Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Dec 16 2019 - Esther 9:20-10:3 – Purim

Due to the second day of fighting in Susa, the Jews in that city spent the fifteenth day of the month rejoicing in their victory while Jews in the provinces spent the fourteenth day of the month in similar celebrations. Mordecai therefore sent out instructions that:

[Jews] should celebrate annually the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar as the time when the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration. He wrote to them to observe the days as days of feasting and joy and giving presents of food to one another and gifts to the poor. (9:21-22)

And this is what happened. This feast of Purim (named after the pur or lot that Haman had cast to determine the most propitious day for his scheme), is still celebrated annually by Jews.

The Book of Esther concludes by stating, "King Xerxes imposed tribute throughout the empire, to its distant shores" (10:1). This may seem rather an odd comment, having little to do with the story of Esther, but that is not the case. These words emphasise the great extent of Xerxes' kingdom and his authority and control over the whole of his vast empire. They serve as the context for the final words:

All his acts of power and might, together with a full account of the greatness of Mordecai, whom the king had promoted, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Media and Persia? Mordecai the Jew was second in rank to King Xerxes, pre-eminent among the Jews, and held in high esteem by his many fellow Jews, because he worked for the good of his people and spoke up for the welfare of all the Jews. (10:2-3)

These closing words emphasise that Mordecai the Jew shared the greatness and extensive influence of Xerxes, being second only to the king. He enjoyed this position because he had worked for the good of the people – not only his fellow Jews but the king and people of many ethnic backgrounds within the empire by ridding it of Haman and his evil influence.

In many ways Mordecai reminds us of Joseph, a Jew who rose to a place of prominence in another great empire, prominence second only to the king (or, in that case, Pharaoh). Both demonstrated an unwavering trust in God and an uncompromising determination to live lives of integrity. In both cases their integrity was recognised and rewarded by those who did not share their faith. In both the stories of Joseph and of Mordecai/Esther we see clearly that the Lord was at work through the various twists and turns of their history to accomplish his own purposes: to preserve and bless his people and through them to bring blessing to many other peoples. Similar things might be said about the story of Daniel.

Nor should we underestimate what God can do today through people who love him, trust him and who seek to live selfless lives that honour him. More to the point, do not underestimate what God can do through you if you will only submit yourself entirely to him and seek to live by the direction and power of his Spirit.

Father God, we thank you that the Lord Jesus gave himself for us that we might be welcomed into your family. Help us to learn of him and to follow him and to serve him. Help us to live confidently but humbly under your blessing that our lives may bring the blessing of your presence, love, forgiveness and acceptance to others around us. May they also come to know you, the only true God, the God of grace and of comfort.

Peter Misselbrook