1. Setting the Stage
I usually take time each Spring and Fall to teach on the major Biblical Feasts. During the Summer and Winter there are several other minor feasts, and quite a few days set aside for mourning and fasting when great tragedies occurred. These are not Biblical Feast days but occurred long after the Torah was completed and were set apart by Rabbis, so these are called Rabbinic Feast or Fast Days. Today is one of those, and I feel like it may have significant bearing on the times that we are living in.
Since early in 2020, the world has been turned upside down, even devastated, covid, riots, politics, Marxism and its many offshoots, mandated wearing of masks, social distancing, mandated shutdowns of businesses, vaccines, sickness/death, frustration, despair, or fill-in-the-blank. These are unusually difficult times, but thankfully there is a Jewish Feast/holiday just for times like this.
It’s a Feast to help remind you that God is with you and for you, He loves you and has a plan for your good even when things are at their darkest. It’s a day to celebrate the victory that God is bringing. That’s today…welcome to Purim.
If none of that applies to you…that’s OK too…you are gonna love the music! We’re going to debut two brand new songs this morning. The first one is perfect for the message of Purim, it features Daniela Barroso, who has been a rising Latin artist since she was in her teens. In recent years she has been a part of the powerful worship team at Influencers Church. It’s called Zion and is available in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Hebrew downloads.
And speaking of which, the band Futures, who used to be known as simply “Influencers Worship,” is releasing a brand-new song this morning, and it’s called “Can’t Steal This Love”, featuring Ryan Rolls on lead vocals. We will feature both of those in the 8 o’clock hour.
We Greatly Rejoice
We are diving into the story of Esther and the days of Purim when God delivered His people when death was literally at the door and everything seemed lost. But it wasn’t lost…it was the beginning of one of the most beautiful rescue stories.
Welcome to the last month of the Jewish calendar, Adar (ahh-dar). It was probably not lost on them that year, as they counted down the months, that not only was the calendar ending, but the life of every Jewish person all across Persia looked like it was about to end too. The word Purim is Persian, not Hebrew. It’s pronounced several ways (in English either Pur-um or Poor-um / in Hebrew Poh-reem).
It’s also known as the Fast/Feast of Esther. In the Mishna, the Rabbi’s say, “When Adar comes in, we greatly rejoice.” And that pretty much sums it up. It is the happiest and noisiest Jewish holiday of all – with costumes and parties. In the Book of Esther, Mordechai established the annual celebration saying, “Every Jew is to celebrate just like it was the very days when we were relieved of our enemies, and our month was transformed from one of sorrow to joy, from mourning to festivity. They are to be days of feasting, rejoicing, of sending food to one another, and giving gifts to the poor.” Purim is about Joy and Giving.
Purim began last night, and continues thru tonight, (in Jerusalem they will wait till tomorrow to begin the celebration). It’s celebrated on the 14th of the month of Adar (ahh-dar), which usually happens in February or March. Like most feasts it falls on the Full Moon. Passover is exactly 30 days away.
The events take place in the early 5th century, B.C., between two significant times for the Jews.
It’s after King Cyrus had released the Jews from exile in Babylon, as Zerubbabel became their Governor in Judea, but before the time Ezra and Nehemiah led efforts to restore the wall and temple. It’s at the very peak of Persia’s golden age when it was the largest empire in history up to its time, extending over 127 lands, from Egypt and Ethiopia all the way to Asia.
To Destroy, Kill, and Annihilate
Purim is a rabbinical holiday, meaning Purim is not mentioned in the Torah and the Jews are not commanded by God to observe it. God isn’t even mentioned in the Scroll of Esther, but He is very much present. Purim remembers when the Jews of Ancient Persia faced extermination at the hands of an evil man named Haman (Huh-mahn), who plotted “to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews, young and old, infants and women, in a single day.”
How could that be done? Every single Jew in the world lived under the rule of King Achashverosh (Ah-hash-ve-rosh), so they were all included in Haman’s murderous decree. It’s hard to find a guy you can describe, “as evil as Hitler”, but Haman is that guy.
Haman was also one of the wealthiest men of his time and he acquired those riches by seizing the treasures of the Kings of Judah. He was a descendant of King Agag of Amalek, the Amalekites were one of the worst enemies of the Jewish people.
From their earliest days, God commanded Israel to “blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven” or to “remember to forget.” But the Jews mostly ignored that command; Israel had some great victories over them as they entered the Promised Land, but they never finished the job. How bad was that failure? Amalek’s bloodline included the Romans, Nazis, and Stalinists.
As to the name Purim, it comes from the practice of casting lots (pur in Persian), which were small flat stones, bones, or dice, anything that could be tossed to help make a decision (like flipping a coin). Casting lots is done throughout the Bible and in the ancient world. The sailors on Jonah’s ship cast lots to determine who had brought God’s wrath on their ship. The eleven apostles cast lots to determine who would replace Judas. The Roman soldiers cast lots to get Jesus’ garments.
