All hope is lost.
Everything that could have seemingly been done, every option, completely exhausted.
Just when our circumstances seem to meet utter destruction and our hearts are filled with despair beyond all hope, God shows up.
Have you ever experienced this?
Time and time again, though we forget, God has shown up all throughout history.
When men put their hope in themselves. When we trust in our own strength, our own reasoning, our own resources, WE FAIL.
Because on this Earth, nothing will ever be perfect. Did you hear that?
Human beings fail us. Marriages fall apart. Jobs are lost. People lose their homes. Pandemics happen. God knows the hurt we’ve experienced and He knows we try to do what’s right and constantly come up short. He never promised easy whether we follow Him or not.
But what does He promise us?
His strength. His power. His redemption.
The Jews knew this very well. At a time when their people had already experienced and heard stories of Jewish oppression, the people once again stood on the brink of being wiped from the face of the Earth.
What am I talking about?
Picture this. Ancient Persia, the 4th Century B.C. King Ahashuerus reigns on the Persian Throne. Only 50 years prior, the Jews watched as their Holy Temple was burned to the ground and once again, they lived under the rule of another empire, the Persian Empire.
At that time, two of those Jews were Esther and Mordechai. While raised by her cousin Mordechai, Esther lived a simple life in the citadel of Susa, that was until King Ahashuerus (or Xerxes) banished his previous Queen, Vashti. In an attempt to find a new queen, the King summoned many of the young maidens of the empire, including Esther. While hiding her Jewish identity, the King found favor in her beauty and gentle spirit, honoring her with the title of Queen Esther.
Through what initially seemed like an utter loss of the life she had imagined, God had a plan.
In the midst of this, another individual was lifted up. His name was Haman.
Now Haman was a man of prominence and honor, as he had been an advisor to King Ahashuerus’ father. Though seemingly trustworthy, the Prime Minister Haman had his own agenda: He sought to garner the praise and affection of people. Through cunning words, Haman had the King decree that the people of the empire bow and give homage to him.
Of course, just enough to push him over the edge, one man, Mordechai the Jew wouldn’t bow.
As a follower of God, Mordechai knew he could bow to none other than God himself.
Haman hated this and he quickly lied and manipulated the King to decree the murder of a "certain people" in the Kingdom. The King failed to realize that he was talking about the Jews...
“Then Haman said to King Ahasuerus, ‘There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom. Their laws are different from those of every other people, and they do not keep the king's laws, so that it is not to the king's profit to tolerate them. If it pleases the king, let it be decreed that they be destroyed, and I will pay 10,000 talents of silver into the hands of those who have charge of the king's business, that they may put it into the king's treasuries. So the king took his signet ring from his hand and gave it to Haman the Agagite, the son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews.”
- Esther 3:8-10
All throughout the centuries, God’s people have come across those with a desire to oppress or annihilate them. At times it was an Egyptian Pharoah or Antiochus Epiphanes. In modern day we saw the same stories with Hitler, Khomeini, or Saddam Hussein. In Ancient Persia, that enemy was Haman.
Of course, as we must always remember, no matter what evil man tries to accomplish, God always has the last word.
To curse Israel is in direct opposition of God and He will subsequently return a curse for a curse as it says...
“I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you; and in you all of the
families of the earth will be blessed." - Genesis 12:3
God always meets what others meant for evil with blessing and promise to His children, to those who call Him Abba (Father). What seems like total loss to us, He always finds a way to turn around and then use to remind us of His love, His promises, His goodness.
When Mordecai sent the message to Esther about Haman's evil plot and his impending annihilation, he left her with these words…
"If you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from
another place, who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as
this?" - Esther 4:14
Through her own loss, Esther could have never imagined how God would use her story. From a simple Jewish girl, to losing everything, to becoming Queen, and now this. Yet, to go to the King about the decree without being summoned could mean death.
When all hope seemed lost, Esther chose to step out in faith. While she knew they could not control the circumstances, she knew they could pray, trust, and ask God. As she counted the cost, she asked the Jews to fast and pray for 3 days before she took action and approached the king...
"So I will go to the king, which is against the law: and if I perish, I perish!” -Esther 4:16
In the end, Esther revealed who she was, Haman was hanged, and Mordecai was lifted up into the position Haman had held.
God showed up.
This was a miracle and God saved his people again.
So why do we celebrate Purim and why is this story so significant?
First of all, Purim commemorates the deliverance of God’s people at the hands of an evil man named Haman and the small faith and obedience of people like Esther and Mordechai. It's a display of God’s goodness and faithfulness to those He loves.
But Purim is not just a celebration it’s also a reminder for us not to do things on our own. When life falls apart, will we go to God first? Do we trust Him? Do we actually believe him? Will we walk by faith when things get hard? Will we wait on Him for the answers and will we be obedient when he does tell us what to do?
Lastly, are we willing to count the cost of following God just like Esther and Mordechai? When evil, unrighteousness, and injustice spring up around us, are we willing to do what’s right even if it costs us our status, reputation, our comfort, or even our lives? Will we take action or stay silent?
Our faith is the key to God’s deliverance.
You hear that?
God wants to reveal his goodness and deliver us but it often requires our obedience and trust in Him. It takes action, acting IN FAITH.
What would have happened had Esther not waited on God? And consequently, what if she hadn’t stood up and risked everything by going to the King?
God promises that He will never leave us nor forsake us but we must trust and believe Him, not relying on our own ideas, strength, or resources.
As we remember these promises, let us celebrate Purim and commemorate God’s blessings and faithfulness. Make some Hamantaschen cookies and meditate on God’s provision and deliverance in your own life.
He is still the same God yesterday, today, and forever.