Day 147

by Rev Joel Yong

Esther 6:4-5
And the king said, Who is in the court? Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the king’s palace to speak to the king about having Mordecai hanged on the gallows that he had prepared for him. And the king’s young men told him, Haman is there, standing in the court. And the king said, Let him come in.

Haman planned to speak to the king about hanging Mordecai.
But God was watching and at the exact moment where he sought to indict Mordecai, the king had insomnia and asked for the royal log to be read to him. And he realized Mordecai saved his life and no reward had yet been awarded.

So he gets Haman to give out the reward to Mordecai.

No wonder David wrote:

Psalm 23:5
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

God is bigger than any enemy you face.
He can even elevate you in the face of your enemy!

Why wouldn’t you trust yourself to Him in the face of evil schemes raised against you?

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Day 146

by Rev Joel Yong

Esther 5:11-14
And Haman recounted to them the splendor of his riches, the number of his sons, all the promotions with which the king had honored him, and how he had advanced him above the officials and the servants of the king. Then Haman said, Even Queen Esther let no one but me come with the king to the feast she prepared. And tomorrow also I am invited by her together with the king. Yet all this is worth nothing to me, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate. Then his wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him, Let a gallows fifty cubits high be made, and in the morning tell the king to have Mordecai hanged upon it. Then go joyfully with the king to the feast. This idea pleased Haman, and he had the gallows made.

Haman had a lot of luxuries but he was not happy so long as his enemy was not dead.
He was not able to let go of his hatred to enjoy what he already had in life.

So though he was rich, I would say – he was genuinely poor.

That is what hatred is like – it imprisons you and leaves you worse off. The one in suffering is the one who lets hatred so blind him that he can no longer enjoy life.

Let go.
Hatred has no joyful end or reward for the one harboring it in his heart.

Day 145

by Rev Joel Yong

Esther 4:13-14
Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

Esther expressed there were obstacles in her way that made it difficult if not impossible to show up before the king unsummoned.

Mordecai replied to urge her to do her part to plead for the Jews. He was certain someone else would be used by God to help the Jews if she did not play her part but she would be held accountable for failing to help.

What urgent call to help God’s people, has been placed before you?
It may not be stopping genocide but still it is a request presented to help, in the ministry of God’s Kingdom.

What will your response be?
Will it be based on how inconvenient it is for you?
Or will it be based simply on what the right thing is, however difficult it might be.

Day 144

by Rev Joel Yong

Esther 2:21-23
In those days, as Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate, Bigthan and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs, who guarded the threshold, became angry and sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus. And this came to the knowledge of Mordecai, and he told it to Queen Esther, and Esther told the king in the name of Mordecai. When the affair was investigated and found to be so, the men were both hanged on the gallows. And it was recorded in the book of the chronicles in the presence of the king.

He served a foreign king.
But instead of allowing an assassination plot to manifest and have this foreign king slain- Mordecai was dutiful and loyal and saved the king’s life through his disclosure.

Such behavior shows Mordecai’s acknowledgment of God’s sovereignty.
That even foreign rulers are put in place by God.
Rulers Mordecai may not like.

It also shows Mordecai sees that even a non-Jewish life is equally precious in God’s eyes and so he does what is right – which is to save it!

Often I hear people complain about governments and react with condemnation, taking every opportunity to criticize …
But in so doing, they fail to remember the good things these governments have done and are doing in spite of mistakes here and there …
In so doing, they also forget the sovereign hand of God is still at work even when we cannot see it …

And we have a duty as citizens and residents of the land to each play our part – not as critics or as online keyboard warriors – but as dutiful citizens of the land, not just earning our keep but each actively contributing to community building and to nation building.

Day 143

by Rev Joel Yong

Esther 1:10-12
On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha and Abagtha, Zethar and Carkas, the seven eunuchs who served in the presence of King Ahasuerus, to bring Queen Vashti before the king with her royal crown, in order to show the peoples and the princes her beauty, for she was lovely to look at. But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s command delivered by the eunuchs. At this the king became enraged, and his anger burned within him.

He ruled 127 provinces.
But had problems ruling his household well and problems ruling himself.

Some scholars believe that the king, in his drunken state, had asked his queen to come before him and his guests, naked and dressed only with her crown – and that is why Vashti declined.

His lack of self-rule and loss of control of his household led to a split between him and his wife and he began a recruitment for a new queen the next day.

This incident gave us insight into the kind of man the king was. And why Esther was subsequently afraid to ask him for help to save her people initially.

Day 142

by Rev Joel Yong

Nehemiah 13:19
As soon as it began to grow dark at the gates of Jerusalem before the Sabbath, I commanded that the doors should be shut and gave orders that they should not be opened until after the Sabbath. And I stationed some of my servants at the gates, that no load might be kept brought in on the Sabbath day.

To prevent the people from sinning by working on the Sabbath- Nehemiah locked the gates. He shut the distractions out.

What is distracting you in your attempts to walk closely with God? Perhaps it’s time to shut some gates in your life …

Judgement of God

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Readings: Rev 8:1-13; Psalm 136:1-26

READ (Verse chosen for reflection)
Revelation 8:13 “Then I looked, and I heard an eagle crying with a loud voice as it flew directly overhead, “Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth, at the blasts of the other trumpets that the three angels are about to blow!”

REFLECT
Revelation 8:13 prepares the readers for what is to come in chapter 9, which speaks of the three dreadful series of judgments upon those who do not believe. When we read of the plagues and destruction in both chapters 8 and 9, we might ask the question: “Is God’s judgement against the unbelievers too severe?”

Personally, I do not think so. I do not think we serve a God who merely punishes or disciplines people for the fun of it. The purpose of God’s judgments, dreadful as they are, is to warn and leave room for unbelievers to repent and choose Him as Lord. So even as God is righteous and just (that is why the judgement must come), He is also compassionate and merciful. Unfortunately, Revelation 9:20-21 is a typical case of human sinfulness; where we are told that even as the judgements described seem very severe and dreadful, unbelievers shall continue to be unrepentant, worship other idols and indulge in sexual immorality.

RELATE
Many years ago, someone asked me whether the book of Revelation is a “doom and gloom” book of the Bible. I answered that even though Revelation speaks of God’s judgments in the end of time; it also reveals God’s love and mercy for all people in this world. The fact that Revelation is given to us in this present age signifies that God wants us to understand this book; not to be overtly frightened by it; but to increase in our faith and worship of the Almighty.

For example, the seven churches were warned through John at Patmos to turn from their evil ways; this is so that when Christ comes back again, He will find them faithful. As we read about the seven churches, we ourselves might also be convicted of various sins in our lives and choose to repent. The very fact that we are able to do so in this present age is a tremendous blessing and grace from the Lord. May we remember this and not falter in our walk with our Abba Father.

REST
In this Advent Season, as we await the Second Coming of the Royal Shepherd; may He who is able help us to “keep awake” and live a life that is true to Him. Amen.