Purim, the masked and the hidden

Nowhere in the Book of Esther is the name of God mentioned. Yet, it is obvious to the reader that He is behind the scenes working through, and in spite of the intentions and schemes of rulers and leaders, to bring timely decisions which ultimately save the people of Israel from destruction. Clearly, the God of Israel is the Hidden One in the Book of Esther. Even Mordechai, the Chief Rabbi of Shushan and uncle to Queen Esther, when instructing her uses terms which merely hints of the Hidden One. "For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place  . . . " (Esther 4:14)From where would "relief and deliverance" come? She was the Queen, who else could help? Haman, the initiator of the evil decree, was second to the King, while the King, himself, authorized the evil decree. The only possible help, other than her, would be through a non-visible Higher Power, the Hidden One. Both Mordechai and Esther knew that he was referring to the God of Israel, the One True God, King of the Universe. Since living among the Gentile nations, referring to God indirectly has become a phenomenon within the Jewish community, whereby they acknowledge God but in quiet low tones – as if to mask His Presence – so as not to attract any undue response from the non-Jewish communities.When Esther was chosen to join the King's harem, Mordechai strictly warned her not to reveal that she was Jewish, but insisted that she keep her identity a secret."Esther had not revealed her people or family, for Mordechai had charged her not to reveal it." (Esther 2:10)Because of the treatment that the Jewish people have received at the hands of the Gentiles, their identity, as the people of God, has been masked and hidden from public view. History has shown that to be openly Jewish in a non-Jewish environment will inevitably bring discrimination, isolation and persecution.Centuries of living among the Gentiles has taught Jewish people that if they want to fit in, then they must take their Jewishness behind closed doors, away from prying eyes. This is neither good for Israel, nor for the nations. To avoid persecution, the Jewish people have had to celebrate the God of Israel, the One True God, the Sovereign King in the secrecy of their homes. In the same way that His people are rejected, so too, God has been rejected from modern societies -- His Word is not honoured among nations -- He, like His people, has been removed from public acknowledgement. And so today, just as in the Book of Esther, He is the Hidden One, working behind the scenes.Purim is celebrated each year on the 14th and 15th of Adar, the twelfth month in the Hebrew calendar; this year on the 10th and 11th of March in the Gregorian calendar.The feast of Purim commemorates that though the people of Israel are forced to mask their Jewishness, their survival is guaranteed. Equally significant, the feast celebrates that in spite of the evil intentions of leaders, the God of Israel, the One True God and Sovereign King, though hidden, continues to fulfil His purposes through His people Israel.Surely, the God of Israel is faithful. He has repeatedly brought relief and deliverance to Israel down through the centuries, even as it is today. Indeed, the people of Israel live! Let all the nations rejoice and give thanks to the God of Israel, and declare His works to be righteous and true. Mark Warren