A prisoner who has been sentenced to die in the electric chair, and who through “friends” outside the prison succeeds in getting the judge, who sentenced him, shot to death, and his home burned to the ground, will not by these deeds escape the punishment decreed for him, and save his own life. His wrath may be pacified. He may gloat over the fact that he got revenge upon his enemy. But though the judge is dead, his sentence stands. And those who had been appointed to carry out the sentence will execute it in due time. The sentence remains on the books after the judge has gone the way of all flesh.
Similarly when king Ahasuerus had Haman hanged on the gallows, which he had built for his enemy Mordecai, the king got revenge. His wrath was also pacified, we read in Esther 7:10. So was Esther’s wrath against Haman pacified; and she got the revenge she sought. Mordecai’s flesh likewise was highly pleased by this turn of events upon his enemy. But the fact remains that Haman had gotten a decree that on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month all the Jews in the kingdom must be killed. And the law of the Medes and Persians cannot be altered. Haman’s death in no way affected that decision.
This explains why Esther made one more uncalled-for appearance before the king on his throne. The king had taken Haman’s life. He had give Esther Haman’s house; and she in turn gave it to Mordecai. The kind had also exalted Mordecai to be his prime minister in the place of Haman. But Mordecai would serve in this capacity only for a few months, and enjoy this house of Haman very briefly. Esther likewise would. see this happy turn of events only for a short while. You may be sure that both Esther and Mordecai would have exchanged this house and political office of high standing for an extension of their lives. Without life these have no meaning. Without life they cannot be enjoyed. When life here below ends, all that is here below slips away from us. Therefore Esther appears once again before the king. For if he does not reverse the decision that all the Jews in his realm be slain, Esther and Mordecai also would lose their lives.
In light of all this one has difficulty trying to figure out this king. Did he have such a poor memory? Was he so often under the influence of alcohol that he was not even aware of what was going on in his kingdom, and what decisions he had been led to make? Did he not see that hanging Haman and giving his house to Esther would not keep her from being slain on that thirteenth day of the twelfth month? Was he so under the influence of alcohol that he could not think that matter through to see that he had to do more? Did he have to wait for Esther to come and point out the consequences of his decision that Haman had moved him to make? Was he under alcoholic influence when he agreed with Haman, and now he does not yet realize what he did then?
Consider first of all that the king knew that Mordecai was a Jew. Esther 6:10 leaves no doubt about that. The king told Haman to “do even so to Mordecai the Jew.” He did not yet know Mordecai’s relation to Esther, but that he knew that he was a Jew cannot be denied. Then too consider that Esther’s maids and chamberlains knew that she was the adopted daughter of Mordecai. According to Esther 4:1-4 she sent her maids and chamberlains to Mordecai. And Mordecai, according to verse 8, told Hatach to tell Esther to make request for her people before the king. There was no reason for hiding her people now. She too was doomed to be killed in the twelfth month of the year; and it was urgent that she do something for her people and for herself. We can, however, only wonder whether before this Esther always told the truth or sometimes lied to hide the fact that she was a Jewess—at least there in the palace and before her maids and chamberlains. Knowing that Mordecai the Jew was the one who brought her up as his adopted daughter, she may have had to lie to keep Mordecai’s charge that she not reveal her people and her kindred. Husbands and wives however have adopted children of another kindred and people. And in this mixed populace of that vast realm of Ahasuerus it would not have been strange for one to adopt a child of another people and kindred. Being an extremely beautiful woman it may not have shown on her face that she was a Jewess. Not that Jewish women were not at times very beautiful. Think of Sarah and of Rachel. But there must have been something in her features that made it possible for her to pass for anything but a Jewess. At least the secret was kept until the decree that Haman got from the king was published, and Esther had to send clothing to Mordecai, and had to send Hatach to find out why he did not put off his sackcloth and take the clothes which she had sent.
Even the three days of fasting which the Jews practiced were, according to Esther 4:15, 16, for her sake. This, too, would reveal to the inhabitants of Shushan that she, was a Jewess. In the providence of God this did not get to the king’s ears, nor to Haman’s. For God had something else in mind and was preparing for Haman’s downfall. But there was plenty of evidence afloat now that Esther was of that people whose death and destruction were slated to take place in a few months.
Only the almighty hand of the God of our salvation, which moves every creature and fulfills His counsel in every detail as He eternally decreed it, led the affairs in the kingdom so that the king and Haman, up till the moment that Esther revealed it in her plea before the king at that second banquet, did not know that which many in the very palace of the king knew about Esther, namely, her people and kindred and her relation to Mordecai. We read in Esther 8:1 that Esther told the king who Mordecai was to her. This however was after Haman had been exposed as the king’s enemy as well as the Jew’s enemy.
