December 3, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“The Jews struck down all their enemies with the sword, killing and destroying them, and they did what they pleased to those who hated them. In the citadel of Susa, the Jews killed and destroyed five hundred men. They also killed Parshandatha, Dalphon, Aspatha, Poratha, Adalia, Aridatha, Parmashta, Arisai, Aridai and Vaizatha, the ten sons of Haman son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews. But they did not lay their hands on the plunder. The number of those killed in the citadel of Susa was reported to the king that same day. The king said to Queen Esther, ‘The Jews have killed and destroyed five hundred men and the ten sons of Haman in the citadel of Susa. What have they done in the rest of the king’s provinces? Now what is your petition? It will be given you. What is your request? It will also be granted.’”—Esther 9:5–12 (NIV)
As a loyal soccer fan, I have witnessed many heart-wrenching matches where my team is getting crushed by their opponent for the majority of the game only to be saved in the final minutes of the match by a referee who calls a foul or issues a penalty kick in their favor. The announcement of a rule saves them from defeat and gives them the chance to reverse their fate, while sending my heart into full fight or flight!
As we near the end of Esther’s story, we encounter a similarly suspenseful situation. An unjust decree has been issued against the Jews that will bring their total destruction. But thanks to Esther’s courage to petition the king, another decree was issued in response stating the Jews could arm themselves and retaliate against anyone who attempted to kill them. This meant they would not be left vulnerable to harm, but would be able to defend themselves against an attack from their enemies.
The day finally came when Haman’s wicked scheme would unfold to bring ruin upon God’s people. But on that day, the Jews struck back in defense, killing 500 men in the capital city of Susa alone—the ten sons of Haman were also killed on that day.
What a plot twist—a total change of fate; from vulnerable to armed. When destruction was set to fall upon them, a mediator stepped in on their behalf granting them salvation.
This passage is not prescriptive; it doesn’t give us a model or guide for how to treat our enemies as other passages in Scripture do. However, this passage is descriptive; it shows us a time when God’s people suffered great persecution and how through one woman’s courage, God made a way to save His people from death. Most importantly, though, this entire story points us to the gospel.
Just like God’s people in exile, we too, turned away from God, became enslaved to our sins, and received a sentence of destruction from an enemy who sought to kill, steal, and destroy us (John 10:10). “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us” (Ephesians 2:4 NKJV) did not give us over to our enemy. Instead, He sent a savior, a mediator who fought our enemy on the cross and delivered us once and for all from our fatal enemies (Colossians 2:14–15). Jesus, our righteous mediator, has triumphed over those who sought to destroy us—sin, Satan, and death—giving us rest once and for all (Hebrews 4:11).
Jesus granted us victory on the cross, and He is still doing it now. Friend, do you have an enemy who seeks to end your life? A trial or problem that seems to surround you on all sides? You have a mediator who can intervene and change the scoreboard of the game. Turn to Jesus, and watch as He delivers you from your enemies.
Pause: What situation in your life is causing you the most agony or distress? How does the gospel apply to that situation and change its outcome?
Practice: Listen to the song “Defender” by Rita Springer and spend some time reflecting on the victory Jesus has purchased for you.
Pray: Jesus, I praise You because You are my defender and my victory is found in You. You did what no one else could do for me. You have defeated all of my enemies and, because of this, I can rest. I am confident that You are for me and that nothing can ever come against me that You cannot defeat. You truly are my salvation. 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.