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Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson


February 2021

Genesis 25:1-11: The end of an era

“Abraham had taken another wife, whose name was Keturah. She bore him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak and Shuah. Jokshan was the father of Sheba and Dedan; the descendants of Dedan were the Ashurites, the Letushites and the Leummites. The sons of Midian were Ephah, Epher, Hanok, Abida and Eldaah. All these were descendants of Keturah.Abraham left everything he owned to Isaac. But while he was still living, he gave gifts to the sons of his concubines and sent them away from his son Isaac to the land of the east.Abraham lived a hundred and seventy-five years. Then Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man and full of years; and he was gathered to his people. His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah near Mamre, in the field of Ephron son of Zohar the Hittite, 10 the field Abraham had bought from the Hittites. There Abraham was buried with his wife Sarah. 11 After Abraham’s death, God blessed his son Isaac, who then lived near Beer Lahai Roi.” NIV

‘’After Abraham’s death, God blessed his son Isaac’’ (11).

I was sad to hear recently that Christopher Plummer had died at the age of 91 – the Canadian-born actor whose most famous role was that of Captain Von Trapp in ‘the Sound of Music’. I wrote in my journal that it felt like the end of an era. It was a poignant reminder that the most famous and well-beloved are eventually born away by death.  All the Biblical heroes were mortal. They lived in a fallen world, and even when they lived for a long time, they eventually had to take their leave. Abraham has dominated the Genesis story for many chapters, but now it is the end of an era.

‘The centre of attention now shifts from Abraham to Isaac…Abraham distinguished Isaac from his other sons: he gave them generous gifts, but he made Isaac his heir (v.5,24:35). God gives good things to unsaved people (Matt.5:45; Acts 14:17, 17:25), but only those who are His children through faith in Christ, can claim their inheritance (See Rom.8:17; Eph.3:6;Heb.1:2)’. Warren W. Wiersbe: ‘With the Word’, p.33.

The death of a loved one, such as a spouse or a parent, is a grievous blow. The pain cuts deep and there is no need to pretend otherwise. The wound may never fully heal, but if we are to go on living we have to adjust to the new situation. There is nothing truer than this – life goes on, and we must too. For as long as we live and breathe God has plans for us. As Abraham had a life following the death of Sarah (much as he loved her dearly), so life went on for Isaac after his dad died.

It was the end of one era, but the beginning of another.

PRAYER: Dear Lord, amid life’s changing ‘seasons’, you remain a constant. In spite of hurts and losses that mark our ways, help us to keep you ever before our eyes.

Psalm 8: ‘He shows them the stars and leads them to Christ!’

Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!                                                                                                                    You have set your glory

    in the heavens.
Through the praise of children and infants
    you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
    to silence the foe and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens,
    the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
    which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
    human beings that you care for them?

You have made them a little lower than the angels
    and crowned them with glory and honour.
You made them rulers over the works

of your hands;
    you put everything under their feet:
all flocks and herds,
    and the animals of the wild,
the birds in the sky,
    and the fish in the sea,
    all that swim the paths of the seas.Lord, our Lord,                                                                                                    how majestic is your name in all the earth!

‘’When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place…’’ (3, underlining mine).

Recently I ‘attended’ an online theological conference, presented by my denominations. One speaker, who broadcast live from Eugene, Oregon, USA, (at some unearthly hour for him!) – Dr. A.J.Swoboda – spoke about the theology of creation care, in a persuasive and winsome fashion. Here are some of the notes I jotted down from his talk:

‘‘To care for ‘the garden’ is to worship God.’’

‘’In many parables judgment comes from the Landowner on those who do not care for His land.’’

‘’This is God’s garden. We have got to regain this theology of God as the Landowner.’’

But he also told a story about a man he knows who takes kids from urban environments to camps in the countryside. He said, ‘He shows them the stars and leads them to Christ.’ He told us that this evangelist has led hundreds of young people to Christ in this way. They are not used to seeing the night sky in its sparkling clarity, and being exposed to the raw impact of nature opens them up to hear the gospel.