The Persian word for a lot is “pur” and the plural is Pur-im. The Feast is called Purim because, when Haman set out to destroy the Jews, he cast lots to determine when he should carry out his scheme, and the lots landed on the 13th of Adar.
Keep in mind, Haman did this during the first month of Nissan, and the lots came up pointing to the month of Adar, which is the 12th month, so while the events in the story seem to take place over a rather short time (it feels like just a few weeks pass), but it actually happens over the course of an entire year.
2. The Megillah
The story is found in the Megillah of Esther (muh-gee-lah [which is the word for a scroll or book]). The Megillah of Esther is known as “The Megillah” because it’s so popular. It’s chanted in the synagogue twice during the evening service on the eve of Purim and once on the morning of Purim. The Megillah is read from a parchment scroll that is written the same way a Torah is written — by hand, with a goose quill. It is chanted standing up, using a special cantillation that’s used only for the Book of Esther, because it’s a very interactive reading, very fun, noisy, and many of the people are in costume; there are skits and sometimes puppets.
There are three parts to the blessing, which are chanted or sung (I’ll just hit the highlights.)
Barukh attah Adonai eloheinu melekh ha-olam,
Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe
(That’s very traditional and it’s the beginning of all three blessings)
asher kideshanu be-mitzvotav, vetzivanu ‘al mikra megillah.
who sanctified us through His commandments
and commanded us concerning the reading of the Megillah.
Barukh attah Adonai eloheinu melekh ha-olam,
she-‘asah nissim la-avoteinu ba-yamim ha-hem, bazeman ha-zeh.
Blessed are You, Lord our God, Ruler of the world,
who wrought miracles for our ancestors in those days at this season.
Barukh attah Adonai eloheinu melekh ha-olam,
shehecheyanu vekiyemanu vehigi’anu lazeman ha-zeh.
Blessed are You, Lord our God, Ruler of the world,
who has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us to this season.
When Haman’s name is read out loud, which occurs 54 times, everybody makes noise to blot out his name. The practice comes from a passage in the Midrash, where the verse, “You shall blot out the remembrance of Amalek”, is explained to mean “even from wood and stones.”
A custom developed of writing the name of Haman, on two smooth stones, and knocking them together until the name was blotted out. Some wrote the name of Haman on the soles of their shoes, and at the mention of the name stamped with their feet as a sign of contempt.
Whenever Haman’s name is mentioned, they yell, boo, and use loud spinning noise makers to literally “blot out his name” whenever it’s mentioned. [It’s a lot like a college football game where everyone gets dressed up and makes lots of noise cheering for their team and booing the other team].
Let’s go back 400-500 years before the time of Jesus. The story takes place in Persia, where the Southern kingdom of Judah was taken into captivity and then eventually released from exile by King Cyrus. But most of the Jews chose not to return to their homeland; instead, they made a life right there in the hub of the largest empire in history.
The story begins with the powerful Persian King Ahasuerus (Ah-hash-ve-rosh / his Greek name was Xerxes I). He was hosting a six-month feast to honor his armies and the leaders of his massive kingdom. His queen’s name was Vashti. She was the great-granddaughter of Nebuchadnezzar (who destroyed the first Temple).
Ahasuerus (Ah-hash-ve-rosh) drank so much, and his leaders began to beg him to order the beautiful Queen Vashti to parade herself in front of everyone (wearing only her crown).
She refused, so he had her executed. Now consider what it was like to be married to him.
Next the king ordered that every single young woman in his massive kingdom be brought before him so he could choose a new queen to replace Vashti. And obviously she could not refuse him.
During the next four years, more than 1400 girls were be brought to the palace for the king to choose as his potential queen. That’s when we meet a beautiful orphan girl named Hadassah who lived among the exiles from Judah. When her parents died, she was adopted by her uncle Mordechai (Mor-de-hi) and she grew up in his home, as if she was his own daughter.
It was during the 10th Month, called Tevet, that she was brought to the palace to live with all the other girls, but Mordechai had told her not to reveal that she was Jewish, but instead to use her Persian name Esther.
Mordechai is a big part of the story. We meet him in Esther 2:5, “There was a Yehudi (Jewish man) in Shushan the capital, whose name was Mordechai, son of Yair, son of Shim’iy, son of Kish, a Benjaminite.”
Mordechai is referred to as a Jew. In fact, he was the first person in history to be called a “Jew“. Before then, Jews were called “Hebrews” or “Israelites”. What’s interesting to that is, though Mordechai was a Benjaminite, he is called Yehudi (“Jew”) which literally means a descendant of the tribe of Yehudah (Judah).
Throughout the Megillah, the entire Jewish people, regardless of their tribe, for the first time are called Ye-hu-dim, so the word begins to take on a new meaning more important than their individual tribes. The root word that Yehudi comes from means “to acknowledge” and “to accept”, so it looks like all 12 tribes are now one people – the people of the Torah, the Law. And this first happens in the Megillah.
As for Hadassah (Esther), Hadassah is Hebrew for myrtle. Esther is a Persian name that relates to the “morning star.” In Hebrew, it is related to the root word for “hidden.” It’s kind of a theme of the story. She concealed her identity and God’s intervention was hidden throughout the events.
