Esther 8-10

Esther 8-10…Spiritual warfare.

Esther achieved Haman’s defeat (Est. 4–7), but something had to be done about the royal decree to destroy the Jews in Persia. Since this edict cannot be revoked, Ahasuerus gives Esther permission to make another decree in the king’s name allowing the Jews to “annihilate” any who might attack them (8:1–14). Esther even gets permission for a second day of fighting, and tens of thousands of her Persian enemies end up dead (8:15–9:19).

Such violence seems excessive to us, especially since Christ’s plan for His church does not include the right to conquer with the sword. But this does not mean the Jews sinned in this case. We read that the Jews laid “no hands on the plunder” that could have been theirs after they slaughtered the Persians (9:4–10, 15–16). This tells us the Jews engaged in holy battle against the Lord’s enemies since His servants were not allowed to profit from such conflicts (Josh. 6–7).

All sorts of wild theories about spiritual warfare abound in the church today. Nevertheless, there is a real war going on every time the Gospel is preached. All people are inclined from birth to reject Jesus and will only trust Him if the Holy Spirit conquers their hearts and enables them to trust in the Lord. One of our chief weapons in this battle is prayer, and we must fight for God’s kingdom by loving our enemies and praying for the conversion of others.

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Esther 5-7

Esther 5-7…God is faithful.

The book of Esther shows again that God keeps His word even when His people do not. Even in the exile, our Father sovereignly orchestrated history to give His people a second chance to destroy their foes. Saul failed, but another Benjaminite named Mordecai, with the help of his cousin Esther, accomplished God’s purpose against Agag and the Amalekites. And by the Lord’s grace, Mordecai and Esther did so without being exemplary saints.

God is not named explicitly in the book of Esther, but He is present nonetheless. Mordecai “happened” to hear of the plot to kill Ahasuerus (2:19–23). His warning to Ahasuerus made the king favor him when the ruler “happened” to have a sleepless night (6:1–11). These events all “happened” to converge and put Mordecai and Esther in place as agents through which God was again faithful to His sinful people to save them from annihilation.

When we look back over our lives, we often find that the Lord was conspicuously present during those times when we thought He was absent. During the times when we suffer from doubts about God’s love for us, we should not focus on whether or not we “feel” His presence. The Lord may choose to hide Himself for a time, but He never leaves us. Those with persevering faith trust that God is present and directing their lives even if He seems to be a million miles away.

Esther 1-4

Esther 1-4

We read the story of Esther in the book that bears her name. Esther 1 gives us the story of a grand banquet that the king of Persia held. In the midst of the celebration, the king decided to call forth his beautiful queen, Vashti, to come and dance before his friends at the feast. When Vashti refused, King Ahasuerus banished her from the court.

In chapter 2, we learn that after Vashti was sent away, the king embarked on a search for a new queen. After searching high and low in his realm, the king’s advisors found a Jewess named Hadassah, who was being raised under the name Esther by her cousin Mordecai. After many months of preparation, Esther won the king’s favor and became queen.

Esther 3 describes the plot of Haman, one of the king’s important advisors, to annihilate the Jews in Persia because of Mordecai’s refusal to bow to Haman. Truly, this was a key turning point in the history of redemption. If Haman had succeeded, the Jews would have been wiped out, and there would be no Messiah and no salvation for the world.

Great mourning broke out among the Jews, culminating in Mordecai’s plea for Esther to intervene in her people’s behalf. Fearing for her own life, Esther initially refused (4:1–11). But Mordecai warned her that if she did not involve herself, the Jews would be rescued by the hand of another. However, Esther herself would not escape death if she thought she could preserve her life by doing nothing (vv. 12–14). Upon hearing that, Esther vowed to go before the king upon threat of death (vv. 15–17).

Her courage is even more remarkable when we consider that the name of God is not mentioned in the book of Esther. This is the author’s way of depicting the hidden hand of providence, the Lord’s working in ways that are not immediately discernible to us. Esther trusted this providence even when she had no idea how things would turn out for her.