Saturday, August 20, 2011

August 20- When Mourning Turns To Joy

August 20, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Esther 8:1-10:3; 1 Corinthians 12:27-13:13
Psalm 37:1-11; Proverbs 21:23-24

Esther 8:1-10:3

Ding Dong the Witch is Dead, the Wicked Witch Is Dead!  This is probably how the Jews felt upon hearing the news that Haman was hanged.  On that very day, Esther was given Haman's estate, which would have been very large.  We learn later in the story that Haman had ten sons who were also hung.  Some translations of the Bible say that they were impaled on poles. The king finds out that Mordecai is related to Esther, and he decides to make Mordecai the prime minister of the kingdom.

Esther comes to beg the king to stop the decree that will annihilate the Jews.  Because any law sealed with the King's ring could not be revoked under Persian law, the king gave Mordecai the ability to make a decree for the Jews to protect themselves against their enemies.  Mordecai sends out a decree to all of the provinces telling the Jews that they may unite and fight to protect themselves from annihilation.  The date of March 7th was chosen by lot or by purim by Haman.

So on March 7th, the Jews throughout the kingdom successfully fought and defeated their enemies.  Their mourning was turned to joy.  Mordecai's fame spread throughout the land, and Mordecai used his influence to establish a annual festival to be celebrated by the Jews on March 7th and 8th, in order to commemorate a time when the Jew gained relief from their enemies, when their sorrow turned to gladness and their mourning turned to joy.  Esther's authority as the Queen was also behind the establishment of this festival. 

I find it interesting that the Festival of Purim (which means "lot" or "chance") is celebrated because of God's Providential hand in saving the Jews.  It was not Purim that saved them, but Providence.  Purim brought them to destruction, while Providence saved them from destruction.

Only two books in the Bible are named for women, Ruth and Esther.  This is not by chance or mistake. Ruth is the story of an obedient and faith-filled Gentile, who is redeemed by a kinsman-redeemer.  Esther is the story of the a Jewish woman, who is out of step with God, and yet, His Providence saves her and her people.  Ruth represents the Church in our day.  The Church is redeemed by Jesus Christ, our kinsman redeemer and we come to our Redeemer through faith and obedience.  Esther represents the Jewish Nation in our day, who are for the most part, out of step with God.  The Jews, by God's Providence, will be protected throughout history by God and will eventually be restored to a right relationship with their Messiah in the end times. 

Are you surprised at how many ways God pictures the story of His redemption of mankind and His promises to the Jews?  God is faithful.  His ways are higher than our ways. His great love drives this train.

1 Corinthians 12:27-13:13

Whenever you have people who are supposed to function as a group together, there can be conflict because some people perceive that they are less important based on the position that they hold within the group.  We have all heard the expression "too many chiefs and not enough Indians".  The Apostle Paul is showing the Corinthians that part of God's plan for the body of Christ on earth is for people to have different jobs within the organization.  Not everyone will have the same gift or job,  but all gifts and jobs work together to accomplish God's will.  Instead of envying what appear to be the most prestigious gifts and jobs, Paul is appealing to the Corinthians to desire the most helpful ones.

He takes this opportunity to speak some brilliant truth to the Corinthians. He ties all of the gifts to the motivation of love.  It doesn't matter how talented you are, if you are not using that talent in love toward other people. So what does love look like?  Here are the very words that I dare not paraphrase. 
"Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of wrong.  It is never glad about injustice, but rejoices whenever truth wins out.  Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance."  1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Paul also teaches the following, "There are three things that will endure- faith, hope and love-and the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinthians 13:13

As the body of Christ matures and understands this, conflicts should wain, while unity reigns!

Have you practiced love today?  This may mean giving up a "melt down," even though you may really deserve one.  It may mean steeling yourself against feeling jealous of someone who has it better than you. It could mean stopping the constant griping in your soul at the bad drivers that surround you on your drive home.  Love changes things.  We need for love to change us!

Psalm 37:1-11

"Trust in the Lord and do good."  That says it all, folks. 

Proverbs 21:23-24

Keeping your mouth shut can keep you out of trouble.  Yes.  Now, if only I could do it!

What did you learn today?  Please share.


Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton
© 2011

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