When I think of Purim, I think of the wonder and awe of God’s sovereign plans for us. The theme of "For such a Time as This" perfectly pictures God’s hand in the life of Esther, an orphan, reared by her uncle and then miraculously placed in the palace courts of the king.
Esther is, by far, the most celebrated 'character' in this saga because she played the supernatural role in freeing her people by the hand of the king by being in the exact place and time in which God put her by His own design. Her participation required humble obedience to the ways of the Most High King of the universe-ways that are very often unfathomable to mankind. But more than her meritorious response to God’s call on her life is the fact that Adonai had a plan for her, even from the time that she was a small child. He designed the scope of her life to flow within His intricate format. In reality, our hearts are destined to celebrate no other being than the King of the Universe during Purim-for He is truly exactly that.
We are invited to read the scroll of Esther, or Megillat Esther, on Purim several times. Each time, we blot out the name of the wicked man who tried to sabotage the future of the Jewish people. Despite his plans, which seemed set in stone at the time, the Lord’s plans were emerging through the life of His servant Esther. Her uncle, Mordecai, knew that Esther’s uninvited presence before the powerful king of more than 127 provinces, from India to Ethiopia, could be potentially calamitous-especially considering the fact that she was about to ask for a change in the decree that he, by Haman’s instigation, had announced over the Jews. However, Mordecai knew the One True God and chose to obey His decree rather than man’s, empowering him to send words of encouragement and confidence with the king’s servants to Esther:
"Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews. For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" (Esther 4:13-14)
A Prepared Design
These words remind us of several others who have been lead by the sovereign hand of God into situations beyond their control for a divine purpose unknown, even to themselves. The parallels between Esther, Moshe, Joseph and other "greats" in our Tanach are astounding; yet, each of their stories reveals a plan-a prepared design. All were taken from their own homes to a foreign place. Each of their new dwellings was a place of power, of government. For example, Moses was raised in Pharaoh’s own home; he was the brother to the next ruler of Egypt. Joseph was also taken into service under the reigning Pharaoh. Each of these, like Esther, received revelation from the Lord regarding the deliverance of His people through their actions of obedience.
After reading the strong words that Mordecai spoke to Esther, we are compelled to think of what the future may have held had she not been obedient. If this had been the case, the text tells us that the Lord would raise up another. I cannot help but wonder, 'Were there others before Joseph, or Moshe, or Esther who did "lose their place," who chose fear of man rather than the words of God?' Perhaps not...but it is altogether possible that there could have been a handful that did remain completely silent when God spoke to them, therefore causing relief and deliverance to come from these three whose testimony stands for all time.
Tikkun HaOlam-Mending the World
Today, modern Orthodox Judaism teaches that God put man on the earth for the express purpose of "helping Him make the world a better place." If this is true, and I suggest that it is in part, then each one of us holds the same kind of deliverance for others in the grand scope of Adonai’s plan. Our lives certainly become much more serious and valuable when we consider that the Lord has sovereignly placed us in positions and situations for His purposes and times, not our own. As believers, we walk by faith from day to day not knowing exactly when the Almighty might require us to act on His words to bring light, relief or deliverance for another of His chosen.
Let us consider life on earth in the spectrum of eternity; it is really quite amazing. Our time to dwell in a human body is limited, miniscule even. Yet, our actions and choices during this point in history, regardless of how much time or space they occupy, are weighty in our 'eternities' with our Maker. We truly will be held accountable for every action that we take on earth.
Let us therefore be diligent to seek out that which is invaluable and beloved in the eyes of Adonai-His children, those whom He has chosen, and those whose nefesh (soul) belongs to Him. Let us always be strengthened to stand up in the moment, before it passes us by, and give glory to our Maker by seizing the opportunity to make a difference for Him.
As easy as it is to become 'overtaken' with the fun, joy and celebration during these days of remembrance, do evaluate the more serious aspects of the example that Esther set for us. May we be mindful, always, of why we are here and of what our lives can actually accomplish when we live them to their fullest... lest another be called to take our place, for the Lord’s purposes will always be accomplished.