Click here to listen to this teaching: The Spoil
[There was a bit of technical difficulty with this recording, so I had to record again. My apologies for the delay.]
Guiding Principle: Sometimes the victory is in seeing the hand or work of God prevail. The victory is in our lives being secured, not in the spoil we take.
Spoil is about our motive in times of battle. It is interesting that four times we find it mentioned that “they laid not their hands to the spoil (or the prey)” (Esther 8:11; 9:10, 15, 16-19). There should be something to that, right? Let’s look further.
The Big Question: Why did the Jews not engage in plundering?
The Simple Answer: This battle was not about spoil. It was started by the Jews’ enemy (Haman) and was about conquering and surviving an underhanded attempt to wipe out an entire nation. It was about Esther finally getting to do what she was put in the palace to do…intercede for her people.
Spoil is connected to a war or military effort. By definition, it is “plunder taken from an enemy in war or a victim in a robbery” (Merriam Webster online). Initially, I thought this was the Jews’ valiant effort to just “not touch it”…but later saw that this was part of their distinction in the battle — that for a bigger purpose they declined what they had a right to take.
Here are a couple of things we can do to apply this lesson on the spoil (please take a listen!):
- Let’s not get greedy with our victory. Achan got greedy (Joshua 7:20-21). Saul got greedy (1 Samuel 15:8-9). Their greed created problems for others. Please note that the victory is proportionate to the battle. We do not get money for mental battles; we receive peace and the clarity to operate with the mind of Christ that already belongs to us. We do not get a new house for an emotional battle; we receive true liberty from oppression, joy, beauty, fresh perspective, etc.
- Let’s watch what we let ourselves believe. In this I mean let’s be like the Bereans in Acts 17:10-15. “These were more noble…in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so”. Let’s not be tricked by cliché phrases and think that this battle is about us. When called to intercede for a nation (and this is more than prayer), the battle is not about us.
When God’s purpose is greater than our inconvenience, we have to consider that God gets the glory another way than through us getting what we want (or think we want at the time). In this case, this righteous people was situated among a heathen king who did not think twice about them before. He married a woman God used and saw up close the desire of God for His people…and this king loved this woman Esther so much that he was willing to give up to half of his kingdom to her to assist her with whatever she wanted. And Esther, wise one that she was, asked for favor for her people.
The people fought only in response to the battle brought to them. They had God…and had no need of spoil. Instead they gave portions (gifts) to each other and celebrated their deliverance!