Purim–Persecution

PurimIllustration:  “Purim,” by Marc Chagall, oil on canvas, 1918.

“Mordecai recorded these things and sent letters to all the Jews who were in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, both near and far, obliging them to keep the fourteenth day of the month Adar and also the fifteenth day of the same, year by year,as the days on which the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month that had been turned for them from sorrow into gladness and from mourning into a holiday; that they should make them days of feasting and gladness, days for sending gifts of food to one another and gifts to the poor” (Esther 9:20-22).

As we walk on our faith journey with Jesus, we have heard God’s call and responded to it in the Feast of Rosh HaShanah. We have seen the penalty Jesus paid for our sins foreshadowed at the Festival of Yom Kippur, and we have responded to God’s grace with thankfulness in the Feast of Sukkot. Chanukkah was a time to consider a renewed dedication to our Christian lives. Now it is time to face a harsh reality. People of God often face harsh persecution. The Festival of Purim is the story of persecution and how God prepares us for it.

The observance of Purim is recorded in the book of Esther, and its observance is decreed by the testimony of Scripture. The book of Esther is the story of a plan to systematically destroy the Jewish people, and how God preserves his people, even in the face of persecution. Though Scripture does not mention it, Jesus probably celebrated this festival as an observant Jew.

Purim is more than the story of persecution though. It is also a promise. A joke is going around in our congregation that says that many of the Jewish festivals could be summed up by “They tried to kill us. We won. Let’s eat.”  That is so true. We are persecuted, but Jesus is our Deliverer. Because of our faith in His death and resurrection, we have won over death. This is the cause for celebration. Let the feast begin!

Prayer: Dear Lord, even when persecuted, I know that You have redeemed us from death, and that our time here is but a moment compared to the eternity that You have given us. Help me to be strong and courageous in the face of my enemies. In Y’shua’s name, Amen.

Ponder the path: It is easy to fall prey to persecution and discouragement. Instead of being discouraged, focus on the empty cross and the victory that our Messiah has given you, and joyfully give thanks.

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