Welcome to AHA Bible Moments!

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“Bible History IS Secular History when given the truth, whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”

You are about to enter the world of “I didn’t know that” moments from the Bible!

 Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still; teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.

Proverbs 9:9

Paul Harvey, during his daily radio broadcasts, made famous the statement “The Rest of the Story.” He would tell the unfamiliar stories behind the familiar stories of men, feats, events and situations. Did you know the same is true of many “bible stories” found in the Old and New Testament scriptures? The following may not be quite the same as Mr. Harvey’s reviews of history, events and people, but they can be just as stunning, revealing, informative, and mind opening.

This publication will look at dozens of these surprising “aha moments” from miniJimscripture. Some will startle, some readers will find them particularly satisfying, and some will realize that history and the Bible are the same thing; a review of what was and remains an actuality. The Bible stories in scripture are space-limited and cannot publish everything surrounding, coinciding, or consequential to these stories. Some Bible time events are well-known and others not quite as well known but none the less found in scripture with a correlating “aha moment”. NOTE: The Bible and history are contemporaneous.

Included in this website are messages from others who serve our God; i.e. studied individuals such as ministers and Bible teachers.

Let’s explore some of these aha moments in scripture and have a ton of fun while doing so!!

– Dr. J

Bible Devotions or Bible Study?

Bible Devotions can be like paying the minimum amount due on ones credit card debt. One seldom gains ground. Bible study is like paying the monthly balance in full plus something extra. We gain ground quickly!

Want to Listen to Music while you study:

For Continuous Music please use the link below:

Keep the Music Playing While You Browse!

Hope – Part 4

By Brenda McKee (www.brendamckee.com)

The curtains were drawn tight in the living room. Even when they were open, it was still dark in my little house—which reflected the condition of my heart. Before turning the lights in the house off, I went and grabbed the four pack of Michelob light beer from the refrigerator. Trouble, my dog, followed me back into the living room. 

I turned on the television not caring what was on. Sitting down in the middle of the floor with my dog and beer. I began to cry. Trouble laid tightly to my side as I opened a beer. My plan was to drown my sorrows.

Recently diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, I was physically better since being released from the hospital, but not strong. My doctor would not release me to go back to work full time and I was going to be let go. In my early twenties, with car payments and rent I was getting concerned about my bills.

As I finished my first beer, this guy on the television caught my attention. He pointed straight at me and said “GOD loves YOU!” I didn’t really want to think about God. I repented of my sins and was born again at 17 but was now doing my own thing.

The church I attended got another pastor when I was 18. This guy was legalistic and boring with a bunch of “thou shalt nots”. Everything I was, including who I was—was not what God wanted me to be—according to the current pastor. He said a woman should wear a dress, not slacks, keep hair long and wear no jewelry. I looked at my class ring, watch, and beige pants, then looked for the nearest door. I tried other churches in the next few weeks. The churches I visited had good coffee and donuts. That is the best thing I remember about them.

Opening my second beer, the guy on the television once again said “someone out there needs to know God loves you, just the way you are!” “How would you know!” I asked the guy on Television—as if he would answer. Suddenly something changed in my living room. There was a peace that passed my understanding. My heart felt like it was melting. I even thought I heard “I DO LOVE YOU MY DAUGHTER, I know YOU and you are my child,” like it came from inside my heart. I began to weep and tell the LORD that I wanted to know Him…

This was the first night I spent with the King, really seeking Him, reading His Word and praying. One night with King Jesus changed my life forever. It is true with every one who is seeking a relationship with King Jesus.

“But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.” Deuteronomy 4:29

That night, I knew that I knew He loved me for who I was. Knowing Him is different than knowing about Him, just as knowing Neil Diamond personally would be much better than simply knowing about him. Relationship is about intimacy. We cannot truly know someone without spending time in their presence and communicating with her or him. The most valuable relationship we can have is with our Creator God. It is only possible by true repentance and accepting Jesus Christ as our LORD and Savior.

You too, can spend a night with the King and every minute with the King when you choose a relationship with Jesus, our King of kings, and the LORD of lords.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28: 19

Prevailing Hope – Part 3

By Brenda McKee (hope4mckee@gmail.com)

This is the real deal….

Sometimes I think I know what is best for my life. I think if I were totally healed I could serve the LORD better and help more people. I think if I were successful in a business and made a lot of money I could help a LOT more people than sitting here writing a blog about my challenges.

Closeup of hands shuffling cards casino

In other words I don’t like the cards I got dealt. I want a new deal and start with a new deck please! Make sure they are shuffled well too! Sometimes I think if I can throw down a few really bad cards and ask God to deal me a couple good cards, maybe then I handle the couple of not so good cards in my hand. Have you ever tried to barter or bargain with God?

But this is the deal.  No new cards, no new hand.  I  finally made the choice to play it to the best of my ability by His grace. My prevailing hope is to be successful in God’s eyes and impact this world for His Glory.

The Word of GOD is full of real men and women who face great challenges with the “cards they were dealt” and their lives gave Glory to God forever. I think of Joseph especially; sold into slavery by his brothers, imprison unjustly yet in the end was a great success in God’s eyes and in the worlds!

What about you? How are you going to play your cards?  Or are you still hoping for a new deal? Will you play your cards with great faith that GOD has a plan for your life (He does)- as He did for Joseph  and everyone else. His plan will ultimately will bring you great success defined by Almighty God! True success is not measured by the world’s standards.

