Purim - Consequences & Opposition
by Moshe Morrison, Teaching Elder, Tents of Mercy
The biblical feast of Purim, commanded in the book of Esther, is celebrated this year on March 15th and 16th. There are many facets of the story that could be emphasized, but if we ask the Lord He will pinpoint not only that which is universal but that which is pertinent to each of our lives as well.
I became very familiar with Purim while writing and performing multiple Purim dramas over the years as part of congregational celebrations. This year, as I have sought to see the story with fresh eyes, I am drawn to the issue of consequences. There are circumstances which require us to take some sort of action, and there are often consequences if we fail to take that action.
In the story of Esther, the existence of the Jewish people (dispersed in Babylon and Persia) was threatened because of the hatred and arrogance of one man. This man, Haman, was only alive as a consequence of the failure of Israel's king to do what God had commanded many years before. Allow me to explain.
King Saul failed to obey God when he did not kill Agag of the Amalekites (1 Samuel 15). Haman was a descendant of Agag (Esther 3:1). Therefore Haman's plot to destroy the remnant of Israel was a consequence of King Saul's disobedience.
Opposition in Every Generation
We may ask whether or not another Amalekite would have arisen to threaten God's people even if Saul had killed Agag. The answer is: if it had not been him or another Amalakite it would have been someone else. Israel has never lacked for enemies. The Passover liturgy says, "It is this that has stood by our ancestors and us: It is not only one that has risen up against us to destroy us; rather, in every generation, they rise against us to annihilate us. But the Holy One, blessed be He, saves us from their hand." Inevitably there will always be opposition to those who belong to God and are called to be His representatives here on earth, especially in Israel. As the old Yiddish proverb goes, "If God lived on earth people would throw rocks at His windows." Or as Yeshua put it, "If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you" (John 15:18-19). It seems that these dynamics will continue - because of the conflict existing since the fall of Satan - until the restoration of all things in the coming kingdom.
Even in the midst of opposition, like Esther and Mordechai, we are all called to do what is right and stand against evil regardless of its source. We stand by the grace of God that is given to us. Their stand led to a great triumph. Ours can too.
"And Mordecai told them to answer Esther: 'Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king's palace any more than all the other Jews. For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?'" (Esther 4:13,14)
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