God's plan will succeed
By Rev. Jim Davis
The Jewish calendar has Feb. 25 and 26 marked as the holiday "Purim." The origin of this holiday is recorded in the book of Esther in Chapter 9.
To understand its origin one needs to read the Book of Esther. The main characters are Vasti, the Persian queen who was removed from her position after refusing a direct order of the King; Esther, a Jewish woman who was chosen by the king to be queen; Esther's older cousin named Mordecai; and Haman, who was determined to destroy the Jewish population.
The plot was discovered by Mordecai who persuaded Esther to act to save their people. Some of the words of his plea to her have been quoted often and are recorded in Esther 4:14: "For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then there shall help and deliverance arise from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knowest whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this." Esther did act and Haman's plot was unsuccessful.
The ninth chapter of Esther records the details of the origin of Purim. Through centuries Jews have continued to celebrate the holiday. The book of Esther is read and each time Haman's name is read children blow whistles and make other noises such as stomping their feet.
When I served as chaplain in New York prisons, I would at times be working the evening when the Jewish inmates were allowed to assemble to celebrate. During that service the Jewish congregation would have designated ones read the book of Esther and the noisemaking would be included at any mention of Haman's name.
The inclusion of the book of Esther in the Protestant canon has been debated by some scholars but of course has been accepted as part of the Old Testament canon of Scriptures and rightfully it should be.
One reason some have questioned the book is the absence of any mention of God. Certainly it is not my intention in this article to enter into a lengthy debate, but in a careful reading of the book one can see God in action.
He is acting to save his people who have been targeted through the centuries. In preserving the Jewish people he has always found someone to be his instrument of deliverance. In Genesis it was Joseph, in Exodus it was Moses followed by Joshua and Caleb as recorded in the book of Joshua.
Numerous judges were selected by God through the book of Judges. We could continue on through the Old Testament and read of David, Solomon, and other kings as well as prophets. Yes, some of the kings failed and were wicked, but God used such ones as Hezekiah, Josiah, and others.
After Judah's captivity by Babylon and in subsequent years by Persia God greatly used Daniel, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. But here in the book of Esther he uses a man, Mordecai, who definitely influenced Esther.
I don't believe we recognize Mordecai as we should. Watch him closely while reading through the Book of Esther and you will recognize a man wholly devoted to God and unwavering in faith and courage.
Note again what is written in Esther 4:14 stated previously: "For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then there shall help and deliverance arise from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: And who knowest whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this."
Esther was no doubt enjoying a life of luxury in the palace having gained the king's favor to the extent of being declared queen. Mordecai was warning her that her Jewish identity would lead to her destruction as well as the other Jews if Haman's desires were fulfilled. Mordecai declared his faith in God though by uttering the words "Deliverance will arise from another place."
What lessons must we as Christians learn from this narrative? I will list three.
4God never does anything by accident, planning is never random, and his purpose for each one of us was set in place even before we were born. Friend, God created you for such a time as this. He has a plan for you. You are here for a purpose, a God-ordained purpose.
4This entire world is experiencing grave troubles. The church is globally facing great persecution. Some reports indicate more are martyred for their Christian faith than at any other time in history.
Our beloved United States of America was founded on Godly principles. Though never perfect we fought the civil war to finally stop slavery yet I still believe our form of government to be the best in the world and biblically based.
For our form of government to work successfully one important truth must be realized as stated by George Washington and many others. That truth is simply stated, "America to be great must be Godly."
4God's plan in history will succeed. May each of us know the part he would have us to fulfill in that plan.
Rev. Jim Davis is pastor of the Pilgrim Holiness Church of Strattanville.