The Greatness of Mordecai
Esther, like Ruth or Jonah, is a book which records events that really occurred. Like Ruth, it is one of the historical writings, but like Jonah, and even Ruth, it is also a book which prophetically looks forward, while also being given in types and shadows of other things. But Esther doesn’t just look forward, it also looks back on history and, through the real events that it records, it gives us a snapshot of all of redemptive history, but most especially in how it deals with the Jews.
To insert the church into Esther would be to mischaracterize the symbolism of what we are being shown. It is true that the church is included in one of the seven dispensations of time, but the church deals with both Jew and Gentile. Rather than focus on the Gentiles during the dispensation of Grace, Esther looks at how Jews, as a people, have responded to that period.
There are enemies, and then there are enemies. Can we not say that a state of enmity exists between Christ and the unbelieving Jewish people of today? Of course we can! If we deny this, we are naive in how we view Scripture. And yet, there are those out there who are completely foolhardy in this regard. They claim that the Jews are saved through their adherence to the Law of Moses. This is known as dual-covenant theology. It is heretical and it is dangerous. And more, it is specifically refuted by an understanding of what the Book of Esther is showing us. Paul is very clear when he speaks of the enemies of the cross of Christ, including all – Jew and Gentile – who have rejected His work.
Death is an enemy. But death is merely the result of sin. Therefore, sin is an enemy. But sin is the result of disobedience to law. The book of Leviticus, speaking of the law, says that the man who does the things of the law will live. However, nobody but God can do the things of the law. If we could, we wouldn’t need Jesus! Thus, the law – though it is good – actually acts as an enemy to us because of our sin nature. And the law exists. Just as the law in the Garden of Eden was given and it led to the fall, the Law of Moses does the same. The law exists, and there is nothing that we can do about it. We are defeated as foes of the law… but for Christ Jesus.
Text Verse: “For we will surely die and become like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. Yet God does not take away a life; but He devises means, so that His banished ones are not expelled from Him.” 2 Samuel 14:14
If the law was all that there was, it would be a futile existence indeed. Especially because the law is God’s standard. It is what we must meet in order to be granted that life promised in Leviticus 18. The book of Esther is a type and shadow of what God has done in redemptive history, and it reveals the means devised by God to bring back His banished ones. John Lange caught onto this in a limited way. From his commentary of Esther 9 –
“We would be more just to Esther, to the Jews spoken of in our book, and to the book itself, if, in what was done in Shushan as well as in all Persia, we would see an anticipation of the judgments connected and parallel with the progress of the kingdom of God on earth, and especially of the final judgment. If the animus of the O. T. with respect to the destruction of enemies seems to us terribly vindictive, rather than mild, yet this may not only be excusable, but may even be a prophetic intimation the fact, so prominently and emphatically expressed, in the present instance, that the Jews did not stretch out their hands after the goods (spoil) of their enemies, proves to us that they meant to conduct this contest as a measure of self-protection, or better as a holy war, the sole purpose of which was the removal of their enemies.” John Lange
The removal of their enemies. Well said, John Lange. But just who are the enemies being pictured in this book? And who then is the great enemy, Haman, picturing? And even more, the ten sons of Haman were counted as the enemies of the Jews as well. Other than a list of names, we know nothing more about them than that they were his sons, and that there were ten of them. And yet, Esther felt it necessary that they be hung for all to see after they had been killed. And more, the Lord specifically included these details in His word. Why? Who is the great enemy of the Jews today?
Esther, even without the answers to these questions, has been a marvelous adventure. But the questions beg for us to answer them, and so we will. I pray that what is presented to you today is wholly in accord with His superior word. And so let’s turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.
I. The Exaltation of Mordecai (verse 1-3)
And King Ahasuerus imposed tribute on the land and on the islands of the sea.
The narrative now jumps suddenly from the accounts of what occurred on Purim, and how the celebration was mandated, to a statement concerning the imposition of tribute on the land by King Ahasuerus. It seems entirely out of place stating the words of this verse now. It is as if it is haphazardly tossed in here without any anchoring in the narrative.
In fact, Jamieson-Fausset-Brown finds it perplexing enough to state that Chapter 10 is simply an appendix to the history already presented, and that it has been improperly separated from the preceding chapter. But such is not the case. Though connected to what has been presented, it is also a completely different thought that has its own unique purpose and design.
The word used, mas, or tribute, is elsewhere consistently translated as “forced labor.” Thus, it is assumed that this forced labor equates to the levying of a tribute upon the lands under the authority of the empire. For the Persian empire, the islands mentioned would be those which are found in the Aegean Sea. The reason for the tribute is unstated, but because it follows directly after the war between the Jews and the nations, it can be assumed that the war was actually so great that the empire required the tribute in order to rebuild, repair, and redirect. Thus a tribute was levied in order to overcome the effects of the war that occurred.
