Jesus, The Favored One – August 16, 2022 (237-239/365)

Jesus As Seen In The Book Of Esther

Facilitated By Pastor Joedy

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when the Book of Esther in the Old Testament is mentioned? I personally said Haman for some reason, but the rest of the participants mentioned, ‘Favor’, ‘The Chosen One’, ‘Salvation of the Jews’, ‘Living Through Hardships’; Deep.

Pastor Joedy thinks that the Book of Esther does have quite a number of typologies of Christ, and this is something, considering that there is no literal mention of God in its verses. I wasn’t aware of that, but it does seem interesting.

When you are chosen by God, there will always be a purpose. God is in control. He could not say ‘no’ to what He has promised. He will not forget His Covenant to His people, no matter where they are. We also see in Esther that God raises up people at the right time to accomplish His purposes. The key word is ‘the right time’ – God, being the Creator of Time, is able to truly discern the right time for the right people. His purposes would be accomplished through His people.

It is also at the right time that God gave us His Son, Jesus Christ, to mediate for us and to save us from the enemy, and from the destroyer. 1 John 2:2 says, “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.”

Further down the book of 1 John, it says: 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 1 John 3:8

The key characters of the Book of Esther are as follows: Esther, Mordecai, King Xerxes / Ahasuerus, and Haman. We learn that Esther’s Hebrew name was Hadassah, which is myrtle, a shrub with aromatic foliage. Her name in Persian is Esther, which means ‘star’.

Although we may not know who actually wrote Esther, we can determine that it could have been written 100 years after the exile of the Jewish people to Babylonia, after the Persians conquered them. The Jews featured in this book were situated in the community of Susa.

Xerxes was holding a lavish party, and he called for his wife, Vasti, to make an appearance. When she refused, the King was enraged, and this anger was further encouraged by his advisers – they told him that this sort of rebellion should not be tolerated. As a result, Vasti was shamed, and when a replacement was needed, it was Esther who was chosen.

Now there was a Jew in Susa the citadel whose name was Mordecai, the son of Jair, son of Shimei, son of Kish, a Benjaminite, who had been carried away from Jerusalem among the captives carried away with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had carried away. He was bringing up Hadassah, that is Esther, the daughter of his uncle, for she had neither father nor mother. The young woman had a beautiful figure and was lovely to look at, and when her father and her mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter. So when the king’s order and his edict were proclaimed, and when many young women were gathered in Susa the citadel in custody of Hegai, Esther also was taken into the king’s palace and put in custody of Hegai, who had charge of the women. And the young woman pleased him and won his favor. And he quickly provided her with her cosmetics and her portion of food, and with seven chosen young women from the king’s palace, and advanced her and her young women to the best place in the harem.Esther 2:5-9

Pastor Joedy shared that the women were ‘prepared’ for the King by way of pampering… not just the night before, but the YEAR before, subjecting their bodies to be used to being bathed in milk and spices. Such a lavish procession, for what Pastor called ‘the first Miss Universe competition’.

When God is about to work, He seeks for someone and bestows His favor. It’s not a matter of who is most capable according to our observations, but again, according to His favor, and therefore, according to His grace.

And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.

Luke 2:52

As it is with Christ, so it was with Noah, Joshua, Moses, David – all these people with their own hang-ups, but they were still chosen according to God’s favor.

We see that Esther was also favored, both by God and man – how so? Well, she found favor with King Xerxes! Just as the Bridegroom chose the dark-skinned Shepherdess in the Song of Songs, so this Persian King chose the Jewess as his queen.

When the turn came for Esther the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her as his own daughter, to go in to the king, she asked for nothing except what Hegai the king’s eunuch, who had charge of the women, advised. Now Esther was winning favor in the eyes of all who saw her. And when Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus, into his royal palace, in the tenth month, which is the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign, the king loved Esther more than all the women, and she won grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. Then the king gave a great feast for all his officials and servants; it was Esther’s feast. He also granted a remission of taxes to the provinces and gave gifts with royal generosity.Esther 2:15-18

In her ‘coronation’, Esther was about to enter God’s kingdom purpose. At this time Pastor Joedy reminded us who served, that we have also been given favor with God and man to serve His purpose for us specifically.

