“The Jews had light, and gladness, and joy, and honour. And in every province, and in every city, whithersoever the king’s commandment and his decree came, the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a good day. And many of the people of the land became Jews; for the fear of the Jews fell upon them.” — Esther 8:16-17
The words of our focus verses describing the feelings of the Jews when they heard of King Ahaseurus’ second decree made me think of a story my aunt told about an event in our family history many years ago. During World War II, my grandparents purchased a new home on 40th Avenue in the Hawthorne district of Portland. At the time, my aunt and her older sister were both still living at home with their parents. My grandparents also had four sons: one working in the shipyards, and the other three serving overseas in the military. Naturally, the war was an ever-present weight upon the minds of all the family.
Prior to their move, the family had lived in a house on Burnside Street, and increasing traffic made the area seem quite noisy, so they were happy to move. They assumed that since 40th Avenue was not a through street and was in a residential area, the neighborhood would be quiet. On moving day the family was busy from morning until night transporting their belongings and unpacking a few necessities. Late in the evening, they all four fell into their beds exhausted. Just a few hours later, however, loud shouts and horns honking in the street awakened them. What was happening? This certainly was not the quiet neighborhood they had expected!
Grandpa hurriedly got dressed and went out to see what was going on. After a few minutes, he came back in with a smile on his face. The commotion that awakened them was a celebration! Word had just come of the Allies’ formal acceptance of Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender. The date was May 8, 1945, and Portland was joining the rest of the nation in rejoicing!
No doubt those who participated in the exuberant celebration of V.E. Day back in May of 1945 felt many of the same emotions experienced by the Jews in today’s text, who were rejoicing after a critical victory. God had miraculously delivered them from the murderous scheme of Haman, whose hatred of the Jews in general, and Mordecai in particular, had inspired an evil plot to have all the Jews in the kingdom killed. Now that plot had backfired, and Haman had ended up receiving the punishment he had designed for Mordecai. At the same time, the Jews were given the right to defend themselves against the irrevocable edict Haman had instigated.
When we read our focus verses against that backdrop, we can sense the tremendous relief the Jews felt at their deliverance. Gone was the foreboding that had hung over them like a dark cloud since the evil decree had gone out against them. In its place were relief and thanksgiving — or, as the writer of the Book of Esther expressed it, “Light, and gladness, and joy, and honour.” What a victory God had given them!
Today, are you looking to God for a victory over some attack of the enemy, or the answer to some specific prayer? Scripture tells us that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Remember, we can trust God and depend upon Him and His promises. He did not fail the Jews of Esther’s day, and He will bring us through to victory as well. When He does, we will experience joy like that of the Jews on the memorable day recorded in our text.
In the long term, consider how we will feel when we make Heaven. Satan’s opposition will be over and our victory will be complete. We do not know exactly what that will be like, but we can be sure it will be better than any victory here on earth. Imagine for a moment the light, gladness, joy, and honor we will feel when we see Jesus face to face. What a blessed hope!
Today’s text centers on the second decree of King Ahasuerus. According to the law of the Medes and Persians, the first decree was irrevocable and could not be set aside, so the king issued this second decree to allow the doomed Jews to defend themselves if they were attacked. In effect, this nullified the initial decree.
The king’s second decree came about when Esther once again went before the king, and once again the golden scepter was extended to her — an indication that she was accepted into the king’s presence. When Esther proposed that a second decree be written, verse 5 records that the thing seemed “right” before the king. The word translated “right” comes from a root word meaning “straight” and implies something that is advisable, proper, or advantageous.
The king’s subsequent proclamation was written under the supervision of Mordecai (see verse 9) and then dispatched throughout the kingdom “by posts on horseback, and riders on mules, camels, and young dromedaries.” Bible scholars state this would have been the fastest possible means of spreading news of the second decree.
The final verse of today’s text states that “many of the people of the land became Jews [proselytes to the Jewish faith]; for the fear of the Jews fell upon them” (verse 17). The word fear in this verse is translated from a Hebrew word meaning “sudden alarm.”
II. The deliverance of the Jews
B. The dissolve of the plot
2. The revocation of Haman’s edict (8:3-17)
a. The second request of Esther (8:3-8)
b. The proclamation of the king (8:9-14)
c. The joy of the Jews (8:15-17)
God did not fail the Jews of Esther’s day, and He will not fail us. He still blesses His people with answers to urgent and believing prayer. And when He does, we will experience many of the same emotions the Jews felt when God resolved the life-threatening situation facing them.