The book of Esther is one of the forgotten books in the Bible. You don’t hear very many sermons about Esther. You don’t see very many television programs about Esther; however, it is a wonderful retelling of some events that actually happened. They are historically accurate. This book applies to us today and to Biblical prophecy.
Every year, at the spring, the book of Esther read in the synagogues. A huge celebration is held commemorating occurred in the book of Esther. This celebration is called Purim. This is one of the most joyous of all days in the biblical calendar. It is tradition to celebrate Purim with a reading of the Megillah. A Megillah is a small scroll in certain books of the Bible (like Esther) are written in Hebrew. During the reading, the congregation at the synagogue erupts with loud sounds at the mention of the various characters from the story. Purim is a special time!
What’s interesting is that Purim is not mentioned in the holy days found in Leviticus 23. You can turn to Leviticus 23, or in Hebrew V’yakra 23 and you can find all types of holy days. You can find the Passover celebration, you can find First Fruits, and you can find Pentecost or Shavuot. You can find the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur. You can find all these different days, but you will not find Purim. However we will find that Purim is alluded to in the Scripture, that the reference to Purim is actually hidden in the Scripture. This is aptly so because the hidden, the secret, or the masked, is the major theme of the story of Esther. We’re going to see such in this teaching. Let’s pull back the mask ofEsther and see what is hidden.
The Purim story or the book of Esther reveals the downfall of the vicious anti-Semite, Haman. Now, Haman was a descendant of Amalek, the traditional enemy of the Hebrews. Haman was prime minister in ancient Persia around 2300 years ago. Events happened that Haman plays a crucial role in the coronation of Queen Esther.
At the start of this story, the queen was named Vashti. She was banished because she wouldn’t come to the king’s banquet. The king’s name was Ahasuerus or Xerxes. He was having a party. He invited his queen. His queen did not show up. He kicked his queen out. He banished his queen, and so there’s a beauty pageant was held to find a new queen. Esther, the Hebrew from the tribe of Judah; Esther the Jew, was chosen as the next queen. Now no one realizes that Esther is Jewish. Keep that in mind.
Through the years, the evil Haman has become a powerful man in the kingdom. He is upset that there is one guy in the entire kingdom that doesn’t bow down to him. There’s this one guy that won’t reverence him and worship him. Guess what? His name is Mordecai, and by the way, he is also a Hebrew, or a Jew and he and Esther are cousins.
So Haman, the bad guy, succeeds in getting King Ahasuerus to authorize a royal decree to annihilate an unspecified nation that Haman says are unloyal. Haman persuaded the King that these supposed enemies of the king must be killed. Initially, the nation is not identified. This way the king can later claim that he doesn’t know who it was.
Haman casts lots (dice) to determine on what day the annihilation was going to happen. The Hebrew word for dice/lots is “pur” (which is where the name Purim comes from). When the pur where cast the day was set to annihilate the Jewish people.
Mordecai and Esther lead the Jewish people in a return to YHWH. They set aside a few days for fasting and prayer as they realize that unless a miracle occurs then the entire Jewish people will be destroyed. Esther decides that she is going to go before the king and reveal this hidden plot to destroy the Israelites.
So Esther invites the king and Haman to join her for dinner. In response to this wonderful dinner and the fact that the king had a great time, the king offers her half of his kingdom. She asks simply that they come back the next day. (Perhaps they were going to eat leftovers?) The king asks again and she says, “Come tomorrow, I’ll tell you more tomorrow. We’ll have a great time.”
Now throughout that night, Haman orders people to begin working on gallows so that he could have Mordecai killed. Haman is fed up with Mordecai. He’s mad at the Jewish people. He wants to annihilate them, and he says, “Make some gallows, and we’re going to hang this Jew, Mordecai, on them tomorrow.” At daybreak he appears to go before the king, to denounce Mordecai as the leader of this band of rebels. His plan is to begin his efforts to have Mordecai killed.
Well, in desperation to get some sleep that night, the king asks his servants read from the royal chronicles. (Maybe he had indigestion from that meal atEsther’s house!) The Bible says that the King’s servants opened this book of the King’s life to a long-forgotten story of how Mordecai discovered an assassination plot by two people. They were trying to kill the king. Mordecai exposed the plot. He saved the king’s life. At that exact moment when the king is inquiring whether Mordecai was rewarded for this loyalty Haman appears on the scene.
