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The closing chapters of Esther bring to mind epic Biblical tales of God subverting Israel’s enemies in battle. The events of chapters 9 and 10 vividly bring to mind a relatively recent event in 1967 where God performed a miracle on the battlefield on behalf of Israel. That historic event reads like a note right out of the Old Testament.
I speak here of the Six Day War between Israel and the combined military might of several Arab states that took place on June 5–10, 1967.
In that event, an alliance of Arab nations that included Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, (supported by Algeria, Kuwait, Libya, Morocco, Pakistan, PLO, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Tunisia) were hell-bent on destroying Israel and had in fact carried out several attacks against the tiny nation (as well as instituting an effective blockade of the port city of Elat in southern Israel). The threat of military invasion loomed large on the horizon and quite frankly, it looked like the end of Israel. She was outnumbered and outgunned.
However, when you are the apple of God’s eye (even though Israel still stubbornly rejects His invitation to embrace Jesus as her Messiah), things don’t always appear as they seem, especially in battle.
The word, “Astounding” doesn’t even begin to describe what happened next.
In response to the military mobilization of the Arab nations surrounding her, in the early hours of June 5, Israel launched a preemptive air assault that obliterated more than 90% of Egypt and Syria’s air force. It was the original “Operation Shock and Awe.” Then on June 7, Israeli military also drove Jordanian ground forces out of East Jerusalem and most of the West Bank, thereby reclaiming the holy city of Jerusalem.
Talk about a reversal of destiny!
Within three days the Israelis had achieved an overwhelming (almost unbelievable) victory over the surrounding Arab nations that vowed to exterminate her. It were almost as if a sovereign God were fighting on her behalf.
That’s because it has happened time and time again in Biblical history and in fact, will happen again in our future at the final battle of Armageddon, but mostly because it’s what happens in the last two chapters of this book of Esther. In this final blog post of this series through the Old Testament book of Esther, I’m going to give you a running commentary on the final unfolding events and highlight two fight plans that will help you learn to fight for what's rightfully yours and two party ideas that will help you throw a party of a lifetime (because that's what you do when you win a fight - party!.
If you’re interested in a recap, I invite you to check out the first eight episodes of this blog series (or podcast), But, assuming you know the background story that has led to this chapter, all you need to know as we launch into chapter 9 is that today is D-Day. It’s the 13th day of the 12th month and there will be plenty of bloodshed today.
Today is the day when Haman’s army will finally deal with the “Jewish Problem.” Incidentally, Haman himself has already been executed several months back, but the edict to annihilate the Jews remains (because Persian law, once written, is irrevocable). So, there’s obviously some anti-Semitic retribution fueling this Persian killing squad. The bloody event that is supposed to unfold on this day is eerily similar to the liquidation of the Warsaw ghetto in Germany on April 19, 1943 when German soldiers started killing and deporting Jews to concentration camps.
Now, here’s even more irony, the bloodshed and enmity between these two groups hasn’t changed much even after a few thousand years. The Persians (Iran) are still threatening and calling for the destruction of the Jews (Israel). So clearly, this is beyond racial hatred. It is Satan-led - an unseen spiritual battle in the heavenly realms with principalities and powers. Fortunately, however, this onslaught of the Jews (though Satan-inspired) is not going to go as planned. The key phrase to note here is in the latter part of verse 1, “On this day the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, but now the tables were turned and the Jews got the upper hand over those who hated them.”
FIGHT PLAN 1: ALWAYS HAVE A “GO” PLAN
The plans to destroy the Jews will not go as planned because, unlike the failed uprisings of the Jewish Fighting Resistance in Warsaw in 1942, the Jews in Persia have had plenty of time to prepare their own army to fight back.
In other words, they had a “GO” plan ready to, …well, go!
Furthermore, due to Mordecai’s sudden ascension and rise to political power and influence (that we read of in Esther 8, 9, 10), many high-ranking Persian officials and possibly even military, have sided with the Jews. There’s also the tidbit in verse 2 where it says a sudden fear had fallen on all the other nationalities concerning the Jews. This may very well have to do with Mordecai’s rising influence and power, or it could simply be a supernatural act of God where the fear of the Lord had fallen on the enemy-army so they were already defeated before the Jews even lifted a sword.
Whatever the case may be, this day unfolded like that moment when robbers armed with knives storm a house at night only to find a trained unit of fully armed commandos waiting with guns pointed directly at their forehead.
Yes. Bloody. I know.
By the end of this day, blood was indeed spilled all over the 127 provinces of Persia, but not Jewish blood. When the bodies were tallied at the end of that first day, the 13th, 500 of Haman’s mercenaries were found dead. Included in that number were the 10 sons of Haman, who were also killed and impaled publicly because they posed a future threat to the Jews. Their public impaling also signaled to all the other nationalities that the Jews were not to be trifled with.
To be clear, this wasn’t wanton murder. It was strictly self-defense. Though their enemies could attack any Jew they wanted in Haman’s original edict, Mordecai’s edict only allowed the Jews to attack those who attacked them — those who were seeking their destruction. Verse 2 reiterates as much when it says that the Jews, “assembled in their cities in all the provinces of King Xerxes to attack those determined to destroy them.” Further proof of the just nature of their war is in verse 10, 15-16 where is says the Jews, “did not lay hands on the plunder.” This wasn’t about hatred and the acquiring of more wealth; it was about the protection and preservation of life! With all that said, the Jews were ready to go (after prepping for nine months for this day) when the moment called for action.
How about you? Are you ready to “go” if God called you in? If the things you’ve trusted Him for were to suddenly show up on your front steps, how ready are you to actually get moving on it?
