Purim is coming on March 7, 2023! The season of Purim tells the story of Esther. It’s a time for family and reflection and giving to the poor.
Purim is a fascinating story of Israel as they were living in Persia around the 5th Century BCE. Esther is the only book in the Bible which does not mention the name of God. Because of that, there was a debate in history if the canon of scripture should even include it.
But we need to be so grateful for this story, as it shows us so many amazing things about God's grace, mercy, intervention, and faithfulness. Each chapter shows us as a people who were in rebellion, in sin, and in opposition to God. Yet God intervenes and saves his people. He remembered his covenantal promises, redeemed them, and had compassion on them, even while they were actively sinning.
In Israel today, Purim is always a joyous party holiday. There’s special food and performances. People even drink and get drunk in the synagogue. It’s supposed to be a holiday to remember what God did, even though we were in sin, but instead secular and even the religious communities embrace the carnal aspects of this holiday.
This is important for us today, because of what Holy Spirit is speaking to us in this season. Will we embrace Yeshua/Jesus's grace and righteousness or will we embrace the lustful way of the world? Will we seek our own way, or will we humble ourselves and pray, seek God, and let him transform our society?
As we prepare for this year’s season of Purim there are five areas God wants us to pay attention to:
Beware of the pleasures of this Life
Drinks were served in golden vessels, vessels of different kinds, and the royal wine was lavished according to the bounty of the king.
There are temptations which we will have to confront these days which are more subtle and will go straight to our hearts about our own beliefs and practices: "Does God want me to be rich and famous? Does Jesus really want me to have the best car, house, clothing, food, or whatever all the time? Does belonging to God (ie. my church, denomination, non-denomination, community, deconstructed church, para-church organization, or any other religious or political ideology) make me better than, loved more, or more righteous or worthy than anyone else?"
In times past, if the king commanded a party and you were invited, you had no choice but to attend and do all that was expected. It was a privilege to drink to the point of drunkenness, eat until you vomited, and engage in every fleshly desire. Everyone wants the chance to fit in or have an opportunity to influence. What starts off as noble and innocent can quickly become a temptation. The pressure of being on the inside of a group, which is rooted in sin, can become a gateway of disaster if your heart gets seduced. The temptation can slowly warp your desire to exude Godly righteousness. In exchange a spirit filled with God's will, your heart can be seduced into seeking after the carnal pleasures of this world that come with being in proximity to people of power and status.
Just as we can begin to lust for power, titles, money, and all the things the world seeks after, there is a more subtle temptation being enticed to us in these days. Through the compromise in following God's principles in exchange of following the trends of this world, we can take Jesus's mercy and grace, and foolishly try to use it to justify lawlessness and corruption.
Instead of acknowledging our missing God's mark and fleeing from evil, we can corrupt his grace by declaring that we can partake in any kind of sin, simply because we are forgiven. Instead of using our perfect and holy identities which are found rooted in him, we use salvation as an excuse to keep pursuing the carnal desires of this world.
God has called us to be different, look different, and behave different, because we represent him as the king of righteousness.
Pray for those in leadership, so that your life might go easy.
After these things King Ahasuerus promoted Haman the Agagite, the son of Hammedatha, and advanced him and set his throne above all the officials who were with him. And all the king's servants who were at the king's gate bowed down and paid homage to Haman, for the king had so commanded concerning him. But Mordecai did not bow down or pay homage.
Just as God has a plan for life, so too the enemy has a plan for death. The government of this world rests upon Jesus, but the world is in rebellion to his kingdom. So while we are under the lordship of Jesus, we still have those who are unrighteous in positions of power.
There are two types of categories when it comes to leadership. The first is when we have had no power in appointing the leaders. This can be a boss, a supervisor, a bureaucrat, an official, or in some nations the very leaders of those countries. But then, there are those in power because of our choice. Maybe through an election or by a group's consensus or having been invested with the authority to put someone in a position of power and leadership. We can vote for presidents and politicians or appoint and elect elders, decons, or new pastors.
When we have no power we must be in prayer to bless. We want God to influence those who are put in power over us. It is a prayer for peace, security, and freedom to worship Jesus. It’s a prayer for ourselves and our communities.
But then there are people put into power because of our choice, desire, or sin. Sometimes these leaders are God fearing and wonderful. But other times those people become the reflection of our own sin. We get people after our hearts as individuals, communities, or nations. And that might mean we will suffer for it. National sin has consequences.
