Greatness – Esther 10

Esther 10 is by far the shortest chapter of the book, and if you haven’t read it recently you can do so here

On the surface, it seems to be about how great Mordecai is. We see that the King is pretty powerful and mighty (v.2), and that Mordecai was honoured pretty substantially (v.2). Mordecai seems to occupy the role of Prime Minister (v.3), and was well thought of by all he encountered.

The last few words of the book, again, foreshadow and preview Jesus, did you notice?

“…he sought the welfare of his people and spoke peace to all his people.”

As we wrap up Esther, consider these things today;

  1. There are no miracles recorded in the book, yet we still have the sense that God is great.
  2. God’s sovereign plans and purposes all come to pass, yet through the actions and decisions of people with free will.
  3. Esther intervened for her people from a position of influence, from being next to the throne, as does Jesus for you right now (cf. Hebrews 7.25).

We don’t need to get lost in the search for the miraculous, the out-of-the-ordinary, because God is at work in the day-to-day interactions of your life. Where you are, who you are with, when you are there is all part of His good and perfect plan. Partner with Him, join with Him, exercise your God-given free will in a way that glorifies Him and builds up those put in your path. 

Overall through Esther we’ve seen someone taken from relative obscurity (John 1.46), put in a position of honour and influence (Philippians 2.9-11), who intercedes for God’s people in a situation that seems bleak and destined for ruin (John 12.44-50). 

Therein lies the beauty of the Word of God;

are we talking about Esther or are we talking about Jesus?

On the road to Emmaus, Jesus explained to His travelling companions what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself. No doubt this story of despair, redemption, victory, seeking God, and providence was part of that. 

Recording and Remembering – Esther 9

How often we forget the good things in our life, the good done to us, how often we forget the good done for us when things get tough.

If you haven’t read Esther 9 recently, you can do so here

Expecting and fearing defeat, God’s people find that with the help of the King, the reverse occurred (v.1). Their victory is complete and we see the principle of Romans 8.31 shining through, 

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Interestingly, one line of thinking says that the total victory requested by Esther (v.13) is an outworking of God’s decree in 1 Samuel 15 where the ancestors of Haman (3.1, Haman the Agagite) are destined for destruction. 

God’s people are delivered from death and told to remember their deliverance (vv.20-22).

How quickly we forget the good done to us, for us, with us, the good done on our behalf. Recording the good done for us and remembering it with feasting and gladness, with gifts of food to one another and gifts to the poor is never a bad thing, is it?

If God’s people here are told to record and remember their deliverance from earthly circumstances that were leading to death, how much more should we, eternally redeemed through the blood of Jesus record and remember this? 

The recording has already been taken care of, bigger picture, hasn’t it? Read your New Testament and you will see the birth, life, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. How this recording looks in your own life is down to you though; Scripture in the home, time spend reading the Word with family, prayer with and for others, daily time with the Lord…your recording will be what you make of it. 

The remembrance is again very personal. There are things we are commanded to do as believers – make disciples, baptism, and communion to name but three. Again, your daily hour-to-hour remembrance is down to you.

Do all your thoughts, words, and deeds go through the filter of ‘God loved me so much as to deliver me from impending death, therefore I should/shouldn’t…‘?

Today – and every day – work this recording and remembering into your life, and see how it changes you from the inside out, and see how it changes you for the better!

Replace // Revoke – Esther 8

We would be forgiven for thinking that now Haman is out of the way (7.10) that everything is going to be ok, but the decree to kill all of the Jews in the Empire is still valid (cf. 1.19) as we get into Esther 8. If you haven’t read the chapter recently, you can do so here

The honour given to Haman is bestowed on Mordecai, and the shame that was intended for Mordecai and his people found its way to Haman (vv.1-2). Esther is intense in her emotions as she approaches the King again (v.3), and the King states that the old letter and proclamation be replaced by a new (v.8). We see that the old directive cannot be revoked, but it can be replaced. There is an urgency with this new message (v.14), and the good news produces in God’s people light and gladness and joy and honour. These feelings came from the good news that God’s people would be able to take vengeance on their enemies, to triumph over their enemies, to gather and defend their lives.

Again when reading the book of Esther, even though not specifically mentioned by name or in Christian-ese terminology, we see a wonderful preview and picture of Jesus and the New Covenant that He came, lived, died, and rose to secure. The old letter from the King cannot be revoked, nor should it be really.

