Today’s passage continues the description of how Purim was established. An interesting aspect is how the festival got its name. Haman plotted against the Jews and cast the lot (pur) to find the most auspicious day to carry out his plot (Esther 9:24). Purim is the plural of pur (v. 26). Yet in the Old Testament, the lot is also cast to find out God’s will. For instance, Joshua used lots to work out which tribes would receive which portions of land (Joshua 18:6). So the name ″Purim″ for the festival regularly reminds God’s people of a deeper reality. Haman thought that he determined the fate of God’s people by casting lots. But in reality, God’s hand controlled the destiny of His people.
Esther writes an official letter to confirm the celebration of Purim (Esther 9:29-32). She uses her royal authority to add weight to Mordecai’s letter. In a sense, this extra authority is needed, since this is the only religious festival in the Old Testament that is not directly instituted by God.
Esther’s mention of ″fasting and lamenting″ (Esther 9:31) adds another feature to Mordecai’s description of Purim. Mourning might seem out of place for a festival with a strong note of joy. But fasting and lamenting help the Jews to remember their situation before their deliverance (4:3, 16). It thus highlights the reversal, giving them greater reason for celebration.
Establishing regular religious festivals and seasons helps us to remember what God has done for us. After all, the problem with us is that we tend to forget. As Christians, we don’t celebrate Purim. But we do celebrate Easter, which marks the ultimate reversal. In it, we commemorate the wonderful truth that Jesus ″has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel″ (2 Timothy 1:10).
How can you make your next Easter celebration more significant? In what other ways can you remember God’s goodness in your life?
Read 1 Corinthians 11:23-26. The Lord’s Supper is a sacrament taken more frequently than once a year. But how is it similar in meaning to Purim? How is it different from Purim?