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The Original Pony Express

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
June 29, 2021 12:00 am

The Original Pony Express

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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June 29, 2021 12:00 am

Romans 10:15 says, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things." And in Esther 8 we see a set of these beautiful feet galloping throughout the provinces of Persia. They belong to the horses and riders who once terrified the Jewish people with messages of destruction. Now they are bringing news of hope and salvation. Stephen reveals the contents of this communiqué in today’s broadcast.

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I want you to notice three times we're told the same thing and God doesn't repeat himself just for the sake of repetition. The Jews did not lay hands on their plunder. The Jews did not lay hands on their plunder.

They merely defended their lives, but they left their enemies' homes and families and bank accounts and cattle and possessions. Ladies and gentlemen, not only did the Jews gain mastery over their enemies this day, the Jews gained mastery over themselves. In the book of Esther, an edict went through the land that on a certain day all of the Jews were to be killed. It wasn't as if the Jews were in one place.

They were spread out throughout the land. This command might mean having to kill your neighbor who happened to be Jewish. Can you imagine the tension that would have caused in the kingdom? But just in time, a new message came from the king. It was a message of hope and salvation that would make it possible for the Jews to survive.

This is Wisdom for the Heart with Stephen Davey. He's calling this message the Original Pony Express. Herodotus, a historian who lived during the days of the Persian Empire, recorded that the empire was connected by postal stations every 14 miles. On one occasion, Herodotus even wrote, and we have recorded to this day, he wrote this, and I quote, Nothing mortal travels so fast as these Persian messengers.

The entire plan is a Persian invention. Along the whole trail there are men stationed with horses and will not be hindered from accomplishing at their best speed the distance which they have to travel. I discovered the interesting fact that it was a description by Herodotus that gave the postal system today in our country their unofficial motto. Herodotus wrote this as he described this early Pony Express, and I quote him, Neither snow nor rain, recognize that, nor heat nor gloom of night stays these valiant couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds. For the original Pony Express, it was more commonly used. In fact, the government certainly used it, relied upon it heavily to communicate throughout their kingdom.

Remember, their kingdom stretched from modern day Pakistan to North Africa. Their king had already used the Pony Express to deliver this terrifying edict of death. You remember back in chapter 3 of the book of Esther, Haman dispatched his edict that all of the Jews will be killed on the 13th day of the month Adar.

It's now law. Persians have the right to massacre the Jewish people without any legal reprisal. The news literally then galloped throughout the kingdom which led to, as you can only imagine, incredible grief and fear and despair for the Jews, certainly for their Gentile co-workers, friends, neighbors who were caught up in this. They literally had to prepare to die.

But then you remember, tables were turned, weren't they? Esther risked her life to get the king's attention. Within 24 hours, the threat of Haman's edict was exposed to the king and what it would mean to the king's wife. And in a matter of hours after that, Haman, the prime minister, is dead. Now, most within the church believe that at this point, the story is over. We have the impression that the work of Esther is finished. She can kind of kick back in the palace at Susa and enjoy life. Her life is safe, as is Mordecai. But the truth is Haman, while he may be dead, his edict is alive and well. It had been sealed with the king's insignia.

It was the law. Esther is actually more needed than ever before. The story isn't over. In fact, there's going to be another urgent message delivered by what we could call the original Pony Express, who will dispatch it in a matter of hours. Let's rejoin the drama in chapter 8 of this book.

Chapter 8, where we left off, and verse 1. On that day, King Ahasuerus gave the house of Haman, the enemy of the Jews, to Queen Esther. And Mordecai came before the king, before Esther had disclosed what he was to her. Guess what?

I've got a cousin, and here he is. The king took off a signet ring, which he had taken away from Haman, and gave it to Mordecai. And Esther sent Mordecai over the house of Haman. If you want to write one word into the margin of your Bibles, it would be the word here, promotion. Josephus, the first century Jewish historian, informs us that in the days of the Persian Empire, if you were guilty of treason, there would be an immediate forfeiture of your property, your possessions, your wealth, to the crown.

It would have included everything. You remember Ahasuerus has promised his wife, Esther, half of his kingdom. He does give her what she requests, but now he gives her the wealthiest estate in the kingdom, beyond the kingdom, to her, and she immediately gave it to Mordecai, who is now prime minister. What a turn of events. What an amazing, incredible turn of events here. If you want to write another word beginning in verse 3 into the margin of your Bible, it would be the word passion.

