Esth. 8:15 Then Mordecai went out from the presence of the king, wearing royal robes of blue and white, with a great golden crown and a mantle of fine linen and purple, while the city of Susa shouted and rejoiced. 16 For the Jews there was light and gladness, joy and honor. 17 In every province and in every city, wherever the king’s command and his edict came, there was gladness and joy among the Jews, a festival and a holiday. Furthermore, many of the peoples of the country professed to be Jews, because the fear of the Jews had fallen upon them.
Haman had planned for the destruction of the Jews who were still living in the land. Those who had not returned home after the exile had become members of their adopted society. Lest we think that they completed assimilated within those communities, this story of Esther is a great reminder that they were counter-cultural and remained Jewish. Haman’s plan backfired and instead of destroying the Jews within the land, people converted to Judaism. People suddenly realized it would be advantageous to be Jewish and almost a complete change of mind by the public happened overnight. Haman’s plan for evil was used for good and the result was spontaneous evangelism.
Within the scope of the story of Queen Esther we remember the salvation of the Jews, but rarely do we mention that people converted to Judaism. These were God’s people who were a remnant living in a land where they had been taken during the exile. They could have returned back to Jerusalem but after decades they had settled down into this place where they had been brought. This had become home for them and they had been trying to live peacefully among those who had been their oppressors. Haman represents the oppressors who wanted to rid the land of the Jews.
How does a community go from wanting to destroy a people, to wanting to join a people? This was not on the mind of the Jews who were simply living life for the long haul. As we live our lives faithfully day in and day out, without compromise to the culture surrounding, God will continue to be at work. The Jews lived for a long time feeling very oppressed and then, suddenly, things turned around. They turned around because God used a series of circumstances and used them for the kingdom’s sake. That’s what God does with our circumstances as well. We may not see what is going on behind the scenes and we may feel quite oppressed and yet, God is the one who is at work. We are to live faithfully, day in and day out, for the long haul.
The church is not in a condition of growth these days. In the United States, even with the advent of new large mega-churches, there is not a county in the US with more church attenders today than twenty years ago. (Rahner) We are just shifting around Christians when what we really need is a movement of God’s Holy Spirit in which there is spontaneous evangelism. This doesn’t come about by our own personal designs, but by God’s work. We are called to live as faithfully followers of Jesus Christ, day in and day out, for the glory of God. There will be times of difficulty and trials, but as we remain faithful, we just may get to see God’s spontaneous revival break out among those who suddenly realize that God is real.
Lord, please help me to live in patient submission to you for the long haul. Amen.
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