The Bible does talk about the evangelistic power of nature. Think about Psalm 19 and Romans 1:19,20.

I preached a sermon on Psalm 19 and entitled it ‘the Rev Creation’. Have a look at Psalm 19 and see if you can see why.

Even in lockdown, we can step outside and hear the longest sermon ever. The Rev Creation has been preaching for centuries, and what a talk this is. No-one can be bored, surely?

PRAYER: Thank you Lord that even with restrictions placed upon us, we can still look with awe at the natural world, and see your finger-prints all over it. ‘’You are beautiful beyond description, too marvellous for words, too wonderful for comprehension…’’

Genesis 24: The great decision

“Abraham was now very old, and the Lordhad blessed him in every way. He said to the senior servant in his household, the one in charge of all that he had, ‘Put your hand under my thigh. I want you to swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you will not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I am living, but will go to my country and my own relatives and get a wife for my son Isaac.’The servant asked him, ‘What if the woman is unwilling to come back with me to this land? Shall I then take your son back to the country you came from?‘Make sure that you do not take my son back there,’ Abraham said. ‘The Lord, the God of heaven, who brought me out of my father’s household and my native land and who spoke to me and promised me on oath, saying, “To your offspring I will give this land”– he will send his angel before you so that you can get a wife for my son from there. If the woman is unwilling to come back with you, then you will be released from this oath of mine. Only do not take my son back there.’ So the servant put his hand under the thigh of his master Abraham and swore an oath to him concerning this matter.10 Then the servant left, taking with him ten of his master’s camels loaded with all kinds of good things from his master. He set out for Aram Naharaim and made his way to the town of Nahor. 11 He made the camels kneel down near the well outside the town; it was towards evening, the time the women go out to draw water.12 Then he prayed, ‘Lord, God of my master Abraham, make me successful today, and show kindness to my master Abraham. 13 See, I am standing beside this spring, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water. 14 May it be that when I say to a young woman, “Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,” and she says, “Drink, and I’ll water your camels too”– let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac. By this I will know that you have shown kindness to my master.’15 Before he had finished praying, Rebekah came out with her jar on her shoulder. She was the daughter of Bethuel son of Milkah, who was the wife of Abraham’s brother Nahor. 16 The woman was very beautiful, a virgin; no man had ever slept with her. She went down to the spring, filled her jar and came up again.17 The servant hurried to meet her and said, ‘Please give me a little water from your jar.’18 ‘Drink, my lord,’ she said, and quickly lowered the jar to her hands and gave him a drink.19 After she had given him a drink, she said, ‘I’ll draw water for your camels too, until they have had enough to drink.’ 20 So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough, ran back to the well to draw more water, and drew enough for all his camels. 21 Without saying a word, the man watched her closely to learn whether or not the Lord had made his journey successful.22 When the camels had finished drinking, the man took out a gold nose ring weighing a beka[c] and two gold bracelets weighing ten shekels. 23 Then he asked, ‘Whose daughter are you? Please tell me, is there room in your father’s house for us to spend the night?’24 She answered him, ‘I am the daughter of Bethuel, the son that Milkah bore to Nahor.’ 25 And she added, ‘We have plenty of straw and fodder, as well as room for you to spend the night.’26 Then the man bowed down and worshipped the Lord, 27 saying, ‘Praise be to the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has not abandoned his kindness and faithfulness to my master. As for me, the Lord has led me on the journey to the house of my master’s relatives.’28 The young woman ran and told her mother’s household about these things. 29 Now Rebekah had a brother named Laban, and he hurried out to the man at the spring. 30 As soon as he had seen the nose ring, and the bracelets on his sister’s arms, and had heard Rebekah tell what the man said to her, he went out to the man and found him standing by the camels near the spring. 