A PLACE OF DARKNESS
Ancient Persia, like it’s modern counterpart Iran had some who hated the Jews. There were also some who did not hate the Jews, as there are a few now. In the days of Esther the enemies of Israel were waiting or a chance to slaughter them per the plan of Haman. When Haman was hanged the enemies of Israel found themselves on the other side of the law.
Now in the twelfth month, that is, the month Adar, on the thirteenth day of the same, when the king’s commandment and his decree drew near to be put in execution, in the day that the enemies of the Jews hoped to have power over them, (though it was turned to the contrary, that the Jews had rule over them that hated them;) The Jews gathered themselves together in their cities throughout all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus, to lay hand on such as sought their hurt: and no man could withstand them; for the fear of them fell upon all people. And all the rulers of the provinces, and the lieutenants, and the deputies, and officers of the king, helped the Jews; because the fear of Mordecai fell upon them. For Mordecai was great in the king’s house, and his fame went out throughout all the provinces: for this man Mordecai waxed greater and greater. Esther 9:1-4
When God gave the Promised Land to Israel he made them slay all of the people of some nations. They were not even allowed to claim the goods of their enemies. Again in Persia when God delivers their enemies, Israel chose to avoid taking their spoils. They chose to honor God by avoiding unclean things.
Thus the Jews smote all their enemies with the stroke of the sword, and slaughter, and destruction, and did what they would unto those that hated them. And in Shushan the palace the Jews slew and destroyed five hundred men. And Parshandatha, and Dalphon, and Aspatha, And Poratha, and Adalia, and Aridatha, And Parmashta, and Arisai, and Aridai, and Vajezatha, The ten sons of Haman the son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews, slew they; but on the spoil laid they not their hand. Esther 9:5-10
These headlines were not the end of the story. There were more enemies, and Israel could not sleep if they were still armed and dangerous.
On that day the number of those that were slain in Shushan the palace was brought before the king. And the king said unto Esther the queen, The Jews have slain and destroyed five hundred men in Shushan the palace, and the ten sons of Haman; what have they done in the rest of the king’s provinces? now what is thy petition? and it shall be granted thee: or what is thy request further? and it shall be done. Then said Esther, If it please the king, let it be granted to the Jews which are in Shushan to do to morrow also according unto this day’s decree, and let Haman’s ten sons be hanged upon the gallows. And the king commanded it so to be done: and the decree was given at Shushan; and they together on the fourteenth day also of the month Adar, and slew three hundred men at Shushan; but on the prey they laid not their hand. Esther 9:11-15
As when Israel was given their lands in Canaan, God expected them to destroy their enemies. Some of those ancient enemies are still part of the problems they are having today. The name Palestinian is essentially the same as Philistine. These Jews in Persia have just been delivered from certain assassination, so they are motivated to relentless pursuit of these enemies. Esther requested to have the bodies of Haman’s sons hanged as a public display as well.
But the other Jews that were in the king’s provinces gathered themselves together, and stood for their lives, and had rest from their enemies, and slew of their foes seventy and five thousand, but they laid not their hands on the prey, On the thirteenth day of the month Adar; and on the fourteenth day of the same rested they, and made it a day of feasting and gladness. But the Jews that were at Shushan assembled together on the thirteenth day thereof, and on the fourteenth thereof; and on the fifteenth day of the same they rested, and made it a day of feasting and gladness. Therefore the Jews of the villages, that dwelt in the unwalled towns, made the fourteenth day of the month Adar a day of gladness and feasting, and a good day, and of sending portions one to another. Esther 9:16-19
We may not have to indulge in this kind of physical war against violent enemies today. Our warfare is not against flesh and blood if we engage in spiritual warfare. There are spirits working behind the scenes through men who produce the sins that threaten our world. If we will be free of their violence we do have to war against those dark spirits. We need the same resolve that the warriors of the Old Testament lived to win that warfare. God provided miraculous deliverance by working behind the scenes against Haman. He still does this today in response to the prayers of his followers. He has trained us to pray as Israel did in Persia. He leaves this celebration of joy for our rememberance.
