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Dear Bob, In the book of Esther, what was Mordecai's role and meaning?
And, how does the book of Esther apply to us today?
Your answer would end this puzzling question that has risen upon me. Thank you!
Thank you so much for this question! To reply, I had to study the Book of Esther in depth, and it was a great blessing to me.
On the surface, there are wonderful moral lessons to be learned from the Book of Esther, and God's love and care for His people are demonstrated:
1. God humbles the proud, and exalts the lowly who trust in Him.
2. Mordecai's adoption and care of his young cousin, Esther, is later rewarded in the saving of not only the life of Mordecai and Esther, but the life of all the Jewish exiles remaining in Persia.
3. God's providential care for His people is demonstrated, even when they are out of fellowship.
But, I see more wrong in the story of Esther and Mordecai than there is right:
1. More that 50 years before the Esther episode, the Persian emperor, Cyrus, had made a proclamation which permitted and exhorted all the Jews to return to Judah. This is stated in Ezra 1:2-4.
2. Ezra 1:1 states that Cyrus was stirred up by the spirit of the Lord to make this freedom proclamation, and that this was a fulfillment of the prophecy of Jeremiah the Prophet.
3. Jeremiah's prophecy, in Jer. 29:10, stated that the Jews would be in Persian captivity for 70 years, and after the 70 years, the Lord said He would cause them to return to Judah and build Him a house in Jerusalem. But after the 70 year captivity ended and King Cyrus proclaimed that the Jews should return to Judah, only a remnant left Persia and returned to the land of Judah as God had commanded.
4. Esther and Mordecai had absolutely no business still residing in Persia, some 50 years after God, through the prophecy of Jeremiah, and the decree of King Cyrus, had commanded them to return to Judah and build Him a house in Jerusalem.
5. Esther, Mordecai, and all the other Jews still in Persia should have already traveled back to the land God had given them in Judah, with thanksgiving and praise to God.
6. The fact that Esther, Mordecai, and some the Jews were content to remain behind in Persia was evidence that they selfishly preferred the comfort and plenty of their life in Persia instead of returning, in faith, to desolate Judah - the place of their covenant blessing with God.
7. Esther, Mordecai, and all the other Jews still in Persia are out of fellowship, and disobedient to God's revealed will. They are in love with the world and it's pleasures and not with God. I believe that this why the name of God, and prayer and thanksgiving to God are not mentioned in the Book of Esther.
8. Esther contracted an alliance with a heathen monarch against the stated will of God. God commanded the Jews not to contract with the heathen all throughout their history.
9. Esther became the king's concubine before she became his wife.
10. Both Esther and Mordecai made many of their decisions based on what was expedient, and in their present best interest, instead of on what was right.
Mordecai, Esther, Haman, and the Persian Jews, as Types:
Since Mordecai, Esther, and the Persian Jews were out of fellowship and disobedient to God's revealed will, what possible pictures and types could they represent?
In all of my commentaries, only J. Sidlow Baxter, in his book "Explore the Book" suggests a "dispensational" interpretation.
After much prayer, thought, and study, the "dispensational" interpretation is the only interpretation that makes any spiritual sense to me. So, using Baxter's comments as an outline, here are the types I see in the Book of Esther.
A "dispensational" interpretation of the Book of Esther:
1. The Jews who remained behind, in unbelief, in Persia, are a type of the present day Christ rejecting Jews who will be "left behind" at the Rapture of the Church, and who will enter the 7 year Tribulation.
a. The "Man of Sin" (Antichrist) will attempt to exterminate all the Jews from the mid point of the Tribulation to the end. See especially Rev. chapter 12.
b. The remnant of the Jews who believed God and left Persia, returning to Judah to restore the Temple worship in Jerusalem, are a type of the Church Age Jews who accept Jesus as their Savior and who are a part of the Rapture of the Church at the beginning of the 7 year Tribulation.
