August 20, 2017
Read: Esther 8:11–17
Bible in a Year: Psalms 105–106; 1 Corinthians 3
For the Jews it was a time of happiness and joy, gladness and honor.—Esther 8:16
As the minister spoke at a funeral for an old military veteran, he mused about where the deceased might be. But then, instead of telling the people how they could know God, he speculated about things not found anywhere in Scripture. Where is the hope? I thought.
At last he asked us to turn to a closing hymn. And as we rose to sing “How Great Thou Art,” people began to praise God from the depths of their souls. Within moments, the spirit of the entire room had changed. Suddenly, surprisingly, in the middle of the third verse my emotions overwhelmed my voice.
And when I think, that God, His Son not sparing,
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.
Until we sang that great hymn, I had wondered if God was going to show up at that funeral. In reality, He never leaves. A look at the book of Esther reveals this truth. The Jews were in exile, and powerful people wanted to kill them. Yet at the darkest moment, a godless king granted the right to the enslaved Israelites to defend themselves against those who sought their demise (Est. 8:11–13). A successful defense and a celebration ensued (9:17–19).
It should be no surprise when God shows up in the words of a hymn at a funeral. After all, He turned an attempted genocide into a celebration and a crucifixion into resurrection and salvation! —Tim Gustafson
Our surprising God often shows His presence when we least expect Him.
INSIGHT: Esther is the only book in the Bible in which God’s name is never mentioned. Yet our surprising God often shows His presence when we least expect Him. Haman, who had tried to curry favor with the king to exterminate the Jews, found his plans overturned when God enabled Esther to expose Haman’s sinister plot. Even to this day Jewish people around the world celebrate the Feast of Purim to commemorate God’s intervention to preserve them as His chosen people.
Have you experienced a time when God surprised you by His divine intervention? Dennis Fisher
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