ESTHER’S OBEDIENCE

MESSAGES Patriarch and Presiding Prelate

HH, Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div

In the first chapter of Joshua, after Moses had died, and Joshua has succeeded him as the leader of Israel who would take Israel into the promised land, God gives Joshua this promise: “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go” (Josh 1:8-9).

Throughout Scripture, we see that God blesses and honours those who obey Him. Do you want to be blessed by God? Do you want this church to be blessed by God? Do you want your family to be blessed by God? Do you want to be protected by God from your fears, your worries, your doubts?

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God promises that if you obey Him, He will protect you and provide for you. This is the truth we see developed for us in Esther 8.

We have seen these promises lived out and fulfilled in the book of Esther. Both Esther and Mordecai have tried to live in obedience to the Word of God, and have tried to live in a way that was honouring to God. Today, in chapter 8 of Esther, we see how God, in turn, honours them and allows them to prosper, just as He has promised.

In Esther 5, Esther embarked on Mission Impossible. There were five mission objectives that she had to accomplish, each one more difficult than the previous. But today, we see that she accomplishes all. The five objectives were:

Esther had to go before King unsummoned. To do this, Esther has to break the law for which the penalty was death. She accomplished this in Esther 5 when she went before the king, and he spared her life.
Esther had to make her appeal to the king. But to do this, Esther has to confess that she has deceived the king by not telling him she was a Jew. She accomplished this in chapter 7.
Esther must oppose Haman, the most powerful person on earth at that moment in time besides the king. She accomplished this in Esther 7, and we saw that Haman was put to death for his plot.
Esther must pursue a plan which will strike a serious blow to the king’s pride — not a smart thing to do to a proud and petty king. Yet this too she is able to accomplish, with the unwitting help of Haman, who made it appear to the king that he was trying to molest the queen, as we also saw in Esther 7.
Esther must attempt to convince the king to reverse an irreversible law, as laws were in the Persian Empire. This is the only Mission objective not yet accomplished. And it seems on the surface to be impossible. How is an irreversible law reversed? We will see how in Esther 8.
Esther 8:1. On that day King Ahasuerus gave Queen Esther the house of Haman, the enemy of the Jews. And Mordecai came before the king, for Esther had told how he was related to her.

This is the same day that Esther revealed Haman’s plot, and on which Haman was hung on the gallows he had built for Mordecai. So Haman, the villain of the story, is dead. On that same day, the King gave Esther the estate of Haman.

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Remember, we saw earlier, that Haman’s plot against the Jews was a business venture for him. The Persians had a law that if you brought an accusation against someone, and it turned out to be true, and as a result, that person was put to death for their crimes, you, as the one who revealed the crime, were rewarded by gaining the land and possessions of the criminal.

Haman had tried to use this law to his own advantage by bringing accusations against the Jews. He would have become a very rich man if his plan had been carried out. But here in verse 1, we see this law turned against him. Esther brought accusations against Haman, which turned out to be true, and so the King gives to Esther all of Haman’s land and possessions. And at the end of verse 1, we see that the King finally learns that Esther and Mordecai are related.

Esther 8:2. So the king took off his signet ring, which he had taken from Haman, and gave it to Mordecai; and Esther appointed Mordecai over the house of Haman.

Mordecai is honoured even more here. He receives the position and title that previously belonged to his worst enemy. Quite ironically, Haman’s plot to destroy Mordecai leads to Mordecai [gaining] both Haman’s position and property. [1] The king gives his signet ring to Mordecai, and along with with it the position of being second in command in the empire.

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Esther, being queen and having no use for Haman’s estate, gives it to Mordecai as well. The role reversal between Haman and Mordecai is now complete. What Haman had planned for Mordecai — death on a gallows — has become Haman’s fate. And all that belonged to Haman now is in the hands of Mordecai.

You know this is going to happen to us as Christians. Our archenemy the devil is currently the ruler of this world. He is evil like Haman and is bent on our destruction. But we know from various places in Scripture that at the end of time, the one who is seeking our destruction will himself be destroyed, and all that belonged to him will become ours.

First Corinthians 15:24-25 says Satan will be destroyed and Revelation 2:26 says we will rule: “And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations.”

We, as faithful children of God, may not be honoured yet. Satan may still be ruling over this world, but do not despair, remain faithful, and time is coming when all will be set right, and our faithfulness to God and commitment to Christian living will be rewarded according to God’s infinite benevolence.

It will happen to us, just as it has happened to Esther and Mordecai. But, even though Haman is now out of the way, and even though Mordecai has been honoured and is now rich and is second in command in the empire, there is still the matter of that irreversible law to annihilate the Jews.

Esther 8:3. Now Esther spoke again to the king, fell down at his feet, and implored him with tears to counteract the evil of Haman the Agagite, and the scheme which he had devised against the Jews.

She is pleading with the king and weeping. She asks the king here to put an end to the plan of Haman.

