Friday, May 27, 2011

The Book of Esther #17

The Book of Esther
Esther 9:1-10

Now in the twelfth month, that is, the month Adar, on the thirteenth day of the same, when the king's commandment and his decree drew near to be put in execution, in the day that the enemies of the Jews hoped to have power over them, (though it was turned to the contrary, that the Jews had rule over them that hated them;) 

The Jews gathered themselves together in their cities throughout all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus, to lay hand on such as sought their hurt: and no man could withstand them; for the fear of them fell upon all people. 

And all the rulers of the provinces, and the lieutenants, and the deputies, and officers of the king, helped the Jews; because the fear of Mordecai fell upon them. For Mordecai was great in the king's house, and his fame went out throughout all the provinces: for this man Mordecai waxed greater and greater. 

Thus the Jews smote all their enemies with the stroke of the sword, and slaughter, and destruction, and did what they would unto those that hated them.  And in Shushan the palace the Jews slew and destroyed five hundred men.

 And Parshandatha, and Dalphon, and Aspatha,  And Poratha, and Adalia, and Aridatha,  And Parmashta, and Arisai, and Aridai, and Vajezatha, The ten sons of Haman the son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews, slew they; but on the spoil laid they not their hand.

The Fight Is On
It is a day in Bible history never to be forgotten but almost completely ignored by secular historians. The Jews have gathered themselves together throughout all the provinces of the kingdom to “lay hands on” which means; to kill them that would actually fight against the Jews. Mordecai had sent out a counter decree in the month of June giving them until February/March to ready themselves for battle. Now prepared for the fight of their lives, the Jews experience God’s providential care of them––instead of being the victims of death and doom, they will have incomprehensible victory over their enemies. They receive help from all the rulers of the provinces of the land and great fear falls upon the people because of the power. popularity, and public support of one man, Mordecai. 
The Foe Defeated
The second edict permitted the Jewish people to take any spoil of the enemy that dreadful day but, unlike the first decree sent out by Haman, which allowed the plundering of all Jewish possessions and death, they didn’t take a thing; their mission was to preserve the Jewish race and that is what they did. Five hundred men died in Susa the capitol by the hand of the Jews but no booty was seized or carried off. The execution of Haman’s sons was inevitable–––they had already lost their inheritance and if allowed to live, would continue to cause trouble for the Jews. The tables were definitely turned on the enemies of the Jews this fateful day, nothing they had schemed, designed or intended came to fruition. The hand of God was in complete control of the whole matter and with that power, the promise to protect and care for His people was in effect...for the LORD your God, he it is that fighteth for you, as he hath promised you. (Joshua 23:10)

Thought: If you will note, men who place themselves against God do not prevail. The wise man will hold claim to the Lord’s side and stop opposing the unconquerable, all-knowing God. One day, all battles will be over and we will rejoice in knowing that being a good soldier for Jesus Christ is pleasing unto Him; 2 Timothy 2:3-4 “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.  No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.”

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Book of Esther #16

The Book of Esther
Esther 8:9-17

Then were the king's scribes called at that time in the third month, that is, the month Sivan, on the three and twentieth day thereof; and it was written according to all that Mordecai commanded unto the Jews, and to the lieutenants, and the deputies and rulers of the provinces which are from India unto Ethiopia, an hundred twenty and seven provinces, unto every province according to the writing thereof, and unto every people after their language, and to the Jews according to their writing, and according to their language. 

 And he wrote in the king Ahasuerus' name, and sealed it with the king's ring, and sent letters by posts on horseback, and riders on mules, camels, and young dromedaries: Wherein the king granted the Jews which were in every city to gather themselves together, and to stand for their life, to destroy, to slay, and to cause to perish, all the power of the people and province that would assault them, both little ones and women, and to take the spoil of them for a prey, Upon one day in all the provinces of king Ahasuerus, namely, upon the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar. The copy of the writing for a commandment to be given in every province was published unto all people, and that the Jews should be ready against that day to avenge themselves on their enemies. So the posts that rode upon mules and camels went out, being hastened and pressed on by the king's commandment. And the decree was given at Shushan the palace.

 And Mordecai went out from the presence of the king in royal apparel of blue and white, and with a great crown of gold, and with a garment of fine linen and purple: and the city of Shushan rejoiced and was glad. The Jews had light, and gladness, and joy, and honour. And in every province, and in every city, whithersoever the king's commandment and his decree came, the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a good day. And many of the people of the land became Jews; for the fear of the Jews fell upon them.

