Esther 9:1-22, Nehemiah 8:10, Luke 1:46-55
I come from a long line of planners, maybe even over-planners. We assess situations, make a plan, and handle it. My wife is spontaneous and doesn’t mind if we don’t even know where we will sleep tonight. But when I don’t know what’s coming, I go ahead and worry.
I know what Scripture says about worry (don’t do it), but when things look bad and the unknowns pile up, I get in there and worry like a champ. I really get men like Peter. Remember him standing on the water, looking at the dark waves and starting to sink? Peter liked to know the facts, and standing on that water, the facts as he understood them didn’t add up (Mark 14:22-33).
What I don’t like is not knowing. In other words, I’d rather not need to have faith. Of course, this desire for an easy and comfortable spiritual walk, where everything is clear up front and there is only good news, is not what God has designed. The good that God wants for us is not about our ease, but about growing us in Him. This means that the natural man, the one that doubts, frets, and despairs, has to go. In his place must grow a new man, who believes and gives thanks.
Esther is a great book for “men of little faith” like myself. God’s name isn’t even mentioned. Take that at face value, and there is plenty of reason to worry and fret. But God often does His greatest work while no one is looking. Even in the midst of the night, and in the early morning hours, He prepares salvation for His people (Exodus 14:21; John 20:1). Take darkness at face value, and we miss seeing His hand at work. At the moment of defeat, He brings victory. In weakness, He is strength. From sorrow, He makes joy, and from death, life (Esther 9:22; John 5:24).
The thirteenth day of Adar was the moment of reversal. In the final hours, the tide turned. God sent to the Jews’ aid not only Mordecai, but the officials and satraps and governors of the provinces, and then caused the fear of the Jews to fall on all the people. When all was seemingly lost, suddenly, all was won.
One detail in particular stands out to me here: the Jews “laid no hands on the plunder” (Esther 9:16). Why not? When fate has dealt you a fortunate hand, why not capitalize on it? But the Jews did not. As Matthew Henry observed, the Jews refused the spoils “in imitation of their father Abraham, who scorned to enrich himself with the spoils of Sodom.” The riches of the earth, Abraham recognized, didn’t belong to men, but to God, and it was not the kingdoms of this earth that we are called to desire. Even when kingdoms fall into our hands, they are not ours for the taking.
God is a God of sudden reversals, and the only proper response is thanksgiving, expressed in restraint and generosity. May we be mindful of God’s work, even when it is hidden from our eyes. May we seek first His kingdom, leaning not on our own understanding, for the joy of the Lord is our strength!
Written by Caleb Faires