Welcome to Blogging Through the Bible! As I mentioned in my last post, I have added this new category to the blog as I am joining Courtney over at Good Morning Girls on her Bible study. We started September out in Esther and are moving into 1 Peter this week. I am joining her for my personal study, but will be writing about what I am learning here as I feel inspired. I would love you to join me in the study and chime in on Facebook, responding to my post or posting your insights to the Facebook page yourself! The best part is that the materials focus on scripture and really leave room for God to speak to you, rather than reading someone else’s commentary every day. I have added this post to the link up over on Women Living Well’s page. Feel free to click on the image to the right to find other insights and posts in the Blogging Through the Bible series.
Whether you join in or not, I hope you find this new category of posts to be encouraging and inspiring as I work my way through the Bible!
This week ended Esther and began 1 Peter. I noticed that Esther 8 and the first chapter of 1 Peter share a common thread, found actually in Psalm 112:1. There we read
“Praise the Lord. Blessed are those that fear the Lord, who finds great delight in his commands.”
This rings true in the story of Esther. She and Moredcai fear the Lord and must delight in His commands, as they carry the burden on saving the Jewish people. Their hearts are sad and terrified at what Haman is scheming. We see Mordecai wearing sackcloth and ashes at the news of Haman’s decree to annihilate the Jews (4:1) and later we see Esther at the kings feet weeping and begging him to put an end to the evil plan of Haman (8:3).
This also rings true in 1 Peter 1. Peter says in verses 8-9 “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
The comparison here is that believers in both the old and the new testament fear the Lord, delight in His commands and are blessed. Of course, blessing comes in many forms, both physical and spiritual.
In Esther, we see Mordecai and Esther both abundantly blessed with material possessions as they were given Haman’s estate, with their life that was spared by the king’s favor and with their cause being heard and the Jewish people being provided with protection. These blessings came to them because they feared the Lord and delighted in his commands, causing them to be used by the Lord.
In 1 Peter, Peter explains to the Christians of his day that the goal of our faith is salvation and because we have received that, we are filled with inexpressible and glorious joy. This is a blessing that the psalmist is talking about that comes from fearing the Lord and finding delight in His commands.
Another blessing is that we are able to attract people to Christ. Again we have an example in both the old and new testament of believers attracting others to faith in God.
After Esther and Mordecai issue the decree in the king’s behalf allowing the Jewish people to stand and fight the armed men who will be carrying out Haman’s plan and it is delivered to all the provinces, we are told that “many people of other nationalities became Jews because fear of the Jews has seized them” (8:17).
This is an interesting point. I am not aware of any other gentile mass conversions in the Old Testament. Occasionally like Ruth and Rahab God would bring a pagan to faith in Him, but the fact that many people from the Persian Empire came to belief in God is amazing. I was curious about the reason for the conversions being one of fear so I looked to see what Matthew Henry had to say in his commentary and look at what he says:
Observe, When the Jews had joy and gladness then many of the people of the land became Jews. The holy cheerfulness of those that profess religion is a great ornament to their profession, and will invite and encourage others to be religious. The reason here given why so many became Jews at this time is because the fear of the Jews fell upon them. When they observed how wonderfully divine Providence had owned them and wrought for them in this critical juncture, (1.) They thought them great, and considered those happy that were among them; and therefore they came over to them,
That ties into what we find in 1 Peter 1: 8-9:
Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
It is the inexpressible and glorious joy we have from our salvation that will attract others to Christ. And it is this joy the Jews have from being saved from Haman’s evil plan that attracts the Persian people to faith in God. They were able to see God working and wanted that joy rather than the pain that would come from opposing them.
Both examples come out of some severe suffering and terror. We have Haman’s evil scheme terrorizing the Jews in Esther’s day and we have some severe persecution happening in the days that Peter wrote the book of 1 Peter. But the encouragement is the same. No matter now bad our circumstances, we can be assured our lives will attract others to him if we are fearing the Lord, delighting in His commands and experiencing the joy of our salvation. That’s alot of blessings!
I will join with the psalmist and say Praise the Lord! Will you?