fasting and feasting
The Jewish traditional holiday of Purim is underway, and I cannot help but think about Esther and her role in this commemorative celebration. God used her to divinely solve a demonic plot turned royal edict to annihilate all Jews in the Persian kingdom under the rule of Xerxes.
Esther (born Hadassah) was a Jewish orphan who was brought into the king’s harem and later selected as his replacement queen. When told by her cousin Mordecai of the evil Haman’s plot to destroy all Jews, she knew that she had to take action. What was her initial response? “Have all the Jews fast and pray for three days and I will do the same. Then I will go to the king.”
The book by the same name of our heroine is a fascinating account of a very dramatic event in the history of the Jews. Although the king’s royal edict could not be reversed, Esther was successful in obtaining Xerxes’ favor to allow all Jews to defend themselves on the day appointed for their own destruction, a day Haman selected by lot or pur in the Hebrew language.
Today, Purim (pur- plural) is celebrated in remembrance of the Jew’s divine escape from complete annihilation. There are gatherings and feasting, costumes and readings of the scriptural account.
And these days of Purim should never cease to be celebrated by the Jews, nor should the memory of them die out among their descendants (Esther 9:28).
I find the element of fasting an interesting point from the story of Esther. She instantly did not have the wisdom of how to act upon the frightening news of the plot, but she knew that through fasting and prayer, God would lead the way. I mention this act of faith because many of God’s people are coming out of a recent season of fasting or are currently fasting in the days leading to the Resurrection celebration. Whereas we normally consider fasting to coincide with hunger, I have some insight to share from my own recent fast. There should be much feasting involved in a time of fasting! This feasting, however, is not the sort to satisfy a physical appetite, but a spiritual one. Our spirits are hungry for truth, and I believe, there’s no better time to have God’s Word become a part of us than during a fast. I really think we memorize scripture more easily during these days of denying the flesh.
King David did it (2 Samuel 12:16); Esther did it (Esther 4:16); Jesus did it (Matthew 4:2); Paul did it (Acts 9:9)- we would all be wise to follow the Spirit’s leading into a season of fasting in which we feast on God’s Word. I highly suggest this act of faith for any of His children who find themselves desiring wisdom and direction. Let us put God’s Word into our hearts and watch it spring forth a harvest in the days to come!