Romans 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Esther Part 14

Esther Chapter 10 (Conclusion)

Chapter 10 is but three verses. It reads as an after-the-fact statement; an appendix; a summation. Probably written by someone other than Mordecai. There is no mention of Mordecai or of Esther’s death or burial in the Book of Esther or anywhere else in the Bible. The record of this time of events were recorded in the chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia.

One of several tomb sites claimed to be theirs

We find this claim on the Internet: The Tomb of Esther and Mordechai is [supposedly] located in Hamadan (formerly Shoshan), Iran. Iranian Jews believe it houses the remains of the biblical Queen Esther and her cousin Mordechai and is the most important pilgrimage site for Jews in Iran. It was declared a World Heritage Site by the Iranian government in 2008. There is no mention of it in the Bavli (the Jerusalem or Babylonian Talmud). This Iranian Jewish tradition has not been supported by Jews beyond Iran.

PS; The tombs of Daniel, Nehemiah, and other Jewish leaders/Levite Priests and citizens are also entombed in Persia (Iran). This count is in the tens of thousands.

Many modern day sons of Jacob refuse to accept this. Mostly of these doubting Israelis come from the ten Northern Tribes of Israel. There is still animosity between those from the northern tribes of Israel and the southern two tribes of Judah. Most remain to this day scattered to the four corners of this earth.

Here is a quote from Focus on the Family regarding some history of Esther and the Persians:

The extra-Biblical events surrounding Esther form one of the most decisive turning points in history. Without the Greek triumph [over the Persians and King Xerxes], Western civilization as we know it would likely not exist. While Persia continued to flourish in Xerxes’ (and Esther’s) lifetime, his defeat by the Greeks was a watershed moment.

From that point on over the next 150 years, the Achaemenid Empire began its slow decline before finally being conquered by Alexander the Great. Although short-lived, Alexander’s empire was even larger than Persia at its greatest extent. It introduced Greek culture, ideas, and language across much of the ancient world, create[ed] the foundation for the eventual spread of the Gospel to the farthest corners of the Roman Empire and beyond. [emphasis mine]

Somethings FAR exceeds our reach.

Today we most often fall short of the historical impact or purpose of the book of Esther, yet alone understand its reach. This period of Esther history far exceeds the contents of the book itself. One example per understanding some of the content and context: AFTER the life of Esther, Ezra and Nehemiah lead additional Judean exiles from Persia back to Jerusalem. They completed the Temple but it took many years to get to this point.

Consider the fact that through Esther’s actions and the returning of additional Judean exiles with Ezra and Nehemiah, Jesus was born some 470 years later? Did the reader connect this historical dot? Jesus was of the Tribe of Judah, not the Tribe of Benjamin. His people (Tribe of Judah) were part of the Babylonian captivity and exile. This would be a study in and of itself. Later perhaps but not now.

Esther 10:1-3

“And the king Ahasuerus laid a tribute upon the land, and upon the isles of the sea. (v2) And all the acts of his power and of his might, and the declaration of the greatness of Mordecai, whereunto the king advanced him, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia? (v3) For Mordecai the Jew was next unto king Ahasuerus, and great among the Jews, and accepted of the multitude of his brethren, seeking the wealth of his people, and speaking peace to all his seed.” (King James Version)

 (The following bullet points are taken from David Guzik’s Commentary on Esther 10)

Think of all that God arranged in the story of Esther:

• God arranged for the noble Queen Vashti to lose her place.
• God arranged for Esther to enter the competition.
• God arranged special favor for Esther among the other women.
• God arranged the lot that was cast to give 11 months warning before the evil event (Est_3:12-13).
• God arranged that Haman restrain his anger and not kill Mordecai immediately (Est_5:10).
• God arranged for Haman’s anger to come to a peak on one particular day.
• God arranged for Ahasuerus to pick up a certain book in his sleepless night.

Rev. Dr. Jstark
2021

This is a nonprofit, no reader cost website. The above David Guzik bullet summary of the Book of Esther is for the sake of Bible students and others, and solely for educational and gained knowledge. May God bless your inquiry, reading and studies. The Bible is not a book of stories, but a history that coincides with other histories. Content other than the bullet points may or may not reflect the opinion of David Guzik.

Prevailing Hope Part 2

  • _____________________________________________________________
  • Prevailing Hope in Chaos

Sometimes the chaos of the world will blur our vision with despair,  worry and fear. Where can we go to find the Truth? Where can we find  peace amid this chaotic world? How can we truly have Hope that prevails?

The reality in this world is many are without hope. As a result of  the COVID-19 virus, Suicide rates in Michigan rose 33% according.to http://www.bridgemi.com,  Life Hurts. These stats are only those being reported. What would drive  someone to take his or her life? Thousands of those left behind agonize  over this question when a loved one chooses to exit the world this way.  Something in their hearts and minds had to hurt so badly they thought  there was no way out. Or maybe it was a moment of desperation?

The victims of COVID19 is far reaching and is NOT just those who get  the virus. People have lost their jobs, security, homes and some as  mentioned above, take their own lives. For safety reasons some of our  elderly are isolated from loved ones and some will even die alone. Masks  and the six feet rule of social distancing may be necessary, but it  takes a big toll on relationships. Science backs up the facts that we  need human touch. We need to have connections with others. We are by  nature and creation a social being.

May we never forget those who work in the health fields. Doctors,  nurses, techs, and many others who take care of us are on the front  lines taking the risk to help us. They are making a sacrifice of long  hours, not only risking their wellbeing but their immediate family when  they go home from work. God bless them one and all. Where is their  protection and peace of mind as they care for us?

