Jehovah’s Word Is Alive
Highlights From the Book of Esther
THE plan simply cannot fail. The massacre of the Jews will be thorough and efficient. On a single predetermined day, all the Jews living in the empire, which stretches from India to Ethiopia, will be annihilated. That is what the planner of the scheme thinks. One vital detail, though, has escaped his attention. The God of the heavens can deliver his chosen people out of any desperate situation. The deliverance is recorded in the Bible book of Esther.
Written by an elderly Jewish man named Mordecai, the book of Esther covers a period of some 18 years during the reign of the Persian King Ahasuerus, or Xerxes I. This dramatic narrative shows how Jehovah saves his people from the evil designs of their enemies, even though his servants are widely dispersed throughout a vast empire. Today, that knowledge is indeed faith-strengthening to Jehovah’s people, who are rendering sacred service to him in 235 lands. Moreover, the characters portrayed in the book of Esther provide examples for us to imitate and others that we want to avoid. Indeed, “the word of God is alive and exerts power.”
THE QUEEN MUST INTERCEDE
In his third regnal year (493 B.C.E.), King Ahasuerus holds a royal banquet. Queen Vashti, renowned for her loveliness, incurs the king’s great displeasure and is deprived of her rank. The Jewess Hadassah is selected from all the beautiful virgins of the land to take her place. At her cousin Mordecai’s direction, she conceals her Jewish identity and uses her Persian name, Esther.
In time, a haughty man named Haman is exalted to the position of prime minister. Haman is enraged at Mordecai’s refusal to ‘bow low or prostrate himself to Haman,’ so he schemes to annihilate all the Jews in the Persian Empire. (Esther 3:2) Haman persuades Ahasuerus to agree with him and succeeds in getting the king to issue a decree to accomplish this massacre. Mordecai is in “sackcloth and ashes.” (Esther 4:1) Esther must now intervene. She invites the king and his prime minister to a private banquet. When they gladly attend, Esther petitions them to come for another banquet the next day. Haman is joyful. However, he is infuriated by Mordecai’s refusal to honor him. Haman lays out a plan to kill Mordecai before the banquet the next day.
Scriptural Questions Answered:
Lessons for Us:
2:10, 20; 4:12-16. Esther accepted direction and counsel from a mature worshipper of Jehovah. We are wise to “be obedient to those who are taking the lead among [us] and be submissive.”
2:15. Esther showed modesty and self-control by not requesting additional jewelry or finer clothing than what was provided by Hegai. It was “the secret person of the heart in the incorruptible apparel of the quiet and mild spirit” that won Esther the king’s favor.
3:4. In some situations, it may be prudent to remain silent about our identity, as Esther was about hers. However, when it comes to taking a stand on important issues, such as Jehovah’s sovereignty and our integrity, we must not be afraid to make known that we are Jehovah’s Witnesses.
4:3. When faced with trials, we should prayerfully turn to Jehovah for strength and wisdom.
4:14. Mordecai’s confidence in Jehovah was exemplary.
4:16. With full reliance on Jehovah, Esther faithfully and courageously faced a situation that could have resulted in her death. It is vital that we learn to rely on Jehovah and not on ourselves.
ONE REVERSAL AFTER ANOTHER
As the events unfold, the tables turn. Haman is hanged on the stake that he has made for Mordecai, and the intended victim becomes the prime minister! What about the planned massacre of the Jews? That too must undergo a dramatic reversal.
Faithful Esther speaks up again. Risking her life, she appears before the king with a plea in order to find some way to undo the scheme of Haman. Ahasuerus knows what needs to be done. So when the day of their massacre finally arrives, not the Jews, but those seeking to harm them are killed. Mordecai decrees that the Festival of Purim be held each year to commemorate this great deliverance. As second only to King Ahasuerus, Mordecai ‘works for the good of his people and speaks peace to all their offspring.’
Scriptural Questions Answered:
9:10, 15, 16
Lessons for Us:
7:3, 4. Do we courageously identify ourselves as Jehovah’s Witnesses, even though doing so may mean persecution?
8:3-6. We can and should appeal to governmental authorities and judicial courts for protection from enemies.
8:5. Esther tactfully did not mention the king’s responsibility in the decree designed to annihilate her people. Similarly, we need to be tactful when giving a witness to high officials.
Jehovah Will Provide “Relief and Deliverance”
Mordecai alludes to God’s purpose in Esther’s attaining royal dignity. When threatened, the Jews fast and pray for help. The queen appears before the king uninvited and is favorably received each time. The king cannot fall asleep precisely on the critical night. Indeed, the book of Esther is about Jehovah’s maneuvering of events for the benefit of his people.
The exciting account of Esther is of particular encouragement to us living in “the time of the end.” (Daniel 12:4) “In the final part of the days,” or in the final part of the time of the end, Gog of Magog
[Picture on page 10]
Esther and Mordecai before Ahasuerus