Cross Words: The God of reversals

By Isaiah Pauley

We all know the thrill of a comeback. There’s nothing like watching your favorite team win the game after being down the entire time. Those moments when the tables are turned. The tide shifts. And the underdog comes out on top. Well, that’s exactly what happens in Esther 9.

“Now in the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, on the thirteenth day of the same, when the king’s command and edict were about to be carried out, on the very day when the enemies of the Jews hoped to gain the mastery over them, the reverse occurred: the Jews gained mastery over those who hated them” (Esth. 9:1 ESV).

If you’ve been reading these articles on Esther, you know this is a huge deal. After Haman’s dumb plan to destroy the Jews (Esth. 3), Esther bravely approaches King Ahasuerus on the matter (Esth. 5). And in chapter 8, we see Esther and Mordecai making a new edict to save the Jews. As Landon Dowden writes, “In the final scenes of Esther, we see God reverse what the enemies of his people intended to achieve, and we see him grant rest and relief for his people.”

The Bible continues, “The Jews gathered in their cities throughout all the provinces of King Ahasuerus to lay hands on those who sought their harm. And no one could stand against them, for the fear of them had fallen on all peoples. All the officials of the provinces and the satraps and the governors and the royal agents also helped the Jews, for the fear of Mordecai had fallen on them” (v. 2-3 ESV).

Here we see how God makes every ethnic group fear the Jews. We see how He provides support from the Persian government. And we continue to see His sovereignty at work in the silence. Verses 5 through 11 explain the destruction of those against the Jews. In fact, in verses 7 through 9, the Bible informs us of the ten sons of Haman being killed.

Justice is being served. The Jews are making a comeback. And the king hears about it.

“And the king said to Queen Esther, ‘In Susa the citadel the Jews have killed and destroyed 500 men and also the ten sons to Haman. What then have they done in the rest of the king’s provinces! Now what is your wish? It shall be granted you. And what further is your request? It shall be fulfilled’” (v. 12 ESV).

God is sovereign over the king, and Esther approaches him again with a request. “And Esther said, ‘If it please the king, let the Jews who are in Susa be allowed tomorrow also to do according to this day’s edict. And let the ten sons of Haman be hanged on the gallows’” (v. 13 ESV).

By the time all is said and done, God uses the Jews to get revenge on their enemies over the course of two days. And as verses 14 through 16 testify, the outcome is grand. Thousands upon thousands of their enemies are killed. The tables have surely been turned.

There are two things I want to draw from this text. First, we must recognize the God of grace.

Dowden explains, “None who died in Susa or the provinces on the thirteenth or fourteenth days of the month of Adar were innocent.” But that’s not all. He continues, “Here again is a visible picture of what we all deserve: death for our sin and rebellion against God.”

We all, like Haman and the evil pagans, are rebels against God. We deserve eternal death and separation from Him. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespass, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved” (Eph. 2:4-5 ESV).

Only through Christ are we freed from the wrath of God. Only in Him do we find forgiveness. We must trust the God of grace.

Secondly, we must recognize the God of reversals.

I don’t know about you, but there have been several times in my life where God has turned the tables on my plans. I remember graduating high school two years ago. As I walked across the stage to receive my diploma, the following words were read: “We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps” (Prov. 16:9 NLT).

Looking back on that day, I can promise you that my life looks much different than I ever imagined. But that’s because my ways aren’t God’s ways, and my thoughts aren’t God’s thoughts (see Isa. 55:8-9).

I’m not sure what type of reversals you’re experiencing today. Things might look a whole lot different than you intended. But you can be encouraged to know that even if your situation looks drastically different than you ever dreamed, God is still sovereign. God is still in control. And you can trust the God of reversals.

By Isaiah Pauley

Isaiah Pauley is the Minister of Worship for Faith Baptist Church in Mason, W.Va. Find more at Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author.

Isaiah Pauley is the Minister of Worship for Faith Baptist Church in Mason, W.Va. Find more at Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author.