And Mordecai recorded these things and sent letters to all the Jews who were in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, both near and far, 21obliging them to keep the fourteenth day of the month Adar and also the fifteenth day of the same, year by year, 22as the days on which the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month that had been turned for them from sorrow into gladness and from mourning into a holiday; that they should make them days of feasting and gladness, days for sending gifts of food to one another and gifts to the poor.[Esther 9:20-22]
At sundown tonight, Jews all around the world will begin celebrating the Feast of Purim — also known as the Festival of Lots. Purim is a joyous two-day feast dedicated to remember God’s great deliverance of the Jewish people under the courageous leadership of Queen Esther and Mordecai.
The Biblical story of Esther is one of the most beautiful and dramatic narratives in all of Scripture. I strongly encourage believers to take the time to gather with friends and family and read the book of Esther out loud in commemoration of this appointed feast.
I have written extensively about the appointed feasts of the LORD, especially in regard to their prophetic fulfillment in the two advents of the Lord Jesus Christ. If you would like to learn more about the significance of these feasts and their prophetic implications, I encourage to read the following post — Feasts of the LORD .
As I recall the book of Esther, I am reminded of the many profound nuances and prophetic foreshadowings contained in the story and certainly won’t attempt to write exhaustively about them, yet I do believe there is an element of the story of Esther and the Feast of Purim that is worth our time and consideration.
I am speaking about the thin line that often exists between despair and deliverance. I am speaking about hope, and I believe the story of Esther serves as a powerful example of a greater reality for all of God’s people.
There are Dark Days Ahead
Letters were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces with instruction to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate all Jews, young and old, women and children, in one day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods.[Esther 3:13]
The Jewish people are all too familiar with suffering at the hands of their enemies. Haman’s evil plot to annihilate the Jews was not the first nor would it be the last. Haman, of course, was one of the many historical prefigurements of antichrist — Haman — Profile of Antichrist — who hated God’s offspring.
From Pharaoh to Jezebel to Nebuchadnezzar to Antiochus Epiphanes and Caesar, many antichrists have attempted to utterly destroy God’s people. Hitler and Stalin almost succeeded, while today the biggest threat comes from the terroristic, Islamic regimes in the Middle East.
After all the suffering and persecution both Jews and Christians have endured historically, it is almost impossible to imagine that the worst is yet to come. The Bible speaks of a coming time of great tribulation that has never been before nor will ever be equalled again. This is the final time of Jacob’s trouble and yet it will be universal in scope. [reference Jeremiah 30, Daniel 12, Matthew 24]
You mean worse than the Holocaust … Yes.
You mean worse than the slaughter of tens of millions under communism … Yes.
Just as Haman was bloodthirsty for the Jews and hellbent on destroying them all, the coming man of lawlessness — the Antichrist — soon will be revealed and will come with the most diabolical plan to systematically annihilate all of God’s people.
For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. 22And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.[Matthew 24:21-22]
And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. 6It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven. 7Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation …[Revelation 13:5-7]
When There is No Other Way
Now in the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, on the thirteenth day of the same, when the king’s command and edict were about to be carried out, on the very day when the enemies of the Jews hoped to gain the mastery over them, the reverse occurred: the Jews gained mastery over those who hated them.[Esther 9:1]
This verse may be the most profound in all of Esther. We are reminded just how close the Jews were from being destroyed by Haman. They had known their fate for a year. They had been praying and preparing for this day. It seemed like all hope was lost. There was no one to save them from the hand of their enemies. Certain death was inevitable.
And yet on the very day that the Jews were supposed to be annihilated, the reverse occurred. God stepped in and delivered His people from destruction. This isn’t the first time we have seen this pattern of God’s deliverance at the last minute.
When the children of Israel were fleeing from Pharaoh and his army, they were trapped at the Red Sea. As the wicked king was barreling down on them for the slaughter, God parted the sea at the last moment and made a way where there was no way. Turning the tides, God drowned Pharaoh and delivered Israel [Exodus 14].
As Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to bow down to the image of Nebuchadnezzar, they were thrown into the midst of the fiery furnace [Daniel 3], and yet the LORD walked with them through the fire and delivered them against all odds.
So will it be during the great tribulation at the end of the age. When the devil seems to have prevailed and the Beast has conquered the world, it is precisely at that moment that God will deliver His people once and for all!
Our Blessed Hope
They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.25And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”[Luke 21:24-28]
Just as God delivered His people and destroyed His enemies at the very last minute in Esther’s day, so Jesus will return in power and glory at a time when all other hope is lost. That is why only Jesus is our Blessed Hope and that is why we are waiting for His appearing at the end of this age to wage war against the wicked and deliver us from evil.
The Day of the LORD is the unique Day when Christ comes down from heaven to save us once and for all. It is day all of God’s people will finally find relief, just as the Jews found relief in the days of Ester. The Apostle Paul certainly had the story of Esther in mind when he wrote to the church in Thessalonica.
This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering— 6since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might,10when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.[2 Thessalonians 1:5-10]
Sorrow to Joy
The Feast of Purim is a dedicated time of rejoicing to remember “the days on which the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month that had been turned for them from sorrow into gladness and from mourning into a holiday; that they should make them days of feasting and gladness days for sending gifts of food to one another and gifts to the poor.” [Esther 9:22].
In the same way, all of God’s people who overcome in Christ will enjoy that great banquet feast and wedding supper of the Lamb in the Kingdom of God when Jesus returns to take His rightful place on the throne as King of kings! It is the Day when the poor in spirit receive the Kingdom of heaven and will rejoice in the presence of God forevermore!
“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
2to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
3to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified.” [Isaiah 61:1-3]