Daily Bible Studies
|Series Theme: Studies in Esther - "For such a time as this"|
Chapter: Esther 8
Passage: Esther 8:1-6
A. Find Out
1. How were Mordecai's circumstances reversed? v.1,2
2. What did Esther then do? v.3
3. What was the king's response? v.4
4. What did Esther then request? v.5
5. What reason did she give for making this plea? v.6
1. What were the circumstances that meant Mordecai was so rewarded?
2. How was Esther again putting herself at risk?
3. How does she show wisdom in her approach?
Two things come together to ensure Mordecai is well-rewarded and which put the king in a good state of mind to receive Esther's plea.
First there is the fact of dealing with Haman. He has become rich by using the king's name, and so the king, having had him hanged, now confiscates his estates and, because he feels Esther has been slighted by Haman, he gives Haman's estate to Esther for her to use as she will. The second thing was that all this business with Haman had interrupted the king's train of thought about rewarding Mordecai, so he now continues with that. He has Mordecai brought in and has his signet ring taken from Haman, and given to Mordecai, as a sign of being his representative.
To confirm his position, Esther appoints him as the controller over the queen's new estate. He is indeed now a powerful man. After he leaves the king's presence (we presume) Esther now picks up the job of pleading for her people. Approaching the king, despite all that has gone on, without him calling for you was still risky, but as she falls before him, he extends the sceptre indicating that she is accepted and can continue. Three times she emphasises that she realises that it can only be if the king decides it is all right, and then asks that the order condemning her people be revoked. She presents the reasonableness of her request as her care and concern for her own family and friends. How could she possibly sit quiet while they remain condemned?
1. When God moves behind the scenes, see how things come together.
2. Even when He seems to move, faith is still needed.
Chapter: Esther 8
Passage: Esther 8:7-17
A. Find Out
1. How had the king brought judgement to the situation? v.7
2. Now what instruction did he give? v.8
3. So what then happened? v.9,10
4. What did the edict allow? v.11,12, 13b (be careful)
5. Where was it sent? v.13a,14
6. What happened as a result? v.15-17
1. What was the extent of the king's judgements?
2. What exactly was the extent of the edict now issued?
3. Why do you think it was such?
We sometimes refer to ‘rough justice' meaning justice that deals with the issue in hand in a very quick and basic way. Haman has been despatched via the gallows and now the king puts all of Haman's power into Mordecai's hands and instructs him to send out a second decree that will save the Jews. He gives him carte blanche as to how he writes it. Now this is where it may become difficult to cope with what we read, so let's do it carefully. The instruction is initially simply for the Jews to PROTECT themselves (v.11) from those who might attack them. It is obvious that already there was opposition to the Jews in various places and plans to kill them had already been drawn up.
The boundaries had already been drawn so it was obvious who was against them. Maybe there had even been the start of collecting them into potential death camps (but that is pure speculation based on later history!). However the text also is clear that this was an opportunity for the Jews to avenge themselves (v.13b) on their enemies. As much as this may appear distasteful to us, we must remember that sometimes the only way to counter a threat against life, is to completely remove it. There is a sense where, seen in the light of God's judgements on those who came against His people, this was a completely legitimate act of judgement on those who had clearly decided to wipe out God's people.
1. God does protect His people, wherever they may be.
Chapter: Esther 9
Passage: Esther 9:1-17
A. Find Out
1. What happened at the end of the year? v.1
2. Why did the Jews prevail? v.2
3. Who helped them, and why? v.3,4
4. What did the Jews actually do that day? v.5-10
5. What 2 things did Esther further request? v.11-13
6. What was then the extent of the work of the Jews? v.14-17
1. What is clear about the reputation, before this, of the Jews?
2. How had that crystallised?
3. What now was the end situation?
Again, to our modern minds, these possibly seem most barbaric actions. To catch the meaning of these events we need to try and get the big picture. Scattered throughout the Babylonian kingdom after the exile of Israel , and then also the later kingdoms, were thousands of Jews. They were quite distinct, as they always have been, and as such they were accompanied by a fear which turned into defensive hostility. When Haman issued his edict, it gave the possibility of putting that fear and hostility into practical action – the complete extinction of this people.
