Esther 9 10 Celebrate In the End God Wins
“Celebrate! – In the End God Wins!”
Esther 9, 10
“D Day” has arrived for the Jews.
The 13th day of Adar has finally arrived.
Haman, the enemy of the Jews, had written an edict into Persian law which could not be altered or revoked.
On the 13th day of Adar, all the citizens of Persia were to rise up against the Jews and annihilate them and seize their plunder.
But there was one stood righteous before God and who refused to bow before Haman.
Mordecai so enraged Haman that Haman plotted to kill him on a gallows so high that all the people in the city would see his end.
But the tables turned.
His anti-Semitism was uncovered and disclosed to the king, and Esther’s heart won the king’s mind.
The king decided to kill Haman on the very gallows meant for Mordecai and give Haman’s position to Mordecai, the Jew.
Mordecai then wrote a second edict – a neutralizing law giving the Jews the right to defend themselves against their enemies.
This new edict changed “D Day” from Destruction Day to Deliverance Day.
The Jewish men were organized and armed, ready to meet any enemy who would attack them and their families and try to take their possessions.
But the Lord had given them a greater weapon than their swords, because “the fear of the Jews fell upon them”.
This was a fear that God had sent into the hearts of the Gentiles to keep them from fighting his people.
Would anyone choose still to use Haman’s edict and attack the Jews?
If not, their lives were spared.
But if they chose to attack out of loyalty to Haman,
out of greed for the possessions of the Jews or out of hatred,
the Jews were ready to defend themselves and God was on their side.
We win! – No, we were on the winning side.
The battle belongs to the Lord.
Celebrate – Our God Wins!
Chapter 9 continues giving details about the numbers of the enemy that are destroyed in two days of fighting and the great victory the Jews experienced.
Then the celebration began
– what a time of feasting and rejoicing.
The threat of death has itself been annihilated.
The Jews are free.
This was not only an occasion for celebration but an occasion to be remembered from year to year, from generation to generation.
And so Queen Esther and Mordecai published an annual celebration still observed among the Jewish communities today called Purim.
Vance Havner told a story of the Boll Weevil.
Havner was an evangelist in the US in the past century.
In his later years he wrote a little book entitled It Is Toward Evening.
In it he tells the unforgettable story of a little town in Alabama where the major livelihood was raising cotton. One year, as it appeared that there would be a bumper crop, the boll weevil invaded, devastated the crop, and destroyed the economy of that little town.
Farmers, however, are an ingenious lot, and those particular farmers were determined not to sit back and move into the poor house.
One man got the idea of planting peanuts instead. (Boll Weevils don’t like peanuts!)
Another farmer decided to plant yet another kind of crop, and others followed suit.
Before long, bumper crops of peanuts and other produce began to repair the economy of this town.
Interestingly, the town later came to be known as Enterprise, Alabama.
And do you know what they did?
They erected a monument to the boll weevil!
Havner insightfully writes:
“’All things work together for good’ to the Christian, even our boll weevil experiences. Sometimes we settle into a humdrum routine as monotonous as growing cotton year after year. Then God sends the boll weevil. He jolts us out of our groove, and we must find new ways to live. Financial reverses, great bereavement, physical infirmity, loss of position – how many have been driven by trouble to be better husbandmen and to bring forth far better fruit from their souls! The best thing that ever happened to some of us was the coming of our “boll weevil.” Without that we might still have been a ‘cotton sharecropper’.”
Talk about how to take the pain out of our past.
Each of us has had our boll weevil experience.
It interrupted the pleasures of our life.
It stole our joy.
It had the audacity to invade without invitation,
and it probably came by surprise.
Chances are it devastated our faith at the time.
We were cut down to size.
The lot was cast.
But did it end in our days?
We didn’t die!
On the contrary, in many cases, it became our turning point toward real living!
The problem occurs when we don’t build our monument, when we don’t establish our own Purim, our plan for celebrating and we forget the lessons learned.
When Esther and Mordecai and the Jews decided that they wanted to make the celebration of their victory into a holiday, they looked for a name.
They looked back to the day and event that started their crisis.
We read it in Esther 3:6,7.
Haman was trying to decide when to carry out his plot to exterminate the Jews. He relied on the ancient custom of casting lots – similar to our throwing of dice. A lot was called Pur. In the casting of lots he came up with the date: the 13th of Adar.
The plural of the Persian word meaning lot is Purim.
The Jews chose the name Purim (the English term might be ‘Dice’!) for their new annual feast and it is still celebrated today.
What was going to be their death turned and became their hope for life in the future, their cause for celebration. Their past caused them to celebrate, not grieve.
The memory of a past event that at first was cause for great mourning, fasting and prayer, became the grounds for celebration!
With tongue in cheek, Chuck Swindoll suggests that their choice to call the festival “Purim” could be translated: “In your face, Haman! Here’s to our God!”
In 9:20-28 we find the Feast of Purim becoming official, as recorded by Mordecai.
Today, during the Feast of Purim, the little children dress up in costumes and the adults dress up as well.