Look there. Then Esther spoke again to the king, fell at his feet, wept and implored him to avert the evil scheme of Haman the Agagite and his plot, which he had devised against the Jews. The king extended the golden scepter to Esther, so Esther arose and stood before the king. Now, some believe that this is a separate event, and I want to make a point because, and I need to tell you a few things in order to do that. I believe this is at the same time that Mordecai is being promoted, the same conversation, the same event.

The king's scepter is simply another way of signifying that she still has his approval and she can ask what she will as she stands back, having fallen down weeping at his or before his throne. What that means is that Mordecai and Esther are still there. In fact, down in verse 7, the king will answer both of them.

They're both in his presence. What that tells us is that Esther and Mordecai, whose lives are now saved, don't say, you know what? That takes care of it.

Let's go out and just relax for a week or two. Our lives are spared. That's really all that mattered. No.

Even after Mordecai is promoted, their lives are guaranteed safety. It's then that Esther falls down and she can't hold it back any longer. All of that emotion panted off. She releases it in tears. The king says, you know, you still have my attention.

She stands. She makes her request. The heart of her request is in the middle of verse five, where she asks, Let it be written to revoke the letters devised by Haman.

That's it, basically. Can you somehow revoke the letters devised by Haman? Now, the king isn't all that concerned. In fact, a little later on in verse seven, in fact, let me just sort of summarize it for you.

This is what he says to her, basically. Look, I've given you Haman's estate. I've given, you know, the station of Haman to Mordecai, who's now prime minister. And now you want me to revoke and eat it. You need to understand this is now the law of the Medes and Persians. I can't revoke that.

But I tell you what, you and your cousin, you put your heads together and you come up with something and I'll sign it. The hazardous has found a loophole to his earlier decree. You see, we know from history that he can't revoke, nor would he ever want to. That would signify he'd made a mistake and Persian kings were known for their infallibility.

And so true to his character, what he does here in his callous disregard for life, he says, look, you guys come up with something and I'm going to wiggle out of this. I'm not going to claim any responsibility, but you think up whatever you can think up and I'll sign it and let's change the subject. If you want another word to write next to verse eight, it would be the word permission. The king says, now you write to the Jews as you see fit in the king's name, seal it with the king's signet ring for decree, which is written in the name of the king and sealed with the king's signet ring may not be revoked. In other words, I'm not going to admit my first edict was wrong, but I'll let you write, craft another one and I'll sign that second edict and we'll send it around. So Mordecai draws up these letters.

He's obviously the primary author. Esther's looking over his shoulder, no doubt in the same presence of Mordecai and the scribes. It's written in plural form letters, which indicates it's also translated in all of the different languages throughout the kingdom that would need to have it in their native tongue in order to understand it. Now the letter, and I'm going to summarize for the sake of time, basically gives the Jews several rights, legal rights that they had seen forfeited in that first edict.

Look at verse 11. In them, that is these letters, the king granted the Jews who were in each and every city the right to assemble. That Hebrew verb literally means to muster an army. They can literally gather an army to defend themselves. And he goes on to say just that, to defend their lives, to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate the entire army of any people or province which might attack them, including children and women, and to plunder their spoil on one day in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month. The Jews have just been given legal right to mount an army, to take up personal arms, to go get their pistol and put real bullets in it, to defend themselves even if it means killing a Persian citizen. In fact, they're given the right to plunder the Persians, those who come against them to try to take their lives. What Mordecai, by the way, is doing here in this edict is quoting Haman's earlier edict word for word. What he's doing is counterbalancing the edict of Haman with this new edict. The Jews now have the ability to respond exactly like the Persians have been given the ability to initiate. Look at verse 14. And the couriers, Pony Express mounts up, they are hastened and impelled by the king's command and they go out riding on the royal steeds.

And now the news is literally galloping from Susa to the Sudan. Two months earlier the Pony Express had delivered an edict of death to the Jews. Now they're about to deliver an edict of life to the Jews. What this edict effectively does is communicate to everyone, and you need to understand this, everyone is basically encouraged to restrain themselves. It's no longer a matter of law that you must try to kill a Jew. And a Jew doesn't necessarily have to kill a Persian.

In fact, if the Persian doesn't initiate, the Jew doesn't have to defend himself. So basically what this counterbalancing edict says, if you read them between the lines, and everybody would have gotten the message, and they do, as I'll show you later, don't do anything. Let that thirteenth day come and go. Don't pick up a sword. Get a hold of your greed.

