December 3, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“‘If it pleases the king,’ Esther answered, ‘give the Jews in Susa permission to carry out this day’s edict tomorrow also, and let Haman’s ten sons be impaled on poles.’ So the king commanded that this be done. An edict was issued in Susa, and they impaled the ten sons of Haman. The Jews in Susa came together on the fourteenth day of the month of Adar, and they put to death in Susa three hundred men, but they did not lay their hands on the plunder. Meanwhile, the remainder of the Jews who were in the king’s provinces also assembled to protect themselves and get relief from their enemies. They killed seventy-five thousand of them but did not lay their hands on the plunder. This happened on the thirteenth day of the month of Adar, and on the fourteenth they rested and made it a day of feasting and joy. The Jews in Susa, however, had assembled on the thirteenth and fourteenth, and then on the fifteenth they rested and made it a day of feasting and joy. That is why rural Jews—those living in villages—observe the fourteenth of the month of Adar as a day of joy and feasting, a day for giving presents to each other.”—Esther 9:13–19 (NIV)
Today’s passage picks up on the cliffhanger of Esther’s answer to the king. When the day of bloodshed had ended, King Ahasuerus asks Esther what else she would have the kingdom do on behalf of the Jews, and she asks for an additional day where the Jews would be allowed to fight back and defend themselves. This additional day meant an extended petition for their security, giving safety against those who might seek to avenge Haman’s sons or others who were killed the previous day (the day decreed by Haman that anyone in the kingdom of Syria could assault, kill, and plunder the Jewish people).
As we’ve seen throughout the Book of Esther, there is irony woven throughout the story to contrast rulers of this world with the God of Israel to reveal God’s rule and power over all things. The enemy, Haman, who sought to end the Jewish line is not only killed in the gallows he made for his enemies, but it is his lineage that is annihilated from the earth. Kings and rulers may decree human laws, but above them all is the great and unmatched power of God that prevails.
Writer Elize Fitzpatrick puts it this way: “God is ruling sovereignly, accomplishing his purposes whether we see him or not. And that’s good news for all believers who wonder where he is in their suffering. We might not see him. He may be absent from mind, mention, or memory. And it might appear that he’s forgotten us or that our sins have finally turned him away. But that is not the truth. The truth is that God is defending his people and building his church, and nothing—not even the “gates of hell” (Matthew 16:18)—will prevail against him.”
When it seems like the enemy has the upper hand and God is nowhere to be found, God is still at work revealing His covenant faithfulness by saving His people from death. The drama of Esther is our story. Jesus, in His faithful love toward us, took upon Himself the death and calamity we deserved, and through His death and resurrection made us more than conquerors so we, too, can be a people who feast and rejoice. As David writes, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies” (Psalm 23:5 NIV).
Just as the people of Israel took a day to celebrate the deliverance they had received, we also celebrate whenever we partake in the Lord’s Supper. The communion table is a powerful reminder for us that no matter what we may face, Christ has secured our victory—and nothing can separate us from His perfect love. Even when we don’t see Him at work or when we question our circumstances, we can still rejoice over His finished work on the cross—the guarantee and promise of what He will carry out to completion. Take heart friend, your enemies have already been defeated so you can rest amid your trials. The victory has already been won.
“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”—1 Corinthians 15:57 (NKJV)
Pause: Reflect on the words of Psalm 23:5. What does it mean that God prepares a table for you in the presence of your enemies?
Practice: Write down three victories God has given you in the course of your life. Make it a priority to share at least one of them with someone today.
Pray: God, You are sovereign over all. Even when it’s dark and I cannot see where You are, You are working. You do not abandon Your people, but show up every time to deliver exactly what we need. Thank You for Your faithfulness! Help me to see Your work in my life and give me faith to believe that no matter what happens in my life or in this world, You are God and You are in control. Amen.
Gabriella Bemis serves as a volunteer for Calvary’s communications and worship teams. She holds an M.A. in psychology from Fuller Theological Seminary and is passionate about integrating her knowledge of human behavior with the truth of God’s word. When she is not writing resources or singing at church, Gabi loves to paint, cook, and enjoy time outdoors with her family and friends.