Esther - God Delivers His People
Esther is in the right place at the right time. In this record it is not that Esther does so much to bring about the deliverance of God's people from the decree that condemned them to death, but that her presence endeared her to the King Astyages and Mordecai's faithfulness gets recognized. It is really wonderful how God works these things out. His ways are always beyond our two-bit brains. We have a tendency to try to figure out how God can deliver us instead of just letting God do His pleasure. His way is best, of course, but usually not what we had in mind.
After three days of fasting and prayer Esther approaches the king:
:1 Now it came to pass on the third day,
that Esther put on her royal apparel,
and stood in the inner court of the king's house,
over against the king's house:
and the king sat upon his royal throne in the royal house,
over against the gate of the house.
:2 And it was so, when the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court,
that she obtained favour in his sight:
and the king held out to Esther the golden sceptre that was in his hand. [whew!]
So Esther drew near,
and touched the top of the sceptre.
:3 Then said the king unto her,
What wilt thou, queen Esther?
and what is thy request?
it shall be even given thee to the half of the kingdom.
:4 And Esther answered,
If it seem good unto the king,
let the king and Haman come this day
unto the banquet that I have prepared for him.
:5 Then the king said,
Cause Haman to make haste, that he may do as Esther hath said.
So the king and Haman came to the banquet that Esther had prepared.
Remember that if a person comes before the king without being called their life would be in jeopardy? Esther boldly walks in requesting audience with the king and receives it. I can imagine a sigh of relief escaping her poised lips as she steps forward and bows before Astyages.
God has told Esther what to ask for. Esther could have just asked the king to repeal his decree against the Judeans right there but this was not the best thing to do because God knew other events had to transpire. The banquet that Esther had Astyages and Haman attend was a banquet of wine. During this time she had the opportunity to ask for a repeal but it wasn't time yet either. She requests that the king and Haman attend a banquet on the next day. Astyages can tell that there is something behind Esther's requests and Esther explains that she will reveal it tomorrow. Haman is ecstatic that he gets invited to the banquet with the king and queen of the most powerful nation in the world. Yet his jubilation doesn't last-much to his detriment.
:9 Then went Haman forth that day joyful and with a glad heart:
but when Haman saw Mordecai in the king's gate,
that he stood not up,
nor moved for him,
he was full of indignation against Mordecai.
:10 Nevertheless Haman refrained himself:
and when he came home,
he sent and called for his friends,
and Zeresh his wife.
:11 And Haman told them of the glory of his riches,
and the multitude of his children,
and all the things wherein the king had promoted him,
and how he had advanced him above the princes
and servants of the king.
:12 Haman said moreover,
Yea, Esther the queen did let no man come in with the king unto the banquet
that she had prepared
and to morrow am I invited unto her also with the king.
:13 Yet all this availeth me nothing,
so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king's gate.
:14 Then said Zeresh his wife and all his friends unto him,
Let a gallows be made of fifty cubits high,
and to morrow speak thou unto the king
that Mordecai may be hanged thereon:
then go thou in merrily with the king unto the banquet.
And the thing pleased Haman;
and he caused the gallows to be made.
According to E.W. Bullinger this 'gallows; is a stake that is erected in order to fasten criminals on until they died. This stake is 85-104 ft high (about 26 - 31.5 meters) depending the on the interpretation of the length of a cubit (21 - 25 inches). It is a real spectacle so people will take notice.
:1 On that night could not the king sleep,
and he commanded to bring the book of records of the chronicles;
and they were read before the king.
:2 And it was found written,
that Mordecai had told of Bigthana and Teresh,
two of the king's chamberlains,
the keepers of the door,
who sought to lay hand on the king Ahasuerus. [God knew this was going to happen]
:3 And the king said,
What honour and dignity hath been done to Mordecai for this?
Then said the king's servants that ministered unto him,
There is nothing done for him.
:4 And the king said,
Who is in the court?
Now Haman was come into the outward court of the king's house,
to speak unto the king
to hang Mordecai on the gallows that he had prepared for him.
:5 And the king's servants said unto him,
Behold, Haman standeth in the court.
And the king said,
Let him come in.
:6 So Haman came in.
And the king said unto him,
What shall be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honour?
Now Haman thought in his heart,
To whom would the king delight to do honour more than to myself?
:7 And Haman answered the king,
For the man whom the king delighteth to honour,
:8 Let the royal apparel be brought which the king useth to wear,
and the horse that the king rideth upon,
and the crown royal which is set upon his head:
:9 And let this apparel
be delivered to the hand of one of the king's most noble princes,
that they may array the man withal whom the king delighteth to honour,
and bring him on horseback through the street of the city,
and proclaim before him,
Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delighteth to honour.
:10 Then the king said to Haman,
Make haste, and take the apparel
and the horse,
as thou hast said,
and do even so to Mordecai the Jew,
that sitteth at the king's gate:
let nothing fail of all that thou hast spoken.
[Can't you just see his jaw drop?]
:11 Then took Haman the apparel
and the horse,
and arrayed Mordecai,
and brought him on horseback through the street of the city,
and proclaimed before him,
Thus shall it be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honour.
:12 And Mordecai came again to the king's gate.
But Haman hasted to his house mourning, and having his head covered.
Haman's deep hatred for Mordecai and the Jews probably ate at him the whole time that he had to array Mordecai and take him throughout Shushan.
:13 And Haman told Zeresh his wife
and all his friends every thing that had befallen him.
Then said his wise men
and Zeresh his wife unto him,
If Mordecai be of the seed of the Jews,
before whom thou hast begun to fall,
thou shalt not prevail against him,
but shalt surely fall before him. [they recognize the power of God]
:14 And while they were yet talking with him,
came the king's chamberlains,
and hasted to bring Haman unto the banquet that Esther had prepared.
