Old Testament Walk Through: Esther

“And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?”(Esther 4:14).

I The Seeming Absence of God
II God Keeps His Instruments Prepared and Hidden
III God Causes Others to Remember You!
IV God Puts You in a Position of Influence to Fulfill His Purposes
V Esther as a Picture of Our Saviour
VI The Importance of Preparation
VII Character of Esther
VIII It Is God Who Causes Others To Show Us Favour
IX The Jewish Holocaust and Women Who Saved Them from It
X Using Esther 5:1—7 to Understand New Testament Truth of Intercession
XI Snippets from the Book of Esther

I The Seeming Absence of God

God is not mentioned even once in the Book of Esther. But behind the scenes God is always present controlling not only the history and destinies of nation but particularly the preservation of the Jewish people.

This book is a record of how God saved his people from surely being wiped out to keep them alive to bring to this world its Saviour, Jesus Christ.

II God Keeps His Instruments Prepared and Hidden

God’s purposes will never fail. At times it might seem that there is no hope for His people. But those are the very times that God brings to the limelight His chosen, prepared and committed children so that they can do what God wants to get done at that moment in time and history.

Esther and Mordecai are examples. They were exalted by God. “No one from the east or the west or from the desert can exalt a man. But it is God who judges; He brings one down, he exalts another” (Psalm 75:6, 7).

III God Causes Others to Remember You!

As we read Esther 2:19—23 we understand that Mordecai, Esther’s cousin and foster father was sitting at the king’s gate. During that time he exposed two of the king’s officers who plotted to kill the king. Mordecai reported this to Queen Esther who in turn reported it to the king giving credit to Mordecai.

Those two officers were hanged after investigation. And this was recorded in the book of annals in the presence of the king. And then the thread of that story continues in Esther 6:1—THAT NIGHT THE KING COULD NOT SLEEP!

It led the king to read the records of his reign and he found that Mordecai was not given honour or recognition for saving the king’s life. And in a quick and surprising turn of events, the wicked Haman who was the enemy of the Jews was forced to honour Mordecai!

God remembers even when everyone else forgets (Read Malachi 3:13—18). None of your good deeds are lost. And God causes others to remember you at the right time (Esther 6:1) even when it seems your good deeds have been forgotten for a while. Read a similar example from Joseph’s life (Genesis 40:23 and 41:9—14).

IV God Puts You in a Position of Influence to Fulfil His Purposes

One of the key verses in the Book of Esther is: “And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14). Mordecai urged Esther to remember that God had a purpose in putting her in the position of queen.

Esther hesitated to go to the king because of a royal law that could put her life in danger if she approached the king in the inner court of the palace without being asked to come.

But finally she decided to risk her life by going to the king saying: “And if I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16). We need to remember that great men and women of God often risked their lives for God’s cause.

V Esther as a Picture of Our Saviour

● Esther herself is a picture of the Saviour—she is prepared to lay down her life for her people. Jesus actually laid down his life for us. Jesus said: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). We find this supreme example both in the willingness of Esther to lay down her life and in Jesus who willingly laid down His life for us (John 10:11).

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose”­­ Jim Elliott [A young missionary to Auca Indians who was killed by the tribe along with four other missionary friends.]

● Esther interceded to save her people. Jesus intercedes for our salvation. Read and enjoy the intimate and lovely prayer of Jesus for us in John Chapter 17. He is now at the right hand of God interceding for you and me (Romans 8:34)!

VI The Importance of Preparation

When we decide to do a big task for God; it is very important that we spend time in preparation. Esther, Mordecai and people close to them spend time in fasting for three days (Esther 4:15— 17). They might have cried out to God in prayer during these three days to protect Esther’s life as she approached the king and also help her to successfully plead with the king for the lives of the Jewish people.

Fasting and praying are very important in the life of a Christian. It helps us to focus on God fully and prepares our hearts and minds to expect God’s deliverance. Ezra 8:23, Nehemiah 1:4 and Daniel 9:3 are other examples from the time of Esther. Jesus also fasted and prayed (Matthew 4:2). He also asked us to fast joyfully and secretly rather than with a long face and letting others know. He also pointed out that God the Father would reward us for fasting and praying (Matthew 6:16—18).

VII Character of Esther

Esther is a sweet and attractive Character:
Beautiful and modest—Esther 2:15
Winsome—Esther 2:9—17; 5:1—3
Obedient—Esther 2:10
Humble—Esther 4:16
Courageous—Esther 7:6
Loyal and Constant—Esther 2:22; 8:1—2; 7:3—4
[This segment is taken from “What the Bible Is All About” by Dr. Henrietta C. Mears]

Esther’s beauty came more from her “inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight” (1 Peter 3:4). Read also Esther 2:15!

