Esther 8:1-14 - The Aftermath After Haman's Death
In the book ‘The Valley of Vision’ an old puritan prayed, “It is amazing love, that you have sent your Son to suffer in my place, that you have added the Spirit to teach, comfort, and guide, that you have allowed the ministry of angels to wall me round; All heaven subserves the welfare of a poor worm.”
Our text today will remind us that God’s providence does not often take the straightest path, the easiest route, or the course that we would choose for ourselves; but the LORD does provide us with grace, the comfort of the Holy Spirit and the help of His angels as we travel toward heaven. Indeed, all heaven subserves the welfare of His people. Today we see Mordecai, who was nothing more than a worm to Haman, exalted as God continues to save His people.
In Esther 8:1-8 we see the ‘immediate aftermath’ that took place after Haman had been killed.
• King Ahasuerus gave Queen Esther Haman’s estate (1).
• Esther tells the king about Mordecai and he’s given the king’s signet ring (1-2).
• Esther gives Mordecai stewardship of her new estate (3).
• The queen falls before the king weeping and pleading for her people (3-6).
• The king speaks of what has been already been done and what cannot be undone (7-8).
In Esther 8:9-14 we see the ‘action that is taken’ to save the Jewish people.
• King’s scribes were gathered and an edict was written (9).
• The edict was written in the name of the king and sealed with his signet ring (10).
• The edict is sent out to the entire empire on the king’s fastest horses (14).
Haman has been killed but there are still things that had been put into motion that do not just go away (7:10, 8:7). The edict that was sent out two and a half months earlier still remains in effect. Not even King Ahasuerus can revoke that decree but God is still sovereignly and providentially working all things by His infinite wisdom! King Ahasuerus could not revoke the decree of a dead man but God can!
In the opening eight verses Haman’s name is mentioned six times. Haman is gone but there are still things that need to be done quickly. In verses 1-8 we do see things happening quickly.
• The king gives Esther Haman’s estate (1).
• The king removed his signet ring from Haman (2).
• The evil plan was still in effect so Esther intercedes before the king (3-5).
• Haman’s edict cannot be revoked but a new one can be sent out (7-8).
There are great parallels between the themes we see in these things with the gospel.
• The king gave Esther Haman’s estate (1). [Every believer has been given an inheritance in Christ. Our enemy, Satan, has been defeated by Christ and we have been given part of the spoils of Jesus’ victory (Luke 11:22-23).]
• The king had removed his signet ring from Haman before he died (2). [Similarly, Jesus has stripped the devil of his authority and put them to open shame by triumphing over him. (Col. 2:15)]
• The evil plan of Haman the Agagite was still in effect (3). [Jesus has been victorious and has conquered but the consummation of all things is yet to come. God’s redemptive plan continues. (Hebrews 3:8-9)]
• Esther intercedes before the king for Haman’s order be revoked (5). [Now Christ makes intercession for His people (John 17). He preserves them in this world until His kingdom comes in all of its fullness. His people will not be lost. His people will be preserved.]
• Haman’s edict cannot be revoked but a new one can be sent out (7-8). [There is an edict that has been issued against all humanity. We are all sinners, guilty, and condemned in the sight of God (Romans 3:19). God cannot overlook and ignore that edict. But God can issue a new decree of justification through Jesus Christ. We cannot deliver ourselves. The only thing that we can do is to believe upon the LORD Jesus Christ. (Rom. 3:21-26)]
Esther 8:1-8 leaves the Jews in a precarious situation. Preparations for battle will have to be made. Provisions will need to be acquired. Alliances will need to be will be forged. Courage will have to be displayed.
How would the Jews react to all of this? I wonder if the Jews wondered why God’s providence had chosen this path? Will they rejoice at the surprising events of this day or will they grumble that there is a day of battle that will yet have to be fought?
Look at Esther 8:15-17 to see how they responded. We read, “Then Mordecai went out from the presence of the king in royal robes of blue and white, with a great golden crown and a robe of fine linen and purple, and the city of Susa shouted and rejoiced. The Jews had light and gladness and joy and honor. And in every province and in every city, wherever the king's command and his edict reached, there was gladness and joy among the Jews, a feast and a holiday. And many from the peoples of the country declared themselves Jews, for fear of the Jews had fallen on them.”
In Esther 3 we saw that all the Jews wept, fasted, and wore sackcloth and ashes as they turned to the LORD (4:3). Now we see that the people who wept together can share together in this joy and gladness. They turned to the LORD in the moment of crisis and they now know that the LORD is with them and will continue to be with them till the end of this trial. Embracing the providence of God by faith allows you to rejoice and be glad even in the face of war.
Let’s divide our text into 4 points in which we will see God’s sovereign and providential hand working.
• God is providentially at work in the promotion of Haman by Esther and the king (1-2).