Before getting his chance to request that Mordecai gets killed, Haman is ordered by the king to parade Mordecai around the capital city in royal garments and proclaim, “This is the man to whom the king favors.” You can just imagine Haman hates every second and every minute of that. After the impromptu parade, Haman is whisked away to the royal dinner. They are going back to Esther’s house. At this dinner, the queen reveals to the king that she is a Hebrew. She reveals to the king that she is a Jew and that Haman is an enemy of the king because he seeks to destroy the Hebrew people.
The king gets very upset. He gets very angry. He cannot have his queen to be killed. So he storms out of the room. Haman falls before the queen and begins to plead to Esther, “Please, please, please, don’t allow me to die. Don’t allow these things to happen.” He somehow loses his balance, you could say, and falls on the couch where Esther is reclining. The king comes back at that moment and sees what’s happening. He explodes in anger. So the king orders Haman to be taken out and hanged on the exact gallows that were built for Mordecai.
The king then takes Mordecai and elevates him to Haman’s position. Mordecai issues orders with the king’s permission allowing the Hebrews to fight back. The king’s original orders to kill the Hebrew people couldn’t be rescinded but the order judged with new orders for the Hebrews to fight back with vengeance. And on the thirteenth and fourteenth days on the month of Adar, the Israelites won tremendous victories, and were saved from total annihilation.
Since that time we have been called to celebrate this feast of Esther called Purim. The book of Esther, chapter 9, verses 17 and 22, it says, “On the thirteenth day of the month of Adar, on the fourteenth day of the same month they rested and they made it a day for feasting and joy as the days in which the Jews rested from their enemies. In the month which was turned from sorrow to joy, from mourning into a feast day…that they should make them days of feasting and joy of sending portions to one another and gifts to the poor.”
This is a great time to proclaim YHWH’s salvation and YHWH’s power. This is a day to praise YHWH for how He’s been able to protect His people against the vicious attacks of the enemy.
Many times Purim is viewed as a children’s event that has little meaning for adults. Some “scholars” state that this is a bedtime fable and that the events in the book of Esther didn’t happen. At the surface, Purim is for the kids. There are costumes and there is noise as the day is celebrated. At first glance it’s childish. From the outside, it’s a simple story or a fairy tale. But we can learn much as we look at the story and we peel away the mask from Purim.
Now why would there be a mask in Esther? Why are we calling this teaching “Esther Unmasked”? Well one of the traditions of Purim is to take the scroll, the Megillah, and read the book aloud. As the story is read the congregation makes loud noise. When the name ‘Mordecai’ is read then everyone in the audience applauds with shouts noise makers. Everyone ‘boos’ and hisses when the name ‘Haman’ is heard.
Many times in Jewish communities the kids actually dress up and go around from door to door giving gifts and receiving gifts. Then of course there’s the giving of gifts to the poor. Many times the synagogue is a place of seriousness and quiet reflection. Well, on Purim the place is decorated like Mardi Gras as a huge party is held.
The Tanakh says in the book of Isaiah, / Yesha’yahu 53: “To whom has the arm of YHWH been revealed?” Now the arm of YHWH is a metaphor…it’s a picture of salvation. It’s a picture of Y’shua. Who has the salvation of YHWH been revealed? Now we will see the arm of YHWH. We can see in the story, the redemption of YHWH, in the story and we can see that it has been revealed to us. It’s been revealed to us today as we look at the story of Esther. To whom has it been revealed? It has been revealed to us.
What’s interesting here is that though the arm of YHWH has been revealed to us in the book of Esther - as we can see Him working and protecting the Hebrews and keeping them – we don’t see the name of YHWH. In fact, the book of Esther is the only book in the entire Bible that does not have the name of YHWH. It’s never mentioned. It hides His name, yet He is there.
The truth is that the arm of YHWH is there. Because if it was not for Esther; if it was not for Mordecai; if it was not for the story that we read in the book ofEsther; Y’shua could not have come. Understand that as we unmask Esther the events in the book set the stage for Messiah. Y’shua of course was born a Jew from the tribe of Judah. The Jewish people and the tribe of Judah would have been annihilated and destroyed if Haman would have had his way. Y’shua could not have come if Haman would have enacted his evil plan. So when we celebrate Purim, when we celebrate what’s in the book of Esther, we’re celebrating the arm of YHWH. And though YHWH’s name is not present in the book, we can sense His might. We can experience His salvation.
Another interesting thing about the book of Esther is the name of the main character: Esther. That’s not her Hebrew name. Her Hebrew name, her true name was Hadassah, but the Persians called her Esther. Interestingly, Esther in Hebrew is Astir. The word ‘astir’ in Hebrew means secret, like you’re going to whisper a secret to someone. Astir is the word for keeping something hidden from someone. It means to hide.
