Sunday, March 16, 2014

In the Shadows of Purim.

Around the world the Jewish people have celebrated the Festival of Purim. It is a joyous time with much story telling, gift giving and feasting. As most understand this is a celebration of deliverance of the nation from genocide. The account is recorded in the Biblical book of Esther.

There are some remarkable issues in this beautiful book. A Jewish girl wins a beauty contest and is appointed the Persian’s king’s queen. Her uncle, Mordecai reveals a plot to assassinate the king and is later rewarded with a parade. Then there is the twisted ego and racial hatred of Haman. This high official felt slighted by Mordecai and sought revenge. As is seen constantly through history such twisted emotion spreads. Haman developed a plan to destroy Mordecai and the Jewish people.

How this was thwarted makes compelling reading. Esther has to reveal her Jewish identity at great risk. This she does and is the means of saving her people from Haman’s spite. The words of Mordecai to her have echoed down the centuries and been applied specially to individuals with great responsibilities. ‘Who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?’

In the Bible this is a very interesting book for a number of reasons. One fascinating aspect is the absence of the name of God. And yet you cannot read this account without sensing His presence in the shadows of events. This appeals to me for a number of reasons. To Israel the Lord made a promise to bring the Messiah into the world through them. Haman’s scheme would have prevented this. The Lord keeps His word and so working within historical circumstances delivered His nation and ensured the coming of the Messiah. I believe the Lord was making a statement which we need to understand and rely upon. It has significance for today!

Haman has his irrational, vindictive and Israel hating descendants today. They are intent on wiping this nation off the planet. Should they succeed then they would make the Bible a piece of lying parchments, they would prevent the return of the Messiah to reign from Jerusalem, they would reduce the Church and its gospel of Jesus Christ to mythology and also they would escape the revealed judgments upon such God hating nations. Do you think the Lord God will sit idly by in Heaven and let that happen?

What the celebration of Purim reminds us all about is to look beyond the surface of events. When we view the Middle East and its ongoing tragedies and hatreds we can wonder ‘where is God?’ He is in the shadows. He is protecting His word and promises. There will be the horror of hatred sowing and reaping its destructive powers in lives and nations which is an indictment upon the human condition. However, the Lord has recorded in many, many places that such things will happen.

What then does He seek to do in all of this? Our Lord wants you to trust Him and His Word. Even when you are in the turmoil of tragedy and sadness remember He has promised to be with you. Life will throw up lots of ‘dust and debris’ which seeks to smother the Lord’s presence and ‘bury’ His word. Don’t despair, He is with you, or wants to be if you will let Him. The account of Esther and the Purim celebration is to remind us that Islam’s evil intent will fail. It declares that Gentile boycotts and unbelieving Christendom will be made to regret their rejection of God’s unconditional guarantee to Israel’s existence. God is faithful to His promises. He has painted the broad canvas of future events within Scripture so that we will have hope. Read it in Ezekiel chapters 34 – 39.

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