ESTHER 7:1 – 8:17 and ACTS 28:1–31
Haman, fresh off his humiliating parade involving Mordecai now comes to the banquet that Esther had prepared. One can only imagine what was going through his mind after the events surrounding Mordecai. Does he still have it in his mind to have Mordecai and the Jews brought to the gallows after the king has so abundantly poured favour upon Mordecai? If he did then he would be executing a man who the king just promoted. Perhaps, he felt that this humiliation would pass and he could make a move another day. For Haman, it is too late. What awaits him at the banquet is already sealed, he just does not know it yet.
This reminds me of the account concerning Judas. Once Satan entered into him (John 13:27) he could not but go and fulfil scripture. His fate was sealed because his heart was of a coveting nature. There comes a time when a line can be crossed and it will not be changed. Haman’s heart was self-serving and evil and now it has come to its ripeness. His evil was countered by a man (Mordecai) who was wise and knew how to obtain favour of the Lord. He knew when to hold his peace and when to speak up. He knew the timing of God and was able to prompt Esther to do the needful based on the position she was in as queen. Haman, has already begun to suffer under the eternal judgement that was coming his way. My sense is that he had a foreboding that things were not going to get any better. The wages of sin and evil are horrific.
This was the 2nd banquet that Esther had prepared and again the king asks what is to be done for her to the half of the kingdom. Can you see how important the timing of God is? If she brought forth her request earlier the results would have been totally different. The king did not yet have the troubling evening where he came to know about Mordecai’s report that spared his life. That changed everything, especially since Haman was plotting against him. This time Esther makes her plea to the king in verses 3-6. She appeals to the king that if she has found favour that life would be given to her and her people since there was a plot underway which would result in all of them being destroyed. The king then asked Esther as to who was behind this conspiracy against Esther and the Jews? She then looked at the king and pointed to Haman, citing him as the culprit. It is here and now when the king is alerted of this wicked plan. Esther was able to have this kind of access due to allowing herself to go through the process of the purification of women. She was skilfully guided by Mordecai throughout. The timing was ripe for this evil plan to come to the light, especially in the presence of the one who was devising it. There is so much that can be commented on in this account. Once again we do not see God mentioned in the Book of Esther but His providence is everywhere to be seen. We do not see the mention of the Holy Spirit but his qualities are on full display through the life of Mordecai. We do not see any mention of the Son of God however we see qualities in Esther in her willingness to lay her life down on behalf of her people. This Book is so rich and instructive at many levels.
Haman was horrified in being exposed before the king and queen in this manner. The king had to excuse himself due to his rage leaving Esther and Haman alone together. Haman knew that there was evil determined against him and pleaded with Esther to request the sparing of his life. It appears that Esther did not even have to say anything as Haman was fallen on the bed where Esther was which further enraged the king. Haman’s head was immediately covered and was prepared for judgement. One of the king’s chamberlain’s by the name of Harbona was aware of the gallows that were constructed at the word of Haman for Mordecai. The king gave immediate instruction to hang him on the very gallows that were designated for Mordecai. It is a most amazing turnaround of events. We see aspects of the Trinity, the evil one and the administration and sovereignty of God’s Kingdom. It is like a mini-Bible that conveys a powerful message during the restoration period of Israel’s history. May the Lord grant that we be Mordecai’s and Esther’s to our day.
The tables have now completely turned as Mordecai is given the position and authority that had been Haman’s. The king took off the ring from Haman before his execution and now gave it to Mordecai. Queen Esther once again sought to come before the king for the purpose of reversing the decree that was placed upon the Jews. The king immediately gave to Esther the house of Haman and told her to write the order as she saw fit and he would place his seal upon it. There would be no man who could reverse the seal of the king. Mordecai helped to instruct Esther how to write and put the implementation of the decree into motion. This decree was declared to the 127 provinces of the Persian Empire with immediate effect (vs 8-9). Do we appreciate the influence and favour that Esther and Mordecai were exercising at this time? This is no accident! They were honourable in all that they did which allowed the Lord to work on their behalf. It was mentioned earlier but this story is chock full of Biblical truths. Here is another verse that comes to mind:
“The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ.” (Rev 11:15)
The speed of which the reign of Haman was placed into the hands of Esther and Mordecai is breath-taking. The decree that came forth from the king enabled the Jews to destroy and spoil anyone who would seek to oppress them; such was the power and force behind this directive (vs 11). When God is on the move through humble servants there is nothing that will stand in the way. In a matter of moments the Jews who were despised and oppressed are now in a position of prominence within the provinces. This is epitomised through Mordecai as he now goes forth in royal apparel including a gold crown upon his head. It is a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ as He triumphs over nations at the time of the 2nd coming. There was great rejoicing amongst the people, especially the Jews for the sudden turn of events. God indeed has turned their mourning into dancing (Psa 30). The joy and influence of the Jews was so strong that many became Jews because of the Fear of the Lord that was upon them. It is a picture of the Gospel going forth to the Gentiles at the time of the early church. In one day their planned annihilation was about to take place; within a few days everything changed.
