May we, the Australian family come alongside of Israel in her hour of need.
Key Points from the Book of Esther
This week is Purim, from the evening of the 25th of February until the evening of the 26th of February.
It is an ancient Festival with a modern application.
The Book of Esther (Hebrew: מְגִלַּת אֶסְתֵּר, Megillat Esther), also known in Hebrew as ‘the Scroll’ (Megillah):
God’s name is not mentioned once in these ten chapters, but His workings are evident on every page. He is always at work behind the scenes.
This book of the Bible can be read in approximately an hour. It is the story of a young woman who stood up in a time of crisis for her people, the Jews who were living in the Persian Empire. Observant Jews read this Megillah twice a day during Purim.
In the book of Esther, Haman was appointed the principal minister of the king Ahasuerus, and he devised a plan to annihilate the Jews in Persia, having the authority to do this. He even built gallows on which to hang Mordecai.
Mordecai resided in Susa (Shushan), Persia (Iran) and adopted and raised his niece, Hadassah (Esther) as his own. After Queen Vashti had fallen from favour with the King, the young women were paraded before King Ahasuerus, and Esther found favour with the King to become his new queen. Mordecai discovered a plot to assassinate the king, but due to his intervention, the King’s life was saved. He was later rewarded for this.
Esther was a young Jewish girl who became a queen, went through rituals of purification for twelve months and eventually became the wife of the King. Hadassah, her Hebrew name, means myrtle, and it is said her name is an indication that her actions were as pleasing as the fragrance of myrtle.
Esther means “star”, like the tiny star-shaped flowers of the myrtle, and sounds just like the Hebrew word “hesstair”, which appropriately means “secret”, or “hidden”.
The three main sections of Esther are:
Esther 1:1-2:18 — Esther replaces Queen Vashti
Esther 2:19-7:10 — Mordecai overcomes Haman
Esther 8:1-10:3 — the Jews survive Haman’s genocide attempt.
Mordecai, who was a member in the King’s court, Haman, who devises a plot to annihilate the Jews, and the divine reversal that comes from this story shows how God, even though His name is hidden, is always working behind the scenes to achieve His purposes, even though we do not understand His undertakings at the time.
To commemorate their deliverance from Haman, the Jews instituted the feast of Purim — Esther 9:17-19. These were joyous days of rest, feasting and gladness. The name Purim comes from ‘pur’, the Persian term meaning ‘lot’, in reference to the lots (perhaps dice, wood, or paper) which Haman cast to determine when to kill the Jewish people.
Purim became the celebration of the salvation of the Jews of Persia during the reign of King Ahasuerus.
As we review this story, we can view it from the point of view of an individual, or Australia and the Great South Land/s of the Holy Spirit incorporating the Islands of the Sea and New Zealand — The Anzac Spirit, and that is how I would like us to see it.
When I was a new believer many years ago, I heard a message from the Holy Spirit one Sunday morning and it has been ringing in my ears ever since — “Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
For if you altogether hold your shalom at this time, then will relief and deliverance arise to the Yehudim from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish: and who knows whether you haven’t come to the kingdom for such a time as this?
~ Esther 4:14 (HNV)
This is how the Lord spoke to me all those years ago, but it is so relevant to us today — Australia/The Anzac Spirit. This is what I am feeling in my heart, to build a bridge between Australia and Israel.
What can we glean from this story?
The Book of Esther was the last of the 24 books of the Tanakh to be canonised. It is usually dated to the 4th century BC.
Even though His name is not mentioned, we see God’s handiwork, activity, coincidences, and even reversals. It is a majestic book depicting Esther’s courage, Mordecai’s wisdom, and Father God’s sovereignty.
Let us focus on Esther and learn from her — applying these themes to our own lives/nation.
She was young and beautiful, and so is Australia.
She was courageous, and so is Australia.
The favour of God was on Esther to be a blessing to the Jews, and I believe so it is for Australia.
How is it possible to have such favour even though we are not a perfect nation? I believe it is because the Lord is gracing us to be involved in His Kingdom purposes, and His special purpose related to Australia and Israel — to be her ally and help Israel now and in the future.
This week, Israelis are being released from their lockdown, and so Purim will be a unique celebration; however, only nuclear families can celebrate together. Purim is perhaps the festival that the Jewish people enjoy the most. They wear costumes, partake of special foods, and give gifts.
Even when they read the megillah, people use groggers (noise makers) every time they hear the name of Haman, as if to say they do not wish to hear the sound of his name.
Celebrating Purim may include:
- Hearing the reading of the Megillah
- Using a grogger when Haman’s name is mentioned
- Making Hamentaschen pastries
- Gift-giving to the Needy (Matanot LaEvyonim)
- Send food gifts to friends (Mishloach Manot)
- Feast! — always, ‘they tried to kill us, we survived, let’s eat!’
- Special prayers, V’al Hanissim — And for the miracles
This is one of the special songs of Purim — Chag Purim (Purim Holiday)
How can I apply this in my own life?
From Genesis chapter 12, when the Lord entered into a covenant with Abraham, His plan for the Jewish people continues right through to the end of the Book of Revelation.
I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you.
In you will all of the families of the eretz be blessed.
~ Genesis 12:3 (HNV)
In this Purim season, we can be part of God’s hands and feet to bless His beloved Chosen People, the Jewish people of Israel.
Here are some ways to bless Israel:
- Helping them to make Aliyah
- Some might even go and do volunteer work
17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them, and became partaker with them of the root and of the richness of the olive tree;
18 don’t boast over the branches. But if you boast, it is not you who support the root, but the root supports you.
~ Romans 11 (HNV)
Australia has been a firm ally of Israel for many years. Our Anzacs have shed their blood at Beersheba. Israel loves Australia and they honour us. Let us never forget to pray for Israel.
Pray for the shalom of Yerushalayim. Those who love you will prosper.
~ Psalms 122:6 (HNV)
Esther was courageous, stood up for her people and had laws changed that saved Jewish lives, and so Purim became a national celebration of life to this day. Perhaps you are also one of these key individuals.
Just as the golden sceptre of King Ahasuerus was extended to Queen Esther, I believe that today, at the time of Purim, His sceptre of favour is extended to you and me — the Esthers of today.
Through this article and beyond, may the Holy Spirit, the Ruach HaKodesh, stir our hearts to build a bridge between our hearts and His people, between the Great South lands, and the Holy Land. This bridge is of the Lord’s doing. We are called into the kingdom for such a time as this. Who knows how the Lord will speak to each heart, and use us in the season ahead to lovingly assist His Beloved Chosen People?
Father God, we pray to You through Jesus/Yeshua — May our lives and our nation be filled with Your courage in these difficult days to be a blessing to Israel and beyond.
[Main image: British Library]