The Tables are Turned
It has been two months and 10 days since Haman’s decree was sent out, which means; eight months and 20 days were left for the Jews to defend themselves. Mordecai took the responsibility for drawing up the counter decree himself and the king’s secretaries were instructed to copy the edict into many different languages of the empire including Hebrew for the Jewish population. Mordecai wrote the letters in the king’s name sealing the writings with the king’s ring. Everything had to be done aggressively and the Jews had to be given plenty of advance notice to avenge themselves against their enemies. Couriers were called to ride swiftly to all the providences of the kingdom to ensure the express delivery of the new edict and the posting of this second decree in a public place. The letters granted the Jews permission to gather together as an assembly and that they could protect and defend themselves against the deadly decree given by Haman.
 Turning From Sorrow to Gladness and Joy
The second decree was given out at Shushan the palace where gladness and joy were expressed in honor toward Mordecai as he entered the city dressed in his blue and white royal apparel and a distinguishing head dress upon his head. The joy of this occasion was in great contrast to the sorrow of the first decree given only a few months prior. The Jewish people were now experiencing one of the greatest deliverances of God from the doom of destruction since the time of their exodus from Egypt. “And many of the people of the land became Jews; for the fear of the Jews fell upon them.” The population realized that the God of the Jews had significantly exceeded anything that they had ever experienced with the false gods of Persia; especially during this celebrated liberation from death and total annihilation. (Annihilation is defined as "total destruction" or "complete obliteration" of an object; having its root in the Latin nihil (nothing). A literal translation is "to make into nothing".)
Thought: Only those who have wept in the night of despair can fully comprehend the joy that comes when their weeping has ended and with the morning comes new hope.  Psalm 30:5, “For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life( His favor is for a life-time): weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”  We may weep through the night but one day the Bible assures us that all tears will be wiped away and we will rejoice forevermore, “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”  (Rev. 21:4)

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Book of Esther 15

The Book of Esther
Esther 8:1-8

On that day did the king Ahasuerus give the house of Haman the Jews' enemy unto Esther the queen. And Mordecai came before the king; for Esther had told what he was unto her.  And the king took off his ring, which he had taken from Haman, and gave it unto Mordecai. And Esther set Mordecai over the house of Haman.

And Esther spake yet again before the king, and fell down at his feet, and besought him with tears to put away the mischief of Haman the Agagite, and his device that he had devised against the Jews. Then the king held out the golden sceptre toward Esther. So Esther arose, and stood before the king,  And said, If it please the king, and if I have found favour in his sight, and the thing seem right before the king, and I be pleasing in his eyes, let it be written to reverse the letters devised by Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, which he wrote to destroy the Jews which are in all the king's provinces: For how can I endure to see the evil that shall come unto my people? or how can I endure to see the destruction of my kindred?

Then the king Ahasuerus said unto Esther the queen and to Mordecai the Jew, Behold, I have given Esther the house of Haman, and him they have hanged upon the gallows, because he laid his hand upon the Jews. Write ye also for the Jews, as it liketh you, in the king's name, and seal it with the king's ring: for the writing which is written in the king's name, and sealed with the king's ring, may no man reverse.

A Counter Decree
According to the law of the land, the property of Haman was confiscated by the king and given to Esther as an apparent compensation for all that she had suffered. Mordecai is now presented to the king as Esther’s guardian and cousin and given the signet ring that Haman had once worn with all the prestige and authority that Haman had known. In spite of Mordecai’s rise to greater influence and power, the doom of destruction by an irreversible decree, was still going forward. Esther falls upon the king’s feet begging him to stop what Haman had started and pleading with him to spare the lives of her people from being slaughtered. The Medo-Persian law states that no decree may be revoked once the order has been given not even the king himself could reverse the edit.

God's Will Be Done
The king gives Esther and Mordecai the power and privilege of drafting their own decree and allowing them to send it out under the king’s seal. Though no word that the king had sent out previously could be changed, the king could send out a counter decree which would achieve the ending result of God’s will being done. Psalm 37 says, “Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.  Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.” 