Esther 8:4. And the king held out the golden sceptre toward Esther. So Esther arose and stood before the king,

Ok, now what happened here? Why did the King extend his sceptre to Esther? He only did this when someone went before him without being summoned, right? Right, and that is what Esther has done again here. This might be a bit confusing but bear with me as I explain from the text apparently what has happened.

Apparently, after the events of Esther 8:1-2, Mordecai and Esther waited for a period of about two months to see if the King would figure out some way to reverse an irreversible law. You say, “How do we know it was two months?” Well, we know from Esther 3:7, 13 that all the events of Esther 3-7 all took place in the time span of about one week in the first month, the month of Adar.

Now, look down with me real quick to Esther 8:9.

Esther 8:9. So the king’s scribes were called at that time, in the third month, which is the month of Sivan, on the twenty-third day.

We are now in the third month, the month of Sivan. [2] So about two months (70 days actually) have passed in between Esther 8:2-3. Here is what must have happened. Haman is killed at the end of chapter 7. Mordecai is honoured in 8:2, and everyone goes home happy thinking that the king has enough common sense to think up a way to save the Jews from annihilation.

Two months pass, and nothing is heard by way of a royal edict. Esther, Mordecai and the Jews begin to worry. So finally, Esther decides to go before the king again. She apparently goes before him un-summoned in verse 3, and verse 4 tells us that he again extends his sceptre to her. He again spares her life, and in so doing, allows her to make her request.

So back to what Esther says in Esther 8:5,

Esther 8:5. “If it pleases the king, and if I have found favour in his sight and the thing seems right to the king and I am pleasing in his eyes, let it be written to revoke the letters devised by Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, which he wrote to annihilate the Jews who are in all the king’s provinces.

She knows that the law cannot be reversed, so what she proposes is another law that overrules the first law. Now, this kind of seems like a silly way to run a country, making laws that counteract other laws, what a mess their legal system must be if this happened very often, but that was the way they did things. And look at her reason as to why the king should do this in Esther 8:6. It is very intriguing.

Esther 8:6-8. For how can I endure to see the evil that will come to my people? Or how can I endure to see the destruction of my countrymen?”

Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther and Mordecai the Jew, “Indeed, I have given Esther the house of Haman, and they have hanged him on the gallows because he tried to lay his hand on the Jews. You yourselves write a decree concerning the Jews, as you please, in the king’s name, and seal it with the king’s signet ring; for whatever is written in the king’s name and sealed with the king’s signet ring no one can revoke.”

The king basically says, “What did you come to me for? You’re asking me why I have done nothing for two months. I was wondering the same thing about you and Mordecai. Mordecai is second in command. He has my signet right. It’s a blank check. It’s my personal credit card. Write up a law — whatever you want — sign it with my signet ring, and proceed as you wish.”

So this is what Esther and Mordecai do, and Esther 8:9-14 are an account of what they wrote.

Esther 8:9. So the king’s scribes were called at that time, in the third month, which is the month of Sivan, on the twenty-third day;

The month of Sivan, by the way, would correspond to our Mid-May to Mid-June. This is the same time that Holy Spirit came at Pentecost in Acts 2, [4] and as a result, many people believed in Christ for salvation. Remember this. Keep this in mind as we look at the rest of the chapter.

…and it was written, according to all that Mordecai commanded, to the Jews, the satraps, the governors, and the princes of the provinces from India to Ethiopia, one hundred and twenty-seven provinces in all, to every province in its own script, to every people in their own language, and to the Jews in their own script and language.

Esther 8:10-14. And he wrote in the name of King Ahasuerus, sealed it with the king’s signet ring, and sent letters by couriers on horseback, riding on royal horses bred from swift steeds.

By these letters the king permitted the Jews who were in every city to gather together and protect their lives — to destroy, kill, and annihilate all the forces of any people or province that would assault them, both little children and women, and to plunder their possessions, on one day in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar. A copy of the document was to be issued as a decree in every province and published for all people so that the Jews would be ready on that day to avenge themselves on their enemies. The couriers who rode on royal horses went out, hastened and pressed on by the king’s command. And the decree was issued in Shushan the citadel.

We can again tell from the excessive legal language that this might be a direct quote from the edict and the Persian history books. The legal terms and the methods by which the law goes out is very similar to the legal terms and methods that Haman used. The only difference in methods is that here there is an emphasis on the use of the royal horses. This shows the empire that the king is behind this law.

But while the legal terms and the methods are similar, the law itself is not at all similar to what Haman had allowed. Haman had created what could be called a “Kill a Jew Holiday.” It gave the right for anyone who wanted to kill and plunder the Jews to join with the military in doing so. It was an evil plot.

Now some look at that law Mordecai creates here and see the exact same law. They say that Haman wanted to eradicate the Jews, and now Mordecai wanted to eradicate the enemies of the Jews. [5] They say Mordecai was acting no better than Haman.

But notice, this is NOT what the law states. The wording is very specific. Mordecai, as we see from verse 11, wrote a law that simply gave the Jews the right to defend themselves if they were attacked. They could not provoke, nor could they go on the offensive to kill their enemies. The Law created here by Mordecai is very different from the law Haman created. Mordecai is not behaving like Haman.

