ButT Esther is a book where God's grace is uniquely pictured.
Good News runs throughout the book.
Esther, the Jewish girl who marries the powerful Persian king, is the heroine.
She intervenes on behalf of her people when Haman, a Persian royal who hated the Jews, obtained a Law of the Medes and the Persians - an unalterable law - that all the Jews in the Persian Empire, regardless of age and gender, should be put to death.
We, like the Jews in Esther's day, are under a similar unalterable law. "The wages of sin is death' (Romans 6:23). This law is inescapable, regardless of age or gender, fame or fortune, and any attempts to nullify it.
However, seventy days after that first Persian law of death went into effect, Esther intervened on behalf of the Jews to obtain a new law of life (see Esther 8:9), allowing the Jews--on the authority of King Xerxes her husband -- to destroy those who sought to put them to death.
Since any Law of the Medes and the Persians was irreversible, the new law only made the first law ineffectual, allowing a "way of escape" on the authority of the king.
So too, seventy weeks after the Jews were allowed to leave Persia (458 B.C.) to rebuild and restore Jerusalem, Jesus came "to make an end of sin and death" (Daniel 9:24-27) by establishing a New Law (Hebrews 8:13), crushing the head of the enemy of His people (Genesis 3:15).
The new law in Esther's day went into effect with the seal of the king's signet ring (Esther 8:8). The signet ring was worn by ancients and "pressed" into a wax seal to authenticate a document.
That signet ring in the book of Esther is a beautiful picture of God's grace in Jesus the Messiah. In Haggai 2:22-23 the Messiah is called "God's signet ring."
"I will overthrow the thrones of kingdoms and destroy the power of the kingdoms of the nations; and I will overthrow the chariots and their riders, and the horses and their riders will go down, everyone by the sword of another. 'On that day,' declares the Lord of hosts, ‘I will take you, Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel, My servant,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will make you like a signet ring, for I have chosen you,’” declares the Lord of hosts.The above verse is a Messianic prophecy that is fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is God's Signet Rings that authenticates the New Law of life.
Often the Old Covenant prophets would promise the return of David to the throne of Israel. Remember, David was the first ruler of Israel appointed by God alone before the exile. But when the prophets of the Old Covenant predicted the return of David, they actually meant "the Son of David."
The Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament were always about one of David’s sons as specifically outlined in 2 Samuel 7:8–16.
In the same manner, when the prophet Haggai predicted a future King and Kingdom, it was a prophecy about Zerubbabel who was the first ruler of Israel appointed by God alone after the exile. Like the prophecies of the future ruler through David's genealogical line, Haggai's words are a prophecy about one of Zerubbabel’s sons. So not only is "son of David" a title for the Messiah, so is "son of Zerubbabel."
Both Jewish and Christian scholars see the necessity for the Messiah ("God's signet ring") to be a direct descendent of both David and Zerubbabel.
When you read the genealogy of Christ in Matthew 1:13 and Luke 3:27 you find that Jesus Christ comes from the line King David through Zerubbabel. Jesus is the rightful King of Jews. Jesus fulfills the prophecies of the Messiah as given by the prophets, the King who destroys the power of all other kingdoms.
Jesus is God's Signet Ring.
The only way the old law of sin and death is rendered ineffective is through God issuing a New Law that protects His people by crushing the head of Satan (i.e. "the ruler of the kingdoms of this world"), a New Law of life that is sealed with the King's Signet Ring, Jesus Christ.
Just as the king of Persia gave his signet ring to Mordecai (see Esther 8), so God so loved us that He gave us His Son (John 3:16 and Hebrews 8), giving Him for our protection (Matthew 1:21)
Through the King's Signet Ring (Jesus Christ), the old law of sin and death is made ineffectual. Even though we deserve death each time we sin,
God's signet ring renders the irreversible old law ineffectual because Jesus establishes the new law of life. That's rich grace.
When we realize what we’ve been given in the King’s signet ring, the riches of the King's grace cause us to lose our desires for the lesser pleasures of this life and to be captivated by the eternal riches of our King (see Ephesians 2:7).
This is the good news from Esther.
I close with the word of encouragement from Esther 8:10 for all gospel preachers and teachers.
The Persian king sent couriers throughout the Persian empire to declare the good news for the Esther's family.
So too, we are commissioned by the King of Kings to "move swiftly" throughout the world, to go and herald the good news to people everywhere (Matthew 28:18-20).
The words of Esther 8:10 (KJV) are specific as to how the couriers from King Xerxes were to be sent out with the good news of the New Law:
"...by mules, camels, young dromedaries and horseback."We who proclaim the gospel can be compared to messengers riding mules. Mules are slow and steady.
However, we can also compared to riders of three faster animals, all mentioned in this Esther text. Camels are faster than mules, young dromedaries are faster than camels, and horses are faster than them all.
It matters not how we get the message of grace out to the world, it only matters that we are riding with an important message.
I find it fascinating that the New American Standard lumps all four animals together and translates Esther 8:10 in this manner:
"The king sent out couriers riding on steeds sired by the royal stud."No mules. No camels. No dromedaries. No horses. Just "steeds sired by the royal stud."
Some of our methods may be slow (ever pastor a church that's stuck in the 80's?), some of our methods may be faster than others, (ever been a part of a Christian group that intentionally puts people above programs, and never settles for status quo 'just because we've always done it that way'?) and some of our methods may be swifter than the fastest thoroughbreds (ever been a member of a church that changes their methods for reaching people so fast you can't keep up with the changes?)
If the New American Standard translators are anywhere close to the ballpark in their translation of Esther 8:10, you shouldn't be too quick to judge someone else's methods of carrying the gospel message - whether they're going slow or going fast - for we all are "couriers riding steeds sired by the royal stud."
It seems God puts an emphasis on our message and may be a tad indifferent to our chosen methodologies.
delivering the good news . . . at the speed of Light, which is patient and long-suffering :)ReplyDelete
A story from the Desert Fathers:
‘ “A Brother who had sinned was turned out of the church by the priest.
Abba Bessarion got up and went out with him, saying, “I, too, am a sinner.””
and I thought, yes, that story reminds me of Pope Francis’ statement that he is 'a sinner on whom the Lord has looked'; and that story reminds me also of Francis’ unwillingness to judge those on whom the Pharisees of our time have looked . . .
could it be that the true reformers in The Church are those who get us to ‘see’ Christ more clearly, because they have begun to LIVE actively nourished by the blessings of the Holy Spirit . . . patience, kindness, compassion, long-suffering, humility ???
if so, then I too should sing from the hymn 'Jersusalem', this:
" . . . o clouds unfold! Bring me my chariots of fire . . . "
I sure appreciate your focus on the message of Christ being the emphasis throughout all Scripture.
It's sad to see so many of our "steeds" returning home permanently right now. The silence within SBC regarding what the Trustees are doing to IMB is maddening.
All for differences of methodology, operation and delivery of "message of Christ".ReplyDelete
When the "message of Christ" is embellished or redefined in its intent of "Whosoever"..howsoever,
It's a Lot and his nephew good bye and good luck scenario for me.