Thoughts and Reflection
Today we read Ezra instructs the people about their history reminding them of what the Lord has done for them. All of the good things that have happened in their lives are because of God while they are responsible for the bad things. In Esther, we cannot place the glory of God over the glory of man. The Lord will deliver his people and she has come to the kingdom for this time. We are not the owners of our lives but merely stewards.
About This Project
For the year 2022, I decided that my New Year’s Resolution was to read the whole Bible following the Bible in the Year plan presented by Fr. Mike Schmitz. It is a big and bold undertaking. You can follow along by subscribing. Feel free to look at previous day’s post and comment. It’s something we can all learn from together!
1 On the twenty-fourth day of this month the Israelites, in sackcloth and with dust on their heads, assembled for a fast.
5 The Levites, Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah and Pethahiah said, ‘Stand up and bless Yahwehyour God! ‘Blessed are you, Yahweh our God from everlasting to everlasting, and blessed be your glorious name, surpassing all blessing and praise!
6 ‘You, Yahweh, are the one, only Yahweh, you have created the heavens, the heaven of heavens and all their array, the earth and all it bears, the seas and all they hold. To all of them you give life, and the array of heaven worships you.
7 ‘You are Yahweh God, who chose Abram, brought him out of Ur in Chaldaea and changed his name to Abraham.
8 Finding his heart was faithful to you, you made a covenant with him, to give the country of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites and the Girgashites to him and his descendants. And you have made good your promises, for you are upright.
10 You displayed signs and wonders against Pharaoh, against all his servants and all the people of his land; for you knew how arrogantly they treated them. You won a reputation which you keep to this day.
11 You opened up the sea in front of them: they walked on dry ground right through the sea. Into the depths you hurled their pursuers like a stone into the raging waters.
15 For their hunger you gave them bread from heaven, for their thirst you brought them water out of a rock, and you told them to go in and take possession of the country which you had sworn to give them.
17 They refused to obey, forgetful of the wonders which you had worked for them; they grew obstinate and made up their minds to return to their slavery in Egypt. But because you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, patient and rich in faithful love, you did not abandon them!
18 ‘Even when they cast themselves a calf out of molten metal and said, “This is your God who brought you up from Egypt!” and committed monstrous impieties,
19 you, in your great compassion, did not abandon them in the desert: the pillar of cloud did not leave them, leading them on their path by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, lighting the way ahead of them by which they were to go.
23 You gave them as many children as there are stars in the sky, and brought them into the country which you had promised their ancestors that they would enter and possess.
24 The children entered and took possession of the country and before them you subdued the country’s inhabitants, the Canaanites, whom you put at their mercy, with their kings and the peoples of the country, for them to treat as they pleased;
25 they captured fortified towns and a fertile countryside, they took possession of houses stocked with all kinds of goods, of storage-wells ready-hewn, of vineyards, olive groves and fruit trees in profusion; so they ate, were full, grew fat and revelled in your great goodness.
26 ‘But they grew disobedient, rebelled against you and thrust your law behind their backs; they slaughtered your prophets who had reproved them to bring them back to you, and committed monstrous impieties.
27 So you put them at the mercy of their enemies who oppressed them. But when they were being oppressed and called to you, you heard them from heaven and because of your great compassion you gave them deliverers who rescued them from their oppressors’ clutches.
28 But once at peace again, again they did what was wrong before you; so you put them at the mercy of their enemies who then became their rulers. When they called to you again, you heard them from heaven and, because of your compassion, rescued them many times.
29 You warned them, to bring them back to your law, but they became arrogant, did not obey your commandments and sinned against your rules, in whose observance is life; they turned a stubborn shoulder, were obstinate, and disobeyed.
30 You were patient with them for many years and warned them by your spirit through your prophets, but they would not listen; so you put them at the mercy of the people of the country.
32 Now, our God — the great God, the Mighty and Awe-inspiring One, maintaining the covenant and your faithful love- count as no small thing this misery which has befallen us, our kings, our princes, our priests, our prophets, and all your people from the times of the Assyrian kings to the present day.
34 Our kings, our princes, our priests and our ancestors did not keep your law or pay attention to your commandments and obligations which you imposed upon them.
35 Even in their own kingdom, despite your great goodness which you bestowed on them, despite the wide and fertile country which you had lavished on them, they did not serve you or renounce their evil deeds.
37 Its abundant produce goes to the kings whom, for our sins, you have set over us, who rule over our persons and over our cattle as they please. We are in great distress.’
1 When Mordecai learned what had happened, he tore his garments and put on sackcloth and ashes. Then he walked into the centre of the city, wailing loudly and bitterly,
3 And in every province, no sooner had the royal command and edict arrived, than among the Jews there was great mourning, fasting, weeping and wailing, and many lay on sackcloth and ashes.
