Life is filled with mountain-top moments of awe and wonder. I’m sure if you think back on your own life you can remember moments you were bursting with joy. Maybe you even had the thought ‘can life get any better than this?’
The thing with mountaintops is that we can’t stay there forever.
At some point, we have to come down.
These are the valleys of life. The crushing, disappointing, sorrowful times. Times that feel so dark it’s hard to find the strength to make it through one more day.
I know 2020 has been a dark year for many people.
Struggling to make ends meet with the forced closure of businesses and economic hardship.
Feeling trapped and lonely while everyone is scared to get closer than 2 meters between each other.
Battling hopelessness as the constant changing of the world makes it nearly impossible to plan for the future, chose a stable career or pursue various opportunities.
Israel has been hit especially hard with the Israeli government taking extreme measures to supposedly ‘curb covid outbreaks.’
With Israel’s population at over 9 million people and 5,732 covid related deaths amongst those 9 million, it’s easy to see that there are ulterior motives behind the forced lockdowns and invasive restrictions.
We all go through seasons we ask ourselves ‘where is God?’ We hear of God’s amazing promises of deliverance and restoration and yet look at the battles we are facing in our lives and feel discouraged.
The people of Israel felt the same way when they got word of the evil Haman who ordered the annihilation of all the Jews in Babylon.
Israel just finished celebrated Purim (Feast of Lots) a biblical holiday when everyone dresses up and rejoices, remembering the great victory of the Jewish people from the book of Esther.
Imagine one day you’re enjoying your life, going about your business and then in the next breath you receive a death sentence simply for being born.
The Jewish people were a minority at the time, facing the entire Babylonian empire.
We too can feel weak and outnumbered against the enemies we face and yet the story of Purim gives us hope that God is working even behind the scenes when we don’t see Him.
The book of Esther was almost not included in the bible because it doesn’t mention the name of God (or even prayer) once.
Yet, as we read the story it’s evident God is at work as His complex plan unfolds to save His people from Haman.
Purim is more relevant than ever for our walk with God and faith in Yeshua.
Here are 4 things we can learn and apply to our lives today from the book of Esther.
1) The enemy has a target on your back.
The story of Esther has many fascinating characters, one of the most prominent ones is Haman. Haman was an Agagite which means he belonged to the group of people Saul was commanded to destroy yet somehow survived.
He was only one of the many antisemitic leaders throughout history that attempted to wipe out the Jewish people simply because they are God’s chosen people.
This spirit of hatred towards the Jewish people is still at work today which is why Israel has to have such a strong military (the IDF – Israeli Defence Forces)
My younger brother, Avi will be drafted into the army next month, joining the other courageous 18-20-year-olds fighting for the survival of Israel and the Jewish people.
Unfortunately, we face many Muslim enemy countries that surround us as well as constant terrorism from inside the country.
Yet we don’t shrink back in fear but move forward with faith knowing that God is on our side and do everything we can to fight for our right to exist.
As believers in Yeshua, having joined the family of Israel, there is a target on our backs placed there by the enemy.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)
I’m not saying that every hardship we face is an attack from the enemy. We have to take responsibility for our actions however we do live in a spiritual world and the enemy will try everything He can to discourage us and cause us to lose hope.
We can’t rely on our own strength to defeat the enemy’s schemes but we can look to God and allow Him to fight our battles for us.
Haman was obsessed with demolishing the Jewish people because of one faithful Jew, Mordecai that refused to bow down to him.
It makes the enemy livid when we refuse to bow down to him and instead worship God, even if it means we are the only ones left standing.
2) Do Not Bow Down to Fear
During the story of Purim we see Mordecai putting his foot down and standing up to powerful Haman even though it caused Haman to plot the annihilation of all the Jewish people in the kingdom, it was still the right thing to do.
We see Esther, break protocol and go before the King unsummoned, risking her own life to save her people.
They both have something in common, they refused to conform to culture when it meant dishonoring God. They didn’t care how other’s perceived them. They didn’t care about causing waves or angering authority. Even at the risk of losing their own life, they stepped forward to do what they knew was right.
There is more pressure than ever to go along with what everyone else is doing and what the authorities are enforcing on society.
If you stand against the regulations you risk being screamed at, called names, being denied service, given hefty fines, and even imprisoned.
What kind of a world are we living in when breathing fresh air is considered a criminal offense?
