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Esther 9:18-32

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But the Jews that were at Shushan assembled together on the thirteenth day thereof, and on the fourteenth thereof; and on the fifteenth day of the same they rested, and made it a day of feasting and gladness.
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Therefore the Jews of the villages, that dwelt in the unwalled towns, made the fourteenth day of the month Adar a day of gladness and feasting, and a good day, and of sending portions one to another. Remember there was one more day given for the Jews to defend themselves in Shushan. The sons of Haman were killed and there dead bodies were hanged. Shushan is where Haman lived and chances are he had friends and family there that might want to take revenge on the Jews for their death so one more day was appointed to give the Jews an opportunity to unit together and with the leaders to defend themselves against any retaliation from their enemies.
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And Mordecai wrote these things, and sent letters unto all the Jews that were in all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus, both nigh and far,
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To stablish this among them, that they should keep the fourteenth day of the month Adar, and the fifteenth day of the same, yearly,
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As the days wherein the Jews rested from their enemies, and the month which was turned unto them from sorrow to joy, and from mourning into a good day: that they should make them days of feasting and joy, and of sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor. Now Mordecai establishes a national holiday for the Jews.
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And the Jews undertook to do as they had begun, and as Mordecai had written unto them;

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Because Haman the son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had devised against the Jews to destroy them, and had cast Pur, that is, the lot, to consume them, and to destroy them;
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But when Esther came before the king, he commanded by letters that his wicked device, which he devised against the Jews, should return upon his own head, and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows.
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Wherefore they called these days Purim after the name of Pur. Therefore for all the words of this letter, and of that which they had seen concerning this matter, and which had come unto them, Pur- The word "pur" only occurs three times in the Bible. The 1st occurrence is in Esther 3:7. And the other two times are here in Esther 9:24 & 26. Pur is a Persian word which means "piece." We do not know all that this entails because the Bible does not explain it to us. But we can infer that it is the same or similar to the Jewish "casting of lots." As we said the word "pur"

means piece so maybe this is something like throwing dice. John Gill "being a Persian word, it is
explained in Hebrew a lot, the word signifying "steel" in the Persian language. Reland conjectures that this was that sort of lot called "sideromantia".- so maybe a multi-sided steel piece - maybe like our dice.
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Many cultures performed acts that they considered to be divination- some drew sticks or stones, other would thrown varies pieces like bones, stone & sticks and supposedly and the future. In Esther 3 we saw the casting of the lot before Haman every day. Now this idea of casting the lot seems that Haman was searching for the most favorable day to destroy the Jews. So the lot would be cast for each day of each month until the day and the month deemed most lucky was found. They begin casting the lot of the first month but the lot does not fall on the lucky day until they reach the 14th day of the twelfth month. Do you think it is a coincidence that God gave the Jews, Esther and Mordecai almost 12 months stay of execution? If so, then you need to think again. "The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD."- Proverbs 16:33 What does this mean? It means that even in things like casting lots and divination that the Lord has control over that. Now please let me be clear here. Casting lots, reading tea leaves, divination are all forms of trying to tell the future and are related to witchcraft. Now, we do see examples in the Bible of this type of activity. We see that Gideon put out a fleece so that God would confirm to Him the call. We see in the NT that the lot was cast to determine the person who would replace Judas. Often times, esp. in historical accounts, the Bible is telling us what happened but it not necessarily advocating that anything like this is how we are to behave. It is simple, in these cases, a record of what occurred. There is no place for these sort of things in the life of a Christian. We have the Word of God and we have the Holy Spirit to be our guide. We do not resort to such superstitions nor to the realm of witchcraft and the demonic to advise us on decisions. If we cannot find objective guidance in the Word and we are not sure of our subjective thoughts & feelings
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The Jews ordained, and took upon them, and upon their seed, and upon all such as joined themselves unto them, so as it should not fail, that they would keep these two days according to their writing, and according to their appointed time every year; Because of God's deliverance of the Jews through the intervention of Esther & Mordecai the Jewish people appoint a custom that they will celebrate a holiday every year. " upon their seed, and upon all such as joined themselves unto them"- Recall when the Jews were delivered by the edict of Mordecai that people joined themselves to the Jews. Esther 8:17 "... And many among the peoples of the land became Jews, for the dread of the Jews had fallen on them." When the verse says they "became Jews" it means that they were converted to Judaism. They saw the mighty work of God to preserve His people and they joined themselves to the Jewish community.
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And that these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, every family, every province, and every city; and that these days of Purim should not fail from among the Jews, nor the memorial of them perish from their seed.

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Then Esther the queen, the daughter of Abihail, and Mordecai the Jew, wrote with all authority, to confirm this second letter of Purim.
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And he sent the letters unto all the Jews, to the hundred twenty and seven provinces of the kingdom of Ahasuerus, with words of peace and truth,
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To confirm these days of Purim in their times appointed, according as Mordecai the Jew and Esther the queen had enjoined them, and as they had decreed for themselves and for their seed, the matters of the fastings and their cry.
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And the decree of Esther confirmed these matters of Purim; and it was written in the book.

The feast of Purim is celebrated the 14th day of Adar (which is usually the month of March in our calendar). This is one month before the Pesach (or Passover). The Feast of Purim is also known as the Feast of Lots and the Feast of Reversal.

