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.