It appears that Ahasuerus is the main subject of the verse, but in showing that he had such great power and authority to impose such a massive tribute upon the realm, it then demonstrates that his chosen royal vizier, Mordecai, had risen to a position of complete authority and greatness in all of the realm. In other words, though Ahasuerus is the subject of the verse itself, it is actually a statement concerning the greatness of Mordecai. This is notably revealed in the next words…
2 Now all the acts of his power and his might,
These words confirm that the true subject of verse 1 is Mordecai. First, it says, “the acts of his power.” The word toqeph, or power, was first seen in the Bible in verse 9:29 which said “Then Queen Esther, the daughter of Abihail, with Mordecai the Jew, wrote with full authority to confirm this second letter about Purim.” The authority of Ahasuerus is implicitly also the authority of Mordecai. He bears the royal signet and thus he possesses the power. This is then revealed in the next words…
2 (con’t) and the account of the greatness of Mordecai,
Here we have the second and final use of the word parashah, or account, in the Bible. It signifies an exposition or declaration. Nowadays, it refers to a section of a biblical book, somewhat like our chapter divisions in the Bible. The parashah forms the basis for reading of Scripture in Jewish synagogues. The greatness of Mordecai is especially noted in conjunction with the acts of power and might which stem from the king himself. Thus, one can see that the focus is on him, and it is he who wields the authority because he fills the position…
2 (con’t) to which the king advanced him,
In these words, there is the idea that in exalting Mordecai, the king himself is also exalted. One is not robbing the other of glory, but he complements the king because of his own greatness. It is therefore appropriate that as the record of the king is recorded, the record of the king’s right hand man would also be so recorded…
2 (con’t) are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia?
The book of the chronicles of the kings is said to not only contain the record of King Ahasuerus, but it also chronicles the deeds of Mordecai, relaying that he also possessed kingly power. Although he is positionally second, he bears the dignity and authority that stems from the kingly throne. It is the logical conclusion to the statement that he is recorded in these writings.
Here, the empire is noted for the first time in Esther as “Media and Persia” rather than “Persia and Media.” Media is named from Madai, the son of Japheth. The word is associated with madad, or measure. Thus, Media would signify “Measure.” Persia, without all of the lengthy details, would signify “Division(s).”
As Chapter 10 is such a short one, Sergio ran an acrostics search. He noted that verse 2 forms an interesting sentence, which is derived from forward and backward acrostics formed from the first letters. The words say, Humtu v’tamu. v’gam gihah akas keheh. Ad hadas hilam v’milah – “They were killed and destroyed, and also the dark* anger was cured, until Myrtle and the Word is here.” It doesn’t seem to make sense, but it is actually a beautiful thought. The acrostic is an amazing parallel to the account itself, especially what it is picturing. Now in understanding that Mordecai bears full authority as is recorded in these chronicles, the book of Esther closes out with words of shalom; words of peace…
There is an immediate stress on the fact that Mordecai is a Jew. He is not a Mede or a Persian, but a Jew, who has been exalted in the realm. He didn’t convert from his Jewishness in order to accept the appointment, instead, he remained a Jew. It is he who…
3 (con’t) was second to King Ahasuerus,
The closing of the narrative shows that a Jew holds the position second to the king alone. This means that Mordecai held a representative position among his people. And not only was he in this exalted position, but his people remained, despite having faced complete annihilation. It is he who rescued them, and it is he who then was exalted in their eyes. As it says…
3 (con’t) and was great among the Jews and well received by the multitude of his brethren,
Though Mordecai was at one time just considered another Jew, and one who was actually kept in obscurity in his relation to Esther, he eventually was realized for his greatness, and he became great among his own people. They openly received him as being great among them. He had always been in Shushan, the Lily, but he remained obscure among the Jews until the time that he was needed to rescue them. The hidden Lord then acted, revealing His plan in the calling of Mordecai to his time of recognition among his people. From that point on, he was…
*3 (fin) seeking the good of his people and speaking peace to all his countrymen.
The Hebrew literally reads, “seeking the good of his people and speaking peace to all his seed.” The two thoughts are placed in parallel though, and so seed isn’t speaking of his posterity, but his countrymen, as if sons. Closing out the book, are two acrostics. First, in the beginning of the verse there is an acrostic that forms the word male, full or completeness. Then, there is another acrostic with the words, kamah mehem. It is a question followed by an answer, “How many of them?” The answer is “Completely.”
Secondly, the next acrostic in order says, b’shuvi shlomii, or “In my return is peace.” Considering the surrounding text, it is a rather remarkable acrostic which matches the intent of what is said in the verse itself. In fact, Sergio never read the verses. He just searched for the acrostics and then laid them out. When I told him how precisely they match the surrounding verses which speak of peace to Mordecai’s countrymen, he was astonished. Finally, many of the acrostic words in this verse form the same concept backward and forward. A theme is repeating as a stress to the story itself.
Now, with all of the book analyzed, the obvious question is, “Is there anything beyond the surface story that the Lord is telling us?” Esther is the last book of the Old Testament historical writings. Therefore, it would makes sense that what is recorded here would parallel the final historical account of Scripture itself. It is with that thought in mind, that we will all-too-briefly review the book of Esther from a pictorial perspective of history itself.
