Recently I have been studying through the book of Exodus in a video series on a system called ‘Right Now Media’ honestly, this study brought Exodus to life for me, maybe I’m late to the party, but some of the things Ashley shared in this post changed how I view God. So I decided that I would start studying Esther, a book I absolutely adore, just to see what I might have missed. I love the story, how this teenager steps up to the plate with the support of her adoptive father, or cousin, and she intercedes for a nation of people and with the help of God she manages to save them, I love so much of this book; maybe I will share more on that another day, but what I did notice connected Exodus and Esther for me, I noticed the feast of Purim.
This whole story began with King Ahasuerus partying the days away with his officials and servants, Princes and Nobles from as far as Persia to Media, a party that lasted for 180 days! That’s some celebration but once he had finished showing of his riches to all of these fine dignitaries, the king threw a second party last seven days for those in the city of Susa. The bible goes on to detail the fine materials used, and the vessels of Gold and silver, this party was huge, and for everyone in the city. Including his wife Queen Vashti. The queen was requested to come before the King and basically flaunt herself before the officials. What the King had asked of her was degrading and no woman should want to be in that position, but unfortunately due to the culture of the day she rejected her husband’s request and was therefore banished from the kingdom, then begins the journey of finding a new wife. Esther comes in to play here finding favour with the Kings officers and eventually without compromising who she is, is appointed the new queen and wife of King Ahasuerus. You can imagine that her life changed dramatically at this point. The new surroundings she had to live in, the laws to abide, the new husband she probably didn’t love… Life would never be the same, but as Esther 4:14 says, “She was born for such a time as this”, and eventually with the help of God Esther pleads with the King, challenging his closest advisor Haman, and sees the Jews rescued from an evil plot to wipe them out.On a Side note; I’m not sure about you, but when I read stories like this I cannot imagine how anyone thinks the Bible is boring. What an adventure, from a peasant girl to a queen and saving a nation and becoming a heroine of your day.
As we read on we stumble into Esther chapter 9, and we read that on the 14th and 15th day of Adar, Mordecai had now established a feast called Purim, this feast would be used in remembrance of the rescue from the wicked hands of Haman. Purim is a term which refers to the system that Haman used to decide which month in which this horrific massacre would begin, and so Purim was always celebrated in the second month of Adar closest to that of Passover.
It is fascinating for me that this festival was put in place as an act of remembrance, just as we find in Exodus 12, God gives the people Passover as an act of remembrance of how he rescued them from the evil hands of Pharaoh with a lamb and the blood on the doorposts that signified their trust in God, and so by this blood they were saved.
All through scripture we find these moments where God wants His people to remember. For Noah in Genesis 8, God placed a rainbow in the sky as a visual reminder of a covenant made between Creator God and his Creation that never again will He flood the earth in order to rid it from man’s sinful natures. Then again in Joshua 4 we find God asking Joshua to take 12 men from the 12 tribes of Israel, to set up stones in the River Jordan to remember the time that God has helped them across this River to get to the Promised Land, by placing the feet of the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant into the water, and God held the waters back. The bible uses the words “the water flowing from upstream was as through a heap”. These people had a red sea experience like that of their ancestors and they passed by the Jordan, so long as the priests feet remained still so did the water. These stones were set as a reminder of the provision of God. That Yahweh would provide a way for them even when the waters are high and the way seemed impossible, these stones would remind them of a time that God made it possible. Of course, we also look to the gospels, and to the table of remembrance, we look to these emblems that Jesus brought before the 12 disciples, bread and wine to remind us of his body broken for us, and his blood he shed in order that we would find redemption. A weekly, or monthly reminder each born again church takes part in to remember the sacrifice paid for us.
Why does God set up all of these reminders? Is it because He needs reminding? Do these stories depict a forgetful God who needs post it notes throughout creation to remind Him of the moments that Heaven met earth?
No, I don’t believe so, God is not a God who needs reminding, God is a God who knows we need reminded. He knows in our fallible state, in our day to day circumstances, in our gloriously good days, and our horrendously bad days that we need reminded of the goodness of God, of the provision of God, of the love of God, or the grace and mercy and peace of God. We are a people who often forget the amazing works God has performed in our lives and we often forget the willingness of God to step into our circumstances and assist us when our days are long and our problems are weighty.
We are the forgetful party in this relationship, and so one of the running biblical themes from God is remembrance; because if we do not remember then we cannot fully have a relationship. Gods will always remains the same, His will is relationship, His will is that we would fully know him, that we would spend time with Him, that we would honour Him in our worship, and that we would desire Him. For these things to happen we need to be a people of remembrance. Isn’t it so good to know that when we forget- that God doesn’t, that when we forget he helped us pay our electricity bill, or buy our kids new shoes, or stock up our fridge, or fix our car, or place peace in our marriage, or save our children, that He is a God who never forgets.
God remembers us, Isaiah pens it beautifully when He writes in chapter 49:15-16:
“Yet I will not forget you, See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands”
I will take refuge today in knowing I have a relationship with a God who chooses to remember on my behalf, who chooses to remember me and love me, who chooses to place things in my path in order that I am reminded of the plentiful blessings He has bestowed on my life, and even though He fully knows me, he still loves me.