Expositional Devotions: Esther 9:16-19

Think of moments of great celebration in your life. Not birthday parties or family reunions. Has there been a day or event in your life that has been cause for special celebration? For some, it is the day they learn they have beaten cancer. For others, it is the birth of a child after years of infertility. Still for some it may be the return of a loved one from a distant battlefield. What day is of special significance in your family that leads to feasting and rejoicing?

After the fighting in Susa had ceased and the enemies of the Jews had been vanquished, there was peace and joy and feasting. A day of true and final salvation had come. The streets of Susa were filled with gladness. Every Jew in every village in the Persian Empire was celebrating their victory over their enemies.

The Jews in Persia did what any nation does after winning a war—they rejoiced. Peace and freedom from their foes had been accomplished. After two days of fighting, the Jews rested and decided to commemorate their rest. The same way we make certain days holidays, the Jews chose to mark their day of rest and victory as a kind of holiday—a day of feasting and gladness.

The Jews have gone from a marginalized and hated people to a celebrated and elevated people. Two of the three most powerful people in the Persian Empire were Jews. Some Persians pretended to be Jews just to stay on the side of the victors. The fear of the Jews spread throughout the kingdom. They finally received the honor that they lacked as exiles.

But, this Jewish feasting and celebrating is merely a glimpse into the celebration that will commence in the New Earth after Christ finally and forever vanquishes his enemies. On that day when sin and death are no more, we will celebrate at a feast like no other with our God who will reign over and with us forevermore. The victory of the Lamb over sin and death is a victory worthy of an eternal celebration. This victory brings true and lasting peace and freedom. In the words of John in Revelation 21,

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Main Idea
God’s victory over sin and death leads to feasting and rejoicing with him.

Discussion Starters
How does knowing that you will one day feast and rejoice with God help you when life gets tough now?

Prayer Points
Ask God for help to look forward to the New Earth when life in the old Earth is hard.


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.

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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.

Expositional Devotions: Esther 9:1-5

Last Sunday night, Kentucky’s men’s basketball team played one of their biggest rivals, North Carolina, for a chance to go to the Final Four. We were just two games away from the National Championship. Kentucky tied the game with only ten seconds remaining. Kentucky fans everywhere, including those of us in Tupelo, were jumping and cheering for joy. However, just ten seconds later everything changed. One of North Carolina’s player’s hit a last second shot to win the game. The player everyone least suspected ended Kentucky’s hope for victory. The tables were turned on my Wildcats last week in dramatic fashion.

The Jews in Esther have experienced a reversal, or turning of the tables, far more dramatic than a basketball game. They have literally gone from fearing death to being feared. They have gone from running for their lives to running after those who would take their lives. Reversals do not get more ironic than the one we see play out in Esther 9. You’ve read, or at least heard of, books with perfect endings, right? Well, the ending of Esther is about as perfect as it gets. In fact, this story is so perfectly constructed that it’s hard to believe it’s real! It’s almost as if someone was intentionally orchestrating events to bring about this particular ending. Weird!

On the very same day that Haman’s plan for the destruction of the Jews was to be enforced, Mordecai’s plan for the protection of the Jews would win the day. In the words of the author of Esther, “the reverse occurred.” The Jews “gained mastery over those who hated them.” Those who were fighting in the name of Haman would meet his fate.

Not only do we see how God sovereignly reverses the fate of his people, but we see that God always conquers his enemies and the enemies of his people. Christ is a valiant warrior-king who tramples his enemies beneath his feet. He is the victorious snake-crusher of Genesis 3:15. While no one could stand against the Jews in Susa, no one in heaven or earth or under the earth will be able to stand against Christ the Lord.

Those who oppose Christ through unbelief now will be overcome by Christ later. Oh, but those who submit to Christ through faith now already walk in victory in the one who has overcome their greatest enemies—sin and death.


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.