The Fourteenth Day

The Fourteenth Day

What makes Haman such a great villain is that even though he’s removed from the story, his poisonous hatred of Mordecai and the Jews has already managed to spread all across the Persian empire. There are many who are all too happy to carry out Haman’s plan to “kill, destroy and annihilate” the Jews when the designated time comes (the thirteenth day of the twelfth month). Esther and Mordecai wish to cancel the date of the conflict altogether, but King Ahasuerus won’t allow anything signed into law under his name to be revoked. So Esther’s and Mordecai’s next best option is to give the Jews official permission from the King to defend themselves against the coming attack.

When the time for the conflict comes, and “when the enemies of the Jews hoped to gain mastery over them, the reverse occurred: the Jews gained mastery over those who hated them.” (9:1) Once again, we sense the invisible and unmentioned hand of God at work, and the biblical story of reversal is played out. The Bible loves to tell stories of reversal, of God placing himself on the side of the weak and powerless to grant them victory. Jesus says it like this: “The last will be first, and the first will be last.” (Matthew 20:16) Those who are but a punching bag for the rest of the empire are suddenly the victors.

Reversal is a story told in scripture again and again. So is the overthrow of evil. It’s the story of the Exodus, the story of the Gospels, the story of Revelation, the story Paul tells his churches. And it’s the story of Esther. Evil has lost its firm footing in the world. With the defeat of the Persian attackers, hatred has the life suffocated out of it. Even the ten sons of Haman are killed among the attackers, the story’s way of telling us that Haman’s poison has nowhere left to spread. The final tally of slain Persian attackers is 75,000. Victory that comes by means of such violence might make us a little uncomfortable. After all, Jesus himself never takes up the sword and says to love our enemies. Esther and Mordecai even tried to go the non-violent route and found themselves overruled. But this is a story about the defeat of hatred itself. Hatred has been rooted out, with peace and healing planted in its place. On the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, there is hatred that turns to violence and nearly into extermination. And by the fourteenth day, there is newfound peace and celebration. On the fourteenth day, the world is not what it was. Esther and Mordecai now live in a fundamentally different reality.

When we read the story of Esther, we hear Jesus’ beatitudes coming through. Blessed are the poor in spirit, the mourners, the meek, the peacemakers, the persecuted. Theirs is healing and belonging. Theirs is the earth and the kingdom! The beatitudes are Jesus’ announcement of what the world looks like through God’s eyes – the kingdom belongs to the poor in spirit and the persecuted, the earth belongs to the meek. The way God sees the world, evil has lost, hatred has had the life suffocated out of it, and everything is placed under the authority of those who live in the gentleness and meekness of Christ. That’s the story Esther is drawing us into. That is reality as God sees it and as announced by the beatitudes. That’s the fourteenth day in which we live. Do we believe that’s the world we live in?


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