And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”Matthew 3:16-17

As the crown was set upon the head of Esther, so the dove descended upon the baptized Christ… following the favor, Christ set off to minister to the people. Now, Esther didn’t know what was set before her, but God certainly did.

Speaking of that, Haman was mentioned at the beginning of the third chapter. He was seen to the writer as a literal ‘deceiver destroyer’, a picture of Satan.

But he disdained to lay hands on Mordecai alone. So, as they had made known to him the people of Mordecai, Haman sought to destroy all the Jews, the people of Mordecai, throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus. In the first month, which is the month of Nisan, in the twelfth year of King Ahasuerus, they cast Pur (that is, they cast lots) before Haman day after day; and they cast it month after month till the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar. Then Haman said to King Ahasuerus, “There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom. Their laws are different from those of every other people, and they do not keep the king’s laws, so that it is not to the king’s profit to tolerate them. If it please the king, let it be decreed that they be destroyed, and I will pay 10,000 talents of silver into the hands of those who have charge of the king’s business, that they may put it into the king’s treasuries.” Esther 3:6-9

Because Mordecai refused to bow down to Haman, he was filled with fury, and sought out not only to destroy Mordecai but all of Mordecai’s people – the Jews. At this point we’re reminded of Adam – by one man’s disobedience, many were made sinners. By one lie by Haman to Ahasuerus/Xerxes, so the Jews, not only in Susa but in all of Persia, were doomed to possible annihilation. By one lie of the serpent, many were put to death.

The deceived king gave his approval, and word was quickly spread.

Letters were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces with instruction to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate all Jews, young and old, women and children, in one day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods.Esther 3:13

The machinations of the enemy were in effect. Haman was as mentioned in John 10:10 – He lied, and apparently, instead of him doing the stealing, killing and destroying, he got other people to do it. How… dastardly.

In response to this evil circular, Mordecai and Esther humbled themselves before God:

Then Esther spoke to Hathach and commanded him to go to Mordecai and say, “All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that if any man or woman goes to the king inside the inner court without being called, there is but one law—to be put to death, except the one to whom the king holds out the golden scepter so that he may live. But as for me, I have not been called to come in to the king these thirty days.”

And they told Mordecai what Esther had said. Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?Esther 4:10-14

Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai, “Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.” Mordecai then went away and did everything as Esther had ordered him.Esther 4:15-17

And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” 41 And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”Luke 22:40-42

Esther says, ‘If I perish, I perish’. Christ KNEW He was going to die… and He said ‘Not my will, but yours be done’.

Following the period of fasting, Esther boldly made an unscheduled, unsanctioned meeting with the King. There was the real risk of her dying.

On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the king’s palace, in front of the king’s quarters, while the king was sitting on his royal throne inside the throne room opposite the entrance to the palace. 2 And when the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, she won favor in his sight, and he held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand. Then Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter.Esther 5:1-2

So early on, and we are given a picture of Christ, as the scepter of Judah. Jacob prophesied that the ‘scepter shall not depart from Judah’ (Genesis 49:10), and in Numbers 24:17 it mentions that “a star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel”; Christ Himself was the representation of God’s royalty and power, and as Xerxes’ scepter was extended towards Esther, so God has extended Christ, who is His royal Scepter, towards us – we deserved death, and we weren’t worthy of His presence, but only by the Scepter have we received mercy!

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.Hebrews 4:14-16

Through Christ we received mercy. Through Christ we can approach, or actually even RUN to the Throne of Grace! And take note, that it is from this same Throne that the intervention of God flows, which  leads to the defeat and destruction of the work of evil!