It’s a question you’ll hear me ask if you approach me about praying for a need in your life, “What have you done to get yourself ready for this?” Believe it or not, readying yourself to “GO” on whatever you’re trusting God to do in your life is an act of faith. If there is one thing we know about God, it’s that He is drawn to faith! So get moving …which actually brings us then to the next fight plan.
FIGHT PLAN 2: BE READY TO FIGHT FOR WHAT IS RIGHTFULLY YOURS
Interestingly, Esther actually requests an additional day for her people to defend themselves because apparently, the 13th wasn’t enough time to apprehend those who posed a threat to the Jews. We read in verse 5-10 that she needed to secure official permission from the king for her people to protect themselves another 24 hours to send a clear message.
By the way, it’s at this point that she requests that the 10 sons of Haman be publicly hanged. It’s clever way of sending a very strong and very public message that this is what will happen to whoever opposes the queen’s people! As a result of this extra day, verse 14-15 says that on the 14th, the Jewish army also struck down 300 additional men. When all was said and done, 75,000 enemy soldiers were killed in all 127 provinces in Persia.
I know this sounds like a lot of bloodshed (and it is), but the fact is, there is a time to fight and there is a time for war. It’s not enough to have a nice “GO” plan, you need to put it to work for you.
The reality is that every great idea you have or initiative you try to implement will be faced with some level of opposition. There will always be people who think your idea won’t work and people who will actively try to stifle your efforts. In those moments, you will need to decide if your God-given dreams are worth fighting for and worth taking a few punches for.
Esther had most of what she wanted on the 13th, but she knew that the victory God had already begun to grant the Jews wasn’t fully theirs yet. Making a request to the king to extend the battle one more day was a risky move, but it was worth it if it meant the threat of death would no longer loom over her people.
Be tenacious about the plans God has planted in your heart. Press on in spite of the pain and opposition until you begin to see some semblance of the vision you originally began with.
This, of course is what the Jews do until the end of the 14th when it says, “… and then on the fifteenth they rested and made it a day of feasting and joy. 19 That is why rural Jews—those living in villages—observe the fourteenth of the month of Adar as a day of joy and feasting, a day for giving presents to each other.” (verse 18-19)
The narrative changes at this point from warfare to celebration, and a recounting of all the events of the book. So these next two lessons have to do with celebrating after a fight win.
PARTY PLAN 1: DON’T CELEBRATE THE WAR, CELEBRATE THE VICTORY
In Leviticus 23, God institutes seven national holidays for the Jews. Two other national holidays, however, are a result of historical events instituted by men, Hanukkah (a version of Christmas) and Purim (think 4th of July meets Christmas). Purim originated in these last two chapters of Esther’s story. It’s a celebration of remembrance of how God outwitted the enemy and delivered the Jews. It’s also a day of feasting, dancing, and exchanging of presents (Esther 9:22)
Note that they are not celebrating the bloodshed or the number of lives taken, rather they are rejoicing and remembering “the time when the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration. ” (Esther 9:22)
The point here is quite simple and straightforward: When God moves dramatically in your life, it calls for celebration! When God moves in such a way that things are irreversible changed for the better in your life or community or Church, it calls for the exchanging of gifts to celebrate GOD! This gift giving/exchange may be something you do with others who give you something in return, or if you're feeling especially generous, your gift can go to someone who can do nothing in return (even complete strangers in need). Giving to others out of the gratitude of your heart is a way of thanking God and celebrating what He has done for you, in you, or through you!
(…and that bring the series to a close on this next note)...
PARTY PLAN 2: PURIM CALLS FOR A PARTY (SERIOUSLY, THROW A PARTY)
This may come as a shocker to you, but God digs a good party! (The rest of the story is basically Esther and Mordecai making the Purim Party an official national celebration).
Consider the fact that the scriptures not only describes our eternal state in heaven as an ongoing period of joy and festivity, but the angels themselves burst into spontaneous celebration every time one person puts their faith in Christ.
You want to know what’s even more incredible?
God is planning to host the most lavish and most extravagant party ever thrown. Revelation 19:9 describes it as, “The Marriage Supper of the Lamb.” The best part? God is making it an open invite. HE WANTS HIS HOUSE FULL and an invitation has been extended out to you through faith in Jesus Christ.
You have two options.
You can TURN DOWN THE INVITE by continuing to pursue your own plans and ambitions for your life apart from faith in Jesus Christ, thereby crossing your name off the guest list; or you can ACCEPT HIS INVITATION by confessing with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord and believe in your heart God raised Him from the grave, thereby gaining entrance into the party.
For those of you who DO chose or have chosen to accept God’s invite, and truly believe that God wants His house to be full, you have one simple follow-up task! (…and this here is the connection to Purim in Esther’s story). If it is within your means, in the coming weeks or months, THROW AN AWESOME FUN PARTY at your place. Why? Because God has been good to you!
Think over the last few months. What “wins” has God given you? Have you taken the time to thank Him beyond just a casual “Thanks” in prayer? How about truly celebrating what God has done with a party with others? Remember, God digs a good shin-dig!
So, go ahead.
Wrap up this blog series through Esther with a party! Keep it clean and free of content that would cause anyone to fall into sin. Invite your friends, but in addition, BE VERY INTENTIONAL about inviting people in your wider social circles who usually don’t get invited to parties (sorta like giving gifts to people who are not in a financial position to do anything in return). Let them experience what it feels like to be thankful to God as Esther, Mordecai and the rest of the Jews were! Believe it or not, a great party like that may speak louder about your faith in Christ than any street preaching you may attempt!
So yeah, party it up, yo!
Alas!! We have arrived at the end.
Husband. Dad. Pastor. Nigerian American. Storyteller. Aspiring Prayer Warrior. Steak Lover. Follower of Jesus Christ reminding you that God the Father still loves you.