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Esther 4

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Historical Background

Historical Background

The Jews were in unwilling exile for about a generation. But in 540 BC, Cyrus the Great, king of Media and Persia, conquered Babylon. Shortly after the conquest, Cyrus issued a decree allowing the Jewish captives to return to Jerusalem and rebuild their temple. Though a few thousand eventually made the trek, many chose to remain in their adopted homeland.

Occasion & Context

Characters:
Characters:
King Ahasuerus (Xerxes) -King of Persia and Media
Queen Vashti- Refuses the King request and as a result her nobility is taken from her.
Esther- Jewish young woman who was made Queen.
Mordecai- A Benjaminite. Esther’s cousin who raised her as his own daughter.
It is important to note that Mordecai had discovered a plot to kill the King. He informed Queen Esther who informed the King. The plot was investigated and found to be true the perpetrators were found guilty and were hanged. And what Mordecai did in informing the King of this potential assassination plot was recorded in the book of chronicles. (We’ll see later the importance of this)
Haman- Haman the Agagite. He was promoted by the King and held a high ranking position withing the kingdom. It is Haman who was behind the plot to kill all the Jews. The question that needs to be asked here is how did Haman’s plot to kill the Jews come about.?.? Chapter 3 of Esther begins to answer the question.

Haman Plots Against the Jews

3 After these things King Ahasuerus promoted Haman the Agagite, the son of Hammedatha, and advanced him and set his throne above all the officials who were with him. 2 And all the king’s servants who were at the king’s gate bowed down and paid homage to Haman, for the king had so commanded concerning him. But Mordecai did not bow down or pay homage. 3 Then the king’s servants who were at the king’s gate said to Mordecai, “Why do you transgress the king’s command?” 4 And when they spoke to him day after day and he would not listen to them, they told Haman, in order to see whether Mordecai’s words would stand, for he had told them that he was a Jew. 5 And when Haman saw that Mordecai did not bow down or pay homage to him, Haman was filled with fury. 6 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.

The drama between Mordecai a Benjamite and Haman an Agagite goes back almost 1000 years when the Jews first exited from Egypt. The Amalekites in which Haman is a descendant of attacked Israel and God had pronounced a curse upon them which would result in their total elimination as a people.
As a reminder, King Saul was tasked to wipe out the Amalekites completely but he disobeyed leaving alive some of the Amalekites. King Saul’s disobedience in not completely wiping out the Amalekites had come full circle and again the enemy of Israel looked to wipe them out. The history between these two enemies was not forgotten by Mordecai or Haman.
Haman puts his plan into action… (Esther 3:8-11)

Haman puts his plan into action...

He was promoted by the King and held a high ranking position withing the kingdom.

8 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. 9 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.” 10 So the king took his signet ring from his hand and gave it to Haman the Agagite, the son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews. 11 And the king said to Haman, “The money is given to you, the people also, to do with them as it seems good to you.”

We now pick up at chapter 4 of Esther.

Esther Agrees to Help the Jews

4 When Mordecai learned all that had been done, Mordecai tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the midst of the city, and he cried out with a loud and bitter cry. 2 He went up to the entrance of the king’s gate, for no one was allowed to enter the king’s gate clothed in sackcloth. 3 And in every province, wherever the king’s command and his decree reached, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting and weeping and lamenting, and many of them lay in sackcloth and ashes.

4 When Esther’s young women and her eunuchs came and told her, the queen was deeply distressed. She sent garments to clothe Mordecai, so that he might take off his sackcloth, but he would not accept them. 5 Then Esther called for Hathach, one of the king’s eunuchs, who had been appointed to attend her, and ordered him to go to Mordecai to learn what this was and why it was. 6 Hathach went out to Mordecai in the open square of the city in front of the king’s gate, 7 and Mordecai told him all that had happened to him, and the exact sum of money that Haman had promised to pay into the king’s treasuries for the destruction of the Jews. 8 Mordecai also gave him a copy of the written decree issued in Susa for their destruction, that he might show it to Esther and explain it to her and command her to go to the king to beg his favor and plead with him on behalf of her people.

Intercessor/Advocate- a person who intervenes on behalf of another...
Both Mordecai and Esther act as an intercessor for the people of Israel.

9 And Hathach went and told Esther what Mordecai had said. 10 Then Esther spoke to Hathach and commanded him to go to Mordecai and say, 11 “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.”

12 And they told Mordecai what Esther had said. 13 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. 14 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?” 15 Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai, 16 “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.” 17 Mordecai then went away and did everything as Esther had ordered him.

11 “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.
Pointing to Christ-> Esther was willing to give up her life for her people.
12 And they told Mordecai what Esther had said. 13 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. 14 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?”
Pointing to Christ-> Esther was willing to give up her life for her people.
12 And they told Mordecai what Esther had said. 13 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. 14 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?”
2. 12 And they told Mordecai what Esther had said. 13 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. 14 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?”
12 And they told Mordecai what Esther had said. 13 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. 14 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?”
2. 12 And they told Mordecai what Esther had said. 13 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. 14 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?”
12 And they told Mordecai what Esther had said. 13 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. 14 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?”
2. 12 And they told Mordecai what Esther had said. 13 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. 14 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?”
Divine Sovereignty and Human responsibility work together. —> Providence of God displayed...
3. 15 Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai, 16 “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.” 17 Mordecai then went away and did everything as Esther had ordered him.
God gives power or position of influence so that we may care for those who are needy and powerless...
Easily consumed with our own affairs.(Esther could have) Do we possess the urgency to concern ourselves with the interest of others?
Easily consumed with our own affairs.(Esther could have) Do we possess the urgency to concern ourselves with the interest of others?
Advocate- Protector of His people.
Pointing to Christ —> We can approach the very throne room of the King of Kings.
- Let us therefore come boldly before the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace in time of need.
What causes you to question the nearness of God? (struggles, hardships)
Pointing to Christ —>God’s temporary deliverance through Esther was preparing for God’s ultimate deliverance through Christ.
God’s temporary deliverance through Esther was preparing for God’s ultimate deliverance through Christ.
God’s temporary deliverance through Esther was preparing for God’s ultimate deliverance through Christ.
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