December 3, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“On the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, the edict commanded by the king was to be carried out. On this day the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, but now the tables were turned and the Jews got the upper hand over those who hated them.”—Esther 9:1 (NIV)
At this point in the Book of Esther, this is what we might call the “final showdown.” This whole story has been building up to this very moment. The king selecting a new queen, Esther finding favor as the queen, the diabolical plot of Haman against Mordecai and the entire race he represented, the edict that every Jew should be killed, the poetic justice of Haman’s own execution, Esther’s intercession, and the new edict allowing the Jewish people to defend themselves. It all culminates to this point in time.
As the day of conflict comes, it’s clear the Jews have the upper hand and their race would prevail and live on. Here’s how this climatic event goes down: “The Jews assembled in their cities in all the provinces of King Xerxes to attack those determined to destroy them. No one could stand against them, because the people of all the other nationalities were afraid of them. And all the nobles of the provinces, the satraps, the governors and the king’s administrators helped the Jews, because fear of Mordecai had seized them. Mordecai was prominent in the palace; his reputation spread throughout the provinces, and he became more and more powerful” (Esther 9:2–4 NIV).
Although God isn’t directly referenced, we know He’s the one behind this victory. His hand was at work to ensure the survival of His people. It was He who raised a refugee in a foreign land like Esther to a place of such prominence, He was the one carefully guiding the course of her favored union with the most powerful ruler on earth, and He was the true author of this drama of deliverance.
But let’s put this divine deliverance in perspective. As far as the Jewish nation was concerned, they had been driven into exile in this land because of their own waywardness. Remember, it was God’s punishment that put them in such a position to begin with. And when we read the words of Jeremiah, who lived during that stretch of time, we see their punishment was well deserved seeing just how far they had turned from the Lord. Their exile didn’t just represent their captivity, but their deserved chastisement.
And yet, even in such a state, God is faithful and merciful to His people. He protects and preserves them from utter annihilation not because they were deserving of His favor, but because they were His people of promise—and He’s always going to make good on His promises to His people . . . even in exile. Moreover, He will not leave them there!
I don’t know about you, but that gives me great encouragement. Because truth be told, we’re all deserving of punishment because we’re all prone to disobey and depart from God’s will. That’s essentially what sin is: the departure or deviation from the standard of perfection as defined by God. But God is gracious and good to us, even when we’re deserving of exile. He’s right there beside us, staying true and faithful to His promises toward us not because we deserve it, but because He is who He is—we’re never beyond His gracious grasp.
If you feel exiled and alone, separated from all the good God has for you, know He’s still with you and for you. His cross still speaks you’re not alone and that you’re loved. The Lord sees you and He will save you . . . even in exile.
Pause: What does it reveal concerning God’s character that He protected His people even when they were exiled?
Practice: As you pause and reflect on the question above, consider today how this aspect of God’s nature speaks to you today.
Pray: Lord, we know we’re imperfect and that we often do things that fill us with a sense of distance from You. May we see that even in our times of self-imposed exile, You are there with us, loving us and leading us to a better place. Please keep our hearts refreshed and focused on You as we follow You into Your promises toward us. Amen.
Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.