Then we have people who fight over toilet paper. And those who fight  someone who has a mask on – or does not have one on! It depends on who  gets bent out of shape the most. We fight simply because someone does  not agree [James 4:1]. Each person is convinced s/he is right! How can  we find and have peace if everyone thinks differently, but everybody is  right in their own eyes? That is their personal perception but is it  actuality?

Many have their Hope in a COVID19 vaccine! Some want to shut down  America for another 5 or 6 months! Will it work? No one knows for sure.  We cannot even agree on who won the election because there is so much  fraud and deceit in the political system. So where is there HOPE we can  count on?

As if the world’s problems were not enough, we have our own personal  physical problems. My “problem list” has 26 issues on the list. To name a  few, I have Multiple Sclerosis, blind left eye, osteoporosis, and the  most recent add on is Rheumatoid Arthritis which hit me this year It  slammed me with more pain. I am not alone. Thousands wake up each day  with their own personal battle. It could be RA, MS, ALS, Cancer or a  hundred other diseases. Where is the hope when the disease is  progressive, unpredictable, and incurable?

 How in the world can we be thankful? I have many reasons to be thankful! But this article’s focus is the greatest reason we should be thankful! There are millions of books in the world. You  would think humankind would have THE Answer to the problems in the world  by now. Many think the answer is in a global reset, the one world order  and the COVID19 vaccine. There are many theories.

The Truth is the Answer for our world is not a theory nor or a  Religion. It is a Relationship. We have the great privilege to choose to  be in a relationship with the One Who created the world! We need to  repent of our sin (all have sinned and fall short; Romans 3:23)  and accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. At that moment, our heart  is transformed anew! My prayer is the Holy Spirit will woo you into a  real relationship with God our Father by accepting Jesus Christ as Lord  and Savior if you have not done so. It is the best and most important  decision you will ever make.

We serve the GOD of Hope. We need to remember His plan for this world  has nothing to do with having our best life now, at least NOT the way  the world thinks of it. Our best life is now is in knowing the  God of Hope. Amid the political chaos we can have peace.  When we accept  Jesus, the Holy Spirit indwells us. He is the Comforter and gives us peace that passes all understanding [Philippians 4:7].

Throughout history our Nation has been through many, many storms, and  wars. Never does the horizon of this world seem so dark and bleak. Yet  we have reason to be thankful. Not thankful for the circumstances but  thankful we can know the One Who will see us through. He promises never  to leave or forsake us. He is my King. I know He keeps His promises.  He  loves me. He loves you. We have the reason to give thanks to God…everyday!

How in the world can we be thankful? Jesus is always the reason to be thankful.

John 3:16-17

King James Version

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.

17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

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Thank you Dr.Jstark and ahabiblemoments.com for the privilege of posting Prevailing Hope. Prevailing Hope is written by Brenda McKee. Please send any questions about this blog series to : hope4mckee@gmail.com

Thank YOU for reading.

Esther Part 13

Esther 9 (chapter 9 continued; KJV)

The celebration of the Jews in Persian and the Jews in Shushan had two different days of celebrations with what eventually became known as the Festival of Purim, i.e., the day the lot (pur) was cast. One might misinterpret the purpose of their celebration. They along with select Persian help had slaughtered 75,000 Jew hating enemies. Under this situation this would seem like a good enough reason to celebrate. However, there is more to it. We cover the rest of this with a verse-by-verse explanatory commentary of chapter 9, part two.

Esther 9:17 This was on the thirteenth day of the month of Adar (probably March). And on the fourteenth of the month they rested and made it a day of feasting and gladness.

Esther 9:18 But the Jews who were at Shushan assembled together on the thirteenth day, as well as on the fourteenth; and on the fifteenth of the month they rested, and made it a day of feasting and gladness.

What happened? Why two different days 24 hours apart? It seems the territorial provinces warred for one day and it was over. In the capital of Susa (Shushan) Jew hating citizens of Persia still existed. This helps explain why Mordecai and Esther wished the ten sons of Haman to be hung (suspended) for public view. They knew there were still enemies of the Jews within Shushan. Many were willing to challenge the decree from Mordecai the Jew and go by the initial decree distributed by Haman.

Esther 9:19 Therefore the Jews of the villages who dwelt in the unwalled towns celebrated the fourteenth day of the month of Adar with gladness and feasting, as a holiday, and for sending presents to one another. Their task had been blessed and their neighboring enemies eliminated. This does not mean all enemies, but it does mean the most vocal advocates of Jewish elimination.

The Feast of Purim Initiated by Mordecai

Esther 9:20-22 And Mordecai wrote these things and sent letters to all the Jews, near and far, who were in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, (v21) to establish among them that they should celebrate yearly the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar, (v22)  as the days on which the Jews had rest from their enemies, as the month which was turned from sorrow to joy for them, and from mourning to a holiday; that they should make them days of feasting and joy, of sending presents to one another and gifts to the poor.”

We can finally suggest with a high degree of confidence that the author of the Book of Esther is NOT unknown. (V20) “And Mordecai wrote these things and sent letters to the Jews.” If he wished that all Jews remaining in Mede-Persia would adopt this date as a yearly celebration, he would need to offer a sound explanation. It is probable that the Book of Esther evolved out of Mordecai reliving and explaining the significance of the “casting of pur,” meaning the celebration of Purim.

