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The Scriptorium

A New Feast

But different. Esther 9.18-32

Return from Exile: Esther 6-10 (5)

Pray Psalm 145.1-3.
I will extol You, my God, O King;
And I will bless Your name forever and ever.
Every day I will bless You,
And I will praise Your name forever and ever.
Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised;
And His greatness is unsearchable.

Sing Psalm 145.1-3.
(Brother James; Air: The Lord’s My Shepherd, I’ll not Want)
I will extol You, God, my King, and ever praise Your Name!
I bless You, Lord, for everything each day, and e’er the same!
Great are You, Lord, my praise I bring; unsearchable Your fame!

Read Esther 9.1-32; meditate on verses 29-32.


1. How did the people commemorate their victory over their foes?

2. Who instigated this commemoration?

The lot is cast into the lap,
But its every decision is from the LORD. Proverbs 16.33

The enemies of God’s people had cast lots to determine the best day for destroying all the Jews in the Medo-Persian empire (Est. 3.7). This superstition, which they hoped would lead them to a great triumph, became instead their destruction. They cast lots, but God decided what the meaning and outcome of that should be.

The people carried out a great celebration in Susa and elsewhere—fasting, feasting, “sending presents to one another and gifts to the poor” (v. 22) and, undoubtedly, giving thanks to God. Mordecai and Esther decided to make this an annual commemoration and sent a letter throughout the 127 provinces to make it so (vv. 29-31). The feast became known as Purim—“lots” (v. 24)—to recall not so much what Haman had done as what God had done in foiling his treachery.

This feast represents something of a change in the normal routine of feasts in Israel. First, this feast was not given to the people immediately by God. He perhaps inspired it, but He did not command it, as was the case with the feasts given through Moses. Second, no mention of sacrifices and offerings attends this feast. Third, this feast was to be celebrated locally; no one needed to come to a central place—such as Jerusalem—to celebrate this feast. This feast entailed no sacrifices; instead gifts were to be shared among family, friends, and neighbors. There is a mention of “fasting and lamenting”, but it is strictly a secondary focus (v. 31). Finally, this feast was inaugurated and decreed by Israel’s civil authorities, and there seems to be no specific role for the religious leadership in conducting or leading the Feast of Purim.

I’m not sure what all that means. But it is very much in step with a recurring theme of this period, of a focus above all on temporal conditions and concerns.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, Memorial Day, Labor Day—all holidays celebrated by many.
If a law demanded that I give one up, I’d probably go with Labor Day.
I sort of feel the same way about Purim.
Yes, it was wonderful that the tables turned and the whole race was not annihilated. Indeed, God be praised.
But to celebrate yearly the grizzly features of those days seems a bit over the top. But it was their call, not mine. And this is what they chose. Happy Purim.

I guess, though, in some respects, celebrating the day of our salvation is much the same. We must always remember the horrific sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf. There was nothing pleasant about His physical pain and suffering. His separation from the Father, for us, was terrible. Good Friday was the worst day of Jesus’ life. And yet, we rejoice, because through His suffering and separation we are not annihilated. Three days. Then for Him and for us, Happy Easter!

“Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name!
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits:
Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
The LORD executes righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed” (Ps. 103.1-6).
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son,
that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world,
but that the world through Him might be saved” (Jn. 3.16, 17).
“And you were made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins…” (Eph. 2.1)
Now that is something to celebrate!

And we, like Paul, have been sent by Jesus to bring others into this New Feast Celebration:
“But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose,
to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things
which I will yet reveal to you. I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles,
to whom I now send you, ‘to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and
from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and
an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me’” (Acts 26.16-18).

Party On!

For reflection
1. What role do holidays play in your life? Are some more important than others? Why?

2. Sunday is the most important holy day of the week. Why? How could you improve your use of the Lord’s Day?

3. What can you do to help make sure our Christian holidays don’t lose their deep meaning and significance?

The festival was appointed by authority, yet under the direction of the Spirit of God. It was called the feast of Purim, from a Persian word, which signifies a lot. The name of this festival would remind them of the almighty power of the God of Israel, who served his own purposes by the superstitions of the heathen. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Esther 9.20-32

Pray Psalm 145.4-14.
Thank God for His salvation and for the people who were instrumental in your coming to know the Lord. Thank Him for the work He has done in you and is doing in and through you. Commit yourself to seek the Lord’s Kingdom in all you do.

Sing Psalm 145.4-14.
(Brother James; Air: The Lord’s My Shepherd, I’ll not Want)
To ev’ry generation we Your wondrous works shall tell.
The splendor of Your majesty we contemplate full well.
We speak of all Your mighty deeds and all Your greatness tell!

Then shall we all the glorious fame of Your great goodness sing!
Your righteousness, Your gracious Name, Your mercy: praise we bring!
Your steadfast love remains the same, mercy our covering.

Your works shall thank You; all Your saints shall bless and praise You, Lord.
Your reign we bless without restraint; Your power fills our words.
Our children we shall educate in all Your splendor, Lord.

Your Kingdom evermore shall be; You reign forever, Lord!
Your works You do so faithfully, according to Your Word.
The falling You uphold and the oppressed You rescue, Lord!

Two books can help us understand our own captivity and lead us to seek revival and renewal in the Lord. The Church Captive asks us to consider the ways the Church today has become captive to the world. And Revived! can help us find the way to renewal. Learn more and order your free copies by clicking here and here.

Support for Scriptorium comes from our faithful and generous God, who moves our readers to share financially in our work. If this article was helpful, please give Him thanks and praise.

And please prayerfully consider supporting The Fellowship of Ailbe with your prayers and gifts. You can contribute online, via PayPal or Anedot, or by sending a gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 103 Reynolds Lane, West Grove, PA 19390.

Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available free by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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