Spring Feasts

Celebrate Purim! March 23, 2024 (Adar, 5784)

hamantashen purimWith the heinous attacks in Israel October 7, 2023, the Feast of Purim, about a king duped into annihilating the Jewish people in Persia, takes on even greater modern importance. The often repeated vow of Jewish people of "Never again!"" came crashing down in pieces as the terrors of that horrific day unfolded. Jewish people, have, in fact, identified it as a 21st century pogrom.

While Purim is not considered a major feast since it was instituted after God gave The Law to Moses (also true of Hanukkah although Jesus celebrated it). Purim is the ONLY Jewish Feast that is drawn from an entire book of the traditional Christian canon (the book of Esther). The story of Esther, her righteous Uncle Mordecai, and the villainous Hamen, has captivated people's imaginations for as long as the Jewish people have been celebrating this joyful feast.

Purim is an unusual Jewish feast due to the inherent irony and humor in the story, in spite of dark subject matter and themes. While all Judaic observances of Purim are joyful, some groups take the command to a celebratory mood to extremes completely out of character for any other religious event in Jewish life. Children's plays and humorous skits, wearing costumes and masks, the "telling of the whole Megillah," the use of raucus noise makers called "groggers" and a delicious triangular pastry called "Hamantashen" (Haman's hats) are all a part of the joyful festivities. Many in Judaism see these unusual measures as in keeping with the "topsy turvy" theme of the Purim story. 

Purim Study: Rev. Huckel, Director

The celebration known as Purim (which literally means, “Lots”) from the book of Esther is a sarcastic reminder of the folly of a Persian prince named Haman who made a very serious error in judgment when he tried to eradicate Esther’s uncle (Mordecai the Jew) and all the Jewish people living in Persia during their first dispersion. The manner in which Haman decided the "BEST" day to slay the Jewish people was determined through casting “pur” (an ancient form of dice). It's the irony of Haman being hung on the very gallows that he built to hang Mordecai the Jew which is being mocked by naming the festival after the instruments (i.e. the “Purim”) Haman used to select the perfect day.

Cursings and Blessings

The whole point of the book of Esther comes down to the simple fact that the man who intended to hang Mordecai the Jew ends up getting the same curse he intended to give (Est 7:10a, 9:13): Est 7:10a So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Est 9:13 Then said Esther, 'If it please the king, let it be granted to the Jews which are in Shushan to do to morrow also according unto this day's decree, and let Haman's ten sons be hanged upon the gallows.' And the king commanded it so to be done: and the decree was given at Shushan; and they hanged Haman's ten sons.

To add insult to injury - Mordecai ended up getting the very job that formerly was held by Haman: Est 10:3 For Mordecai the Jew was next unto king Ahasuerus, and great among the Jews, and accepted of the multitude of his brethren, seeking the wealth of his people, and speaking peace to all his seed.
An Unusual Lesson
One of the oddities about the book of Esther is that the words of a prophet do not appear anywhere in its pages. Not once can you find the words "Thus saith the Lord" or any expression of that type. For that matter the words: "God" or "Lord" are not found even one time throughout its ten chapters. It’s for that reason that the book of Esther was one of the very last books the Jewish people acknowledged as being part of God’s Canon of Scripture.
I'm thoroughly convinced however that God actually went out of His way to make sure that His name wasn't included in the book's contents. In doing so, God makes the lesson that the book is trying to teach us more emphatic. Because in the final analysis what God is trying to emphasize through the story of Esther are facts that are just as meaningful today as they were at the time the actual events of the story took place.
A Timely Message
Despite the fact that Israel was dispersed from their homeland (just as they are today!), and despite the fact that at the time it happened God wasn't sending them a prophet to declare: "Thus saith the Lord" (just as it is today!). At a time when God’s voice hasn’t audibly been heard and His name very seldom mentioned (at such a time like this). What God wants us all to remember is that He’s always very much alive and in control - even behind the scenes in political events, particularly when they involve any Gentile movement toward blessing or cursing the Jewish people.
He wants to communicate to all who read its contents that no matter how little He’s thought of or remembered today; nevertheless, He will never forget His everlasting covenant he made in the past with Abraham to bless those who bless Abraham and his seed (the Jewish people) and curse those who curse them (Gen 12:3; Num 24:9).
Perhaps our nation, and all the rest of the nations as well, would do well to keep in mind those promises to Israel. Our God still blesses those who bless the Jewish people and unfortunately for those who don’t remember the lesson of Haman, God also still curses in the same manner those who curse the Jewish people. For just as Haman back then got hung on the very gallows he prepared for Mordecai the Jew, so likewise will any person or nation today receive the same curse they intend to impose upon the Jewish people.

Jer 30:16-17 Therefore, all they that devour thee shall be devoured; and all thine adversaries, every one of them, shall go into captivity; and they that spoil thee shall be a spoil, and all that prey upon thee will I give for a prey. For I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the LORD; because they called thee an Outcast, saying, This is Zion, whom no man seeketh after. (cf. Isa 49:24-26, 51:22-23, 54:15-17)


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