2. The wicked Haman is a type of the "Man of Sin", the so called "Antichrist" who will appear at the end of the Church Age and make a 7 year peace pact between the unbelieving Jews and their Arab neighbors, and then break the pact in the middle of the Tribulation, when he has the Jews at a disadvantage. The Man of Sin will attempt to exterminate all the Jews just as the wicked Haman did.
a. Haman's rise to power was meteoric in the opening verses of Esther chapter 3. He rose quickly to a position above all the princes of the realm, and a royal decree was issued that every knee should bow to him. This is a picture of the "beast" of Rev. chapter 13, which receives power and eminence from the dragon (Satan) and also pictures the "little horn" of Daniel 7:8 which has "the eyes of a man and a mouth speaking great things".
b. Haman expected obeisance of the Jews, just as the Man of sin will attempt to force the Jews to worship him at the mid point of the Tribulation. Haman's conceit is revealed in Esther chapter 5 and 6. He plans to ride the King's own horse, wearing the King's robes, in chapter 6, verses 7-9, just as the Satan indwelt Man of Sin will expect the worship of the whole human race and demand to be worshipped as God himself at the mid-point of the Tribulation.
c. Baxter points out that in Esther chapter 6, Esther calls him "Haman the wicked". The numerical value of the Hebrew letters of this phrase is 666, the "calculated" number of the "Man of sin" in Rev. 13:18.
d. Haman's hatred for the Jews is stated 4 times, in Esther 3:10, 8:1, and 9:10 & 24.
e. Haman uses Mordecai's conscientious resistance as an occasion to use his political power and guile to attempt to annihilate the whole Jewish race, just as the evil "prince" that shall come of Dan. chapter 9 will attempt to annihilate the whole Jewish race during the last 3 1/2 years of the Tribulation.
f. Haman's power is for a short time, Esther 2:16 & 3:7, and his doom comes as quickly as his meteoric rise, prefiguring the coming "Lawless One" of 2 Thess. 2:8 & 9, whose coming is after the working of Satan and whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.
g. Haman's progeny perished with him, just as in 2 Thess. 2:12 where those who accept the Man of Sin and believe not the truth are condemned. We see Haman's 10 sons hanged with him in Esther 9:7-14. In Dan. 7 and Rev. 17, 10 kings are allied with the Man of Sin, and in the end they perish with him.
3. Esther then is a type of the Church.
a. Esther was the daughter of Jewish parents who were then dead. The early Church was 100% Jews, as far as we know, for some 8 - 10 years after the day of Pentecost. Cornelius the Roman Centurion in Acts chapter 10 appears to be the first gentile added to the Church.
b. Esther was a type of the church in her womanly beauty. God had given her a beauty that surpassed all others. God has given the Church His beauty, the Righteousness of Christ Himself, and as we are accepted "in the beloved", we will be presented to Christ "a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing". Eph. 5:27.
c. Esther was a type of the church in her exaltation. She became married to one whose title was "King of kings" as the sovereign of the Persian Empire. Although the character of King Ahasuerus is not to be compared to the character of Christ, in the "type", he prefigures Christ, the "King of kings and Lord of lords", whose bride is the Church.
d. Esther typifies of the church in her intercession. Esther went in to the King "on the third day", which speaks of the resurrection and of interceding in "resurrection power". It was against the Persian "law" for Esther to approach the King. The "law" excluded her, but she was accepted on the ground of pure "grace". The king beheld her wearing the royal apparel that he himself had given her (ch 5:1) Even so, we ourselves are excluded by the Old Testament "Law", but fully accepted on the ground of the grace of God in Christ, when we appear before God wearing the royal robes that He Himself has given us.
