Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Fasts of Esther

Starting today through February 24 is the Jewish holiday, “The Feast of Purim,” or “The Fast of Esther,” recalling the events that led to and resulted from Esther’s two fasts. “Fasting” is the generally described as the practice of withholding from eating for a period of time. What caused this Esther-person to stop eating, twice; and, why recall the event even today?

Ahasuerus (also known as the Persian King, Xerxes) gave a massive feast to basically show off his wealth, including Vashti, his beautiful queen; but, she refused to participate in the festival (wanting to shame the king) and was banished by irrevocable law. Ahasuerus stormed off to war against the Greeks and when he returned four years later, held a beauty contest to look for a replacement queen. Esther, a relative of Mordecai (a Jew), wins the kings heart while Mordecai saves the kings life after uncovering an assassination plot. Haman (an Agagite) receives a promotion and nurses his hatred against Jews because of Mordecai’s refusal to pay him homage by plotting to kill all Jews. This is where it gets good.

Mordecai begins mourning over the dilemma, informing Esther of the plot. The only way to save her people is to go to the King--but she can’t have audience unless he calls, so she fasts and prays for three days before literally laying her life on the line to go to the King and ask for help. Esther gives a banquet for the king, who hears her concern, but as Haman constructs gallows to hang Mordecai, the King decides to honor Mordecai and Haman get to lead the parade! Esther gives another banquet for the King where she exposes Haman’s plot and he is executed on his own gallows. But don’t celebrate yet.

Mordecai fills the vacant position left by Haman, but the Jews are still in trouble because of the persecution Haman put into motion via irrevocable law. Esther fasts once again and intercedes for her people who are victorious against their oppressors. Mordecai becomes second to the King.

People are saved from destruction because someone put their life on the line and interceded. Esther left her mark on a people and in history, which is really something when you think about it. The world is forever changed because this woman was in tune with God. Perhaps she did not know the details of what God was doing, but she was obedient to participate in what He was doing. The only other option was to go against what God was doing, and be the villain.

We may not win any beauty contests that lead to leading a country, and we may not be as wise as Mordecai or gain positions of royalty, but we can make the right decisions even in the toughest times.
We can pray and be obedient.

What significant contribution are you making in His story?

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