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.”

vv.3-4

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!

The Gospel in Zephaniah

Where is the Gospel in Zephaniah?

From coming judgement earlier in the book, when we get to 3.15 we see

The LORD has taken away the judgments against you;

he has cleared away your enemies.

The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst;

you shall never again fear evil.

How did this happen then?

God Himself has taken away the judgements against you.

This is the constant them of Scripture, all of the Old Testament looks ahead to it, and the New Testament is pretty clear how this happened.

1 Peter 2.24

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

John 1.29  

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

1 John 2.2

He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

Then just look what God does for us despite our sinfulness, look what God does for us despite our shame, look what God does for us despite ourselves…

17 The LORD your God is in your midst,

a mighty one who will save;

he will rejoice over you with gladness;

he will quiet you by his love;

he will exult over you with loud singing.

18 I will gather those of you who mourn for the festival,

so that you will no longer suffer reproach.

19 Behold, at that time I will deal

with all your oppressors.

And I will save the lame

and gather the outcast,

and I will change their shame into praise

and renown in all the earth.

20 At that time I will bring you in,

at the time when I gather you together;

for I will make you renowned and praised

among all the peoples of the earth,

when I restore your fortunes

before your eyes,” says the LORD.

Look what God will do for His people.

I will gather those of you who mourn for the festival,

I will deal with all your oppressors

I will save the lame and gather the outcast

I will change their shame into praise and renown in all the earth

I will bring you in

I will make you renowned and praised among all the peoples of the earth

This will happen before the very eyes of those who have confessed with their mouths that Jesus is Lord and believed in their hearts that God raised Him from the dead, look what God will do.

The Minor Prophets tend to give the same core message, don’t they, that as people, we are naturally rebellious and we have departed from the life God intended us and desires us to live.

Despite this, however, they also show that God is 100% committed, willing, and wanting to do good to us anyway – in His amazing, saving, justifying, sanctifying, and ultimately glorifying grace.

How can God treat His people with grace and love when, really, they deserve to be forsaken?

This is only resolved finally in the life, death, resurrection, and exaltation of Jesus Christ.

And if you respond to this in faith, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, look what God will do.