31 ‘Come, you who are blessed by the Lord,’ he said. ‘Why are you standing out here? I have prepared the house and a place for the camels.’32 So the man went to the house, and the camels were unloaded. Straw and fodder were brought for the camels, and water for him and his men to wash their feet. 33 Then food was set before him, but he said, ‘I will not eat until I have told you what I have to say.’‘Then tell us,’ Laban said.34 So he said, ‘I am Abraham’s servant. 35 The Lord has blessed my master abundantly, and he has become wealthy. He has given him sheep and cattle, silver and gold, male and female servants, and camels and donkeys. 36 My master’s wife Sarah has borne him a son in her old age, and he has given him everything he owns. 37 And my master made me swear an oath, and said, “You must not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I live, 38 but go to my father’s family and to my own clan, and get a wife for my son.”39 ‘Then I asked my master, “What if the woman will not come back with me?”40 ‘He replied, “The Lord, before whom I have walked faithfully, will send his angel with you and make your journey a success, so that you can get a wife for my son from my own clan and from my father’s family. 41 You will be released from my oath if, when you go to my clan, they refuse to give her to you – then you will be released from my oath.’42 ‘When I came to the spring today, I said, “Lord, God of my master Abraham, if you will, please grant success to the journey on which I have come. 43 See, I am standing beside this spring. If a young woman comes out to draw water and I say to her, ‘Please let me drink a little water from your jar,’ 44 and if she says to me, ‘Drink, and I’ll draw water for your camels too,’ let her be the one the Lord has chosen for my master’s son.”45 ‘Before I finished praying in my heart, Rebekah came out, with her jar on her shoulder. She went down to the spring and drew water, and I said to her, “Please give me a drink.”46 ‘She quickly lowered her jar from her shoulder and said, “Drink, and I’ll water your camels too.” So I drank, and she watered the camels also.47 ‘I asked her, “Whose daughter are you?”‘She said, “The daughter of Bethuel son of Nahor, whom Milkah bore to him.”‘Then I put the ring in her nose and the bracelets on her arms, 48 and I bowed down and worshipped the Lord. I praised the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who had led me on the right road to get the granddaughter of my master’s brother for his son. 49 Now if you will show kindness and faithfulness to my master, tell me; and if not, tell me, so I may know which way to turn.’50 Laban and Bethuel answered, ‘This is from the Lord; we can say nothing to you one way or the other. 51 Here is Rebekah; take her and go, and let her become the wife of your master’s son, as the Lord has directed.’52 When Abraham’s servant heard what they said, he bowed down to the ground before the Lord. 53 Then the servant brought out gold and silver jewellery and articles of clothing and gave them to Rebekah; he also gave costly gifts to her brother and to her mother. 54 Then he and the men who were with him ate and drank and spent the night there.When they got up the next morning, he said, ‘Send me on my way to my master.’55 But her brother and her mother replied, ‘Let the young woman remain with us ten days or so; then you may go.’56 But he said to them, ‘Do not detain me, now that the Lord has granted success to my journey. Send me on my way so I may go to my master.’57 Then they said, ‘Let’s call the young woman and ask her about it.’ 58 So they called Rebekah and asked her, ‘Will you go with this man?’‘I will go,’ she said.59 So they sent their sister Rebekah on her way, along with her nurse and Abraham’s servant and his men. 60 And they blessed Rebekah and said to her,‘Our sister, may you increaseto thousands upon thousands;may your offspring possess the cities of their enemies.’61 Then Rebekah and her attendants got ready and mounted the camels and went back with the man. So the servant took Rebekah and left.62 Now Isaac had come from Beer Lahai Roi, for he was living in the Negev. 63 He went out to the field one evening to meditate, and as he looked up, he saw camels approaching. 64 Rebekah also looked up and saw Isaac. She got down from her camel 65 and asked the servant, ‘Who is that man in the field coming to meet us?’‘He is my master,’ the servant answered. So she took her veil and covered herself.66 Then the servant told Isaac all he had done. 67 Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he married Rebekah. So she became his wife, and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.NIV 

‘’So they called Rebekah and asked her, ‘’Will you go with this man?’’ ‘’I will go,’’ she said’’ (58).

