Today is the second and last day of the Jewish festival of Purim 2009. This is a fun holiday in Israel with costumes, noise-makers, face-paint and parades.
But behind the laughter and foolishness lies a serious story of national survival. Behind Purim is the account of how God used a young Jewish woman by the name of Esther to deliver the Jewish people from a Persian plot to destroy them.
The story is compelling by itself. But the fact that Esther was serving as the queen of Persia, and that the plot to destroy the Jews was hatched within a regime that was the ancient regional counterpart to present day Iran has to be in the minds of the Jewish community today.
Seems more than ironic that the news is still full of rumors and concerns that some within Iran are outspoken critics of the security of Israel, and that many within the Israeli government are determined that Iran must not be allowed to have a nuclear bomb.
From wherever we sit, the present tensions are reason to pray for what the Bible calls the coming “peace of Israel” (found in her Messiah), for the people of Israel, for the people of Iran, and that the God of gods would give our own Administration wisdom and appropriate restraint in relating to both sides.
In addition, Purim is a good time for us to remember that God is not mentioned once in the pages that bear the name of Esther. Yet in the unfolding drama of the Bible, this chapter of history shows that God doesn’t have to be mentioned to be present.
Purim reminds us of the One who is God of the sleepless night… and of the surprise ending. He is the God who works for us in the darkness, confusion, and fears of our lives.
Together this means that what is so inspiring about this story is that it is not all about Esther. It’s a story about the God who, while being our provider and protector, can use us to bring help to others. Who can say when we, like Esther, may find ourselves looking into the eyes of destiny as we contemplate the needs of a hurting child, a lonely neighbor, a frightened co-worker, or a disillusioned mate? Who can say that heaven has not brought any one of us to this place-for such a time as this? (Esther 4:14).