Redemption Over Randomness
Therefore they called these days Purim, after the term Pur…. That these days of Purim should be observed at their appointed seasons, as Mordecai the Jew and Queen Esther obligated them, and as they had obligated themselves and their offspring, with regard to their fasts and their lamenting. (Esther 9:26a & 9:31, ESV)
Have you ever been standing on the first teebox ready to enjoy a round when one person announces, “Let’s throw the tee to see who plays first”? Or maybe all four golf balls get thrown into the air? After settling on the ground, the two closest balls designate one team and the remaining two the second team. It’s like throwing dice that determine an outcome by chance or at random, but harmless as it pertains to a round of golf.
In ancient times, lots were small pebbles thrown to make decisions, similar to our dice. The random results could be good or bad for an animal, an individual, or a group of people. For example, lots were used to decide between two goats for an offering before the Lord (Leviticus 16:8). They were used to divide the land among the twelve tribes of Israel (Numbers 33:55). During the days of the prophet Nehemiah, lots were cast to see which leaders would live in Jerusalem (Nehemiah 11:1).
We also find the casting of lots in the book of Esther. After King Ahasuerus promoted Haman the Agagite above all of the other king’s officials, the king’s servants were ordered to bow down to him. Mordecai, a Jew, refused to bow down and incited Haman’s anger to destroy all Jews throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus. The casting of lots, Pur, is how Haman determined the day he would destroy the Jewish people.
When all seemed out of control and lost to destruction, Queen Esther found favor with the king. Haman had set an evil plan into motion, but God turned it upside down: “…when the enemies of the Jews hoped to gain mastery over them, the reverse occurred: the Jews gained mastery over those who hated them” (Esther 9:1b).
The Jewish celebration of Purim (the lots) was established by Queen Esther and Mordecai to remember the great deliverance of the Jews from the Persian Empire, and it is still observed today. The story of Purim reminds us that God can redeem every random event or hard circumstance. The roll of the dice isn’t the final verdict.
We live in time and space where free will and evil exist. Randomness (things which seem to be without purpose or meaning) is real in this world. Yet, there is more going on than what our physical senses experience. The will and hand of God will redeem our hard, broken, and unexpected things into something good and beneficial (see Romans 8:28).
As we prepare to observe Easter weekend soon, let us remember that Jesus transcends Purim. Jesus’ deliverance is from evil once and for all.
March 11, 2021
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