‘This is an illustration of personal salvation. The Spirit speaks to us about Christ and shows us His treasures, and we trust Christ even though we have never seen Him (1 Peter 1:8).’ Warren W. Wiersbe: ‘With the Word, pp.32,33.This is a long chapter – the longest in the whole of Genesis, but what a wonderful story. There are so many details to revel in. I am struck by:

  • Abraham’s desire to get a bride for his son from among his own people. He didn’t want him to be ‘unequally yoked’;
  • The servant’s loyalty to his master, and sincere desire to serve his purposes. It’s been pointed out that he spoke about his master and not himself;
  • Also, the servant’s prayerfulness and desire to be led by God. He is a God-centred person. He prayed and ‘watched’ and saw circumstances open up remarkably. His prayers and his worship are sprinkled liberally throughout the chapter.

Warren Wiersbe also points out:

‘Little did Rebekah realise that a small act of kindness would open up an exciting new life for her. ‘’Make every occasion a great occasion, for you can never tell when someone may be taking your measure for a larger place,’’ advised Marsden.’ (As above, p.32…and, I’m sorry, I’ve no idea who ‘Marsden’ is! But he makes a good point all the same).

There is a long tradition of seeing the servant as a ‘type’ (a picture) of the Holy Spirit who is sent into the world to bring a bride to Christ. He is totally focussed on glorifying Christ, and when he finds the bride He imparts gifts to her. Thinking about our text (58) in the light of this line of interpretation, the question comes to us, ‘Will we go with the Holy Spirit? Will we keep in step with Him, or demand our own way? In the first place, as Warren Wiersbe says, we went with Him to Jesus. We responded to His call. But now day by day, and even moment by moment, we face this same question, ‘Will we go with Him?’ Will we do what He shows us to do in God’s Word? Will we obey the still small voice of His promptings? For Rebekah, like Abraham earlier in his life, listening to and obeying God meant leaving the familiar behind, moving away from home and family. Will we do whatever He tells us?

‘’Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit’’ (Galatians 5:25)

Matthew 9: The responsive Jesus

Hello everyone, in the next ‘season’ I’m going to ask you to read a chapter (or a section of a) book each day.  This will be printed below as usual. Even If I only comment on one small part I would love it if you would read the whole, so as to get the context. Thank you for your support.

“Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. Some men brought to him a paralysed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, ‘Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.’At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, ‘This fellow is blaspheming!’Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, ‘Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts?Which is easier: to say, “Your sins are forgiven,” or to say, “Get up and walk”?But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.’ So he said to the paralysed man, ‘Get up, take your mat and go home.’Then the man got up and went home. When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to man.As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. ‘Follow me,’ he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?’12 On hearing this, Jesus said, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but those who are ill. 13 But go and learn what this means: “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’ 14 Then John’s disciples came and asked him, ‘How is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?’15 Jesus answered, ‘How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.16 ‘No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse.17 Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. the skins will burst; the wine will run out, and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.’18 While he was saying this, a synagogue leader came and knelt before him and said, ‘My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live.’ 19 Jesus got up and went with him, and so did his disciples.20 Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. 21 She said to herself, ‘If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.’22 Jesus turned and saw her. ‘Take heart, daughter,’ he said, ‘your faith has healed you.’And the woman was healed at that moment.23 When Jesus entered the synagogue leader’s  house and saw the noisy crowd and the people playing pipes, 24 he said, ‘Go away. The girl is not dead but asleep.’ But they laughed at him. 25 After the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took the girl by the hand, and she got up. 26 News of this spread through all that region.27 As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, ‘Have mercy on us, Son of David!’28 When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, ‘Do you believe that I am able to do this?’‘Yes, Lord,’ they replied.29 Then he touched their eyes and said, ‘According to your faith let it be done to you’;30 and their sight was restored. Jesus warned them sternly, ‘See that no one knows about this.’ 31 But they went out and spread the news about him all over that region.32 While they were going out, a man who was demon-possessed and could not talk was brought to Jesus. 33 And when the demon was driven out, the man who had been mute spoke. The crowd was amazed and said, ‘Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel.’34 But the Pharisees said, ‘It is by the prince of demons that he drives out demons.’35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and illness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’ NIV