Exalted to the right hand of God!
All power and authority to act in His name
In every nation; everywhere that man does trod
His power is unlimited, as is His glory and fame
To the ends of the earth, and to the islands of the sea
Throughout all places His power and authority are known
His mighty deeds are recorded, O so carefully
So that of them, to all peoples they may be shown
He is good to His people, and to them He speaks words of peace
And in Him, His people shall forever delight
His greatness is eternal, never shall it cease
For the ages of ages, in Him we shall delight
Read Galatians 4:21-31. In Galatians 4, Paul says the two wives of Abraham are symbolic of the two covenants. Esther follows this same remarkable symbolism, showing it from another angle.
The book of Esther began with a statement concerning the reign of Ahasuerus over the entire realm of the empire. It then ended with a statement concerning the king imposing tribute on all the land and islands of the sea. But it includes the addition of the greatness of Mordecai. During the story, however, there was a time when the enemy of the Jews held that same position. From this, we can then see a history of the world itself; the dispensations of time in which the Bible is divided, and which detail the plan of redemption, brought about through a particular group of people, and a particular Individual, chosen to deliver them and be exalted among them.
The book begins with the king, in Shushan, or Lily. The Lily signifies great beauty and splendor. It is a favorite in the Song of Solomon, being used eight times there. It is equated to magnificent glory by Jesus in Luke 12:27 –
“Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”
And this is how Shushan is described right in Chapter 1. The details of the palace were magnificent. It was a place of joy and feasting, beauty and royal splendor. There was harmony, just as in the Garden of Eden. It is the dispensation of (1) Innocence. But then there arose a problem. The king sent his seven servants to bring his bride before the people. She disobeyed his orders. It is a picture of the fall of man. Vashti pictures the state of disobedience leading to the fall. If you remember, it was conjectured, rightly, that the king had asked Vashti to come with her crown, but nothing else was mentioned. Thus she was naked; a picture of a sinless state. However, she hid herself from the king. It is reminiscent of Adam and his wife hiding in the garden from the Lord.
Man was made lower than the angels, and he was crowned with glory and honor, but that crown was removed, and he was expelled from the presence of the Lord. Thus we see that Ahasuerus pictures the divine throne of God in Shusan, Paradise. Vashti signifies disobedience, and a loss of access to that throne. It was not merely an offense against the king, but against the throne. The same is true with the fall of man. It was an offense against the ruling power of God. It thus resulted in the fall of man and his expulsion from the Lord’s presence. At the fall, man was given authority over the woman in Genesis 3:16. This is repeated in Esther 1:22, where it said “that each man should be master in his own house.” It is the dispensation of (2) Conscience.
After this came a new law to correct the situation which occurred with Vashti. A search would be made for a new queen to replace her. This is the dispensation of (3) Government. It is a time when man would be found in many people groups, but in which a select line would be chosen out of them for the king’s delight. Each people group is represented by the gathering of the virgins, but only one will be selected. It is thus an anticipation of the dispensation of Promise, and which is realized in the selection of Esther.
If you remember, the virgins were brought forth, one at a time after being carefully evaluated and readied for their time before the king. There it said, that each virgin “was given whatever she desired to take with her from the women’s quarters to the king’s palace.” When Esther’s time came to go before the king, it said of her that “she requested nothing but what Hegai the king’s eunuch, the custodian of the women, advised.”
Hegai represents the Spirit of the Lord, directing the events, choosing the right person for the Promise, and relaying what is pleasing to God. Esther was chosen by him, he tended to her until she was ready for her meeting, and he recommended what she should take before the king. However, she was given the choice.
She could have taken whatever she desired, but her desire was to take what Hegai knew would please the king. It is a picture of free will being exercised in accord with God’s will, and thus it is a picture of salvation by grace through faith. The grace was given to Esther through her unmerited selection. The faith was Esther’s willingness to trust not in her own self, but in Hegai’s words. And this led to her selection as queen.
It is the call of Abraham; the dispensation of (4) Promise. Thus, whereas Vashti signifies disobedience and a loss of access to the throne, Esther signifies faithful obedience and access to the throne. Said otherwise, she represents the beauty of the Gospel. Hence, emunah in Hebrew, or pistis in Greek – both meaning “Faith” – are feminine nouns, represented by Esther.
