Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Arc de Triumph

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Canonical Reading Plan for May 31, Est 6-10

Today's readings are Est 6-10.

The rest of Esther's story is a case study on how God intervenes in the lives of His own, protecting them, even when they're unaware.

King Xerxes (Ahasuerus), unable to sleep, reads about Mordecai and how he secretly warned the king about a planned attack (Est 6:1-3). In the Persian culture, it was an embarrassment for the king to neglect honoring anyone who had benefited him. The king approaches Haman for an idea about how to honor Mordecai. Haman, thinking the king intends to honor him, comes up with an elaborate and lush way for the king to recognize Mordecai (Est 6:4-10). Haman’s lack of humility will be his downfall.

But Haman struggles with another problem as well. His relationship with the king is not as close as he thinks. Haman believes he has value to the king and is owed recognition and reward. He believes the things he has done for the king have earned him honor. Haman is like so many people who believe the good things they do will garner God’s favor.

With astonishing suddenness, Haman realizes he's made a huge mistake. The reality of his situation humiliates and scares him (Est 6:10-13).

Esther reveals Haman’s plan to the king and, ironically, Haman ends up being hanged on the gallows he had intended for Mordecai (Est 7:1-10). Herein is another lesson. Haman self-righteously judged Mordecai to be a rebellious man and plotted his execution. In the end, Haman is the rebellious man, manipulating the king for his own purposes. But, those who judge others will be judged by the measure they pronounce judgment (Mt 7:2).

Esther’s symbolic role changes, as does Mordecai’s. Now, a woman acts as a mediator for God’s chosen people. She is willing to sacrifice everything for their welfare and preservation. She functions under the wisdom and direction of Mordecai, but it is Esther who goes to the king as an advocate of the people (Est 8:1-14). Esther’s relationship not only saves her people but Mordecai is set up in a position of honor, and the Jews celebrate by having a huge feast (Est 8:15-16). All these events are parallels to the gospel story in which Jesus saves those who are united to Him (Jhn 17:20-21), sets them up in a high place (Hab 3:18-19) and has a feast to celebrate His relationship to them (Rev 19:6-8).

The end results are that Esther is honored, Mordecai is elevated to second in the kingdom, the Jews are saved, and their enemies are destroyed (Est 9:1-19), yet another lesson in how God saves His people and brings wrath down on their enemies. A special feast is inaugurated to commemorate the preservation of the Jews in a foreign land (Est 9:20-32). The book ends with Esther as queen and Mordecai second in rank to the king (Est 10:1-3).

God has blessed the Jews returning to Jerusalem, but He has blessed those who stayed behind as well. Why? To show the Persians His might and power. Those who stayed behind were witnesses to the presence of God among all people. 
The Book of Esther has all the elements of the gospel. There is a people who are sentenced to death (the Jews), an accuser (Haman), an advocate (Esther), one who works behind the scenes to elevate the advocate (Mordecai), a king (Ahasuerus). The king has a heart for truth and justice, a story of glorious redemption and the elimination of all the enemies of God’s people.

We should keep in mind that the roles portrayed here are only faint shadows of God the Father (the king), the Son (Esther) and the Spirit (Mordecai). These people are far from perfect and frequently operate according to the flesh, but the underlying lessons remain. God provides for and protects His people through a divinely appointed mediator and advocate. Those who believe in His only Son have the assurance of a victory far greater than that of Esther, Mordecai and their people.

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