• God is providentially at work through the emotions of Esther (3-6).
• God is providentially at work through King Ahasuerus (7-8).
• God is providentially at work through the promotion of Mordecai and his plan (9-14).
God is at work in the promotion of Haman (1-2)
“On that day King Ahasuerus gave to Queen Esther the house of Haman, the enemy of the Jews. And Mordecai came before the king, for Esther had told what he was to her. 2 And the king took off his signet ring, which he had taken from Haman, and gave it to Mordecai. And Esther set Mordecai over the house of Haman.”
Verse 1 begins with the words, “On that day…”. This has been quite the day for Mordecai and Esther.
· It began with Haman completing the gallows and coming early in the morning to ask the king for permission to kill Mordecai (6:4).
· Then Haman had to honor Mordecai (6:10-11). After that Haman went home but found no consolation there.
· After dinner the queen exposes Haman and the king has him killed on the gallows that he had made for Mordecai (7:10).
Then we are told that the king’s wrath against Haman was abated (7:10). Now that the king’s anger is gone will he act quickly to help the Jews or will he act slowly or not at all? We see that even after the king’s anger is gone that he acts quickly and decisively.
· ‘On that day’ he gave Esther Haman’s estate.
· ‘On that day’ Esther tells the king about Mordecai and he promotes him to the position that Haman held.
· ‘On that day’ queen Esther puts her new estate under the stewardship of Mordecai.
The king’s anger has motivated him to do many things in this letter (1:12, 7:7), but his love for Esther motivates him to save the Jews. Because of this love he will not become complacent in fulfilling Esther’s request. Let me apply this in two ways,
· First, if King Ahasuerus is to be commended for this then I think we can see a greater expression of these good things in God. Man has sinned against a holy God and has been condemned to die spiritually and physically (Genesis 2:16-17). Yet, the death of man cannot abate the anger of God (Is.5:24-25, 9:17, 21). Therefore, God sent His own Son to die so that His righteous judgment could be carried out upon Jesus. His righteous anger would be abated so He could give grace to all those who come to Christ. The love of God saves His people and gives us His free grace (Romans 5:15-17).
· Secondly, every believer who has been granted peace with God should also be motivated by God’s love to persevere and be faithful to God. There are some who claim to have peace with God but they are not motivated to pursue God any farther. Their worries are abated so life returns to normal. We ought to be like those that Peter wrote to saying, “To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion…according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with His blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.” (1 Peter 1:1-2)
God is at work in the emotions of Esther (3-6)
In Esther 8:3-6, “Then Esther spoke again to the king. She fell at his feet and wept and pleaded with him to avert the evil plan of Haman the Agagite and the plot that he had devised against the Jews. When the king held out the golden scepter to Esther, Esther rose and stood before the king. And she said, “If it please the king, and if I have found favor in his sight, and if the thing seems right before the king, and I am pleasing in his eyes, let an order be written to revoke the letters devised by Haman the Agagite, the son of Hammedatha, which he wrote to destroy the Jews who are in all the provinces of the king. For how can I bear to see the calamity that is coming to my people? Or how can I bear to see the destruction of my kindred?”
Esther falls at the feet of the king and pleads for Haman’s evil plan to be averted. She has held her composure on so many occasions but now she is free to cry before the king. She says to the king, “How can I bear to see the calamity that is coming to my people? Or how can I bear to see the destruction of my kindred?” (6)
God is allowing Esther to feel the full brunt of the burden of the people. She cannot imagine being able to bear the destruction of her kindred if something is not done to save them.
Esther’s life has been spared; but she is burdened for the welfare of her people. Esther pleads to King Ahasuerus for the Jewish people that they might be saved. By contrast, Jesus remained silent before the political and religious leaders of His day. Yet, He prayed to His Father and was heard. We are given a description of this in Hebrews 5:7, “In the days of His flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to Him who was able to save Him from death…”.
If Jesus’ prayers had not been answered then there will be no hope for us. But Jesus was saved so we know that we can have justification in Jesus Christ. Paul puts it this way in Romans 8:32-34, “He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died – more than that, who was raised-who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.”
Have you ever watched someone carry a burden for others like Esther does here in this text?
At times God does puts great burdens on others so that they can intercede for others. These burdens can be a crushing weight that we cannot bear. But those who come to the LORD and receive grace will not be crushed. (2 Corinthians 1:8-11, 4:7-12, 1 Peter 2:21-25)
Imagine how Esther might have felt when she heard King Ahasuerus say, ‘...for an edict written in the name of the king and sealed with the king's ring cannot be revoked’. If Esther could not see the sovereign and providential hand of God working in these words she would be crushed. I have seen many strong believers fall and become disillusioned; because they did not see the providential hand of God in the things they were experiencing. God gives His people great burdens so that His power can be seen in them for His glory. (2 Cor. 1:8-11)
I asked earlier if we had ever seen someone carry these sorts of burdens for others?