But knowing that he was a Jew, and knowing that Haman had made him draw up such a decree concerning the sure death of the Jews, one can only wonder about this king who does not put two and two together and get four. He gives Haman’s house. He promotes Mordecai to be his prime minister, but he seems at least to forget that the sword still hangs over the head of his wife and new prime minister. Truly here also the “king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of waters: He turneth it whithersoever he will” (Proverbs 21:1). We can call it folly as far as Ahasuerus is concerned. But it is divine wisdom and covenant faithfulness for His people. And we do have here a beautiful manifestation of God’s grace upon His people, which will be pointed out in a moment.
The God Whose grace for His people abideth ever, and Whose mercy upon them faileth never, once again makes the king extend the rod to Esther when she appeared before him .uncalled-for and with a request. He also moved him to tell Mordecai to write whatever he pleased and to seal it with the king’s ring, so that it might not be reversed. And Mordecai wrote a decree that circumvented, not reversed, the decree Haman got from the king. It gave the Jews the right to assemble and fight against those who would seek on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month to kill and to destroy them. The very decree was signed by a Jew who was the new prime minister. This struck fear in some of the Jew’s enemies. And we now have in that kingdom two conflicting laws which invited civil war and social unrest as well as confusion in the minds of the subjects of that vast kingdom.
All this came out of God’s counsel and served to preserve the seed of the woman, so that The Seed of the Woman might be born, and in time crush the head of the serpent and of his seed. But it must be borne in mind that God does not save us from our sins by circumventing His law. The law of the Medes and Persians was the law of finite man; and when the Medes and Persians were overthrown and their kingdom swallowed up by the Greeks, their laws melted into nothingness. When we deal with our sins before God, we deal with the eternal, infinite Creator of heaven and earth. We are dealing with One Whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom and Whose laws are never altered or withdrawn. Being wise and good they need no amendment, nor future qualifications. He says, “Love Me.” And there is no way to circumvent that law. He created us for that purpose and will never, never wink at any failure to do so. It was only one sin of Adam that brought death and the curse upon this world, and then it was what to us might look like a rather innocent sin without any violence or harm to another man. But God said that to eat would bring death, and one bite of the forbidden fruit did unalterably bring death. And if we look for that law to be circumvented, we are looking for what will not and never can happen.
Instead God spared the lives of the Jews so that the Christ might be born and from the moment of His birth might fulfill, not circumvent, that law for the elect, and so fully satisfy for our sins that there is not one smallest fraction of punishment and of the curse that is left for the Church of which that Christ is the Head.
In this day of shadows we see a circumventing of man’s unjust, foolish law resulting in fighting, bloodshed, death, and violence. Three hundred of the enemies of the Jews died in Shushan alone. In all the realm seventy-five thousand citizens of that kingdom had their lives wiped out because of these two conflicting laws. Circumvention did not bring peace but a sword. And such circumvention of the law certainly did not achieve peace with God. He planned it all this way in His counsel so that The Prince of Peace might come as promised from the day that God’s unalterable law was broken. But Esther, Mordecai, and Ahasuerus did not realize peace with God for their people and kindred. Indeed, we read inEsther 9:16 that the Jews did not lay their hands on the prey, even though Mordecai saw to it that the decree gave them permission “to take the spoil of them for a prey.” It cannot be denied that there still was burning bitterness in the heart of Mordecai. He had no peaceful thoughts against any who might rise up against the Jews on that day that was singled out by Haman. But more serious is the fact that peace with God is completely out of the picture here. The whole book of Esther reads like any, history book written by an unbeliever, as far as the behavior of the characters in it is concerned. There just is nothing of faith that the secondary author used by God could in all honesty write about any of them.
Consider also that the decree Haman wrote was sent to the king’s lieutenants, governors, the rulers of every province and to every people after their language. The decree Mordecai drew up has this significant addition that we read, “and to the Jews according to their writing”; and it “granted the Jews which were in every city to gather themselves together to stand for their lives.” The rulers who received this second decree were instructed and warned in it; but the Jews were only encouraged to resist. We find not one word, however, addressed to these Jews encouraging them to put their trust in God and have peace of mind because of His covenant faithfulness to all His promises. Paul writes in Philippians 4:6, 7: “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds in Christ.” There is not even the suggestion of such a message to the Jews here. But we will have more of this in the next article.