5 Esther then summoned Hathach, an officer whom the king had appointed to wait on her, and ordered him to go to Mordecai and enquire what the matter was and why he was acting in this way.
8 He also gave him a copy of the edict of extermination published in Susa for him to show Esther for her information, with the message that she was to go to the king and implore his favour and plead with him for the race to which she belonged.
9 Hathach came back and told Esther what Mordecai had said;
11 ‘Royal officials and people living in the provinces alike all know that for anyone, man or woman, who approaches the king in the private apartments without having been summoned there, there is only one law: he must die, unless the king, by pointing his golden sceptre towards him, grants him his life. And I have not been summoned to the king for the last thirty days.’
12 These words of Esther were reported to Mordecai,
14 No; if you persist in remaining silent at such a time, relief and deliverance will come to the Jews from another quarter, but both you and your father’s whole family will perish. Who knows? Perhaps you have come to the throne for just such a time as this.’
15 Whereupon Esther sent this reply to Mordecai,
16 ‘Go and assemble all the Jews now in Susa and fast for me. Do not eat or drink day or night for three days. For my part, I and my waiting-women shall keep the same fast, after which I shall go to the king in spite of the law; and if I perish, I perish.’
17 Mordecai went away and carried out Esther’s instructions.
(a) Then calling to mind all the wonderful works of the Lord, he offered this prayer:
(b) Lord, Lord, Almighty King, everything is subject to your power, and there is no one who can withstand you in your determination to save Israel.
(c) You have made heaven and earth, and all the marvels that are under heaven. You are the Master of the universe and no one can resist you, Lord.
(d) You know all things, you, Lord, know that neither pride, self-esteem nor vainglory prompted me to do what I have done: to refuse to prostrate myself before proud Haman. Gladly would I have kissed the soles of his feet, had this assured the safety of Israel.
(e) But what I have done, I have done, rather than place the glory of aman above the glory of God; and I shall not prostrate myself to anyone except, Lord, to you, and, in so doing, I shall not be acting in pride.
(f) And now, Lord God, King, God of Abraham spare your people! For our ruin is being plotted, there are plans to destroy your ancient heritage.
(g) Do not overlook your inheritance, which you redeemed from Egypt to be yours.
(h) Hear my supplication, have mercy on your heritage, and turn our grief into rejoicing, so that we may live, Lord, to hymn your name. Do not suffer the mouths of those who praise you toperish.
(i) And all Israel cried out with all their might, since death was staring them in the face.
(k) Queen Esther also took refuge with the Lord in the mortal peril which had overtaken her. She took off her sumptuous robes and put on sorrowful mourning. Instead of expensive perfumes, she covered her head with ashes and dung. Shemortified her body severely, and the former scenes of her happiness and elegance were now littered with tressestorn from her hair. She besought the Lord God of Israel in these words:
(l) My Lord, our King, the Only One,come to my help, for I am alone and have no helper but you and am about to take my life in my hands.
(m) I have been taught from infancy in the bosom of my family that you, Lord, have chosen Israel out of all the nations and our ancestors out of all before them, to be your heritage for ever; and that you have treated them as you promised.
(n) But we have sinned against you and you have handed us over to our enemies for paying honour to their gods. Lord, you are upright.
(o) But they are not satisfied with the bitterness of our slavery: they have pledged themselves to their idols to abolish the decree that your own lips have uttered, to blot out your heritage,to stop the mouths of those who praise you, to quench your altar and the glory of your House,
(p) and instead to open the mouths of the heathen, to sing the praise of worthless idols and for ever to idolise a king of flesh.
(q) Do not yield your sceptre, Lord, to what does not exist. Never let our ruin be matter for laughter. Turn these plots against their authors, and make an example of the man who leads the attack on us.
(r) Remember, Lord; reveal yourself in the time of our distress. As for me, give me courage, King of gods and Master of all powers!
(s) Put persuasive words into my mouth when I face the lion; change his feeling into hatred for our enemy, so that he may meet his end, and all those like him!
(t) As for ourselves, save us by your hand, and come to my help, for I am alone and have no one but you, Lord.
(u) You have knowledge of all things, and you know that I hate honours from the godless, that I loathe the bed of the uncircumcised, of any foreigner whatever.
(w) You know I am under constraint, that I loathe the symbol of my high position bound round my brow when I appear at court; I loathe it as if it were a filthy rag and do not wear it on my days of leisure.
(x) Your servant has not eaten atHaman’s table, nor taken pleasure in the royal banquets, nor drunk the wine of libations.
(y) Nor has yourservant found pleasure from the day of her promotion until now except in you, Lord, God of Abraham.
(z) O God,whose strength prevails over all, listen to the voice of the desperate, save us from the hand of the wicked, and free me from my heart!
9 Better the corner of a roof to live on than a house shared with a quarrelsome woman.
11 When a cynic is punished, simpletons grow wiser, but someone of understanding acquires knowledge by instruction.