Friday, October 27, 2006

Certainty, in our circumstances (4)

ESTHER 8-10

As the reversal is completed several events occur. The Amalekite's estates are given to the Jews and an order is granted to allow the Jews to assemble and defend themselves against any one who would attack them. Xerxes order to permit the annihilation of the Jews stands (his word is unbreakable), but it is countered by this.

Consequently at the end of chapter 8 we find the Jews celebrating and full of joy. Indeed many convert to their faith in the LORD. In mid-December the Jews are attacked but triumph over their enemies. Haman's sons are hanged from his gallows and the Jews are delivered from the threat against them.

One thing the Jews don't do is to plunder the Amalekites in 9v10 + 9v15. King Saul was reprimanded in 1 Samuel 15v19 for having done this, seeking to keep the Amalekites possession for himself instead of thoroughly destroying them. The Jews do not fall into his error, their enemy is vanquished.

So, they celebrate in style. The celebration is called Purim in memory of Haman's confidence in the Pur (lots) for his victory over the Jews. The title is ironic for the Jews. Haman believed that chance had fallen in his favour to defeat the Jews he so despised. But his plot returned upon himself. And the Jews rejoice.

As the book concludes it is Mordecai the Jew not Haman the Amalekite who is Prime Minister. Xerxes remains a questionable monarch, prepared to immediately bestow all of Haman's benefits on Mordecai - you'd think he'd become a bit more cautious!

The Jews are greatly favoured and know peace (shalom). God's rest and favour upon them. They don't yet know the fulness of God's promises restoration - but are greatly blessed even in their exile. God's people remain scattered across the world, but their future has been secured - not ultimately by human kings but by sinful people who believed God's promise and took risks.

The promises of God await their fulfillemnt but they know afresh the certainty of God's deliverance. As Esther draws to it's close we should rejoice. We know the great victory of God over his enemies. All God's promises there fulfilled. The Cross of Christ, God's great and final answer to his promises. The great YES!

"And on that final day, the citizens of heaven
Called out to be the new Jerusalem
In multitudes will bow before the throne of God:
One nation called from every tribe and tongue
Great celebration! The glorious union:
The Lion of Judah and the pure, spotless Bride!
All of creation waits for this moment
All your promises fulfilled in Jesus Christ!"

-- Kate Simmonds, In Him I Have Believed, 2004

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