Saturday, May 14, 2011
Esther Chapter 9-10
- On March 7th, both of the king's decrees went into effect. Can you imagine the time leading up to this? Greedy people, or people who hated the Jews, have been preparing to take all they own. They're gonna go steal, kill, and destroy and reap the plunder. The Jews have been getting their defenses ready and arming themselves to the teeth.
- I can't imagine the tension that was building up all over the empire. I mean this wasn't just in the city of Susa... this was all across Persia...
- Have you ever felt like that? Felt like everybody's out to get you? Fighting a constant battle?
- Good News! You have a secret weapon. You have God on your side. : )
- “The enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, but quite the opposite happened. It was the Jews who overpowered their enemies.”
- The enemy had just as much time to prepare. And probably more man-power. But the Jews won. Why? Because this wasn't just a battle between flesh and blood... this was a spiritual battle that went back to the time of King Saul... and God always wins over Satan.
- “No one could make a stand against them, for everyone was afraid of them.” Why? I mean good grief! It's just a few people. What is there to fear? Their God.
- And there was the small thing about Mordecai being promoted within the king's palace and Esther... the queen being a Jew... The nobles and governors and officials in the provinces HELPED the Jews for fear of Mordecai.
- Had not there been that fear of death on the officials... and thus on the people of the provinces... the Jews probably would have been annihilated. There would have been such a greed motivator that there would have been no stopping the enemy.
- But because there were faithful people, who followed through... there was such a fear among the nation... that they didn't even gain a foothold. God saw to it that everything fell into place so that nothing happened to His people.
- And He does the same for you.
- Don't forget that God is with you in this battle. He always has a plan. Always knows exactly what move the enemy's gonna make next. He's ALWAYS 5 steps ahead... or 10... however you wanna think about it.
- Leviticus 25:17
- Isaiah 14:24-27; 8:9-17
- Do you remember the battle in II Kings 7? The Arameans were sieging Samaria. They were running the people out of food. The famine was so bad that a donkey's head sold for eighty pieces of silver and a cup of dove dung sold for five pieces of silver. Ew... gross...
- The prophet Elisha told the king's messenger that the next day five quarts of good flour would only cost one piece of silver... the guy told him it was impossible... and even if God Himself opened the heavens, it would never happen...
- Well, the next day, there's these 4 guys. They were all lepers. They said “why are we sitting here just waiting to die? We will starve if we stay here, and we will starve if we go back to the city. So lets just go surrender to the Arameans. If they let us live, fine. If they kill us... well... we were gonna die anyway...”
- So they went out... but when they got to the Aramean camp, no one was there! The place had been completely abandoned.
- God had caused the Aramean army “to hear the clatter of speeding chariots and the galloping of horses and the sounds of a great army approaching.”
- They thought the Israelites had hired extra people to come attack them. They panicked and ran off. Completely abandoned camp. They left EVERYTHING behind.
- So when the lepers got there... they ate and drank... then finally they were like... hmm.. maybe we should go tell the city... So they went back and told the city what happened...
- The king suspected foul play. He thought they were laying in wait ready to ambush them. So the scouts went out... they followed the trail all the way to the Jordan River. The entire way, the Arameans had thrown down anything weighing them down so they could run faster.
- The people of Samaria were saved... and they never had to lift a finger. Granted... they had to starve for a while... but they never had to fight the battle.
- God's like that sometimes... He just does things... not really in the expected way... and we're take the king's response. We look at it and go “okay where's the catch... what's REALLY happening...”
- God is always faithful... whether we believe it every moment of every day or not. He never fails, He never leaves us hanging, He never forgets us.
- Isaiah 35
- Ephesians 1:3-14
- Proverbs 21:28-31
- Within the city of Susa, the Jews killed and annihilated their enemies. “They did as they pleased with those who hated them.” They killed 500 men. Among them, were the ten sons of Haman. The job that should have been King Saul's... was finally completed.
- However, there is something kinda neat here that I want to take note of. The Jews didn't take any plunder. The first decree stated that if you killed a Jew, you got to take all of his property. The Jews however, didn't do that. They left it alone. They didn't kill out of greed. In their self defense, they did as they needed to do and no more.