· The truth is, every husband is to have this sort of burden for their wives and go often to God in prayer according to 1 Peter 3:7.
· Every church leader and ministry leader are to carry this burden for the people they serve (Ephesians 1:15-23)
· Every Christian is to carry this sort of burden for others in prayer (James 5:16).
God is at work through King Ahasuerus (7-8)
“Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther and to Mordecai the Jew, “Behold, I have given Esther the house of Haman, and they have hanged him on the gallows, because he intended to lay hands on the Jews. 8 But you may write as you please with regard to the Jews, in the name of the king, and seal it with the king's ring, for an edict written in the name of the king and sealed with the king's ring cannot be revoked.”
Debra Reid in her commentary wrote about these verses saying, “Maybe the irony is not lost on Xerxes: that he is powerless, bound by his own laws and therefore less powerful to achieve what he wants than is the dead man Haman?”
King Ahasuerus cannot do what Esther wanted him to do but what he can do he does without delay. He does not say to himself, “I was taken advantage of by Haman when I gave him my signet ring so I will never make that mistake again.” He does not say, “I will never let anyone else write a decree unless it goes through a fifteen-point process of checks and balances.” Isn’t this typically how we respond to such things? King Ahasuerus does not set up complex procedures to follow, or regulations to work through, he does not call a committee, or establish a great deal of bureaucratic red tape.
The king reassures Esther that his heart is with her and the Jewish people. He says, “Behold, I have given Esther the house of Haman, and they have hanged him on the gallows, because he intended to lay hands on the Jews.” He reminds Esther that he killed Haman specifically because he had intended to lay hands on the Jews. The king was implying that he would do everything he could do to protect the Jews now. He then encourages her and Mordecai to write a decree in his name and to seal it with his ring so that the Jews could protect themselves. In all of this the sovereign and providential hand of God is at work.
God is at work through the promotion of Mordecai and his plan (9-14)
“The king's scribes were summoned at that time, in the third month, which is the month of Sivan, on the twenty-third day. And an edict was written, according to all that Mordecai commanded concerning the Jews, to the satraps and the governors and the officials of the provinces from India to Ethiopia, 127 provinces, to each province in its own script and to each people in its own language, and also to the Jews in their script and their language. And he wrote in the name of King Ahasuerus and sealed it with the king's signet ring. Then he sent the letters by mounted couriers riding on swift horses that were used in the king's service, bred from the royal stud, 11 saying that the king allowed the Jews who were in every city to gather and defend their lives, to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate any armed force of any people or province that might attack them, children and women included, and to plunder their goods, on one day throughout all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar. A copy of what was written was to be issued as a decree in every province, being publicly displayed to all peoples, and the Jews were to be ready on that day to take vengeance on their enemies. So the couriers, mounted on their swift horses that were used in the king's service, rode out hurriedly, urged by the king's command. And the decree was issued in Susa the citadel.”
The same process that Haman had engaged in to destroy the Jews is now carried out by Mordecai to save them (3:12-15). With the same speed that Haman had carried out that process, it is now matched by Mordecai in what they were doing. The descriptions of these two texts are very similar but I will point out a couple details.
Notice that this decree went “to each province in its own script and to each people in its own language, and also to the Jews in their script and their language.” That last part is different than what we read about concerning Haman’s decree. In our text we are told that Mordecai communicated to everyone in the kingdom and especially the Jews. This is a wise thing to do for many reasons.
First, he speaks to all peoples of the kingdom and communicates this new decree of King Ahasuerus. He wants them to know that if they come to attack the Jews they could be killed and their things plundered. If the rest of the Kingdom is like Haman’s friends they will see this letter and say, “If Haman fell before Mordecai the Jew, then we may fall before the Jewish people, and if God is with the Jews then we will surely fall before them.” (6:13)
Secondly, Mordecai speaks to the Jews to encourage, inform and instruct them.
§ They should be encouraged that God has heard their prayer.
§ They should be encouraged that King Ahasuerus has removed Haman and exalted Mordecai.
§ He informs them that they can now protect themselves against those who would destroy them.
§ He instructs them with godly wisdom. The Jews are to defend themselves; they are not to provoke any conflicts. They are to gather and defend themselves only against those who would come armed to attack them. Mordecai does not use his new position improperly, but with wisdom and humility.
Our text today reminds us that God’s providential hand will be with us at every moment no matter what path we may have to take. In these things we see that God’s people can know that God will sovereignly care for them and protect them no matter how bad things appear to be; but God’s people have a responsibility to do what they can in accordance to God’s sovereign will and His Word. (Dr. Thompson, Exposition of Esther, p.48)