If you are just joining, please read the other posts in this study on the Book of Esther here.
Esther 9 Background
On the day the Jews were destined to be destroyed, they overtook their enemies. In every city, the same situation played: victory for the Jews. Their unprecedented victory caused other nations to fear them.
The Jews became so incredibly powerful, not only because they gathered and prepared for this day of self-defense, but also because they were joined by the satraps, governors and royal civil administrators. These officials allied with the Jews because they feared Mordecai whose reputation and power became known.
On the day of reckoning, the Jews destroyed their enemies, including the ten sons of Haman. However, they did not take possession of their wealth.
Later, King Ahasuerus brings a report to Esther that it had been done according to her wishes. The Jews were safe, the death toll of their enemies reached the thousands, with 500 men dead in the fortress of Susa alone. The king inquired of Esther’s desires at that point, and she answered that she wished to have the 10 sons of Haman hung publicly.
And it was done.
The following day, the Jews rejoiced throughout the land because their deliverance had come.
Mordecai then took the time to record the events that took place. He wrote about the success of the Jews in annihilating their enemies and sent letters to all the Jews requesting that they observe these days every year in remembrance of their deliverance. The Jews of Susa and neighboring provinces committed themselves to celebrating on the fourteenth and fifteenth of the month of Adar every year.
Queen Esther writes a follow up letter confirming the message that Mordecai previously sent out, instituting the 14th and 15th as the official days for the Festival of Purim.
The Jews taught these things to their children. They instructed every generation thereafter to celebrate the victory that was handed to their ancestors, and their deliverance from the hands of their enemies.
Preserving the Saints
The Jews took on the challenge of protecting themselves against a sure enemy. As we studied in the previous chapter, God is majestic in all He does, even in turning the table of the enemies of His children, as He does here.
To wage war against believers is to wage war against the Almighty Himself. The Lord is faithful to protect His children.
This chapter brought to mind Luke 12:4-7, in which Jesus tells us not to fear those who have authority to harm us:
I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.”
We are not without hope or protection. God does not abandon us to our foes.
There is a war raging against our souls and we can trust in God, we can trust His Word and know that we will be victors.
No Riches Kept from the Spoils of the Enemy
In the same way, God preserves us by His prohibitions at times. The edict signed with the king’s signet ring gave the Jews possessions of their enemies’ wealth. Yet, over and over it is said that they did not plunder. For reasons that are not specifically listed in the chapter, we are told that the Jews did not take the possessions of their enemies. They defended themselves, but did not confiscate wealth. If you recall, much earlier in this study, we discussed the instructions that the Lord provided in dealing with the Amalekites. In 1 Samuel 15, the Lord instructs Saul to lead an attack against the Amalekites and to destroy everything they have. Saul, acting in disobedience, spared the best sheep and cattle.
Before pointing the finger at Saul, how quick are we to take on wealth that we know the Lord prohibits? And we justify ourselves by proclaiming that we did the right thing, went as the Lord sent us, and the portions that we withhold are for the sake of worshiping God? I cannot speak for you but I know myself to be guilty of rationalizing my sin, as though somehow my good intentions justify my actions.
And to those of us who wonder why we must obey God instead of following our own ways, let’s look at Samuel’s response to Saul:
And Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. 1 Samuel 15:22
All of this to say, I wonder if this is the basis on which the Jews refused to plunder even as they clearly had every opportunity to overtake the wealth of their enemies.
What Becomes of the Enemy?
The ten sons of Haman are a powerful example of the generational destruction that await the wicked. Not only did Haman set the course for his life, but by his actions he also determined the fate of his children. By standing in opposition to God, he destined them to death.
There is no enemy that can stand against God. In the same way, those who oppose the Lord will face their fate. Jesus conquered sin.
Esther demanded that the 10 sons of Haman be hung as a visual representation of the fate of those who oppose her people, ultimately the people of God.
The cross of Calvary presents a different image. Instead of punishing humanity for their rebellion against God, Jesus Christ who was in very nature God, became flesh for us, hung on a cross and took our sins and the punishment that we deserved. He was publicly nailed to a cross and He was humiliated.
Then too, God sent a message.
Redemption is available.
We deserved death. Our father Adam passed on the curse of death to us, and because of our rejection of God, we deserved to be annihilated.
But God in His goodness and His grace did not wish that we perish. He held His anger—and continues to hold His wrath—to allow for many to come to repentance in Jesus Christ.
Watch Esther Grow in Maturity!
I had to go back to the text a few chapters to remind myself of the sweet, beautiful orphan Esther. In reading Esther 9, it is difficult to even believe we are looking at the same person. A transformation took place in Esther over the course of the years that the story spans.
Esther grew in wisdom and in stature. She grew in favor with her husband and with those around her. She also grew in her faith and in her confidence in God. We would be right to say that Esther became more aware over time of her impact and the authority that she carried. She also grew in closeness to her people. While she belonged in the Jewish community early on, she then became their Queen, the servant whom God used to bring about their deliverance. She stood with them in the tranches and she used her power to bring about their deliverance.
- Do you believe Esther would have agreed to the plan if she knew where the Lord was taking her from the beginning?
- Do you trust God’s plan though you don’t know the details?
The plan to grow us into maturity often involves hardship. There are tough decisions that we have to make, and oftentimes it would be easier to remain right where we are, in the safety of our comfort zone. For Esther this place was likely the home of her uncle Mordecai.
As God calls us to new avenues, we have to trust Him. Too often we become paralyzed by our inefficiencies at the place of our calling that we beg the Lord to send someone else instead, and fail to develop into the persons that God desires to mold us to be.
Trust God! He knows what He’s doing and He has an impeccable record of success.
The Proper Response to Salvation
Can you think of a more appropriate response from the Jews of Susa? Perhaps not! On the day you were destined to die, you live. You not only live, but you get to enjoy abundance and safety. You are regarded and esteemed highly.
Psalm 126:3 states:
The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad.
Philippians 4:4 echoes the same message:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.
We have grounds for rejoicing in our salvation. We have been brought back from the dead, so I say to you: “Rejoice in the Lord always!”
Letters of Hope
After everything that has unfolded, I can only imagine that Mordecai’s letters were met with gladness and rejoicing. I imagine that the Jews would be willing to do anything that Mordecai asked of them at this point. They would gladly agree to commemorate these days and pass on the traditions that they were creating to future generations. For surely, the occasion was one of rejoicing.
God left us a letter of hope and love. He used spiritually mature men to write the books of the Bible, the stories that we needed to know of our Lord and God, in order for us to come to know Him, understand what He has done for us, treasure Him in our hearts, and follow what He asks of us in turn. Nothing that the Lord instructs in the Bible is too much for us to do given the great gift of life that He has given us. Our devotion is a small token of our appreciation.
- Aren’t you glad that the Lord left us this love letter we call the Bible?
- Aren’t you glad that through historical facts, archaeology and other means, the authenticity of His Word has been verified?