The Word I am bringing for Sunday 20th March is the story of Esther and Purim and how to apply it to our personal lives.
This story demonstrates God’s provision to support Israel when a major clash of culture in the Persian empire erupts with Israel and where the local political climate conflicts with the Will and Word of God regarding His people. It tells the story of a young Jewish girl called Esther and a plot to annihilate her people, the entire Jewish population, by very wicked men. Esther became the queen of the Persian Empire, having achieved that status by means of winning a beauty contest.
God grants victory and deliverance to His chosen people in a miraculous way and the lessons taught and demonstrated in this book of the Bible impact even upon the political climate that surrounds us today and also in our personal lives.
The main players are The Persian King: His Queen Vashti: Haman: Mordecai: Esther: and Haman’s 10 sons.
The story of Purim holds a story within a story. We understand that the account of Queen Esther really did happen. It IS authentic history, but what if it is about our spiritual journey too. When I read stories in the Old Testament, I always try to understand what it means to us today and how God is working in our lives. So here we have a visual aid to understand ourselves.
To illustrate this point we can picture that the Persian king and the kingdom represents our lives without God. The Book of Esther never actually mentions God but He is in all of it. Man, a soulish being, governed by his mind, will and emotions (his own ego) sitting on his throne in his kingdom, filling his life to satisfy his soulish desires - partying, feasting and doing things “men behaving badly” do!
Queen Vashti represents his human spirit without Jesus and she is wrestling within him. The king, wanting to satisfy his restless soul, tries to make her do something she doesn’t want to do, and he dismisses her because she refuses to respond to his desires. The king seeks another Queen and when he finds Esther, he knows that this is the one for whom his heart longs.
Mordecai is a Jew chosen by God, a picture of the Holy Spirit of Jesus. Mordecai’s name means “Little Man” or humble man, and that immediately suggests the One who humbled himself and became man, who laid aside his glory and entered human life, becoming one with us and was obedient unto death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5-8) Mordecai, like Jesus, puts his life on the line to save the king of Persia and Israel. It is a picture of Jesus coming into the world not to condemn the world but to save it from a plot to kill us by satan, our enemy, who comes to kill steal and destroy.
Mordecai brings Esther and the king together and maneuvers her in the line of the king’s search. When a man is searching for a new meaning in his life, Holy Spirit moves in his favour.
Esther represents the new spirit in the lonely soul of man – full of Holy Spirit – she was also called Hadassah which means “Myrtle” or lowly shrub – It also means “hidden” – a description of the humble spirit of man. When Esther enters the life of the king, he is a changed man. When our spirits are made alive and new by faith in Jesus Christ, we discover that this is the one thing that our lives have been yearning for; that this is the one that satisfies the hunger of our souls.
We may call this, the conversion of the Persian king. He recognized in this lovely spirit of this young girl the answer to the empty restlessness of his life, and he set the sign of royalty upon her head, granted her authority in his kingdom, and thus found the beginning of a new life. Throughout the kingdom there is an immediate effect -- a lifting of the burdens of taxation and a liberal distribution of royal gifts by the king. Now what does that say to us?
Conversion is just the beginning of our Christian journey.
This is just the beginning of the story of Esther. These first chapters merely set the stage for the deliverance which God intends to work in the life of the king in this kingdom, just as he wants to work a similar deliverance in our lives in the kingdom of our own hearts.
Haman represents satan who is out to kill, steal and destroy us. The very existence of an evil force which is at work to devastate and to capture the mind, will, and emotions of man, to pervert these to its own uses, and to oppose God's purpose in man's life. You know that force well. He is at work in every area of influence we have, and our lives are at stake.
Two edicts were written – which were the Law. One by Haman and one by Modecai, Esther’s relative and guardian.
Haman wrote an edict for the king to annihilate the Jews, the people of the Book. It was a Law that could not be rescinded. This first law ordered the enemies of the Jews to attack them on a particular day, decided by a “lottery” (called “Pur” in the Hebrew which means “to cast lots”) now celebrated as Purim, bringing death throughout the country to every Jewish man, woman and child and to confiscate their property.
This edict or Law represents, for us, the 10 Commandments. It is written, “The letter of the Law kills."
Paul says, "While we were living in the flesh," (that is, in our own struggle to be good and obey the Law) “our sinful passions were aroused by that very Law”. We didn’t know we were breaking the law until we knew the Law. So, the letter of the Law works to bring forth fruit unto death. But the second edict releases us from the Old Law of death by receiving the New Covenant in Jesus’ Blood.
Paul goes on to say,
“But now we are discharged from the law, dead to that which held us captive [that law no longer affects us] so that we serve not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit”. (Romans 7:6 RSV)
The second edict written by Mordecai, was declared on that same day. The Jews are now permitted by Law to fight, and defend themselves, their families and their property with the full authority and approval of the king himself to set themselves free.
That new law that went forth, is for us the Law full of the Spirit Jesus, which has set us free from the condemnation of the Old Law. We are now free to fight for ourselves, our families and all that is dear to us, in the name of God and thus we are able to overcome. We are in a battle. “If the Son has set you free, you are free indeed.” It is written “The letter of the Law brings death but the Spirit of the Law brings life”.
In the story of Esther, God miraculously saves His people. He empowers them to fight back and Haman is hanged on his own gallows. “For our fight is not against flesh and blood but against the evil powers of the unseen world” (Ephsians 6) 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:57
In Colossians we read: “He disarmed the principalities and powers and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in Him [that is, in the cross]”. (Colossians 2:15 RSV)
The soul of man is the prize in this great warfare, carried on within the soul of each of us. The enemy tries to strike us, but Mordecai in the story of Esther is now sitting in the gate as a judge in the city for he has not yet full access to the palace. He discovers the plot to annihilate the Jews, and the adversaries are taken out and publicly "hanged on the gallows". The literal Hebrew is that they were "impaled, or nailed to a tree." “I always say, “Give a man enough rope and he’ll hang himself."
Holy Spirit is always watching over us to alert us to the tactics of the enemy.
Now let’s look at the 10 sons of Haman who were also put to death, Rev: Ray Stedman who researched the Hebrew names of the ten sons of Haman noted how they were given. To each one of these names the Hebrew word self is attached.
Parshandatha means "curious-self," that is nosiness, a desire to pry into other people's matters.
Dalphon means "weeping-self," or self-pity.
Aspatha means “Self indulgent”.
Poratha means "generous to self," or "selfish”.
Adalia means Fire God or “Self glorification”.
Aridatha means "strong-self," or assertiveness.
Parsashta means "pre-eminent-self," or ambitious.
Arisai means "bold-self," which would be impudence.
Aridai is "dignified-self," that is pride. And finally,
Vaizatha means "pure-self," without blemish – he sees himself better or not so polluted as others.
These are the traits of “Self” that threaten to overcome us that need to be put to death also. As we look again into the story of Esther, we will discover what God, the Holy Spirit, intends to do in the life of each one of us in whom Jesus Christ has found a throne. He will expose in us the hidden plot that attempts to keep our lives continually in bondage to our own selfish ways. Then in His amazing deliverance, He brings us out into the glorious liberty and freedom as the Children of God in Victory.
Notes taken from the book of Esther by Rev. Ray Stedman