3. The Plot
Esther has been taken to the palace to live with all the other girls for an entire year, because it was required for them to receive beauty treatments before they could be brought before the king.
And it says, “the king loved Esther more than all the women and she won his favor”.
So, the beautiful young Jewish orphan became the new Queen of Persia.
Mordechai, being a protective father, would come to the palace each day to check on her.
One day, he was sitting at the King’s gate and overheard a conversation between two of the King’s attendants, plotting to poison the King. Mordechai told Esther, who told the king, and the coup was thwarted, and the plotters were hanged. It was recorded in the Royal Book of Chronicles that Mordechai had saved the King’s life.
Meanwhile, during the 12th month, called Adar, the evil Haman was appointed Prime Minister of the empire and the king commanded all to bow to him. But Mordechai (Mor-de-hi) defied the orders and refused to bow to Haman, because as a Jew, he could only bow to God. Also, Haman wore an image of the idol he worshipped on his chest, and Mordechai couldn’t bow to him without appearing to worship that idol.
Listen to Esther 3:5-6, “When Haman saw that Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor, he was enraged. Yet having learned who Mordecai’s people were, he scorned the idea of killing only Mordecai. Instead Haman looked for a way to destroy all Mordecai’s people, the Jews, throughout the whole kingdom of Xerxes.”
It’s rather obvious that Haman is not just a guy with an anger problem; he is an antichrist – He advances instantly from anger to rage to genocide. There is more to this story. I mentioned that Haman is the descendant of Amalek, which is a horrible lineage. But if you trace him back a few hundred years further, you will find another reason these two are instant enemies. Amalek came from the line of Esau. Mordechai, who refused to bow to Haman, was a descendant of Benjamin, the youngest son of Jacob. The same animosity that most Arabs, who are sons of Ishmael, feel toward the Jews today, who are sons of Isaac, sometimes exists between the descendants of Jacob and Esau.
You probably remember the story. Jacob and Esau were twins, but Esau came out first, so he had the birthrights of the eldest son. When they were grown, Jacob tricked him twice and stole his birthright and blessing. Esau promised to kill him, so Jacob fled and lived with their uncle for 20 years, during which time he was wealthy and had a large family. When Jacob brought his family home for the first time, he had to face Esau. Jacob and all of his sons bowed low and the two estranged brothers reconciled.
But of course, there is always a catch. As it turns out, one of Jacob’s sons actually didn’t bow to Esau, because he couldn’t. Benjamin who was in Rachel’s womb at the time hadn’t been born yet. According to the ancient Midrash for Esther 3, Mordechai refusing to kneel to Haman was offensive enough, but with hundreds of years of family animosity built up, Mordechai’s slight of him became even more unbearable.
Haman was enraged that Mordechai wouldn’t bow, and when he discovered that the reason Mordechai wouldn’t bow was because he was a Jew, and even worse, a Benjaminite, Haman began to persuade the King that the Jews of the empire were not loyal and should be destroyed. He even offered to pay for it all. It was in the first month of Adar when Haman cast lots to find a date to spring the trap; the lot fell nearly a year away, in the 12th month of Adar. So, Haman convinced the king to issue a decree ordering the extermination of all the Jews, young and old, women and children in the entire kingdom on one day – the thirteenth of Adar.
Haman also wrote into the order to each province that they were “to plunder all of the possessions” of the Jews. Normally, the Jews’ possessions would have become property of the king. So, Haman made their possessions free for the taking, ensuring that everyone would participate in the massacre.
When Mordechai learned of the plot, he tore his clothes and convinced all the Jews in the capitol to wear sackcloth, repent, fast and pray. And across the empire, whenever the Jews heard the edict, there was great mourning. Mordechai asked Esther to appeal to the king, but she was too afraid because it was forbidden even for her to approach the king without being asked.
Mordechai responded, “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 asked Mordechai to gather all the Jews of the city to fast and pray with her for three days before she approached the king. On the third day, Esther was invited to visit the king, and she in turn asked the king and Haman to join her for a feast. At the feast, the king offered to give her anything she desired, but she asked only for the King and Haman to attend another feast the very next day. He agreed.
Timing is everything in the Kingdom of God. That night two very important things happened. Haman’s wife convinced him to prepare a way to immediately kill Mordechai. Meanwhile, the king wasn’t able to sleep, and while doing some late-night reading realized that he had never rewarded Mordechai for saving his life. Without revealing who was to be honored, the king asked Haman how to honor such a man, and he said to dress the man in the king’s royal robes and parade him around town, riding the king’s horse, and shouting that he was worthy of great honor. So the king took his advice and commanded Haman to honor Mordechai.
Haman was horribly humiliated by the parade, but especially because of being forced to dress up Mordechai and honor him. It’s another issue that traces back to Haman’s heritage from Esau and Mordechai’s roots tracing back to Jacob. The Targum on Esther 3 reveals that Haman’s hate for Mordecai stemmed from Jacob’s ‘dressing up’ like Esau to receive Isaac’s blessings.
