ESTHER - Chapter 8-10

Have there been times in the last five years that you have felt like society is turning against Christians?
I, for one, have felt like this too many times to count.  We’re sometimes made to feel that Bible-based beliefs are “backward” or “out-dated”, or are sometimes even described as “dangerous!”  In a society where our laws have historically been largely based on Biblical teachings, in the last number of years Christian beliefs have been seen as significantly counter-cultural.
In this week’s passage, Haman has just been killed by the means that he had intended for Mordecai.  More than this, Mordecai has now been given a position of responsibility to King Xerxes.  Esther tells the King she is related to Mordecai and begs him to write an order to overturn Haman’s evil plans to destroy all the Jews in the Kingdom.  Perhaps surprisingly, the King approves Esther’s request, has the order written in his name, and seals it with his signet ring.  In those days, when a document was sealed with the King’s signet ring, it couldn’t be revoked – it was “signed, sealed and delivered!”  But it didn’t stop there!  King Xerxes allowed the Jews to join forces and protect themselves; to destroy and kill any armed men that posed a threat to the Jewish people, and to take their possessions.  The Jews killed many thousands of men and Haman’s sons were impaled, just as their father had planned for Mordecai, who had now become very powerful in the Palace and was feared by the King’s staff.
The Jews celebrated and feasted as this was a period of great victory and joy for their people.  This all seems very strange to us – why would they celebrate killing tens of thousands of people?  How and why was this part of God’s plan for His people? It’s hard not to be shocked by the brutality and the loss of life in these chapters.  However, it is an indication of God’s protection of His people and His judgement on those who do not follow Him.  It’s also worth noting that the men who were killed were not innocent civilians but rather, armed men who were plotting to entirely obliterate the Jewish people.  These men hated God’s people and felt that they were a danger to their society.
Does this sound similar to today’s society?  I’m not saying that people in Northern Ireland today are wanting to kill Christians for their beliefs, but there is certainly a degree of hostility towards us because of the Bible’s teachings on certain topics.  In other parts of the world, Christians do feel hostility to the point that they are killed and their only option is to trust God and be willing to accept His plan for their lives.  It’s important that we remember these people in our prayers and thank God that we have the freedom in Northern Ireland to live out our faith, despite society’s ever-changing, increasingly negative attitude.
Given that King Xerxes had previously passed the law to destroy the Jewish people, it’s clear that he has had quite a change of heart and this was all part of God’s plan for Esther, that she would earn favour from the King and she could be utilised by God to save her people.
Throughout the book of Esther, we find out that she faced a lot of uncertain times, similar to what we face today. What will society look like in 5 years, in 10 years? How will Christians be viewed and treated in that society?  We have to be like Esther.  We need to remain firm in our faith, trusting God that He has a greater plan.  Even though it’s difficult, we need to learn to trust Him when it feels like everything is going wrong.  Despite our own insecurities and doubts, God can and WILL use us to advance His Kingdom.  He’ll put us into situations that will challenge us but when we have faith that He will bring us through these difficult times, we can walk into them knowing that He is in control and He already has everything worked out for our good.  Just like Esther, we will know that God has put us there “for such a time as this”.
Romans 8:28 says “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.”

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