In Esther 3, we see part of the reason that Esther might not have wanted to say that she was Jewish. Haman, one of the favorites of king Ahasuerus, could not stand the fact that Mordecai would not bow to him. He was so upset in fact that he asked the king if he could eradicate every Jewish person in the kingdom.
Est 3:8 And Haman said unto king Ahasuerus, There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of thy kingdom; and their laws are diverse from all people; neither keep they the king’s laws: therefore it is not for the king’s profit to suffer them.
Est 3:9 If it please the king, let it be written that they may be destroyed: and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver to the hands of those that have the charge of the business, to bring it into the king’s treasuries.
Obviously, Haman was really mad at Mordecai, and that is a lot of why he ordered this massacre. However, part of me also thinks that he really must not have liked Jewish people to begin with. If there was indeed this kind of culture at the high levels of government, there is no doubt that must have been a little bit frightening for Esther (which explains a little bit about what I talked about yesterday).
I think that when you read this in the Bible, you might be wondering where God was. You might be wondering why He allowed this kind of hatred to begin to develop. At this point in the chapter, nothing has happened yet in terms of violence, but the Jewish people must have wondered if they were going to be brutally attacked. That is nevertheless a frightening time.
As we will find out, God did not abandon the people, but we have the benefit of hindsight. We know what is going to happen (if you read ahead of me), but the people that had to live entirely by faith.
You know, especially in times like that but really all of the time, it is good that we have a God that loves all of us and never fails. It brings us hope in tough times, and it gives us a solid foundation for that faith.
Heb 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
There are many times that prejudices don’t match the reality. Even though your actions would seem to indicate otherwise, people still want to judge you a certain way.
This is what happened to David in 1 Samuel 29. He had been living peacefully beside the people of Achish for some period of time. Now, Achish was going to war with the rest of the Philistines, and David felt that it was his duty to go along. After all, since he had been living with them, there was some type of friendship and loyalty there.
When David and the rest of the Hebrews showed up at the camp with all of the Philistine armies, they were looked down upon immediately.
1Sa 29:3 Then said the princes of the Philistines, What do these Hebrews here? And Achish said unto the princes of the Philistines, Is not this David, the servant of Saul the king of Israel, which hath been with me these days, or these years, and I have found no fault in him since he fell unto me unto this day?
1Sa 29:4 And the princes of the Philistines were wroth with him; and the princes of the Philistines said unto him, Make this fellow return, that he may go again to his place which thou hast appointed him, and let him not go down with us to battle, lest in the battle he be an adversary to us: for wherewith should he reconcile himself unto his master? should it not be with the heads of these men?
1Sa 29:5 Is not this David, of whom they sang one to another in dances, saying, Saul slew his thousands, and David his ten thousands?
They obviously have a point. David had been public enemy number one for a while, and he had killed many Philistines when they invaded Israel.
However, in that situation, the Philistines were clearly the aggressor, so they should not really have been mad about and David and the Israelites wanting to defend their own territory. This is not really the point I was trying to get to today though.
David doesn’t understand why he can’t go to the battle, and unfortunately Achish is not a lot of help.
1Sa 29:6 Then Achish called David, and said unto him, Surely, as the LORD liveth, thou hast been upright, and thy going out and thy coming in with me in the host is good in my sight: for I have not found evil in thee since the day of thy coming unto me unto this day: nevertheless the lords favour thee not.
1Sa 29:7 Wherefore now return, and go in peace, that thou displease not the lords of the Philistines.
1Sa 29:8 And David said unto Achish, But what have I done? and what hast thou found in thy servant so long as I have been with thee unto this day, that I may not go fight against the enemies of my lord the king?
1Sa 29:9 And Achish answered and said to David, I know that thou art good in my sight, as an angel of God: notwithstanding the princes of the Philistines have said, He shall not go up with us to the battle.
1Sa 29:10 Wherefore now rise up early in the morning with thy master’s servants that are come with thee: and as soon as ye be up early in the morning, and have light, depart.
1Sa 29:11 So David and his men rose up early to depart in the morning, to return into the land of the Philistines. And the Philistines went up to Jezreel.
I think that the main point today is that people might judge unfairly. I think this is particularly true of Christians since we are not perfect in the world that thinks that we ought to be perfect. Certainly, Christianity is a journey towards being more like Jesus, but at the same time, we all fully recognize that we are not perfect and we need to be forgiven just like everyone else.
Deuteronomy 31 is the beginning of a transition. Moses is beginning to hand over the leadership of the Israelites to Joshua, but he has a few words to say before he is actually done with his mission.
Deu 31:2 And he said unto them, I am an hundred and twenty years old this day; I can no more go out and come in: also the LORD hath said unto me, Thou shalt not go over this Jordan.
Deu 31:3 The LORD thy God, he will go over before thee, and he will destroy these nations from before thee, and thou shalt possess them: and Joshua, he shall go over before thee, as the LORD hath said.
