Read: Esther 8-10
As we conclude the book of Esther this morning, I’m reminded that we at a point in Jewish history where they are about to return to Jerusalem from exile. We don’t see those words in Esther, but the hope written in the prophets and spoken to one another in captivity must have been on their minds. They held onto the belief that one day they would return.
Here are some highlights from chapter 8:
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 8:1-2
Now write another decree in the king’s name in 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.” 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.Esther 8:8,9
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. Esther 8:11
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. Esther 8:15
What a change of events!! Queen Esther shows her adept skills inside the palace and Mordecai proves himself to be a national-level leader for the Jews while still in exile under Xerxes. From sackcloth and ashes to royal garments, Mordecai’s role is firmly established. Truly an amazing turn of events.
Chapter 9 records the successful implementation of the edicts–the Jews won the day over their adversaries. It’s interesting to note that three times we read, “they did not take the plunder” (Esther 9:10,15,16). They defended themselves, were victorious in battle, but they were not looking to steal from their captors. My initial thought on this is they truly thought the return from exile was imminent and didn’t want or need a bunch of stuff to hold them back. At the same time, they wanted to prove themselves worthy by not wanting to appear greedy.
Mordecai established the Feast of Purim:
the time when the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration. He wrote them to observe the days as days of feasting and joy and giving presents of food to one another and gifts to the poor. Esther 9:22
Queen Esther confirmed the celebration to affirm the words from Mordecai the Jew. Quite the duo.
So Queen Esther, daughter of Abihail, along with Mordecai the Jew, wrote with full authority to confirm this second letter concerning Purim. Esther 9:29
Ending on a high note:
Mordecai the Jew was second in rank to King Xerxes, preeminent among the Jews, and held in high esteem by his many fellow Jews, because he worked for the good of his people and spoke up for the welfare of all the Jews. Esther 10:3
The stage is set for the return from exile, not that this will be easy, but this story must have fueled the hope that was spreading among the Jews.
I can’t begin to imagine what it’s like to live in exile, to be under martial law, being subjected by an overlord that is bent on annihilation of me and my brothers and sisters in Christ. This is what it must feel like for the underground Christian churches in Eastern Europe, China, India, etc.
It’s hard to believe that from 1933 to 1945 some six million Jews were rounded up, tortured and murdered under the authority of Hitler. Hard to believe, but true. Haman’s hate lives in dark places within some who have bought into the lies of the great deceiver.
We are not held in concentration camps in this country, but I wonder if that’s what it takes to ignite the flame of Christ in our eyes, in our words and our daily activity. Lord, help us to take advantage of the freedom we enjoy to spread the Gospel, the Great News of salvation and healing in a land that is darker than we want to admit.