And Mordecai wrote these things, and sent letters unto all the Jews that were in all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus, both nigh and far, To stablish this among them, that they should keep the fourteenth day of the month Adar, and the fifteenth day of the same, yearly, As the days wherein the Jews rested from their enemies, and the month which was turned unto them from sorrow to joy, and from mourning into a good day: that they should make them days of feasting and joy, and of sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor. And the Jews undertook to do as they had begun, and as Mordecai had written unto them; Because Haman the son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had devised against the Jews to destroy them, and had cast Pur, that is, the lot, to consume them, and to destroy them; Esther 9:20-24
A feast was established by Mordecai to be a memorial of the responsibility to resist darkness. The name of a game of chance has become the name of rememberance.
But when Esther came before the king, he commanded by letters that his wicked device, which he devised against the Jews, should return upon his own head, and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows. Wherefore they called these days Purim after the name of Pur. Therefore for all the words of this letter, and of that which they had seen concerning this matter, and which had come unto them, The Jews ordained, and took upon them, and upon their seed, and upon all such as joined themselves unto them, so as it should not fail, that they would keep these two days according to their writing, and according to their appointed time every year; And that these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, every family, every province, and every city; and that these days of Purim should not fail from among the Jews, nor the memorial of them perish from their seed. Esther 9:25-28
Purim is a light in the darkest season of winter. When the light seems to be weakest, a spiritual warmth is provided as a feast of joy and celebration. God has been the master of the chess board of life. He has positioned us to provide the victory over the cold darkness of human nature. We will not be taken to destruction by the prince of darkness or his servants.
Then Esther the queen, the daughter of Abihail, and Mordecai the Jew, wrote with all authority, to confirm this second letter of Purim. And he sent the letters unto all the Jews, to the hundred twenty and seven provinces of the kingdom of Ahasuerus, with words of peace and truth, To confirm these days of Purim in their times appointed, according as Mordecai the Jew and Esther the queen had enjoined them, and as they had decreed for themselves and for their seed, the matters of the fastings and their cry. And the decree of Esther confirmed these matters of Purim; and it was written in the book. Esther 9:29-32
And the king Ahasuerus laid a tribute upon the land, and upon the isles of the sea. And all the acts of his power and of his might, and the declaration of the greatness of Mordecai, whereunto the king advanced him, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia? For Mordecai the Jew was next unto king Ahasuerus, and great among the Jews, and accepted of the multitude of his brethren, seeking the wealth of his people, and speaking peace to all his seed. Esther 10:1-3
The purpose of Purim is a memorial against the potential destruction of all Jews. In the last century the Nazis of Germany attempted to do this again. Today the modern Iranians are inclined to do what their ancestors failed to do by finishing the Jews. We have trouble imagining the hatred that fuels this recurring nightmare.
Human behavior has been changed since one Jew proposed that men could have love for their enemies. Thousands of years have allowed followers of that Messiah to show that love as martyrs and as world leaders. God did not require us to fight carnal warfare alone since he demonstrated the greater power of spiritual warfare. He ended the need for animal sacrifice by sacrificing that messiah, his son, in our place. He promised to bring the rest of Israel to that Messiah in the future. They are coming in greater numbers today to this Yeshua Ha Meschia who fulfilled all the requirements of Torah and the Old Testament.
Outside of that hope the futility of religion is still producing raging hatred. No other religion proposes that we should love our neighbor. Many religions still hope that an animal may be sacrificed as an appeasement to their gods. When that fails to satisfy their nagging doubts, they consider sacrificing their enemies. This is the curse of Cain, whose sacrifice was rejected by God. His response was to kill his brother.
You don’t need to think this only happens in distant nations. This week I found two chickens that had been sacrificed minutes from a major American city. I am not shocked by the killing of a chicken because we do this for food regularly. But I am saddened by the idea that someone thinks this will make them stronger. Killing a helpless animal is as futile as killing your brother. The Lamb of God offered himself as the final sacrifice to give us power to be free of fear. We may share his triumph over death, and pass through the veil of death to eternal life.
Today Purim is enforced by promises that God left for Israel. The peace of Jerusalem is assured by the only name by which men may be saved. It is pronounced “Hay-suess” in some nations, Jesus in some, and Yeshua or Joshua in Hebrew. I pray for the peace of Jerusalem which will come only when Israel recognizes the one who they have pierced, as promised by Zechariah. The peace of Jerusalem is Yeshua of Nazareth.