In 2011, TIME Magazine listed the “Top 100 Toys of All Time.” Included on that list was a toy called the Magic 8 Ball. It worked like this: When users shook the sphere and asked a yes/no question, a twenty-sided die floating inside would surface and reveal one of its sides. Ten of the possible answers were affirmative, five were non-committal, and five were negative.
While many people attribute life circumstances to “luck” or “fate,” we know God alone is sovereign. In today’s passage, Haman used an ancient version of the Magic 8 Ball. When Mordecai did not bow down to him, Haman flew into a rage (v. 5). He was not satisfied with merely punishing Mordecai; he wanted to destroy all the Jews in the kingdom (v. 6).
Rather than kill them immediately, Haman consulted a pur (pl. purim) or lot—a cube-shaped object used for divination—to determine when the slaughter should take place. He cast the pur during the first month of the year, and the lot fell to the twelfth month, meaning that the Israelites would live with the horror of impending massacre for eleven long months. On the other hand, that delay—providentially—bought them some time.
The Israelites were acquainted with the pur. They even used purim to query Yahweh. Joshua cast lots before the Lord when assigning the land to the tribes, deferring the decision to His sovereignty (Josh. 18:6). In Psalm 16:5–6, David praised the Lord, saying: “You alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure.” Proverbs 16:33 further underscores the theme of God’s providence and sovereignty. While Haman cast the lot, Yahweh alone—the God of the Jews—would determine how it fell.
>> If you don’t already keep a journal, consider starting a record of how God works in your life. From time to time go back and read it, especially during difficult seasons. You will find it a great encouragement to remember how God has worked.