Monday, June 20, 2022

The Fight

There's so much to talk about from the book of Esther that it's worth taking at least another week. It's such a gem of wisdom, and it's also a book that raises a lot of questions. 

Here's a question that we need to look at: 

Why did Mordecai have to send an executive order to the Jews telling them that they were allowed to fight back on Purim?

Remember, Haman had sent a letter throughout the entire kingdom declaring that on a certain day, the persons of the kingdom were to take up their arms and slay the Jews. All of them. They were to go out and battle against the men and women who were living among them, in their territories and in neighboring towns, until all of the Jews were completely wiped out. 

After Haman is hanged on his own gallows, Mordecai goes to the king and requests that something be done. Now, ancient custom said that anything that had been signed with the king's signet ring could not be undone, no matter what, and Haman had signed his order with the king's ring. The king then takes off his ring and gives it to Mordecai, whose new plan is that he will craft an executive order of his own - namely, that the Jews are allowed to fight back.

Think about that for a second. When it came to the systematic slaughter of an entire people, was there really so much of a resignation among the Jews that they weren't going to fight back? Were they just going to let themselves be slaughtered? 

It's hard to fathom, but also, not really. The Jews were living as a captive people in a foreign kingdom. The order they read, since Haman sent it to them, too, said that the king had authorized their slaughter. In other words, Babylon was done with them. 

Most of them probably expected this at some point. They were thankful to have gotten this far with their lives, knowing how many Jews were killed in the battles over the territory in the first place. It was a grace that they had had a few more years. But you're never safe as a captive people; your captor can do whatever they please with you. And it seemed to the Jews that it pleased the king now to be done with them for good. 

Not to mention that they understood their exile as a form of God's judgment. They knew that they had been an unfaithful people. They knew that they had sinned and had turned away from their Lord. They knew that God was not happy with them. And without a Cross and a grave, this was a very natural next step for the God who disciplines them - they will die in a foreign land, separated from Him. They will be completely wiped out because they chose not to be His people. To the Jews, this all makes perfect sense. 

And, we should add, it doesn't seem as though God has told them to fight back. It doesn't seem as though God has told them this is their battle. This is...judgment. It's over for them. 

Still, it's hard for us to read this and fathom it. It's hard for us to think that someone really had to craft an official order telling a people they were allowed to fight for their lives. Telling a people not to just sit idly by while they are mercilessly slaughtered. Telling a people of God that God might not actually want death and destruction for them. 

But is it also a message that we still need to hear?

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