The Christian experience may sometimes be marred by trouble but we are also assured of God’s continual guidance as we go through life. In every time and place of conflict, God's will and God's provision for us is victory. The book of Esther is one such story. It details the process God used to deliver His people from an ancient and determined enemy.
God promises the Christian that no matter where you go, He knows and cares about you. 2 Corinthians 2:14. “Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place."
In the early chapters we saw Haman plot the destruction of the people of God and, without the kings knowledge, issue an edict that would destroy all the Jews at a set time. Then we saw how Mordecai, working through Queen Esther, brought Haman’s plan to the attention of the king. The king had Haman hanged on the gallows that had been prepared for Mordecai.
Mordecai was put in the place of power formerly held by Haman and a new edict was issued that allowed the Jews to defend themselves on the day previously set for their destruction.
Here again we have a forward pointing picture of the new law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus that sets the believer free from the law of sin and death.
These Biblical truths in the Old Testament point forward to things to come in the New Testament under the New Covenant in Christ’s blood. They make these Old Testament stories come alive. Use the Old Testament as a kind of visual aid to understanding the New Testament and you’ll find it’s a living book constantly picturing truths about Christ.
The actual climax of the story of Esther comes in chapter 9 and it’s limited to half a chapter. The first 8 chapters were involved with bringing it to this moment. They show how God is working all the time in the lives of His People to bring victory.
By way of comparison, the moment in your life when you got saved is really a very small part of the work that God has been doing to bring you to that place. God has an appointed time for everything, and when you realized your need, you accepted God’s offer of salvation.
We all have an appointment with God and we’ll keep it and be on time for it. Hebrews 9:27. “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:” This states that all men face death and when the time comes, there is also a judgment. Will your verdict be “innocent because of accepting forgiveness bought by Christ’s blood” or will it be “guilty by reason of refusing Christ’s forgiveness bought by His blood?”
Esther 9:1-15. “Now in the twelfth month, that is, the month Adar, on the 13th. day of the same, when the king's commandment and his decree drew near to be put in execution, in the day that the enemies of the Jews hoped to have power over them, (though it was turned to the contrary, that the Jews had rule over them that hated them;) 2: The Jews gathered themselves together in their cities throughout all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus, to lay hand on such as sought their hurt: and no man could withstand them; for the fear of them fell upon all people. 3: And all the rulers of the provinces, and the lieutenants, and the deputies, and officers of the king, helped the Jews; because the fear of Mordecai fell upon them. 4: For Mordecai was great in the king's house, and his fame went out throughout all the provinces: for this man Mordecai waxed greater and greater. 5: Thus the Jews smote all their enemies with the stroke of the sword, and slaughter, and destruction, and did what they would unto those that hated them. 6: And in Shushan the palace the Jews slew and destroyed five hundred men. 7: And Parshandatha, and Dalphon, and Aspatha, 8: And Poratha, and Adalia, and Aridatha, 9: And Parmashta, and Arisai, and Aridai, and Vajezatha, 10: The ten sons of Haman the son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews, slew they; but on the spoil laid they not their hand. 11: On that day the number of those that were slain in Shushan the palace was brought before the king. 12: And the king said unto Esther the queen, The Jews have slain and destroyed five hundred men in Shushan the palace, and the ten sons of Haman; what have they done in the rest of the king's provinces? now what is thy petition? and it shall be granted thee: or what is thy request further? and it shall be done. 13: Then said Esther, If it please the king, let it be granted to the Jews which are in Shushan to do tomorrow also according unto this day's decree, and let Haman's ten sons be hanged upon the gallows. 14: And the king commanded it so to be done: and the decree was given at Shushan; and they hanged Haman's ten sons. 15: For the Jews that were in Shushan gathered themselves together on the fourteenth day also of the month Adar, and slew three hundred men at Shushan; but on the prey they laid not their hand.”
When the appointed day came, the tables were turned on the enemies of the Jews. The Jews assembled in all the cities and the government authorities joined them. Those who attacked the Jews probably thought this was a chance to get rich at someone else's expense but with no backing from the authorities they lost all the battles.
God had stepped in and put Mordecai in a position of authority where he could issue a counter edict that enabled the Jews to fight back.
Here two unchangeable laws had hit head-on. One law permitted the enemies of the Jews to destroy them, and the other one permitted the Jews to destroy the enemy.
In our life, when God teaches us something He appoints a time when we’ll be put to the test. God never teaches us something that he doesn't intend us to use. In other words, God has appointed a day when what we learn from His Word will be experienced in our lives.
God used the day Haman had set to test the faith of the Jews in the Persian Kingdom and that testing resulted in victory for the Jews. God’s People knew they had the power and the authority to fight right from the throne itself.
Mordecai again pictures the Holy Spirit at work in our lives. He was the power behind God’s people in this battle, just as the Holy Spirit is the power in the life of the Believer.
The Jews killed 500 men plus Haman's 10 sons in the capitol city. When the king asked Esther what more she wanted, she asked that the Jews in the capitol city be given one more day to kill those who tried to destroy them and also that the bodies of Haman's 10 sons be impaled on the gallows as a warning to others. On the second day the Jews killed 300 more men. They didn’t do this for money like Haman wanted to. It’s stated three times that the Jews didn’t lay their hands on the plunder.
Under the first law, the natural reaction of the Jews would have been to defend themselves, but they would be breaking the law of the land. The new law, however, allowed them to fight and defend themselves with the full authority and approval of the king.
