June 23 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“On this day the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, but now the tables were turned and the Jews got the upper hand over those who hated them.” ~Esther 9:1

What a change in fortunes! Haman plots the destruction of the worshipping community and is hanged on the very gallows he constructed for Mordecai. His conspiracy is foiled by Esther’s connivance and courage. And Mordecai becomes a powerful court official in Persia, his name attested throughout the Persepolis Tablets (tables recording Persian history), which are on display at the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago. And the people? On the date that Haman had determined, by a cast of lots (Persian dice), for the destruction of the Jews, their fortunes are reversed and their enemies are destroyed. Therefore, the Israelites observe Purim (the Hebrew word meaning lots) to celebrate this day, and it is still observed in modern-day Israel. Purim is a time for exchanging gifts, feasting, and celebration.

Sometimes God turns things completely upside down for our good and His glory, and He often does so through the most ordinary means. God raised Esther to the throne for “such a time as this” (Est. 4:14). He rescued His people through one brave queen willing to risk her own life for her people’s sake. Esther asked the people to fast, but as we have observed, praying for deliverance does not mean we are to be passive participants in the process. Neither should we assume that there is anyone who can be unaffected by God’s hand. It was God who led Xerxes to the discovery of Mordecai’s heroics while the king passed a sleepless night reading records of the royal archives. And God turned the heart of the pagan king so that his trusted official, Haman, was hanged without mercy.

Perhaps things have taken a turn for the worse for you. God can turn all that around in extraordinary, or even very ordinary, ways. In ancient Persia, the day on which the die dictated destruction became a day of deliverance instead. Even if it looks like the die has been cast and your fortune determined, don’t lose hope. Look to God and pray when you are hurt or wronged or disappointed. Plead with Him for deliverance, and summon the courage to do what you can about the difficult situation using the wisdom God provides (Jas. 1:2-5). Place all your trust in the Lord, and fast if you must! When He delivers you and blesses your life, mark the date. Throw a party, do some feasting, and celebrate!

The Old Testament historical account of the worshipping community ends with Esther. The newly reformed, but not independent, nation now awaits the coming of the Messiah. Meanwhile, we turn our attention to the proverbs and poetry of Israel, as well as to the preachers who carried out their work during the ancient days of the nation’s rise and fall and rebirth.

Lectio Divina is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the senior pastor of Calvary Church in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.