Expositional Devotions: Esther 9:6-15

If Esther 9:1-5 was a declaration of the grand reversal, verses 6-15 serve as the description of the reversal of fates. And boy what a description it is. I always appreciate when history/narrative books of the Bible are thorough in describing events. Bible book authors don’t shy away from details. The author of Esther is no exception. Though the battle descriptions aren’t too graphic, they aren’t exactly the best bedtime story either. These verses may not be “family friendly,” but they are factual. And the facts before us tell a story of God’s judgment, faithfulness, and mercy.

Esther 9:6-15 describe the bloodshed that commenced on the thirteenth of Adar between the Jews and their attackers. When you think of this war don’t think of the invasion of Normandy in World War II. As Allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944 there was vicious fighting and gunfire from both sides. Both sides suffered many casualties. Many men on both sides of the fight were killed. The fighting that occurred in Susa and all the Persian Empire was unlike most wars. This war was completely one-sided. The Jews completely conquered their enemies. It was a sweeping annihilation of all those who attacked them.

When we read or hear of the Jews killing over 800 Persians in Susa alone, it makes our eyes and ears quite uncomfortable. The original readers of Esther would have been cheering at this point in the story. We just sit quietly and scratch our heads. In thinking about Persian bloodshed at the blades of Jewish swords, we need to keep a few things in mind.

First, the Jews were participating in what we would call “just war.” The Jews’ attackers were not innocent bystanders. Persian followers of Haman instigated an unjust war because their fighting was based on hatred. The Jews, on the other hand, were right to defend themselves against their enemies. So, the Jews weren’t bloodthirsty mongrels, but rather a people fighting for their lives.

Second, the Lord had given the Persian attackers into the hands of his people. As he has done throughout the history of his people, God judged his enemies at the hands of his people.

Third, God displays his steadfast love and mercy toward his people. At just the right time and just the right way, God preserved his people from annihilation. His commitment to his people is not his response to their righteousness, but rather an outworking of his. If you belong to God in Christ, he is forever and always committed to you, and none of your enemies will be able to ultimately succeed against you.

Main Idea: God judges his enemies and shows mercy to his people.

Discussion Starter: Do you think it was right for the Jews to kill all their enemies? Why?

Prayer Points: Thank God for his merciful commitment to you despite your sin against him.


17498999_1870940272931412_6999370580315029592_nMathew Gilbert is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is a student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and the author of Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God. Mathew and his wife, Erica, live in Tupelo with their two boys, Jude and Jack.

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The Death of Death in the Greater David

 

The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. –1 Corinthians 15:26

The Sunday School teacher gave two strikingly opposite descriptions of two men. One man’s name was Goliath. He was a Philistine. He was a tremendously terrifying warrior—the best of the best among the army of the Philistines. He was a mountain of a man. His armor was impressive. He possessed an arrogant confidence. This is the guy all the kids love to think about and the one we indirectly encourage many of them to be like.

However, the teacher moved to describe another “man.” This other man’s name was David. He was the son of Jesse from the tribe of Judah. He was a shepherd boy, the youngest of his brothers. He was armed with only a slingshot and a few stones. Yet, he also exhibited a confidence, a vibrantly humble and dependent confidence in “the living God” (1 Sam. 17:26). He was fearlessly confident in Yahweh (v. 37). He was a Savior. He was not the savior Israel wanted, but he was the savior Israel needed.

Similarly, we all face a gigantic enemy. His name is Death. In the words of Jeremiah, “For death has come through our windows, has entered our palaces, to kill off the children–no longer to be outside! And the young men–no longer on the streets!” (Jer. 9:21). Death haunts every human. Regardless of race, language, culture, time, gender, or worldview, death relentlessly pursues us all. We can do nothing to control it. We can do nothing to avoid it.

Despite the various rungs on the ladder of life on which we all stand—some higher, some lower—death crushes the ladder itself and we all lie together in the rubble of death’s blow. In his book on the death and resurrection of Jesus, Captivated, Thabiti Anyabwile writes, “We deserve death because of our sin, but we hate it because of life.”