Esther hid the fact that she was a Hebrew. She hid the fact that she was Jewish from the king. It was Mordecai who said, “Do not tell anyone of your true identity until the right time, for perhaps you are placed here for such a time as this.” For at the right time, the true identity of Esther was going to be revealed. Esther hid her identity. YHWH hid His name in this book.
We actually see that the Torah, in the Law of Moshe, the first five books of the Bible actually speak about what is occurring here. If you were to turn in your Bible to Deuteronomy or Devarim, chapter 31, and here starting in verse 16, it shows YHWH telling Moshe that he is going to die. In verse 17, He’s saying that the Hebrews, or the Israelites, are going to break the covenant that YHWH has made with them. They’re going to disobey the Torah, and they’re going to be scattered in the lands because of sin.
Then in verse 18 it says this, “And I will surely hide My face in that day for all the evils that they do and that they will have turned to other gods. Now therefore write the song and teach it to the children, put it in their mouths so that the song may be a witness for me against the children of Israel.” He’s saying, “Look, I’m giving you instructions. I’m giving you teachings. I’m giving you Torah for the nation of Israel. All they know is Egypt but now they need to know YHWH’s will and YHWH’s Word. When they do disobey, the punishment, the wages of sin is death or expulsion from YHWH’s will and His life.” Exile.
That’s how Adam and Eve were dealt with. They sinned and they were sent out of the land. That’s how the Hebrews were dealt with. They sinned and they were sent out of the land. There was the Babylonian captivity and the Assyrian captivity. Well here, YHWH is speaking to Moshe and in verse 18 He says, “I will surely hide My face in that day for all of the evils that they do.” In Hebrew this is written, ” Va’anokhi ha astir panai.” “I will hide my face.” You can see the word ‘astir,’ the word for secret or hide or Esther. The word for ‘panai’ is the word for face, my face. Va’anokhi means I will hide, or so I will do this. He’s saying, “I will hide, yes I will hide my face.” The phrase ‘astir panai’…hiding of the face is a description of Esther, the book of Esther.
The events in Esther happen at the very end of the Babylonian captivity. The Israelites are there in exile. Purim is a festival of exile. Well we know that we are in exile today, that all of Israel has not been gathered and placed in the land of Israel…that we are in a time where YHWH may seem hidden to us. But let me tell you, YHWH is behind the scenes working. No matter what you face, no matter what kind of persecution you go through YHWH is with you. The Bible says in 2 Timothy, chapter 3, verse 12 that, “All who live for YHWH will face persecution.” No matter what you face YHWH is with you, YHWH is working.
YHWH was with the Israelites during this time of persecution and exile. YHWH was protecting them. They were under the rule and reign of a Persian king in a foreign land. They were facing extinction…annihilation. They were facing someone who was going to destroy them.
Yet even in exile YHWH was there. He wasn’t there with the Tabernacle. Notice that He wasn’t there with a pillar of fire and a cloud of smoke. He wasn’t there with these majestic miracles, but He was there. His presence was with them. His blessing was with them. In the book of Esther, the celebration of Purim teaches us that things are not always as they appear.
Again, Esther hid her true name, Hadassah. She hid her true identity as an Israelite or as a Jew. We know that Haman hid, he veiled his anti-Semitism. He did not come to the king and say, “I want to kill those Jews.” No, he said there are people out there whose laws are different than ours…who won’t conform to the society I want to destroy them. Doesn’t that sound familiar? Haman hid that.
Mordecai, the humble Mordecai, is paraded around town in the royal garb. Isn’t that interesting how things are not always as they appear? The two servants who tried to kill the king…remember how Mordecai was able to foil their plot? Their names were Bigthana and Teresh. Well they actually disguised themselves as royal servants of the king and that is how they tried to kill him. They were hidden. They were masked.
There is so much in the story that is to be unveiled. That is why this teaching is called Esther Unmasked. There are many connections to the hidden in the story. YHWH’s name is hidden. And the fact that Messiah Y’shua celebrated Purim is hidden! He celebrated Purim. You can go to your King James and you can look and look and look for a reference for Purim; you won’t find it. But the Bible actually alludes to the fact that Y’shua, our Messiah, did celebrate Purim.
In John chapter 5, it is said that Y’shua was in Jerusalem for an unnamed feast. Perhaps it is unnamed because it was Purim? We know that when we read the Newer Testament, the Brit Chadashain Hebrew, that it says that He was there for Shabbat. We know it says He was there for Chanukah. We know it says He was there for Pesach, or Passover. We know that He was there for all of these holy days. We can go through and recount, okay He was there for this one, He was there for that one, but then it says He was there for an unnamed feast. What feast could that be, and why was it unnamed?