Any animosity. Keep it in check and no one dies. By the way, this edict also informed the Persians that they're no longer going against unarmed Jews.

This is not going to be sort of easy pickings and plundering. They will be risking their own lives because now the Jews will have their swords ready in self-defense. This is a brilliant counterbalance to an unchangeable edict.

Just absolutely masterful Mordecai was. But what a turn of events here too. And before we go too quickly ahead, can we back up in history and just try to imagine, if you can for a moment, what it must have been like to be a Jew reading that first edict? You're going to die on the thirteenth day of the month Adar. I mean, imagine getting in your mailbox tomorrow when you come home from work or you go out and get your mail out of the mailbox when you see the mailman come by at around 2.30 or 3 o'clock, and it says on the thirteenth of December your neighbor has the right to kill you, take your property, empty your bank accounts, get the keys to your vehicles.

It's all his on the thirteenth day of December. It's exactly what this has told the Jews. For two months since that first edict that made its way around the kingdom, the Jews and you, if you were one of them, would have worn sackcloth and ashes.

You've been mourning and grief and terror. You have imagined the horror of the thirteenth day of Adar, what that would be like for you and your family, your friends, your co-workers, your neighbors have been effectively commanded by the prime minister to wipe you off the face of the earth, and they can in the process take your homes and your possessions and your bank accounts for themselves, which gives them quite an incentive to do so. Can you imagine the suspicions mounting, the tension developing every day? It'd get to the point where no one would dare look at a Persian in the eye.

No Jew would want to infringe or offend in any way, and a Persian would probably drop his head thinking, if I look at that Jew, he's going to think I've got plans. What's even worse is along the way this is, you know, those people, you know, they must have been a threat to the government somehow. All we do is we get an edict that they've got to be removed from planet earth. There's got to be a reason for this kingdom-wide edict. In fact, you discover in the edict that the king has effectively thrown his weight on your side. All of the princes and the officials were told, side with them for the most part. No wonder as the news leaks out first around the palace at Susa that a celebration immediately begins. In fact, look at verse 15. It informs us that Mordecai went out from the presence of the king in royal robes of blue and white with a large crown of gold and a garment of fine linen and purple.

These are, by the way, the royal colors of the ancient kingdom of Persia. And the city of Susa shouted and rejoiced. And for the Jews, there was light and gladness and joy and honor. We're even told in verse 17 that many of the people of the land became Jews. Some would believe that they literally aligned themselves to the Jews whenever the thirteenth day appeared or came.

I think we have every reason to take this text at face value. What we have here is we have Gentiles becoming proselytes to the Jewish faith, like Rahab who'd heard the rumors of Israel coming and she was ready and she left everything she knew. In fact, she married an Israelite.

Or like Ruth who left her Moabitess heritage and the pagan idolatry of her people and adopted the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. What you have happening here, the city of Susa is celebrating this night, especially for the Jewish people. Did you notice in verse 16 that for the Jews everything was light?

I love that. It's a word that could be translated hope. Hope is the reversal of darkness. Everything is reversed. Darkness is now light. Sadness is now gladness. Grief is now joy.

Disrespect is now honor. And the Persian Pony Express is at full speed. Can you imagine? They're galloping across the Sahara Desert. They're rushing along the banks of the Euphrates River down into India, up into northern Africa. There's another word you can write into the margin of your Bibles.

It's the word protection. The day of massacre is about to dawn. The Jews are vastly outnumbered. Napoleon once remarked tongue in cheek that God was on the side of the largest army.

That's the way the world thinks. Add to that the fact that there will be evidently Persians who have been waiting, scheming, planning, conniving. I'm going to get that guy's house, his cart, his cattle, his possessions. Verse 1 of chapter 9 opens. Now in the 12th month, that is the month Adar, on the 13th day when the king's command and edict were about to be executed, on the day when the enemies of the Jews, watch this, hoped to gain the mastery over them.

They had hope. Notice in verse 1 further, but it was turned to the contrary so that the Jews themselves gained the mastery over those who hated them, those who came against them. So fighting evidently did break out around the kingdom. Since the Jews are able to defend themselves after one day of fighting, in fact after two as I'll show you in a moment, there's not one record of any Jew dying.

Not one. However, most notable among the Persians who died, verses 6 to 10 inform us, are the ten sons of Haman. Then Esther does something surprising. Look at verse 13 where Esther goes back to the king and she begs for one more day for the Jews to defend themselves.