In the next chapter, Haman comes flooding into the story. He is the enemy of the Jews. Everything about him shows him to be such. He is the son of Hammedatha, or “The son of the one who works in darkness.” He is also an Amalekite, an ancient enemy of the people of God. They are the “The People Who Wring Off.” They are those who are disconnected from the body and strive to disconnect the body. It is a fitting description of Haman and his coming actions. In the Exodus 17 sermon, we learned that the Amalekites represent false teachers, heretics, and other unregenerate people who are constantly attacking the weakest of the flock. Amalek is the natural man that Paul writes about in 1 Corinthians 2 –
“These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Corinthians 2:13, 14
One must wonder how he fits in then. There is Esther, representing access to the throne by Grace through Faith, and yet Haman obtained access to the throne, even the king’s signet-authority. What is he picturing? He is the dispensation of (5) Law, specifically its effect, which is a curse. As Paul says –
For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” 11 Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.” Galatians 3:10
We will just call him Law from here on. It is he who passed the law which would lead to the destruction of the Jews. In the edict, he offered to pay the price of their lives with silver. As I said then of Esther and Haman, one has found the favor of the king’s heart, and the other has found the favor of his throne. But we know that the law was given by God. How can that be contrary to the people of God? The answer is most especially found in Paul’s letter to the Romans, though he speaks about it throughout his letters. From Romans 7:7-11, we read –
“What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead. 9 I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died. 10 And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death. 11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me.”
Death comes through the law. Instead of accepting Haman’s silver, the king said to him, “The money (keseph/silver) and the people are given to you, do with them as seems good to you.” In the Bible, silver pictures redemption. Through the law would come redemption, but not in the way expected! The approval of the law was filled with seemingly surplus words – destroy, kill, annihilate; and young and old, little children, and women.
The cruel passion of the overuse of words was to ensure that complete destruction of all Jews, without exception, is the ultimate goal and expectation. Law leads to death for all. The people of Israel were given the law, and the law set about to bring death – exactly as the account in Esther shows, and exactly as Paul explains it in Romans.
It appears that Haman, Law, would prevail. But it must be remembered that justification by grace through faith – the Gospel – came before the law, just as Esther was introduced before Haman. The importance of this will be explained later.
With the coming of Haman, pur, or lots, were cast, and a date for the destruction of the Jews was set. The law was written, and it could not be revoked (or pass away). Though it seemed out of control, the unseen Lord’s guiding hand was still evident in Esther just as it has been evident in history. The law was not a mistake, but a lesson, a guide, and a tutor. We must remember that access to the throne was already granted to Esther, but it was not through law; it was by grace through faith. The law also provides access to the throne, but in a completely different way – total obedience; something we are incapable of.
What this means for now though is that Law, represented by Haman, is actually the enemy of the Jews. The very thing they trust in, is the very thing that is set to bring about their destruction. Ask any observant Jew if they believe this, and you will be called a lot more than just a heretic. And yet, this is what the Bible teaches, most specifically in the New Testament. However, it is even seen interspersed throughout the Old Testament as well. From Abraham, to David, to Isaiah, to Habakkuk, it is the constant, and yet wholly ignored, theme presented to Israel.
While considering the story thus far, what has been the status of Mordecai? Oh yes, Mordecai! We have overlooked that guy. His status? He has remained relatively out of the picture. He is in Shushan, or Lily. He raised Esther as his own daughter. Remember that she pictures restored access to the throne by grace through faith; the beauty of the Gospel.
He also sat within the king’s gate, and he charged Esther to not reveal her family or her people. That itself represents God’s dispensational plan of redemption. Though the pattern is set in Abraham, the dispensation of Promise, that stays concealed so that the dispensation of Law may be worked through. It is, as Paul relays in Galatians, a necessary step intended to lead man to Grace.
In the Bible, the sha’ar, or gate, is the place of judgment – where legal matters are resolved. So here is Mordecai, a Jew, sitting in the place of judgment, in Shushan. And now, we need to remember why Haman decided to kill the Jews. It is because of Mordecai. His hatred of Mordecai led him to want to kill all the Jews. If Mordecai represents Christ, and he does, then why would Haman, who represents Law, hate him? It is because Christ is, as Paul says, “the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”
If Law prevails, the people would continue to die because by the law is the knowledge of sin, and the wages of sin is death. Thus the devil would retain his authority over the world. Christ knew this, and so He came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it. In His fulfillment of it, the law would be rendered powerless. This is why Christ didn’t dispute the devil’s claim that the whole world was his and he could give it to any he chose. Through Law over fallen man, this was a true statement. In destroying the Jews, the promise of God to the patriarchs would fail.
The timing of the events of Chapter 3 are important to understand. Mordecai would not bow to Haman before Haman got the signet. Thus, in picture, his actions were not disobedience to Law, but obedience to Promise. The ancient enmity between man and Law goes all the way back to Eden. Paul explains it in Romans 7:9 with the words, “I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.”
Here we can remember what was said in Chapter 3 concerning the date of the casting of lots by Haman, the 13th of Nisan, the day before Passover. It was at this same time, almost 500 years later, that the Jews who prided themselves in the law, conspired together to destroy, Christ Jesus. As we saw, the number thirteen is the number connected to rebellion, apostasy, defection, corruption, disintegration, revolution, or some kindred idea. The law is an entity, not a person. But that entity is contrary to what has already been established in another entity, the Gospel of grace through faith, already seen in Abraham, and pictured by Esther.
