Well, today is St. Patrick’s Day and Facebook is filled with people holding up mugs of green beer and in every stage of costume for this Irish holiday. After all, it seems that everyone is Irish for one day a year – this day… In fact, I went out to dinner this evening after finishing at a client site and the restaurant was filled with people who were all wearing green apparel and celebrating this famous party day.
We also have tremendous celebrations at the Fourth of July, Labor Day, Memorial Day and a handful of other dates each year. These are times that the country comes together to set aside their differences and spend time in community having fun together. There are fireworks, picnics, bands, parades and all different sorts of ways that we commemorate these special occasions each year.
But this past week-end, the Jewish community celebrated one of their festivals – Purim, the celebration that commemorates the victory of the Jews over the forces destined to try and annihilate them many years ago in the time of Haman, Mordecai and King Xerxes. The full story can be found in the book of Esther and if you have never read it, I encourage you to take time out of your day to study it. Basically, it is the story of Esther, a Jewish girl who eventually becomes the queen of King Xerxes. He doesn’t know her heritage and supports the efforts of Haman, the “prime minister” of the land to order the killing of all the Jewish people of the country, comprised of 127 provinces.
After a three day fast, Esther gained enough courage to approach the king, reveal her own heritage and ask for her people to be spared from certain death. Through an interesting turn of events, Haman was hung, a decree was issued allowing the Jews to defend themselves and good triumphs over evil. The remembrance of this victory is celebrated with the reading of Esther, great festivities and people wearing costumes in the Jewish community. In fact, drinking is commonplace and sometimes, as in almost every other type of celebration, things can get very animated.
It’s not so different from the joyous celebrations that each of us enjoys from time to time. The verse for tonight recounts the events of the victory that the Jewish people enjoyed. It is interesting to note that the book of Esther never mentions the name of God although it is clearly in God’s divine plan that His people were spared. From Esther 8:16-17, “For the Jews it was a time of happiness and joy, gladness and honor. In every province and in every city, wherever the edict of the king went, there was joy and gladness among the Jews, with feasting and celebrating. And many people of other nationalities became Jews because fear of the Jews had seized them.”
Notice that many people became Jews, not so dissimilar from all the people who become Irish for a day this time of year. My encouragement this evening is that God wants us to be obedient to Him and celebrate His goodness in our lives. My prayer is that you will always celebrate the blessings that God delivers in your life and that you will always remember those times when divine intervention is the only reason for your own survival. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…