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Behind The Scenes Of Purim

Behind the scenes of Purim is a loving and invisible God working to deliver His beloved people from their enemies. From the beginning to the end of the Book of Esther, we would not find Him or any mention of His name. This is the only book in the Bible that the name of God is not being named even once. Nevertheless, His invisible presence is visibly felt as He orchestrated and turned a day of destruction of the Jewish people into a day of great deliverance for them!

Though God was hidden behind the Purim scenes, His hands were evidently moving throughout the whole saga. Nothing was given to chance or coincidence, including:

  • Queen Vashti refused to appear at the royal feast.
  • The king replaced his disrespectful queen.
  • Esther was chosen to be the new queen.
  • Mordecai was at the right place at the right time to discover a plot to kill the king.
  • Haman plotted to annihilate all the Jews.
  • Mordecai came to know about Haman’s evil plan.
  • The king had a sleepless night.
  • The king’s servants reminded him of Mordecai’s good deeds in saving his life.
  • The king honored Mordecai.
  • The king walked in when Haman was in the queen's chambers.
  • Haman was put to death.
  • The Jews were delivered, and their enemies were destroyed.

Purim is the holiday in hiding. This idea of concealment is found in the very name of the heroine of the book. The name Esther is derived from the Hebraic root str which means "hidden." In Deut 31:18, God gave Israel this warning, "And I will surely hide My face in that day because of all the evil which they have done, in that they have turned to other gods." This verse may suggest that the Lord had hidden Himself during the time of Esther.

This is the theme of the book – hidden people and hidden plans. Take Esther for example. No one knew who she really was except her cousin Mordecai (Esther 2:20). Even her husband, King Ahasuerus was kept in the dark.

Mordecai was also a hidden character - working quietly and secretly behind the scenes. He adopted Esther as his daughter at the death of her parents (Esther 2:7). Through this act and many following, he became a precious vessel that God used to deliver His people.

Mordecai was a Benjamite (Esther 2:5). And Benjamin was the son of Rachel. Rachel was also another heroine who knew how to hide things and emotions. When her father, Laban swapped her with her sister, Leah, in Rachel's marriage to Jacob, she did not cry out nor protest against injustice. She did not desire to bring shame to her father and her sister. She hid her feelings, suffering in silent pain until Jacob finally married her.

Rachel’s son, Joseph was also a case of hidden identity. His godly qualities and greatness were concealed from his parents and brothers. Even in Potiphar’s palace, his godliness and purity were hidden until Potiphar’s wife exposed them. He kept his testimony and brought honour to God even in the hidden prisons and dark dungeons. He was a treasure hidden and preserved by God for a specified time and task. When his brothers came to Egypt to seek food in times of famine, Joseph successfully hid himself from them. They could not recognize him behind his grand apparel of royal Egyptian garments. He also hid a silver cup in Benjamin’s sack (Gen 44:12) to test whether his brothers would again forsake and abandon their own brother. A masquerade that eventually became a master plan of God to build Israel from merely 70 people to a nation of millions (Gen 46:27).

Another Benjamite, Saul felt unworthy to become the first king of Israel. He hid himself among the baggage when the people of Israel came searching for him to elect him as their king (1 Sam 10:21-23).

The miracle of Purim is a hidden one. Chanukah was an open miracle. The oil, which was only enough to burn for one day, persisted to burn for eight days. Everyone was able to see the bright miracle of Chanukah. But the Purim miracle was not so obvious. Who actually saved the entire Jewish community from destruction? The king? Esther? Mordecai? Or God? Or all of them?

The entire deliverance of the Jewish people is being masked. It is a story wrapped in a disguise, hidden behind a costume, concealed behind a mask. We need to unmask the Hidden God in between the verses of the ten chapters of Esther. The Invisible controls the visible, and the Unseen is more powerful than the seen.

Another thing hidden in Purim is the feast itself. The Feast of Purim is the most physical of all the Jewish holidays. Work is permitted as usual on Purim unless it falls on a Sabbath. The festive Purim meal, the sending of cooked food to friends, the gifts of charity to the poor, and even the encouragement to drink excessively - all of these deal with the physical body and soul. Almost nothing spiritual. In contrast to the most spiritual and holiest Feast of the Lord, Yom Kippur, Purim seems to be the direct opposite. But upon closer examination, the two are closely related in a very hidden way.

The official name of Yom Kippur is Yom HaKippurim. Literally, this means "a day like Purim." This is astounding. Yom Kippur is a day like Purim. How can this be? Opposite and yet the same. Both of them are mirror images of one another. On Yom Kippur we are forbidden to eat or drink, on Purim we are bidden to eat and drink. Yom Kippur is overwhelmingly spiritual; Purim is overwhelmingly physical and soulish. God is interested in the whole man - whole spirit, soul and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1Thes 5:23).

We are to serve God in the Holy of Holies at a solemn Yom Kippur, and also to serve Him at the outer courts celebrating and feasting with His people in a joyful Purim. Spirituality is both vertical and horizontal, both private and public, both unseen and seen.

We must be willing to be hidden by God till He reveals us to the world as His light and salt. Joseph was hidden in Egypt to save his family and the people of the lands. Baby Jesus was hidden in Egypt until King Herod died (Matthew 2:13-15). He then returned to save His people from their sins. Prophet Elijah was hidden in the brook of Cherith, and kept by God to do greater things (1 Kings 17:1-7).

However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

But as it is written: "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him." But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. (1 Cor 2:6-11)

When God hides His face from us, His hand is still here with us. He is always with us through each single day and night. He has something great in store for us even though we may not see or comprehend them.

One day, everything hidden will be unveiled. Every riddle will be solved. The LORD is now working behind the scenes to bring forth the salvation of Israel and all the nations of the earth. When He unmasks Himself, all of us will see Him face to face.

Written on:
20 February 2004