At the end of Chapter 3, it was seen that the king (the throne) and Haman (Law) sat down to drink. Law, pictured by Haman, is seemingly now the way to access the throne. And that access is denied to all who are bound under it. With that, Chapter 4 immediately opened with Mordecai tearing his clothes and putting on sackcloth and ashes. With the law in place, Christ’s destiny was sealed. Only through death could there be life. As Isaiah says –
“He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.”Isaiah 53:3
It is an apt enough description for us of Mordecai at this point. Right at the beginning of Chapter 4, we read that “When Mordecai learned all that had happened, he tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the midst of the city. He cried out with a loud and bitter cry.” At that time, we were shown a very specific parallel between Mordecai and Esau.
In the Genesis sermons, Esau pictured fallen Adam. Jesus took on the nature of man, his humanity. In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul calls Him the second Adam. This then is the time of Jesus’ incarnation. He thus is representative of Israel, having lost their blessing, and who is now facing a curse. Christ came from Israel, revealing His humanity and that He is a Jew, under Law.
From there, Esther (the Gospel) wants to know what is the distress concerning Mordecai (Christ). So she sent Hathach to find out what was troubling him. Mordecai in turn explains what has transpired, including the decree of Haman, meaning death through the law. He notes the parashah, or exact amount of money that was offered for the destruction of the Jews.
As I said, the word parashah refers to a section of a biblical book, somewhat like our chapter divisions in the Bible. The parashah forms the basis for reading of Scripture in Jewish synagogues. It is the law as read by the Jews to this day, which bring them anticipated death. By law is the knowledge of sin, and the wages of sin is death. The law does not bring life; it brings death. But Mordecai went on, appealing for Esther to go before the king to petition for her people. Esther then responds that she has not been summoned by the king for an extended period of thirty days, and that to approach the king without being summoned would mean death. Was the Gospel given during the time of Promise still sufficient to bring her access to the throne? At that time, it said, “So they told Mordecai Esther’s words.”
Up until that point, everything was singular. All of a sudden, in verse 12, it changed to the plural. The plural, “they,” is speaking of anyone who had thus far believed God’s promises of faith in the Messiah. Messiah had been promised, and there is now a questioning of the Gospel of Grace by Faith. Had it failed? Would Law prevail? But rather than being an inopportune time, it was the perfect time – thirty days. The number thirty signifies “a higher degree the perfection of Divine order, as marking the right moment” (EW Bullinger). The chain of events had reached a time where a new direction should be sought.
And so Mordecai, picturing Christ, instructs that it is the perfect time to rely on the Gospel, and not be destroyed by Law. A marvelous change could be expected. It is at this time that Esther approaches the king without being summoned. Would she receive grace? The words testify to the fact – naseah khen b’enav, “she obtained grace in his eyes.” Yes! “The just shall live by faith.” And this was while Law was still the law.
In this, the offer of the king is made, “What do you wish, Queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given to you—up to half the kingdom!” Her only request, a banquet with the king (the throne) and Haman (Law). And that led to the petition for another banquet on the following day. But on that same day, the plot to hang Mordecai was also made. Haman’s hatred of Mordecai is seen in the Jews of Jesus’ time concerning Christ Himself. They wanted Him destroyed and so they plotted against Him. They trusted their deeds under the law rather than what the law pointed to – Christ. This is what Paul wrote about in Romans 2. A person “is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; 29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.” The Gospel of grace through faith in Messiah was concealed in the Old Testament, just as Mordecai instructed Esther to conceal her identity. Now that time was ended.
And so, on the same night, the king’s attention is directed to one whom he has decided to now honor. The time for the long overdue acknowledgment of approval has arrived. Calling in Haman (Law), he asks “What shall be done for the man whom the king delights to honor?” Obviously, those under law feel they have earned the right to the king’s favor, and so Haman thinks up the most outlandish and ostentatious display he can think of to herald his victory.
But then… it is Christ who is to be honored, not Law! And so what happens… it is he, Law, who lays the kingly attire on Mordecai (Christ), just as the kingly attire was placed on Christ in the gospels. Law actually adorns Christ for who He is!
Haman then leads Mordecai on a horse shouting aloud “Thus shall it be done to the man to whom the king delights to honor!” Paul says specifically that “the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” In picture, Haman, leading Mordecai around on the horse and yelling out his proclamation, is doing exactly that. Law is acting as a schoolmaster to the people that the king delights to honor grace through faith in Christ, not Law, because Christ is the fulfillment of the Law and the end of the law for righteousness for all who believe. It is by faith in Him, not in our deeds, that God delights. And to make that point perfectly obvious, Haman is then horrified, covering his face and rushing home where his wife and friends tell him that “If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of Jewish descent, you will not prevail against him but will surely fall before him.” Messiah has come. The Savior of Israel has made Himself manifest. The dispensation of Law is near its end.