They gather to hear the scrolls of Esther being read.
The atmosphere is like and old-time melodrama.
Everyone sheers the hero and heroine (Mordecai and Esther) and they boo and hiss and stomp their feet when the name Haman is mentioned.
It’s not a reenactment of a tragedy; it’s a celebration of triumph.
Monuments, memorials, remembrance days are appropriate in our lives. They help us to turn tragedies into triumphs. Sometimes we simply stand quietly in reflection and then move on. We build upon the past failures and triumphs. Facing the future with a reminder of the past.
In a couple of weeks we will be celebrating the 99th anniversary of Westmount Baptist Church. We look back to the great days when this sanctuary was filled to the upper balconies.
Then came the Boll Weevil for the English community in Quebec.
During the decade of the 1970’s the membership of this church mirroring that of most churches in the province dropped from 500 to 200.
But we can celebrate.
God has created a new congregation built upon the foundations of the past.
Today we worship God as a people from almost every corner of the earth.
Out of the seeming sentence of death has risen stories of testimony to the faithfulness of God.
We have a strong and exciting future with the Lord Jesus Christ as the head of the church.
We are a people of HOPE!
Perhaps you have had a boll weevil experience in your past. Something has come into your life that threatens to destroy you.
You feel the sentence of death threatening your existence as you have known it.
Perhaps it is too recent, too raw for you yet to be able to have God’s perspective.
But do not spend the rest of your life licking your wounds or you will face a grim future.
Instead, ask yourself, “What did I or can I learn from it?”
You can’t change it, it’s over.
Maybe you should have known better or you ought to have done something differently.
But forget the shoulds, woulds and oughts.
What did you learn from it? Get specific. Write it down. Pass on the wisdom gleaned from your own disaster.
This is not a shrine to be visited daily and to focus our lives around. Instead a reminder of where we have been so that we are free to face the future.
Celebrate – even facing death, for with God death has become only a shadow – we do not need to fear any evil for our Shepherd God is walking with us.
With Jesus, the sting of death has been removed.
God has given us just such a memorial to remember His writing of hope into our lives.
Today we celebrate that memorial in the Communion
– the bread and the cup.
Now that’s the memorial of the cross worth celebrating! Jesus left it as a legacy for people of faith.
But it isn’t the symbols we worship.
We don’t bow before the table where they are served. That’s why we say that we “celebrate” Communion.
We celebrate the memory and the significance, really the triumph of the cross.
Esther is a story of triumph that grew out of tragedy,
ecstasy out of agony,
celebration out of devastation.
The book ends with the Jews living in peace and prosperity in Persia with Mordecai, the Jew in looking after their interests in the king’s court.
The exciting drama of Esther is over, but the blessings go right on.
The story is also an encapsulation of the larger drama of the history of God’s creation.
We look back to the beginning of time when God’s creatures lived in harmony with their creator
– that is until the evil one Satan deceived man and woman by questioning God’s love and plan.
In a deliberate, willful act of disobedience, mankind rebelled against God.
When the holy and righteous God came into the earthly garden to fellowship with his people, they hid from Him in shame.
God knew – God knew they could not live for long away from their creator who is life Himself.
Men and women now lived with the sentence of death hanging over them.
Adam and Eve, first man and first woman left the garden of God’s presence and fought for their survival.
But God wrote a second edict.
God changed our ‘D Day” from Destruction Day to Deliverance Day.
He himself put on the flesh of His creation and stood righteous before the evil schemes of Satan.
Satan had the gallows built – tall enough for all the people of all history to see.
There on a hill outside God’s city named the city of peace – Jerusalem, this One who was both the Son of God and the Son of man was crucified.
For a time it seemed that all mankind was doomed. Satan had won.
Until God stepped in and turned the tables of history.
He put into effect a new edict;
a second covenant,
written in the blood of the Lamb of God,
Jesus, the Christ, the Saviour of the world.
Today, two opposing edicts are in place.
We live like the Jews under both the evil edict of Haman and the countering edict of Mordecai.
The first edict states that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.
The first edict announces that the wages of sin is eternal death.
The second edict invites whosoever will to come and discover the gift of God which is eternal life.
The second edict declares that if you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ you will be saved.
We live in a time of choice.
You may continue to live under Satan’s edict of death
or you may choose God and live under his edict of hope and life and joy.
The end of the story (like that of Esther 10) has been written in Revelation 20, 21 but is still to be lived in the future.
But we celebrate today.
We celebrate with a feast the victory that has already been declared in the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
We have been purchased by Jesus for God.
Today we can choose to live under the first edict of death or to join the celebration of life.
Will you join our celebration at the Communion Table as we look back to the death by crucifixion of our Lord?
We celebrate the life with God He purchased with His blood on the cross.
We celebrate the promised resurrection we have as we look back to the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
Let’s celebrate – we know our God Wins.
One of the best ways to express the emotions of ones heart is through music and song. I have asked my friend Rev. Emmanuel Francis to sing a song of celebration for us.
But Until Then My Heart Will Go on Singing.