The primary commandment related to Purim is to hear the reading of the book of Esther. The book of Esther is commonly known as the Megillah, which means scroll. Although there are five books of Jewish scripture that are properly referred to as megillahs (Esther, Ruth, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, and Lamentations), this is the one people usually mean when they speak of The Megillah. It is customary to boo, hiss, stamp feet and rattle gragers (noisemakers) whenever the name of Haman is mentioned in the service. The purpose of this custom is to "blot out the name of Haman."
On Purim the Jews eat a pastry that is shaped like a triangle and filled with fruit- like a tart. It is said that the shape comes from the 3 pointed ha Haman wore. or represents the 3 patriarchs of the Jews Abraham, Isaac & Jacob. The pastry is also called "Haman's ears" -for the practice of cutting off the ears of a criminal. The feast celebrates God's delivery of the Jewish people from the wicked who wanted to destroy them. The Feast of Purim is still celebrated by the Jews today. Actually though, in my opinion, they are very foolish to still keep this holiday. And the reason that I say this is because they have missed the point of this event. This event is not just about the preservation of the physical nation of the Jews. This is event was pointing to a much greater deliverance that would come to save God's people. 10:1 And the king Ahasuerus laid a tribute upon the land, and upon the isles of the sea.
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And all the acts of his power and of his might, and the declaration of the greatness of Mordecai, whereunto the king advanced him, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia?
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For Mordecai the Jew was next unto king Ahasuerus, and great among the Jews, and accepted of the multitude of his brethren, seeking the wealth of his people, and speaking peace to all his seed.

Remember when we began the book of Esther we said that this book was a demonstration of how God is working through history to reveal the grand story of all history. God is working in the grand scheme of history to show how He will redeem a people for Himself through the work of His Son Jesus on the cross. Just as wicked Haman plots to destroy the Jews, Satan has plotted from the Garden of Eden to destroy humanity. Just as it was the plan of Haman to destroy all the Jews in one day in the month of Adar, so it is Satan's plan that on judgment day all of humanity will be destroyed. And just as the plot of Haman was turned back against him, so the scheme of Satan will be turned against him and his head will be crushed as he is thrown into hell to burn forever. Just as God preserved the Jews so that Christ could be born, God will also preserve His people today so that the church will be made complete. Who then are the people of God? This is an important question. We have the nation of Israel in the OT. God made various covenants with them and through them He also made covenants to all people. Before we can see how God preserves His people we need to answer who are the people of God. John 17 19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. Galatians 3:28 "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." First understand that God only has 1 people and they are united with Him through the work of Jesus. Jesus is the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. And this is an important point for us to remember and a point that the Jews miss I think. And if we are not careful and not Biblical we will miss this point also. With the nation of Israel there is the visible covenant community made up of all the people who identify themselves with the nation. But we know that they are not all followers of YHWH. How do we know? Consider all those who came out of Egypt and died in the wilderness. And remember they died because of unbelief. Consider all those who died when God released the fiery serpents upon them. And those that the ground swallowed up. And what about the Jews of the NT? Den of vipers? White washed tombs filled with dead men's bones? Jesus called the Pharisees the sons of Satan. So let me ask you: are these the people of God? Are these the elect? Did Jesus die to redeem them? I think not. So let me give you a parallel. There are those in the community of the church. We have people who are here this morning and we have people on the church roll who will not be in heaven. They are members- they are attendees. They sojourn with us on this journey through life but they will not enter into the promised land. They will not be in heaven. This is what we mean when we talk about the visible church and the invisible church. There is the church universal- that is all the believers of all time all around the world. All the saved from all the ages and all places will be together in heaven in one body- just as Jesus described in John 17. Then there is the church local. That is believers who live in specific locations that meet together in a local assembly- just like

we are meeting here today. But the difference we are talking about is the difference between the spiritual and the natural. The natural church or the visible includes all those who have committed to membership. Some would say that it also includes those who attend even though they are not members but I would say that is an unbiblical & very low view of church. However the kingdom of Christ is a spiritual kingdom composed of those who are regenerated by the Holy Spirit from death to life spiritually. Those who are members but are not regenerate are like the nation of Israel. They receive some of the temporary blessings and graces of God by virtue that they travel with the church, so to speak. They receive the temporary stay of execution, just alike all of those in the book of Esther. They are spared the temporary judgment of God in this world, the kingdom of God is near them, they receive the Gospel, they receive the Word, and maybe it gives them some peace of mind- maybe it gives them some temporary comfort. But, just like the nation of Israel, there is no guarantee for them that they will enter into heaven. They receive the temporary blessings - but there is no eternal promise for them. They are near the covenant but they are not in the covenant. God has promised to preserve His people. But this preservation (while to their benefit and for their good) serves His overall purposes. The evil will be destroyed. Those in the covenant community but who are not born again will be sometimes be spared judgment by their realtionship with the community but there is no guarantee for their eternal preservation. And the wicked will be cut off...God's covenant people will be preserved. Yes, they may have hard timesthey may suffer in this world...they may even be tortured- they may even die. But the souls of God's people will not suffer in hell- not one will be lost. And God's purposes will be fulfilled. For the OT church this meant that the Jewish people could not be destroyed. Christ must come from the seed of Abraham and from the root of Jesse. God was working through the nation of Israel to bring the Messiah that would save all people. And now God is working in his church to spread His Gospel to the world. Through the Jewish nation He brought the means to save the world and now through His Son He brings the message to save the world. Remember that we said God was working in the grand scheme of History to redeem a people for Himself. He was working in the pagan nations to bring glory to Himself. He was working in the nations to bring about all the things necessary for the glorious birth of His Son that would pay for sins and save His elect people. And God worked in the individual lives of common people to bring about His glorious will. He used the little people like Esther and Mordecai to work out His grand will.