When Queen Vashti was summoned by the King of Persia, she refused to come to him and was banished from his presence. Conversely, Queen Esther boldly came before the King of Persia, found favor in his sight and was received, exposing diabolical and nefarious plans and saving her people.
How much more should we respond when our heavenly King is summoning us into His presence? Hebrews 4:16 says, "Let us then come with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need."
As I was sharing at a church service recently about Purim, it dawned on me how many of us in the church are like Queen Vashti in that our Lord is summoning and beckoning us into His presence, and for various reasons, we have resisted. However, Esther boldly went before the king and found favor.
Purim is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the saving of the Jewish people from Haman, who was planning to kill all the Jews. But Haman's plans were thwarted by Mordecai and Esther, who had become Queen of Persia. The day of deliverance became a day of feasting, gladness and rejoicing, as well as a time of gratitude and thanksgiving.
There is so much we can learn from the story of Queen Esther and the celebration of Purim. Today, like in the day of Esther, there is a hateful and murderous spirit of Haman that exists. May we join in and arise with the righteous and courageous voices of modern day Mordecais and Esthers.
Purim is also celebrated by the giving and exchanging of gifts and food, as well as giving charity to the needy and poor. The two special obligations are known as mishloach manot—gifts of food—and matanot l'evyonim—gifts or charity to the needy and poor.
Purim is celebrated every year on the 14th of the Hebrew month of Adar (late winter/early spring). Purim 2021 began on Thursday night, Feb. 25 and continued through Friday, Feb. 26, (extending through Sunday in Jerusalem). It commemorates the divinely orchestrated salvation of the Jewish people in the ancient Persian empire from Haman's plot to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews.
Likewise, today we have seen the proverbial Pandora's Box opened up, and the Pied Piper wants payment and is cleverly and enchantingly leading minds, hearts and souls astray. What may seem to have been good intentions by some has created a Frankenstein monster instead. Again, we need modern day Esthers and Mordecais to arise! A whole generation is at stake.
The spirit of Haman (rooted in the spirit of hatred, murder, bitterness, jealousy and envy) is at work today as it was in the day of Esther. A good question for all of us is, "Do you think in your heart that you will escape any more than all the others...?"
Esther 4:13-16 gives the account:
Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, "Do not think that in the king's palace you will be more likely to escape than all the other Jews. For if you remain silent at this time, protection and deliverance for the Jews will be ordained from some other place, but you and your father's house shall be destroyed. And who knows if you may have attained royal position for such a time as this?"
Then Esther replied, sending back to Mordecai: "Go, gather all the Jews who can be found in Susa, then fast for me. Stop eating and drinking for three days, night or day. I and my young women will fast likewise. Only then would I dare go to the king since it is not allowed by law, and if I perish, I perish."
Synagogues around the world will read the entire book of Esther for Purim to celebrate Mordecai and Esther—and the reversal of Haman's death decree. Like the day of Esther, there is the spirit of Haman that wants to destroy God's people today.
May we all celebrate the goodness of the Lord for His protection, salvation, deliverance and healing. May we daily show our gratitude by being gracious and charitable.
May we remember the great, amazing and abounding grace of God as we reflect on the story of Queen Esther and how the Lord used her to save His people. May we also rise up as modern-day Mordecais and as modern-day Esthers. May we glorify the name of the Lord for a time such as this!
Samuel Chadwick once said, "The one concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, and prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but trembles when we pray."
Doug Stringer is founder and president of Somebody Cares America and Somebody Cares International, a global network bringing hope and healing to communities through prayer initiatives, compassion outreaches and cooperative efforts. He is the author of numerous books, including In Search of a Father's Blessing and Leadership Awakening: Foundational Principles for Lasting Success.
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