Purim, the Jewish holiday found in the book of Esther. Filled with intrigue, suspense and great deliverance. To fully understand this holiday of exuberant celebration we must learn from the Rabbi’s what they know about this story. Fourth of July means very little to non-Americans just like Chinese New Year means little to non-Chinese, because it’s not their holiday, not their deliverance. We can celebrate with others, but those who know it culturally understand it more deeply.
Reading Esther 3 today I was struck by the signet ring the king gave to Haman and wanted to know what the rabbi’s thought about this. What I learned was mind blowing. “Rabbi Judah Loew, better known as the Maharal of Prague, suggests that the transfer of the ring from Ahasuerus to Haman caused a crisis for the Jews because until that moment, they believed that God works through kings, for better or worse. Sometimes a king acts as an agent of punishment; other times, as an agent of redemption.” For them it was Kings for us its Presidents.
The rabbi goes on to say, “the passing of kingly authority to a singular individual represented a dramatic threat — one that was exacerbated by the fact that the individual is no friend of the Jewish people. No longer could the Jews be assured that God’s will, for their benefit or detriment, was being done through a king. It was now undeniable that history was in the hands of individuals.” Power transfers from the king to the people, this sounds like an echo. “Rabbi Loew, says this was a key moment for the Jewish people. In the past, they had been able to ignore prophetic predictions and carry about their lives, trusting that things would work out according to God’s intention no matter what they did. But at the moment that Haman slipped Ahasuerus’ signet ring onto his own finger, they came to understand that individuals can make a significant impact on history — for better or much worse. But as dark as it was to contemplate that Haman could destroy the Jewish people against God’s will, the reverse was also possible: The Jewish people could assert control over their own destiny. And, as we know from the story, they did.”
History is cyclical and the stories of the Jews are for us to learn from. Purim 2022 starts tonight at sundown and the celebration will begin in Israel. They will wear costumes to remind them, not everything is as it appears. We are living in days of great deliverance and we have been given therobe, the ring and the shoes (Luke 15). It’s time, we the church, we the people of God use our authority to take back the nations. Mordecai refused to bow; Esther chose to stand; and the Jews chose to fight until they got the victory over that wicked Haman. Ekklesia its time to defeat the spirit of Haman once and for all!