As you peruse the bulletin before the service this morning, some of you must be thinking, “Two Advent hymns? On September 1?” Hear me out. We’ve nearly reached the end of our study of the Book of Esther, one long narrative of God working behind the scenes to rescue His people from their enemies. But Queen Esther’s brave deeds could only provide a temporary respite. The people of Israel would return to Jerusalem only to be scattered once again. The book of Esther points us to our need for an even greater rescuer, one who can bring to completion the prophecy of Ezekiel that we would be clean from all uncleanness, with a new heart and a new spirit (Ezekiel 36:25-29). That rescuer is Jesus, who alone can “ransom captive Israel” once and for all. So I hope that, even though it isn’t December yet, you’ll enjoy singing two classic Advent hymns, O Come, O Come Emmanuel and Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus, that look forward to the coming of a Savior who is not only “Israel’s strength and consolation,” but the “dear desire of every nation, joy of every loving heart.” —Henry C. Haffner
Key Words: Edict, Enemies, Reverse, Fear, Plunder, Feasting, Gladness
Keystone Verse: On the very day when the enemies of the Jews hoped to gain mastery over them, the reverse occurred. (Esther 9:1)
Now in the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, on the thirteenth day of the same, when the king’s command and edict were about to be carried out, on the very day when the enemies of the Jews hoped to gain the mastery over them, the reverse occurred: the Jews gained mastery over those who hated them. 2 The Jews gathered in their cities throughout all the provinces of King Ahasuerus to lay hands on those who sought their harm. And no one could stand against them, for the fear of them had fallen on all peoples. 3 All the officials of the provinces and the satraps and the governors and the royal agents also helped the Jews, for the fear of Mordecai had fallen on them. 4 For Mordecai was great in the king’s house, and his fame spread throughout all the provinces, for the man Mordecai grew more and more powerful. 5 The Jews struck all their enemies with the sword, killing and destroying them, and did as they pleased to those who hated them. 6 In Susa the citadel itself the Jews killed and destroyed 500 men, 7 and also killed Parshandatha and Dalphon and Aspatha 8 and Poratha and Adalia and Aridatha9 and Parmashta and Arisai and Aridai and Vaizatha, 10 the ten sons of Haman the son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews, but they laid no hand on the plunder. 11 That very day the number of those killed in Susa the citadel was reported to the king. 12 And the king said to Queen Esther, “In Susa the citadel the Jews have killed and destroyed 500 men and also the ten sons of Haman. What then have they done in the rest of the king’s provinces! Now what is your wish? It shall be granted you. And what further is your request? It shall be fulfilled.” 13 And Esther said, “If it please the king, let the Jews who are in Susa be allowed tomorrow also to do according to this day’s edict. And let the ten sons of Haman be hanged on the gallows.” 14 So the king commanded this to be done. A decree was issued in Susa, and the ten sons of Haman were hanged. 15 The Jews who were in Susa gathered also on the fourteenth day of the month of Adar and they killed 300 men in Susa, but they laid no hands on the plunder.
16 Now the rest of the Jews who were in the king’s provinces also gathered to defend their lives, and got relief from their enemies and killed 75,000 of those who hated them, but they laid no hands on the plunder. 17 This was on the thirteenth day of the month of Adar, and on the fourteenth day they rested and made that a day of feasting and gladness. 18 But the Jews who were in Susa gathered on the thirteenth day and on the fourteenth, and rested on the fifteenth day, making that a day of feasting and gladness. 19 Therefore the Jews of the villages, who live in the rural towns, hold the fourteenth day of the month of Adar as a day for gladness and feasting, as a holiday, and as a day on which they send gifts of food to one another.