In the days of Esther, when all looked lost, God did a miracle for His people because of Mordecai, Esther, and those who fasted and prayed. Today, Purim celebrates God’s goodness and salvation. But notice this contrast in events leading up to that time.
When Queen Vashti was summoned by the King of Persia to come into his presence while he was having a party, she refused. I don’t know the back end of the story and why she didn’t want to go, but Scripture says there became a decree that she could no longer come into the presence of the king. She was banished from his presence.
Conversely, Queen Esther boldly came before the king, found favor in his sight, and was received…exposing diabolical and nefarious plans, and saving her people.
How many of us in the Church are like Queen Vashti? When our Lord is summoning and beckoning us into His Presence, do we resist for whatever reason? Do we take for granted our relationship of our King? When He beckons us, are we too busy for Him?
Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Esther boldly approached the king and found favor. She risked her life and approached the king because of Haman, who harbored the spirit of death and hatred and wanted to destroy anything associated with Esther’s people, the Jews. He wanted to destroy the people of God. And yet, in that kind of circumstance, we see a queen who comes into the presence of a flawed king and finds favor with him. And because of that, Haman’s plans were thwarted by Esther. That’s the kind of Church that God is looking for.
Through this story of a faulted king in a very faulted situation, God is telling us that He wants His people, His Church, in His presence.
PURIM & PRAYER
“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.” Samuel Chadwick (1860-1932)
During a time of pending disaster, Esther fasted and prayed for three days, with no water and no food. That’s not easy. Because of that, today the Jews celebrate Purim as a time to remember the deliverance of God.
Purim is observed every year on the 14th of the Hebrew month of Adar (late winter/early spring). The day of deliverance became a day of feasting, gladness and rejoicing, as well as a time of gratitude and thanksgiving. Purim is also marked 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 2021 was on Thursday night, February 25 and continued through Friday, February 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” them. In places of worship around the world, the entire book of Esther is read during Purim as a reminder and to celebrate Mordecai, Esther, and the reversal of Haman’s death decree.
Many of us might disregard some of the Jewish traditions. In reality, if these traditions—just like any other traditions—become merely religious form, they are powerless. But if we see them as landmarks and opportunities to remember how God has been faithful, they will remind us that He is also faithful today and tomorrow. We don’t worship the landmarks, but we do worship the living God as we see that He’s been with us all along the way and can take us into our future.
THE SPIRIT OF HAMAN
There is so much we can learn from the story of Queen Esther and the celebration of Purim. The spirit of Haman (rooted in the spirit of hatred, murder, bitterness, jealousy, and envy) is still at work today as it was in the days of Esther and it still wants to destroy God’s people. A good question for all of us is, “Do you think in your heart that you will escape any more than all the others…?”
“Mordecai told them to answer Esther: ‘Do you think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews? For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?’ Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai: ‘Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!’” (Esther 4: 13-16)
The proverbial Pandora’s Box has been opened up. The Pied Piper wants payment and is cleverly and enchantingly leading minds and hearts, and souls astray. What may seem to have been good intentions by some has created a Frankenstein monster instead.
But in this “cancel culture” where we find ourselves today, this reality remains: You can’t cancel God! Jesus isn’t going anywhere! And not only that, He lives in us because the kingdom of God is in us!
No matter what goes on around us or the world tries to censor us—because they want to censor Jesus—it ain’t happening! Jesus is still the King of kings and Lord of lords. He is still on his throne, and He is still the hope of glory, Christ in us. And He is still the one that the world needs even though they may not know it.
This is not the worst time in history. We’re still a blessed people, and we’ve got so much yet to do. We don’t have to bow our knee to Ba’al. We don’t have to bow our knee to the kings of this world. We show respect for people and for authorities, but we don’t have to follow the Pied Piper.
We are the pacesetters. We’re the ones who don’t have to put on compassion, because Christ in us is compassion. We don’t have to put on something that we’re not. We just have to take Jesus in our heart, wear the garments of the Lord, and be who God has called us to be. The voice of the Lord is still louder than the voices of this world.
THE VEIL IS TORN
I believe our King is summoning His bride, His Church, and saying, “Draw near to me and I will draw near to you” (James 4:8).
Jeremiah 29:12-14 says, “Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive.”
Jewish tradition teaches that when the bridegroom meets with the bride’s family to become betrothed, he goes back home but with a promise to return for his beloved. He begins to build a home, and she prepares to be a wife. The date of his return is up to the discretion of the groom’s father, who must approve the preparations.
