Unseen God | Hidden Hope Found in the Book of Esther PART IX | Restoration Seen | Esther 9-10
November 22, 2020 Speaker: Christopher Rich Series: Unseen God: Hidden Hope Found in the Book of Esther
Topic: Old Testament Passage: Esther 9, Esther 10
Christopher Rich – November 22, 2020
Unseen God | Hidden Hope Found in the Book of Esther
PART IX| | Restoration Seen | Esther 9-10
Introduction | When is Restoration Seen?
Good Morning Welcome to Mercy Fellowship where we are Saved by Jesus Work, Changed by Jesus’ Grace, and Living on Jesus’s Mission. Today we are concluding our series walking the through the book of Esther called UNSEEN GOD: Hidden Hope Found in the Book of Esther. Thank you for joining us!
It’s not how a story starts; it’s how it finishes. Condemnation of God’s people has been plotted by Haman. There is a movement to see the Jews exterminated but there is a moment that God orchestrated to have Esther and Mordecai able to effectively engage to help bring hope and relief. So now there are competing decrees one encouraging the death, destruction of the Jews and another giving the Jews the ability to not only defend themselves but to end the threat to their people. This first decree came out with a one year dead line. There was three months of activism to bring the other decree (and end evil Haman’s rule) to Persia leaving nine months of hopeful, anxious in between where victory has been promised but full resolution has yet to be experienced. We have come to the conclusion of this story where the was a great threat, great chaos, great fear, which has been meet by a greater God who has (while unseen) been greatly involved in a dramatic reversal of political and cultural fortunes. God’s people shifted from a place of certain condemnation to potential for relief to now Justice and victory being at the doorstep!
PART I | Evil is Defeated | Esther 9:1-19
Esther 9:1-19 | Now in the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, on the thirteenth day of the same, when the king's command and edict were about to be carried out, on the very day when the enemies of the Jews hoped to gain the mastery over them, the reverse occurred: the Jews gained mastery over those who hated them. 2 The Jews gathered in their cities throughout all the provinces of King Ahasuerus to lay hands on those who sought their harm. And no one could stand against them, for the fear of them had fallen on all peoples. 3All the officials of the provinces and the satraps and the governors and the royal agents also helped the Jews, for the fear of Mordecai had fallen on them. 4 For Mordecai was great in the king's house, and his fame spread throughout all the provinces, for the man Mordecai grew more and more powerful. 5 The Jews struck all their enemies with the sword, killing and destroying them, and did as they pleased to those who hated them. 6 In Susa the citadel itself the Jews killed and destroyed 500 men, 7 and also killed Parshandatha and Dalphon and Aspatha 8 and Poratha and Adalia and Aridatha 9 and Parmashta and Arisai and Aridai and Vaizatha, 10 the ten sons of Haman the son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews, but they laid no hand on the plunder. 11 That very day the number of those killed in Susa the citadel was reported to the king. 12 And the king said to Queen Esther, “In Susa the citadel the Jews have killed and destroyed 500 men and also the ten sons of Haman. What then have they done in the rest of the king's provinces! Now what is your wish? It shall be granted you. And what further is your request? It shall be fulfilled.” 13 And Esther said, “If it please the king, let the Jews who are in Susa be allowed tomorrow also to do according to this day's edict. And let the ten sons of Haman be hanged on the gallows.” 14 So the king commanded this to be done. A decree was issued in Susa, and the ten sons of Haman were hanged. 5 The Jews who were in Susa gathered also on the fourteenth day of the month of Adar and they killed 300 men in Susa, but they laid no hands on the plunder.16 Now the rest of the Jews who were in the king's provinces also gathered to defend their lives, and got relief from their enemies and killed 75,000 of those who hated them, but they laid no hands on the plunder.
