Esther’s Serenity

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Today is the final day of my quick jaunt through the Book of Esther… I personally believe the Book is really more about Mordecai than Esther, but it doesn’t really matter… I know there are some people who think the Book is allegorical—with Esther being a Type of the Church… But that doesn’t really hold water, in that if Esther is the Church, then Persian king would have to be a Type of Christ… And that’s obviously not the case…

I think that Esther and Mordecai better represent what they actually were—Jewish decedents of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob… And we are told they—like the Apostle Paul after them—were from the Tribe of Benjamin… The Tribe they were from could be eschatologically significant… And obviously Haman was an antichrist type figure… The Persian king is better compared to Joseph’s Pharaoh or Daniel’s Nebuchadnezzar… A pagan monarch influenced by Hebrews who were placed at their disposal by Jehovah God for His Purposes…

So, here’s the end of the brief Book of Esther… I like her Hebrew name, Hadassah, better, actually… But I will go with the name she was called by in Scripture…

So on March 7 the two decrees of the king were put into effect. On that day, the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, but quite the opposite happened. It was the Jews who overpowered their enemies. 2 The Jews gathered in their cities throughout all the king’s provinces to attack anyone who tried to harm them. But no one could make a stand against them, for everyone was afraid of them. 3 And all the nobles of the provinces, the highest officers, the governors, and the royal officials helped the Jews for fear of Mordecai. 4 For Mordecai had been promoted in the king’s palace, and his fame spread throughout all the provinces as he became more and more powerful (Est 9:1-4 NLT).

Mordecai had been promoted to something akin to a Prime Minister in the Persian Empire.

So the Jews went ahead on the appointed day and struck down their enemies with the sword. They killed and annihilated their enemies and did as they pleased with those who hated them. 6 In the fortress of Susa itself, the Jews killed 500 men. 7 They also killed Parshandatha, Dalphon, Aspatha, 8 Poratha, Adalia, Aridatha, 9 Parmashta, Arisai, Aridai, and Vaizatha— 10 the ten sons of Haman son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews. But they did not take any plunder (Est 9:5-10 NLT).

This warfare is akin to that of Joshua or David… And yet another reason I cannot see Esther or Mordecai as being a Type of the Church. The weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty, and the Great Commission given by the Messiah Jesus Christ is:

Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and, lo, I am with you always (Matt 28:19-20 KJV).

That very day, when the king was informed of the number of people killed in the fortress of Susa, 12 he called for Queen Esther. He said, “The Jews have killed 500 men in the fortress of Susa alone, as well as Haman’s ten sons. If they have done that here, what has happened in the rest of the provinces? But now, what more do you want? It will be granted to you; tell me and I will do it.”13 Esther responded, “If it please the king, give the Jews in Susa permission to do again tomorrow as they have done today, and let the bodies of Haman’s ten sons be impaled on a pole” (Est (9:11-13 NLT).

Again, Haman was a foreshadowing of the Antichrist. He had the spirit of the antichrist in that he wanted to wipe out all the Jewish people.

So the king agreed, and the decree was announced in Susa. And they impaled the bodies of Haman’s ten sons. 15 Then the Jews at Susa gathered together on March 8 and killed 300 more men, and again they took no plunder. 16 Meanwhile, the other Jews throughout the king’s provinces had gathered together to defend their lives. They gained relief from all their enemies, killing 75,000 of those who hated them. But they did not take any plunder. 17 This was done throughout the provinces on March 7, and on March 8 they rested, celebrating their victory with a day of feasting and gladness. 18 (The Jews at Susa killed their enemies on March 7 and again on March 8, then rested on March 9, making that their day of feasting and gladness.) 19 So to this day, rural Jews living in remote villages celebrate an annual festival and holiday on the appointed day in late winter, when they rejoice and send gifts of food to each other (Est 9:14-19 NLT).

Had these enemies not been destroyed, the Jewish people would have lived in daily fear of their demonically-inspired vengeance. The wise conduct of Esther and Mordecai gave perfect peace to their people.

Mordecai recorded these events and sent letters to the Jews near and far, throughout all the provinces of King Xerxes, 21 calling on them to celebrate an annual festival on these two days. 22 He told them to celebrate these days with feasting and gladness and by giving gifts of food to each other and presents to the poor. This would commemorate a time when the Jews gained relief from their enemies, when their sorrow was turned into gladness and their mourning into joy (Est 9:20-22 NLT).

Giving to the poor and needy is a reoccurring theme throughout Hebrew history. And, in fact, this celebration or feast has continued among the Jews, at least in some form, through today.