Haman left the banquet and saw Mordechai once again still refusing to bow and Haman became enraged. To ease him, his wife suggested having a very high pole set up, and then asking the king to have Mordecai impaled on it. Most translations still use the word gallows, implying Mordechai would have “a rope around his neck” and be hanged like in the Old West. That method of execution wouldn’t be used until the 1700’s (and that’s well over two thousand years after these events).
Impalement was the common method of execution in Mesopotamia in the time of Abraham; it was in Egypt in the time of Moses; likewise, the Assyrians, Medes, and Persians all impaled thousands of prisoners. There are many drawings that show this quite clearly. Much like crucifixion, prisoners were impaled in such a way that they were kept alive suffering for many hours or even days.
So, there was no gallows built by Haman, but instead a 50-foot tree trunk sharpened on one end. That may have eased his anger, but that night at the second feast, things got a whole lot worse for Haman. Esther revealed to the king that she was Jewish, and that Haman was going to annihilate her along with her people. The king was so overwhelmed he had to step out of the room to even speak. Haman quickly fell onto Esther’s couch to beg for mercy; the king returned and saw Haman now so close to Esther, which enraged the king even more. At that point, the king had Haman’s face covered, which meant the king was far past upset.
“Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs attending the king, said, “A pole reaching to a height of fifty cubits stands by Haman’s house. He had it set up for Mordecai, who spoke up to help the king.” The king said, “Impale him on it!” So they impaled Haman on the pole he had set up for Mordecai. Then the king’s fury subsided.” It was a horrible way to die, so Haman definitely got his punishment. Haman was executed on Passover.
That same day the king gave Esther Haman’s estate and appointed Mordechai as the new prime minister. Since the Law of the Medes and Persians cannot be rescinded, Haman’s decree couldn’t be revoked, but King Achashverosh (Ah-hash-ve-rosh) issued a second decree, granting the Jews the right to defend themselves against their enemies; “to destroy, kill and annihilate the armed men of any nationality who might attack them.” They had to wait 9 more months for that date to arrive.
Esther 8 says “And Mordechai left the king’s presence wearing a royal garment of blue and white, a large golden crown, and a shawl of fine linen and purple wool. And the city of Shushan celebrated and rejoiced. For the Jews there was light and happiness, joy and prestige. And in every province and city to which the king’s edict and law reached, there was happiness and joy for the Jews, a celebration and a holiday. Many of the Gentiles converted to Judaism, for fear of the Jews had fallen upon them.”
When the 13th of Adar arrived, the Jews mobilized in every city and won a great victory killing 75,000 of their enemies. On the 14th of Adar, they rested and celebrated. In the capital city of Shushan, they took one more day to finish the job, including impaling Haman’s ten sons.
Mordechai ordered the Jews across the entire kingdom to set aside the 13th and 14th of Adar every year “to make them days of feasting, rejoicing, sending food portions one to another and giving gifts to the poor.” And he called the days Purim.
How they celebrate is actually very interesting. When Esther asked Mordechai to go and gather all the Jews of the city to fast and pray with her for three days before she approached the king, that one act was very significant in the way Purim is still celebrated. Unity would be the antidote to Haman’s individual plans. It’s the reason there are specific traditions on Purim: You send presents to one another and gifts to the poor. Purim is intentionally a holiday you can’t celebrate alone.
By the end of the story Mordechai’s words to Esther, “Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this,” become even more profound. Two of the most powerful people in the empire (the queen and the prime minister) were Jews who followed the God of the Bible. Daniel, one of the greatest prophets of all time, was still serving head of the Magi or Wise Men who wielded great power, and whose followers would one day travel to witness the birth of Jesus.
Esther eventually became the mother of Darius II, who would carry her Jewish bloodline, and later help rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem.
5. Today 4 Things Are Expected of a Jew On Purim
- To Read the Megillah (book of Esther).
- To Give money to at least two poor people.
How much to give to the poor? To fulfill the mitzvah of giving charity to two poor people, you can give either food or money equivalent to the amount of food that is eaten at a regular meal. Even the poorest Jew, who is himself dependent on charity, is required to give to other poor people.
- To Send gifts baskets of sweets, snacks and other foodstuffs (with at least two kinds of food) to at least one person. These are called (mish-LO-ach muh-not)
- A traditional Purim food is three-cornered pastries bursting with chocolate, poppy seeds, fruit, or another sweet filling.
They’re called Haman-tash-en [in English] Ohz-neh huh-mahn in [Hebrew].
- A traditional Purim food is three-cornered pastries bursting with chocolate, poppy seeds, fruit, or another sweet filling.
- To Attend a Festive Feast.
- One important note: It specifically says to give gifts, not charity. Charity implies money given to the poor out of pity. But gifts are exchanged between equals as an expression of gratitude or friendship.
