Bible Passage: Esther 5

The Great King of Persia had an evil advisor, named Haman, who convinced the king to sign a decree condemning all of God’s people to death. But God provided a “savior” to deliver his people: Esther, the Queen of Persia, who was secretly a Jewess. In order to save her people, Esther knew she had to go before the king to plead for their salvation. But no one could go before the king without an invitation; the penalty was death. So Esther asked the people of God to pray and fast for three days. Then, after three days, she approached the throne room. Learn how Esther’s remarkable deliverance on the third day anticipates the story of Jesus, the True Savior of God’s people, and his deliverance from death on the third day!

The Gospel Connections

In Luke 24, Jesus taught his disciples that every story in the Bible points directly to him! He explained that we simply need to look for the gospel pattern of “suffering followed by glory.” That is, we need to look for something that points to his suffering on the cross, followed by something that points to the glory of his resurrection! Use the gospel chart below to help you find “the story within the story!”

The Story of Esther

The Story of Jesus

1. The children of Israel were under a sentence of death, being persecuted by Hamon, chief minister to the king of Persia (Est 3:1-15).

1. The children of Bethlehem were under a sentence of death, being persecuted by Herod, the king of Judea (Matt 2:16-18).

2. Mordecai was faithful to the king, but Hamon was jealous and raised up a gallows tree, intending to have Mordecai hanged on the tree (Est 5:9-14).

2. Jesus was rejected by the religious leaders in Jerusalem out of jealousy (Matt 27:15-18). They sought to have Jesus hanged on the tree of the cross (Matt 27:22-23).

3. God raised up Esther to be the Queen of Persia. She asked the people to pray and fast for her for three days (Est 4:16), after which she would venture her life for the people of God. The king granted her a pardon and she was delivered from death (Est 5:1-2).

3. Jesus taught the he would venture his life for the salvation of his people (Matt 26:26-28), but that he would be delivered from death after three days (Matt 16:21).

4. Haman’s jealousy was exposed, and the Great King in wrath had Haman hanged on the gallows tree he had intended for Mordecai (Est 7:7-10).

4. Jesus was hanged upon the tree of the cross, the just Jesus dying on the tree for the unjust sinners he had saved (1 Pet 3:18).

5. Mordecai was raised up in one day from condemnation to the right hand of the king. Under the seal of the king, the chief minister, Mordecai, sent letters of salvation respecting his people and many from all the nations joined the people of the Lord and became Jews (Est 8:1-17).

5. Jesus was raised up from death on the third day, and he ascended to the right hand of God (Mark 14:62, Acts 7:56). Letters of salvation from his apostles went out to the whole world. Many people from all nations were grafted in to the people of the covenant (Rom 11:11-24).

Gospel Study Notes

Connection #1

The story of Esther and Mordecai is remarkable because together they perfectly trace out the trajectory of the ministry of suffering and glory that was the ministry of Jesus, which we have seen in Joseph, Moses, and Daniel individually, and with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego together. In this instance we recognize the familiar character of Haman, who expresses the role of the antagonist, the serpent who would destroy the seed and thus hinder the appearance of the protagonist, the Seed of the Woman, the cosmic Redeemer (Gen 3:15, Rev 12:1-4). Both Esther and Mordecai will play the role of the Redeemer, Esther in his humility and suffering and Mordecai in his deliverance and glory.

Haman would destroy the nation while Herod, his antitype, would destroy the male sons of Bethlehem, all to hinder the promise of a Redeemer.

Connection #2

God blessed Mordecai and aroused the enmity of Haman, who built a gallows tree for Mordecai’s humiliation by hanging. He was certainly aware that hanging on a tree would bring Mordecai under the curse of his own law (Deut 21:22-23). Haman is a type of the religious leaders of Jerusalem, who for envy would deliver Jesus over to Pilate. Their purpose in seeking a Roman execution would be to humiliate the Savior by hanging him on the tree of the cross, likewise bringing the curse of the law upon him (Gal 3:13).

Connection #3

Esther is given the high honor in the book of being a type of Jesus in his weakness and suffering. God’s providence had adorned Esther with great beauty and so made her the queen of the king Haman served. She would have to craft a strategy to expose Haman to her husband in such a way as to deliver her people. She would have to intervene, but she had not seen her husband in thirty days and could not approach him unbidden except on penalty of death. So she offered to venture her own life in order to save her people Israel. As an expression of her faith, she asked the Jews of Susa to fast for her and pray for three days (Est 4:16). On the third day after her resolution to die if she must, she approached the king, who delivered her from death by extending his scepter of mercy. She then undertook to take the crafty Haman by craftiness and expose his enmity before her husband the king.

In all of this Esther is a perfect type of Jesus, who likewise ventured his life in order to save his people Israel. Jesus’ moral beauty was the basis of the Lord God’s extending him mercy, delivering him from death on the third day. By his wisdom the weak was made strong and the crafty was taken by craftiness (1 Cor 3:8, 19).

Connection #4

The gallows tree became itself a place of ironic deception by means of substitution. Haman intended it for Mordecai, but God intended it for Haman! Likewise the cross was intended by the Enemy for Jesus, but God intended it for the Enemy! It was a place of substitution—gospel substitution, the just in the place of the unjust (1 Pet 3:18).

Connection #5

Mordecai rounds out the gospel preview in that he too was delivered from death and raised up to the right hand of the Great King (Est 10:3). He was given the signet ring of the king’s own authority (Est 8:2, cf. Hag 2:23). Letters of salvation went out over the entire inhabited world of the Persian Empire telling how the Lord had saved his people. As a result of this gospel of Purim, many of the people became Jews (Est 8:17).

Mordecai is clearly a type of Christ. Jesus too was delivered from death and exalted to the right hand of the throne of heaven. From there he authorized his apostles to send letters of deliverance and joy to the entire world. Many of the people of the nations believed the gospel and so were grafted into the Israel of God (Gal 6:16).

Gospel Applications

  1. Redemptive history is filled with illustrations of the gospel of God among the nations. All these stories should encourage us in our suffering and embolden us in our hope of glory! We serve the Lord of life! He has ordained that we should be conformed to the same pattern of suffering and glory as his Son. It is our joy to take up our crosses with him, for we know that if we suffer with him, we will likewise be glorified with him in resurrection. Sometimes he will deliver us from our jeopardy in this life and promote the gospel of good news by our testimony of his saving power. But if need be, like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, we will resolve to obey God and not man, knowing that our God can deliver us, but even if he doesn’t, we will still obey him. Like Esther’s brave resolve, “If I perish, I perish.” For we know that our God will at last prevail. We will share his deliverance.
  2. It is our testimony of deliverance, of how God ordained the salvation of his people, that is the basis for evangelism. We celebrate our deliverance from death! We have appointed seasons, like Purim, festivals of joy. The joy of Purim is gospel joy, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. This spirit of joy should characterize the churches. He has saved us! He is gracious! And all are welcome to partake of our suppers of celebration in remembrance of him!

Dr. Warren A. Gage © 2022

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