The Days of Purim
“These days of Purim should never fall into disuse among the Jews, nor should the commemoration of these days cease among their descendants” (v. 28b).- Esther 9
After defeating Haman (Est. 5–7), the Jews in Persia were not yet out of the woods because the edict allowing the Persians to kill the Jews could not be revoked. It would be carried out even though Haman was dead. Consequently, Esther was able to receive permission from King Ahasuerus giving Jews the right to “annihilate” any who might come against them (8:1–14). A second day of fighting was even granted to the Jews, and tens of thousands of their enemies were finally killed (8:15–9:19).
Such violence might be seen as excessive, but there is no indication that this fighting was counted as a sin against the Israelites. The Jews laid no hand on the plunder that could have been theirs after slaughtering the Persians (9:4–10, 15–16), which shows us the conflict was a holy war. Joshua and the Israelites were likewise not permitted to profit from the destruction of many of the cities they conquered during the invasion of Canaan (Josh. 6–7). Under the new covenant, the church is not given the sword but fights God’s enemies via prayer and evangelism in the strength of the Holy Spirit, which is the only power able to make them submit to His reign (2 Cor. 10:4; Eph. 6:10–20). However, there remains a final battle between Jesus and the forces of evil that will end with Satan and his minions, both demons and human beings, being cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:7–15). The old covenant community’s victory over the Persians in Esther’s day anticipates the final victory to come.
Purim was established to commemorate this great event in the history of Israel with “days of feasting and gladness, days for sending gifts of food to one another and gifts to the poor” (Est. 9:20–22). In time, the entire book of Esther would come to be read aloud in the synagogue each year at Purim, with the congregation rattling noisemakers, stomping their feat, hissing, and doing whatever was necessary to make noise each time Haman’s name was heard. By such activities, the people mocked that foolish man who thought he could successfully come against the Lord God Almighty, the One who laughs at every wicked person who raises a fist against Him (Ps. 37:12–13). In Christ, we new covenant believers can laugh at the attempts of Satan and his minions to destroy us, for our Lord’s victory at Calvary guarantees that no weapon raised up against us will ultimately find success (Isa. 54:16–17; Col. 2:15).
In our darkest hours, when all seems to be against us, we can be confident that we are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:37). He has purchased our final redemption and will finally destroy all His (and thus our) enemies. We have nothing to fear at the last day, for we will not suffer the destruction that will be meted out at the final judgment to all the unrighteous. Let us rejoice and look forward to that great day.
Passages for Further Study
1 Timothy 6:12