It is a wonder that even though the name of God, reading the Scriptures and prayer are absent from this wonderful little book, there are feasts recorded in this book. There are three feasts, each one with a significance in the historical aspect, but each feast comes with very important lessons to learn.
Following from the previous post on the book of Esther, this is the only book in the Bible without any mention of God, or His Word. However, we see God working behind the scenes in the events to bring out the deliverance of His people from their enemies. Today, we may forget God, yet He never forgets His people, those who belong to Him as a result of trusting in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. God is behind the scenes in a world that does not like to mention Him, except for taking His name in vain.
The first feast in Esther is found in chapter 1, and we see a worldly feast. We see the characteristics of those who do not know Christ as their Saviour, and even today, the worldly feasts, or parties, are of the same characteristics as in the book of Esther. People had free access to drinking/alcohol and without restraint. I am sure these days we all have to pay for alcohol, and we need to restrain ourselves in some measure.
The worldly feast was hosted by king Ahasuerus, who reigned at that time in the Persian Empire. We do not read of Mordecai and Esther attending that feast. It was not fitting for them as godly people. Esther and Mordecai were, what we call, true believers. We do not know the circumstances as to what led them to remain in Babylon after few of the Jews returned back to Jerusalem, but they were not present in a worldly event. I am not saying or suggesting that we must not be at those events, but if we are to attend such events out of obligations, we are to show Christ in our actions, behaviour and interactions with the other people.
This feast ended in the king being drunk! What is more is that he called for his soon to be ex-wife Vashti, to show her beauty to the world. When she refused to be paraded as a trophy wife to the attendees, mostly drunk men, the king got angry and after taking counsel, banished her. You can read this in chapter 1:10-13. The king had no regard for her feelings and view on being called to show her beauty. His idea was that she disobeyed him, and then he came up with a proclamation that the men should exercise rule in their homes (verse 22).
Such is the end result of a feast that characterises the world today. There is no thought of God at all, people did whatever they wanted without restraint, and furthermore, it seemed that the women at that time had no say at all.
The second feast in Esther is found in chapter 7, and we see there a feast of judgement. This is the feast that Esther prepared for the king and Haman. I know there is another feast called Esther’s feast back in chapter 2, but that was of a different nature. What led to this particular feast in chapter 7? Who was judged? If we look at the preceding chapters, Haman the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews (as he is referred to), devised a plot to exterminate all the Jews in the province where the king ruled, just because one man, Mordecai, would not bow to him. Talk about a child throwing a tantrum! Well, that is what he was, and his plan was evil, of the devil.
Haman was exposed firstly in chapter 6 where he was forced to honour Mordecai, who had saved the king’s life earlier in the book. Haman thought the king would honour him, but it seems that the king honours people only one time. Haman went back to his home shamed and the advice from his family was that he would fall before Mordecai (chapter 6:13). In the chapter where Mordecai was honoured, God clearly stated in 1 Samuel 2:30 that He honours those who honour Him, regardless of the circumstances, and clearly His word came to pass in this instance.
In chapter 7, he found that he was exposed as the enemy, and we see again the king was very angry, or wroth. That seems to be the character of a king who does not know God and when things do not go his own way. However, God worked in the heart of the king to bring out his anger against Haman, who dared, through his device, to exterminate the Jews, of which Esther was one. Remember that Esther was the queen, the wife of the king.
In this feast, there is judgement and then death. We remember a feast in Revelation 17 and 19, where there will be a time of judgement for all those who do not know Jesus Christ as their Saviour, or who refuse to acknowledge Him as Saviour and Lord. Dear reader, please do not be found at this feast. If you are found in the feast in chapter 1 of Esther (worldly feast), you can leave at any time, but this feast is of judgement, and you will not be able to escape. If you are saved and trust in Christ as your Saviour, then you will be in another feast in Revelation 19, the marriage supper of the Lamb, which is far better than the feast of judgement.
The third feast is in chapter 9, called Purim. When Haman, together with some friends or acquaintances, decided on a day to exterminate the Jews, they cast lots, and the day was called Pur, or Purim (chapter 3:7). Note that Purim was not one of the feasts of Jehovah, or feasts of the Lord, in Leviticus 23. This was a feast prescribed by Mordecai, who after Haman and his sons were dealt with in judgement, was exalted and very great in the Persian Empire. The reason for this feast was for the Jews to remember that they were going to all be killed, but by the grace of God, overcame the enemies. In fact, Purim was only introduced in Esther, and even today, the Jews remember and uphold the feast of Purim at the appointed time, and they read the whole book of Esther.
We also have a feast of remembrance, prescribed by the risen Lord. When the Lord Jesus Christ was here on earth, He introduced this feast, now called the Lord’s Supper, to His disciples in the upper room, on the night in which He was betrayed. The message in this feast was to remember Him. The bread is a symbol of His body broken and bruised on the cross, and the cup is a symbol of His blood shed on the cross. Later in the book of Acts, we see (ch 20:7) the pattern on the early church in gathering to break bread. The Lord’s Supper is then expounded and taught in the well-known chapter of 1 Corinthians 11. The apostle Paul received this revelation from the risen Lord. This is all to do with remembering the Lord, who He is and what He has done for us, but also how He offered Himself to God for us (Eph 5:1-2).
I am not saying that Purim is a picture of the Lord’s Supper for us Christians, or even conveying the thought of comparing this, but it is a contrast, and it is clear that as the Jews remember their great deliverance from the events in the book of Esther and celebrate Purim, though once per year, we have the privilege, as often as we gather together to remember the resurrected Lord, we also show forth, or announce His death until He comes (1 Cor 11:26). Let us be in the habit of being at this feast, to remember not only what the Lord did for us, but to remember Him as the blessed Person and Son of God. All true believers in Christ have the privilege and portion to be at the Lord’s Supper, to remember Him, and to live our lives daily in thankfulness for what He accomplished on the cross.