I like this passage because it speaks directly to the number one problem plaguing Israel and the reason that they had not already claimed the Promised Land.
They were afraid. Even though God had promised them a long time ago that they would have this inheritance, they continued to doubt and worry about everything.
Moses is saying here that you cannot do that anymore. In verse three, he is saying what God will do. Notice that there is no doubt there. He is not talking about what God might do. He knows that God will do it, and he knows that the people of Israel will have their inheritance.
We also have promises from God, and there are hundreds of them interspersed throughout the Bible. Therefore, we do not need to fear either. God does indeed have a plan for our lives. How do I know that?
He promised it. Given His track record on fulfilling promises, I have no reason to doubt.
Isa 41:10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
Going to church on Sunday is a great thing, but if that is all that our Christianity is based upon, we have a problem.
In Deuteronomy chapter 6, Moses was encouraging the Israelites to put God first in their entire lives.
Deu 6:4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:
Deu 6:5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
Deu 6:6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
Deu 6:7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
Deu 6:8 And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.
Deu 6:9 And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.
As you can tell, all of the words of God should permeate the lives of the Israelites. Moses wanted them to think about the word of God wherever they went.
Even though we don’t exactly do everything that they did in Israel at that time today, I think that the point is still clearly applicable.
Following God shouldn’t just be a Sunday activity. Yes, it is a great thing to pray in church, but we also need to keep in touch with God throughout the week.
1Th 5:17 Pray without ceasing.
Our lifestyle is supposed to reflect our Christian faith. Like Moses said, the word of God should be in our hearts, and Thessalonians encourages us to speak with God all of the time.
This relationship is a good thing, and it is worth cultivating.
Deuteronomy chapter 4 is basically a 49 verse long passage where Moses is telling the Israelites to continue following God and living under His law.
Deu 4:39 Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine heart, that the LORD he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else.
Deu 4:40 Thou shalt keep therefore his statutes, and his commandments, which I command thee this day, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days upon the earth, which the LORD thy God giveth thee, for ever.
I think that the second verse contains a vital truth about Christianity. Yes, there are millions of people around the world including myself who believe that the Bible is truly the Word of God and Jesus is truly the Way, the Truth and the Life.
However, I think that this is a good reminder of how living a Biblical lifestyle is not only good for us spiritually.
For one thing, our relationships with others will be better when we treat them the way that Jesus would.
Php 2:2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
Php 2:3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
When we treat each other with love and respect, it logically follows that people will get along better.
Also, and I don’t want to sound like I am preaching some type of health and wealth gospel, but I would argue that our physical health could also be better when we are respecting our bodies the way that we should.
1Co 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
1Co 6:20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.
I think that this verse emphasizes that we do have a responsibility to take care of ourselves in such a way that we will be able to be of service to God. We should not demolish our bodies, but we are supposed to respect them and use them to glorify God. If we make choices that cause great harm, we will reduce the capacity that we could use to serve God.
The most important feature of our Christian walk is our spiritual relationship with God, but there are some nice side effects that will help us with our journey here on earth. We should treat each other with respect and respect ourselves. Both of these practices help us to glorify God and show the world what Christians really act like.
It is interesting how God controls everything and knows what will happen all the time. In Numbers chapter 21, God makes a promise to Moses and the rest of the Israelites.
Num 21:33 And they turned and went up by the way of Bashan: and Og the king of Bashan went out against them, he, and all his people, to the battle at Edrei.
Num 21:34 And the LORD said unto Moses, Fear him not: for I have delivered him into thy hand, and all his people, and his land; and thou shalt do to him as thou didst unto Sihon king of the Amorites, which dwelt at Heshbon.
Num 21:35 So they smote him, and his sons, and all his people, until there was none left him alive: and they possessed his land.
Apparently, Moses with a little bit nervous about this particular battle because God began the conversation by telling him not to worry.
Then, God told him who was really in charge. God had literally delivered the king of Bashan into the hand of Israel. He knew that this battle was over before it happened.
Of course, this shouldn’t be surprising whatsoever because we know that God is omniscient and lives outside of time, but it is good to remember that trait.
In our lives, the application is not much different. We really do not need to fear anything because we have God by our side.
Psa 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Mat 10:29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.
Mat 10:30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
Mat 10:31 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.
From these two popular passages, we are reminded that God is always with us as well as the fact that we have value in His eyes. Because we have so much value, He wants to take care of us.
So, remember if you are in a situation where the enemy, whatever it really is, seems pretty intimidating, God will be with you, and He will help you persevere through the difficult time.
Numbers chapter 18 made me think a little bit about the nature of possessions. Basically, this situation involves God speaking to Aaron about the Levites. He is outlining all of the rights and responsibilities of being the tribe of priests, but one particular thing stood out to me.
Num 18:20 And the LORD spake unto Aaron, Thou shalt have no inheritance in their land, neither shalt thou have any part among them: I am thy part and thine inheritance among the children of Israel.