Restoration Requires Resolution – We cannot remain in a place of doubt, despair, even unrealized hope forever. When there is a lack of resolution there is certain frustration and eventual exhaustion. There are times things come to a head and in Esther it game time. There is evil, hate, harm, death, and there is life, liberty, light. Evil had an agenda (gain mastery over) and that requires a defense. Right away before you get the report of the action or how things play out you get the resolution! Evil is defeated! – The tables have been turned and justice, rather than vengeance, is being served. Those that were to be overpowered did the overpowering. There were evil intentions for mastery and destruction… but the Opposite happened a reversal occurred. Circumstances changed and it led to boldness and action over fear and anxiety. The comprehensiveness of the victory is overwhelming, and we begin to see why as the account goes on.
Governmental approval moves to governmental assistance. God’s people were organized and unified in their communities against the mounting threats against them. The pagan Persians are going all in on Team Hebrew. Why? They “fear” Mordecai. Not terror but honor. As the reversals continue Haman had to have honor commanded by the King, forced compliance. For Mordecai, it is a response of his fame and position from across the different provinces. His power and privilege came from his effective advocacy for justice.
Restrained Retaliation, Not Unfettered Vengeance –These first verses use important terms for us to frame what is happening. We “should” recoil at not relish in the violence recorded here. It’s vivid and it’s intense. But it is not without cause or an innocent tragedy. It is an intentional reaction to evil intents and pursuits. We see who is targeted “enemies of the Jews” “those seeking mastery” “those who hated” not mere thought crime or “safe space cancel culture”. It’s not merciless. An edict when out listing the consequences for those “might attack”. The response of many to that edict was to in a sense repent, turn, identify with God’s people sparing themselves the consequences of their hate and sin. Those who were defeated where those who still defiantly “sought harm” who even after nine months of knowing what would be possible if they continued to plot against God’s people still said “I’m destroy my neighbor today”. In a sense “evil” started it, but “good” will finish it. In doing so they showed great restraint in contrast to their enemies who “sought gain” They were given carte blanche to kill men, women, and children, AND to legally “plunder” their good. We see no mention of women or small children, only men and Haman’s sons. Yet, three times (v10, 15, &16) in chapter 9 we see that "laid no hands on the plunder." This means the Jews understand this battle as a holy war and no one should profit. It as about self-defense, self-preservation so there is self-denial not selfish gain. The ten sons of Haman were also killed, leaving no one to carry on their father's legacy of hateful pride. Hamam was proud of his sons now they are all dead and. His legacy of evil is stamped out. This fulfills a promise from Exodus 17 where God said the Amalekites would be blotted out. God might seem slow in fulfilling His promises but let there be no doubt he will do what He says.
Esther asks for another day in Susa – The King likes a winner and he initiates blessing to Esther in the form of extending the time for justice. No moral judgements on the extended killing/self-defense. She’s not spiking the football or blood thirsty she wants to be though to bring a complete victory free from any opportunity for evil merely be wounded, she wants a lasting peace so she protects here people from the possibility of retaliation. She wants the bodies of Haman’s sons hung as a public declaration of what the ultimate consequences of hatred and evil are when they led to pride, selfishness, seeking the death and destruction of others. The ethos of evil has to been seen as fundamentally fatal and worthless. Death’s legacy has been extinguished. Evil is not only defeated but it is disgraced. In order for Peace to be achieved and life to flourish evil has to be defeated. You cannot have peace when the potential for harm is possible. Our battles are not against flesh and blood. We don’t seek vengeance, we work for justice, and let God handle Evil.
