11 November 2019

Esther 7 & 8

So the king and Haman went to Queen Esther’s banquet, and as they were drinking wine on the second day, the king again asked, ‘Queen Esther, what is your petition? It will be given you. What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be granted.’
Then Queen Esther answered, ‘If I have found favour with you, Your Majesty, and if it pleases you, grant me my life – this is my petition. And spare my people – this is my request. For I and my people have been sold to be destroyed, killed and annihilated. If we had merely been sold as male and female slaves, I would have kept quiet, because no such distress would justify disturbing the king.’
King Xerxes asked Queen Esther, ‘Who is he? Where is he – the man who has dared to do such a thing?’
Esther said, ‘An adversary and enemy! This vile Haman!’
Then Haman was terrified before the king and queen. The king got up in a rage, left his wine and went out into the palace garden. But Haman, realising that the king had already decided his fate, stayed behind to beg Queen Esther for his life.
Just as the king returned from the palace garden to the banqueting hall, Haman was falling on the couch where Esther was reclining.
The king exclaimed, ‘Will he even molest the queen while she is with me in the house?’
As soon as the word left the king’s mouth, they covered Haman’s face. Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs attending the king, said, ‘A pole reaching to a height of fifty cubits stands by Haman’s house. He had it set up for Mordecai, who spoke up to help the king.’
The king said, ‘Impale him on it!’ 10 So they impaled Haman on the pole he had set up for Mordecai. Then the king’s fury subsided.

The king’s edict on behalf of the Jews
That same day King Xerxes gave Queen Esther the estate of Haman, the enemy of the Jews. And Mordecai came into the presence of the king, for Esther had told how he was related to her. The king took off his signet ring, which he had reclaimed from Haman, and presented it to Mordecai. And Esther appointed him over Haman’s estate.
Esther again pleaded with the king, falling at his feet and weeping. She begged him to put an end to the evil plan of Haman the Agagite, which he had devised against the Jews. Then the king extended the gold sceptre to Esther and she arose and stood before him.
‘If it pleases the king,’ she said, ‘and if he regards me with favour and thinks it the right thing to do, and if he is pleased with me, let an order be written overruling the dispatches that Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, devised and wrote to destroy the Jews in all the king’s provinces. For how can I bear to see disaster fall on my people? How can I bear to see the destruction of my family?’
King Xerxes replied to Queen Esther and to Mordecai the Jew, ‘Because Haman attacked the Jews, I have given his estate to Esther, and they have impaled him on the pole he set up. Now write another decree in the king’s name on behalf of the Jews as seems best to you, and seal it with the king’s signet ring – for no document written in the king’s name and sealed with his ring can be revoked.’
At once the royal secretaries were summoned – on the twenty-third day of the third month, the month of Sivan. They wrote out all Mordecai’s orders to the Jews, and to the satraps, governors and nobles of the 127 provinces stretching from India to Cush. These orders were written in the script of each province and the language of each people and also to the Jews in their own script and language. 10 Mordecai wrote in the name of King Xerxes, sealed the dispatches with the king’s signet ring, and sent them by mounted couriers, who rode fast horses especially bred for the king.
11 The king’s edict granted the Jews in every city the right to assemble and protect themselves; to destroy, kill and annihilate the armed men of any nationality or province who might attack them and their women and children, and to plunder the property of their enemies. 12 The day appointed for the Jews to do this in all the provinces of King Xerxes was the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar. 13 A copy of the text of the edict was to be issued as law in every province and made known to the people of every nationality so that the Jews would be ready on that day to avenge themselves on their enemies.
14 The couriers, riding the royal horses, went out, spurred on by the king’s command, and the edict was issued in the citadel of Susa.

The triumph of the Jews
15 When Mordecai left the king’s presence, he was wearing royal garments of blue and white, a large crown of gold and a purple robe of fine linen. And the city of Susa held a joyous celebration. 16 For the Jews it was a time of happiness and joy, gladness and honour. 17 In every province and in every city to which the edict of the king came, there was joy and gladness among the Jews, with feasting and celebrating. And many people of other nationalities became Jews because fear of the Jews had seized them.

In these chapters, God’s justice come to the fore … the tide is turning. Behind the scenes, God has orchestrated events that will simultaneously lead to the demise of the once-powerful Haman and to the saving of the Jews! He has, indeed, put Esther in place for such a time as this.

In this world there are many who, like Haman, are evil to the core, their wickedness evidenced by their hatred of anyone who belongs to God. They express their opposition to Christians in varying degrees – from mild distaste to murderous hatred, and every gradation in between. And God’s people are not always spared from malevolent people. Remember, that is not the whole story.

In the end, justice will prevail, because God will prevail. In this instance, His justice does not wait until the end but gets demonstrated in the present. A justice that is swift and thorough … ‘so they impaled Haman on the pole he had set up for Mordecai’ (7:10). Haman receives the very punishment that, with injustice, he was planning for another. Justice prevails; evil is punished and purged; God prevails.

For whatever reason, many escape justice in this world. But this trend will not continue forever. God sees everything, and He will in His own time bring evil and its perpetrator to justice. In His flawless new creation no evil will be resident (Revelation 21:27). This truth is a great comfort to those who endure unjust treatment in the present.

 [With acknowledgements to Wayne Barkhuizen, God Behind the Scenes (Lexham Press, 2016), Scene 5]

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we pray for our brothers and sisters around the world who are suffering under the weight of evil and wicked people. We pray that You would strengthen and sustain them, secure their well being with Your power; and save them – and us – from wickedness and injustice.

In the midst of injustice, help us to remember that we suffer only for a ‘little while.’ Soon Your justice will prevail and we will enter Your glory for eternity. 

To that end, help us to persevere and not give up; help us to find our hope in You alone. May the reminder of Jesus’ work on the cross be a great encouragement that evil has been defeated, the devil overthrown and the just victory secured. Give us a steadfast spirit to endure until Jesus’ return.

In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.