However, this is a people formed by God at Sinai and His chosen people, a people that He still has plans for. He will not therefore, let them be destroyed. They are His! No one touches them and gets away with it. Essentially, we suspect, the death sentence was passed on all those plotters of this genocide. Essentially this was outright war, even though it was within a single kingdom. There was one large group of people trying to wipe out another large group of people. The second group turned round and instead wiped them out. Essentially, this is exactly what has happened in some measure in the two world wars of the twentieth century and numerous other conflicts. As much as our modern minds may dislike the reading in this study, we don't have any room to point fingers. This is what happens in a sinful world!
1. Killing is always to be avoided where possible.
2. Self-defence has always been a defence for killing.
Chapter: Esther 9
Passage: Esther 9:18-28
A. Find Out
1. How did the Jews use these three days? v.18,19
2. What did Mordecai do? v.20-22
3. What did the Jews agree to do and why? v.23-25
4. How did the celebration come to be called Purim? v.26
5. So what did they do? v.27-28
1. What was the basis of this celebration?
2. How long did it continue?
3. If you were a Jew, what do you think you would feel about it?
These verses show us how what happened was fixed in the life of Israel . First of all the historical facts: for two days, the thirteen and fourteenth, the edict from Mordecai, coming with the king's authority, was carried out, and the enemies of the Jews who had plotted to destroy them, were, themselves, destroyed. On the fifteenth when that was finished, they celebrated. It is easy to miss the significance of this last day. It was a day to acknowledge the wonder of what had happened and be grateful. Again there is no mention of the Lord in the text but it would surely have been a day of thankfulness to the Lord for their deliverance, such was their ingrained relationship with the Lord. It is so easy to just let events pass without acknowledging the wonder of them. Celebration is a good part of human life because it acknowledges good aspects of life and doesn't take them for granted.
Mordecai sent out instructions for this to become an annual celebration and the Jews all over the kingdom responded to that, and did it. Because it was based upon the casting of the lot – the pur – which had given the Jews a time of reprieve, a time in which things could happen that would bring them salvation, it was known as Purim. Thus it came to be built into the life of the Jews, that they would remember each year how they had been saved from extinction. If this had not happened they would not exist. That is how important it is.
1. Is celebration built into our lives, to acknowledge God's goodness?
2. Do we regularly acknowledge the Lord's hand of deliverance?
Chapter: Esther 9
Passage: Esther 9:29 - 10:3
A. Find Out
1. What did Esther do to strengthen the situation? v.29, 32
2. What did Mordecai do? v.30,31
3. How was all this recorded? v.2
4. What was Mordecai's position? v.3a
5. How was he considered? v.3b
1. What do Esther's actions indicate about her?
2. What do Mordecai's actions indicate about him?
3. How is the end of this story so different from the beginning?
What stands out in these closing verses of chapter 9 is that Esther and Mordecai wrote together, in complete harmony, as Jews to Jews. There is nothing under cover about their activities; they are completely above board and with the full assent of the king. Now this cannot be emphasised too strongly. The king held supreme position and his authority was ultimate. Indeed he had absolute power over his kingdom so if he wanted to raise tribute (v.1) he did. It was as simple as that. His wishes were supreme. So, when we see Esther and Mordecai exercising this same authority we know that they have the absolute blessing of the king.
This is quite amazing really, because he has given them absolute power to instruct a particular group of his subjects, making them special. This day of remembrance is established in every one of the provinces wherever there are Jews. It is a day when they should celebrate to remind themselves of the near catastrophe that was averted by Mordecai and Queen Esther. Also note that this is not just some little thing that was done on the side, but it is part of the governing of the kingdom and as such was included in the national records archive as a distinct event. Note also that Mordecai is held in high esteem by his people in recognition of his care and concern for them. He has been a means of establishing them and bringing security to them in exile.
