Tonight at sundown, Purim begins. Purim is a holiday that celebrates the story of Esther, a Jewish young woman who became Queen of Persia and risked her life to save her people. To learn more about Purim, see my post from last year, "Why I Love Purim". This holiday is full of joy and celebration, with parties, costumes, parades and fun. It is also a holiday full of hidden meaning.
At Purim we wear masks and costumes to symbolize the hidden meaning of the holiday. The Hebrew meaning of Esther's name itself is "hidden". She was urged by Mordecai (her guardian and relative) to hide her true identity, which she did until the time came when she revealed who she was in order to save an entire nation.
The Book of Esther is the only book of the Bible that never actually mentions the name of God. His presence is "hidden" from the reader, but it is very evident that He is working behind the scenes in every little detail of the life of Esther and those around her to achieve His intricate plan. The story is full of hidden miracles: things that seem to be coincidences, but that work out miraculously in the end.
Thinking about hidden miracles and hidden meaning reminds me of the Hebrew alephbet (no, that wasn't a typo. The first letter is "aleph", and the second is "bet", therefore "alephbet"). This language is absolutely amazing to me. Did you know that each Hebrew letter actually has a meaning? Words are formed by putting together letters which have specific meanings. Not only that, but each letter also has a numeric value as well, and these numbers also have meaning! It all works together to make words and sentences that have deeper meaning than I ever imagined! This is the extraordinary language that most of our Bible was originally written in. The more I learn about it, the more I wish I was fluent in Hebrew so that I could fully grasp the meaning in the scriptures more easily.
Hidden meaning is a little bit foreign to us Americans, I think. We live our lives on the surface, getting caught up in the day to day things, and we don't always notice the unseen hand of God working miracles all around us. When we read our Bibles, it seems that often we are just reading about people and events, and not always searching for the truth and meaning that God placed there for us to discover and apply to our own lives.
This holiday of Purim is a reminder to me to be on the lookout for what God may be trying to tell me, and that He is at work in circumstances around me even if I don't always notice those hidden miracles at the moment.