On Sundown Saturday 15th March, the Jewish calendar celebrates the feast day of “Purim”. The jist of the festival is the commemoration of the deliverance of the Jewish people from the Persian Empire, biblically this is found in the book of Esther.
In Esther 9 we read (KJV Version)
17. 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. 18. 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. 19. 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. 20. 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, 21. To stablish this among them, that they should keep the fourteenth day of the month Adar, and the fifteenth day of the same, yearly, 22. 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. 23. And the Jews undertook to do as they had begun, and as Mordecai had written unto them; 24. 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;
As you can read above, Purim is celebrated on the 14th day of the Jewish month of Adar. (Which falls on Saturday 15th March this year) the relevance to Christians is that it is simply in the Bible. The holiday is more of a National holiday rather than a Jewish religious one. Apart from the Torah readings it is a celebration, with costumes, games, noise and food often times the children will act out the passage from Esther. It is a fun holiday.
I love the definition of Purim in this vers “Pur” means lot, or a lot and “Im” is plural so it is literally the feast of lots, Haman cast lots to decide when he was to destroy Israel, serious stuff huh?
According to Wikipedia the four main mitzvot (obligations) of the day are:
1.Listening to the public reading, usually in synagogue, of the Book of Esther in the evening and again in the following morning (k’riat megillah)
2.Sending food gifts to friends (mishloach manot)
3.Giving charity to the poor (matanot la’evyonim)
4.Eating a festive meal (se`udat mitzvah)
Personally I find the whole thing fascinating as it is a part of Biblical history. I am no Jewish scholar or expert in Jewish history, I know what I have read and weighed the perspectives it has been written from in the balance, to balance out any bias.
From a Christian perspective
On a personal note, I equate celebrations of delivery from a past evil much like I view my personal delivery from my sinful ways when I began a relationship with Jesus Christ. Prior to my “BC” (Before Christ) life, I was under a slavery of my own, slavery to sin, slavery to my own will and an ever decreasing circle of being unfulfilled.
I am in favor of the feast of Purim as it is good to remember the times that God has delivered us from the trials that we have been in, whether those trials have been great or small. How many times have you prayed to God for deliverance but not actually thanked him when he got you out of what was troubling you?
I am not a “replacement theology” person and don’t believe that we inherit all the blessings (minus the curses) of the Children of Israel, I believe in a New Covenant where the Christians are grafted in to the original branch, but not at the expense of the root. Jesus came to be the Messiah first to the Jews and then to the Gentiles (or Nations) thereafter.
Much like Haman wishing to destroy Israel, we have a destroyer also. Our sin, should we not accept Christ as our Saviour will keep us out of heaven. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) God is a merciful and gracious God that does not desire that any should perish. (2 Peter 3:9)
Jesus came and died on the cross (John 3:16-17) for us all to deliver us from our state of being without (or separation) from God. We have a new identity, we are a new creation, and we have a new destination when we become post humus in this life. We were born into sin and now have a new life in Christ Jesus. That is cause for celebration indeed.
I have a great love for all peoples, Jews, Greek, Arab, whoever and wish to see you all come to faith in Christ Jesus. As you celebrate one temporary deliverance I pray that you contemplate a far reaching deliverance.
To my Jewish friends and friends of Israel I wish you a happy Purim
God bless you one and all and TGBTG