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Saturday, April 30, 2011

What Good Is a Woman? Lesson 5

Lesson 5

Read Esther Chapter 5.

In vs.1, to what extent does "the third day" suggest a parallel with Christ? Consider the effect of a three-day fast and the expected result of "barging in" on the king.

 Note Esther's clothing. Comment on its significance in light of the previous lesson.

In vss.1-3, compare the situation of the king, his acceptance of Esther's approach and what he offers her to the images in Daniel 7:9, 13 and 14. (This is apparently a vision of what is to take place after the ascension described in Acts 1:9.)


The Apocryphal additions to Esther are not reliable as scripture, but they describe Esther weak with hunger and fear, leaning on her maids as she approaches the throne room. She faints at the sight of the angry king. He then becomes tenderhearted and picks her up to revive her. How does this support the theory of Esther as a type of Christ?


What does a scepter signify? See Genesis 49:10.

Compare Ahasuerus' promise and use of the scepter to the statements in Psalm 2:7-9.

Compare Haman's arrogance in vss. 11 and 12 to that of Lucifer in Isaiah 14:13, 14.

 How does the threat of the gallows (or "tree") for Mordecai compare to the way Esther risked her life? How do both compare to the sacrifice of Christ?

            As Chapter 5 begins, Esther puts on her royal robes. In contrast to Mordecai in his sackcloth, she is dressed appropriately for her approach to the king. Her robes also denote her office. Now, "on the third day," she is to learn whether her appeal will be accepted. The ordinal makes a connection with Christ, since he rose from the dead on the third day to prove that His mission was a success. The scene in the throne room, in which Ahasuerus welcomes Esther, brings to mind the scene in the celestial throne room described by Daniel.
            Ahasuerus "sat on his royal throne in the royal house" (5:1). Daniel "watched till thrones were put in place, and the Ancient of Days was seated" (Daniel 13:9). The fiery stream that issues from before Him shows that it is a fearful thing to approach Him, as it is for Esther to approach Ahasuerus. The Son of Man, however, is able to do it. He is received with honor and is granted, among other things, a kingdom, "one which shall not be destroyed" (Daniel 9:13,14). Though it may be a courtly hyperbole and not to be taken literally, Ahasuerus promises Esther "up to half the kingdom" (5:3).
            We cannot count on Apocryphal works as the Word of God, but the deuterocanonical Greek translation of Esther contains some remarkable images that reinforce the idea of Esther as a type of Christ. "Addition D" of the Greek text presents Ahasuerus as "seated on his royal throne, clothed in the full array of his majesty, all covered with gold and precious stones." This suggests even more strongly the vision of God on His throne.
            "Lifting his face, flushed with splendor, he looked at [Esther] in fierce anger." Here is a suggestion of the wrath of God that was poured out on Christ. Esther faints and collapses in this account. "Then God changed the spirit of the king to gentleness." He takes Esther in his arms and revives her with loving words. This change certainly resembles the way God burned out His wrath on His Son and then brought Him back to life on the third day. In this account, Ahasuerus even elevates Esther by saying that she will not die because "our law applies only to our subjects." He seems to be establishing that she is not an ordinary person; she is a Jew, but she is also in the same classification as the king. Jesus is a man, but not an ordinary one. He is also fully God. Death cannot hold Him because of Who He is.
            The scepter that Ahasuerus extends to Esther makes another connection with the Messiah. It is a symbol of the king's power and authority, his sovereignty. He uses it to show that he accepts Esther's approach. She seems to demonstrate her recognition of the king's authority when she places her hand on the scepter, and when the king offers her "half the kingdom," he seems to grant her a share in that authority. She takes advantage of his benevolence to rescue her people.
            In Genesis 49:10, "the scepter shall not depart from Judah...until Shiloh comes, and to Him shall be the obedience of the people." There is some argument about who Shiloh is, but if He is the coming Messiah, then the passage suggests that God's authority was present with and worked through the people of Israel until Jesus came and took His rightful position as redeemer and king. Psalm 2 shows how He will use His scepter. In response to the nations' hatred of God and His ways, the Son "shall break them with a rod of iron." The Lord rescues His people and destroys His enemies. Esther does the same.
            In addition to making the story more dramatic, Esther's decision to draw out the presentation of her request by inviting the king to a banquet shows a cautious and wise approach. It also triggers Haman's arrogance. He brags to his family that "Queen Esther invited no one but me to come in with the king to the banquet that she prepared" (5:12). He sounds like Lucifer in Isaiah 14:13. "I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God." Esther is setting him up for humiliation and destruction, just as Lucifer would be "brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit" (Isaiah 14:15).
            The gallows, or tree, Haman erects for Mordecai may seem at first glance to draw a parallel between Mordecai and Christ, but there are some differences. Mordecai is in danger simply because he is a Jew, an ancestral enemy of Haman. As Chapter 5 ends, he may not even be aware that the gallows is meant for him. Jesus knew what He faced. He was to be sacrificed willingly in order to redeem His people. Esther also knowingly placed herself in jeopardy for the sake of her people. Mordecai had no redeemer's role. He seems rather to represent God's people, who suffer persecution, but will one day triumph with their Lord. 

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