Happy Purim is Hag (hog which means holiday) Purim and suh-may-ech (which means Happy)
Sadly, the celebration for many Jews will literally be days of drunken revelry, costume parties and parades all while overflowing with the wrong spirit, which is a terrible picture of virgins preparing for their bridegroom. They are ignoring the warning of Isaiah 5, “Woe to those who rise early in the morning, that they may run after strong drink, who tarry late into the evening as wine inflames them! They have lyre and harp, tambourine and flute and wine at their feasts, but they do not regard the deeds of the Lord, or see the work of his hands.”
On the day before Purim it is customary to fast, commemorating Esther’s fasting and praying to God that He save His people.
How should we celebrate? Purim points to end time events for which we need to be prepared. Knowing that those who all will perish and only those covered by the blood of Jesus will be saved, like Esther we should be fasting and praying for the peace of Jerusalem and the salvation of God’s chosen people.
Mordechai’s tradition of giving gifts of money and food certainly could represents the gift of salvation and sowing into Messianic ministries seeking to reach the Jews certainly fulfils the vision.
While the theme for Purim is celebration and victory, throughout history, Purim often coincided with significant events.
The February Revolution in Russia began at Purim in 1917 leading to the Czar abdicating his throne within the week. In WWII in 1938, German troops invaded Austria at Purim. At Purim 1942 the Auschwitz-Birkenau Camp was established.
Adolf Hitler banned and forbade the observance of Purim. Nazi attacks against Jews were often coordinated with Jewish festivals. On Purim 1942, ten Jews were hanged in Poland to “avenge” the hanging of Haman’s ten sons. In a similar incident in 1943, the Nazis shot ten Jews from the Piotrków ghetto. On Purim eve that same year, over 100 Jewish doctors and their families were shot by the Nazis in Częstochowa. The following day, Jewish doctors were taken from Radom and shot nearby. In 1942, on Purim, the Nazis murdered over 5000 Jews, mostly children, in the Minsk Ghetto. All of the victims were shot and buried alive by the Nazis.
In an apparent connection made by Hitler between his Nazi regime and the role of Haman, Hitler stated in a speech made on January 30, 1944, that if the Nazis were defeated, the Jews could celebrate “a second Purim”. In 1946 at the Nuremburg trials, 10 convicted Nazis were hung during the Days of Awe before Yom Kippur. In an odd bit of irony, Hermann Göring, an eleventh Nazi sentenced to hang, committed suicide that morning in a striking parallel to Haman’s 11th child, a daughter who committed suicide.
In the early 1950s, Joseph Stalin, who butchered millions of innocent people, had plans to deal with the “Jewish problem” in the U.S.S.R. Then Stalin was suddenly paralyzed on 1 March 1953, on Purim, and died 4 days later. Due to Stalin’s death, nationwide pogroms against Jews throughout the Soviet Union were averted, as Stalin’s infamous doctors’ plot was halted.
In 1990, Saddam Hussein of Iraq invaded Kuwait and fired SCUD missiles into Israel. After the U.S.-led forces attacked Iraq, we were victorious… and the hostilities ended on Purim!
6. Is Esther a Picture of End Times Prophecy?
Yes. The scroll of Esther is definitely a foreshadowing of the great end times spiritual war and the final victory Jesus brings. Esther is filled with shadows and types that point to end times prophecies.
Haman perfectly symbolizes the Antichrist; The closest word in Biblical Hebrew for “antichrist” is “tsorer” which is translated as “enemy”. Haman is referred to as “tsorer” four times. Just like Haman tried to annihilate the Jews of Persia, the Antichrist will try to kill every Jew and Christian. Just as Haman wasn’t satisfied to only punish Mordechai but united all 127 nations of Persia in his evil plot, so the Antichrist will unite the nations to attack the people and nation of Israel.
Esther, who prayed and trusted God with her life, is the interceding Church;
Mordechai, who is the first person called “Jewish”, would represent Jews who have discovered Yeshua (Jesus) as their Messiah.
Purim is the Holiest Day???
Esther chapter 9 sums up Purim as, “two days on which they would celebrate in every generation, by every family, in every province and every city as if they were relieved of their enemies all over again, and their lives were transformed from sorrow to joy and from mourning to festivity. There should be feasting, rejoicing, sending food portions one to another and giving gifts to the poor.”
Purim was such a big deal that those two days in Adar are compared to the holiest day of the Jewish year, Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). The plural form of the word is Yom Kippurim (which means “a day like Purim”). Keep in mind that Yom Kippur is the one day each year when the High Priest could enter in the Holy of Holies. He would go through the veil or curtain that separated the holiest of places from the rest of the Temple.
The veil represented the separation between God and man due to man’s sin. And that veil represented Jesus, so when He died on the cross for sin, which separated us from God, the veil of His body was torn. The High Priest would be covered in blood from making the sacrifice. Then he went into the Holy of Holies to pour the blood on the Mercy Seat (Kapporet – which means “purge, atone, expiate, and propitiate,” and relates back to the word kippur). But wait, there are probably no two more opposite days in the Jewish calendar than Purim and Yom Kippur.