The divine violence of the Bible is part of God’s battle against evil. And this battle develops as time goes on. When Jesus comes, he actually heightens and intensifies the battle so that it is now directly toward the spiritual powers and authorities, and these enemies are defeated not by killing but by his dying on the cross, where he “triumphs” over them (Col. 2:15). For this reason, Jesus’ followers, Christians, must realize that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 6:12). This battle is won with spiritual (truth, righteousness, peace, faith, the word of God), not physical weapons. – Dr. Tremper Longman III
PART II |Celebration is Called For | Esther 9:17-32
Esther 9:20-32 | 17 This was on the thirteenth day of the month of Adar, and on the fourteenth day they rested and made that a day of feasting and gladness. 18 But the Jews who were in Susa gathered on the thirteenth day and on the fourteenth, and rested on the fifteenth day, making that a day of feasting and gladness. 19 Therefore the Jews of the villages, who live in the rural towns, hold the fourteenth day of the month of Adar as a day for gladness and feasting, as a holiday, and as a day on which they send gifts of food to one another. 20 And Mordecai recorded these things and sent letters to all the Jews who were in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, both near and far, 21 obliging them to keep the fourteenth day of the month Adar and also the fifteenth day of the same, year by year, 22 as the days on which the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month that had been turned for them from sorrow into gladness and from mourning into a holiday; that they should make them days of feasting and gladness, days for sending gifts of food to one another and gifts to the poor. 23 So the Jews accepted what they had started to do, and what Mordecai had written to them. 24 For Haman the Agagite, the son of Hammedatha, the enemy of all the Jews, had plotted against the Jews to destroy them, and had cast Pur (that is, cast lots), to crush and to destroy them. 25 But when it came before the king, he gave orders in writing that his evil plan that he had devised against the Jews should return on his own head, and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows. 26 Therefore they called these days Purim, after the term Pur. Therefore, because of all that was written in this letter, and of what they had faced in this matter, and of what had happened to them, 27 the Jews firmly obligated themselves and their offspring and all who joined them, that without fail they would keep these two days according to what was written and at the time appointed every year, 28 that these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, in every clan, province, and city, and that these days of Purim should never fall into disuse among the Jews, nor should the commemoration of these days cease among their descendants. 29 Then Queen Esther, the daughter of Abihail, and Mordecai the Jew gave full written authority, confirming this second letter about Purim. 30 Letters were sent to all the Jews, to the 127 provinces of the kingdom of Ahasuerus, in words of peace and truth, 31 that these days of Purim should be observed at their appointed seasons, as Mordecai the Jew and Queen Esther obligated them, and as they had obligated themselves and their offspring, with regard to their fasts and their lamenting. 32 The command of Esther confirmed these practices of Purim, and it was recorded in writing.
Restoration’s Response is Rejoicing & Remembering - Celebration is called for! - The author of Esther takes time to show the reader why Purim is celebrated. Victory has been achieved, safety and peace have been received, the outcome is one of “relief” we all need and want “relief” the end of the threat, the end of the tension, resolution leads to relief and the beginning of restoration. This was a dramatic and life changing, culture shaping season that produced significant positive change now worship and praise are the response. While another edict of obligation comes rejoicing is not required it’s a natural response of relief and restoration. This is different than the forced feast at the beginning of Esther that was focused on the King’s glory. It’s not a patriotic festival of victory but a feast of Joy, gratitude, and overflowing generosity which began spontaneously and organically. This Festival “Purim” is like Hebrew thanksgiving and Christmas combined. Gladness, gifts, feasting holiday, care for the poor, and one another are the traditions!
“Long live Mordecai, cursed be Haman, blessed be Esther” - Happy Purim Wishes
Pur => The Cross – the lot that had been cast. Pur was the “random” instrument Haman had used to determine an evil end and satan had used to bring and end to God’s promise to bless all nations from one nation. Of all the symbols that could have been selected this one is interesting it’s dual nature and great reversal of fortune. The pur is a symbol of something used to devise certain death but is used to celebrate and remember how certain death and defeat was reversed to bring victory and lasting life! Fate is something we experience and observe but here we have the comfort that fate is not random chance at the hand of evil men but rather is the outcome of the hand of a good God who is over and in History. What man means for evil God can and does at times mean for God. In verse 25 it says Haman plotted evil, but it led to returning to his own head. In this I believe the Pur is a preview of the cross. We know that the outworking of the cross is certain death and defeat of God desired and enacted by evil but God intended for a victorious reversal. Acts 2:23 -24 | 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.
