Esther 7-8: Tears and Joy
August 24, 2020
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Poor Haman, how could things get any worse? He who had thought to destroy God’s people on a whim of personal insult was now found to be begging for his life with the queen (7:7). Esther once more had proved very canny in her maneuvering of the situation. It was on the second day that the king had feasted before she made her request (7:2). And even then, she “set it up” so that the emotional impact of the disaster against her and her people was felt by the king before she revealed that it was Haman who was behind it (7:3-6). Then when the king returned from his furious foot stomping walk in the garden to find Haman begging for his life, it appeared as if he was even then assaulting the queen, and once the king had made this remark, Haman’s doom was assured (7:8). The attendants covered his face in shame, dishonor, but also as a sign that from henceforth he was as good as dead. We hear no more word from Haman, and he is hanged on the very gallows that he had built for Mordecai (7:9-10).
Mordecai, meanwhile, is put in Haman’s place (8:2). And at the request of the queen he is given authority not exactly to overturn the previous command of the king against God’s people—for such laws at the time could not be revoked—but instead to command in the king’s name what was necessary for the protection of God’s people (8:8). This Mordecai does (8:9-12). And God’s people rejoice, with light and joy (8:15-16). Their victory and protection are effectively now assured.
Haman is the Judas figure in the story—when was it too late for him to find repentance? Answers to such questions are beyond our ken, but there came a time when his heart was hardened. If you find yourself opposing God’s work or attacking God’s people, be warned: there is a time when God’s patience runs out. He offers salvation, but it cannot forever be refused; even a deathbed is not too late, but beyond the grave there is no second chance, and one never knows when the grave calls. Repent today, and receive joyful life.
The savior figure—it is strange, perhaps, for some—is, of course, Esther. If you are a woman, it can feel at times as if your role in church life is insignificant or disallowed. But history and the Bible are filled with women who have had great parts to play in the drama of God’s salvation: Phoebe in the New Testament, to name but one; the evangelical awakening would have been a very different affair if it had not been for the influence of the Countess of Huntingdon.
We all, God’s people, can be in a situation where it can feel as if the axe is about to fall. But it is never too late with God’s salvation, and God answers prayer according to his timing, not ours, a timing where a thousand years is as a day. Be patient in suffering, knowing that if received rightly, suffering trains our character and gives good fruit of godliness and increasing Christlikeness. And those who sow tears shall, as these Old Testament people of God discovered, reap with songs of joy (Psalm 125:6).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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