Problem

PROBLEM? The Jews of Persia were not representative of Israelis from all 12 Tribes. When Nebuchadnezzar captured and exiled Judah, it was a kingdom from which mostly Judeans and Benjamites lived. To some degree there were members from the Tribe of Simeon and straggler Levites, but not a preponderance of the other 10 Tribes of Israel. They were dispersed in 722 B.C., some 200 or so years before this time in the events described in Esther. America is only 245 years old at the writing of this commentary. We do not speculate because that is all it is. However, in the Book of Esther 200 plus years passed since the Northern Kingdom of Israel was dispersed; that kingdom was no more. The Jews of Persia (Benjamites and Judeans) in the time of Esther, would triumph over the Jew haters of the Persian Empire. It is 245 since the birth of America and the same problem exists. Think on it. A supposition only as food for thought and comparison. We are told in the New Testament to be prepared (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11). For the studious Bible student, go to https://bible-truth.org/1Thess5-1-11.html

PS: I cannot attest to his website grammar but what he writes is good.

We Teach – You Decide

Esther 9:23-25  So the Jews accepted the custom which they had begun, as Mordecai had written to them, (v24)  because Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had plotted against the Jews to annihilate them, and had cast Pur (that is, the lot), to consume them and destroy them; (v25)  but when Esther came before the king, he commanded by letter that this wicked plot which Haman had devised against the Jews should return on his own head, and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows.

Once again in verse 23 we are told that Mordecai wrote to the Persian Jews. A good reminder is something found in the previous two chapter commentaries. An Agagite is a descendant of King Agag, an Amalekite. King Saul, a Benjamite, slaughtered the Amalekites by order of God. Mordecai and Esther were not of the Tribe of Judah but of the Tribe of Benjamin. The desire for revenge of a day is like a thousand years.

Haman’s ten sons were hanged (suspended) from gallows but had already died by the sword the day before. This is by order of the King carried out by order of Mordecai. Is it any wonder we read about the “fear of Mordecai” being in the empire of Persia?

Purim banner with traditional cookies – hamantaschen and holiday greeting,

Esther 9:26-28  “So they called these days Purim, after the name Pur. Therefore, because of all the words of this letter, what they had seen concerning this matter, and what had happened to them, (V27)  the Jews established and imposed it upon themselves and their descendants and all who would join them, that without fail they should celebrate these two days every year, according to the written instructions and according to the prescribed time, (V28)  that these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, every family, every province, and every city, that these days of Purim should not fail to be observed among the Jews, and that the memory of them should not perish among their descendants.

The Book of Esther is read during the Purim celebration even today “because of all the words of this (Mordecai’s) letter.”  Mordechai authored the letter. We do know the author of Esther [Verse 26]. It was not Esther alone, but along with Mordechai.

The reason it is a two-day celebration was discussed in our previous commentary article on chapter 9, part one. Those Persians within the empire who wished the Jews ill-will and attempted to carry out the decree by Haman, died on day one. Those who refused the later decree by the King and Mordecai, those in the capital of Susa (Shushan) continued to confront the Jews. They were killed the second day. Therefore, Purim is a two-day Jewish celebration. 

JIV: God sent not his son into this world to condemn the world but that through him people MIGHT be saved. Those who continue to refuse God’s salvation decree will on the second day suffer the consequences. This is not to mean a literal day one and day two.  We us “second day” metaphorically. Day one is the crucifixion. Day two is the time of the Gentiles [Luke 21:24]. Judaism exists as the original decree of the Old Testament. The metaphorical day two is the New Testament.

Esther 9:29 Then Queen Esther, the daughter of Abihail, with Mordecai the Jew, wrote with full authority to confirm this second letter about Purim. Here again is evidence of the authorship of the Book of Esther. Queen Esther with Mordecai…wrote with full authority. They must have consulted one another to fill in missing gaps of information in the memories of each. Therefore we have The Book of Esther.

Esther 9:30And Mordecai sent letters to all the Jews, to the one hundred and twenty-seven provinces of the kingdom of Ahasuerus, with words of peace and truth,…” The name Jews in this verse is specific. Strong’s translates of the Hebrew is yehûdı̂y. The definition means a specific tribe of Israel i.e. The Tribe of Judah. This is NOT a religion identified as Jews. That is Judaism. Two different identities and people. One is a tribe, and the other is a religion beginning with Abraham.  Easily confused but not correct to make them tantamount to one another.

Esther 9:31 to confirm these days of Purim at their appointed time, as Mordecai and Queen Esther had prescribed for them, and as they had decreed for themselves and their descendants concerning matters of their fasting and lamenting. Again, we find consulting between Queen Esther and Mordecai to get the facts and events correct. Both are primary to the book. Both were needed to pull it together and have it sanctioned by Ezra and Nehemiah.

JIV NOTE: It was Ezra and Nehemiah who pulled the Old Testament into a single document of 39 books.  The sacred books of Israel were inspired by God or, as the apostle Paul says, were “God-breathed”—it was imperative that the texts remain distinctly separate from secular or pagan writings. Numerous texts are known to exist alongside Scripture, Old Testament and New Testament.
 

Esther 9:32 So the decree of Esther confirmed these matters of Purim, and it was written in the book.  What book? The Book of Esther. The authors were Mordecai and Esther.

Rev. Dr. Jstark
2021

Prevailing Hope – Part 1

When Despair is unshakeable …..

Yes, this is a post called Prevailing Hope so why am I writing about despair that prevails?Simply, because sometimes circumstances and situations wear on us; well at least on me. and despair seems to prevail. When despair seeped into my heart, it took my mind with it and it was difficult to focus on anything but the things gone bad.