This morning I was particularly arrested by these words:

‘’While he was saying this, a ruler came and knelt before him and said, ‘’My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live.’’ Jesus got up and went with him…’’ (verses 18,19)

See how humbly the ruler came to Jesus…

See how reverently he came…

See how earnestly he came…

See how he came full of faith…

And see how Jesus responded to him. He answered his plea.

I noticed how faith is a stand out theme in this chapter. It is illustrated in the story of the ruler, but we also see it in the next story (22), and the next (29).

It is possible to have ‘’little faith’’ (Matthew 8:26). It is also possible to have ‘’great faith’’ (Matthew 8:10).

PRAYER: Lord, increase our faith.

Esther 10: The man for others

“King Xerxes imposed tribute throughout the empire, to its distant shores. And all his acts of power and might, together with a full account of the greatness of Mordecai, whom the king had promoted, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Media and Persia? Mordecai the Jew was second in rank to King Xerxes, pre-eminent among the Jews, and held in high esteem by his many fellow Jews, because he worked for the good of his people and spoke up for the welfare of all the Jews.” NIV

The transformation of Mordecai’s circumstances is truly remarkable, and it is worthy of our attention one more time. Who could have imagined that a lowly and despised Jew would become second-in-command to the most powerful ruler in the world of that day?

But note how he used his power, and why he came to be held in such high esteem. Simon Sinek’s book on leadership is entitled ‘Leaders eat last’, and Mordecai exemplified servant leadership. He ‘’worked for the good’’ of others. Someone referred to Jesus as ‘the Man for others’. There are many ways in which He can be described, but that is certainly not inaccurate. He came not ‘’to be served, but to serve, and to give his life’’ (Mark 10:44). It is certainly true that Jesus gave His life for others in a unique and unrepeatable way. Nevertheless, He shows us that real life is found in serving and giving.

I read somewhere that the essence of life is found not in its duration but in its donation: it’s not how long you live, but how much you give.

Raised from obscurity to great power, Mordecai expended his unexpected privileges on those who desperately needed his help and support.

Mother Teresa said that although we may not be able to do great things, we can do small things with great love. May God help us to continually lose our lives, and so find them.

‘The epitaph on the life of a simple-hearted, true-hearted man, might be yours also. Why should you not from this moment adopt these twin characteristics? Go about the world seeking the good of people. It does not always mean that you should give them a tract or a little book. It is much easier to do this than to sacrifice your own good in order to seek theirs. You may be quite sure that some little act of self-sacrifice or thoughtfulness for a weary mother, or crying child, for a sick friend, or for some person who is always maligning and injuring you, would do a great deal in preparing an entrance for the Gospel message. It is thus that the genial spring loosens the earth and prepares the way for the germination of multitudinous life. Count the day lost in which you have not sought to promote the good of someone.’ F.B.Meyer: ‘Great verses through the Bible’, p.176.

PRAYER: Once more Lord, I ask you to help me to give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wound, to labour and not to ask for any reward save that of knowing that I do your will.


Esther 9:18-32: We will remember

“18 The Jews in Susa, however, had assembled on the thirteenth and fourteenth, and then on the fifteenth they rested and made it a day of feasting and joy.19 That is why rural Jews – those living in villages – observe the fourteenth of the month of Adar as a day of joy and feasting, a day for giving presents to each other.20 Mordecai recorded these events, and he sent letters to all the Jews throughout the provinces of King Xerxes, near and far, 21 that they should celebrate annually the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar 22 as the time when the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration. He wrote to them to observe the days as days of feasting and joy and giving presents of food to one another and gifts to the poor.23 So the Jews agreed to continue the celebration they had begun, doing what Mordecai had written to them. 24 For Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had plotted against the Jews to destroy them and had cast the pur(that is, the lot) for their ruin and destruction. 25 But when the plot came to the king’s attention,he issued written orders that the evil scheme Haman had devised against the Jews should come back on to his own head, and that he and his sons should be impaled on poles. 26 (Therefore these days were called Purim, from the word pur.) Because of everything written in this letter and because of what they had seen and what had happened to them, 27 the Jews took it on themselves to establish the custom that they and their descendants and all who join them should without fail observe these two days every year, in the way prescribed and at the time appointed. 28 These days should be remembered and observed in every generation by every family, and in every province and in every city. And these days of Purim should never fail to be celebrated by the Jews – nor should the memory of these days die out among their descendants.29 So Queen Esther, daughter of Abihail, along with Mordecai the Jew, wrote with full authority to confirm this second letter concerning Purim. 30 And Mordecai sent letters to all the Jews in the 127 provinces of Xerxes’s kingdom – words of goodwill and assurance – 31 to establish these days of Purim at their designated times, as Mordecai the Jew and Queen Esther had decreed for them, and as they had established for themselves and their descendants in regard to their times of fasting and lamentation. 32 Esther’s decree confirmed these regulations about Purim, and it was written down in the records.” NIV

I remember some fellow students at Bible college, who had written a song based on the words of Psalm 20:7 as it is found in the ‘King James Version’:

’Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.’’

 The repeated chorus included the words:

‘We will remember, we will remember…’

Of course, naturally we can be prone to forgetfulness. But God gave His Old Testament people ‘festivals of remembrance.’ For example, there was ‘Passover’, to help remember and celebrate the deliverance from slavery in Egypt under Pharaoh. Here we have the institution of ‘Purim’. They were never to forget the great rescue from the hand of Haman and all he intended to do to the Jews. It was not a time for gloating, but a time of thankful remembrance of what God did for them.

Jesus gave His disciples the Lord’s Supper, and as we regularly partake of it, we do this ‘in remembrance’ of Him. Jesus wanted His followers to remember Him in His death. By His Cross He achieved the greatest rescue of all time.

‘The observance of the Jewish feasts, is a public declaration of the truth of the Old Testament Scriptures. And as the Old Testament Scriptures are true, the Messiah expected by the Jews is come long ago; and none but Jesus of Nazareth can be that Messiah. The festival was appointed by authority, yet under the direction of the Spirit of God. It was called the feast of Purim, from a Persian word, which signifies a lot. The name of this festival would remind them of the almighty power of the God of Israel, who served his own purposes by the superstitions of the heathen…

Every instance of Divine goodness to ourselves, is a new obligation laid on us to do good, to those especially who most need our bounty. Above all, redemption by Christ binds us to be merciful, 2 Corinthians 8:9.’

Esther 9:11-17: Chips off the old block

“11 The number of those killed in the citadel of Susa was reported to the king that same day. 12 The king said to Queen Esther, ‘The Jews have killed and destroyed five hundred men and the ten sons of Haman in the citadel of Susa. What have they done in the rest of the king’s provinces? Now what is your petition? It will be given you. What is your request? It will also be granted.’13 ‘If it pleases the king,’ Esther answered, ‘give the Jews in Susa permission to carry out this day’s edict tomorrow also, and let Haman’s ten sons be impaled on poles.’14 So the king commanded that this be done. An edict was issued in Susa, and they impaled the ten sons of Haman. 15 The Jews in Susa came together on the fourteenth day of the month of Adar, and they put to death in Susa three hundred men, but they did not lay their hands on the plunder.16 Meanwhile, the remainder of the Jews who were in the king’s provinces also assembled to protect themselves and get relief from their enemies. They killed seventy-five thousand of them but did not lay their hands on the plunder. 17 This happened on the thirteenth day of the month of Adar, and on the fourteenth they rested and made it a day of feasting and joy.”NIV

It can be sobering to look at your child and recognise that you are staring into a mirror. Obviously, you may be happy with some of that reflection, but most of us also see certain flaws and failings we recognise as our own. However, a fault is one thing, sheer evil is quite another. No doubt, in the days of his prominence (and anti-semitism), Haman would have been proud of his lads. It seems that after his demise, the boys kept up the bad work. So they too ended up sharing their wicked father’s fate (13,14). The Bible does not explicitly say they were following his example, but I imagine it’s a fairly safe inference to make. What a terrible legacy to leave.

This story reminds me that Jesus’ work on the cross dealt decisively not only with the devil (Hebs.2:14,15) but also with the demons (Col.2:15). So although we Christians know we are still in a fight, as Warren Wiersbe pointed out, we are not fighting for victory; we are fighting from victory. The day Jesus died was ‘D Day’ in salvation history. Final victory is assured because of Him.

Esther 9:5-10: The fateful day

 “The Jews struck down all their enemies with the sword, killing and destroying them, and they did what they pleased to those who hated them. In the citadel of Susa, the Jews killed and destroyed five hundred men. They also killed Parshandatha, Dalphon, Aspatha, Poratha, Adalia, Aridatha, Parmashta, Arisai, Aridai and Vaizatha, 10 the ten sons of Haman son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews. But they did not lay their hands on the plunder.”NIV

As anticipated, there were those who took advantage of Haman’s earlier edict. They hated the Jews and sought to kill them. But as we have seen, by a further edict, God’s people were now allowed to arm and defend themselves on this one particular day. That is what they did, and people died, including Haman’s ten sons.

‘The enemies of the Jews hoped to have power over them by the former edict. If they had attempted nothing against the people of God, they would not themselves have suffered. The Jews, acting together, strengthened one another. Let us learn to stand fast in one spirit, and with one mind, striving together against the enemies of our souls, who endeavour to rob us of our faith, which is more precious than our lives.’ Matthew Henry.

It is worth noting that they would have nothing to do with ‘’the plunder’’. They did not want to be at war with these people – to kill and steal from them. They simply reserved the right to defend themselves, and they did no more.

Esther 9:1-4: The upper hand

“On the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, the edict commanded by the king was to be carried out. On this day the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, but now the tables were turned and the Jews got the upper hand over those who hated them. The Jews assembled in their cities in all the provinces of King Xerxes to attack those determined to destroy them. No one could stand against them, because the people of all the other nationalities were afraid of them. And all the nobles of the provinces, the satraps, the governors and the king’s administrators helped the Jews, because fear of Mordecai had seized them. Mordecai was prominent in the palace; his reputation spread throughout the provinces, and he became more and more powerful.” NIV

Today’s thought is a ‘second helping’ of yesterday’s. But it turns out we have even more in the ‘bowl’ than we did the day before. Again observe that the unchanging God is able to change what appear to be unchangeable situations.

From time to time in history, God turns the tables for his people. This is one such example. But these deliverances are at best partial and temporary. They point us forward to the great day of ultimate victory. They are foretaste of what is to come. Writing about how this works out in the book of Revelation, Dr. Leon Morris says,

‘Christians here and now may be a depressed, downtrodden minority, to all outward appearance completely insignificant. Yet they belong to the mighty Conqueror who has won a triumph over all His foes, and a triumph which will in due course be made visible to all the earth. And when that day comes they will share in the triumph. Already they are in fellowship with Him, and they may know the victory in themselves. But when they have endured to the end, the results of that victory will be obvious to all, and those who are now humiliated will receive the various good gifts that we have noted from the hand of the Highest of all…the forces of evil are mighty, but the Lord God omnipotent is mightier still. The Seer sees with crystal clarity that those who persecute are far from having the last word. Their fate is to be utterly destroyed. Even in the midst of trial he can exult in the final triumph.’ (‘The Cross in the New Testament’, p.357.

PRAYER: Lord, I ask for all your faithful people who do not feel victorious today, to know that they actually are in you.

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