No matter the reason, God knows our failures and wants us to rely upon him. He wants us to be shining examples. God can redeem anyone. And he wants everyone to have the chance to repent, to become just, and to do what is right.
Leadership will improve if you bless those in power instead of cursing them. God will either change the leaders’ hearts, change those leaders to new ones, or give you the strength to endure their reign through Jesus’s mercy. But the end result will be life and not death. So pray for the leaders in your life.
We are all in this together
Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not think to yourself that in the king's palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
God doesn’t make mistakes. Your life, this time, and the seasons we are living are not mistakes. God always brings together those who can make a difference. We can do all things, endure all things, and be testimonies to the living God no matter the situation.
No matter what’s happening around you. In our nations, work places, communities, or families. God wants you to be his emissary. He wants you to be the salt of this world. He doesn’t call you to be perfect, he wants his perfection to shine through you.
You might not have the answer, be afraid, or feel insignificant. But God wants you to know Holy Spirit will give you the answer, his love will cast out all fear, and that you are the sons and daughters of the living God. He loves you with an ever lasting love. And he loves this world and all who are in it. Do not respond to fear with fear. Anger with anger. Or retaliation and vengeance for wrong doing. Let all the fruits of the spirit be seen in your lives. For we are all one body. We are one bride. We are one people. And Jesus is our head.
So therefore we must realize God wants to use each one of us. Everyone is important. Your story, your life, and you being alive at this time is all part of God revealing his glory. We will be in this together until the day of Jesus’s glorious return.
The Lord wants to honor
And the king's young men told him, “Haman is there, standing in the court.” And the king said, “Let him come in.” So Haman came in, and the king said to him, “What should be done to the man whom the king delights to honor?” And Haman said to himself, “Whom would the king delight to honor more than me?” And Haman said to the king, “For the man whom the king delights to honor, let royal robes be brought, which the king has worn, and the horse that the king has ridden, and on whose head a royal crown is set. And let the robes and the horse be handed over to one of the king's most noble officials. Let them dress the man whom the king delights to honor, and let them lead him on the horse through the square of the city, proclaiming before him: ‘Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor.’” Then the king said to Haman, “Hurry; take the robes and the horse, as you have said, and do so to Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the king's gate. Leave out nothing that you have mentioned.” So Haman took the robes and the horse, and he dressed Mordecai and led him through the square of the city, proclaiming before him, “Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor.”
In Christ we are made new. He knows our pasts. He knows our sins. He knows our failures. But the King loves to honor. He loves to shine down, because it brings him joy to honor his kids. The enemy plans death and destruction, but God has a different future for us. His plans are for peace and a glorious future. So do not be afraid of what’s to come.
We do not seek out glory from others. And our motivation should not be for rewards in this world. But when God does choose to lift you up and set you on his horse, it's for his light to shine upon you and through you. And when he chooses to adorn you in his clothes and jewels, it's his love and pleasure to give you every good gift. And when he proclaims to the world you are the one he wishes to honor, in humility, you must receive the honors he wishes to lavish upon you.
God wants you to have every good and perfect gift, and he wants you to know it comes form his hands and not your strengths.
The Lord will be victorious
Then Mordecai went out from the presence of the king in royal robes of blue and white, with a great golden crown and a robe of fine linen and purple, and the city of Susa shouted and rejoiced. The Jews had light and gladness and joy and honor. And in every province and in every city, wherever the king's command and his edict reached, there was gladness and joy among the Jews, a feast and a holiday. And many from the peoples of the country declared themselves Jews, for fear of the Jews had fallen on them.
God is already victorious. At no time do we need to fear that Satan will ever win. He has already lost. The enemy will try to lie and deceive you into believing Jesus might lose. But he is a liar and we don’t ever agree with Satan. Never!
We know how it all ends. There is a kingdom which will come. Jesus will return. He will rule and reign. And those who know him alread, have eternal life. When our flesh dies we do not. We will live forever. And we will not just exist as matter or energy, because we've been made in the image of God and we will dwell with him in glorified bodies forever.
We have an eternal destiny to be in heaven with the fullness of God. So while we are on this earth, let us not fear. Let us not believe victory relies upon us. We must be obedient to do what God asks of us, but it is his job to finish every good work.
Take the pressure off of yourselves. And instead enjoy being a part of the victory of Jesus. For when we live in the victory, when we demonstrate the kingdom which will know no end in our daily lives, when we show that we are alive and have eternal life now, then the world will fear God and want to be a part of Jesus’s victory.