Depression and SorrowHaving Multiple Sclerosis since 1981 you’d think I get used to the unpredictable life of new symptoms, old symptoms, pain, blurred vision, weakness, extreme fatigue and the list goes on. I won’t bore you with  the details. Suffice to say, I never get used to this body that betrays me. Difficult for me to understand it. So I know most of my well meaning friends cannot understand. I long to go out and walk on the beach of Lake Michigan when it warms up and play soft ball again, go dancing, just walk without pain. I know I am fortunate just to walk. What is it like to not be overwhelmed with fatigue? How to function when what is suppose to function does not? How to deal with more loss of sight and hearing? How does one keep pushing when life at times seems to offer little or nothing to push for…

Dealing with one area at a time would not usually throw me into a state of despair. Add a few more areas of challenges that try my heart and you know why I lingered on the wire of falling deeper into a pit. A few more areas in my life that have fallen into depths of despair are personal losses.It profoundly affects me when my friends face serious physical challenges and not good changes in life. Another huge challenge for me is my wonderful Shadow, devoted Service Dog for many years is now retired due to illness and pain. She is still with me and on medications. We can not go out as a team. Now we deal with separation anxiety; hers and mine. She cries when I leave her alone; I don’t cry on the outside but my heart hurts- I long for my dog to be by my side where she should be.

When I (we) am at my (our) lowest, surely the enemy takes advantage to add to our despair. Suddenly my mind was flooded with the bad choices I made over the years. There were a lot of them and I still make them. The broken dreams  I once had torment me with a sense of loneliness.. I always wanted to be married to the one I love who loves me- going places and enjoying the “good life.” I dreamed of having a career and living in a cabin in the woods; living a writer’s life making a living so I am able to give to others. Some dreams are just…dreams shattered by real life.

Now, that I am done whining (and I thought Shadow would take top prize at whining-not so!) it is time to share the Truth; the GOOD NEWS though it may not be everything is going my way answer- it is the Truth that pulled me up from the pit of despair. It is the same truth that will help you if you embrace it because it is God’s Word.

We all have two choices how to respond to life: Our way or God’s Way. When we become entangled in the world’s ways of dealing with issues it may help for a while but not for long. The world doesn’t hold any long term answers. Watch the news if you don’t believe me. God’s Word has the answer to every issue we have.

Hope prevails over despair when  we choose to live by the Word of God. The despair I was stuck in was rooted in what I wanted in life. I lost sight of  most important.

16 Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. 17 For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, 18 while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:16

Once I got my true vision back on those things that are eternal, despair literally melted away like wax from a hot flame.glimpses Candle and Candles are melting on floor

Have you ever thought about all Jesus went through so we can live a life of prevailing hope regardless of our circumstances? What if He got tired of His horrible pain, physical, emotional and Spiritual while on the cross and called His angels because He was tired of it all? What if Jesus quit because life wasn’t fair? Life sure wasn’t fair to Him! Yet it was God’s will. All because of God so loved us! These questions loomed in my mind.When I accepted Jesus I chose to be crucified With Christ to be alive to Him. Somehow, I drift back into this life is about me  and my desires- and God does care about this but it is not ALL about me…or you.  I am privileged to know and live for the Most High God. He is the GOD of HOPE Who Prevails.

I repented of my despair as for me it was selfishness and the circumstances wearing on me. The joy of knowing the LORD and living for Him is what real life is about. No matter where and what is going on in life we as Christians are to be the LIGHT that scatters the  darkness.

Therefore, thus says the Lord [to Jeremiah],

“If you repent [and give up this mistaken attitude of despair and self-pity], then I will restore you [to a state of inner peace]

So that you may stand before Me [as My obedient representative];

And if you separate the precious from the worthless [examining yourself and cleansing your heart from unwarranted doubt concerning My faithfulness],

You will become My spokesman.

Let the people turn to you [and learn to value My values]—

Jeremiah 15:18

So what is God’s purpose in our lives? He is the Potter, we are the clay. The clay doesn’t tell the  Potter how to shape it.  The Potter skillfully and lovingly takes the clay and smashes it down to rebuild it into something beautiful. Then the Potter puts the vessel He made into the fiery furnace to get the impurities out of it and seal the beauty in, for His useful service. (Jeremiah 18- read about the Potter and the Clay).

We hold this treasure in our earthen vessel. We can choose to live for ourselves or submit to the Potter Who loves us. His desire is for us to be conformed into the image of His Son Jesus Christ, that all men may know Him.- the God of Prevailing Hope.

Big thank YOU to Dr. Jstark and AhaBibleMoments for the privilege of posting our series on Prevailing Hope.

Esther Part 12

Esther Chapter 9 a narrative commentary

We insert a quote from bible scholar William Struse for consideration of the value of the Book of Esther and existence of Queen Esther along with her elder cousin Mordecai who eventually became the Prime Minister of Persia under King Ahasuerus:

“Without the efforts of Esther and her Persian [husband] king the social, political, and prophetic conditions necessary for the Messiah Yeshua to come would not have been in place. Without the efforts of Esther and her king, there would have been no temple, no priesthood, no sacrificial service, and no Torah observance – all of which were prerequisites for the coming of the Messiah.” [Where History & the Bible Meet]

Esther 9:1-5 set the stage for what was about to happen due to the conflict in decrees written by the former Prime Minister of Persia, Haman, and the new Prime Minister of Persia, Mordecai. 9:1b puts it well [NKJV] “On the day that the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, the opposite occurred, in that the *Jews themselves overpowered those who hated them.” This indicates that the Jews were not small in defensive numbers. An insight or aha moment is that multitudes of their later ancestors remain in and around this area today. There are still multitudes of Persians so what has changed? This area today is called Iran and the god of the country is no longer Murdoch, but Allah.