Once a Sovereign declares something, do we really want them to revoke and go back on their word? Would we take seriously a leader who says one thing, waits a while, then changes their mind? If this leader is wise, the first declaration will have been long thought-over and saturated with wisdom. When people in their fallen sinful humanity behave as such, is it right for that leader simply to revoke what they said? I think of that old phrase about the tail wagging the dog…

Rather, here we see that Xerxes stuck to his word, but also gave provision for the deliverance of the innocent (v.8). This is a wonderful preview of the Old and New Covenants. The Old was initiated in good faith, with good conscience, and with the intention of furthering the kingdom (3.8-11). Now, it is important to say that, obviously, Xerxes was deceived into making this agreement and did so not knowing the full picture, but, in principle, he thought he was acting in the best interests of his kingdom.

Likewise, the Old Covenant was given for the best interests of God’s Kingdom and His people. But, people being people, the sinful and fallen humanity twisted and broke this covenant to the point where a New Covenant was needed, one that sought to reestablish the original intention of the first, one that rested on a much more trustworthy person, and one that truly did seek what was best for God’s people.

How grateful we are that we live now under this New Covenant, that this New Covenant doesn’t rest on us to uphold it (for it would surely have been broken by now), and that this New Covenant truly does provide what is best for God’s people.

Guilty // Innocent – Esther 7

For an Old Testament book that is often overlooked or forgotten, Esther is proving to be a wonderful Christ-centered text to read, isn’t it. If you haven’t read Esther 7 recently, you can do so here.

The story picks up at the feast arranged in 5.8, and Esther finally lays out her request before the King,

“If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be granted me for my wish, and my people for my request. For we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated. If we had been sold merely as slaves, men and women, I would have been silent, for our affliction is not to be compared with the loss to the king.”

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Here is where Esther finally identifies herself as Jewish (my people…we have…I and my people…we had been…our affliction…). Following her request, Esther lays the responsibility square where it belongs, “A foe and enemy! This wicked Haman!” Inviting him to a private party with the King and Queen proved a very shrewd move indeed.

Xerxes is filled with wrath and, sensibly for a man who commanded the sea to be whipped, takes a walk in the garden (v.7). Haman begs for his life, trips, falls on to the couch Esther is sitting on, incriminates himself even more, and is taken away to be executed (vv.7-8). He is then impaled on the stake he had prepared for Mordecai, as in 2.23, and the wrath of the king abated.

Esther 7 gives us a wonderful type (preview, foreshadow) of the substitutionary death of Jesus. Here in Esther, the guilty party dies to abate the wrath of the king and save the innocent. However, flip that around and we see the story of Jesus shining though; the innocent dies to satisfy the wrath coming against the guilty.

Just think, are we talking here about Haman or Jesus?

A substitutionary death to calm the anger of a King.

A substitutionary death to save God’s people.

A substitutionary death to turn away wrath.

A substitutionary death to absorb punishment.

A substitutionary death.

See, when we look, when we think, when we pause, and when we see, Jesus is in every book of the Bible. All of the law and the prophets point to Him, and it is those He came to fulfill. Here in Esther 7, His death that gave us life is shining through!

More Providence- Esther 6

In chapter 5 we saw another strong foreshadowing of Jesus, and today more providential circumstances are on show. If you haven’t read Esther 6 recently, you can do so here

The providential circumstances are on show in vv.1-6, and we see that nothing happens by accident. Of all the books to be brought, of all the pages to be opened, of all the accounts to be read, the King hears about Mordecai. There are no happy accidents when we trust our lives to the Lord. 

Providentially, Haman is in the court at the right time (v.5) and he lays out a wonderful proposed gesture for the man whom the king delights to honour. Sadly, for Haman at least, this plan backfires spectacularly and the King ends up saying “…as you have said, and do so to Mordecai the Jew…”.

Haman then has to eat a huge slice of humble pie and personally and physically dresses Mordecai in the royal robes and parades him around as an example of what happens to those the King favours (v.11).

This is really the beginning of the end for Haman, and he finally receives some sensible counsel when he is told “If Mordecai…is of the Jewish people, you will not overcome him but will surely fall before him.”

The arranging of circumstances, people, places, timings, books, pages, comings, and goings by the Lord to facilitate His good and perfect will is just amazing, isn’t it. Reading this passage, I couldn’t help but think of this, from Proverbs

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I would encourage you today just to pause. 

Pause and look around at what is happening in your life. Who is happening in your life. 

Pause and look at what the Lord is doing and allowing in your life. 

We have many plans that, if we are honest, are often self-exalting. We have seen here in Esther that when we plan our own climb, we are often unknowingly plotting our own fall. Rather than seek to prosper ourselves, let us trust in a good, loving God who has promised to work all things for our good.

Pause, pray, and look for His providence.