On Yom Kippur they dress in all white, fast from food and drink and lots of other physical pleasures, and instead devote themselves to prayer and repentance, in hopes that God will write their names in the Book of Life and rescue them from death. Meanwhile, Purim is celebrated loudly in costumes with noisemakers. There is feasting and drinking, giving money to the poor, sending food to a friend, all because God rescued His people.
Yom Kippur is “a day like Purim”. Purim is really all about atonement; a day like Yom Kippur when God made a way for all of Israel to be cleansed from a multitude of sin. Purim and Yom Kippur are days of deliverance and salvation. Both look back in history and both we are told to celebrate as if we were actually there and it was happening to us.
Purim may very well be a reminder to us that our wedding day to Jesus is set, so that as we pass thru tribulations, we will hold on to hope knowing that even though evil threatens, victory is guaranteed. Purim takes place in Adar, the last month of the year. So, prophetically speaking, whatever it represents must be the last thing that is to happen in history.
There is always more than meets the eye when it comes to Feasts. In end times scriptures we are often called the Bride of Christ, and we are waiting for our Groom to come and get us and for the wedding supper in heaven (which is the Passover meal). And of course there is the theme of white robes that runs through Revelation that points to our wedding.
One of the themes of the scroll of Esther is the wearing of royal clothes. Esther wears them to go before the king and is described as being “arrayed in beauty”. When the king wants to show honor to the person who saved his life, Haman, thinking the king is speaking of him hatches a fantastical tribute that would enable him to wear the king’s robes. And after the king appoints Mordechai prime minister, he appears in royal garments. In Christ, we have been clothed with Christ, and His royalty and anointing has become ours.
Revelation 19 “Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.”
Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.” I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war…
The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty.”
7. Peh Aleph
Every year as I teach on each of the biblical Feasts, I try to look prophetically at what God is saying to us right now in relation to the Hebrew numbers and letters of the year. In the Fall of 2019, we began the Biblical year of 5780 and we stepped into the decade of the 80’s (5780-5789). 80 is the 17th letter/number in the Hebrew alphabet – So we studied the number 80 as well as the number 17.
Last September, we entered 5781, which means we have added the Hebrew number 1 which is aleph, the most important letter/number in the Hebrew language.
Let’s quickly re-examine 80 and then add the 1 to determine the prophetic significance of the rest of the year ahead? What should we expect to see? What should we do to be in the plan of God?
80 – Peh (pay) – The pictograph looks like a mouth so Peh means mouth, breath, and speech. It is about the power of agreement or declaration
The meaning of Hebrew letters comes from the first time they are used in Scriptures. The first use of peh in the Torah is Genesis 4:11
“Now you are cursed because of the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.”
The ground was cursed at Adam and Eve’s sin. Genesis 3:17 “Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’: “Cursed is the ground for your sake;”
In Genesis 4, Cain is cursed because of that cursed ground, that opened its mouth to receive Abel’s blood from Cain’s hand. So, the 1st use of mouth (peh) in the Torah deals with murder, curses, death, and the grave.
Looking back on 5780 and 2020, we saw the mouth thru the breath carry a deadly disease, the mouth speaking in accusation and protest bring terrible destruction. Murder, curses, death, and the grave were all companions of ours in the past year, thanks to those who, like Cain, did not weigh the cost of their words or actions.
One of the most visible aspects of 5780/2020 was the wearing of masks, which cover the face. It has continued into 5781 as well. A significant Hebrew word for our day which includes “peh” is the word Face [Paniym (pah-neem)]. God wants to be face to face with us and for us to seek His face, where He can bless us. He will even look away to avoid harming us till we seek Him.
“For I will be like a lion to Ephraim, and like a young lion to the house of Judah. I, even I, will tear them and go away; I will take them away, and no one shall rescue. I will return again to My place till they acknowledge their offense. Then they will seek My face; in their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.” Hosea 5:14-15
While some masks were obviously beneficial, most were not, they simply veiled faces, and often caused people to act differently, sometimes emboldened them to act badly.
Now, let’s add aleph to peh to see what the year ahead holds next. Aleph is the first letter and the number one in Hebrew. There is no zero in Hebrew – since God is one and He always existed, apart from doing math (and they use Arabic numerals for that) God is first and there is nothing before Him.
The Hebrew word for God is ‘El,’ written with א Aleph and ל Lamed. The word Elohim is a plural word that speaks of the Trinity. Many words related to Aleph point at divinity. The Aleph denotes the first position in all things. Aleph is depicted as an ox head. The ox head became the symbol of leadership and strength. Words like mighty, awesome, all the El word are aleph words. All the family relational words are aleph – father, mother, etc.
Aleph represents the creation of something from nothing. It is the symbol of beginnings and of God. The number one cannot be divided and represents perfection. The three letters in Aleph (Aleph-lamed-phe) are pictured as the ox head, the shepherd’s staff, and the mouth or voice. Which means: the voice of the chief shepherd. Combining Peh, the mouth or word, with Aleph, God, we have the Word of God or God speaks.
8. 5780 Was Job – 5781 is Esther
Last Fall, as I sought God for what was next as 5781 approached, He showed me 2020 in relation to Job’s experiences and suffering.