1. God can reverse the very worst of situations.
2. God's hand may be unseen, but He is still there, moving events.
RECAP - "Salvation for the Jews" - Esther 8-10
In this final group of 5 studies we have seen :
- the king giving Esther Haman's estate (8:1)
- Mordecai being given Haman's authority (8:2)
- Esther pleading for her people (8:3-6)
- the king giving permission for a counter-edict (8:7-9)
- Mordecai writing this to save the Jews (8:10-17)
- the Jews triumph over their enemies (9:1-10)
- the day of triumph being extended a day (9:11-17)
- the celebration being made annual (9:18-28)
- Esther confirming this with Mordecai (9:29-32)
- the story recorded and Mordecai established (10:1-3)
The fact that Haman was dead was not sufficient; there were still all the Jews under threat. Thus it was that Esther had to put herself under threat by approaching the king yet again on their behalf. She is rewarded by his approval, not only by accepting her into his presence but also by giving her Haman's estate for her own use. Mordecai is also rewarded with authority and power. The Jews are allowed to remove all their enemies so that they can now live at peace and in security.
If we hadn't taken in the full import of all that had happened it is basically reiterated in the description of the setting up of the feast of Purim. The Jews have been saved by the faithful and courageous activities of Mordecai and Esther. They are the heroes of the hour. What is sad is that God is not glorified! Surely it was His hidden hand behind the saving of Mordecai and thus Esther and her people
1. Personal safety sometimes has to be sacrificed on behalf of others.
2. Faithfulness & obedience are honoured by God.
3. It is good to remember the Lord's deliverance.
Thank the Lord for your salvation. Look back and give thanks for the hand of the Lord that you have been able to see behind the events of your life.
In these studies we have seen:
1. “Exit the Queen” Esther 1
2. "Enter Mordecai & Esther " Esther 2
3. "Plots & Intrigue" Esther 3
4. "Counter Measures" Esther 4-7
5. "Salvation for the Jews" Esther 8-10
As we come to the end of this particular series of studies, the following may be some of the things we may wish to consider further:
1. The Unusual Nature of this Book
The Book of Esther stands out in one way particularly: there is no mention of God in it. In that respect it is unique. If we put that aside for the moment, we might ask, so what was the point of including this book in the sacred canon of Scripture? The obvious answer left to us is that it is a record of a remarkable deliverance of the Jewish people during their time in exile. It is thus first of all a reminder to the Jews that they should not take their existence for granted. They came under serious threat, both then and at later times in history. Yet, for reasons that may escape us, they are still God's special people. He may have sent them into exile, but that doesn't mean He has written them off. He had plans to bring His own Son from heaven into this nation later in history. It is important therefore that they be preserved. Is it conceivable therefore, that the God who appeared to move and speak so many times in the life of Israel recorded in the Old Testament, would fail to act when the enemy rises up against His people. We are thus left with the conclusion that although the Lord is not mentioned in this brief history, His hand was surely at work behind these events. This is what we mean by ‘Providence' – the hidden hand of God working behind the scenes. That is what this book is all about – the hidden hand of God at work on behalf of His people.
2. Personal Application
So what should all this say to us? Various things!
a) The Hidden Hand of God
First, it may be suggested, that we need to rest in the fact, that although we may not see the hand of the Lord moving in our circumstances, He is! Jesus said, “My Father is always at his work” (Jn 5:17). Sometimes the Lord does incredible things that leave us gasping (such as bringing a miraculous healing), but at other times He may do things that appear so small that we quite probably miss them (like disturbing a king's sleep). We should never despise the small things that God does because they always have just the effect He wants them to have and His purposes are furthered.
b) The role we have to play
It is worth repeating here what we wrote in the Introduction: In Phil 2:12,13 the apostle Paul wrote: “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” In other words we have a part to play while God is working out His purposes. God may be working quietly behind the scenes but our part is just to get on with life and be faithful to the Lord, obedient to all He has said so far to us. As we do this, from time to time we will find ourselves out of our depth, wondering how we can possibly survive what is happening. It is at that point that we reveal our maturity and pray. Seeking God may be the only thing left to us. We are foolish if we don't cry out. Suddenly the circumstances change, but that doesn't always mean the way is easy. It may still require us to move in faith and with courage. We may still need to call out to God for wisdom (Jas 1:5), we may still need to persevere and press in against the odds. We may even have to be prepared to lay down our lives for others. This is the nature of the life that we are called to, and the Book of Esther shows us a number of facets of it. May we live it to His glory and if it means the salvation of one or many that will be good!