VIII It Is God Who Causes Others To Show Us Favour

This is one of the most important lessons we need to learn. We find Joseph finding favour with Potiphar (Genesis 39:4), who saw that the Lord was with him and gave him success in everything he did (Genesis 39:3)! God granted him favour again in the eyes of the prison warden (Genesis 39:21—23)!

Nehemiah prayed, “Give your servant success today by granting him favour in the presence of this man [the king]” (Nehemiah 1:11). Ezra also acknowledged God’s favour granted him before the king (Ezra 7:28).

Likewise Esther was granted favour by God. First in front of Hegai, the man in charge of the king’s harem (2:9), secondly before all who saw her when her turn came to go to the king (2:15) and finally before the king himself (2:17).

IX The Jewish Holocaust and Women Who Saved Them from It

The history of the Jewish people begins with Abraham, the father of faith (Romans 4:16, 17). But during their formation and existence as a nation other nations have continually tried to destroy them.

It need to be understood that these attempts are masterminded by Satan (Haman in the story of Esther is one of the pawns in his hand) to somehow destroy God’s plan of bringing salvation to this world through Jesus Christ.

For example, turn to Exodus Chapter 1. There you find that the king of Egypt asking the Hebrew midwives to destroy the male children. They feared God and did not do so. So God gave them, Shiphrah and Puah, families of their own.

During Esther’s time the threat was even more dangerous. The entire Jewish people (already reduced to a small community by the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B. C.) would have been destroyed completely had not Esther courageously stepped in to speak to the king.

At the time of Jesus’ birth, king Herod ordered the killing of all males in Bethlehem who were under two years (Matthew 2:16). But God protected Jesus; Mary and Joseph taking care of Him.

So the role of women in God’s plan of salvation needs to be appreciated more fully. Remember it was Mary Magdalene who had the privilege to see the Risen Lord first and carry the good news first: “I have seen the Lord!” (John 20:18).

X Using Esther 5:1—7 to Understand New Testament Truth of Intercession

Without being asked by the king; if someone approached him in the inner court, that person would be put to death. That was the law in the Persian Court. The only time that death could be avoided was when the king would extend his golden sceptre to the one who appeared before him (Esther 4:11).

In the Old Testament the temple of God in Jerusalem is described. It had three important divisions. 1. The outer court. 2. The Holy Place. 3. The Most Holy Place. The Most Holy Place was separated by a curtain. Only the High Priest could enter there, that too only once in a year. He had to sprinkle the blood of innocent animals inside so that he would not die. New Testament teaches us that Jesus entered the Most Holy Place in heaven by his own blood (Hebrews 9:12). Since His sacrifice was perfect He need not sprinkle blood again.

Now if someone had tried to enter into the Most Holy Place on earth without sprinkling of blood he would die (Ref. Leviticus 16:2). It is similar to approaching the Persian King in the inner court without being summoned.

But the New Testament tells us that the curtain of the temple was torn in two when Jesus died (Luke 23:45). That curtain symbolized the body of Jesus (Hebrews 10:20). And because Jesus opened the way to the Most Holy Place by allowing His body to be broken on the cross and shedding His precious blood; WE HAVE CONFIDENCE TO ENTER THE MOST HOLY PLACE (Hebrews 10:19—22).

In the symbolism of the Persian Court, now God always extends that golden sceptre to us whenever we approach Him in prayer: “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). Read also verses 14 and 15.

XI Snippets from the Book of Esther

● India is mentioned twice in the Book (1:1 and 8:9). It is the only book that mentions India in the Bible.

● Esther is only one of the two books named after women in the Bible. The other is the Book of Ruth.

● Esther became Queen in 478 B. C. She saved her people from destruction in 473 B. C. [Ezra returned to Jerusalem in 457 B. C. And Nehemiah in 444 B.C.]

● The Festival of Purim is the only festival in the Bible observed by the Jews which God had not directly commanded them to observe. It was instituted by Mordecai to mark the deliverance that God gave them.

They celebrated the 14th and 15th days of the month of Adar (occurs in February/March), “as the month when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration” (Esther 9:22) Read also Psalm 30:11. The occasion was marked by feasting and joy and giving presents of food to one another and gifts to the poor.

● The banquet with which the story of Esther begins (1: 3) was in 483 Bc. Zerubbabel had led the first group of exiles back to Jerusalem in 538 BC [Ezra 2:2]. This means more than 50 years later, many Jews still preferred to live as aliens in Perisa rather than return to their own land.

They preferred the riches and comforts of Persia to the hard work of rebuilding Jerusalem. (Compare the Israelites in the wilderness who longed to return to Egypt).Yet God was gracious in providentially preserving even them.

Life Application

● Know that God puts you in a position of influence to fulfil His purposes.

● Dare to take risks for God after much preparation in prayer and fasting.

● Approach the throne of grace of God with confidence by the precious blood of Jesus.

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