So the Jews accepted Mordecai’s proposal and adopted this annual custom. 24 Haman son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews, had plotted to crush and destroy them on the date determined by casting lots (the lots were called purim). 25 But when Esther came before the king, he issued a decree causing Haman’s evil plot to backfire, and Haman and his sons were impaled on a sharpened pole. 26 That is why this celebration is called Purim, because it is the ancient word for casting lots (Est 9:23-25 NLT).

An interesting little tidbit of cultural history…

So because of Mordecai’s letter and because of what they had experienced, 27 the Jews throughout the realm agreed to inaugurate this tradition and to pass it on to their descendants and to all who became Jews. They declared they would never fail to celebrate these two prescribed days at the appointed time each year. 28 These days would be remembered and kept from generation to generation and celebrated by every family throughout the provinces and cities of the empire. This Festival of Purim would never cease to be celebrated among the Jews, nor would the memory of what happened ever die out among their descendants (Est 9:26-28 NLT).

The second letter of Purim was issued to confirm and establish the observance. It went forth not as an edict, or in the king’s name, but as a letter in the names of Esther and Mordecai.

Then Queen Esther, the daughter of Abihail, along with Mordecai the Jew, wrote another letter putting the queen’s full authority behind Mordecai’s letter to establish the Festival of Purim. 30 Letters wishing peace and security were sent to the Jews throughout the 127 provinces of the empire of Xerxes. 31 These letters established the Festival of Purim—an annual celebration of these days at the appointed time, decreed by both Mordecai the Jew and Queen Esther. (The people decided to observe this festival, just as they had decided for themselves and their descendants to establish the times of fasting and mourning.) 32 So the command of Esther confirmed the practices of Purim, and it was all written down in the records (Est 9:29-32 NLT).

Many believe that Jesus celebrated the Feast of Purim, and I, too, think it is very likely. Gordon Franz speculates: “Most people are unaware of this, but Jesus celebrated the feast of Purim! In John 5, the Lord Jesus is up in Jerusalem for an unnamed feast. Scholars have debated whether the feast was Passover, Purim, Succoth or even Pentecost (Bowman 1971). Some have objected to Purim because it is a ‘minor’ feast and not one of the three ‘major’ pilgrimage festivals (Deut. 16:16). That argument is irrelevant because Jesus also celebrated another ‘minor’ holiday, Hanukkah (John 10:22; Franz 1998:25,26). Chronologically, the only feast that makes sense is Purim in AD 28. The feast of John 5 fell on a Sabbath (5:9). The only feast day to fall on a Sabbath between AD 25 and AD 35 was Purim of AD 28 (Faulstich 1986). The Spirit of God intentionally left out the name of the feast because the Lord’s name was deliberately left out of the Book of Esther. In John 5, Jesus healed a man who had an infirmity for 38 years near the Pools of Bethesda (John 5:1-9). It is also the first time in His public ministry that He declared that ‘God was His Father, making Himself equal with God’ (5:18). He also said that He was the ‘Son of God’ (5:25) and the ‘Son of Man’ (5:27).”

In regard to more modern history and the Feast of Purim, Franz also writes: “Adolph Hitler knew about this holiday and its significance in Jewish history. In 1941, Hitler banned the Jewish community in Poland from the observance of Purim. They were forbidden to read the Scroll of Esther and the synagogues were closed on that day (Goodman 1980: 374).”

And, finally, today, the brief—very brief—final chapter of the Book of Esther!

King Xerxes imposed a tribute throughout his empire, even to the distant coastlands. 2 His great achievements and the full account of the greatness of Mordecai, whom the king had promoted, are recorded in The Book of the History of the Kings of Media and Persia. 3 Mordecai the Jew became the prime minister, with authority next to that of King Xerxes himself. He was very great among the Jews, who held him in high esteem, because he continued to work for the good of his people and to speak up for the welfare of all their descendants (Est 10:1-3 NLT).

Mordecai is actually quite an unsung hero of the Old Testament! He can be compared to Joseph and Daniel in many ways—as can Esther, for that matter.  So, thanks for reading through the Book of Esther with me… I actually named this last Esther blog “Esther’s Serenity” because of the double meaning of the word “serenity,” both of which I believe apply.  The first meaning is “the state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled.”  This the meaning with which most are familiar.  But it also means “a title given to a reigning prince or similar dignitary.”  And, of course, Esther was a Queen, so I think both definitions work for her…

“For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, But My lovingkindness will not be removed from you, And My covenant of peace will not be shaken,” Says the LORD who has compassion on you (Isaiah 54:10 NASB).