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March 29, 2020

Feast of Purim

With all the negativity, what positive changes could result? How can we start something positive today? Listen or read to find out.

Mike Gerhardt, 03-29-20, Esther 8 & 9. Whether it’s a grand slam in the bottom of the ninth, a half-court swish at the buzzer or you sink a hole in one at the mini-golf 18th hole, the game can change in the last second. Things were changing for Esther and the Jews. Haman was now out of the way, peace reigned in the palace. Mordecai was given authority once held by Haman. But the king couldn’t cancel the decree to kill the Jews nine months away. Maybe we can see the providence of God when Haman cast the lots, the Purim, to secure the time of slaughter. The king now had time to get the word of the new law for the Jews to defend themselves to all the provinces. Mordecai had the authority to enact the new decree to destroy anyone who was an enemy of the Jews. The king did not cancel the old law, he gave a new law that superseded it. This is true in the saved life; the law of sin and death has been defeated by the law of the Spirit of life in Christ as stated in Rom. 8:1–12.

Esther 8:10–14 could be an illustration of spreading the Gospel. This was a matter of life and death! The scribes rushed to write the message, and the couriers hurried to every corner of the kingdom. And so we get the message of the Gospel to everyone so that they too can be rescued from eternal death. Prov. 24:11–12. Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. Many people were engaged in spreading that good news, just as God uses many workers today. When the Jews believed the message, it brought them joy and deliverance. They knew that the Persians would not dare fight them and incur the wrath of the king. In 8:17 many of the Persians became Jews out of fear! When the twelfth month arrived, the Jews were ready for victory; they had the edict of the king on their side. Thousands of their enemies were slain, including the ten sons of Haman (9:6–10). In the Hebrew Bible, the names of these ten sons are listed in long columns that look like gallows! Note that the Jews did not take any spoil 9:10, though the decree in 8:11 permitted this. Verse 9:16 states that 75,000 of their enemies were slain. On the fourteenth day of the month, the Jews rested and rejoiced at God’s deliverance. Mordecai felt led to make the fourteenth and fifteenth of the twelfth month holidays for the Jews to commemorate the great deliverance. To this day the Jews celebrate the Feast of Purim. 9:26 explains the meaning of Purim. It is the plural of pur which is Hebrew for lot or dice. It has been celebrated for centuries as a testimony to the power and grace of God toward His people. The book closes reporting the promotion and prosperity of Mordecai, the man of faith who believed God’s promises and dared to act. Of course, we dare not forget Esther who put her life on the line to save her people. The entire Book of Esther is a marvelous testimony of the overruling power and providence of God.

They had been living with a sense of gloom and darkness under the shadow of the edict of an evil man. But now, the darkness had been replaced with light and joy. The message of the good news is described as light. Jesus is the Light of the world and so we are to be. The light of God dispels the gloom of darkness. Some don’t want light as John 3 states. 9:17 sounds a lot like Psalm 30:5 Weeping may last for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning light.

1. Positive change may not happen as quickly – don’t panic! A survivor was washed up on an island. He prayed for God to rescue him. Every day he scanned the horizon, but no one came. He managed to build a hut out of driftwood to store his stuff. One day, after scavenging for food, he found his little hut in flames, the smoke rolling up to the sky. It was more than he could take. He was stunned with anger. God, how could you do this to me! The next day, he woke to the sound of a ship close to the island. How did you know I was here? he asked. We saw your smoke signal they replied. Phil 1:6: being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. 2. Positive change may be motivated by different factors. The school wanted to help children keep up with their work when in the hospital. A teacher was assigned to visit a child. She took the name, room number and talked briefly with the child’s regular class teacher. We’re studying nouns and adverbs and I’d be grateful if you could help him understand them, so he doesn’t fall behind. The assigned teacher went to see the boy. The boy had been badly burned and was in great pain. Upset at the sight of the boy, she told him, I’ve been sent to help you with nouns and adverbs. She left feeling like she didn’t do much. The next day a nurse asked: What did you do to that boy? The teacher felt she did something wrong and began to apologize. The nurse explained: We’ve been worried about him, but since yesterday, his whole attitude has changed. He’s fighting back, responding to treatment as though he’s decided to live. Two weeks later the boy explained that he had given up hope until the teacher arrived. He said: They wouldn’t send a teacher to work on nouns and adverbs with a dying boy, would they? 3. Positive change may require drastic action – it won’t be easy. The new law didn’t remove the danger from the Jews; it gave them the opportunity to overcome the danger. It was going to take work. The old law of sin and death still can bring us down. We need the work of the Spirit. 4. Positive change produces mixed reactions – not everyone will be happy. People will find out about your change in behavior, language & attitude. Don’t expect them to applaud. Positive change can happen, so never lose hope. The right to defend themselves was granted by the king who had sealed their doom. Isa 35:1-2 The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Ezek 36:26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. We had a law that was written against us. Death to sinners. This law was unchangeable, not because of the customs of the kingdom but because of the character of the King. God is holy. That is unchangeable. SO, God wrote a new law. He wrote it with the blood of His Son. On the night before Jesus died, He passed around a cup, and said, This is a new covenant in my blood. God’s new law surpassed the old law and neutralized its effect on our lives. Carl Brand: Though no one can go back and make a new beginning; anyone can start from now and make a brand-new end. You need change. You know people who need change. When things look bleak, positive change can bring a new perspective and in Jesus, New Life.