Celebrate “without fail” – Days should never fall into disuse. Celebration and remembering that doesn’t end. The obligation is to keep the party going for a purpose. Call to disciple each new generation and to help each current generation endure in the present looking back at what was good for the hope to look at what will be better in the future. This means when it’s difficult it’s MORE important to celebrate and feast, not less. This victory over evil, this restoration of life and liberty is a one-time event that gets memorialized for a purpose. We forget God’s goodness and deliverance, but we need to remember and have it passed down. We forget, the memory of victory will fade, darker days may still be ahead, so take the moments each year to be intentional about celebrating what is good even when the days are evil. Remembering Restoration and responding with rejoicing should never “fall into disuse. Instead we should be the best a celebrating, even in times of difficult knowing that our God and King has given words of “peace & truth”
PART III |National Hero Is Declared | Esther 10
Esther 10 | King Ahasuerus imposed tax on the land and on the coastlands of the sea. 2 And all the acts of his power and might, and the full account of the high honor of Mordecai, to which the king advanced him, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia? 3 For Mordecai the Jew was second in rank to King Ahasuerus, and he was great among the Jews and popular with the multitude of his brothers, for he sought the welfare of his people and spoke peace to all his people.
Restoration Recognizes the Redeemer – Mordecai is declared a national hero. It’s not a return to normal why? When things are getting worse, we want to go back to what was because it’s better than what is. But what is AND what was “normal” wasn’t/isn’t as good as what can and will be. We shouldn’t want to go back to normal if “normal” isn’t what God wants for us and/or isn’t the best. We should desire a restoration of what is broken that is decidedly better than what is/was. Esther started with a self-centered king, instability, wars, human trafficking, evil plots, corrupt leadership and rampant injustice. But now the story has stability with this whole land is one where a great and popular leader is working for the welfare and peace of all the people. The ending of this story is far better than the beginning despite the darkness of the middle.
We get what we need from this book, but not all that we want - The narrative of the Book Esther alone should leave us more than a little unsatisfied desiring a more comprehensive salvation for God’s people and greater victory for God’s purposes. Yes, Esther was a great advocate who was given great authority. Mordecai was worthy of honor as a hero, but both were far from perfect and less than eternal. Esther is an essential part of the narrative of the Gospel. It shows how God protects His people and preserves His promises in the face of an evil enemy, while a weary world waits for a perfect Messiah. However, Esther is never intended to convey the entirety of the Gospel. We have been given more than Esther! So, we should see Esther not as a necessary and intriguing speed bump on the road to Jesus, but illuminated by the truth of the great narrative of a good God who saves His people through the person and work of Jesus Christ.
PART IV | Jesus Wins | Revelation 21:21-4
Revelation 3:21-26 | Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
Restoration Requires Jesus! If we look behind the scenes, we again see that the true hero of the story is God who grants rest, reigns over all human events, and restores joy. Mordechai is worthy of celebrating and Esther is due honor, but ultimately Jesus is the one truly worthy of all honor and praise now and forever! When there is victory over the evil the response should be to rejoice! In the new heavens and new earth we will have a greater feast and festival to look forward to! Why?
Because there is an end to our experience of evil and instability (the sea represented chaos and death) instead of being unseen or perceived distant God will dwell with His people as Jesus Grants Rest.
The kingdom to come is better than the kingdom that is. The old passes away because it’s no longer needed or worthy compared to and in light of the new kingdom where we experience the truth that Jesus Reigns
The threat the sorrow, the morning, and pain and death will all begone. Not Just a growing distant memory, but all that robs us of joy an corrodes our hearts will be stripped away and remove so that what remains is there for light, life, peace and gladness as Jesus Restores Joy
Esther and Mordecai were imperfect heroes for then. Jesus is the perfect hero we need now and forever! Never lose hope, no matter the situation or condition of our hearts great reversals are possible!
So we remember and rejoice over our restoration when we Trust Jesus!
More in Unseen God: Hidden Hope Found in the Book of Esther
November 15, 2020Unseen God | Hidden Hope Found in the Book of Esther PART VIII | The Last Word | Esther 8
October 18, 2020Unseen God | Hidden Hope Found in the Book of Esther PART VII | Justice Revealed | Esther 7
October 11, 2020Unseen God | Hidden Hope Found in the Book of Esther PART VI | Vindication Given | Esther 6