4. Last, but not least, Mordecai is then a type of the Jewish remnant which will be preserved through the Tribulation, and accept Christ as Savior, and enter the Millennial Kingdom and rule and reign with Christ.
a. Just as unbelieving Jews at the end of the Church Age are "left behind" and enter the Seven Year Tribulation, Mordecai is in the situation he is in by "staying behind" in Persia in unbelief.
b. Mordecai is typical of the unbelieving Jews who become saved during the Tribulation, in that he refused to bow to Haman, just as the faithful Jews will refuse to bow to the Man of Sin during the Tribulation. When the king's servants asked Mordecai "why transgressest thou the king's commandment"?, he "told them he was a Jew" (ch 3:4). So his refusal was clearly because of his Jewish faith. He would not give man what is due to God alone, even as the faithful Jewish remnant in the Tribulation refuse to bow to the Man of Sin and take his "mark".
c. Mordecai typifies the Tribulational Jews in his bitter mourning, fasting and weeping. This will be the attitude of the Jews who become believers during the Tribulation, as God prepares them to "look upon him whom they have pierced" (Zech. 12:10) at the Second Advent.
d. The marvelous deliverance of Mordecai is typical of the marvelous and miraculous deliverance of the Jewish remnant from the grips of the Man of Sin.
e. Last, but not least, Mordecai's final exaltation. In the last chapter of Esther, Mordecai is shown exalted above all his fellows and made vizier of Persia, next to the king and queen. This typical of the exaltation of the Tribulational Jewish remnant that enters the Millennium to the words "come ye blessed of my Father; inherit the Kingdom". The nation of Israel will be exalted above all the nations of the earth during the Millennial Reign of Christ.
The Jews of Israel which are saved during the Tribulation are regathered and the nation of Israel is exalted to be the number 1 nation in the Millennium:
-- Isa. 2:1-4, "all nations shall flow unto it".
-- Isa. 54:1-10, "thy seed shall inherit the gentiles".
-- Isa. chapter 60:1-22, especially:
Verse 3 "The gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising".
Verse 5 " the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the gentiles shall come unto thee".
Verse 12, "the nation that will not serve thee shall perish".
Verse 16, "Thou shalt suck the milk of the gentiles, and shalt suck the breast of kings: and thou shalt know that I the Lord am thy Savior and thy Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob".
--Isa. Chapters 61 and 62, especially:
61:6 "Ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves".
--Jer. 3:16-19, "At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the Lord, and all the nations shall be gathered unto it."
Today, we hear many "christian voices" loudly stating that God is through with the Jews, and the Nation of Israel.
But, I believe the "dispensational" interpretation of the Book of Esther is correct, because God has established four UNCONDITIONAL covenants with the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that are still FUTURE and are EVERLASTING, and are not for the Church, but are everlastingly in effect for the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
The four Covenants having to do with the future of Israel; the Abrahamic, Palestinian, Davidic, and the New Covenant, are UNCONDITIONAL, containing the statement "I WILL" repeatedly in each context.
The most important thing to know concerning Israel and the covenants of God is that the Church does not replace Israel in the unconditional covenants:
--- The natural descendants of Abraham are still distinct from the gentiles in the New Testament in Acts 3:12,4:8,21:28, and Rom 10:1. They cannot be one and the same.
--- The natural descendants of Abraham are still distinct from the Church in the New Testament in Rom 11:1-25, and 1 Cor 10:32. These cannot be one and the same either.
--- In Rom 9:4, Paul writes to the Church, during the Church Age, concerning the children of Israel, his brethren, his kinsmen in the flesh, and states that the Covenants still have to do with Israel, the natural descendants of Abraham.
THE FOUR UNCONDITIONAL COVENANTS CONCERNING ISRAEL WILL BE FULFILLED IN THE MILLENNIUM:
1. The Abrahamic Covenant. First stated in Gen 12:1-3 & 6-7. Length of the Covenant, FOREVER in Gen 13:14-17, and EVERLASTING in 17:1-14. Restated in Gen 15:18-21, and 22:15-18. And said to be IMMUTABLE in Heb 6:13-18. This promise concerns Abraham and his descendants and the land of Israel forever.