In Romans 7, the Apostle Paul wrote something that explains the parallel to this in our lives as believers. Romans 7:5, “For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.”
While we were unsaved, we were living in the flesh and our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our lives to bear fruit for death.
That’s what we have pictured in the first law that ordered the enemies of the Jews to attack and kill them on this particular day. So Paul says, "While we were living in the flesh," that is, in our own struggle to obey the Law, our sinful passions were aroused by the Law.
Here’s an example. Someone tells you not to do something. What’s the first thing you want to do? You want to do exactly that! The fact that the law prohibits it arouses your sinful nature. So the Law works “to bring forth fruit unto death.” Then Paul says, “But now we (the believer) are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.” Romans 7:6.
A new law is in effect in the life of the believer, the law of the Spirit of life in Jesus Christ. That law frees us from the condemnation of the old Law and enables us to serve God.
Notice also that "all the princes of the provinces and the satraps and the governors and the royal officials" helped the Jews. That’s something, isn't it? If there hadn’t been a second law, these people would have fought against them.
In our lives, this pictures the new law of life, brought about through the New Covenant in Christ’s blood. It can turn even those circumstances that seemed to be against us, (the Haman edict in our life) into helpers in our battle with Satan.
Verses 16-32. “But the other Jews that were in the king's provinces gathered themselves together, and stood for their lives, and had rest from their enemies, and slew of their foes seventy and five thousand, but they laid not their hands on the prey, 17: On the thirteenth day of the month Adar; and on the fourteenth day of the same rested they, and made it a day of feasting and gladness.” 18: But the Jews that were at Shushan assembled together on the thirteenth day thereof; and on the fourteenth thereof; and on the fifteenth day of the same they rested, and made it a day of feasting and gladness. 19: Therefore the Jews of the villages, that dwelt in the unwalled towns, made the fourteenth day of the month Adar a day of gladness and feasting, and a good day, and of sending portions one to another."
In the territory held by King Ahasuerus, 75,000 of the Jew’s enemies were killed in one day, but not one cent was taken in plunder, even in the capitol city. Susa was the only place that the fighting lasted for two days. For that reason the Jews in Susa celebrated the victory on the 15th day of the 12th month while Jews elsewhere celebrated on the 14th.
Verse 20: And Mordecai wrote these things, and sent letters unto all the Jews that were in all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus, both nigh and far, 21: To stablish this among them, that they should keep the fourteenth day of the month Adar, and the fifteenth day of the same, yearly, 22: As the days wherein the Jews rested from their enemies, and the month which was turned unto them from sorrow to joy, and from mourning into a good day: that they should make them days of feasting and joy, and of sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor. 23: And the Jews undertook to do as they had begun, and as Mordecai had written unto them; 24: Because Haman the son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had devised against the Jews to destroy them, and had cast Pur, that is, the lot, to consume them, and to destroy them; 25: But when Esther came before the king, he commanded by letters that his wicked device, which he devised against the Jews, should return upon his own head, and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows 26: Wherefore they called these days Purim after the name of Pur. Therefore for all the words of this letter, and of that which they had seen concerning this matter, and which had come unto them, 27: The Jews ordained, and took upon them, and upon their seed, and upon all such as joined themselves unto them, so as it should not fail, that they would keep these two days according to their writing, and according to their appointed time every year; 28: And that these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, every family, every province, and every city; and that these days of Purim should not fail from among the Jews, nor the memorial of them perish from their seed. 29: Then Esther the queen, the daughter of Abihail, and Mordecai the Jew, wrote with all authority, to confirm this second letter of Purim. 30: And he sent the letters unto all the Jews, to the hundred twenty and seven provinces of the kingdom of Ahasuerus, with words of peace and truth, 31: To confirm these days of Purim in their times appointed, according as Mordecai the Jew and Esther the queen had enjoined them, and as they had decreed for themselves and for their seed, the matters of the fastings and their cry. 32: And the decree of Esther confirmed these matters of Purim; and it was written in the book.”
Esther and Mordecai wrote letters calling for a feast to be celebrated by the Jews throughout the Persian Empire. It was a two day feast and it was to be held yearly, and a copy of the letter was placed in the royal archives which would correspond to our Congressional Record.
The feast celebrating the liberation of the Jews was called Purim because of Haman's use of the pur, the lot (or rolling the dice) to determine the time when he would destroy the Jews which is recorded in Esther 3:7. This feast wasn’t established by the Mosaic Law, it was commanded by Mordecai (verses 20-28) and by Esther (verses 29-32).
It was to be celebrated annually in recognition of the goodness of God in protecting His people from extinction. It included eating, rejoicing, and giving food, and sharing with the poor. The sad note here is that actual thanksgiving to God is only implied, not openly stated.
This story would have had a very different ending and Israel as a Nation would not exist apart from the fact that God’s hand was in complete control in every situation.
There is more typology apparent here. The empire is a picture of the circle of our influence but the capital city pictures our own life, and there was double victory in the capital city. Much more happens in our own life in terms of deliverance from Satan than others ever find out about and it means at least twice as much to us as it would to anyone else.
Another picture comes from this phrase: "They slew their enemies, but laid no hand on the plunder." This is mentioned three times in this account. They simply wanted victory. There was no attempt at self gain.
When you want victory simply because it’s God's will and you chose it rather than personal gain, it’s a genuine spiritual victory. When a person wants to fulfill all the desire of God’s heart, we know the Holy Spirit (the Mordecai in us) has done a genuine work of grace in that life.
I repeat the verse quoted in the first of this message; “Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.” 2 Corinthians 2:14.