Here in Israel, we have lost count of how many lockdowns we have been placed under. I believe it’s currently at 6. Masks are mandatory both inside and outside. Businesses are constantly being forced to close, citizens often restricted to travel within 500 meters from their homes.
Anyone who is unvaccinated is not allowed to enter gyms, sports centers, attend performances, stay in hotels and there is deliberation over if they will be denied entry into malls and stores.
They are currently developing an app with a scannable QR code that will allow the vaccinated into stores. Israel has been encouraging the vaccine so much that they have parked a mobile vaccination clinic outside night clubs in Tel Aviv, giving out free beer, a raffle entry, and free pizza to whoever takes the vaccine.
Whoever refuses to take this experimental vaccine or wear a mask at all times is called ‘crazy, conspiracy theorist, weird, stupid, selfish, etc’
My friend here in Israel who served in the Israeli army, defending the country, was recently called a murderer for not wearing her mask over her nose in public.
During these crazy times, I draw encouragement from the story of Purim.
If Mordecai and Esther had the courage to break protocol and refuse to bow down to the pressure of the majority, we too can do what we know is right and not just go along with what everyone else is doing without thinking twice about it.
“Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it.” (Luke 17:33)
3. God is Working Behind the Scenes
The name Esther in Hebrew comes from the word seter, סתר which means hidden.
Esther had to hide her Jewish identity as she was the queen of the Babylonian empire until the time was right to reveal herself.
It’s amazing to see how the bible
fits together perfectly and how there’s hidden significance behind every name and place.
I love helping others connect to the roots of their faith and discover these treasures in God’s word by teaching the original language of the bible!
Even though we don’t hear God’s name in the book of Esther, we see His hand at work every step of the way. He was strategically aligning all the pieces of the puzzle to fit perfectly so that at the right time His people would be saved.
We may not understand why we are facing what we’re facing today.
It can be frustrating and fear an attempt to grab a hold of our hearts yet God promises that He will never leave or forsake us.
Even if we don’t see Him working in our lives or He seems to be hidden from sight, He has never left our side.
He will pull through at the right moment and grant us the victory.
No matter what happens in this life we are promised eternity with Him and that is reason enough to rejoice.
4. God Has His Perfect Timing
God’s timing is often to different from our own.
In the story of Purim we see how Esther waited until the time was just right to ask the King to save her people. She didn’t blurt it out on the day she heard the bad news of Haman’s evil plans.
So often we panic, or grow impatient or feel insecure so we strive and push and act out of God’s timing.
We see the disaster that happened when Sarah got the bright idea to have a son through her servant Hagar which created Ishmael.
God was still faithful to His promise to give them a son but their impatience and lack of faith created a mess we are still dealing with today.
The Arabs of today are the descendants of Ishmael.
“The angel of the LORD proceeded: “Behold, you have conceived and will bear a son. And you shall name him Ishmael, for the LORD has heard your cry of affliction.
He will be a wild donkey of a man, and his hand will be against everyone, and everyone’s hand against him; he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.” (Genesis 16:12)
Impatience always causes a lack of peace.
Israel today is still suffering from war and violence due to Abraham and Sarah’s impatience.
I know that when I try and rush things it causes tension and unnecessary drama that otherwise could have been avoided.
We may want things done on our timeline but when we learn to surrender our lives to God and trust Him to work things out there is a greater abundance of peace and blessing.
God is always faithful to bring His promises to pass and we can rest in the waiting knowing that He has our good in mind.
“My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest.” (Isaiah 32:18)
As children of God we deserve to live in a place of peace. Let’s not allow the enemy to rob us of our right as citizens of heaven to enter into rest and set our hearts and minds at peace.
There is nothing more priceless than true peace.
God’s timing is impeccable and He doesn’t allow anything to happen by accident.
“For everything, there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
In fact, in the book of Esther, we read that the Jewish people received the news on the eve of Passover: that in 11 months they would be destroyed (on the 13th of Adar)
As they were sitting around the Seder table remember how God’s hand of deliverance rescued them from oppression in Egypt, they received a death sentence once again.
Yet, this must-have given them hope that the God who brought His people out of Egypt with a mighty hand and outstretched arm, could once again rescue them from their enemies.
God is faithful to give us encouragement and grace when we need it. Let’s not borrow tomorrow’s trouble and become weighed down by worrying about the future.
Let’s take things one day at a time and trust God is working out His perfect plan for our lives.
This article originally appeared on Liat’s blog, March 3, 2021, and reposted with permission.