“Betrothal gave a bride a high degree of certainty about her husband’s loyalty and reliability regarding these matters. That certainty made her joyfully confident about him returning to take her to their new home, even though she had no knowledge of the day and hour of his ‘second advent’…
“Despite these unknowns, the betrothed wife immersed herself in excited preparations for her husband’s arrival. In almost every instance, she anticipated and waited for the event with ecstatic expectation, without apprehension created by confusion, uncertainty, and doubt about their marital status and its consequent future blessings.” (Lennox Abrigo, MinistryMagazine.org, June 2014)
Over and over again, Scripture reminds us of Jesus’ love for His Bridge and His promises to us. Our King is faithful and true, and all of His promises are “yes” and “amen.” (See Revelation 19:11 and 2 Corinthian 1:20).
“Let us be glad and rejoice, for the marriage supper of the Lamb has come. And his bride has made herself ready.” (Revelation 19:7 says)
“In My Father’s house are many mansions [places to live]; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14:2-3)
We no longer have a dividing wall between us and God because the veil has been rent. Jesus Christ has given us direct access to come boldly into the throne of the King of kings and Lord of lords. We don’t have to grovel. We don’t have to wait for the scepter to be extended to us. In His presence, God gives us wisdom, favor, and breakthroughs. He is the B’aal Perazim, the master of breakthroughs. He gives us everything we need when we’re in his presence.
ASK, SEEK, KNOCK
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7)
The Lord is reminding us this is a time to ask of him, to seek of him, to knock—for a time such as this, to see God do a miracle for his people.
From the moment Esther approached the king, God began to turn things around and the course of the nation of Israel was changed. That moment has become a landmark for us to glean and learn from every day of our lives. We celebrate today because we can come boldly before the throne of grace and have access to the Presence of the King through Jesus, the sacrificial lamb who was slain before the foundations of the world. We have confident access to the Creator of the heavens of the heavens.
In the midst of a very difficult time, God said to His people, “Call upon me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things that you do not even know” (Jeremiah 33:3).
Whatever we go through, God says, “Call upon me!” He summons us into His presence, because in His presence darkness has to flee.
KAIROS & CHRONOS
In studying Scripture, we see two Greek words for “time”: Chronos, which is measurable, and Kairos, which is an appointed time, an opportune moment, or a due season.
Let us not be weary in well doing for in due season, we shall reap if we faint not. And we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially to those who are of the household of faith. (Galatians 6:9-10)
I believe we are in a Kairos moment and God is calling us to seize this opportunity in time to be a witness to those around us. We must “go and do likewise” to our neighbors (Luke 10:37) and let the world see there’s something different about us. We don’t respond according to the flesh, but we are a people who know how to be summoned by the King and draw near to his presence so that God can move on our behalf.
When God’s people recognize these Kairos moments, we must go to our knees in humility and worship, then willingly say, “God, I want to be in your presence, because that’s where victory is and where Your salvation is. That’s where healing and deliverance are found. That’s where breakthroughs are, because You are the master of breakthroughs.”
This is where healing takes place. We overcome by the blood of the Lamb, and the word of our testimony (see Revelation 12:11).
What is it you’re believing for? What are you seeking God for today? Even with all that’s going on in the world around us, God considers your situations just as important. He loves His people and wants to have communion with us. He hears our cries. There’s nothing too difficult or too big or too insignificant for God. We are that important to Him.
Jesus didn’t die for brick and mortar. He didn’t die for an institution. He gave His life for living, breathing temples of the Holy Spirit. We are those temples. We’ve been purchased by the precious blood of Jesus.
When Solomon was dedicating the Temple in 2 Chronicles 6, he goes to his knees and prays, saying, in essence, “Lord, who do I think I am? Even this magnificent place cannot contain the God of the heavens—why would You choose to dwell here?” But nevertheless, as he humbled himself, God came and consumed the sacrifice with fire, and His glory filled the temple.
If God did it there, how much more can He do in you, as the temple of the Holy Spirit? And how much more important are we, the Church, than the things built by man? Jesus gave His own life, shedding His precious blood, for you and for me. Every time we offer ourselves as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable unto God, we lay ourselves on the altar. And in that place, His glory fills our temple.
This is a Kairos moment. The King is summoning his people. Scripture teaches us to draw near to Him so He would draw near to us. In the power of His presence, we find satisfaction of the longing of our hearts, which is the Lord Himself. Nothing in this life can satisfy the way that only the Lord can satisfy.
SEASON OF CELEBRATION
I believe we’re coming into a season, just like Purim, where we will see a day of deliverance that becomes a day of feasting, gladness, and rejoicing, as well as a time of gratitude and Thanksgiving. It has been a rough couple of years. It’s easy to wonder if there is any end to all the political jockeying, the censorship, and all the other things that are going on. These are realities that we need to be cognizant of. But even though I’m cognizant of all these things, I recognize that Jesus is still Lord. And no matter what, He’s still my King.
“Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and bring glory to your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)
People need hope. And they’re not going to find that hope if you and I don’t step up and let His light shine in us so they can see what we have is real.
May we all celebrate daily 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! A whole generation is at stake.