God oversees all history and many of the things that happened in the Book of Esther were beyond anyone's control except the control of God.
The Book of Esther is filled with irony. Many of the events calculated to harm the Jews turned out unexpectedly in their favor.
Queen Vashti, a Persian, was deposed so that Esther, a Jewess, could become queen over a Gentile kingdom and save her people, the Jews.
Haman, once exalted, was brought down, and Mordecai the Jew who once was hated, was honored and exalted.
A decree that would have wiped out the Jews was overruled by another decree which led to the destruction of nearly 76,000 enemies of the Jews. This victory brought about the Jewish feast of Purim.
Purim is celebrated yearly to help the Jews remember that God is in control and that His people should remain faithful and worship and serve their God.
This terrible hatred that is recorded here against God's people, Israel, gives us an illustration of the outburst of anti-Semitism that is coming at the end of the age. It will be aimed at the total annihilation of the Jews just as this was.
Jeremiah wrote about the persecution that will come on the Jews in the end time.
Jeremiah 30:5-7; "For thus saith the LORD; We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace. 6: Ask ye now, and see whether a man doth travail with child? wherefore do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail, and all faces are turned into paleness? 7: Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob's trouble; but he shall be saved out of it."
God promises to save the Jews from total destruction in the end times and He tells of this in Zechariah 12:2-3 & 9. “Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem. 3: And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it. 9: And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.”
The fate of the end-time enemies of the Jews will be similar to what happened to the enemies of the Jews in Shushan (Susa) and the Persian Empire. Haman's horrible end, impaled on a stick, illustrates the fall of the Antichrist. Revelation 19:20. “And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.”
The Antichrist will be the most terrible hater and persecutor the Jews will ever have, and the one that all preceding anti-Semitic leaders point forward to.
The ten sons of Haman may also prefigure the Antichrist's ten-kingdom confederation that is going to crash in ruin with him at his terrible end.
The writer of the Book of Esther began with a description of the greatness of Ahasuerus and ends on the same note. Midway through the book, Mordecai the Jew is elevated to power and becomes the deliverer of his people against an evil element that had attained power under the king.
This closing study in Esther may seem like an anticlimax because the exciting part of the story is over. Chapter 9 detailed the victory when Mordecai the Jew became prime minister and took action. Mordecai’s decree provided deliverance of the Jews and saved the kingdom from destruction. The last section of the book serves to remind us that God is always in control.
The Feast of Purim is in remembrance of the deliverance accomplished by Esther and Mordecai in the days of the Persian Empire, some 500 years before Christ. It’s still celebrated today because God wants the Jewish people to never forget this deliverance and that God is always in control. It will remain a very important day forever in their history.
This is also true in the spiritual application of the story. The lessons learned from this book picture the beginning of deliverance in a Christian's experience that will never be forgotten.
There are several things here that God wants us to remember. The first is the fruit of victory.
Esther 9:17-19. (RSV)“This was on the thirteenth day of the month of Adar, and on the fourteenth day they rested and made that a day of feasting and gladness. But the Jews who were in Susa gathered on the thirteenth day and on the fourteenth, and rested on the fifteenth day, making that a day of feasting and gladness. Therefore the Jews of the villages, who live in the open towns, hold the fourteenth day of the month of Adar as a day for gladness and feasting and holiday making, and a day on which they send choice portions to one another.”
If you’ve been following along in this book it should be evident that this describes the believer enjoying the fruit of the Spirit. There’s a definite parallel between the continual conflict in this book and the problem in the Christian's life to gain victory over the flesh.
Every believer has the desire to enjoy what the New Testament calls the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, meekness, faithfulness, self-control, the virtues of a truly Christian experience. Freedom like this comes from the victory gained portrayed by the events in this book. God reminds us we can't have the fruits without allowing the Holy Spirit to guide us. When we depend on Him, we actually experience these wonderful truths.
Did the kingdom of Persia experience these blessings while Haman was in the prime minister's seat?" Haman pictures the flesh ruling in our life. Was there any joy and feasting and gladness and holiday while Haman was in power? None whatever! When Haman ruled, it resulted in confusion, mourning, weeping, and despair in the kingdom.
This is a description of someone who is sincerely trying to do his best for God, but has never learned what God teaches in terms of dependence on the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Until we learn this, Haman is in control, and our experience is an up and down experience. Victory in our Christian life doesn’t guarantee freedom from sickness, sorrow, heartache, pressure, or danger but we can experience an inner quietness of joy, peace and rest at the very time of our trouble. This can be going on at the same time that outward circumstances are making things difficult.
The Lord warned, "In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world," John 16:33b. Deliverance doesn’t come by a change in our conditions, it comes from the Holy Spirit indwelling us and giving our spirit strength and peace despite the circumstances.
When we’re put in circumstances where we’re overwhelmed we can ask God for help and get deliverance. We are meant to experience, in our body, the dying of the Lord Jesus so that we can experience the power of the risen Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:8-10. “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9: Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; 10: Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.” When we realize we are dead to the world and alive in Christ, then we’ll experience deliverance and victory over Satan and this life.
