As the Feast of Purim approaches you may be wondering what Spiderman and monster masks have to do with it?!? In fulfillment of Esther 9:22, 23, the book of Esther is read each year, from its festival scroll in synagogues around the world. The story is retold in various ways from stage plays, to bathrobes and towel turbans in the family living room. Masquerading on Purim was first introduced among the Italian Jews at the close of the fifteenth century influenced by the Roman carnival. This custom spread over all nations where Jews lived. Traditionally people dressed up as characters from the book of Esther, but through the years it has become secularized.
Noisemakers are used to blot out evil Haman’s name and cheers are bellowed out for faithful Mordecai. Humble Esther rises from anonymity and reigns as the Queen of Media-Persia. It is no wonder that with the suspense, romance and danger, this story has now become a major motion picture. It’s a gripping tale of climatic deliverance when all seems lost, orchestrated around an unlikely heroine.
If Esther were alive today she’d probably be surprised to find herself on the Hollywood A-list. There was nothing within Esther’s past that indicated any likelihood of “Superstardom”. She was an orphan (Esther 2:7), who had been adopted and raised by a cousin. Esther was one of many young and beautiful women, yet she found favor first with Hegai (Esther 2:9), the keeper of the harem and then later with King Ahasuerus himself. (Esther 2:17).
While the text clearly tells us that she was a beauty, it also indicates that she had brains and backbone as well. Esther was not simply a monarchial marionette in Mordecai’s hands. She heeded Mordecai’s instructions to withhold information about her race and background. After being made queen she continued to keep in contact with Mordecai and tried to care for him from afar (Esther 4:4). When Esther learned of the intended fate of the Jews under Haman’s evil plan, Mordecai reminded her that she would not escape because she was in the palace. Mordecai entreated her despite the risk, to petition the king. It was Esther that called forth not only the Jews of Susa to fast for three days, but also herself and her palace maids – entreating God to deliver them. (Esther 4:15)
Esther showed restraint, tactfulness, savvy politics and incredible trust in God and not her own abilities. She took big risks, believing that God would go before her. She dined with the enemy and at the right moment, revealed her identity to the King – effectively trumping Haman’s evil plan to destroy the Jews.
The story of Esther is one filled with intrigue, mistaken identity and surprising revelations. Haman’s plan was foiled when he underestimated the power of a praying woman and her God.
Unseen and unmentioned, God orchestrates the liberation of His people from a maniacal and evil plot, bringing glory to His name through the unlikeliest of people. In the winds of war, it’s the whispers of godly character and faith that carry us on. The book of Esther reminds us all that nothing is by chance, but God in His infinite care weaves the threads of our lives for His kingdom purposes.