2. The Palestinian Covenant. Stated in Deut 30:1-10, it reaffirms the Abrahamic Covenant and gives Abraham and the children of Israel title deed to the land promised Abraham. The context of Deut. chapter 30 is extremely important. Deut 28:63-68 and 30:1-3 state that:
a. Israel will be removed from the land and scattered among all peoples from one end of the earth to the other because of unfaithfulness, Deut 28:63-68.
b. Then there will be a repentance of the scattered children of Israel, Deut 30:1-3.
c. The Messiah will return, Deut 30:3.
d. The children of Israel will be restored to the land promised Abraham, Deut 30:5.
e. They will not only be converted as a people, but as a NATION, Deut 30:3-6. (as in the New Testament, in Rom 11:26-27). (The Millennium begins with the whole Nation of Israel converted).
f. The enemies of Israel will be judged, Deut 30:7.
g. Millennial blessings are promised to the restored and converted land of Israel, Deut 30:8-9.
h. This context describes in a nutshell what all the passages in Scripture teach about the Second Advent, regathering of Israel and 1000 year Millennial Reign of Christ!
3. The Davidic Covenant. Stated as unconditional in 2 Sam 7:12-16, and confirmed many times in Scripture. Three illustrations:
a. 2 Sam 23:1-4. David states here that he knows he will not see fulfillment of his covenant in his physical lifetime.
b. Psa 89. David anticipates the future fulfillment of God's promise to him and blesses the Lord in verses 46-52. But, he also foretells the overthrow of his present kingdom in verses 38-45! He knows that the fulfillment of what God has promised him in verses 20-29 is not in his present lifetime! What faith! David and Abraham both faced physical death still blessing the Lord in anticipation of realizing their promises after their resurrection.
c. Psa 72. David states that his covenant is future and the context is millennial. Note that the fulfillment of David's future covenant with the Lord mentions the sun, moon, and sea, when there is clearly no sun, moon, or sea on the new earth, in the eternal state, in Rev 21:1 &23 and chap 22:5! This states emphatically, to me, that the fulfillment must be after David's resurrection, and on this present earth!
4. The New Covenant. An unconditional Covenant between God and the Nation of Israel. Stated in Jer 31:31-35, Jer 32:37-40, Eze 11:17-21, Eze 16:60-63, Eze 36:24-38, Eze 37:21-28, Rom 11:26-29, and Heb 8:7-13. Nowhere, not even in the New Testament, do I find any reference that the New Covenant is between God and the Church. We, the Church Age saints, only come under the New Covenant given to Israel because we are espoused, or engaged to Christ.
a. A Covenant between God and "The House of Israel", Jer 31:31-33.
b. God's law written in their hearts, from the least to the greatest, Jer. 31:33. (The first day of the Millennial Reign of Christ begins to fulfill this promise, as every human being on the earth will be a born again child of God at that point and the children of Israel are gathered from the far corners of the earth to inhabit the land of Israel and be the ruling nation on this earth.)
c. Will begin for the House of Israel on this present earth, Jer 31:35 mentions sun, moon, and sea, which will not exist on the new earth, according to Rev 21:1 & 23 and Rev 22:5.
d. Notice that the New Covenant was promised to and pertains to the NATION of ISRAEL, Jer 31:31-33. The Church does not replace Israel in God's plan. The Church was a mystery hid in Christ that just pops in and pops back out, and are temporary beneficiaries of the New Covenant to Israel, and are capable of partaking in a form of Millennial blessings, (Heb ch 4), but at the Rapture, the Mystery Age that popped in is GONE, and God's plan for Israel RESUMES.
e. The Church only has access to the New Covenant given to Israel because Jesus is a natural descendant of Abraham, and the Church is "espoused" in marriage to Him, which is legally binding according to Jewish custom, and are therefore, we are "in Him". Neat! The gentiles have access to the New Covenant by marriage, just like Moses, a type of Christ and his "gentile bride", and the gentile "Shulamite woman" of Song of Solomon, which is a picture of Christ and His "gentile bride". Also see Gal. Chapter 3.
