Helpful Tidbits for the Disciple's Life                                                                                 March 1, 2010
Purim Established among the Jews
My Reflections
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Last Saturday night a few house churches got together to celebrate Purim, a festival dedicated to remembering how God delivered the Jews from the evil, self-serving Haman.
Earlier that morning, however, a friend in my house church asked, "As Christians, why should we care?" It was a good question, I thought, one with an answer that addresses a larger question: Why should we care about any of the Festivals?

QUESTION/TOPIC IN FOCUS: If I'm a Christian, why should I care about Purim?
Purim Established among the Jews
Excerpted from the Book of Esther
BibleThat is why rural Jews - those living in villages - observe the fourteenth of the month of Adar as a day of joy and feasting, a day for giving presents to each other.
Mordecai recorded these events, and he sent letters to all the Jews throughout the provinces of King Xerxes, near and far, to have them celebrate annually the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar as the time when the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration. He wrote them to observe the days as days of feasting and joy and giving presents of food to one another and gifts to the poor.
So the Jews agreed to continue the celebration they had begun, doing what Mordecai had written to them. For Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had plotted against the Jews to destroy them and had cast the pur (that is, the lot) for their ruin and destruction. But when the plot came to the king's attention, he issued written orders that the evil scheme Haman had devised against the Jews should come back onto his own head, and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows. (Therefore these days were called Purim, from the word pur.) Because of everything written in this letter and because of what they had seen and what had happened to them, the Jews took it upon themselves to establish the custom that they and their descendants and all who join them should without fail observe these two days every year, in the way prescribed and at the time appointed. 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 (Esther 9:19-28).
Pictured below: The Purim cast (A reinactment of the Book of Esther). My sons, Keagan (second from left) and Keith (seventh from left) enjoyed taking part.
Purim Cast 2
My Reflections 
There are seven prescribed feasts (or appointed times) in the Bible, of which Purim is not one of them. My use of the word prescribed, by the way, is important; the big seven are the "Lord's appointed feasts" and are to be a "lasting ordinance" (see Leviticus 23). In other words, they're not to stop. But if they're not to stop, who is supposed to not stop them? I suppose that depends on your theology. If you subscribe to replacement theology (i.e., the church replaced Israel), then it would mean the Israelites were not to stop them. If you don't subscribe to replacement theology (i.e., you believe Gentiles are graphed into Israel), however, then it is incumbent on all believers to not stop it.
But the above doesn't answer the question, does it? To make a long story short, although God doesn't require us to observe Purim, those interested in being students of the Word should become familiar with the celebration nonetheless; remember, Esther (the book) reminds us that the "memory" of Purim should not "die out among their descendants." And since I don't subscribe to replacement theology, I am a "graphed in" descendant. Therefore I, too, am responsible to keep the memory alive.
Regardless of your theology, also consider that the Esther story is the Exodus story repeated. Simplistically, King Xerxes resembles Pharaoh. Haman resembles Satan. Esther resembles Moses (an intercessor or Messiah archetype). Although a few sentences can't express all that is going on in the Book of Esther, suffice to say Purim is a wonderful opportunity to be grateful for Jesus's intercessory work on the cross.
What is more, Purim puts front and center the feminine side of God's redemptive work. Why, for example, does Esther go the banquet route? And why does the banquet imagery reflect what David wrote in Psalm 23? "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies." In Esther's case, who was the enemy? Haman. The sybolism is rich indeed; it's something you'll need to study.
I could go on, but I'll stop for now. My encouragement to you is this; don't neglect the Lord's appointed times. By observing the Feasts, you'll not only be obedient disciples, you and your community will grow in your knowledge of the Lord in ways you never expected.
Hope this was of some benefit to you.

Traver Dougherty (bio)
The Banqueting Table