On March 5 (which in Jewish tradition begins at sundown, March 4) Jewish people around the world will celebrate Purim, which is based on the book of Esther. Be sure to wish your Jewish friends a happy Purim (just remember it’s pronounced “poor-im” not “pure-im.” “Purim” is the plural form of “the lot” referred to in Esther 3:7, when the lot was cast to determine the day Haman’s wicked plot to annihilate the Jewish people of Persia would be carried out.
The heroine of Purim is, of course, Queen Esther, and the point of Purim is that God works in wonderful and unexpected ways to preserve His people. God used Esther’s beauty to place her in the court of the king, so there would be an advocate for the Jewish people when Haman’s wicked plot unfolded. But in addition to her beauty, Esther had the courage to risk her own life by approaching the king to make the plight of her people known. And, as the book of Esther records, those who wanted to destroy the Jewish people were destroyed instead.
Purim celebrations often include parties and pageants where children dress up as various characters from the book of Esther. The entire book of Esther is read in the synagogue with lots of noisy cheering and booing. Some people send gift baskets on Purim. It’s also a time for jokes and pranks among many who consider it a Jewish version of “April Fool’s Day.”
Purim is a great time to reflect on God’s sovereign role in the preservation of the Jewish people. And it is an important opportunity to reflect on how God chooses to use people who are willing to take risks for His purposes.
A Christian application for Purim might go something like this: God keeps His promises and works against seemingly great odds to save His people in unexpected ways. So if you don’t expect that you can do much for God’s kingdom, guess what? You are a perfect candidate. Ask Him to speak to you about how He wants to use you. And, If God puts you in a position of favor with an unbeliever, whether Jewish or Gentile, maybe His plan is for you, like Queen Esther, to do or say something courageous for His redemptive purpose. Maybe it is you He is waiting to use as an instrument of His salvation in that person’s life.
As it is written in Esther 4:14: “Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Can courage be contagious? When the source of that courage is confidence in God, absolutely!