Job 2:7 “So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and afflicted Job…”
Much of the suffering we face is the result of unseen, spiritual conflicts between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan – between the power of light and the power of darkness.
5780 was the year of the mouth, breath, and accusation. It could have been a year of unparalleled blessing, but the world didn’t choose to bless. If we are not blessing, then we are cursing, and God says not to curse. We need to stop cursing (the police, leaders, our enemies).
We greatly underestimate the power of our words. Heaven’s armory is NOT filled with weapons. It’s filled with truth – with words. Hell’s armory is NOT filled with weapons. It’s filled with lies – with words.
2020 and America parallels the basic theme of Job .
America was on the rise, becoming great again with the best economy in history.
Enter covid-19 and anarchy/race riots. Life in America came to a sudden end – it was all about loss, suffering, dying, fear, freedoms, and restrictions.
Job had three comforters, who provided no comfort, only accusation: Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite
Job 2:12 “When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; America didn’t and doesn’t look the same.
In Job 3, he wishes he had never been born and says death would be better than suffering.
Job 4:2 “If someone ventures a word with you, will you be impatient? But who can keep from speaking? No one can hold their peace. Much talking, accusation, protest, counsel
In Job 38 and 39, we hear from God who challenges their questions, and every opinion changes.
Job 38:1-4 “Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said: “Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge? Brace yourself [‘azar – gird or tighten your belt for action] like a man (geh-ver – it means an able warrior); I will question you, and you shall answer me.
- “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand…”
- “Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself?”
Job 42:1-12 “Then Job replied to the Lord: “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.
What is Job’s response to God challenging his understanding of justice? Job realizes that when we complain or murmur, we exalt situations, and so insult God’s ability and justice, making Him our enemy. So, quickly he concludes that we can’t comprehend justice or injustice. God is greater.
God says twice to brace ourselves [to recognize who we are as warriors, and the ability He has given us, which clearly is sufficient for our suffering]. He tells us to hear His words so we will have ears to hear. You can have your own opinions, but you can’t have your own truth.
5780/2020 was about truth being withheld by men – about misdirection.
Covid, anarchy, the media, racism, and political power, were the primary focuses.
My first assumption was that in 2021, since the mouth of God would be the focus, justice would be spoken, and He would deal with evil. But 2021 is not about God’s mouth bringing justice; it’s about Him bringing intimacy. 37 chapters of Job are misdirection and opinions. The last 5 are about truth.
This life is a war, but there is a great purpose.
I John 5:19 “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.”
I John 3:8 “The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.”
John 17:18 “As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.”
Purim is all about victory over the devil, but not JUST about that. We are sent to destroy the works of the devil and those who serve him who resist those who represent God’s kingdom. The struggle helps us to grow more in faith, patience, wisdom, the fruit of the Spirit, and to become good stewards of His authority. God promises to be with us and lead us in His triumph, so if we are followers of Christ, by default we are perpetually following Him into battles. If we stop following God and do what we want, we are following the enemy into a trap he is laying to destroy us. Either way life is a war.
What changes as aleph was added to peh? Truth. The mouth of the Lord will speak.
In heaven, the swords come from out of their mouth. The words we speak, and the power of life and death are in the tongue. “After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before. “The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part.”
9. The Wedding Day is Set
What Happens During Purim in the New Testament (it’s right before Passover):
1. Jesus announced that “God was His Father, making Himself equal with God”.
He announced that He was both the “Son of God”, the “Son of Man”, and the Messiah the Deliverer.
2. He healed the lame man at the Pool of Bethesda on Purim. In Revelation, “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.”
Both events are describing our time in heaven and the New Earth.
Spiritually speaking, Passover (in the 1st month) is our betrothal to Jesus (and it’s there that the veil of the tabernacle is destroyed forever).
You count 50 days to Pentecost (in the 3rd month) which is the engagement ring (but represents our actual wedding one day in heaven).
Nine more months brings you to Purim, (which takes place on the last month), which should be all about our marriage to him and life with him. Because there is no victory without favor, and the intimacy of marriage is what brings that.
But there is that long waiting period. Purim literally represents one of the last stages of the journey- we are the virgin bride waiting for Him to return for us. The end times involve lots of waiting. Purim takes place over the course of one year. There is a lot of waiting as we face the fear of death and destruction.
2020/5780 was a confusing year and left a lot of people angry and confused
2021/5781 does not look very different which leads us to ask
How does 5781 figure into all of this?
I believe Purim is an almost perfect picture of what’s coming next in 5781 and for years beyond.
In the number 5781, 80 is Peh (it’s the mouth and death), and 1 is Aleph (it’s the mouth and voice of God).
The mouth is how we say our vows, make and accept the proposal, declare and accept blessings. One type of Death (peh) is death to the former single/unmarried self.
Esther is a picture of all of this. She needed to see the king and be close enough to share her heart with him so she could tell him of the grave danger she faced along with all of her people. But she had to be summoned. Waiting to be summoned is not a random part of Purim. As the bride of Jesus, we are all waiting to be summoned to heaven for our wedding.