I want to explain again some of the things this book has to teach us. The first thing was the exposure of Haman’s true nature. His name is given to us in full, Haman the Agagite. Agag was the king of the Amalekites and God has pronounced eternal enmity against them because Agag was opposed to all God wanted to do. Here is Haman the Agagite, the son of Hammedatha, the enemy of all the Jews. His goals are to attain prominence and to destroy God’s people. Haman is a picture of our enemy within, the ego, the self-life, the desire for dominance and prominence.
The first step in deliverance is to recognize our need but this is more difficult than it sounds. We justify the things that cause our problems and make excuses for them. It’s like putting syrup labels on bottles of poison. That just makes them all the more deadly, doesn't it?
No wonder it’s difficult to recognize the voice of the devil in our experience because he comes disguised as being unselfishly concerned for our best interests. The Bible tells us how to recognize the voice of the flesh. That is the first step in victory.
God also shows us that a new decree has been issued. Esther 9:25a “But when Esther came before the king, he gave orders in writing that his wicked plot, which he had devised against the Jews should come upon his [Haman's] own head” (RSV)
When Haman was hung on the gallows it pictured the defeat of Satan by Christ at the cross. When Christ died, the old law that promised only condemnation was overcome and the new law of grace brought salvation.
The hanging of Haman’s sons aptly pictures the defeat of Satan’s influence in the life of the believer.
When a person accepted Christ, the new law overcame the old law and brought a new life where Jesus Christ dwells within us and sets us free from the old law of sin and death. What a difference that is.
When Christ died for our sins and redeemed us unto God it meant the difference between trying to be saved by our works (which we never could) and letting Christ’s work save us, (which it can).
God wants us to remember that we were set free from sin through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross, and it’s not only for this life but for all eternity.
In verse three of chapter ten, the book closes with another point God wants us to remember, the sweet taste of victory.
Esther 10: “And the king Ahasuerus laid a tribute upon the land, and upon the isles of the sea. 2: And all the acts of his power and of his might, and the declaration of the greatness of Mordecai, whereunto the king advanced him, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia? 3: For Mordecai the Jew was next unto king Ahasuerus, and great among the Jews, and accepted of the multitude of his brethren, seeking the wealth of his people, and speaking peace to all his seed.”
The king laid a forced payment of taxes on his realm. He probably needed money to pay for a disastrous attempt to conquer Greece that secular history records. The “isles of the sea” would refer to Cyprus in the Mediterranean which was under Persian rule at that time. The author of the Book of Esther cites his information source as the chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia and he invites the reader to check the facts of his account.
Mordecai's greatness is emphasized in verse 3. He was next to the king in power and was great among his own kinsmen and was their hero and deliverer. The events of the book end about 470 B.C., with Mordecai at the height of his power.
Mordecai held this position at least eight years and then secular history records another man serving in the place of power next to the king. How long, or if, Mordecai remained in some other governmental capacity, is unknown.
Later history records that Ahasuerus’ reign came to an end in 464 B.C. when his chief adviser Artabanus, the captain of the guard, assassinated King Ahasuerus.
At the start of this book, King Ahasuerus was the prominent figure and it told about all his power and might. At the close, he is still king but it ends with a statement of the greatness of Mordecai. As long as Mordecai was on the scene he sought the best interests of his people, Israel.
Back in chapter 2, verse 21, we read there were evil men within that kingdom that wanted to kill king Ahasuerus and take his position and power. If Mordecai hadn’t thwarted that plan, this story wouldn’t be recorded here. So the closing verses praise Mordecai, who was once hated because he was a Jew. He was promoted by the Persian king and revered by the Jews.
He was their hero, their great patriot, because he spoke to the king on their behalf against all odds. However, the Book of Esther nowhere states that Mordecai was a righteous man or that he followed the Law of Moses, but God still used him despite that fact.
In this story, there was a power behind the throne that was subject to the king and it became publicly recognized. That power was Mordecai. He pictures the Holy Spirit in our lives who is always subject to the will of the king (the believer) because he never forces the king to do his will. This is only true of the Christian because only the Christian is indwelt by the Holy Spirit.
Our will has the final decision on what takes place in our kingdom, but the power behind our throne, through the will of the king, is the Holy Spirit.
This is a picture of the Spirit-filled life. This is the open secret of every successful Christian. Our old nature is still there and we can still do wrong if we chose. But it’s through the yielding of our will and dependence on the Holy Spirit that there can be power and peace in our personal kingdom.
When we walk in total dependence on God, it brings us peace, and joy, and a purpose driven life. This is the Spirit-filled life, relying on the indwelling Holy Spirit to meet every need.
If you have never become a Christian, a believer in Jesus Christ and His finished work on Calvary on your behalf, now is the accepted time. 2 Corinthians 6:2b: “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation."
Jesus has already paid for your sins with His sinless blood. That debt is paid but you still have to accept that gift for it to take affect. All God asks in return is that you acknowledge you are a sinner and can do nothing to save yourself from hell. He wants you to accept the forgiveness He so freely offers. You’ll spend eternity in heaven with Him and while you’re here on earth, He’ll give you the Holy Spirit to guide and care for you.
These messages on the Book of Esther opened with the statement that the Book of Esther tells how God preserved His disobedient people, including Esther and Mordecai, not just the faithful back in Palestine. That is encouraging to us because He still does that today.
I want to close with this statement:
God still preserves His People,
and will for all eternity.
Make sure you are one of His people today!