It’s also interesting that John chapter 5 states that He was there for an unnamed feast that happened to fall on a Sabbath, the seventh day of the week. There are several people who have done research here, one of those named Lambert Dolphin. He wanted to know what feast day was it that Y’shua celebrated on a Shabbat in John chapter 5. What feast day was unnamed in John chapter 5?
So he went back to the historical records. It’s pretty easy to actually do. He looked from 25 A.D. to 35 A.D. and he looked at every single feast day that fell on a Sabbath. He went through, and he said, “Okay, one of these feast days that falls on a Sabbath has to be the one Y’shua celebrated because it said He went to an unnamed feast day on Shabbat.” There was only one. And in the year 28 C.E., or Common Era, A.D., 28, Purim fell on a Shabbat.
So we can take that historical reference because we know that history will always back up what the Bible says, we can go to John chapter 5, and say it was an unnamed feast day that Y’shua celebrated on a Shabbat. We know why it was unnamed, because YHWH hid His name in the book of Esther. YHWH hid Himself in the story of Esther. Esther hid her true identity, and here Y’shua’s keeping the same theme where He’s hiding the fact that He was there. It was very likely that this was in reference…YHWH was giving us yet another clue that Y’shua was there at Purim. So there are many hidden connections.
There’s even a hidden connection between the feast of Purim, or the celebration of Purim, and the Day of Atonement.
Now you may think, “What in the world do these two holy days have to do with each other?” You’ve got the Day of Atonement; it’s a day of seriousness, a day of fasting, a day of repentance, and a day of prayer. It’s a day of sitting in the synagogue all day long and saying, “I’m sorry, I did this, I did that.” The Bible calls it a day of affliction Leviticus 23. Yom Kippur is a time of introspection, confession and quiet.
Purim is much the opposite. It’s a party! If you’ve ever celebrated Purim you know that this feast is fun. You show up in a Bible costume. You have your grogger; you have your noise maker. You take the flowers out of the synagogue and you bring balloons in! It is a joyous day. It is a day of laughter. Many synagogues even have joke telling contests on Purim. It’s so much fun. It’s loud. It’s joyous, and there’s feasting.
On Yom Kippur you have fasting. You don’t eat for 25 hours. But on Purim you’re feasting, and you’re even sending food to other people. How strange.
How could two opposites be alike? How could these two holidays that are so dissimilar be similar? How could they be connected? Well Purim is the Feast of Lots. Remember that. They called it Purim because of the lots that were thrown by Haman to choose the day. We also know that on Yom Kippur that the high priest would take lots, he would take a set of dice – a set of pur – and he would roll those to see which of the two goats was going to be sacrificed for the sins of the people. The pur where thrown to determine which of the two goats was going to be let free as a scapegoat. Do you see the connection?
Truth be told, Yom Kippur is not an accurate name for the day. Yom Kippur literally means “day of atonement.” The word “Yom” means “day” and the word “Kippur” means “atonement or covering.” But in the Torah, it’s actually called Yom HaKippurim. Yom Hakippurim. Yom Hakippurim. (Do you see “purim” in the word?) It’s actually called the Day of Atonements, because there was atonement made for the priest, there was atonement made for the priesthood. There was atonement made for the sins. There was atonement made for the Tabernacle. There was atonement made for the nation for the many sins they had committed. It was a day of many atonements.
Do you see the name Purim in Yom Hakippurim? Another truth is hidden in the Torah scrolls. In the Torah scrolls there are no vowel points to the Hebrew words. The word could be read “Yom Hakeepurim.” This phrase “Yom Keepurim” actually means in Hebrew “a day like Purim.” Yom Keepurim means a day like Purim. Yom Kipurim means a day of atonements.
How in the world is the Day of Atonement like Purim? How is it hidden? In reality, Purim, or the festival of Esther, the joyous time is a result and an actualization of Yom Kipurim. The rejoicing that we do on Purim is because of what has occurred on the Day of Atonement. You could say it this way, that Purim is the flesh on the soul of Yom Hakippurim…that the feast of Esther, that the joyous celebration of YHWH’s deliverance is the flesh on the soul of the Day of Atonement.
It tells us in Esther, chapter 9, verse 24 that Haman, the enemy of the Jews had schemed against the Israelites to destroy them. Hidden behind the actions of Mordecai and Esther is a connection to Yom Kippurim.
