Friday, February 26th, 2021 —
Esther: Overcomer Extraordinaire
Our theme for 2021 is Overcomer. The book of Esther is the story of an orphan raised in exile by her uncle. Esther would be taken into the harem of Xerxes I (Ahasuerus), the son and successor of Darius the Great. His mother was Atossa, a daughter of Cyrus the Great. Xerxes was incited to take revenge for the defeat his father had suffered at the hands of the Greeks at Marathon and so deployed the massive invasion of Greece marked by the battle of Thermopylae. The story of Esther and Purim, a planned holocaust of God’s people, enters history here. The famous wine feast (Esther 1) that set in motion the events that brings Esther to the palace was part of a three-year diplomatic and military campaign in preparation for war. Troops were levied in all the satrapies, and a navy, intended to be the army's supply line, was gathered. Herodotus notes that never before had such an effort been undertaken.
The story of the young Jewish girl who became “the neck that turns the head” of the ruler of the known world has been much romanticized. Her human experience was most likely very different. Esther was conscripted and placed in the harem. For half a year she was groomed for the night she would be taken to the king’s bedchamber. It doesn’t take much for the modern mind to understand what this meant, before and after. But Esther’s sacrifice is the lynch pin in God’s plan between Cyrus’ decree to rebuild Jerusalem (Ezra 1:2) and Nehemiah’s undertaking to finish the job. When Nehemiah petitions the king for permission and supply to rebuild Zion and Jerusalem, “the queen is sitting beside him” (Neh. 2:6).
Her rise to significance was built on a foundation of great personal faith and sacrifice. Esther obeys her uncle. Then she obeys Hegai, the king’s eunuch, custodian of the women. Both events were an extraordinary exercise of faith and submission. When morning comes and Esther is taken away from the king’s bedchamber, we may doubt whether she had in her mind that the hand of God was on her for good. Her fortunes were about to take a dramatic turn which would result in averting a Jewish holocaust and rebuild the temple in her homeland.
“In the first month, which is the month of Nisan, in the twelfth year of King Ahasuerus, they cast Pur” (Esther 3:7). The parable of the sower tells us that the world is a field in which “sons of the devil,” persons under the influence and powers of darkness, are at work. Haman was one. Esther overcame him. Wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove, with Mordechai’s advice and God’s favor, Esther outwits evil through faith and obedience—and courage and personal sacrifice. We can see in her a type of Christ whose faith and obedience as a Son secured deliverance for the human race from the holocaust of spiritual destruction prepared for the devil and his angels. We take inspiration from Esther’s story and commit ourselves to fresh faith, obedience, and personal sacrifice, as the good seed the Sower has sown in His field and from which He will receive an abundant harvest at the end of the age when He rules as King over all!
The story of Esther happened after Cyrus, the first Persian King, called for all deported Jews to return to Jerusalem to build the House of God (538 B.C., Ezra 1:2). Most of the Jews preferred the comfortable life of the Persian Empire to an arduous life rebuilding their devastated homeland. The Talmud sees Haman’s decree as a punishment from Heaven to these Jews. When, several years later, Nehemiah asked the Persian King for permission to return to Zion and rebuild Jerusalem, “the Queen is sitting by him” (Nehemiah 2:6), and she influenced the King’s decision to approve Nehemiah’s request. The Queen described in the Book of Nehemiah is Queen Esther. She stayed with Ahasuerus and sacrificed her personal happiness to complete her ultimate mission to enable the building of the Second Temple and the return to Zion.
Nehemiah 2:10, “When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard of it, they were deeply disturbed that a man had come to seek the well-being of the children of Israel.”
Today, we seek the well-being of Israel. The spirit of Haman is alive today threatening both Jews and Christians. We bind the spirit of Haman, the antichrist spirit, and declare that the Lord God of Israel will make all the nations honor His promises for Israel. We bless Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. We pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and rejoice in the mighty God who is more than able to deliver and protect His people. Pray for individuals and families who need a great deliverance and supernatural healing. We overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the Word of our testimony (Revelation 12:11).
We set aside time for extra laughter and joy during Purim. We rejoice in the defeat of the enemies of the God of Israel. Let God arise and let His enemies be scattered! Chag Semeach!
Psalm 126:1-2, “When the Lord brought back the captivity of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing. Then they said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’”
Psalm 2:1-4, “Why do the nations rage, And the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, And the rulers take counsel together, Against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, ‘Let us break Their bonds in pieces And cast away Their cords from us.’ He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; The Lord shall hold them in derision.”