Devotional # 85. 5/5/14. Esther 8:1-17.
Introduction. Last week we read what seemed like the culmination of the story: Esther revealed that Haman had plotted to kill her and her people, the king was furious and Haman was executed. So how are there 3 chapters left? I can tell you they are worth reading – the story isn’t over!
vv. 1-6. Esther receives all of Haman’s “house” which means all of his possessions and properties. She shares with the king that Mordecai is her cousin so the king promotes him to the position Haman had left. Esther asks the king to retract the law that he had made to kill all of the Jews. She is deeply affected by this, crying and bowing to the ground.
vv. 7-10. The king wishes he could remove the law that he had made to kill all of the Jews but he can’t. Remember when I said that the “law of the Medes and Persians” was unchangeable (from Esther 1, specifically vv. 19-22, Devotional 78). He tells them that he feels bad about the law and that he is on their side (i.e. “I have given Esther the house of Haman” and that he had ordered Haman to be killed). But it seems like he doesn’t really know what to do so he pushes it off on to Mordecai and Esther. Mordecai has the wisdom of God to figure out a loophole: they can write a law in direct contradiction to the first law! So the king signs off on it and Mordecai has all the scribes (writers) copy the law and messengers take it all over the land. This actually shows how ridiculous mans laws can be. Sometimes in the United States we hear about a really weird or stupid law that gets put in place and it makes us shake our heads. The awesome thing about God’s law is that it makes sense to us at our very base understanding of justice but it also makes sense practically and is common sense. When God establishes covenants He will never break them, He will never have to put a contradictory law in place to right some wrong. We can take comfort in knowing that He sees the future as if it’s the present and so is never surprised or confused by a situation. Just think of what Psalm 19:7 says, “The law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.”
vv. 11-14. The law goes out and it allows the Jews to defend themselves from the people who want to kill them. So there are still some people who hate the Jews and, even though they have heard the new, contradicting law, they still want to kill the Jews.
vv. 15-17. Mordecai comes out in flashy clothes (quite different from the sackcloth and ashes he had on earlier). But why was everyone “light and gladness, joy and honor” just because Mordecai came out in fancy robes? McGee notes that it gave everyone joy to see the decree of salvation given to the Jews. Haman’s law sent sadness into the land but the king’s law sent joy out into the land (Source 1). When we recognize that our King has declared salvation we have joy!
When the Jews hear the new law, of course they are excited – they are given a fighting chance to live. So they make a holiday. This is the Feast of Purim that is still celebrated today. I find it very interesting that a lot of the Persians converted to the religion of Judaism. It seems that they were scared of the king because of the protection that he offered the Jews. But there has to be something more. People wouldn’t take up dietary restrictions and the Mosaic law just because, after all the Jews were still going to be attacked. I think it is because of the witness that the Jews had during this difficult time. Yes, they mourned, God never tells us not to mourn but He does tell us to put our faith in Him and trust Him. That is what the Jews did and the people saw it. They also saw God come through for them. They saw Him answer prayer, and He was made real to them. It’s very cool to see that “many people of the land” did follow God.
At our church’s Resurrection Day (some call it Easter) sunrise service I spoke on how Old Testament believers were saved. Read Hebrews 11. Old Testament believers had a forward looking faith in Christ, not with perfect knowledge of the historical details of Christ’s life but with proof that God keeps all of His promises. If God promised that He would send a Redeemer, it was as good as done!
Conclusion. The Lord is amazing providing a way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13) for His people. He used Esther and Mordecai mightily to strengthen His people. More importantly the witness of the Jews during this time was a testimony to the greatness of God, so much that they turned from their pagan religions and followed Him. I hope we have all taken this lesson to heart, that we should be the proper witness God has called us to be, even during trials and difficulties because God is working something much more important than our passing comfort.
- Vernon McGee, Ezra, Nehemiah & Esther, p. 242.