Two days of magnificent Purim Celebrations rocked the land of Israel this past weekend (March 11-12). Synagogues were invaded by thousands of children and adults who wanted to hear the reading of the book of Esther, boo Haman, and praise Mordechai. Gifts were sent out to neighbors and the poor throughout the Land. And even soldiers took a momentary break to get a victory boost before returning to their bases.
The Purim story is the story of Esther beginning with the ousting of queen Vashti and the entrance of Esther as the new queen of the Persian Empire. Within the Kingdom you had two central characters, Mordecai and Haman. Mordecai was an influential, wealthy and righteous citizen of the Persian empire. He sat on the Sanhedrin and was responsibly for overseeing Jewish life throughout 127 provinces. He was also responsible for capturing two bad guys who were plotting to kill the king. Haman, on the other hand, was influential, wealthy and unrighteous. He was one of those individuals that buys his way into power and uses deception to further his agenda.
Then there is king Ahasuerus. If you ever saw the Veggie Tales version of the story of Esther, then you would think of the king as a passive cucumber oblivious to all that the underhanded Haman was plotting. Well, more or less that is what he was like. The little we know of him tells us that he was easily influenced by the words of his counselors. And because of such, Haman was able to get him to sign a decree giving permission to the 127 provinces to kill all the Jews.
What was Haman's beef? Well, first of all he had a serious pride problem. Secondly, when Mordecai refused to bow down to him as the newly appointed Chief of Staff, he became "full of wrath" (Esther 3:5). And his wrath turned into a plot to kill all the Jews in the name of the king.
Why wouldn't Mordecai bow down to Haman? Was it not the custom of the land to bow to all those in high command? For those subject to the king's laws yes, but Mordecai understood first and foremost, he was subject to the laws of another king who said you shall not bow down to idols. What king was that? The King of Kings, the LORD Himself.
The tension between Mordecai and Haman did not subside. The letters were couriered to all provinces and fortunately, it would take a year to get them there. This gave the Jews enough time to fast and repent. And once Mordecai heard of Haman's evil decree he shook the gates of the kingdom. He did not sit still, but went into overdrive to save his people. He put on sackcloth and ashes and wailed outside the palace. When Esther heard, she sent him clothing and attempted to silence him. he responded with these destiny changing words,
Think not with thyself that thou shall escape in the king's home, more than all the Jews. For if you altogether hold your peace at this time, then shall enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but you and your father's house shall be destroyed: and who knows whether you are come to the kingdom for such a time as this?
Esther could not remain ambivalent. She gathered all the Jews present in Shushan and called a three day total fast; no eating or drinking. She then went before the king, received his favor and blessing of up to half the kingdom. In turn, she invited Haman and the king to a banquet, twice. She then exposed the plot of the wicked Haman and saved the Jews from destruction; with a little help from the LORD.
You see, the night before the Banquet the king couldn't sleep; nope, not a wink. So, he had the book of the chronicles read to him. And that night's "news flash" was that Mordecai was the one who saved the king's life from the two conspirators, Bigthana and Teresh. So, the king asked, "what was done for Mordecai?" "Well, nothing king", the servant replied. And that night the tables were turned.
The next day the king consulted Haman on how he would honor a man whom the king delighted in? And of course, Haman thinking it was himself, poured on the pomp and circumstance. Then the bombshell, "go get Mordecai, have him put on this royal apparel and parade him through the street and proclaim, "Thus it shall be done unto the man whom the king delights to honor."
Oh my, what a turn of events. Now, I'll let you in on a little secret, that's what fasting and prayer can do! It not only gave Esther favor with the king, but it also caused G-D to orchestrate a sleepless night for the king and bring Mordecai into favor with the king. Both were needed to bring about what happens next.
Of course, Haman was revealed as the wicked conspirator wanting to kill all the Jews at the banquet. But, it wasn't enough. The decree to kill all the Jews could not be altered under the law of the Medes and the Persians. Esther needed another divine intervention and she got one! Another law was written giving the Jews the authority to fight when that woeful day came around.
And they fought! Then they feasted!
The victory was so great that many throughout the kingdom became Jews. Furthermore, a feast was made and proclaimed for all subsequent generations. Mordacai became the new Chief of Staff and Esther . . . she'll be remembered as the woman who saved Jews for generations to come.
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