This week we are examining Chapters 7 and 8 of Esther in which we find the dramatic climax of Esther’s story. Haman comes to Esther’s banquet full of hubris, assured in his own mind that he is about to finally receive all the honor he believes he is due. However, things quickly turn for Haman—his plot against the Jewish people is revealed by Esther, and by the end of Chapter 7 we find Haman impaled on the very pole he had erected for Mordecai. Things progress even further in Chapter 8 as Mordecai is elevated to Haman’s former position, Esther is given Haman’s estate, and the Jewish people are given the authority to plunder those who had plotted their demise. Fear is turned into joy for the Jews, and their numbers swell as multitudes convert to the Jewish faith.
This story of triumph and tragedy, of redemption and rescue, is not just the story of the Jewish people. It is also a beautiful allusion to the gospel, and, therefore, our story as followers of Christ. In Esther we see an unlikely heroine—an orphan with no connections or social status—elevated to the queen of the mightiest empire in the world. This now royal orphan risks her life to stand up to the most powerful men of her day to save her people from certain destruction. Esther’s plan to redeem her people was so audacious that its possibility never crossed the minds of their enemies. In the end, Esther’s plan brought death to those who opposed it and salvation, joy, and multiplication to God’s people. In 1 Cor. 1:18-31, Paul reminds us that the same holds true for the gospel of Jesus Christ. God’s plan to redeem mankind is so audacious that it flummoxed Satan, and it continues to confound the world to this day. That Jesus, the Son of God and Creator of the universe, would humble Himself to be born in a manger, would be despised and rejected by His own people, and then would die a cruel death on a cross, only to be raised again after 3 days in the tomb is hardly the redemptive plan that Hollywood would devise. Yet, God’s wisdom is greater than ours, and He devised a plan to redeem us that assures that only He gets the glory. Like the story of Esther, this gospel is a story that brings life to God’s people and destruction to His enemies. While it seems foolish to those who are perishing, the gospel of Jesus Christ is beautiful wisdom from above for believers.
It is interesting to note that these same Persian executioners who killed Haman would around this same time develop and perfect a tortuous and shameful means of execution that they would later teach to the Romans—crucifixion. While scholars debate whether Haman was hanged, impaled, or crucified (there is ambiguity in the Hebrew and Greek words used in the original texts), there is no debate that the fate of Haman and his family is the same fate we all deserve as rebels against God. But God, being rich in mercy, instead had Jesus die a cruel and shameful death like Haman, so we wouldn’t have to. Jesus became cursed like Haman so that we might become the righteousness of God.
- Read 2 Cor. 5:16-21. What does it mean that Jesus became sin so that we might become the righteousness of God? What does it mean that we are now God’s ambassadors with a ministry of reconciliation?
- Think of how Esther’s fortunes have changed through the story thus far. How does her story picture what Christ has done for us? For background, read Eph. 1 and 2.
- Do you see the gospel in these chapters of Esther? If so, how is the gospel pictured in these chapters?
- Do you agree that we all deserve Haman’s fate? Why or why not?