Death is a valiant enemy, one that for thousands of years has destroyed even the strongest and most noble of mankind. Death does not discriminate. The 90 year-old woman dies warm in her bed and the 10 year-old child dies cold in the street. And much like Israel, we all stand before this dark enemy with sheer dread. Who among us will go out to face this conquering devil?

Enter: Jesus. Jesus was the son of Joseph and Mary. Like David, he was born in Judah, in Bethlehem. He was a carpenter, an ordinary guy. He was not wealthy and in his adulthood had no place to call home. Yet, there was something unique about this ordinary Judean. Jesus was the Son of God. He carried with him divine authority. And he showed himself to be the long-awaited Messiah. However, he was not the Messiah, not the Savior Israel or we want, but he is exactly the kind of Savior we need. Indeed, he is the only Savior.

Jesus is the greater David who conquers the enemies of his people. He is the hero we wouldn’t expect, but just the hero we need. He is called the one “who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Tim. 1:10). Jesus conquered death once for all, but he did so by succumbing to death itself. Death forever died the day Jesus died. Through suffering, Jesus ensured suffering’s eternal defeat. When Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead three days later he delivered death a blow far greater than death itself gives. In Christ alone we see death’s demise and the restoration of all things.

Therefore, in the death and resurrection of Jesus we see both life and death. Jesus grants us what death takes and grants death what it so loves to give. The only true and lasting hope in the face of death is the hope we find in Jesus, the greater David who died not only to give his people life, but to destroy death. As Anyabwile puts it, “Though we see people still dying, a time fast approaches when the experience of death will be done away with.”

So, as you see death and face death, do so with real sorrow and real joy. Real Christlike sorrow because we hate that which robs life (John 11:35). Real Christ-empowered joy because by his death and resurrection, Jesus achieved eternal victory over death. Death, my friends, is done.

When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:54-55)
Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:14).
Christian, when you are faced with death look to Jesus. Not as some super spiritual fantasy of comfort. Look to Jesus for real, earthy sorrowful-yet-always-rejoicing kind of comfort. Stand firm. Do not succumb to fear or temptation. Death does not have the last word for those who are in Christ. Jesus, the life-giving Savior, has the last word. When you see death or stand at the precipice of death, say confidently,
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”

17498999_1870940272931412_6999370580315029592_nMathew Gilbert is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is a student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminaryand the author ofCome to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God. Mathew and his wife, Erica, live in Tupelo with their two boys, Jude and Jack.

Morning Mashup 04/05

Morning Mashup

A daily mashup of book recommendations, articles, and videos for your information, edification, and enjoyment.


BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

The Pastor’s Wife: Strengthened by Grace for a Life of Love | Gloria Furman

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The Pastor’s Family: Shepherding Your Family through the Challenges of Pastoral Ministry | Brian & Cara Croft

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The Pastor’s Kid: Finding Your Own Faith and Identity | Barnabas Piper

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ARTICLES

The Reformation of FBC Durham | SBTS Equip

North Carolina pastor Andy Davis revitalized his church through verse-by-verse expository preaching.

Thank You, Big Blue Nation | The Player’s Tribune

Malik MonkI haven’t found out yet who the best possible version of myself is — and to be honest, as far as that goes, I think I’m still just scratching the surface. But I’ve found out what the best possible version of myself does: He plays in the NBA.

Does Dating Prepare Us For Marriage–Or Divorce? | Desiring God

Marshall SegalThe common trends in dating today are more likely to prepare you to get divorced than to enjoy and persevere in marriage.

Augustine Today: Why He’s Still Relevant | Christianity Today

Ed StetzerIn this edition of Theology for Life, Ed, Lynn, and Greg Lee discuss why St. Augustine is important to theology today, especially as we celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.

For the Christian Perfectionist | Reformed Margins

Faith ChangWe may be struggling, weak, ashamed, and afraid. But our Father’s love can free us from our perfectionism that we may obey him freely and joyfully in his perfect peace.

Parents, Be Quick to Listen | Forward Progress

Michael Kelley: Today, parents, you and I will all come upon a situation with our kids that needs to be dealt with in some way. Here is where we bring God’s Word to bear – that we fight the pride of assumption and approach that situation with open ears instead.

VIDEOS