Chapter 7 opens with the second banquet of Esther. It is when she petitions for her people, the Jews. They are under Law, and they are destined for annihilation. When the king finds that it is Haman (Law) that has set them for destruction, His wrath was raised. It is a picture of the wrath of God at sin. Paul says in Romans 4:15 that “the law brings about wrath,” and so there is only one way to remove the wrath, and that is through the death of Law. But the law is written, and it cannot pass away. However, its effects can. Again, Christ said, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill” (Matthew 5:17).
Through Christ’s fulfillment of Law, man can die to Law. With that, the king is told of a gallows made for Mordecai. His response: “Hang him on it.” With that, it says, “So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the king’s wrath subsided.” In the death of Jesus came the death of the Law for all who believe in Him. But you ask, “How can you equate Haman’s death with Christ? That doesn’t make any sense!” Well, it doesn’t if your stuck under Law, and can’t see beyond your own good efforts in an attempt to please God. But when you pull out your New Testament theological instruction manual, you find –
“And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” Colossians 2:13, 14
Haman pictures Law, but Christ actually died. It was Christ who was nailed to the cross, and so in type and picture, Christ became our Haman, our Man under Law, if you will. It is no different at all than Christ equating Himself with the serpent on the pole in John 3:14, or Paul saying that God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us. In the death of His body, the law died with Him for all who believe. For all who don’t, Law, and thus the enmity, remains.
This is where the marvelous symbolism of a very misunderstood passage in the book of John is explained. It says in John 20, “Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, 7 and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself.”
Many fanciful explanations have been made up about this, but the truth is revealed in what happened to Haman, when he was taken to be executed… they covered his face. The Law was to die. Christ died in fulfillment of the law. When He arose, the face covering was removed, and carefully folded. It was an intentional act of the Lord showing that the shame of death through Law had been removed for those who trust in Him.
The people of Israel, the Jews, even to this day, celebrate Purim, and yet they are celebrating the exact opposite of what they think they are celebrating. They curse Haman, stamp their feet, and howl wildly as his name is read, and yet, he simply pictures Law that they are still under. Until they come to Christ, Haman will continue to come after them to destroy, to be killed, and to be annihilated because of the ministry of death, meaning Law (2 Corinthians 3:7). Why do the Jews celebrate Purim? It is because of what pur signifies. It is a lot, a broken piece, and thus Purim, the plural of pur, signifies broken pieces. Pur means “to break,” “frustrate,” “make ineffectual,” “annul,” “bring to naught.” This is what Christ has done concerning our covenant with death according to Paul –
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.”
20 Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 1 Corinthians 1:18-25
The Jews cling to the law, but it is Christ who has defeated that enemy. The law is annulled in Christ. This is the message of Purim.
At the opening of Chapter 8, the first verse says, “On that day King Ahasuerus gave Queen Esther the house of Haman, the enemy of the Jews.” The Gospel has prevailed and has received everything that Law possessed. This is certain because no definite article was placed in front of the word “house.” Instead, it said, beit haman, or “house of Haman.” It is comparable to speaking of the house of David, meaning not just a physical house, but everything associated with David. What belonged to Haman (Law), all which made him who he was, transferred to Esther (Gospel).
It is at this time, that the King took off His signet and gave it to Mordecai. Gospel has replaced Law; Christ has been exalted over the house of Law. But immediately Esther falls at the king’s feet mourning in tears for her people. It is at this time in the story that the dispensation of (6) Grace finds its true entrance. For a second time, the golden scepter was held out to her. The Gospel is evidenced at anytime, but it was only fully realized for us after the fulfillment of Law. The Promise to Abraham leads to the Grace through Faith in the finished work of Christ Jesus. The law cannot annul what had already been determined by God, As Paul says in Galatians –
“And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect.” Galatians 3:17
Paul refers to the promise of Abraham as a “covenant.” He then says that the law cannot make it void. Likewise, the new covenant in Christ does not void the old covenant through Moses, but our death in Christ gives us a new life. In this, we are dead to Law and freed from it, and yet we are alive in the new covenant of Grace. Believe it or not, this is all seen right here in Esther. No law of God can be revoked, it must stand, including the Law of Moses, but He declares through the Gospel that the law is no longer in effect for all who are in Christ.
However, the law still has power over all who do not believe. The Jews are not out of hot water yet. They are sold to destruction by Law, even if Law is defeated. The date of their destruction is set, and it cannot be revoked. But Esther (Gospel) petitions the king for her people. There must be a way to save them. And so the King instructs Esther and Mordecai to use their signet authority. This is the reason for including the tribe from which Mordecai was from, Benjamin. It pictures what occurred. Benjamin was first named Ben-Oni, and then Benjamin. The Son of Suffering had become the Son of the Right hand. The signet of authority is His. And so He will use that authority in a remarkable way.
As I noted in Chapter 8, the word, tabaath, or signet was first used in Genesis 41:42 concerning the signet ring of Pharaoh. That was taken from his hand and granted to Joseph. It pictured the authority of Christ. After that, the same word was used to describe the rings for carrying the Ark of the Testimony in Exodus 25, which pictured the four gospels that reveal Christ. They are the link between the Old and New Testaments which speak of the coming Christ and the Christ who has come. They reveal His authority. The power and authority is found in the tabaath, or ring. Something Mordecai, picturing Christ, then uses.