Now remember that when Haman issued this decree that the righteous Mordecai did nothing. The Bible says that Mordecai would sit at the king’s gate. This means that he sat in a place of authority. He was friends with the king. He had won the king’s favor. Remember that he had saved the king’s life. Talk about an IOU! He could have gone to the King and said, “Mr. King, remember on this day when I saved your life? Well Mr. King if I found favor in your sight, I know that I’ve sat kind of on your counsel of advisors well, they’re going to kill us on this day…can you do something about it King?” Have you ever wondered why Mordechai didn’t go? Why didn’t he call in his bets? Why didn’t he do something?
The truth is he did. He did not go to King Ahasuerus. He did not go to the King of Persia. Instead he went to the King of all kings. He went to the Master of all masters. He went to YHWH Tzevaot, YHWH of Hosts. Not to initially beg for pardon. He didn’t go and say, “Oh YHWH, take away this king. Just make him disappear.” He didn’t go to YHWH and say, “Oh, YHWH I beg You just make Haman disappear and let it just be forgotten that this has happened.” But do you know what he did? He didn’t go to YHWH and say, “YHWH, take away this judgment.” He didn’t go to YHWH and say, “Take away this evil decree.”
He went to YHWH and the Bible says he begged for forgiveness. He begged for pardon of sin. The Bible says that he tore his clothes, and he put on sackcloth and ashes. That means he went into mourning. That means he went into repentance. That means that he realized what was happening to them could only be stopped through the power of teshuvah. Teshuvah. Scary Hebrew word? Not really. It’s a Hebrew word that means “to turn and to return.” He realized that this decree could only be annulled by the power of Teshuvah. And Mordecai got others to join him as they had corporate repentance.
Before Esther went to see the king, she decreed, “We’re going to have a three-day fast. And for three days I’m not going to eat. I’m not going to drink. I’m going to simply put my faith before YHWH. I’m going to repent for my sins. I’m going to repent for the sins of the nation, and I want you Hebrews to do the same with me.” She didn’t spend those days pampering herself or getting a spray on tan! She was about to go before the king, and the king could have had her killed!
The story goes that if you came before the king unannounced, he would have your head. He would have you killed unless he showed forth the golden scepter. Unless he proclaimed favor your way, you were going to die. So there was a chance that Esther would have been killed just for going to the king and inviting him for dinner!
What does she do? Does she get a script together? Does she practice it over and over and over again? Does she make sure that her diction is correct? No. She says, “We’re going to have a three-day fast.” What does she do? She spends the three days before fasting, withholding, defeating unbelief in her life!
If you’ve ever fasted for three days, then you know that you really don’t want to be close to people. Do you know why? It’s because your breath stinks. You smell. Many times fasting during the times of the Bible would include not bathing as well. Do you want to go before the king of the land with bad breath? Would you want to risk knocking him out of his royal throne because of how bad your breath smells? No! But Esther took that choice because she knew that if she could make herself right with the King of all kings; if she could repent and turn from her sins; if she could get the people of the land to turn from their sins, that the decree would be annulled. This is the message ofEsther. This is the hidden message of Purim…the Hebraic concept. We understand that Mordecai knew these events were connected to some type of sin, and that Israel was in exile during this day. Indeed the Talmud actually says that Israel was threatened because the Jews had bowed down to Nebuchadnezzar’s image and had gone to the banquet given by the king.
Remember the banquet Vashti wouldn’t go to? That was actually a banquet to celebrate the destruction of the temple in Israel. And the Talmud says that Vashti wouldn’t go. She was too upset over that. Yet many Jewish people went. Because of the sin the Talmud says that King Ahasuerus was allowed, or Haman was allowed, to issue this evil decree.
Now we know that we have YHWH’s favor. No matter what we do we have YHWH’s favor, we have YHWH’s hand, and we have YHWH’s forgiveness through teshuvah…through repentance. Because when we come to YHWH with a broken and contrite heart He does not despise us. No matter what we’ve done, no matter what we’ve done…no matter what we’ve done…YHWH forgives. The Bible says in Romans chapter 8; verse 39 that nothing can separate us from the love of YHWH that is in Y’shua Ha Moshiach. YHWH even loved Haman. YHWH even loved Hitler. YHWH even loved Saddam Hussein. And he loves us.
The truth is that He loved Hitler as much as He loves you. He loved Saddam as much as He loves you. The most evil person you could imagine, YHWH loves them. And He’s offering forgiveness, He’s offering blessing. He says all you have to do is, “Come to me and repent of your sins.” He says that He is faithful and just to forgive us of all sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness, but we have to come before Him and repent. We have to come before Him and do teshuvah.
