Turnabout


Esther 8:9–17
The king’s scribes were summoned at that time, in the third month, which is the month of Sivan, on the twenty-third day. And an edict was written, according to all that Mordecai commanded concerning the Jews, to the satraps and the governors and the officials of the provinces from India to Ethiopia, 127 provinces, to each province in its own script and to each people in its own language, and also to the Jews in their script and their language. 10 And he wrote in the name of King Ahasuerus and sealed it with the king’s signet ring. Then he sent the letters by mounted couriers riding on swift horses that were used in the king’s service, bred from the royal stud, 11 saying that the king allowed the Jews who were in every city to gather and defend their lives, to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate any armed force of any people or province that might attack them, children and women included, and to plunder their goods, 12 on one day throughout all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar. 13 A copy of what was written was to be issued as a decree in every province, being publicly displayed to all peoples, and the Jews were to be ready on that day to take vengeance on their enemies. 14 So the couriers, mounted on their swift horses that were used in the king’s service, rode out hurriedly, urged by the king’s command. And the decree was issued in Susa the citadel. 15 Then Mordecai went out from the presence of the king in royal robes of blue and white, with a great golden crown and a robe of fine linen and purple, and the city of Susa shouted and rejoiced. 16 The Jews had light and gladness and joy and honor. 17 And in every province and in every city, wherever the king’s command and his edict reached, there was gladness and joy among the Jews, a feast and a holiday. And many from the peoples of the country declared themselves Jews, for fear of the Jews had fallen on them.

Since the king’s edict regarding the extermination of the Jews could not be undone, Mordecai and Esther ask the king to issue another edict that allowed the Jews to defend themselves and strike back at those who would kill them. Apparently, the Jews were a formidable force, because this idea strikes fear in the Persians; so much so that many of them aligned themselves with Judaism.

Even as I write this I am aware of the fact that when I push the “publish” button these words will go global in that moment! When you think about that modern innovation, it is rather amazing. When Mordecai issues this new edict, the message had to be carried on horseback throughout the massive empire that was ancient Persia. The Persians were, though, famous for their ability to spread news very rapidly via this messenger service. As the news of this reversal spreads, there are two reactions: great joy and celebration among the Jews and some serious fear among the Persians. There has been a turnabout in circumstances.

God is a Master at the turnabout. Throughout the Bible we find story after story of people whose circumstances were reversed in an instant because of God’s divine providence. Joseph goes from prisoner to Prime Minister. Moses goes from shepherd to the leader of a nation. David goes from 8th son of Jesse and shepherd boy to King of Israel. Esther goes from peasant girl to Queen. The list is long and the stories are remarkable. But in those stories we find a God who is sovereign over our lives and able to accomplish His will no matter the situation. No barrier is too difficult for Him and His wonderful creativity rises to every occasion in ways that we could never conceive. No one understood the fact that the Son of God would come to suffer and die for our sins. The Old Testament believers knew God would send a Savior, but I doubt if any of them could imagine how that would happen.

Our own lives are also in the hands of that same creative and loving God. The situations in which we find ourselves may seem impossible to us but are well within His power and imagination to handle. The struggle may perhaps be that we don’t want to hand our lives over to Him and trust He will take care of us. Many trust Jesus for their salvation but not for the needs of their daily life. That propensity might be examined by each of us on a regular basis as we release the grasp we have on our lives and surrender unto Him.

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