One of the first things mentioned in any discussion of Esther is the lack of any mention of God. But after walking through it this summer, I think we would all agree that God is the primary mover of this whole elaborate drama, not Esther, Mordecai, Haman, or the King. So it is appropriate that as we conclude this series, we who have been delivered from a destruction greater than the one facing the Jews in ancient Persia should respond with joy to our deliverer. We render all praise to the “Great Father of glory” who is unchanging and eternal (Immortal, Invisible God Only Wise). We confess that He alone is willing and able to save (Come Ye Sinners, Poor And Needy; Rock of Ages), and He promises we will be upheld by His omnipotent hand (How Firm A Foundation). Earlier this summer, I was intrigued by the hymn God Moves In A Mysterious Way, which seemed to capture so many of the themes of the book of Esther. Since it is often set to lackluster tunes, I wrote an alternative which we will hear during communion. I hope you are encouraged by these lines, so reminiscent of Esther’s story (and our own): “You fearful saints, fresh courage take; the clouds you so much dread are filled with mercy, and shall break in blessings on your head… trust Him for His grace; behind a frowning providence He hides a smiling face.” —Henry C. Haffner
Key Words: Gladness, Holiday, Feasting, Gifts, Purim, Welfare, Peace
Keystone Verse: They should make them days of feasting and gladness, days for sending gifts of food to one another and gifts to the poor. (Esther 9:22)
20 And Mordecai recorded these things and sent letters to all the Jews who were in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, both near and far, 21 obliging them to keep the fourteenth day of the month Adar and also the fifteenth day of the same, year by year, 22 as the days on which the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month that had been turned for them from sorrow into gladness and from mourning into a holiday; that they should make them days of feasting and gladness, days for sending gifts of food to one another and gifts to the poor.
23 So the Jews accepted what they had started to do, and what Mordecai had written to them. 24 For Haman the Agagite, the son of Hammedatha, the enemy of all the Jews, had plotted against the Jews to destroy them, and had cast Pur (that is, cast lots), to crush and to destroy them. 25 But when it came before the king, he gave orders in writing that his evil plan that he had devised against the Jews should return on his own head, and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows. 26 Therefore they called these days Purim, after the term Pur. Therefore, because of all that was written in this letter, and of what they had faced in this matter, and of what had happened to them, 27 the Jews firmly obligated themselves and their offspring and all who joined them, that without fail they would keep these two days according to what was written and at the time appointed every year, 28 that these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, in every clan, province, and city, and that these days of Purim should never fall into disuse among the Jews, nor should the commemoration of these days cease among their descendants.
29 Then Queen Esther, the daughter of Abihail, and Mordecai the Jew gave full written authority, confirming this second letter about Purim. 30 Letters were sent to all the Jews, to the 127 provinces of the kingdom of Ahasuerus, in words of peace and truth, 31 that these days of Purim should be observed at their appointed seasons, as Mordecai the Jew and Queen Esther obligated them, and as they had obligated themselves and their offspring, with regard to their fasts and their lamenting. 32 The command of Esther confirmed these practices of Purim, and it was recorded in writing.
10:1 King Ahasuerus imposed tax on the land and on the coastlands of the sea.2 And all the acts of his power and might, and the full account of the high honor of Mordecai, to which the king advanced him, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia? 3 For Mordecai the Jew was second in rank to King Ahasuerus, and he was great among the Jews and popular with the multitude of his brothers, for he sought the welfare of his people and spoke peace to all his people.