Scripture

Esther 8:11-17

11 The king’s edict granted the Jews in every city the right to assemble and protect themselves; to destroy, kill and annihilate the armed men of any nationality or province who might attack them and their women and children, and to plunder the property of their enemies. 12 The day appointed for the Jews to do this in all the provinces of King Xerxes was the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar. 13 A copy of the text of the edict was to be issued as law in every province and made known to the people of every nationality so that the Jews would be ready on that day to avenge themselves on their enemies.

14 The couriers, riding the royal horses, went out, spurred on by the king’s command, and the edict was issued in the citadel of Susa.

15 When Mordecai left the king’s presence, he was wearing royal garments of blue and white, a large crown of gold and a purple robe of fine linen. And the city of Susa held a joyous celebration. 16 For the Jews it was a time of happiness and joy, gladness and honor. 17 In every province and in every city to which the edict of the king came, there was joy and gladness among the Jews, with feasting and celebrating. And many people of other nationalities became Jews because fear of the Jews had seized them.

Reflection

Out of the shadows of the empire, the Jews can assemble and protect themselves publicly. Joy and gladness characterize this time. Others are becoming Jews out of fear but it isn’t clear what motivates this fear. Is it the honor and esteem the Jews are rewarded? The favor of the king? How they’ve already started avenging themselves on their enemies? What is clear is that the Jews are visible and they have good reason to rejoice! It’s still the early morning of their salvation from the evil schemes of Haman. With greater visibility and legal protection comes the opportunity to publicly declare the goodness of God. God’s promise to Abraham was that his descendants would be a blessing to the world. What greater blessing could be given than for God’s people to share the invitation of fellowship with their Creator to all people in the empire!?

Greater exposure is cast upon the lives of God’s people. Faith is more visible to others. Or is it? Until the fourth century, the church didn’t publicly assemble with the protection of the government. For nearly three hundred years, the Holy Spirit led the church to the ends of the earth proclaiming the gospel while communities of faith gathered together in homes to worship together. Thousands were added to the family of God. Signs and wonders were performed in Jesus’ name. Think about that for a second. The church existed without the legal standing and public toleration it is blessed with today for a period of time longer than the life of the United States of America. Thinking of our own context, do you think the church was healthier in Acts than it is now? If so, why? Perhaps the legally protected and publicly visible church has more distractions as disadvantages with which to contend. It’s easier to confuse the power of the state with the power of the Holy Spirit. Our dependence is easily misplaced. How is God calling his church back to basics during this season?      

Prayer

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zp6aygmvzM4)

The Lord bless you

And keep you

Make His face shine upon you

And be gracious to you

The Lord turn His

Face toward you

And give you peace

May His favor be upon you

And a thousand generations

And your family and your children

And their children, and their children

May His presence go before you

And behind you, and beside you

All around you, and within you

He is with you, He is with you

In the morning, in the evening

In your coming, and your going

In your weeping, and rejoicing

He is for you, He is for you