The word issued by Haman (Law) is irrevocable. In this case it is a word which brings death. And yet, another word can be issued which will grant life. The king would not allow one word of reversal of the former command, but yet its power could be annulled through a new command.
The signet is the granting of all power and authority to Christ. The law is set, but He can still act without revoking the law. Though it is the dispensation of Grace, the focus is solely on the Jews, and Chapter 8 goes directly from the time of Christ’s first advent, to the tribulation period. The whole world, pictured by the Persian Empire, is set to destroy the Jews, but the Jews are now granted authority to defend themselves. It is a physical battle in Esther, but it as much pictures a spiritual one. The edict is issued is from Mordecai (Christ), and Esther (the Gospel), it is the New Covenant.
At the end of Chapter 8, Mordecai went out in royal apparel of blue and white, with a great crown of gold and a garment of fine linen and purple. The colors are reminiscent of those used in the tabernacle. They signify the exaltation of Christ, the embodiment of the law, His righteousness, His deity, His purity, and His royalty granted because of His sacrifice.
The Jews of today are at enmity with Christ. They are under Law, and the time of their destruction has been decided. But in the Bible, the final books after Paul’s letters are directed to them, not to the Gentiles. Hebrews, James, and Peter specifically, and John and Jude to some extent. And then there is Revelation. Chapters 1-3 are written to the church, but verses 4:2-19:10 are written to the Jews of the end times.
The physical destruction which is coming against Israel is a given, but the spiritual revitalization of them in coming to Christ is also. The Jews will prevail over their enemies, but the highlight of the narrative focuses on a very particular group within Sushan – five hundred the first day, three hundred the second day, and the ten sons of Haman. The larger numbers were explained in Chapter 9, but what was the point of mentioning the death of the ten sons of Haman, and then their being hanged after they were dead?
The answer is exactly the same of that of hanging Haman. The ten sons of Haman are what issue from the giving of the law, the Ten Commandments. It is Esther, the Gospel, who says to hang the ten sons of Haman. It is the Gospel of Christ which demands our allegiance to Him as the fulfillment of the law, not to the law itself. Hanging Haman left the sons untouched for the Jews. While the church pursued Christ, the Jews pursued Law.
Despite issuing from the law, the Ten Commandments are the basis of it. As long as Law is the goal, and not Christ’s fulfillment of it, a spiritual battle will always exist. Israel today, whether observant or secular, finds its foundation in the law, summed up by the Ten Commandments. Until they find their true foundation in Christ, the fulfillment of this law, they will remain at enmity with God. The Ten Commandments sum up the Law; Christ embodies the law. It is Christ who died on the cross, and yet Paul said that it is the law, meaning Christ’s fulfillment of it, which is nailed to the cross.
People try so hard to find a distinction between a moral law and a civil law in the Law of Moses. The Bible never makes this distinction. One is either under law and under sentence, or they are in Christ, under grace, and free from condemnation. Those are the only two choices the Bible gives. Chapter 9, symbolizing the Tribulation period, is given to lead the Jews to this understanding. Until they come to that realization, tough times lay ahead for them. But that time will end. The new law which is written is that which was prophesied in Jeremiah 31. A New Covenant was promised to the house of Israel and the house of Judah, but it only comes into effect for them when they, as a national group, accept it.
If you take the last paragraph of Chapter 9, and simply think of what each person is picturing, it opens up the passage. When you read Esther, think of the Gospel. When you read Abihail, think of Possessor of Might, When you read Mordecai, think of Christ Jesus. The kingdom of Ahasuerus is the world, the second letter is the New Testament. In fact, what is the almost-constant greeting in the New Testament epistles? Well what does it say in Esther 9? “And Mordecai sent letters to all the Jews, to the one hundred and twenty-seven provinces of the kingdom of Ahasuerus, with words of peace and truth.”
The one hundred and twenty-seven provinces picture the world. The New Testament epistles have gone out to the entire world, and they almost always begin with the word “peace,” and they always speak of Christ, who is the Truth. It is that word in Hebrew, emeth, or Truth, that we carefully analyzed in the last sermon. It is used 127 times in Scripture, just as there are 127 provinces. The Truth of Christ has gone out to the whole world – He is God; He did go to the cross, and He did shed His blood; He was, He is, He will be. All of this leads to what lies ahead for the Jews as a people, the (7) Millennial Reign of Christ, Chapter 10 of Esther.
King Ahasuerus pictures God, the ruler of the world, the greatness of Mordecai is the greatness of Christ Jesus, the second Member of the Godhead. It is the greatness of Mordecai which is highlighted in verse 2. He was advanced to his position of authority which was then recorded in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia. There in verse 10:2 is the second and last us of the word parashah in the Bible. Someday, the Jews will no longer look to the Law for their readings, but to – as it says – the “account of the greatness of Mordecai,” meaning the glory of Christ.