The truth is teshuvah and repentance isn’t really the same thing. Today repentance is easy. Say you’re sorry. Say a couple of Hail Mary’s. Go before the priest, give your offering, whatever it takes and you can go out and sin again. That is not teshuvah. Repentance is generally just changing your mind and “I hope to do better.” Repentance is regret, saying you’re sorry. Repentance is making a mental decision not to do it.
Repentance is usually a sad event. But teshuvah is greater. True teshuvah is to abandon the evil act and direct your effort towards doing what is right. True teshuvah includes regret and sorrow but does not stop there because true teshuvah is characterized by joy. True teshuvah is characterized by joy found in the renewal to the connection with YHWH. Ezekiel 14:6 says, “Teshuvah! Teshuvah! Repent! Turn from your idols. Renounce all detestable practices.” Notice that this verse says that you are to teshuvah, repent and you are to turn from those practices. You are not just repenting, not just saying you’re sorry…oh, YHWH I’m sorry I got caught, man I shouldn’t have told that lie. I shouldn’t have done this, or man, I shouldn’t have done that. Teshuvah is turning from that and doing what is right.
Thousands of years ago YHWH gave man specific instructions and directions called the “Torah.” When we disobey Torah we sin. 1 John 3:4, “Everyone who sins breaks the Torah.” In fact sin is Torhalessness. When we sin the Bible says in Romans 3:23, “The wages of sin is death.” We deserve to die. Yet teshuvah is the bridge that YHWH has provided us to Him. Through the blood of the sacrifice of our Master Y’shua we can have forgiveness of sins totally and fully. Any sin we committed yesterday, today, or tomorrow is totally forgiven by His blood.
The Bible says that “you are saved by grace through faith not of yourself that any man should boast. It is the gift of YHWH.” But notice that it is by grace through faith; it’s not just by grace that we are saved. If it was just by grace then everybody in the world would be saved.
The verse says you’re saved by grace through faith. You’ve got to have faith. You’ve got to do teshuvah to reach out and claim it and reach out and say, “Father, I’m sorry. Forgive me. Cleanse me with the blood of Y’shua.” And do teshuvah and turn from those sins. In Lamentations, chapter 5, verse 21, it says, “Turn to me (teshuvah), oh YHWH.” Teshuvah is like restoring the relationship in the Garden of Eden.
Forgiveness and teshuvah does not occur if you say, “Today I will repent and tomorrow, I’ll go back and do it again.” That denies the power of teshuvah. YHWH is looking at the sincerity of the heart. Mordecai and Esther were serious about teshuvah. They were serious about it because the Bible says, “The sacrifice of YHWH is a broken spirit.”
In James chapter 4, verse 7 it says, “Submit to YHWH, resist Ha’Satan and He will flee from you.” Too many times we forget that. We want to just run from Ha’Satan, and we just want to get away from that temptation that we may have, but we don’t want to submit to YHWH and His wil. Teshuvah submits to YHWH and then turns away from the enemy.
Now there was a rabbi, a well known teacher and physician named Maimonides. Maimonides developed a four-step plan, or biblical four-step process of teshuvah. It’s a four-step outline with the result of growth and forgiveness and atonement. Just saying you’re sorry is not enough. You need to say you’re sorry. You need to acknowledge you were wrong. You need to turn from that sin, and you need to return to YHWH.
Number one is very simple: Stop. That’s rocket science isn’t it? Stop! Stop what you’re doing. Acknowledge your sin area and stop it. If it’s destructive then stop it. If you’re engaged in it, then stop it. If you’re stealing, then you have to stop stealing. You cannot continue to sin if you want to be forgiven. No matter what that sin is, you cannot continue to sin if you want to be forgiven. So number one: Stop.
Number two: Regret. You should feel regret for your error. It is wrong to steal. We’ll just use that as an example. It is wrong to lie. It is wrong to gossip. It is wrong to talk about other people. It is wrong to be disrespectful. It is wrong to hold back YHWH’s tithes. Theft is breaking YHWH’s Word, and it hurts other people. You should be sorry for the harm that you’ve caused, there should be no excuses. You were in error. Don’t excuse it. Don’t give a reason. Take responsibility. Regret it, and understand what you’ve done has hurt YHWH and it has hurt other people.
So number one is stop doing it. Number two is to regret it. And number three is: Verbalize. Verbalize, verbalize. Say it out loud. Explain your regret to YHWH out loud. This does not have to be done in a synagogue. It does not have to be done at a church. It does not have to be done at a worship center. It can be done in the confines of your house, of your car, wherever you are, talk to YHWH. At least an audible whisper, not just in your head, but say it out loud.
