For Such a Time as This…
The Feast of Esther-Purim, Part 1
The Feast of Esther for Christians and Jews
Preface: Recently, I have been revisiting the work I did years ago in the study of the Feast of Esther (aka “Purim”). While I was re-working the lessons I had written, I did some remedial reading on the Book of Esther in the Bible. What I found in the introductions in a couple of translations of the Bible made me aware of the possible/probable reason for the deafening silence in Protestant circles about both the Book of Esther and the celebration of Purim. This posture among my Protestant peers has been an uncomfortable and puzzling experience in times past and in my current experience. The introductory comments I have found concerning both the canonicity and historicity of the Book of Esther are close to anti-Semitic gossip masquerading as scholarship—so I won’t repeat it. But I will say that this experience is worse than hearing the rumor in some ecclesiastical circles that there is no Santa Claus (although, there is—he is St. Nicholas, a very different figure than the modern, commercial santa). As disappointing as that ignorance is, the glaring silence in Protestant circles about the Book of Esther is infinitely more questionable than the silence of God which their scholars hold suspect of the veracity of the accounts in the Book of Esther. And as it turns out, the Protestant scholars have their own scholarly fathers to thank for the “silence” of God in the Book of Esther…
I found a respectable site which directed me to the lost portions of the Book of Esther: Book of Esther – RSVCE
I encourage you to read it.
“There are more things in heaven and earth…than are dreamt of in your philosophy…” (Wm Shakespeare). And if you wish to be encouraged about the ways in which God is working in heaven and earth to watch over His Word and His people, here is a link worthy of your attention: Should Christians Read the Book of Esther
There are reference links embedded in that page which will take the reader to discussions—some helpful, some not so much. I share these with you, not to incite seditions and divisions, but to encourage you in the Body of Messiah that God will not be kept silent on the matter of His promises and His sovereignty…
Coordinating the Celebration Date: Here is a link which will identify the corresponding calendar dates for each year’s Purim: Jewish-Roman Calendar
The day always begins at sundown on the Roman calendar date. I have divided the celebration into two parts, the second celebration to be observed beginning the evening following the first night…
Theme Verse: Romans 1.16: “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.”
Theme: Our World Needs Yeshua/Jesus
- To remember God’s plan of salvation revealed to the world through the Jewish people
- To remember Satan’s battle against God’s plan of salvation
- To remember God’s sovereignty, faithfulness and power to protect and preserve His people of purpose
- To remember the power of the Gospel of Yeshua to bless Israel and the nations
- That we might see the awesome power of God in the Purim scriptures;
- That we might surrender our hearts to the purposes of God for the Jewish people;
- That we might comfort and awaken the Jewish people to the power of God in Yeshua; and
- That we might labor in protecting Israel from harm by declaring the true identity of the Christ to the Gentiles.
Blessed art Thou, O LORD our God, King of the universe! You who watches over Your people Israel; You who neither slumbers nor sleeps; You who has been a shade at their right hand, has watched over their coming and going, has spared them from destruction: so that this wretched Gentile could behold Your salvation from the Word they have faithfully preserved! You have engrafted me into Your vine and adopted me as Your child and an heir to the glorious riches of Israel’s Messiah. Let me not be ashamed of Your Gospel, O God! Make me a blessing to the Jewish people, for you have bound me irrevocably to Your purposes, O God. Teach me to declare to the nations who “The Christ” is, that the Jewish people will never suffer harm at the hands of any who name His Name again. In Yeshua’s Name, I pray. Amen.
Adar 14: A Family Feast on the Book of Esther
Let all the children who are able to read take turns reading passages with the adults.
Points to Remember:
- The festival of Purim is an ordinance for the Jewish people and their descendants to all generations. The Book of Esther in the Holy Scriptures tells us that the feast was established by a Jewish man named Mordecai around 460 BCE. (Esther 9.19-32).
- Esther 9.24 says the feast takes its name from the Hebrew word “purim” which means “lots” or “lottery.” If one flips a coin or pitches dice he is casting lots or “purim.”
- Esther 9.21 sets the celebration of Purim to be on the 14th and 15th of the month of Adar. Adar is the twelfth month of the Hebrew calendar, occurring during the months of February/March in the modern solar calendar.
- These two days were to be days of feasting, gladness, gift giving, and sharing with the poor (Esther 9.22).
- The Jewish people relive the miraculous events recorded in the Book of Esther, which is known as the Megillah.
- How did the Jewish people get to Persia? Didn’t God give them the land of Israel? The Book of Exodus tells us that God made the Jewish people His own people. He gave the Jewish people a Holy Covenant–a special agreement–which would make them His own people. When they agreed to everything He gave them, they became joined to God and to His plans for them and for the whole world. Nothing would ever change that bond. God has punished many armies who have tried to kill the Jewish people. But God warned the Jewish people in this agreement not to disobey Him, and never turn away from the way He gave them to have forgiveness of sins. The Scriptures show that God chastened the Jewish people for their stubborn disobedience by letting them be ruled by the people whose gods were more attractive to them than He. These people were their enemies and would often kill them and take them out of their land.
