Jump Starts Daily

Jump Start #3538

Jump Start # 3538

Esther 8:17 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 holiday. And many among the peoples of the land became Jews, for the dread of the Jews had fallen on them.”

  I have yet another Esther thought, even though it is not Tuesday.  As the story of Esther unfolds, twists and subplots are revealed. Haman was dead. Yet, the evil edict against the Jews was still in the air. There seems to be a transition in the relationship between Xerxes and Esther. They are together and talking several times in these final chapters. The king is willing to grant Esther whatever she wants without her first asking. Mordecai is so trusted by the king that the signet ring is given to him.

  Unlike her first approaching the king in earlier chapters, confident and sure, she now falls at the king’s feet, crying and pleading, not for her life but for the sake of her people. The king is so moved that he tells Mordecai to write anything and use the signet ring. Only a trusted person would be allowed to do that. The swiftest horses are used to carry the message to the far reaching parts of the kingdom. The Jews, according to Mordecai’s edict, would be allowed to defend themselves. And, that changes everything. The spirit of rejoicing fills the air. The officials side with the Jews. Our verse today shows that many Persians became Jews. There was a dread of the Jews that everyone feared.

  And, what was that dread? Haman was number two in the kingdom. Yet, when he tried to execute a Jew, Mordecai, things shifted and Haman was killed. Mordecai, the Jew, now was second in command. Daniel was a Jew that was thrown into a Persian lion’s den. He was spared. Shadrach and his two Jewish friends were thrown into a Babylonian furnace and they were spared. The powerful Nebuchadnezzar was brought low by the Jewish God. There was the fortified Jericho that was destroyed by Jewish people. Rahab had heard about what Israel had done to other nations. There was the powerful Egyptians and their death in the Red Sea at the hands of the Jewish God. There was a history that no one could deny. There was kingdom after kingdom, empire after empire and the Jews seemed untouchable. Now, the Jews were given a new edict, written by the Jewish Mordecai and they were going to defend themselves. The new decree, approved by the king and supported by officials throughout the kingdom, allowed the Jews to kill their enemies.

  There was a reason to dread the Jews. And, as our verse states, “many among the people of the land became Jews.”

  First, there is an impression and an influence that one leaves with others. It can be negative or it can be positive. It can lead to Christ or it can lead away from Christ. The fact that many Persians became Jews shows that they were impacted and influenced. They didn’t want to be on the wrong side of that edict.

  Second, there is a hope that lives within the child of God that is attractive and appealing. Yes, the Christian suffers. Yes, the Christian has bad days and bad news. Yes, the Christian faces the death of loved ones, tragedies and hardships. We all do. But, the Christian faces those things with a hope, a peace and an understanding that the world doesn’t. That is the basis of 1 Peter 3:15, the making of a “defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you.” It’s not just being able to answer a random Bible question. The world is asking about the hope that they see in us. We journey to the cemetery, but we walk away differently than the man of the world. We experience the loss of jobs, the heartache of disappointments, but there remains deep within us, that flame of hope. It’s not pure optimism that is nothing more than wishful thinking. There is an assurance, a confidence that is found in Christ. This world is not our home, is much more than a hymn, but a resolute anthem for the child of God.

  When we cower in fear, worry like everyone else, become doubtful there will be no one asking us about our hope. They won’t see any hope. But when our faith in Christ shines brightly, even in the darkest of nights, there will be people wondering how you do that. The answer, of course, is Jesus.

  Third, the dread was beyond these Jewish people in Esther’s time. There was something mighty, something powerful and that was the God of the Jews. The Egyptians had their gods, but they didn’t help them. Babylon had their gods, but they didn’t help them. Israel had one God. That’s all they needed. That’s all there was. And, their one God showed Himself to be the God of Heaven and Earth. There was nothing that He could not do. Intense fire? Nothing to Israel’s God. Trapped between a sea and a rapidly approaching army? Nothing to Israel’s God. Lions? Nothing to Israel’s God.

  In Hebrews we are reminded that it is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Our culture has so emptied God of power, wrath and justice, that He is portrayed as a divine Mr. Roger’s, who so loves us that He’ll never raise His voice at us or do anything. And with such a warped theology, God becomes our servant and not the other way around. How dare anyone tinker with God’s word? How dare anyone try to change the worship of God?

  What’s missing these days is good ole’ fashioned, “dread.” Many of us grew up knowing that if we ever got in trouble at school, we’d really get in trouble at home. There was a certain dread. Not these days. Get in trouble at school and mom and dad show up with an attorney demanding the school apologize to their little darling.

  Oh, we dread today, it’s just that we no longer dread God. We dread offending someone. We dread upsetting someone’s feelings. We dread saying something in a sermon and someone may get up and walk out. We fear the people, but not the God.

  There was a dread in Esther’s day. The Jews were on the move. And, their God was going to help them.