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!

Revelation 14.6-13 – Last call

In March of this year Robyn, the boys, and I flew to Dubai to see some old friends who used to live here, but now live in Abu Dhabi. On the way back, we arrived at the airport nice and early (the only sensible way to travel!), allowed ourselves time for something to eat, a look around the shops, to douse ourselves in fragrances we had no intention of buying, and to stroll to our gate. We knew we were departing from the smaller gates as the flight to Bahrain is a short one, so we could walk rather than take the shuttle train. We grossly underestimated what a ‘20 minute walk’ actually was with toddlers and accompanying paraphernalia, and, long story short, ran on to the plane all hot and bothered as the crew were being told to take their seats for departure (almost, anyway). We had never been the ‘last call’ people, and believe me when I say, I never intend to be so again.

Today in Revelation we see a last call of sorts, too.

6 Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people.

7 And he said with a loud voice,

“Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.”

8 Another angel, a second, followed, saying,

“Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who made all nations drink the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality.”

9 And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice,

“If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.”

12 Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.

13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying,

“Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.”

“Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”  

The last call, then, comes in line with Matthew 24.14 wherein we read And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. The first angel is proclaiming the Gospel to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. Then the last call for grace, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.”

Basically, worship God and give Him glory, because this is your last chance to do so. The fact that this opportunity is even a thing at all is testament to God’s grace, mercy, longsuffering, patience, kindness, and love. But it really is last chance. As bad as I felt charging on to the plane and being ‘those people’, can you imagine what it will be like if we wait until literally one of the last points in space and time to make a decision for God?

The alternative is not good, is it? The second angel announces that organised rebellion against God has now had its day (“Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who made all nations drink the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality.”), and the third says that if anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath.

The cup Jesus prayed to pass from Him when He said “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” is this cup, the cup of God’s wrath, the cup of his anger.

How grateful should we be that Jesus took that cup for us, drank the wine of God’s wrath from the cup of His anger.

So, as goes with travelling, as goes here, too. We don’t arrive at the gate seconds before it closes, and, we shouldn’t wait for the last call to call on the name of the Lord to be saved, to acknowledge and accept that Jesus paid the price for our sins, and to humbly and willingly accept the gift of forgiveness, new life, and ultimately, eternal life that He so freely offers.

In the meantime, now we are at the airport waiting for our flight, our work has significance and dignity (for their deeds follow them!”), so let’s do it to the best of our abilities today, for His name’s sake, and for His glory.