YHWH knows it. But who needs to hear it? You do. You need to hear that fact that you have hurt YHWH and others. Tell Him that you are sorry for what you’ve done wrong. Now is the time to confess and confess it out loud. The Bible says in the Brit Chadasha, to confess your sins to one another that you may be forgiven. There is a time also to go to one another.
It’s interesting that the rabbis tell us, regarding Yom Kippur / Yom HaKippurim, the day of atonements does not atone for your sins against other people. The sages say that this day only atones for your sins against YHWH. For your sin against Bob, you have to go to Bob. You have to stop what you’ve done to Bob. You’ve got to regret what you’ve done to Bob. You’ve got to verbalize to Bob that you were wrong. Ask him to forgive you, and then accept his forgiveness. This concept is very similar to the Master’s prayer. “Forgive us of our sins as we forgive others who have sinned against us.”
If you cannot forgive man of their sins, how can YHWH forgive you of your sins? Didn’t Y’shua say that? If you have hurt your sister, your brother, your aunt, your uncle, your spouse, your children, your pastor, if you have hurt your friends, if you have hurt your family, if you’ve hurt the neighbor, if you’ve hurt a waitress, you need to go to them and say, “I’m sorry. I was rude to you. I was nasty. I’m sorry. Forgive me. I should not have taken advantage of you. Forgive me for doing this. Forgive me I was wrong.”
Stop it, regret it, and then verbalize it. Say it out loud. Ask forgiveness of YHWH. Ask forgiveness of people. And the final step is to make a plan. To review: Stop. Number two: Regret. Number three: Verbalize. Number four: Make a plan. Make a plan.
It’s said that if you fail to plan then you plan to fail. Call this the four steps of teshuvah. Because if you make a plan, you will not fall back into that sin again. How can you make sure the mistake won’t happen? If your sin is pornography and you watch pornography on the internet then you may need to have your internet service cut off. You may need to have certain websites banned. You may need to say “I’m only going to get on the internet if someone else is in the house.” Or better yet, put your computer in your living room so everyone can see what website you are visiting.
If that’s your sin, number one you need to stop it. Number two, you need to regret it. Number three, you need to verbalize it, tell someone one. And number four, you need to make a plan that it won’t happen again. The Brit Chadashasays to make no provision for the flesh. If you are weak then don’t allow yourself to be tempted.
If you have sticky fingers, you like to put things in your pocket, and then don’t go down the candy aisle. Your plan might include, and I encourage your plan to include memorizing Scriptures. Know the Scripture. Even Y’shua battled the enemy by saying, “It is written. It is written.”
This four-step process sounds so simple, it sounds so elementary. It may seem meaningless to you, but heart-felt teshuvah erases the sinful action. Do you understand that? That there’s a cause, and there is an effect. But when you do teshuvah you actually can stop the effect. When you have the cause (the sin) and the effect of that is judgment. But by doing teshuvah, by turning from that sin you can stop the effect from taking place. That’s what Mordecai understood. That’s what Esther understood. That they were going to be annihilated, they were going to be killed, but by teshuvah they were going to stop that from happening.
In Yom Kippur there’s a phrase saying that the decree has been annulled. The decree has been stopped. The decree of judgment has been stopped by the forgiveness of sins because the person has turned from their sins and they have returned to YHWH.
The book of Micah says that, “You will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all of our iniquity into the depths of the sea.” Know that when you do teshuvah, you are forgiven. This was the message of our Messiah. Y’shua preached, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Revelation 2:5 says, “Remember the height from which you have fallen. Repent, do the things you first did, and if you do not repent I will come and remove your lamp stand from its place.” Revelation 3:3, “Remember therefore what you have received and heard. Obey it and teshuvah…repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief and you will know not what time I will come to you.”
“Though your sins be as scarlet they will be made as white as snow,” the Scriptures say in Isaiah 1:18. That is what repentance does, it saves us, it heals us, and it repairs the broken relationships. And it stops the decree of annihilation.
Many times we have made mistakes in our lives. We have sinned; we have made bad decisions. Simply by coming to YHWH in mourning or in repentance, and seeking Him through fasting and prayer, the effects of those sins can be changed. And this is the joy! This is the joy that our sins are forgiven. The Bible says that an angel in heaven rejoices when a person’s sins are forgiven. Not just when…oh, I’m born again, there are angels rejoicing in the corner of the room for me. No! Whenever you do teshuvah, the angels in heaven are rejoicing. Teshuvah stops what was going to happen. What was made for bad turns out for good and then joy is spread.