- The story of Esther happened more than 100 years after God chastened the Jewish people for worshipping other gods. As the prophets warned, God brought the invaders to destroy the land and take the people captive. One of the powerful enemies that ruled over the Jewish people was Persia. After 70 years of living in their enemy’s land, the Jewish people were finally permitted by a Persian king to return to Israel. Not all of the Jewish people returned to the land. As the prophets foretold, God provided many mercies for the Jewish people in the land of their captivity. Life in the land of Israel would be hard until the cities were rebuilt and the farms were restored. The Persian king would continue to control the land, and everyone in Israel would have to obey any command which came from the royal palace at Shushan. TheBook of Esther shows how God used a Jewish woman living in Shushan to protect His people in all the places of the world. This Jewish woman remembered that her people are joined to God forever for His plan and His purpose. The king and the people of Persia began to worship Israel’s God because of what they saw God do through her life.
Mordecai’s Prayer: “15 And now, O Lord God and King, God of Abraham, spare thy people; for the eyes of our foes are upon us to annihilate us, and they desire to destroy the inheritance that has been thine from the beginning. 16 Do not neglect thy portion, which thou didst redeem for thyself out of the land of Egypt. 17 Hear my prayer, and have mercy upon thy inheritance; turn our mourning into feasting, that we may live and sing praise to thy name, O Lord; do not destroy the mouth of those who praise thee.” –The Book of Esther, RSVCE
Esther’s Prayer: “O my Lord, thou only art our King; help me, who am alone and have no helper but thee, 4 for my danger is in my hand. 5 Ever since I was born I have heard in the tribe of my family that thou, O Lord, didst take Israel out of all the nations, and our fathers from among all their ancestors, for an everlasting inheritance, and that thou didst do for them all that thou didst promise. 6 And now we have sinned before thee, and thou hast given us into the hands of our enemies, 7 because we glorified their gods. Thou art righteous, O Lord! 8 And now they are not satisfied that we are in bitter slavery, but they have covenanted with their idols 9 to abolish what thy mouth has ordained and to destroy thy inheritance, to stop the mouths of those who praise thee and to quench thy altar and the glory of thy house, 10 to open the mouths of the nations for the praise of vain idols, and to magnify forever a mortal king…” –The Book of Esther, RSVCE
- In most of the common translations of the Bible the Book of Esther does not mention the name of God. Although His Name is not mentioned, God’s sovereignty, faithfulness and power shout from the pages of the Book of Esther. However, if you refer to the following link, you will find the lost portions of the Book of Esther: Book of Esther – RSVCE
These portions are still included in the Bibles printed in Eastern Christian lands but have been removed from most other translations for several questionable arguments, not the least of which was to economize on printing costs.
Option for Telling the Story of Esther from the Scriptures: Refer to the following passages in the Book of Esther, summarizing the scenes as they unfold the plan of God. The visuals I use are colorful felt figures from BCM International’s curriculum: FOOTSTEPS OF FAITH, OT-Volume 4: Following God’s Trailblazers. The scene backgrounds can be flannel cloths of varying shades; or you may order flannel background scenes from BCM International by their number as noted in each scene.
Scene 1: Esther 1.1-5,10-22; 2.1-4: Figures from BCM’S FOOTSTEPS OF FAITH, OT-Volume 4: Following God’s Trailblazers: #’s 3, 4, 26, 84; Flannel Background: SFB #22, Palace
Scene 2: Esther 2.5-20: Figures from BCM’S FOOTSTEPS OF FAITH, OT-Volume 4: Following God’s Trailblazers: #23, 83; Background: Plain Flannelboard
Scene 3: Esther 2.21-4.17: Figures from BCM’S FOOTSTEPS OF FAITH, OT-Volume 4: Following God’s Trailblazers: #85 with #70 first; then #85 with #15; Flannel Background: SFB #12, Street Scene
Scene 4: Esther 5.1-6.14: Figures from BCM’S FOOTSTEPS OF FAITH, OT-Volume 4: Following God’s Trailblazers: #84 and 84A with #83 first; then #84, 27, 27A, 27B with #70; Flannel Background: SFB #22, Palace
Scene 5: Esther 7-9: Figures from BCM’S FOOTSTEPS OF FAITH, OT-Volume 4: Following God’s Trailblazers: #’s 70A, 82, 83, 84, 87, 87; remove #’s 70A, 82, and 87 when Haman is taken away to be hanged (Esther 7.9-10); add #88 (Mordecai) only when king Ahasuerus orders that weapons be allowed for the Jewish people (Esther 8.7-13); Flannel Background: SFB #22, Palace
©1990 and 2016, Patricia Stachew, Reston, Va; all rights reserved.
Feast of Esther–Purim, Part 2 continued on next page