I think it is particularly interesting in this situation that this is very similar language to what we see in the New Testament. Because we are believers in Jesus, we also have an inheritance in heaven.
1Pe 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
1Pe 1:4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
1Pe 1:5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Essentially, we have hope of living with God forever because of the resurrection of Jesus. In fact, God Himself is our inheritance on some level.
The reason I am jumping to that conclusion is because, without faith in Jesus as well as His mercy, we would spend eternity separated from Him. Consequently, if we do know Him, our inheritance is spending eternity with Him. That is how I drew that conclusion.
Think about the implications of this though. The Israelites needed to have a specific tribe that had God as their inheritance. Now, we are allowed to directly approach Jesus Christ who acts as our mediator. It is an amazing privilege.
I think that we all have missed opportunities that we really wish we would have taken. Sometimes, things could have been so much better, but for some reason we dropped the ball and now have to deal with the consequences.
In Numbers chapter 14, the Israelites complained a little bit too much, and God told them that essentially because of their disbelief, they would not be able to enter the Promised Land.
Their children would be allowed to enter, but the rest of them would wander around in the wilderness.
Num 14:21 But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD.
Num 14:22 Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice;
Num 14:23 Surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it:
Of course, when the people of Israel heard about this, they all of a sudden wanted to make it right, but it was too late.
Num 14:40 And they rose up early in the morning, and gat them up into the top of the mountain, saying, Lo, we be here, and will go up unto the place which the LORD hath promised: for we have sinned.
Num 14:41 And Moses said, Wherefore now do ye transgress the commandment of the LORD? but it shall not prosper.
Num 14:42 Go not up, for the LORD is not among you; that ye be not smitten before your enemies.
Num 14:43 For the Amalekites and the Canaanites are there before you, and ye shall fall by the sword: because ye are turned away from the LORD, therefore the LORD will not be with you.
The people of Israel were ready to repent because they knew that they all of a sudden were going to have to pay for their sins and didn’t want to do that. They now understood the truth and it was obvious to them, but it was too late.
Regrettably, the situation is far from extinct.
There are millions of people today who need to put their faith in God. In the end, we know that everyone will understand that God is exactly who He has said He is.
Rom 14:11 For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.
When faced with this reality, there are only going to be two answers. Either we had a relationship with God, or we didn’t. It is a binary outcome.
None of us deserve mercy, but by the grace of God and belief in Him, we can be assured of eternal life.
Joh 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
So, I urge you to not miss this opportunity. It is really the biggest (and best) decision you will ever make.
There are many times in life when obstacles seem like they are insurmountable. There are mountains that we feel like we need to climb but know that we can’t. That is how the people of Israel felt when the spies came back from the Promised Land in Numbers chapter 13.
Num 13:27 And they told him, and said, We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it.
Num 13:28 Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there.
Num 13:29 The Amalekites dwell in the land of the south: and the Hittites, and the Jebusites, and the Amorites, dwell in the mountains: and the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and by the coast of Jordan.
Num 13:30 And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.
Num 13:31 But the men that went up with him said, We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we.
The land was awesome, but many of the people did not think they would be able to take on all of the people that already lived there.
Caleb knew that the Israelites had something special. He knew that they had the promise of God, and he knew that if the God of all the universe had told the Israelites that they should settle there, they should settle there.
This is how we need to handle problems in our lives. God has promised us so many things that we have no reason to fear any mountain that might be in our way.
I came across an interesting article that listed several promises that God has made throughout history. I think that it might be worth a read from all of you.
Because we have God with us, there is no reason that we should fear any obstacle.
2Ti 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
I think that living through Numbers chapter 7 must have been pretty awesome to say the least. Moses had an amazing privilege at the end of the chapter.
Num 7:89 And when Moses was gone into the tabernacle of the congregation to speak with him, then he heard the voice of one speaking unto him from off the mercy seat that was upon the ark of testimony, from between the two cherubims: and he spake unto him.
Moses was able to be in the tabernacle and talk to God in person. Of course, he had already seen the back of God, but I imagine this experience must have been pretty cool as well.
However, as I thought more about this experience and how exceptional it must have been, I realized that we have the Bible today, and because it is the Word of God, we can have a similar experience.
2Ti 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
I was also thinking that Jesus was referred to as the Word, and since He is our intermediary whenever we pray, we still have this type of relationship with God. We can talk to him as well.
Joh 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Joh 1:2 The same was in the beginning with God.
Therefore, even though we probably don’t conversationally speak to God like Moses seems to have been able to, the important part is that we still have ways to interact with God. Because He is unchangeable, He hasn’t gone anywhere. He is still there, and He is still just as powerful and loving as He was with Moses and the Israelites.
Though the means may be different, the end result is the same, and we should be grateful that God wants to develop a relationship with us and help us draw nearer to Him. That is a wonderful privilege.