TOPIC: UNCOMMON ERA
Bible in a Year: Proverbs 8–9; 2 Corinthians 3
Key Verse: The Jews agreed to continue the celebration they had begun, doing what Mordecai had written to them. Esther 9:23
Today’s Scripture: Esther 9:20–23, 29–32
One of the unique characteristics of Israel’s history is how tragedy frequently produced celebration. The tragedy of four centuries of slavery in Egypt produced Passover. The desecration of Israel’s temple by the Seleucids in the second century bc led to the feast of Hanukkah, which commemorated the temple’s rededication. And the threat of genocide raised against the Jews in the book of Esther resulted in the Feast of Purim.
In each case, tragedy or near tragedy was resolved and the celebration honored the God of rescue. In Israel today, one of the fascinating features of the celebration of Purim is how it includes children. They dress up in costumes and some as the characters in the Esther story. It’s a fun and interesting way to encourage the children to engage in the stories of rescue that mark their history. By: Bill Crowder
Despite living much of his life as a pagan, the Roman emperor Constantine (ad 272–337) implemented reforms that stopped the systematic persecution of Christians. He also instituted the calendar we use, dividing all of history into bc (before Christ) and ad (anno Domini, or “in the year of the Lord”).
A move to secularize this system has changed the labels to ce (Common Era) and bce (before the Common Era). Some people point to this as yet another example of how the world keeps God out. But God hasn’t gone anywhere. Regardless of the name, our calendar still centers itself around the reality of Jesus’ life on earth.
In the Bible, the book of Esther is unusual in that it contains no specific mention of God. Yet the story it tells is one of God’s deliverance. Banished from their homeland, the Jewish people lived in a country indifferent to Him. A powerful government official wanted to kill them all (Esther 3:8–9, 12–14). Yet through Queen Esther and her cousin Mordecai, God delivered His people, a story still celebrated to this day in the Jewish holiday of Purim (9:20–32).
Regardless of how the world chooses to respond to Him now, Jesus changed everything. He introduced us to an uncommon era—one full of genuine hope and promise. All we need to do is look around us. We’ll see Him. By: Tim Gustafson
Reflect: How do you react to instances where it seems like God is being “banished”? In what ways do you see Him today?
Prayer: Father, thank You for the history-changing reality of Your Son, Jesus.