At this time I was reminded that there were two banquets that Esther wanted. In both banquets, Haman was invited, and while he may have enjoyed the personal presence of the King and Queen, let’s remember that after the first banquet, he saw Mordecai on his way out. Any elation that was in him instantly disappeared, much so that he immediately gave in to his wife’s suggestion to have a really tall gallows built, especially for Mordecai on the appointed day of the annihilation of the Jews.

We’re also told of the King being reminded of a certain event read out to him during one particular night where he couldn’t sleep. His life was saved when someone overheard two men plotting to kill him, and though a report was given and the two men consequently captured and executed, this person who made the report was not rewarded or given any sort of recompense. Xerxes called upon Haman to ask him how he thinks he should honor someone who has served him well (You could read this is Esther 5 but I like sharing it). Haman, thinking it was him who was going to be honored, said that the man should be dressed with noble clothes and paraded on a horse all over the city, adding that someone should go before him, proclaiming that this is how people who serve the king are honored. Xerxes said that Haman should do exactly this – for Mordecai.

I remember this clearly, as I have read this story before in the Picture Bible I had since I was a kid. The artist was pretty good in portraying Mordecai as clueless while Haman was illustrated in front of him, his face masterfully drawn to project that he was very aware of what was going on; I imagine that he was extremely angry about it, but couldn’t actually express it because, again, he was supposed to be shouting that when people look at Mordecai, they should see a man honored for his service.

The Picture Bible goes on to show a panel of Haman passing Mordecai on his way to the second banquet, and he was apparently still affected by merely seeing him. But this time he let it slide, I don’t know the exact words used in the book, but he was saying that it didn’t matter anymore because Mordecai would be dead soon. Little did he know that this was the last time he would go down that way.

Then Queen Esther answered, “If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be granted me for my wish, and my people for my request. For we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated. If we had been sold merely as slaves, men and women, I would have been silent, for our affliction is not to be compared with the loss to the king.” Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther, “Who is he, and where is he, who has dared to do this?” And Esther said, “A foe and enemy! This wicked Haman!” Then Haman was terrified before the king and the queen.

And the king arose in his wrath from the wine-drinking and went into the palace garden, but Haman stayed to beg for his life from Queen Esther, for he saw that harm was determined against him by the king. And the king returned from the palace garden to the place where they were drinking wine, as Haman was falling on the couch where Esther was. And the king said, “Will he even assault the queen in my presence, in my own house?” As the word left the mouth of the king, they covered Haman’s face. Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs in attendance on the king, said, “Moreover, the gallows that Haman has prepared for Mordecai, whose word saved the king, is standing at Haman’s house, fifty cubits high.” And the king said, “Hang him on that.” So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the wrath of the king abated.Esther 7:3-10

Esther begged for her life and the life of her people, and when she exposed Haman, this was when the King learned that Esther was a Jewess. In the most intimate of moments, Haman was feasting with the most powerful couple of Persia, and then suddenly, terribly, his plans backfired. Esther humbled herself, begging for her own life, and Haman suffered such a crushing defeat – He was terrified, exposed, condemned, and finally hung on the same gallows that was meant for Mordecai.  We see that as Haman was humiliated in life, so he was also humiliated in death.

On the other hand, Christ was crucified, cursed as he hung on a tree for our salvation. He took the humiliation we deserved. . so when Christ humbled Himself, being obedient unto death, even dying on the cross (Philippians 2:8) – all chances of the enemy to win have been shattered, and the enemy was defeated, once and for all.

The gallows represents the enemy’s humiliating, utter defeat. The cross represents Christ’s glorious, absolute victory.

Apparently, there’s a LOT of Christ to come up when we talk about the book of Esther!

At this point Pastor Joedy sort of rushed through the aftermath, and the resultant feast of Purim. He simply ran out of time. But I think I’d like to keep writing about it tomorrow.

For now, I pray you have been blessed. Take care.

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