Esther 9-10: No Such Thing as Luck
August 25, 2020
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Esther 9-10, Proverbs 17:15-28, Luke 20:20-26, Philemon 12-25
Some of this is hard for us to read, for it seems very much as if the Jewish people—now that they have been relieved of the threat—make the most of their new opportunity to exact revenge (9:1-3). Indeed, a large number of people are killed at the hands of the Jews (9:5-10), and the queen actually asks for another day to continue the killing (9:13). How are we to understand this bloodshed?
It is possible, theoretically, that God’s people are exacting revenge injudiciously (it would not be the first time that God’s people have sinned), but we are given no hint in the text that their deeds were wrong—quite the reverse. The large point of Esther is that this story explains the feast of Purim (Pur = lot, celebrating the lot that was cast and turned by God to the advantage of his people) (9:20-32).
If this is not a sinful deed, then what is it? Possibly, here the Jewish people are acting as an agent, in a way that God’s people as a theocratic nation-state on occasion did in the Old Testament, of God’s wrath. This appears closer and may indeed be the reality. But we should also not miss the simpler fact that in essence the Jewish people were at war. They had been sentenced to death, in a genocidal extermination from the government. That sentence could not be revoked. The only chance they had was to be given permission to defend themselves. This they proceeded to do, and do well. As a nation, there are times when self-defense is just, as Paul teaches in Romans 13 (about a pagan country) that the authorities bear the sword to exercise justice.
The larger point, though, of the story is to underline the extraordinary, “lucky,” “chancy,” “fortuitous,” “serendipitous” series of events—the “Purim.” In fact, all these events were under God’s control and led to his people’s protection and the honor of God in a celebration of God’s redemption. Perhaps you feel that “luck” is against you.
Perhaps you feel that certain events have gone against you, or you feel that life has turned its back on you and you have missed the best years of your life, or that opportunity has passed you by. Read Esther and consider. Who is in charge of the “Purim”? Fate or God? And if God, then rejoice that one day you will see how his mighty act of redemption is working itself out in your life for your good.
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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