Letters were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces with instruction to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate all Jews, young and old, women and children, in one day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar. Esther 3:13
The Reuter’s News Service picture I am looking at shows a mother sitting by the side of her baby who has been poisoned by mustard gas. A suicide bomber in Iraq detonated a blast that sent a cloud of toxic vapors into a residential neighborhood. Anyone who breathed those noxious fumes was sickened. Some have died.
Studying that picture, I am reminded of the Old Testament story of Esther. Esther was an orphaned Jewish girl who, 2,500 years ago, became queen of Persia. When Haman, Persia’s persuasive prime-minister came to power, he schemed to have the entire Jewish people murdered. Scripture describes the intensity of the man’s hatred in the royal decree that instructed the citizenry to “annihilate all Jews, young and old, women and children.” The rest of the book of Esther tells how she, with the guidance and advice of her adopting father Mordecai, were able to defuse that explosive situation and save the people.
For centuries, in the month, which the ancient calendar calls Adar, the Jewish people have celebrated God’s subtle, but instrumental deliverance from that plot of the Persian nobleman. In 2007, the month of Adar converts into our month of March, and the Jewish festival of Purim concluded just a few weeks ago.
What hasn’t concluded is man’s hatred toward his fellowman. The blind fury of Persia’s Haman lives on in the heart of Iraq’s suicide bomber, the actions of abusive parents, the road-rage of rush-hour drivers, and, in the minds of all of us.
Because humans still hate, humankind still needs a Savior. Understand that when we speak of ‘a Savior,’ we’re not thinking of beautiful Queen Esther or a charismatic president or prime-minister. Even the best of these can only help a few people for a short period of time. We need THE Savior who alone rescues us for eternity; THE Savior who redeems us from sin, death and Satan, THE Savior who saves us, from us.
Jesus’ perfect life, His innocent suffering and death, and His glorious resurrection have rescued believers from certain death. Isaiah tells us, “the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” (53:5) Which naturally leads me to ask this question: If the Jewish nation has celebrated their earthly rescue for 25 centuries, shouldn’t faithful Christians also remember their eternal rescue which Christ won for them upon Calvary’s cross?
THE PRAYER: Dear Jesus, this day help me remember that I am a great sinner; and offer my thanks that You are a greater Savior. In Your name. Amen.