The reason for the wording of this new law by Mordecai was so that it counteracted Haman’s horrible law at every point, [6] except for the whole thing about killing women and children.

You say, “But wait. Doesn’t Mordecai’s law allow the Jewish people to kill women and children?” Well, the way it appears in our English Bibles, it does appear that way. But I am convinced that Mordecai’s law should be translated slightly different than what we have in our Bibles. The Hebrew language does not have quote marks, and so when a verse is quoting another text, it is sometimes difficult to catch.

I believe that Mordecai’s law is quoting Haman’s law about killing women and children (3:13), not actually allowing Jewish people to kill women and children. It would read like this:

By these letters, the king permitted the Jews who were in every city to gather together and protect their lives to destroy, kill, and annihilate all the forces of any people or province that would “assault them, both little children and women,” and to plunder their possessions.

In this way, Mordecai is simply making a law for the Jewish people to defend themselves against attackers. [7] So after this new law is sent out across the empire, we pick up with Mordecai in verse 15.

Esther 8:15. So Mordecai went out from the presence of the king in royal apparel of blue and white, with a great crown of gold and a garment of fine linen and purple; and the city of Shushan rejoiced and was glad.

We have two sets of contrasts here. Previously, after Haman’s edict, Mordecai was in sackcloth and ashes, now he is dressed like a king. He has gone from rags to riches. That is the first contrast.

The second contrast is the city of Susa. When the first edict went out under Haman, do you remember? The city was bewildered (3:15) But now, they held a joyous celebration. Before, they were shocked that Haman would make a law allowing the wholesale slaughter of tens of thousands of people. Now they are rejoicing that Mordecai has found a way to protect these people from such slaughter.

They are also rejoicing that Mordecai rules them instead of Haman. We can be sure, because of Haman’s pride and arrogance that he was not a just and fair ruler. He most assuredly abused his power and position frequently. His public opinion was probably not very high. Likely, the city also knew of Mordecai’s honesty and fairness and was glad that someone of his stature was second in command instead of Haman.

Haman was not a king, but nevertheless, two proverbs apply well to him. Proverbs 29:4 says, “The king establishes the land by justice, But he who receives bribes overthrows it.” Again, Proverbs 29:14 says, “The king who judges the poor with truth, His throne will be established forever.”

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By justice and fairness, Mordecai had secured his position, not by bribery and blackmail, as Haman had. And so the city was happy to have him as a ruler.

Esther 8:16-17. The Jews had light and gladness, joy and honour. And in every province and city, wherever the king’s command and decree came, the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a holiday.

Not only was a Jew in a prominent position of authority, but the threat of destruction had been lifted as well. Esther’s Mission is accomplished. All mission objectives are complete. And at the end of Esther 8:17, we read that many of the people of the land became Jews because the fear of the Jews fell upon them.

You know, when people of God live as they should, and as a result, according to the promises of God, God works mightily among them, two things happen. First, people are afraid, and second, many people join in following God, because they see that what is going on is not just circumstances; it is the hand of God at work among his people. We see it happen here. And remember, I told you that this all happened about the same time of year as Pentecost in Acts 2? Do you remember what happened after the Holy Spirit came? Acts 2:41 says that about 3000 were added to their numbers. Just like here in Esther.

But then we see something else in Acts 5:1-14. Do you remember the story?

But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession. And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.”

Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last. So great fear came upon all those who heard these things. And the young men arose and wrapped him up, carried him out, and buried him.

Now it was about three hours later when his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8And Peter answered her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much?”

She said, “Yes, for so much.”

Then Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” Then immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. And the young men came in and found her dead, and carrying her out, buried her by her husband. So great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things.

And through the hands of the apostles, many signs and wonders were done among the people. And they were all with one accord in Solomon’s Porch. Yet none of the rest dared join them, but the people esteemed them highly. And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women.

We started out today by looking at God’s promises to bless those who obey him and to honour those who honour him. Americans today tend to want God’s blessing without having to obey him. We want God’s honour, without making sure we honour him. Scripture, the book of Esther and the book of Acts tells us it does not work this way.

God honours those who honour him, and he blesses those who obey him, and when God works like this on our behalf, the world sits up and takes notice. And many will come to Christ as a result.

Don’t we all want to see this happen? Don’t we want God to bless us? You bet we do! So let us get into His Word and obey Him!

Don’t we want Him to honour and bless us? YES! So let us honour Him.

And when we obey Him — like Joshua, like Esther, like the early church — not only will we be blessed and honoured, but another thing will happen that we all long for: men and women will come to Christ. When they see what God does in us, through us, and for us, they will rejoice with us and will want to be one of us.

So like Esther, step out and do the impossible thing that God wants you to do. Obey Him and let Him bless you.

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Sir Godfrey Gregg
Sir Godfrey Gregg is one of the Administrators and managing Director of this site

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