Christ in All the Scriptures
by A.M. Hodgkin
- III. Christ in the Historical Books
13. Esther --
- The Book of Esther is designed to show God's providential care of His people. Though the name of God is not mentioned, the hand of God, ruling and over-ruling the events for the preservation of His people, can be seen throughout.
[Footnote: Dr. Bullinger points out that some Hebrew scholars have found the name ''Jehovah'' four times repeated in acrostic form in the Book of Esther.]
- In the Talmud, the question is asked: ''Where do we get Esther from the Law?'' The answer is Deuteronomy 31:18, ''And I will surely hide My face (or, 'presence').'' God was hiding His face from His people on account of their sins; they had deliberately chosen to continue in the land of their captivity among the heathen, instead of availing themselves of the opportunity of returning to Jerusalem with Zerubbabel. The events in this book occur during the sixty years between the return of that first remnant and of the second under Ezra.
- Though there is also no actual mention of prayer to God, it is distinctly implied in the mourning and fasting among the Jews when they heard the royal decree for their destruction (4:1-3); and again, when Esther ordered a three days' fast among her people before she ventured to go before the king (4:16). The Feast of Purim, instituted by Esther and Mordecai, witnesses still, not only to the truth of the narrative, but to a nation's gratitude and a memorial throughout all generations of their deliverance. ''Their fastings and their cry'' are also mentioned, and to whom could they cry but unto God? (9:17-32).
- The Golden Sceptre. [Esther 4:11; 5:1-3]
- The king holding out the golden sceptre has been an encouragement to many a saint of God in bringing their petitions to the King of kings.
- Thou art coming to a King;
- Large petitions with thee bring;
- For His grace and power are such,
- None can ever ask too much.
- We need never fear that our King will refuse us an audience, or that we shall incur His anger by drawing nigh; but there are seasons when He seems in a special manner to hold out the golden sceptre, and to give us more abundant access to Him in prayer.
- Behind the personal enmity of Haman [ch. 3] was the deeper malignity of Satan, seeking to make void the promises of God through the destruction of the whole Jewish race; for Xerxes was king over all the Jews in Palestine as well as over those in Persia and Babylon. Satan knew that the great Deliverer who was to arise of the House of David was to destroy his power, and we may trace his hand behind such events of history as Saul throwing his javelin at the youthful David [1Sam 18:9-11; 19:9,10], and Queen Athaliah's attempt to destroy all the seed royal [2Kin 11:1-3]. But God turned aside the blow in the one case, and nourished the infant Joash in the Temple courts in the other. The same enmity of the devil prompted Herod to slay the babes of Bethlehem, but God delivered His Son by sending Him into Egypt [Matthew ch.2]. The great enemy succeeded in bruising His heel when he gathered together Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, against the Holy Child Jesus; but God raised Him from the dead.
- Historic Accuracy.
- There is hardly a book in the Bible, upon the trustworthiness of which there has been made so determined an attack, as the Book of Esther. [ie., The trustworthiness of the Book of Esther has been attacked by determined critics.] But the writings of Herodotus and the discoveries at Xerxe's palace of Shushan by the Frenchman Dieulafoy, together bring out the truthfulness of every detail of the story.
[Footnote: ''M. Dieulafoy has set up the bithan (apadana, the great banqueting-hall or throne-room) in the museum of the Louvre, where one can now see the remains of the marble pavement, of the hall of the feast.'' (New Biblical Guide, vol 7, p. 359, Rev. John Urquhart) ]
- The relative position of the different parts of the palace and gardens fit in exactly with the account in this book. The vain and capricious character of Ahasuerus-- the Xerxes of history-- his extravagant feast, the Persian names of the courtiers, the golden couches, the sceptre, the seal, the scribes, the posts, are all matters of history, if space permitted to examine them in detail. In the account of the king's feast (ch. 1:6), the hangings of the court are described as ''white, green, and blue.'' The word translated ''green'' is really an old Persian word meaning ''fine cotton.'' So it should read ''hangings of fine purple and white cotton.'' These, Xenophon tells us, were the royal colors of Persia. The pillars of marble have been found in the court of the garden, and it is clear that the pavement was a mosaic, as described in v.6.
- There have been various attempts to trace elaborate types in the Book of Esther, but the simple fact stands out that here was one who was willing to lay down her life for her people. It is here that we find Christ in the Book of Esther. A picture of Him who was not only willing, but who actually did lay down His life for us, and through whose intercession salvation is assured to us.
- But the great practical lesson for us, in this book, is the all-importance of using God-given opportunities. The power of life and death lies in these opportunities both to ourselves and to others. Mordecai was so sure of God's working that he sent Esther this message: ''If thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?'' (4:14). We may be tempted to think that our opportunities are so insignificant, our circle of influence so small, that they are of little importance; if we were a great queen, like Esther, it would be a different matter. But ''who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?'' Thou, whoever thou art, and whatever thy circumstances, thou art called to ''reign in life by One, Jesus Christ'' [Rom 5:17]. See to it that thou dost not miss thy opportunity. God has a purpose for each one of our lives. He has placed us where He can best use us for His glory. If we fail just there, it may be that He will work out His purpose in some other way; but we shall suffer untold loss. Like Esther, we must be ready to take our life in our hand and risk everything in His service.
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For another brief look at this book of the Bible,
see the related chapter in OT Reflections of Christ, by Paul Van Gorder.
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