Esther 8:8-17

The King’s Decree Avenges the Jews

Now you write to the Jews [a]as you see fit, in the king’s name, and seal it with the king’s signet ring; for a decree which is written in the name of the king and sealed with the king’s signet ring may not be revoked.”

So the king’s scribes were called at that time in the third month (that is, the month Sivan), on the twenty-third [b]day; and it was written according to all that Mordecai commanded to the Jews, the satraps, the governors and the princes of the provinces which extended from India to [c]Ethiopia, 127 provinces, to every province according to its script, and to every people according to their language as well as to the Jews according to their script and their language. 10 He wrote in the name of King Ahasuerus, and sealed it with the king’s signet ring, and sent letters by couriers on horses, riding on steeds sired by the royal stud. 11 [d]In them the king granted the Jews who were in each and every city the right to assemble and to defend their lives, to destroy, to kill and to annihilate the entire army of any people or province which might attack them, including children and women, and to plunder their spoil, 12 on one day in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month (that is, the month Adar). 13 A copy of the edict to be [e]issued as law in each and every province was published to all the peoples, so that the Jews would be ready for this day to avenge themselves on their enemies. 14 The couriers, hastened and impelled by the king’s command, went out, riding on the royal steeds; and the decree was given out at the citadel in Susa.

15 Then Mordecai went out from the presence of the king in royal robes of [f]blue and white, with a large crown of gold and a garment of fine linen and purple; and the city of Susa shouted and rejoiced. 16 For the Jews there was light and gladness and joy and honor. 17 In each and every province and in each and every city, wherever the king’s commandment and his decree arrived, there was gladness and joy for the Jews, a feast and a [g]holiday. And many among the peoples of the land became Jews, for the dread of the Jews had fallen on them.

Two interesting things stand out to me here. The first is that when the Jews were given the right to defend themselves, their whole attitude changed. I won’t say much more about that, but it’s pretty obvious that when people have the right to self-defense, they sleep better at night. It’s a stark contrast to the previous decree, where they were just “sheep to the slaughter”.

The other thing is right at the end here, “And many among the peoples of the land became Jews…” The Jews weren’t perfect for sure. After all, that’s why they were in captivity. But when the people of the land saw what was going on, whether they understood it or not, they were curious (and afraid). They wanted to know more about what made the Jews special, and they certainly didn’t want to be on the wrong side of any battle that might ensue. Many even took it to the level of becoming a Jew–which was a bit more involved than just saying a prayer or wearing a t-shirt.

Likewise, we as Christians should take a page from these Jews. Not just to have a special holiday, we have enough of those that have been watered down. But our lives should be living testimonies of God’s goodness and power. We ought to be contagious enough that people want to know what we’ve got going on that is so special.

We have far more to celebrate than the Jews, though in some ways similar, since we also have been rescued from death. God has given us more power than the Jews in captivity ever dreamed of, and we have a responsibility to share the good news with anyone who will listen.

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