Now why would she do that? Evidently she's heard of a plot there primarily in Susa, the text seems to indicate it took place in and around the palace, more than likely fomented by those loyal to Haman, those loyal to the sons of Haman, and they're not really all that tickled with the fact that we now have Mordecai as prime minister. We liked Haman. We liked his ten sons. Esther perhaps found out about that and she asks the king in verse 13 to display the bodies of the ten sons of Haman who've already been killed in battle, to further discourage any more killing.

She wants them publicly displayed as a warning against any further palace plot. Verse 16 summarizes these two days of fighting. We read, now the rest of the Jews who were in the king's provinces assembled to defend their lives and rid themselves of their enemies and they, this is a summary statement, killed 75,000 of those who hated them but they did not lay hands on their plunder. And you might think after reading that as I did, 75,000 Persian citizens means there must have been fighting all throughout the kingdom.

This must have been a bloodbath. I thought the same until I discovered in one historical document the Persian kingdom during this particular period of time in history is estimated to be right around 50 million people. Only 75,000 out of 50 million. And the reason I tell you that statistic is because you need to see then that God has obviously turned the hearts of the Persian citizens toward the Jews. I want you to notice three times we're told the same thing and God doesn't repeat himself just for the sake of repetition.

In verse 10, in verse 15, and in verse 16, Ezra the author is careful to let us know what? The Jews did not lay hands on their plunder. The Jews did not lay hands on their plunder.

They merely defended their lives. Have you ever been ripped off? Do you lose any sleep over it? Have you ever been mistreated by one of the higher ups in your company?

And then you got a promotion over them? Well looky there. Now who will I have do all that over time? Let's pray about it. I mean this is your chance. Get even. I mean nobody will know.

It's legal. You might even look good. What would you do to your enemy if you had the chance? You may not use a gun. You might not use a sword. But you might use a ballpoint pen to write a letter. That will get them. Or you might send an email.

Or you might use your tongue. The enemy of our soul knows so well that within us, apart from the Spirit of God, we still fall under the same description of humanity. There is in our flesh not one good thing. So when those kinds of things happen to you and to me, is it any surprise that the enemy tends to show up?

I can't help but admire the Jewish people even more here because they didn't have what we have in scripture further in the New Covenant to further clarify for us the will of God. For instance where Paul writes, never pay back evil for evil. If possible, and I love this text, if possible, if possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. I mean sometimes it isn't up to you. Sometimes there isn't peace and you've done everything you can do.

But so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Leave room, he says, for the wrath of God, for it is written, vengeance is mine, I will repay. The Lord says, I'm going to fix everything one day. I'm going to make things right. In the meantime, do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12. Beloved, learn from these Jews here, they refuse to do any of that. And listen, don't think for a moment that the Persians didn't notice.

Oh man, did they ever. They will be unbelievably amazed at that. That a person can literally walk away from revenge. That somehow that person can harness those thoughts of greed and vindication. Ladies and gentlemen, not only did the Jews gain mastery over their enemies this day, the Jews gained mastery over themselves. And that kind of reaction, by the way, then and now, that kind of reaction gives our God to a watching world great honor.

Great honor. When you choose not to get back or get even, not only does God receive greater honor, but your testimony receives greater credibility than ever before. And there may be some people like these Persians who say, you know, your God is greater than any of my gods because my gods don't help me, allow me, lead me, empower me to walk away from what I've just seen you walk away from. And so God is honored on this day and the celebration begins. As God's people, we have the unique opportunity to reflect his character in the way we respond to insult and intentional injury. I pray that God will give us grace to respond biblically as we put this lesson into practice.

Thanks for listening today to Wisdom for the Heart. Our teacher is Steven Davey. This is the time of year when students are finalizing their plans for the fall. If you're a college graduate, let me ask you a question. How would your life be changed if you set aside one year to study God's word, experience authentic Christian community, grow in discipleship, study in Israel, and earn your master's degree in theological studies? Steven is also the founder and president of Shepherd's Theological Seminary. Shepherd's Seminary has launched a program called Shepherd's Institute. This unique one-year program offers a life-changing opportunity to all believers, no matter your vocation. Shepherd's Institute invites you to invest one year of your life to equip yourself for the rest of your life. Learn more at shepherds.edu and plan to study with us next year. If we can assist you anyway with our ministry, you can write to us at info at wisdomonline.org. Our number is 866-48-bible or 866-482-4253. I'm Scott Wiley. I thank you for listening. Join us next time for more wisdom for the heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-26 04:22:37 / 2023-09-26 04:32:26 / 10

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