*The Jews had some Persian help in defending themselves.

JIV NOTE: [Ecclesiastes 9:12] For man also does not know his time: Like fish taken in a cruel net, Like birds caught in a snare, So the sons of men are snared in an evil time, When it falls suddenly upon them. Our confidence is in one source… Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the Father God.

Esther 9:2 can be misunderstood if doing a simple read through of the Bible. Within this verse it states that the Jews gathered together in their cities [NKJV]. One might conclude these are Jewish cities. Not so. It means those Jews who lived inside the city populations. Each given city gathered themselves together to defend their lives and properties. There are very few Jewish only cities in existence anywhere during this time in history.

JIV NOTE: As we continue in chapter 9, bear in mind that the Jews could protect themselves only against those with ill intent. This fact is stunning later in this chapter. Even King Ahasuerus is taken aback.

Esther 9:3 is also a bit of a challenge. “And all the officials of the provinces, the satraps, the governors, and all those doing the king’s work, helped the Jews, because the fear of Mordecai fell upon them.”

“all of the officials” (within the kingdom) The use of the word “all” (v3) in the Hebrew is Kole. This means without exception. None stood on the sideline. This is significant to remember for what we address a few verses later in chapter 9.

“because the fear of Mordecai fell on them” This is like the history of Daniel in his latter life as second in command of Babylon. As did Daniel, Mordecai grew more and more powerful within the kingdom/empire of Persia. We need to know this information to better understand a later verse in this chapter.

Esther 9:5 might be a result of a communication gap of some Persians not knowing of the second decree OR, [most likely] it spells out the hate for the Jews within the Persian Empire. How many times has one said or been confronted with the claim, “But you promised, or you said….” even though conditions had changed, and the accuser knows it has changed.

There were many Persian citizens who took full advantage of the first decree and attacked their hated Jewish neighbors. Mankind will use something unwise to explain or excuse his or her actions. Jews were only permitted to defend, not aggress.

[ESV] “There were many Persian citizens who took full advantage of the first decree and attacked their hated Jewish neighbors…” By decree the Jews could defend themselves.

JIV NOTE: It is interesting that both the WEBA and Brenton translations skip verse 5.

Esther 9:6 points out the number of Jew-hating Persians that got themselves killed in the capital city of Susa (Shushan). It didn’t end here.

Esther 9:7-10 lists the names of the 10 sons of the now deceased Haman. This can get a bit confusing due to what happens a few verses later. The potential confusion and actuality will be explained shortly. Verse 10 points out that no “spoils” were taken by the Jews. Why is this? Think about it as a thoughtful learning process.

Esther 9:11 On that day the number of those who were killed in Shushan the palace was brought before the king. Esther 9:12 And the king said to Esther the queen, The Jews have killed and destroyed five hundred men in Shushan the palace, and the ten sons of Haman. What have they done in the rest of the provinces of the king? [LITV]

It appears King Ahasuerus is somewhat depending on reports through Esther and perhaps Mordecai, not only his own people or advisors regarding this historical moment within his empire. This may hint to the fact he knew too little about the allegiances within his own kingdom. He will soon learn that the hate of Jews was widespread. It is curious how he has sided with the Jewish population still residing within the Persian Empire. We could speculate but that serves little purpose since speculation can be rumor, unfounded gossip, one-sided, and little more than conjecture.

King Ahasuerus (Xerxes) continues by asking if there is anything else his Queen Esther desired.

Here is where some Bible critics point out as do some “read through the Bible” people might fail to recognize the stated facts. Esther realized all who wished to take up arms against her kin had not yet appeared, taken up arms against the Jews, or escaped the previous day’s judgement. Of course, there may now be those who seek revenge for what had happened throughout Persia.

Esther 9:13 says that the ten sons of Haman were to be hanged upon the gallows. This seems to be at odds with the verse stating that the sons of Haman had been slain the previous day. The purpose for this request was to make a strong statement to those who still carried a hate for the Jews or desired revenge. Haman’s sons had already died the prior day, but a public display is the punctuation mark after the decree by Mordecai and sealed with the King’s signet ring.

For what it is worth, the Hebrew word for this hanging is tâlâh. It does not mean by the neck but suspended as in a display.

Esther 9:15 & 16 show the slaughter was not over. 300 more were slain the next day and in total, 75,000 Persian men were killed for their armed aggression against the Jews of Persia. This speaks loudly. This had to be a huge shock to King Ahasuerus. We have no information to make us believe he recognized such hate existed within his kingdom empire.

JIV NOTE: Go back to verse #3. Reread that the 127 provinces put forth support for the Jews. This must mean it was more than verbal. These princes, satraps, Lieutenants, and governors HELPED with the slaughter. Mostly for fear of the power now welded by Mordecai.  This may also confirm the huge number of Jews still living within Persia. We do not know how many of them died during these armed conflicts.

We continue with the rest of Esther in our next narrative commentary. It will help clear up perhaps some additional lack of understanding.

Rev. Dr. Jstark
2021

Esther 8 Part 11

How quickly might things can change in life. Esther, Mordecai and the Israelites (mostly Judeans and Benjamites) experienced this. They are among the tens of thousands who remained in Medo-Persia after the King Cyrus’s release decree. Those freed but didn’t leave, are now in a reversed situation: Here today gone tomorrow was Haman’s plan for these people he hated. After chapter 8 of Esther, it was now “feared today, promoted tomorrow.”

Esther 8:1&2 would seem to the logical mind a happy ending and a great place to end the Book of Esther…and they all lived happily ever after. One would be wrong. There remains chapter 8, 9, and 10. We will cover these in narrative detail in our two remaining chapter commentaries of the Book of Esther, along with some surprising educational aha-moments.

There is a minor detail that needs to be addressed in this recorded history. Go back to Esther 3:8-10. There was and remained the decree issued earlier by Haman and sealed with the signet ring of the King. The decree stated on a specific date and day all Jews carried a bounty for their death and were to be eliminated on THAT DAY. This brings us five chapters forward to Esther 8:3.

Esther 8:3  (ASV) “And Esther spake yet again before the king, and fell down at his feet, and besought him with tears to put away the mischief of Haman the Agagite, and the destruction that he had devised against the Jews.” Remember that a decree written according to Medo-Persian law could not be retracted or redacted. Not even by the king himself. Now what?

Esther 8:5 & 6 Esther is pleading for the king to reverse the death sentence of all her people within the Persiab empire. A death sentence already in the hands of all Persia. SInce the lands Israel and those who returned home were both within the Persian Empire, Haman’s decree included the Jews who returned several years earlier. The king was in a difficult situation. He could not simply issue a new decree for a recall. To do so violated Medo-Persian rule of law. King Ahasuerus responds in a rather avoidance manner knowing he could not reverse the already issued and signet ring sealed order.

Verses *7 and 8 find the King proclaiming all he had already done for Esther and Mordecai. He also points out that he had Haman hung from the gallows intended for Mordecai. Ahasuerus is basically saying…I have done what I can.

*Oddity: Ahasuerus says he did all of this because Haman intended to destroy (NKJV: lay hands on the Jews” within his kingdom. Ahasuerus actually had Haman hanged for his deceit and an appearance of cajoling Esther at banquet number two. Chapter 7 says nothing about his execution being for the sake of the Jewish populations in his empire.

Write a decree

What is Ahasuerus’ escape clause? He tells Esther and Mordecai to write a decree within the laws of the Medes and Persians that will counter Haman’s decree. Then he hands them his signet ring, the seal of authority.

What a task. The decree would be written and given to all people in the empire, in their own language(s), 127 provinces covering a huge territory (all hand delivered) between India and Ethiopia, and, to the scattered Jews, in their native tongue. A little over 100 years since the Judean’s original captivity by the Babylonians, it is probable many Judeans now spoke a Babylonian-Hebrew or the dialect of the Persians.

The Book of Daniel tells us that King Nebuchadnezzar had taken the cream of the Judean elite from Jerusalem (Judea) to train them in Babylonian customs and to speak their language. This language switch was forced upon the captives. There is a probability the children born in captivity may no longer speak their parent’s Hebrew.

Esther 8:10 [NKJV] “And he (Mordecai) wrote in the name of King Ahasuerus, sealed it with the king’s signet ring, and sent letters by couriers on horseback, riding on royal horses bred from swift steeds.” There was an obvious urgency to get the new decree out. By this time those with a grudge against any Jew(s) were willing to take as bounty Jewish lands and possessions. Some who were simply bounty hunters had time to make plans to kill off these people. Verse 11 tells us how Mordecai addressed the decree originally peddled by Haman. He wrote that all Jews now had a right to defend themselves without punishment for murder or insurrection.

There would be no long-lasting affects of the Haman decree. It specified ONE specific day to slaughter the Jews. All that was needed was a new decree to get the Jews of Persia past this assigned 24-hour time to bounty hunt them. In the next chapter [chapter 9] we find a plea for allowance. More on this in our next chapter commentary.

Esther 8:11  “By these letters the king permitted the Jews who were in every city to gather together and protect their lives—to destroy, kill, and annihilate all the forces of any people or province that would assault them, both little children and women, and to plunder their possessions,…”

Esther 8:12  “…on one day in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar.”

JIV NOTE: The month of Adar is roughly the month we often call March in our Gregorian calendar. Sometime within February-March is when the Festival of Purim is celebrated to this day by Jews.

Verses 13 and 14 show the haste at which this new decree was delivered throughout the Persian empire. Now those who were once in fear of losing their life were now prepared to not only defend, but to seek out in the entire empire any who begrudged the Jews. How quickly the tables were turned. In a real way, Jews were given license. This alone should give insight to the pre-existing strife within the kingdom when it came to the Jews versus other citizens. No love loss was present. This is the eternal history of the selected people of Jehovah-God. It will remain so until the end of the Tribulation.

Esther 8:15 is especially significant. We find Mordecai, the one who prevented an assassination attempt on the king, the one to whose death was planned so carefully by Haman, the one who was paraded through Shushan on the king’s royal steed lead by Haman on foot, the one who commanded the scribes to write a new decree to protect the Jews of that land, the one to whom the king’s signet ring was given to authenticate that decree, now exiting the palace wearing royal garments and promoted to second in command of the kingdom. This is precisely what had happened to Daniel about 50 years earlier under the temporary Mede king (Darius) over Babylon. He too was sought out to be killed, found favor in the eyes of King Darius, became second in command of the kingdom empire – Persia. NOTE: Died and buried in Shushan. This is the same place the Book of Esther is located.

Esther

Esther 8:17 explains the origins of the Jewish festival Purim. We use the Jewish Publication Bible [JPB] for this quote…

“And in every province, and in every city, whithersoever the king’s commandment and his decree came, the Jews had gladness and joy, a feast and a good day. And many from among the peoples of the land became Jews [followers of Judaism]; for the fear of the Jews was fallen upon them.” (emphasis mine)

One additional clarification is needed per this last verse in Esther. To read it as written would suggest that one can choose to become a DNA Jew. Not so. It reads: And many from among the peoples of the land became Jews. The words became Jews means they converted to Judaism. There is much to be said about these two words, but it is not the principle of this commentary.

JIV: We often confuse the scriptures by interchanging as synonyms the names Judeans of Judah, Judaism, and Jews as one and the same thing. This is not accurate. Each has its own designation. They have become synonymous now days but are not so in actuality.

Rev. Dr. Jstark
2020

Esther Part 10

Esther Chapter #7 (a narrative commentary)

As Haman unknowingly walks into his final moments in life, he has been totally humiliated. The man he wished to hang for giving him no respect ends up on a royal horse, dressed in royal garments, and lead through town with Haman shouting his praises. He had also written a decree for all Judean captives in Persia to be slaughter. He put a price on each of their heads.

JIV thought: Had Esther not informed the King of Haman’s plot to kill the Jews (Israelites mostly of the Tribes of Benjamin and Judah), and since Haman did not know that Queen Esther was a Benjamite, King Ahasuerus would have discovered Haman’s vengeance after the fact. Haman would be a dead man in the end but only after a Persian holocaust. (PS: next article we once again find the tables get turned)

Esther 7:1 Haman is hurried from his home to the second banquet provided by Esther for him and the king. He had been delayed by his confessions to his wife and associates that he had failed in his plot against Mordecai. Instead, he had to run in front of him with Mordecai on a royal horse. Haman was ordered to shout the king’s praises.  Recall this idea of a reward was Haman’s. In his ego and pride, he thought it would be he who would be on the royal steed.

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Esther 7:2 This banquet, contrary to the previous day’s banquet, included fine dining and wine, not just wine and discussion. It is highly probable that Haman no longer had the slightest appetite but was required to make his attendance. He still did not know what the “proverbial sleeve” of Esther had in it. The king wasted no time in again asking Esther what it was that she desired. She answers in verse 3 and 4 of this narrative commentary chapter 7. She asks the king for mercy even though he did not consider her needing any. “She and her people?” Who are these with whom she identifies and why does she identify with them? These thoughts must have come to the mind of the King. Haman may have by now begun to pull pieces together as his appetite for dinner fades.

This probably put great concern and quickening terror in the heart of Haman. He was about to learn that Queen Esther was a Jew; a Benjamite.

This passage reads somewhat like Esther was turning the knife now embedded in Haman. Not in his his back but right in front of him. His eyes growing larger by the second.

Esther 7:4. Esther explains in protracted detail that she and her people had been listed and sold for destruction. Recall that Haman had offered 10,000 pieces of silver for the privilege of destroying his arch enemies that go as far back as to King Agag during the reign of King Saul. This is now close to 500 years after the reign of King Saul in Israel.

Esther 7:5 “And King Ahasuerus answered and said to Esther the queen, Who is he, this one? And where is this one, he who is filled with pride in his heart to do so?”  We see in this verse that King Ahasuerus realized such a plot was due to someone’s PRIDE, self-esteem. By now Haman was wishing to anywhere but there. The intended (?) anxiety for Haman continues in the next verse. Rather than simply saying it is Haman, Esther identifies him as a man, a hating man, an enemy of her people (and unknowingly her). Then in verse 6 she saysHAMAN.”

Esther 7:7 “And the king, rising from the banquet of wine in his wrath, went into the palace garden. And Haman stood to beg for his life from Esther the queen, for he saw that evil was fulfilled against him by the king.” This had to be an absolute shock to King Ahasuerus. He departed to think this one through. His wife is a Jew? Haman had deceived him. The people he wanted to destroy, according to Haman were not a small group of previously unidentified rabble-rousers. These are law-abiding citizens of his empire. Haman? A man he had just made superior to all of the 127 satrap province rulers within his kingdom. Haman, a trusted confidant? How could this be? Haman was holding the same position similar to what Daniel held less than 40 years earlier.

In the meantime, while Ahasuerus was thinking it through in the palace garden, Haman through himself at the mercy of Esther. In fact, Esther as reclining on a couch with Haman leaning over her to beg. The king returns to the banquet chambers in verse 8 with some type of decision in his mind. Here is where something like the ‘final nail in one’s coffin’ makes sense. We do not know what the king had in mind upon his return, perhaps prison or clemency, but he finds Haman hanging over Queen Esther on the couch. It was too much of an insult.

“And the king said, Will he also ravish the queen with me in the house?” Whatever the king had in mind was no longer, if at all, a form of leniency. We read in the closing of verse 8: [LITV] “The word went from the king’s mouth and they covered Haman’s face.” Proverbs 5:22 states: ”The evil deeds of the wicked ensnare them.” This defines Haman. “…the chords of their sins hold them fast.”

Harbonah (v9), one of the chamber body-guards who helped cover the face and head of Haman noted the there were gallows built by Haman, just outside Haman’s own house. The judgement was quick. King Ahasuerus (Xerxes) had him taken to the gallows built for Mordecai. In place it was Haman who was hanged. This means all who tended to be around Haman’s house, including Haman’s household, witnessed this execution. This placated the anger of the King.

BUT, Esther and her people have a problem. In Persian law, once passed it could not be retracted. The law had been signed or sealed by using the King’s ring signate given to Haman as the authority to order all ‘Jews’ be killed in one day. This decree had been distributed throughout the entire empire of King Ahasuerus. Now what?

Rev. Dr. Jstark
2020