- Ever stick your foot in your mouth? Win and argument and just keep nagging and pushing the topic? Yeah... been there done that. All it does is rub salt in the wound and make people who weren't involved in the conflict... start to wish they had been... just so they could've taken a swing at you themselves.
- The Jews didn't invite that. They did the necessary and no more.
- When the king heard what had happened, he called Esther to him and told her how many men the Jews had killed. Then he said “what more do you want? It will be granted to you.”
- “If it please the king, give the Jews in Susa permission to do again tomorrow as they have done today, and let the bodies of Haman's ten sons be impaled on a pole.” Morbid much? Nonetheless... it was effective.
- The next day, the Jews killed 300 more men... and again, they took no plunder.
- In the other provinces, the other Jews had also killed in their defense. All told, there were 75,000 enemies in the other places who were killed. So a total of 75,500 on the first day, and another 300 on the second day. God cleaned house. 75,800 men who were enemies of the Jews died.
- Psalm 64
- On March 8th (March 9th in Susa...) the Jews rested and feasted with gladness. This became a holiday of thanksgiving.
- footnote- “People tend to have short memories when it comes to God's faithfulness. To help counter this, Mordecai wrote down these events and encouraged an annual holiday to commemorate the historic days of Purim. Jews still celebrate Purim today. Celebrations of feasting, gladness, and gift-giving are important ways to remember God's specific acts.” (Times like Christmas and Easter within Christianity are times that we feast and celebrate the gifts of God.)
- Mordecai sent out letters to all the Jews in every province asking them to celebrate this event on March 8th and 9th. They were to celebrate with feasting and by giving gifts of food to each other and presents to the poor. “This would commemorate a time when the Jews gained relief from their enemies, when their sorrow was turned into gladness and their mourning into joy.”
- They called this festival “Purim”. Remember the lots that Haman cast to see on what day he should destroy the Jews? The lots (like dice or something equivalent.) were called “Purim”. So the Jews named the festival after this process of casting lots. Many times, lots were cast as kind of a fleece. If you remember the story of Gideon, he laid out a fleece on the ground and asked for a sign from God. If the dew fell only on the grass and not on the fleece it was a sign he would something... then he switched it for confirmation and said okay, if the dew falls on the fleece, but not on the grass... then that would be his confirmation sign. So a lot of times during this time period, lots were cast as a way of determining a path.
- When the Moses was to choose a priest the first time, they cast lots to see from which tribe he was to come. When Jonah was on the boat, they cast lots to see which of the men was the cause of the storm.
- Haman cast his lots looking for a perfect day to carry out his plot of anger and hate... but God chose instead to use that day to make the Jews a victorious people.
- Haman gambled... and lost. Badly... : )
- So Mordecai, with Esther to back him, sent out letters to establish the festival of Purim. This was to be an annual festival at the appointed dates. The command of Esther, established the practices of Purim and it was all recorded in the king's records.
- Xerxes imposed a tribute throughout his empire. His great achievements and the full account of the greatness of Mordecai, are recorded in “The Book of the History of the Kings of Media and Persia.”
- Mordecai became the prime minister of the nation. His authority was next to that of the king himself. He was very great among the Jews. He continued to work for the good of his people and to speak up for the welfare of all their descendants.
- When God puts you in a position to do something... and you do your job... and do it well... you can expect to have some good things come your way. Mordecai was faithful in his duties to the king when he was just... a regular guy... with a regular job...
- But because he was faithful in the little things... God gave him more responsibility. “For such a time as this” wasn't just for Esther. It was for Mordecai as well.
- Esther was obedient to her father figure. She did what was asked of her. She was a dutiful wife... even when the husband seemed to have forgotten about her...
- These two faithful people got to live extraordinary lives... because they were faithful in the little things first.
- So if you feel tired... or worn down... or like there's never going to be a light at the end of the tunnel... Hold fast. Stay faithful. And wait on God to show you HIS plan. : )
- II Samuel 23:1-7
- Ecclesiastes 5:1-7
- II Corinthians 7:1-4
- Proverbs 14:22