was a month when their crying was changed into a day of celebration."
"Mordecai wrote letters to all the Jews and told them to celebrate those days as a happy day of feasting. They should have parties, give gifts to each other, and give presents to the poor. So the Jews agreed to do what Mordecai had written to them. And they agreed to continue the celebration they had begun... (Therefore these days were called Purim, from the word pur.)..And these days of Purim should never fail to be celebrated by the Jews—nor should the memory of these days die out among their descendants."
The lesson of Purim should be an extremely important one to us as Christians. Truly, we can see many faces of our Messiah in this ancient accounting of national deliverance from their enemies. Jesus is our Intercessor, our Esther. He is our Encourager, our Mordecai. He is our Merciful King, our Xerxes.
Last, but definitely not least, we should see ourselves in Haman: the prideful, haughty, manipulative schemer with his own agenda to fulfill. Because the truth is that we all desperately need to be saved from ourselves and our destructive tendencies. "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 6:23.
Since God's Word is the only eternally calibrated compass in the entire universe, His timing is always perfect. According to His calendar, February 15 on our 2022 calendar is the 13th day of Adar I, the 12th month, the same ancient scheduled date for the annihilation of remnant nation of Judah. The next two days, February 16 and 17 were the 2 days appointed to celebrate deliverance from their enemies.
Since the Hebrew calendar is a collection of months stretching from new moon to new moon, the number of days in a year is around 354, instead of 365. So every 2 or 3 years a 13th month is added to keep the calendar in sync with the rotation of the earth and the seasons. This year is one of those years. Purim is celebrated on the 14th and 15th of the last month of the year, which this year would be the upcoming added 13th month, Adar II. Still, it is noted on the Hebrew calendar on the 13th of the 12th month of Adar I as "Purim Katan" or "Little Purim".
What's important to remember is that on the 13th day of Adar, around 2500 years ago, the remnant of a once mighty nation chosen by God, was delivered from their enemy. And God chose to protect them through the unlikely union of a young Jewish girl and an idolatrous Middle Eastern ruler. This lesson seems to fall in line perfectly with last week's lesson when 100 years earlier, God chose another Persian ruler, King Cyrus, to give His chosen people the opportunity to return to their Promised Land and rebuild the Holy Temple of Jerusalem. https://www.facebook.com/fontanacommunitychurch/posts/4831453260268158
The deliverance of God's chosen people in the manner He chooses, continues to leave us mesmerized and dumbfounded. His plan not only includes overcoming obstacles among those claiming to align themselves with His own heart, but also reaching out and moving in the hearts of hardened pagan nations and leaders, if He so desires. He is always looking for the heart that will follow His leading…
“FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS”