Summary: Tragedy can be turned into triumph.
Sept. 21, 2003 Esther 9
A little town in Alabama turned a tragedy into a triumph. “The major livelihood of the town was raising cotton. One year, just as it appeared that there would be a bumper crop, the boll weevil invaded, devastated the crop, and destroyed the economy of that little town.
“Farmers, however, are an ingenious lot, and these particular farmers were determined not to simply sit back and move into the poorhouse. One man got the idea of planting peanuts instead. (Boll weevils don’t like peanuts!) Another farmer decided to plant yet another kind of crop, and others followed suit. Before long, bumper crops of peanuts and other produce began to repair the economy of this town. [The town became more prosperous than it would have ever been if cotton had remained its only crop.] Interestingly, the town later came to be known as Enterprise, Alabama. And do you know what they did? They erected a monument to the boll weevil!” What had almost been the instrument of their destruction became a source of rejoicing.
Like this little town, the Jews had come close to being destroyed by their enemy. We have seen how Haman convinced the king to sign a law that threatened to bring about the destruction of all the Jews living throughout the entire Persian Empire. Esther, the Jewish queen, listened to the prompting of Mordecai and informed the king that the destruction of the Jews would mean her death too. The king turned on Haman, and had him skewered on the 75-foot pole that Haman had constructed for Mordecai’s execution. The king then appointed Mordecai to fill the position that Haman had once held – Prime Minister – second in command in the whole empire. With Esther’s help, and the king’s authority, Mordecai changed the destiny of the Jews. He could not erase the old law that had sentenced the Jews to death, so he wrote a new law that allowed the Jews to defend themselves, retaliate against anyone who attacked them and take the property of any defeated enemies. Celebrations filled the streets of Susa because joy filled the hearts of the Jews and their friends. “What was going to be their death turned and became their hope for life in the future, their cause for celebration.” – Esther, p. 177 What had once been the certainty of death now carried at least the possibility of life. Tragedy really could turn into triumph.
All of us deal with tragedy at some point in our lives. It is how we deal with tragedy that determines whether it will destroy us or whether we will gain the victory over it. Someone has said that whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I’m not sure if that’s true or not. But I do know that if you are not dead, then you can get the victory over whatever is attempting to destroy you rather than living a tragic life of defeat. Let’s see how the Jews took the possibility of victory in chapter 8 and turned it into the reality of victory in chapter 9.
Power (vs. 1-4)
Let’s read vs. 1. [read vs. 1a] Nine months have passed between chapters 8 and 9. The day that everyone had been anticipating since Haman had first published the Jews’ execution order 11 months ago had finally arrived. At first, the Jews had been dreading this day. But with the death of Haman, the installation of Mordecai in his place, and the new edict that gave them the right to defend themselves, they felt confident about the outcome.
Much had changed in that nine months. Look at the 2nd part of vs. 1, 3-4 [read them]. Unlike the Garth Brooks song, the Jews had friends in high places, and they knew it. So did everyone else. None of the officials in the kingdom were willing to do anything to harm the Jews. In fact, they did whatever they could to help them. There were two laws operating on this day – one opposing the Jews and one favoring the Jews. The officials could choose to follow either one and still be following the directives of the king. What tipped the balances in the favor of the Jews was that the officials were afraid of Mordecai. They were afraid of what the consequences might be if they were found favoring the wrong side. The word was that whoever opposed Mordecai got shishkabobbed on top of a high pole
The Jews went from being a hunted people to being the favored people because of Esther and Mordecai. Those who had been mistreated and powerless to do anything about it now held all the power. The king, queen, Prime Minister and all the government officials were on their side. What do those who have been bullied and hurt do when they suddenly get a hold of power? They get revenge.