God's Grace and Mercy Turned Others to Himself
Esther 8:17, "And in every province, and in every city, whithersoever the king's commandment and his decree came, the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a good day. And many of the people of the land became Jews; for the fear of the Jews fell upon them."
The Jewish holiday, Purim, is the focus of today's reading. Purim, meaning "lots," refers to the lottery that Haman used to choose the day upon which the Jews were to be exterminated. The Purim holiday which falls on the 14th or 15th of the Jewish month Adar (typically March) was preceded with a Fast, called the Fast of Esther, (she fasted along with others for three days prior to approaching King Ahasuerus). The Jewish Virtual Library states, "Purim is one of the most joyous and fun holidays on the Jewish calendar. It commemorates a time when the Jewish people living in Persia were saved from extermination." One primary purpose of celebrating Purim is to recollect the good things that transpired in saving the Jews while in Persia and reading the book of Esther.
God has shown Himself compassionate and strong throughout the history of mankind. For the Jews this holiday is a memorial of His compassion and strength. Verse 17 concludes with the statement, "...many of the people of the land became Jews; for the fear of the Jews fell upon them." There are those who question the motivation in these people suddenly converting to Judaism. Gill writes, however, in his commentary, Exposition of the Entire Bible, "Many of the people of the land became Jews; or were proselyted, as both the Targum and Jarchi interpret it; they embraced the Jewish religion, and submitted to the rites and ceremonies of it; were circumcised, as in the Septuagint version, and so were proselytes of righteousness; and indeed no other could they be, dwelling in their own land; many of them very probably were serious in it, observing the wonderful manner in which the Jews were delivered; wherein manifestly appeared to them the providence of God, the hand of the Supreme Being, and from hence concluded their God must be the true God, and they his favorite people, and their religion most correct; though others might only do it to gain the favor of Esther and Mordecai, who had now such great power and influence at court."
Our God is Supreme, our God is Compassionate, Our God is our Redeemer, and with the same joy and gladness of the Jews on Purim, you and I should allow our joy and gladness to resonate daily in our lives. And if others become Christians because they see something different in us, or in the God we serve, so be it. "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28
QUESTIONS TO PONDER
1. Can you say, as you reflect upon the power and compassion of God, that joy floods your soul? Write down something for which you are currently rejoicing in.
2. Would your life draw someone else to investigate the possibility of trusting Christ as their Savior? How do you think other believers perceive your walk with God?
3. Were you aware of the Jewish holiday of Purim? Describe how the Jews must feel on this day.