As you recall, both decrees were in place and the big day finally arrived:
1 So on March 7 the two decrees of the king were put into effect. On that day, the enemies of the Jews had hoped to destroy them, but quite the opposite happened. 2 The Jews gathered in their cities throughout all the king’s provinces to defend themselves against anyone who might try to harm them. But no one could make a stand against them, for everyone was afraid of them.
Because of Queen Esther, enemys of the Jewish nation were afraid for their lives. Initially, this was to be the day that everyone in all the provinces of King Xerxes had permission to slaughter all Jews and take all the plunder for themselves. Can you imagine? Sounds much like another time period in the not so distant past, doesn’t it? But, instead of the Jewish people being obliterated, the Jews rose up and began killing their enemies.
Please keep in mind: I’m no Bible scholar. I’m just a regular guy reading through the Bible. So when I read the next part of the chapter, I started thinking of questions. I began to wonder why, after they had been rescued from certain death, it was necessary for the Jews to turn the tables and slaughter hundreds of people in Susa alone – no telling how many in the total kingdom.
I don’t pretend to be an expert on the history of the Jewish nation, nor am I an expert in the art of war. But I do know that this story is presented in the Bible for us to learn from. I have to believe that every word in the Bible is ordained by God and there’s something to be learned here.
I have to be honest. In light of the way I have been raised, and the things I have been taught thus far, my inclination would have been for the Jewish people to celebrate the victory when the day came and their enemies did nothing for fear of the Jews. That’s it! You won! Why the needless loss of life? Doesn’t this put you down on your enemy’s level? Haven’t you become them now?But, I have much to learn about justice. Especially lately, I’ve had the message of grace thrown at me at every turn – and I think I needed that. But, there is also the just side of God.
Taking this story to a whole different level of importance in my life is the writings of my very good friend, Roy, at the “Hook’d on Grace” blog (see http://hookiv.blogspot.com) . There’s a lot there, but if you can read his 8-part series on “Hell’s Best Kept Secret” you might start to see what I’m saying. I don’t want to steal Roy’s idea, but you have to read his post for September 12th. I think we (as a church) may be guilty of relying so heavily on God’s grace that we think we can forget about his justice! As Roy points out so well, God has become something that makes our journey better; a benefit we’re somehow entitled to. But if we really understood that we needed God to avoid eternal damnation, would we live differently?For me right now, it means the following:
- Yes, God loves us and is very loving and forgiving
- But, God is also just and cannot tollerate disobedience
- So, if we think we can just keep on living like we’re living in disobedience and then just conveniently ask forgiveness every week, and expect to see the kingdom of Heaven – we may be in for a very big surprise
- Because our disobedience has consequences
How did I take that leap, you ask? Well, the enemies of the Jews were very much looking forward to March 7th because then they could kill every Jew they saw, take their property, and nothing would happen to them. Well, as “legal” as it was, it was against the law of God. In this case, the king’s laws went directly against God’s. And, don’t forget, God calls the Jewish people His chosen people (which is a whole other theological discussion).As a result, when the day finally arrived, the enemies were afraid of the Jewish people – and for good reason. Many lost their lives.
Okay – I hope this is making some kind of sense. I don’t want to get too long with all this. The point I’m trying to make is that God is love and grace. But He is also holy and just. I know people who have taken the “grace” side of God way out of balance. Don’t get me wrong – we need God’s grace. But that can’t be an excuse to go on sinning (see Romans 6:15).Bottom line: Where are you with God? Are you still in bondage to some sin? If so, get help. Pray that God will send you a brother to confess to, and be accountable to. Tell your pastor. Don’t keep saying, “I can handle this.” I know some who’ve said it one too many times – where are they now? It’s so important.