It is the second time that a great reversal has occurred in the book of Esther. The first time was when we saw Esther captured by the king as he gathered all the virgins in the empire as he looked for a new queen. Rather than being relegated as a concubine for the rest of her days, she won the favor of the king and was elevated to the status of queen. But life did not continue happily ever after. Haman, the enemy of the Jews, has plotted the extermination of the Jews. In particular, he was going to have Mordecai executed because he would not give him honor. But as Haman comes to the king to execute his plan, God caused a great reversal so that Mordecai was elevated and Haman was impaled on his own pole. Mordecai is given the king’s signet ring that Haman possessed and also possessed Haman’s estate. This is the second reversal in the book. But again we are not able to end the book by saying that they all lived happily ever after. If we have forgotten, there was an irreversible edict made throughout the empire to destroy, kill, and annihilate all the Jews on a given day at the end of the year. That problem has not changed for the edict is still in effect. This situation sets up the final act of the book of Esther.
Esther again pleads with the king. The king extending his royal scepter in verse 4 reminds us again that a person does not simply walk up to the king and make a request. Esther falls at the king’s feet weeping and pleading. Esther has the favor of the king and his scepter is extended so that she is allowed to continue with her request. She asks that a decree be made to overrule the prior edict which declared the extermination of the Jews. The king tells Esther and Mordecai to write another decree as they see fit and put it in the king’s name and seal with the king’s ring so that it cannot be revoked. The decree is described in verse 11. The Jews are able to assemble and protect themselves from any armed forces that rise against them to kill them and plunder their property. The day they are able to this is the day when the prior edict said that people could destroy, kill, and annihilate the Jews. In short, the Jewish people can fight back against any who would try to kill them. So the edict is issued and sent throughout the empire.
Before we can move forward with what happens next, God wants to show us something important in verses 15-17. Mordecai leaves the presence of the king with new clothes. He is now wearing royal robes and a large crown. The city of Susa is in celebration for the elevation of Mordecai. Remember that Mordecai entered the king’s palace as a dead man walking. He was doomed to die but God has reversed his course and now he leaves the palace looking like a king to the joy of the people. For the Jews they are also celebrating throughout the empire. They now have light, joy, jubilation, and honor (NASB). The good news of light and joy is moving through the empire, causing the Jews to feast and celebrate. Notice what else happens at the end of verse 17. Many of the people in the empire also declare themselves to be Jews because the fear of the Jews seized them. The people of God were under the condemnation of death and living in fear. But this new edict has caused the people of God to have light and rejoice and now the rest of the nation lives in fear of them.
As chapter 9 opens we have jumped to the day that the edict said would be the destruction, killing, and annihilation of the Jews. Look at verse 1 carefully. This was the day that the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, but now the tables were turned and the Jews had the upper hand over those who hated them. No one could stand against the Jews (9:2). All of the officials of the empire also helped the Jews because they feared Mordecai. God’s righteous man has been vindicated and lifted to a position of power. All of the enemies of the Jews who rose up against the Jews were defeated. Now the edict said that the Jews could plunder the property of those who rose against them (8:11). But notice what we are told in verses 10, 15, and 16 in chapter 9. The Jews did not plunder the property of their enemies. Though authorized to take the plunder, they do not take the plunder because that is not the reason behind what they are doing. God’s people are triumphing over God’s enemies as a judgment, not as a means of seeking material gain. An extra day is given for triumphing over the enemies of God’s people. The sons of Haman are also impaled on poles (9:13-14). Mordecai is pictured as the new Saul who completes the task of utterly destroying all the Amalekites in a symbolic sense. Mordecai, in fact, does the opposite of Saul. Saul did not destroy the Amalekite enemies but did plunder their goods (1 Samuel 15:18-19). Mordecai and the Jews do not plunder these Amalekites but do destroy them as God intended. The Lord continues to war with those who stand against his people (cf. Exodus 17:16) and he will finish that war. The symbolic end of the Amalekites is finished for their unwarranted attack against the Jews. The wording of verse 18 is important. It declares that after these two days, the people of God were able to have rest from their enemies.
Never Forget (9:20-10:3)
This event was to now be an annual celebration for the Jews when they “got relief from their enemies, and as the month when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration (9:22). Mourning has been reversed into a day of celebration. The evil devised against the people of God had been turned back on their own heads (9:24-25). This was to be a perpetual observance so that the memory of this event would never fade away (9:28). The book ends with a description about Mordecai’s greatness. He is now second in rank and famous among the Jews because he sought the welfare of his people and spoke peace to all his people.
I hope that we can see the New Testament exploding off the page as the book of Esther concludes. Mordecai has become a foreshadowing of what would be done for the world, and in particular, the people of God, when Jesus came. Let us back up and consider the whole of the three chapters so that we can see Jesus clearly as our Savior. In chapter 8 we observed that intercession is being made for the people of God. Mordecai writes a new covenant to counteract the prior covenant which was a covenant of death. The new clothes of Mordecai represents his new status as ruling over the world. Mordecai went from the condemnation of death, experienced reversal, and has now been elevated to the king’s right hand. With this reversal accomplished, good news is proclaimed throughout the world. The good news is a message of light, gladness, joy, and honor. This good news will continued to be proclaimed until the time of judgment on God’s enemies which is set on a given date. As the proclamation is made, people in the empire begin to change their allegiance and claim to belong to the people of God. When the day of judgment arrives, Mordecai and his people will have complete victory over those who have risen up as enemies. The enemies of God and his people are final dealt the complete blow, leading to the rejoicing of God’s people. This victory was to never be forgotten, regularly celebrated by God’s people, remembering how relief has been given to God’s people and sorrow has been turned to joy. Finally, Mordecai is elevated because he worked for the welfare of his people and brought them peace.
This is what the Lord’s Supper remembers every week. We are remembering how we were under the proclamation of death but Jesus brought our reversal and rescue. His death to life reversal changes our condition from death to life. Jesus writes a new covenant for us which gives us victory over our enemies. Our greatest enemies are Satan, sin, and death. The writer of Hebrews joyfully proclaims this truth:
Now since the children have flesh and blood in common, Jesus also shared in these, so that through his death he might destroy the one holding the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who were held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death. (Hebrews 2:14–15 CSB)
The apostle Paul loudly proclaimed this truth with joy.
Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:51–57 ESV)
Jesus is elevated to the right hand of God, ruling over the world and putting all enemies under his feet because he worked, not for his own welfare, but for the welfare of his people, bringing them peace.
But we need to see where we are in this story. We are living in the time where the reversal decree has been given, but we are still waiting for judgment on the enemies. We are able to live courageously for the Lord in great faith because we are under the new covenant. We have heard the decree of the king. Anyone who rises up against the Lord and his people will be utterly crushed. We have nothing to fear because God will judge those who stand against him and against us. We are looking in hope for that day. The reversal, rescue, and elevation of Mordecai was symbolic of the reversal, rescue, and elevation that would happen for Mordecai’s people. The reversal, rescue, and elevation of Jesus was symbolic of the reversal, rescue, and elevation that will happen for Jesus’ people. We no longer live in fear. We live in hope.
Never forget that God reverses and rescues. Never forget that God has not left you. Never forget to celebrate what God has done.