Summary: The story of Esther reveals God's plans and purposes for each of us as we live out lives that are directed by God's design and will. Nothing is by accident even if we are unable to figure out what God is up to. Esther gives a good example of this concept.
A well-known theologian was once asked to prove the existence of God. He replied that he could prove God’s existence in two words: “The Jew.” From ancient history to today, many nations have attempted to exterminate God’s chosen people.
• Starting with the Ancient Egyptian Empire who originally enslaved them and then tried to kill off all male babies,
• The Philistines and other nations who tried to annihilate them when they arrived in Canaan.
• Assyria, the Babylonian Empire and the Persian Empire, who massacred thousands, exiled them from their land, destroyed their temple and sometimes outlawed worship of their God.
• The Roman Empire, the Greek Empire, the Byzantine Empire, the Spanish Empire, the Crusaders, Nazi Germany, and Russia have all singled out the Jews for persecution.
• Today the Jewish Nation is surrounded on every border by countries who have declared their intention to destroy Israel.
Miraculously, the Jewish people remain as a distinct people --- one of the smallest, yet most powerful, of all nations. Certainly the most indestructible! As one Jewish historian puts it, “We have a Friend in the highest of places, so play nice.”Am Yisrael
Today we’re going to look at one of these attempts to wipe out God’s people. The book of Esther records an event that happened about 480 BC during the reign of Xerxes in the Persian Empire. Some of the Jews had been allowed to return to Israel and rebuild Jerusalem, but most Jews were still held captive in Persia.
The setting of our Story is the Palace in Susa, the capital city of Persia. The main characters are King Xerxes, Queen Esther, and Esther’s uncle Mordecai. And the villain of the story is the Persian Prime Minster … a man named Haman.
1. The Villain
Haman was a descendant of the Amalekites … who were the first tribe to oppose Israel when they approached the Promised Land. The Amalekite’s hatred for the Jews went back centuries. But Haman had a personal reason to hate the Jews. One of the King’s guards was a Jewish man named Mordecai. Everyone else bowed down to Prime Minister Haman, but Mordecai refused to bow. This infuriated Haman.
So in his arrogance, he hatched a plot. The plot would make it possible for him to murder Mordecai legally. More than that, it would make it legal to murder every single Jew in the whole land of Persia.
Haman convinced King Xerxes that the exiled Jews were his enemies and should all be exterminated. To sweeten the deal, he told the King that all the Jewish wealth would be confiscated and a certain portion of it would end up in the King’s treasury. The King didn’t really want to be bothered with details. The king said, “The money and the people are both yours to do with as you see fit.” Esther 3:11 Then he gave Haman his signet ring so he could make whatever decree he wanted.
So Haman issued a Royal Decree that on March 7 (less than a year away) the people of Persia had permission to kill every Jew without penalty, and they could take all the Jew’s possessions for themselves. This decree was sent out across all 127 provinces of Persia … from the borders of Egypt to the borders of India.
Let me tell you, this decree had the potential to completely wipe out all of God’s chosen people. It’s hard to explain why these enduring people have been the target of similar hatred from almost every country on earth at one time or another … except to realize that it has always been the heart of Satan’s plan to eliminate the people of God. You see this in the pages of the Bible. And you see the same violent plots against Israel in the pages of today’s newspapers.
The plot against Israel in the book of Esther never came to pass. And the rescue of God’s people came through the brave action of the heroine of this story … Queen Esther.
2. The Heroine
Esther started life as nothing more than a poor young Jewish exile. The way she rose to become the Queen of Persia reads like a fairy tale. When the King decided to find a suitable Queen, he sent out across the land for every lovely young woman to be brought before him in the Royal Palace.
Mordecai had a lovely cousin named Esther. He saw an opportunity to increase Jewish influence in the country, and he insisted beautiful young Esther should enter the contest. She did … and she won the King’s heart.
It was several years later when Mordecai came to Esther again with a desperate request. When Mordecai heard about Haman’s Royal Death Warrant, he sent a message to Queen Esther in the Palace. Mordecai asked her to go before the King and ask him to cancel the decree.