There is a tradition at Purim that you are to drink at Purim until you don’t know the difference between saying “blessed be Mordecai” and “cursed be Haman.” You are to drink, drink, drink, drink, drink until you can’t tell the difference between “blessed is Mordecai” and “cursed is Haman.” Now we know that that goes directly against what it says in the Newer Testament which teaches, “Do not be drunk with wine, but be filled with the Ruach Hakodesh, in the Holy Spirit.”
However, there is a spiritual principle that we can learn. In a sober state Mordecai’s righteousness is more beneficial than Haman’s wicked plans. But a drunken person cannot tell the difference between Mordecai and a monkey. As a believer we should have our vision blurred just the same. Whatever happens in our life should not lead us to worry. Think about this – sober-minded people, they see the doctor’s charts. They see the facts. They see the negative bank balances.
But when you are drunk in the Ruach Hakodesh, when you are filled with the Spirit, you know that YHWH is working all things together for the good of those who love Him and were called according to His purpose. Romans 8:31 says, “What then shall we say of these things? If YHWH is for us who can be against us?” We must seek to see all as for our good!
Remember too that Purim or the story of Esther, of this annihilation, occurred in the month of Adar. This word “adar” means joy or strength. The rabbis say that our joy / strength increases in Adar. It’s hidden that no matter what we face, YHWH is with us.
When Haman threw the pur, when he threw the lots and he chose the month of Adar, he rejoiced. Do you know why? He rejoiced because it was in the month of Adar that Moses died. He said, “Oh, this is great. I’m going to kill all the Jews in the same month that Moses died.” Yet Haman did not know the rest of the story.
Not only is Adar the month that Moses died, but it’s also the month that Moses was born. It was secret. It was hidden. That what the enemy thought was bad is actually good. The enemy thought, “Oh, this will be great. I’ll kill them on this month.” And yet the plans were foiled by the power of teshuvah, by the power of repentance.
Y’shua came that we might have life and life to its abundance… John, chapter 10, verse 10.
There is a traditional Hebrew toast when you’re drinking Yayin / wine. You take your cup, you toast it, and you say, “l’chayim!l’chayim,” which means “to life!” No matter what we face YHWH is with us! YHWH’s greatness is with us. We rejoice at Purim because YHWH is working all things together. We rejoice at Purim because our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. We will rejoice even when another Persian king rises up to annihilate us as we will see in the end times.
This is the hidden story, the hidden message behind Esther. YHWH is with us even though we are in exile. The hidden message is the power of teshuvah cancels the decree. The message is that our lives can be changed; our lives can be transformed if we learn from Mordecai and Esther. If we understand that fasting is for us and it beats down the unbelief in our lives. If we understand that we’ve been forgiven of our sins, and we need to turn from our sins, and return to YHWH. If we understand that even though YHWH’s name is hidden in the book of Esther, YHWH was there.
YHWH’s name may be hidden from our day as well. Our friends and family may look at us and say, “Why are you saying YHWH’s name?” Or, “Don’t say that name.” But YHWH is with us. YHWH is working it out. He has given us forgiveness. He has given us victory over our enemies. We are to be so filled with the Ruach Hakodesh to abundant life that no matter what we face, whether it is righteous acts or evil acts upon us we will know hat YHWH is working all things together.
Now why is that? We’ll conclude with this. It says YHWH works all things together. Romans 8, “YHWH works all things together for the good of those who love him and are called according to His purpose.” When you love Him you walk in His ways. Y’shua said if you love Me then keep My commandments. YHWH iss working everything together as you keep His commandments and are called according to His purpose.
As you are walking in His purpose, He’s going to work it out for you. But if you’re walking in your purpose, if you’re doing what you want, then guess what? You’re going to get what you deserve. You’re going to get what you’ve made. But when you walk in His ways, when you keep His purpose, just likeEsther, just like Mordecai, you can repent of your sins. You can turn to YHWH. You can see the favor. You can see the exaltation of YHWH’s people, and you can see the joy in forgiveness. Purim is a time that we celebrate what happened on Yom HaKippurim, the atonement of our sins. Read the book ofEsther and celebrate what YHWH has done anytime of the year. YHWH has given us the victory.
May YHWH bless you and keep you, may YHWH cause His face to shine upon you and be graciously unto you. May YHWH look upon you with His favor, with His countenance, with His peace, and give you peace, through Messiah, through Y’shua, the Prince of Peace, Amen.