Wednesday 23rd May 2018 - Daily Reading:
Esther 9:1-19 - Laying Down Our Rights by Becky White

This part of the tale seems remarkably bloodthirsty. The Jews protected themselves, and also pre-emptively struck against those who they knew would come against them. This would have included Hamanís family, who, according to the customs of the time, would have sought revenge.

It is, perhaps, difficult reading for our modern tastes. Yet by the standards of the day, the Jews did not go as far as might have been expected. The Kingís edict had given them not only permission to assemble and defend themselves with deadly force, but also to plunder their enemies Ė to take their possessions and their wealth.

We can see that this was the custom of the time because itís exactly what Xerxes did to Haman. Not only did the King have Haman killed, but he also took all of his wealth and then gave it to Esther.

Yet although the Jewish people did rid themselves of their enemies, they did not plunder their goods. This relative restraint would not have gone unnoticed in a culture where the victors were expected to take the rewards of victory. It demonstrated that the motives of the Jews in going into battle were only about protecting themselves, and not about gaining wealth or land or property. It was about saving the nation, not making themselves rich and powerful.

The Jews had the right to plunder their enemies, but they chose not to exercise this right. Modern society has much to say about rights. Everybody thinks they have rights, and perhaps we all do, but there are times when it is better not to push our rights, not to demand them. It is not a weakness to choose not to exercise your rights for the sake of someone else, or for a greater purpose. This is humility, and Jesus demonstrated it perfectly centuries later when he stood before the rulers and laid down his right to defend himself against unjust accusations, knowing that it would lead eventually to the cross.

There are times for a righteous fight, and times to lay down our rights. May God teach us the wisdom to know the difference.

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