This week, activists advocated that women celebrate Woman’s Day by staying home and not spending money, in “A Day Without a Woman.” This female focus followed last month’s Women’s March on Washington, during inaugural week. In each event, women were honored and their roles in our society highlighted, in unique and unusual ways.
Also, this weekend, Jews around the world celebrate the Feast of Purim, a one-day event, honoring an orphan girl, who stopped a plot to murder masses of Jews, in ancient Persia. Like Halloween, celebrators use Purim as an opportunity to dress up in crazy costumes—sometimes all week.
But, Purim is more than crazy costumes. The celebration is rooted in an amazing biblical story of rescue and redemption, from the brief, biblical Book of Esther. The true event centers on a young Jewish girl who was raised by her cousin Mordecai. He was the son of Jair, of the tribe of Benjamin. Generations before, her family, with many others from Judah, was carried into exile to Babylon, in what is Iraq now.
In the course of time, the Persians defeated the Babylonians. King Ahasuerus (Xerxes I of Persia) wanted a new queen and there was a contest held. Esther, a beautiful Jewish girl, won the contest and went from being just one of the many unknown minorities in the land to becoming the Queen of Persia.
Esther’s story is a study of the survival of God’s people, in the face of harassment, hostility, and hatred. The king’s second in command was a vengeful anti-Semitic, named Haman. He wanted all the Jews destroyed and he manipulated the king to call for their demise.
Then, God chooses to elevate Esther and use her to save her people. Her cousin Mordechai counseled her with words that have become famous:
“Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews. For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13-14)
Esther risked her life, fearing God more than men, in order to save her Jewish people from certain extinction. [See Video: “One Night with the King”] She heroically summoned the courage, to meet her destiny. She courageously approached the king on behalf of her people and this resulted in saving them from annihilation, by the evil Haman (Boo! Hiss!).
As a result, Haman is hanged; and her cousin Mordecai, a leader to the Jews in the Persian Empire, became prime minister.
So, what is the message of The Feast of Purim and this heroic Hebrew woman? It is, as Pastor Ron Cantor at Tel Aviv’s Messiah’s Mandate explains, “no matter who you are or how insignificant you feel, God can use you to do remarkable things if you will choose courage.”
“God is to us a God of deliverance!”
—Psalm 68:20 NASB