The Millennial Reign of Christ begins the fulfillment of all that God has promised to resurrected Abraham, to his descendants, to David personally, and to the Nation of Israel. After the Millennium, the New Heavens and New Earth are formed to continue to fulfill these four unconditional and eternal covenants concerning the descendants of Abraham.
I believe that the Church will co-rule and reign with Christ for eternity, over all that God owns, with the New Jerusalem as their home, and that the descendants of Abraham are promised this earth and the New Earth, and they will rule over the nations of people that are saved at the end of the Tribulation, and again at the end of the Millennium. (Rev 21:24-26 and 22:2)
How I see the book of Esther applying to us today:
Everything that happens to us, as God's people, is for a reason. Even our "troubles" are ordered according to God's will, and for our ultimate blessing and God's glory.
Yes, our walk with the Lord is never perfect. It takes a rich diet of God's Word, constantly staying in fellowship, and lots of prayer, to even come close to God's perfect will for our life.
I have come to believe that the most important things on earth are God's Word and people. Everything else is going to "burn up with a fervent heat".
I'm sure we could easily compile a huge list of situations that we Christians get ourselves into that are like the Persian Jews, choosing comfort, or personal gain over the perfect will of God. (choosing to have more "things" and "status" over raising Godly children, choosing "things" over Bible study and growth etc).
The "world" is like a raging flooded river, constantly attempting to sweep us away from God's will.
Example: I believe the most important job on the planet, in God's eyes, is not the President of the U.S., not the CEO of a giant company, not even being a great preacher or evangelist, but a mother raising young children in a Christian home.
But, every child of God has their own personal walk with the Lord. There is no "one fits all", "detailed formula" concerning what each child of God should "do" to walk with the Lord, except to study the New Testament Epistles to the Churches until they become a part of our soul, and we obey them in every decision.
Just like a baby is born into the world and spends a whole lifetime finding out what life is all about, the child of God is born anew and spends the rest of their life learning what has happened to them, and what God would have them "do".
I do see that God's Word does not tell us to "go" anywhere. Even the "great Commission" of Matt. 28:19 & 20 in the Greek states "as you go", and the only command there is to "teach".
Even slaves who become saved are told not to seek their freedom, but to be good and Godly slaves in 1 Tim. 6:1-6. (Paul even states here that we should withdraw ourselves from those who teach otherwise, because they are proud, knowing nothing, causing strife, and corrupt of mind. God will "free the slave" Himself, at the perfect time, to be of maximum blessing to the slave.)
In 1 Pet. 3:1-6 the Christian wife of an unbelieving husband is commanded to not "nag" her husband about the Word of God, but to be a good influence on her unbelieving husband by being a good Godly wife.
Husbands, of course, are commanded to love their wife like they love their own flesh and like Christ loves His bride and gave Himself for it. A tall order.
In 1 Thess. 4:9-12, we are told to love one another (agape - seeking the others best interest), study to be quiet, mind our own business, work with our own hands, and walk honestly toward unbelievers.
So, in short, anything that we allow to prevent us from walking in accordance with God's revealed will for us in the New Testament Epistles to the Church, makes us like the Persian Jews, not centered in God's will, thinking more about our own comfort than about doing God's will. But, as in the book of Esther, God still watches over us and protects us, and blesses us, just to a lesser degree.
The happiest and most productive we can be is centered in God's will for our life, allowing God to bless us, instead of attempting to "bless ourselves".
Also, I find, much too often, that Christians who "intensely seek God's will for their lives" ignore God's revealed will, as clearly stated in His Word, as in the above examples, and go off on a tangent of "doing great things for God".
In a nutshell: Stay in fellowship, take in God's Word, prayerfully seek to walk by His Word and in His will, and what you find yourself "wanting" to do IS God's will.
Your questions are a blessing! I hope my answers are clear, and an equal blessing.
Yours "in Christ",