As I noted, it is the first time they are called “Media and Persia” rather than “Persia and Media.” And that is in conjunction with the words, “the book of the chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia.” As we saw, Media is associated with the word madad, or measure. Persia signifies “Division(s).” Where there were divisions and then the measure, there is now the measure and then divisions. There is a harmony which has been realized which was previously lacking. Thus the name is stated this way to show this. It is a picture of the Bible, God’s measure (canon), followed by its divisions – Testaments, books, chapters, and verses.
In that verse are found the words forming the acrostic, “They were killed and destroyed, and also the dark anger was cured, until Myrtle and the Word is here.” It shows the power of the law which exists until the wrath is appeased in Christ. What is really impressive is that that words include the hadas, or myrtle. This is because it is where the name Hadassah, Esther’s Hebrew name, is derived from. Isaiah references the myrtle twice (41:19 and 55:13). In these references Old Dominion University notes that they then concern “the divine establishment of the people in the land in subjection to Jehovah.” They then note that “As an evergreen, fragrant shrub associated with watercourses, the myrtle is a fitting symbol of the recovery and establishment of God’s promises.”
Imagine that! “…the divine establishment of the people in the land in subjection to Jehovah.” That is exactly what has been anticipated since their inception as a people. They have cast off His rule since the beginning, but the time is coming when they, the Jews, will be subject to Him, because of Christ.
The hadas, or myrtle, is associated with watercourses. Just as there were watercourse running through Eden, there will be that again in the Millennium. Read Ezekiel 47 to brush up on that. The description of the myrtle could not be more perfect – a “symbol of the recovery and establishment of God’s promises.”
What is even more unusual is that the myrtle is never mentioned until the first captivity of the Jews, but then it is specifically said to be used in the building of the tabernacles in Nehemiah 8:15, even though this was not stated in Leviticus at the giving of the law. Thus, the myrtle is again seen to be a picture of restoration. Understanding this, it is to be noted that the only Feast of the Lord mandated for the time of the Millennium is the Feast of Tabernacles. It makes it all the more amazing that the myrtle is here mentioned in this acrostic.
Finally, the acrostic finishes with, “and the Word is here.” The Word of God (Christ) will be there, ruling among His people, symbolized by Mordecai who bears the authority of the king. And then that is topped off with the final acrostics of verse 3. The secret question is, “How many of them?” The answer is “Completely.” This is referring to all who enter the Millennium. All of them will be believers in Christ.
Secondly, the last acrostic in order says, b’shuvi shlomii, or “In My return is peace.” In His first coming, peace is offered, but it was not yet realized for Israel. However, in His return, there will be peace. Isaiah prophesied of it –
“Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” Isaiah 9:7
This is what is pictured in this final passage of Esther. It is an amazing journey that Israel has been on, and it will soon come to its fulfillment. The Lord has regathered this particular group of people back into their land, and there they shall face their enemies, both physical and spiritual. When they realize what they have missed for so long, they will openly mourn over the path they had chosen. But when the time of mourning is past, they will rejoice in their deliverance, and they will celebrate in a way that they have never celebrated before.
The years of trouble, the seemingly never-ending death sentence, and also the times of pride and boasting in their own accomplishments will be behind them. They will find that for those redeemed by Christ, the only boasting to be done is in Him. When they have vanquished their enemies, they won’t lay their hands on the plunder. Rather, they will acknowledge that it belongs to the Lord alone. It is His victory, and it is His honor to receive –
Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9-11
This is the story of man’s redemption, from tragic fall to final restoration, it is all about the One who came to make things right again. Esther is a snapshot of this from a time gone by, and yet looking forward to a time of glory which lies ahead. How great is this word which reveals such marvelous things!
Closing Verse: “Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.” Romans 3:31
Next Week: Numbers 1:1-18 Starting another really great book, Booyah and Yes! (A Census in the Wilderness) (1st Numbers sermon)
The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. At times, you might feel as if he has no great design for you in life, but he has brought you to this moment to reveal His glory in and through you. So follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.
The Greatness of Mordecai
And King Ahasuerus imposed tribute on the land
And on the islands of the sea; so we understand
Now all the acts of his power and his might
And the account of the greatness of Mordecai
———-to which advanced him the king
Are they not written in the book of the chronicles
Of the kings of Media and Persia? Don’t they speak of this thing?
For Mordecai the Jew was second to King Ahasuerus
And was great among the Jews
And well received by the multitude of his brethren
———-seeking the good of his people
And speaking peace to all his countrymen
———-sending out the good news
Lord God, thank You for Your presence that is with us
Even when we don’t realize that You are there
Because You sent Your own Son Jesus
We can know that You truly do care
And Lord God, thank you for this wonderful book
Esther! What a marvel to have studied it
Into every detail possible we took a look
And to You our thanks and praise we now submit!
Hallelujah to Christ our Lord!
Hallelujah for Esther, a marvelous part of Your superior word!
Hallelujah and Amen…