The background for the celebration of Purim is found in the book of Esther. Interestingly enough, God’s name is not found one time in this book. Instead, we see God working behind the scenes to protect His people. In this process, we can see God’s plan to reveal His Bride to the entire world.
The Jewish people were taken captive to the land of Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar. They remained there for 70 years. While they were there, they were subject to the Babylonians and then the Persians. The story of Purim starts with the King of the Persians, Xerxes, throwing a tremendous celebration for his princes and nobles. This party lasted about six months.
At the end of this time, he had a seven-day celebration for all who live in the citadel of Susa. On the seventh day, he called forth his bride, Vashti, to display her beauty before the nobles. She refused to come, which embarrassed the king. After consulting with his officials, it was determined that she should be removed from her position as queen.
The king then searched his entire kingdom looking for a queen to take her place. Beautiful virgins from across the vast empire were brought to him. They were treated with special ointments and food, and each one was given an opportunity to please the king. One of these beautiful virgins was named Hadassah or Esther. She was a Benjaminite descended from Kish. Her uncle Mordecai advised her to keep her family and national identity a secret. Unlike many of the other girls who sought to dress the way they pleased, Esther sought only to please the king. She won his heart. Her uncle Mordecai even uncovered a plot to kill king Xerxes.
In the meantime, a man by the name of Haman (who was an Agagite) was lifted up and exalted by King Xerxes. Despite this promotion by the King, Mordecai refused to bow down to him. This caused Haman to seek the destruction of not only Mordecai, but all the Jewish people throughout the entire kingdom! He cast the pur (or lots) on the 13th day of the 1st month on the Hebrew Calendar. The lots determined the date that they would try to destroy them. Haman even offered to pay for this destruction to happen! The King approved this destruction and sealed their fate. In his pride, Haman even had a gallows built to hang Mordecai when the opportunity was right.
Once news of this decree was made known, Mordecai pleaded with Esther to go before the king to ask for mercy. Normally, no one was allowed to go before the king without being summoned. You could be punished with death if you came to him on your own accord. If the king held out his golden scepter when you approached him, then you would be spared. Esther and all the Jewish people in Susa fasted for three days and three nights so that Esther would have favor. After seeking the Lord during this time, she went before the king.
With humility, Esther went before the king. I can only imagine the immense pressure she felt; but we serve a God who answers prayers. The king reached out his golden scepter and she was spared. The king asked her what she wanted, but she refused to speak about it at that time. Instead, she suggested a banquet be held with the king and Haman in attendance. She offered to prepare the banquet.
At this banquet, she requested a second banquet. The evening before the second banquet, the king could not sleep. He had the records of the kingdom brought in and read in his presence. In it, he found where Mordecai uncovered the plot to kill the king. He decided to reward Mordecai and made Haman honor him before the people!
Then came the second banquet. Haman thought he would be honored, but the opposite happened. AS Psalm 23:5 reads, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” Esther finally revealed to Xerxes the plot of Haman to kill her people. She asked that they be spared. In doing so, she revealed that she was Jewish. The king was enraged!
He ordered that Haman and his sons be hanged on the gallows he built for Mordecai’s destruction. He then made a decree that the Jews were allowed to defend themselves against their enemies on the same date that Haman had planned to destroy them! The Jewish people took vengeance this day, but did not take plunder from their enemies. Purim was decreed as a celebration for the people of Israel; on the 14th and 15th of Adar (the 12th month of the Hebrew Calendar), it was to be celebrated.
The bride-elect Hadassah, named Esther, is a picture and type of the Bride of Christ. The Bible tells us in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 that there is a time for everything under the sun. In addition to what is listed in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, there is a time for concealing and a time for revealing!
Joseph was concealed in slavery and then revealed in time for the harvest. He saved his people. God hides people because in the process of hiding them, he is preparing them to fulfill their purpose. Esther’s identity was hidden. This does not mean she was ashamed. It just was not time for her to be revealed.
In the same way, all believers are preparing to be the Bride of Christ. However, only a certain group of believers will be elected to be the Bride. Jesus said, “Many are called, few are chosen” (Matt. 22:14). Those who are called, chosen, and faithful will ride back with Jesus at His return (Revelation 17:14). Among the called are those hidden away – a remnant – who are chosen. How many will remain faithful?
Before a girl could go before the king, she had to complete 12 months of beauty treatments. She was treated for six months with oil and myrrh and another six with perfumes and cosmetics (Esther 2:12). These ointments would literally soak into her pores so that when she sweat these scents were released. The goal was to please the king.
Some women dressed and were treated in the way that they liked, hoping that the king would also like it. Esther only did what Hegai, the head eunuch in charge of the women, suggested (Esther 2:15). She won the favor of everyone, even the King! Hegai’s name is very similar to the Hebrew word for annual festival, chag. The Feasts of Leviticus 23 give us special food. Food determines health; special food is special, spiritual health. The oils can refer to the anointing poured out on us to serve Him (see John 12:1-10). The wonderful fragrances represent our worship of Him. Our works become the cosmetics that adorn us spiritually (I Timothy 2:10). Our beauty to Him is based upon these things. How attractive are you to Him? As Jesus said, He wants us providing meat in due season (Matthew 24:45). The festivals are when this happens. During the holy days we receive special revelations about our Kingdom assignments. We are given direction about what we need to change to be in conformity with the Will of God. We are to be preparing and helping others prepare to be the Bride.
Purim occurs at the time almonds bloom. An almond blossom represents the concealed will of God being revealed. In Jeremiah 1:11-12, the Bible reads, “Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Jeremiah, what seest thou? And I said, I see a rod of an almond tree. Then said the LORD unto me, Thou hast well seen: for I will hasten my word to perform it.” In Numbers 17, God confirmed the priesthood through an almond blossom! In Exodus 25, God gave the instructions concerning the seven branch menorah. God commanded that each branch have almond blossoms!
Almonds represent God’s covenant to fulfill all that He has promised. God accomplishes His promises by His Spirit – “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit” (Zechariah 4:6). This verse is just after Zechariah saw the seven-branch lamp stand in Heaven!
Almonds prophetically represents the Bride of Christ. God is going to present to Jesus His Son a bride that is without spot or blemish (Ephesians 5:26-27). This does not happen through human effort. “Quench not the Spirit’s fire. Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil. And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Thessalonians 5:19-23, KJV). Our sanctification starts by submitting to the Spirit of Christ within us. We then begin to obey His commandments and serve in the Kingdom. He will cause the Bride to blossom at just the right time.
When an almond is being formed, a hull is formed around the almond to protect it and ensure its growth. We can see from the story how Esther kept her national identity concealed and protected until just the right time. At our present prophetic time period, the Bride is currently hidden, being formed by the Godly character she is allowing God to bring into her. She is concealed from the entire world. At the right time, the almonds will bud and blossom, and she will arise. When the harvest for almonds comes, the outer hull peals away. The almond becomes revealed. Just as Esther’s identity was concealed until just the right time, so will the True Bride of Christ be concealed until she blossoms before the entire world. There is a meaning of Purim even beyond the revealing of the Bride in Revelation 19!
Revelation 21:1-2 reads, “1 Then I saw ‘a new heaven and a new earth,’ for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.’”
The final prophetic fulfillment of Hanukkah is found in verse 1 when the New Heavens and New Earth are revealed. The final fulfillment of Purim is when the New Jerusalem appears as a BRIDE adorned just as Esther appeared as a bride adorned. This is the full revelation of the Bride’s glory. The bride appears once in Revelation 19 to the whole world alive at that time; this last time is for the entire Universe. There was a first Eve; she is the last Eve just as Christ is the last Adam.