Now Esther can set forth the predicament of her life and her people. The time is right. Due to the recognition of Mordecai and kindness the king has bestowed upon Esther the king is receptive.
: 3 Then Esther the queen answered and said,
If I have found favour in thy sight, O king,
and if it please the king,
let my life be given me at my petition,
and my people at my request:
:4 For we are sold,
I and my people,
to be destroyed,
to be slain,
and to perish.
But if we had been sold for bondmen
I had held my tongue,
although the enemy could not countervail the king's damage.
[countervail - make good or compensate for]
:5 Then the king Ahasuerus answered and said unto Esther the queen,
Who is he,
and where is he,
that durst presume in his heart to do so?
:6 And Esther said,
and enemy [2nd time he is called the enemy of the Jews]
is this wicked Haman.
Then Haman was afraid before the king and the queen.
:7 And the king arising from the banquet of wine
in his wrath
went into the palace garden:
and Haman stood up to make request for his life to Esther the queen;
for he saw that there was evil determined against him by the king.
:8 Then the king returned out of the palace garden into the place of the banquet of wine;
and Haman was fallen upon the bed [couch] whereon Esther was.
Then said the king,
Will he force the queen also before me in the house?
As the word went out of the king's mouth,
they covered Haman's face.
:9 And Harbonah,
one of the chamberlains,
said before the king,
Behold also, the gallows fifty cubits high,
which Haman had made for Mordecai,
who had spoken good for the king,
standeth in the house of Haman.
Then the king said,
Hang him thereon.
:10 So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai.
Then was the king's wrath pacified.
:1 On that day did the king Ahasuerus give the house of Haman
the Jews' enemy [3rd time he is called the Jew's enemy]
unto Esther the queen.
And Mordecai came before the king;
for Esther had told what he was unto her. [Esther's cousin]
:2 And the king took off his ring,
which he had taken from Haman,
and gave it unto Mordecai.
And Esther set Mordecai over the house of Haman.
Mordecai and Esther had relied on the wisdom of God in conducting their lives and were rewarded. The venerable king Astyages recognized the wisdom and power of God and put Mordecai in a very prominent position. Yet there is still the matter of the decree that was still in place to destroy all of the Judeans. So, Esther must come before the king again without being called.
:3 And Esther spake yet again before the king,
and fell down at his feet,
and besought him with tears
to put away the mischief of Haman the Agagite,
and his device that he had devised against the Jews.
:4 Then the king held out the golden sceptre toward Esther.
So Esther arose, and stood before the king,
:5 And said,
If it please the king,
and if I have found favour in his sight,
and the thing seem right before the king,
and I be pleasing in his eyes,
let it be written to reverse the letters devised by Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite,
which he wrote to destroy the Jews
which are in all the king's provinces:
:6 For how can I endure to see the evil that shall come unto my people?
or how can I endure to see the destruction of my kindred?
:7 Then the king Ahasuerus said unto Esther the queen
and to Mordecai the Jew,
Behold, I have given Esther the house of Haman,
and him they have hanged upon the gallows,
because he laid his hand upon the Jews.
:8 Write ye also for the Jews, as it liketh you,
in the king's name,
and seal it with the king's ring:
for the writing which is written in the king's name,
and sealed with the king's ring,
may no man reverse.
:9 Then were the king's scribes called at that time in the third month,
that is, the month Sivan,
on the three and twentieth day thereof;
and it was written according to all that Mordecai commanded unto the Jews,
and to the lieutenants,
and the deputies
and rulers of the provinces
which are from India unto Ethiopia,
an hundred twenty and seven provinces,
unto every province according to the writing thereof,
and unto every people after their language,
and to the Jews according to their writing,
and according to their language.
God answers their prayers abundantly. It is not enough that the king repeals the decree of Haman but give Mordecai the license to write a decree in favor of the Children of Israel. Then, look at the great length that is taken to identify all the peoples of this great kingdom. This means absolutely everyone explicitly. Mordecai's decree gave the Judeans license to destroy their enemies on the same day that they should have been destroyed. It was then sent out to all of the kingdom like Haman's decree. The result of Haman's decree perplexed city of Shushan and caused great grief. Look at the result of Mordecai's decree:
:15 And Mordecai went out from the presence of the king in royal apparel of
blue and white,
and with a great crown of gold,
and with a garment of fine linen and purple:
and the city of Shushan rejoiced and was glad.
:16 The Jews had light,
:17 And in every province,
and in every city,
whithersoever the king's commandment and his decree came,
the Jews had joy
and a good day.
And many of the people of the land became Jews;
for the fear of the Jews fell upon them.
In the following chapters the Judeans are avenged, their enemies are slain and the ten sons of Haman are slain and hung on stakes as well. However, the Judeans didn't take the wealth of their enemies. They needed no part of enemy's belongings in their lives. God took care of them. It was then set up that the 13th and 14th of the month of Adar be remembered and kept throughout every generation as the days of Purim.
Under Mordecai's leadership God prospered the Jews and Babylon. Esther and Mordecai listened to God and did what He instructed and God took care of them and all the Judeans throughout the kingdom.
This transpired in 461 B.C. according to E. W. Bullinger, half way through the Babylonian servitude of 496-426 B.C. Daniel influenced Nebuchadnezzar, and Esther and Mordecai influenced Astyages (also referred to as Darius in Daniel). Even though God's people ended up in a foreign kingdom God was still there for them.
God does not change. He is always with us whithersoever we go.