Purim: How the Story of Esther Helps Us See God
This month, Jews around the world celebrate one of the most joyous holidays on the Jewish calendar – Purim, which commemorates the events written about in the Book of Esther. During this celebration, people in Israel host big parties, share holiday treats with friends, and dress up in costumes and masks — a lot like Halloween. But unlike Halloween, people go door to door in order to give treats, not receive them. And the costumes have nothing to do with ghosts or gore. As we’ll discover on today’s special Purim episode with host Yael Eckstein, this is because the message of Purim is that things aren’t always as they seem. We must look beneath the surface to see God in everything, and behind the masks we often wear to see God in every person.
During Purim, the Jewish people read and explore the events that unfold in the Book of Esther and God’s message for us all on this Jewish holiday. The Bible tells us that an evil man named Haman convinced King Xerxes, the King of Persia, to obliterate the Jews; it seemed like the Jewish people were destined for total destruction. But with God at work behind the scenes, Queen Esther was able to save her people.
The Bible tells us how this happens. It started when Mordecai told Esther to go to her husband, the king, to intercede on behalf of the Jews. But Esther was scared for her life — and rightfully so. But Mordecai responded: “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14).
In this episode, Yael looks deeper at the real message behind this verse, which captures the main theme of the Purim story — that no matter how things appear, God is always in control, working in ways we can neither see nor understand. And if we seek God, as Esther did, we will discover His goodness beneath the surface.
Yael relates this message to her own life, explaining that when her father died, it seemed like a terrible mistake, an accident that should have never happened. And while she misses her abba every day, she can’t help but notice how so many circumstances aligned in a way that made a smooth transition from her father’s leadership to her own… demonstrating to her that God is always in control, and always has a plan to help us. Once we know this message — the message of Purim and the Book of Esther — we can live with more confidence and joy.