Israel was originally formed to be a witness for God to the nations. In Deuteronomy God had promised Israel that they would be the head of nations if they were faithful to his word. If they failed, they would become the tail, they would serve others. God committed power to them, as seen in David and Solomon. Kings of the world came and paid tribute at Jerusalem. Israel's unfaithfulness resulted in God giving the power to the gentiles. Israel (the ten tribes) were taken captive by the Assyrians, and later the tribes of Judah and Benjamin were taken to Babylon for 70 years. At the end of that time Cyrus allowed them to return to Jerusalam. The history of the returned Jews is given in Ezra and Nehemiah. God had owned the returned Jews by providing leadership as well as the prophets Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi, so that the temple and the wall were rebuilt, the feast days were re-instated and they were blessed with a revival.

The Jews in the book of Esther were the ones who had remained among the Gentiles, had settled down there - the
dispersed Jews. In the dispersed Jews we see a people that had lost all title to God's name and protection. Yet this book shows God's care for them even though they were not in a position that could be publicly owned of God. Hence the fact that God's name is not mentioned. God had warned Israel in Hosea 5:6, ``he hath withdrawn himself from them''; and in verse 15, ``I will go away, I will return to my place, till they acknowledge their trespass...'' Theirs was a sad condition. We are reminded of it in Psalm 74; note particularly verse 9, ``We see not our signs; there is no more any prophet, neither is there any among us that knoweth how long''.

In brief, Israel had power committed to them and when they failed it was given to the gentiles. Later Israel had grace and salvation offered to them by their Messiah. When they refused that, God offered grace and salvation to the whole world. Hence they are still dispersed and it is still ``the time of the gentiles''.

To return to the details, we find the hand of God in his providence; we find Haman the Amalekite
described by Esther as ``the adversary and enemy'' (chapter 7:6); we find the gentile power; we find the Jews and a faithful man in Mordecai, and his niece Esther. We can pause to consider Haman and what he represents one who exalts himself, who is proud and without the fear of God, and who stands against God and his people. He, along with some others in the pages of scripture, represents the Beast as described in Revelation. One common theme is that he must destroy the Jews - not just Mordecai - but all in the vast realm of the Persian king. It was the same with Adolph Hitler, and it will be so at the end as the Psalm indicates: ``Come and let us cut them off from being a nation, that the name of Israel be mentioned no more'' Psalm 83:4. In the same Psalm, verse 7, the Amalekites appear with the great alliance that is against God and his people.

The Persian kings had taken a place to be as God. They had three ordinances that tell us this. No one was to appear in the king's presence without being asked; no one was to be sad in the royal presence, and no decree of the king could be repealed
- it was forever. With all his power, Ahasuerus was indebted to the Jews - Mordecai for saving his life, and to Esther for being his wife! Mordecai would save the life of the gentile king, but his faithfulness to God would not allow him to do reverence to Haman the Amalekite, as God had promised he would have war with that race for ever. (Exodus 17:16). Just as Haman stands for the great adversary of God and his people, so Mordecai is a representative of the faithful remnant of Israel. He is prepared to lay down his life, as were Daniel's three friends.

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The power and pride of the adversary is allowed to fully develop - as seen in Haman - then sudden destruction. This is also seen in the case of Herod in Acts; ``a god's voice, and not a man's'', cry the people, before his sudden and ignominious death. It will be the case with the beast and the false prophet, as stated in Revelation. It will be so with the false religious system, great Babylon; ``she who sits a queen and who says I am no widow'', her destruction comes in one hour. Evil power goes from the pinnacle of glory to destruction, suddenly. The people of God go from a position of desperation to one of glory.

When Israel was oppressed in Egypt, God was preparing Moses to lead them out. And so it was in this book. Perhaps it will be like that with the church before the Lord comes. The world in its glory its science and technology performing ``wonders'', infidelity abounding, wickedness condoned, and the church outwardly in a mess, and publicly mixed with the world. The Lord's coming for the church will take us to glory, then the manifesting of the man of sin, then the judgment on this world - the ``day of the Lord'' - and the appearing of Christ to take up his rights, the ushering in of the kingdom of God on earth, the Millennium.

The Book of Esther is really the close of the history of the Old Testament and in it the leading features of the story of Israel are like this:
-        the present casting off of that nation, and the hiding of God's face from them; and yet they are kept among the gentiles by his care [providence];
-        the calling of a remnant from among them and their repentance at the last, which leads them into the kingdom;
  • the judgment of their adversaries and oppressors;
  • their deliverance, exaltation and blessing in the kingdom, and their leadership of the nations. [As Paul reminds us, the gifts and calling of God are not subject to repentance, i.e. God's purpose to have Israel pre-eminent on earth is not revoked.]

There is so much more that we can learn from this little book. What treasures of God are there! The purpose of this short article is to give the broad setting of it and to encourage the reader to study it further with the Lord's help.
MM