Thought: Esther is standing up for her people and is bold in asking for their deliverance from this doom of destruction planned against them.  Proverbs 21:1 clearly states, “The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.” The divine hand of God changed the heart of King Ahasuerus as He did the heart of King Nebuchadnezzar. Like the channels of water; He turned their hearts wherever and however He wanted. King Ahasuerus could have denied Esther an audience but God had already turned his heart towards her and given Esther and Mordecai the right to make a counter decree. When we begin to think that God is not in control of all things and fret over the course of evildoers, we choose to live in doubt and fear, missing the blessing of receiving the desires of our hearts. God does move in the hearts of people to accomplish His purpose; our response should be one of trust. “If God be for us, who can be against us?”(Romans 8:31)

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Book of Esther 14

The Book of Esther 
Esther 7:1-10

So the king and Haman came to banquet with Esther the queen. And the king said again unto Esther on the second day at the banquet of wine, What is thy petition, queen Esther? and it shall be granted thee: and what is thy request? and it shall be performed, even to the half of the kingdom.  Then Esther the queen answered and said, If I have found favour in thy sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request:  For we are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be slain, and to perish. But if we had been sold for bondmen and bondwomen, I had held my tongue, although the enemy could not countervail the king's damage.

 Then the king Ahasuerus answered and said unto Esther the queen, Who is he, and where is he, that durst presume in his heart to do so? And Esther said, The adversary and enemy is this wicked Haman. Then Haman was afraid before the king and the queen.

 And the king arising from the banquet of wine in his wrath went into the palace garden: and Haman stood up to make request for his life to Esther the queen; for he saw that there was evil determined against him by the king. Then the king returned out of the palace garden into the place of the banquet of wine; and Haman was fallen upon the bed whereon Esther was. Then said the king, Will he force the queen also before me in the house? As the word went out of the king's mouth, they covered Haman's face. And Harbonah, one of the chamberlains, said before the king, Behold also, the gallows fifty cubits high, which Haman had made for Mordecai, who had spoken good for the king, standeth in the house of Haman. Then the king said, Hang him thereon. So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then was the king's wrath pacified.

Esther’s Plea
Haman has plotted against the Jewish people and become a hot-headed, prideful man with plans to murder Mordecai. But, man’s plans are not always God’s plans, therefore, Haman’s genocidal scheme will soon be put to an end.  JEHOVAH-ROI –– The God Who Sees and JEHOVAH-OR –– The Lord Is Light, are good reminders that the Lord does see all and will one day make all things known. Esther has planned another banquet and is expecting the king and Haman to attend. The king asks again what is Esther’s desire––what is her plea, her prayer or request. The king would give Esther half his kingdom to know her wishes. Esther begins with a plea, “If I have found favour in thy sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request: For we are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be slain, and to perish.” The king is astonished at this news and wants to know who is responsible for this scheme and what is the purpose or motive for this plan. Surely, Esther must have taken a deep breath at that moment, and then she gave an answer, “The adversary and enemy is this wicked Haman.”

Haman’s Plight
I can imagine Haman choking on his wine when Queen Esther accused him of being the one who plotted against her people, the Jews.  Of course, the Bible does not mention Haman doing this, but it does say, “Haman was afraid before the king and the queen.” (Have you ever been so afraid that you could hear your heart beating in your ears?) The king was very angry and left the room to go out into the garden–– maybe to release some tension.  Haman, realizing how furious the king was, stood up to plead before Queen Esther to spare his life. The king returns to the banquet room and finds Haman falling to the feet of Queen Esther as she is reclining upon the couch. Persian etiquette was very strict with regards to the queen and the king's harem that Haman was considered offensive by his remaining behind with the queen and not leaving with the king. Haman, falling upon the queen’s couch, set the course for his own execution. Attention is drawn to the gallows that have been built in the city square for a man that had saved the king’s life. The irony of Haman’s plot is a state of affairs that seems deliberately contrary to what Haman expected–– the outcome grave––the verdict deadly. The king will order Haman to be hanged upon the gallows that he, Haman, had expected to hang Mordecai upon.
Thought: In tragic irony, a character's actions lead to consequences that are both tragic, and contrary to the character's desire and intentions. We can see that Haman suffered from tragic irony and all his plotting and planning; all his hostility and rage ended with his own life being taken and not the life he had intended, Mordecai’s. Do we ourselves desire circumstances that would harm or injure someone we are angry with? Have we plotted and planned how we will take care of this matter even down to the final detail? 
My friend, I pray you will consider the consequences that Haman endured and endeavor to forgive rather than punish. Hatred in the heart of man is murder according to 1 John 3:15, Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. Seeking revenge and not allowing God to work all things out for His glory and for your good is robbing God of His responsibility and right as EL SHADDAI, God Almighty, All-Powerful and All-Sufficient God.