Summary: The Feast of Purim was instituted to remember God's deliverance of His people, for the generation that was saved, as well as for the generations to come.
We have come a long way through the book of Esther.
• Against all odds, and through a set of amazing and miraculous twists, Esther and Mordecai achieved the mission – the mission of God, actually - to save their people from certain annihilation.
• It was successful because God has a hand in it. Nothing short of being miraculous because all that has taken place could not have been humanly possible or planned for.
There were many divine “coincidences”, so to speak.
• The phrase ‘divine coincidences’ is an oxymoron. They cannot be true at the same time.
• If these events were coincidences, then they could not be divinely orchestrated.
• If God has arranged them, then they could not be by chance.
• God preserved His people, purposefully. He protected the remnant and hence the seed for the coming of the Messiah, Jesus.
Throughout the book of Esther, we did not see God visibly nor did we read of ‘God’ being mentioned. There wasn’t any signs and wonders to tell us He was there.
• We don’t need miracles to know that God is present in our lives. God is, whether we believe it or not. We live by faith in the promises of God, not by our sight.
• The resurrected Jesus said to His disciples, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)
Therefore this day has to be celebrated and remembered.
• To celebrate is to give thanks. The remnant survived and lived on. It was a day when “sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration.” (9:22)
• To remember is to help us look to the future with confidence knowing that this same God is with us.
• If the past has been an act of God, by the grace of God, then we can trust Him today. Remembering the past strengthens our faith in God for tomorrow.
• God’s deliverance has to be retold (that’s remembering). We are to talk about it again and again, not just for those who have survived, but for generations to come.
So Mordecai sent out letters to all the Jews in the entire empire, giving instruction for Israel to celebrate these days and to remember them annually.
• Later a second letter detailing how to observe Purim was also issued out.
• Two days were designated because the villages in the provinces had just a one-day fight, while the city of Susa took another extended day, so they celebrated on the 15th day.
• So every year on the 14th and 15th day of the 12th month (Adar), the Jews will celebrate what is now called the Feast of Purim.
• Purim comes from the word pur (9:26), ‘the lot’ (in Hebrew) that Haman casted to pick the day to exterminate the Jews (3:7).
9:28 “These days should be remembered and observed in every generation by every family, and in every province and in every city. And these days of Purim should never cease to be celebrated by the Jews, nor should the memory of them die out among their descendants.”
• And so at every feast, they would read the book of Esther.
• Traditions tell us the people will cheer whenever Mordecai’s name is mentioned and jeer when Haman’s name is read.
We are to remember WHAT God has done and know WHO God is.
• Not just for the generation that has experienced God’s grace and deliverance, but for the generations to come.
• This is how faith in God is passed on. Purim is important and necessary.
• Such commemorations are not new to Israel. Purim isn’t the first feast Israel was asked to observe.
Right from the start, when their ancestors were first delivered from their slavery in Egypt, they were taught to remember what God has done.
• They were told to observe the Feast of the Passover or Unleavened Bread (God’s deliverance), the Feast of First fruits (Pentecost, God’s provision, harvest time), the Feast of the Tabernacles (provision/protection in the wilderness)…
• The feasts point to God’s works among His people – protection, provision, salvation.
We see the importance of the feasts in the Jewish life. They are not just holidays.
• Particularly the first feast – the Feast of the Passover. God promised deliverance for His people, but when Pharaoh refused, He sent ten plagues on the land of Egypt.
• The 10th and worst of the plagues was the death of all the firstborn in Egypt. That would force Pharaoh to let His people go.
• On the night of the first Passover God told the Israelites to sacrifice a spotless lamb and mark their doorframes with its blood (Exodus 12:21–22).
• Exo 12:23 “When the LORD goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians, he will see the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe and will pass over that doorway, and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down.”