There is a Feast that is referred to in verse 12 that took place on the 13th day of the 12th month. It is the Feast of Purim. It is a Feast that is celebrated to commemorate the sudden change of events regarding the Jewish people. It speaks of the “Lot” being in the hands of the Lord. We clearly see God’s sovereign hand at work through the Book of Esther. What we also see is the responses and character of both Mordecai and Esther that enables God to work wondrously through this narrative. If we as God’s people can only learn to “obey” and flow in His directives we would see similar favour in our own lives. It is true; “to obey is better than sacrifice.” 1 Sam 15:22.
Paul and those on board the ship all arrived safely upon an island called Melita which is known today as Malta. The natives on the island were courteous and generous to Paul and the men who were on the ship. They understood their condition and sought to help them seeing that is was rainy and cold. Paul made an immediate impact by nature of a viper that bit his hand as he was preparing a fire. It was a reptile known to cause immediate death but he was not affected. The natives of the island initially concluded that Paul must have been a murderer or convict of some kind. The fact that a viper would bite and wrap around his hand was to them an indicator of the kind of character that Paul was. To their shock and amazement Paul shook off the viper into the fire and felt no harm. The people changed their minds and attributed Paul to be a god. It is another example of Paul being spared death due to being in the will of God. Paul and the men should have been dead while they were at sea yet they were spared. Paul should have been killed by the viper’s bite but he was spared. This in turn gave him increased favour with the natives. Soon afterwards Paul was able to meet with the chief man of the island who went by the name of Publius. It is amazing how the Lord was able to bring Paul into favour with people of rank in such a short period of time. The father of Publius was sick and Paul went in and healed him. Soon thereafter others who were on the island were likewise healed of their infirmities. This was an unexpected part of Paul’s journey nonetheless the Lord opened ministry opportunities for Paul. The time of their departure was at hand; they were sent off with an abundance of goods and honours.
Paul and the men on the ship embarked on a trip that was ill advised. The counsel of Paul was rejected and yet they set sail anyways. The situation was hopeless yet the Lord intervened by sparing Paul and each of the men on the ship. It provided Paul the opportunity to minister to the men as well as to the natives of Melita. This should inspire courage and a deep resolve within us in the midst of great difficulty. Paul had a way of pressing onward in the midst of great opposition whether it was men, weather or spiritual attacks. He also had the ability to be sensitive when the Spirit restrained him from going to Bithynia and other Asian destinations (Acts 16). One can argue whether Paul should have made his last trip to Jerusalem which resulted in an uproar amongst the Jews. The bottom line was that God gave him an audience with the right people which helped to secure his passage towards Rome. Paul is a most amazing character.
The journey towards Rome continued with destination stops along the way. Paul was finding added favour in several of these places as people came to know of his passing by. In verse 16 we see Paul finally arriving in Rome. He was initially attached to a centurion who had the oversight of Paul. Within three days Paul called several of the Jewish leaders together to reiterate his case before them. The Jews had been previously removed from Rome but have since been allowed to return. Paul gave a review of what had transpired to the Jewish leaders. They had not received any written word concerning Paul (vs 21) but they were interested in hearing in what he had to say. They also mentioned that this teaching was going around and that it was causing a stir amongst the hierarchy.
Paul was given an appointed day to speak before the gathered Jews. He expounded and taught from the Law of Moses and on Jesus as the risen Messiah. Just like in other places where Paul spoke there were those who believed and those who rejected his words (vs 24). The Old Testament prophesy of Isaiah is cited with regard to their spiritual condition (Isa 6:9). The Words of life were being proclaimed but they did not have ears to hear. Israel was indeed blind and deaf in part. Still, there were those who gladly came to hear Paul teach and share. This continued for a period of two years without any man being able to hinder Paul’s efforts. The road to Rome was a very costly by way of his journeys however it was also a very fruitful one as well. There were ministry opportunities along the way and the privilege of being able to share the good news of the Gospel to Jew and Gentile for a period of two years without any of the opposition that was experienced at Jerusalem. This now sets the stage for one of his most profound writings. The Book of Romans is a treasure chest of golden gems.