So, the plan was to fast for three days with all the Jews in the kingdom. And their fast was a “rend your clothes, don’t take a bath, don’t eat, and three days later you are gonna look like you’ve been fasting” kind of fast.
And the plan was for Esther to then go and stand near the throne room where the king could see her, desire her, and summon her. It’s complete dependence on God because she did not look her best after that fast. Apart from her beautiful robe, she looked terrible. Only God giving the king love for her would cause him to summon her.
I believe that’s what this year of 5781/2021 is about. We need a word from the king. But we need to realize that it is life or death for us to receive that word, and to seek him with all that we have. We may not be facing extinction yet, but we are dealing with covid, death, loss, corruption in our political system and with elections, and so much more. God is planning on turning the tide, just not in the way we think. Last year I assumed that adding “aleph” to “peh” would bring justice into the mix. Nope, we got corruption instead and even more injustice.
There is a beautiful picture of a faith like Esther’s in Mark 14. Speaking of Jesus, “While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.”
This tender story of how Jesus (in Hebrew Yeshua meaning salvation) was anointed before His crucifixion. Why did the alabaster box needed to be broken when Mary could have simply opened it and poured out the nard? Some say this extremely expensive and precious perfume which might have been Mary’s dowry, so she refused to use that box for any other purpose after anointing Him. If so, that meant Mary understood that she was representing all of us as His bride and her tender gift was an expression of a bridal vow to Jesus alone.
God is asking for total devotion and commitment. A soul that will give the best of everything she has. It’s a picture of brokenness, which is followed by anointing with its beautiful fragrance. Every devoted follower who has ever offered themselves to Jesus experiences circumstances that “break” them just like this. The result is that the fragrance of perfume “fills the room” following the breaking. Meaning, people broken before the Lord “smell” different. Their humility and love set an environment that is unmistakable. “For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” 2 Corinthians 2:15.
We become an inspiration to others as they walk through the situations that break them. When we offer ourselves and our most precious things on the altar of sacrifice, it is then that we are like the 5 wise virgins with sufficient oil for the wedding. We bring Him pleasure that will “fill the room”.
10. Bride of Christ
Esther is a beautiful picture of the Bride of Christ. She is literally Queen of the World, with a hidden love for her Jewish roots. Suddenly the world turns upside down and here people are about to be destroyed. Her privilege and destiny suddenly come face to face with the reality that she was placed in this amazing life so that she can save her people, but only if she is willing to risk everything.
She decides to obey and chooses fasting and intercession as her weapon. She had been given intimacy with the king of this world and every treasure she desired, but she surrendered it all to God to experience intimacy with Him. Disaster was turned into victory, their enemies destroyed, and the kingdom was delivered to her people (the saints).
One final exciting development: “many of the peoples of the earth became Jews.” In this end times paradigm, that previews a great harvest of souls during the tribulation, and many saints recognizing that they are connected to Israel and develop a love for their people.
Matthew 25 warns us: “Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.”
But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ [repent]
Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’
But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’
And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.
Oil causes the lamps to light up; It’s the presence of the Holy Spirit illuminating the Word of God.
Count the cost. Jesus said buy from me. Sometimes He said come to me and I will give you. In Revelation in the letters to the churches he said buy from me. The 10 wise virgins He said needed to buy oil from Him not from people, but from Him.
They should’ve counted the cost they didn’t; they were cast into outer darkness. Between the Feast of First Fruits and Pentecost, they were commanded to count the days – 50 days till Pentecost. Jesus stayed on the earth for 40 days before He ascended and then said wait for Pentecost to receive, which came 10 days later. That’s a shadow; counting – that’s the focus.
You don’t have to be baptized in the Holy Spirit to be saved. But He wants you to be filled; He wants you to be full of Him so you can shine your light which requires oil.
He said darkness is going to come on the face of the earth, so He knows you will use up your oil. So He says buy from me – come to me get full – be filled.
Revelation Chapter 4
“To Laodicea: I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.
You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.”
They didn’t count the cost. You have to buy from Jesus, not from man. There will be many full pews the day after the rapture because they spent their time only trying to buy from man instead of Jesus.
This is all about spending time in His presence to be filled with Him so, like Moses, we glow when we return into the world.
The Lord expects light from and His people. The light of God in our lives comes from the Holy Spirit, which causes ministry to happen in the lives of believers. Burning oil produces light. If we are spiritual “virgins” because we are betrothed to Jesus, we ought to bear His light in this dark world.
Still, He has told us that some virgins will not have the wisdom to do it, so it is a warning to us; a warning not to quench the Spirit, but to be filled with Him and be the light of the world.
And I’ll leave you with this last verse or two that I believe may help us make sense of these seasons we are in the midst of traveling through. There is a way to walk in victory. There is a way that God has designed for His bride to carry herself, so that He can carry her.
“Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, whose heart is set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baca [Weeping], they make it a spring;
The rain also covers it with pools [blessings]. They go from strength to strength;
Each one appears before God in Zion [The God of gods shall be seen].” Psalm 84:5-7