Today’s Bible Reading: Esther 8-10:3; 1 Corinthians 12:27-13:13; Psalm 37:1-11; Proverbs 21:23-24
Haman thought he had a fool-proof plan to exterminate the Jews. Unfortunately, for him, his plan wasn’t God-proof. No plan is. is. God sees into the future, just like He saw Haman’s evil intentions, and is coordinating events to bring about good out of our sin (Romans 8:28).
Haman spent so much time and effort hating and plotting against God. Sadly, there are many alive today who have tremendous hate in their hearts for God and His people and who work to remove God from not only their own lives but everyone else’s. One day they will realize the truth. Hopefully, for their sake, that occurs this side of the grave.
A careful review of the way Esther handled this situation shows she had great wisdom in handling people. She did not just blurt out her request. She built up credibility first. Then she gathered evidence. Then she presented the evidence and made her requests in stages (Esther 8:5). The wisdom to approach the king this way was instrumental in achieving the results she wanted. Of course, that wisdom came from God.
King Xerces cannot rescind his decree (Esther 8:8) just like God cannot rescind His decree that we all must die and spend eternity in hell because of our sin. But just like Xerces issued a counter-decree to alleviate the effects of his first (Esther 8:11), God also gave a second decree that has the power to overcome His first decree: those who put their faith in Jesus Christ will escape hell and spend eternity in heaven.
Notice that Xerces second decree was delivered with urgency (Esther 8:14). We should spread the news of God’s second decree to the world urgently as well.
With a powerful authority, King Xerces, on their side (Esther 8:17) the Jews didn’t need to be afraid. Those of us who are children of God (John 1:12) have similar protection (Romans 8:31).
The Jews end up defeating their enemies (Esther 9:5-12) while Esther requests that Haman’s sons be executed (Esther 9:13). I don’t think Esther was going too far in this request because these sons would likely have tried to avenge their father’s death at some point. Esther was wisely thinking not only of the present but the future. We saw God work in a similar manner earlier in our Old Testament readings where He mandates that the younger generation of the Caanites be killed so they don’t grow up harboring hate in their hearts and becoming a thorn in Israel’s side. God’s goal was to protect Israel.
The Jewish holiday of Purim, which is still celebrated today, was born out of the events of the book of Esther (Esther 9:20-32).
Everyone who is a believer in Jesus is a part of His “body” and we each have a role to play based on our spiritual gifts. Paul lists some of those roles in 1 Corinthians 12:28. Notice that helping others is a gift – not everyone has the ability to notice a need, care, and do something about that need. Likewise, leadership is a gift. Not everyone has every gift (1 Corinthians 12:29-30). Each believer needs to identify his/her gift and use it.
But using our gifts without love is pointless (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). Having a “religion” but not having love is worthless. Such a person is self-centered rather than being Christ-centered. Their “good” deeds are to promote their own reputation rather than to promote the welfare of others. It is the motives behind what we do that matters (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).
The Greeks had 4 words for love. The word Paul uses in 1 Corinthians 13:5-7 is “agape” which refers to a selfless, unchanging love for all people that expects nothing in return. Long ago I was taught to replace the word “love” (and “it”) in these verses with my own name to see if the described me. If not then I had work to do. The answer was “no” back then and although I’ve made progress in the intervening 20 years, reading these verses with my name again today tells me progress has been slow. Becoming more like Jesus is an eternal process.
In our natural state we think selfishly. When we are saved and become a child of God, we need to think like Him (1 Corinthians 13:11). Until we get to heaven we cannot think exactly like God does, but someday we will (1 Corinthians 13:12).
We do not need to get worked up when we see injustice for God is in control (Psalm 37:1-3). If we focus on Him, rather than the evil that is going on around us, He will bless us (Psalm 37:4-7). Let God get angry at what is happening in our world – its not our job (Psalm 37:8-11).
The best way to stay out of trouble? Keep our mouth shut. (Proverbs 21:23). Our tongue causes more problems for us than anything else.
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