In the ten months that followed the issuing of the second edict there was a great time of rejoicing within the Jewish community. It was such an outward expression of joy that it was clearly seen by their friends and neighbors, even by those who had before wanted to attack them. After the second edict came a time of gladness a time when their light of that joy shined onto those around them. They became a witness to the power of God, a light to the Gentiles.
I believe this to be an initial fulfillment (the ultimate fulfillment of the following passage I believe will be fulfilled in the end) of Zechariah 8:23 which says, “This is what the Lord almighty says: “In those days ten men from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, ‘ Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you.'””(NIV) It is interesting to note that Zechariah was written in the time of Xerxes father Darius and even in the early part of Xerxes reign.
This is what the ancient world was seeing. Many peoples were coming to the Jews and following their God. God had made it obvious that He was with His people and the Gentiles did not want to be caught on the wrong side.
Remember that the first edict was sealed with the king’s signet ring, but so was the second. The people now had a choice as to which edict they would follow. Before the second edict came out there was but one choice and it had to be obeyed. Now, however, there was hope. Hope in the God of the Jews.
Here is where most people miss the blessing of the book of Esther. It is not just that God rescued his people through Mordecai and Esther, but that He used them to also start a chain reaction, so to speak, that overflowed to the rest of the peoples of the kingdom. It is clear that because of the fear of the Jews many became Jews. Yes, it does take looking beyond the surface to see the object of that fear. It is God Himself.
Remember that even Haman’s wife knew that his downfall began with parading Mordecai, a Jew, through the streets of Susa. Because the King’s honor went to a Jew, she knew he would surely come to ruin. She knew who truly lead the Jews, it was their God. It was their God that caused her to predict the ruin of her own husband.
Here too, we see the peoples of the kingdom understanding that the fear of the Jews is God. Their only hope was in trusting in this God of the Jews and thereby becoming Jews themselves. We must not think that becoming a Jew was a casual thing. It was not and is not. It involves, and did then as well, a public ceremony declaring your allegiance to the God of the Jews, immersion (called mikvah) for both men and women, and circumcision for the men. It is and was no small thing to become a Jew.
What we see at the end of chapter eight is a mass revival. We see people from different tongues, tribes and nations coming to God through the joyful witness of His people. We see the heart of God giving us a glimpse of what he would one day do.
Why do I say it like that? Because this was a short lived revival, it only lasted one generation. After the death of Xerxes, his son, Artaxerxes would declare Zoroastrianism the official religion of the kingdom. It is important to remember here that it was the Zoroastrian priests who helped conspire against Xerxes and largely gave direction to the coup against him that put Artaxerxes on the throne. One must ask the question why? Why would the priests feel the need to do that? Perhaps Xerxes himself turned and followed the God of his new adopted family. He had publically aligned himself to that family and perhaps, we can hope, to their God.
Either way, God had moved among the nations and given His invitation to the peoples of the Persian Empire just as He had with Egypt (The Exodus), Assyria (Jonah), and Babylon (Nebuchadnezzar’s turning to God). God’s heart has always been that His people, Israel, be a light to those far away so that they can be brought near.
Let us also not forget that the Northern Kingdom of Israel was dispersed into this area by the Assyrians. They may very well be a part of this revival. We think of them as lost, but God never lost them and never stopped wanting them back. We see in Ezekiel 37 that God would once again bring the house of Israel and the house of Judah back together to be one. This event in Esther may very well be that event or at least a part of that process. Remember Ezekiel was a prophet during the time of the Babylonian exile about 100 years before the account of Esther.
We also know that by the time of the first century that the Jews once again saw themselves as the twelve tribes. We see this in the opening verse of James where he addresses his letter “To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations”(NIV). The scattering James is referring to is not the exile but the diaspora in the first century after the stoning of Stephen.
Here in Esther we see God once again drawing people to Himself. This is the heart of our Father. We should never neglect to see the working of His might Hand.
For The Fear of our God,
Ephesians 4:17 Therefore, I say this and testify in the Lord: You should no longer walk as the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their thoughts. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them and because of the hardness of their hearts… 20 But that is not how you learned about the Messiah… 24 you put on the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth. 25 Since you put away lying, Speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, because we are members of one another. 26 Be angry and do not sin. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and don’t give the Devil an opportunity… 29 No foul language is to come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear. 30 And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit. You were sealed by Him for the day of redemption. 31 All bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander must be removed from you, along with all malice. 32 And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.
Ephesians 5:1 Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children. 2 And walk in love, as the Messiah also loved us and gave Himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God… 8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light — 9 for the fruit of the light results in all goodness, righteousness, and truth — 10 discerning what is pleasing to the Lord…15 Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk —not as unwise people but as wise — 16 making the most of the time, because the days are evil. 17 So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 And don’t get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless actions, but be filled by the Spirit: 19 speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music from your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of Christ.(HCSB)
I admittedly skipped over parts of the passage and I encourage you to read the whole passage in Scripture, but I did it this way to point out some specific things. I want to start at the beginning of the passage with the discussion of Gentiles. If you notice Paul is saying that his readers are no longer Gentiles because Gentiles are “excluded from the life of God”. They are not apart of His family. That may sound harsh, but Paul is definitely using them as a stark contrast to what a believer is and looks like. Gentiles live in darkness, in every aspect of their life, and a believer in Yeshua is the exact opposite, they are people of the Light.
When a person becomes a disciple of Jesus Christ they are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) and what a masterpeice God makes of them. In this passage Paul says that they are created in God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of truth. Did you catch that? They are created in God’s likeness, in His image. What was twisted and marred with the fall, God repairs. We were always intended to be in Him, to be like Him, to be imitators of Him. We are to reflect Him and so our actions must match that.
That is truly what this passage is about. We are His and we are to be like Him. Therefore, we are to look dramatically different than the rest of the world who live in darkness. We are to live differently and live in such harmony with our fellow believers that it marvels this dark world.
We are members of one another and as such we are to live with each other in certain ways. We are to be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave us in Christ. We are to speak to each other in such a way as to only say what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear. How do we do this? We speak to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music from our hearts to the Lord, giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. All the while submitting to one another in the fear of Christ.
Is that to say that one believer never gets angry at another? Not at all. But we do not allow that anger to take root by “sleeping on it”. We speak the truth to one another, in love. And yes, expect them to do the same. The main game of the enemy is to divide us. He wants to put a wedge between us. Makes since doesn’t it? Jesus prayed that we would be one and so the Devil seeks to do the exact opposite, tear us apart. Question is, who do we allow to win those battles in our lives? I pray the answer is that we always seek to make the prayer of Yeshua a reality through the power of the Spirit, who fills us and seals us.
As we live, filled with the Holy Spirit, we are not only capable of living as children of light (discerning what the Lord’s will is), but we are expected to. Children of the One Light, whose light they reflect, are expected to walk step by step with that One Light. Otherwise they stray into darkness and when there we become easy targets for the enemy to pick off and destroy.
And what is the Lord’s will for us as children of Light. It is to be one with one another, living out the mystery. Submitting to one another. How we do that in our daily lives in everyday relationships is what Paul deals with next. I look forward to talking to you about that.
In the Light,