Jehovah Does Not Desert His People
“Jehovah will not forsake his people, nor will he leave his own inheritance.”—Ps. 94:14.
1, 2. The prophet Samuel and the psalmist said what about Jehovah’s relationship with His people?
“JEHOVAH will not desert his people for the sake of his great name.” The prophet Samuel had said it. Similarly, the psalmist had declared: “Jehovah will not forsake his people, nor will he leave his own inheritance.”—1 Sam. 12:22; Ps. 94:14.
2 Do you personally place confidence in such words? Could Esther, Mordecai and the Jews of their day be certain that Jehovah would not desert his people? We shall see.
ACTING WITH CONFIDENCE IN JEHOVAH
3. (a) What happens when Esther, unbidden, goes before King Ahasuerus? (b) What is Esther’s request?
3 It is now the third day since the distressed Jews in the Persian Empire began fasting and praying to Jehovah. Courageous, unselfish Queen Esther has dressed royally and, unbidden, stands in the inner courtyard of the king’s house. From his throne, King Ahasuerus sees his queen. Is she doomed? No. He extends to her the golden scepter and she approaches, touching its top. Esther has gained the king’s favor and hears him ask: “What do you have, O Esther the queen, and what is your request? To the half of the kingship—let it even be given to you!” In response, she invites Ahasuerus and Prime Minister Haman to a banquet, and her gracious invitation is accepted.—Esther 5:1-5.
4. After Esther’s banquet, what spoils Haman’s joy?
4 The Persian monarch and Haman the Agagite are present for Esther’s banquet of wine later that day. In time, the king asks Esther: “What is your petition?” In replying, she invites Ahasuerus and Haman to a banquet the next day. Upon departing, Haman is joyful. But when integrity-keeping Mordecai the Jew does not quake because of him, the Amalekite is filled with rage, although he exercises self-control. On entering his own home, Haman calls together his wife and friends. He cannot resist the urge to boast and tell them how Ahasuerus has exalted him over all the princes and servants of the king.—Esther 5:6-11.
5. Haman’s wife and friends recommend that he do what about Mordecai?
5 “What is more,” continues Haman, “Esther the queen brought in with the king to the banquet that she had made no one but me, and tomorrow also I am invited to her with the king.” Yet, something greatly troubles the boasting Agagite, for he adds: “But all this—none of it suits me as long as I am seeing Mordecai the Jew sitting in the king’s gate.” Haman’s wife Zeresh and his friends are sure that they have the solution. “Let them make a stake fifty cubits high,” say they. “Then in the morning say to the king that they should hang Mordecai on it. Then go in with the king to the banquet joyful.” Just think! Mordecai’s dead body hanging on a stake 50 cubits (73 feet or 22 meters) high! ‘Good!’ thinks haughty Haman, and he has the stake erected.—Esther 5:12-14.
6. Like Mordecai and Esther, anointed Christians today display what attitudes?
6 As we await the next day’s developments, we have time to meditate on the course of Mordecai and Esther. Both placed their confidence in Jehovah and sought his guidance. Out of love for Jehovah’s people, Esther even took her life in her hands, courageously going before the king uninvited. Like Mordecai and Esther, anointed Christians of today show similar love for all of God’s people. And despite persecution by religious opposers, God’s present-day servants act with implicit trust in Jehovah.
THE HAND OF JEHOVAH BECOMES MORE EVIDENT
7. Jehovah can do what with governmental authorities so as to accomplish his will?
7 When Jehovah chooses to do so, he can direct or control governmental authorities so as to accomplish his will. Fittingly, therefore, an inspired proverb states: “A king’s heart is as streams of water in the hand of Jehovah. Everywhere that he delights to, he turns it.” (Prov. 21:1; Dan. 2:21) Observe now how the hand of the Most High became more evident in the days of Mordecai and Esther.
8. What happens on one occasion when Ahasuerus cannot sleep?
8 Ahasuerus is unable to sleep the night before this second banquet, likely because the hand of Jehovah is at work. Possibly drawing the conclusion that he has failed in some way, the king has the book of records read to him. At length, he hears a report of Mordecai’s loyalty in uncovering the assassination plot of the two court officials Bigthana (Bigthan) and Teresh. But the king learns that this loyal act has gone unrewarded. So the Persian monarch determines that Mordecai shall be honored.—Esther 6:1-3.
9. Thinking that he himself is to be honored, what lavish ceremony does Haman outline?
9 Early the next morning, scheming Haman is granted access to King Ahasuerus. But before the Agagite can carry out his murderous plot against Mordecai, the king asks: “What is to be done to the man in whose honor the king himself has taken a delight?” Haman says in his heart: “To whom would the king take delight in rendering an honor more than me?” Then doubtless visualizing himself in the role of the highly honored one, Haman says: ‘Bring out the king’s horse with the royal headdress on its head. (No ordinary horse is good enough for lofty Haman!) Let the man be clothed with the king’s own royal apparel. Then, have the man ride on the horse in the public square of the city, and have it proclaimed aloud before him: “This is how it is done to the man in whose honor the king himself has taken a delight.”’—Esther 6:4-9.
10. (a) What devestating emotional blow does Haman experience? (b) After the ceremony honoring Mordecai, does the Agagite receive any comfort from his wife and friends?
10 “Quickly,” says Ahasuerus, “take the apparel and the horse, just as you have said, and do that way to Mordecai the Jew who is sitting in the king’s gate. Do not let anything go unfulfilled of all that you have spoken.” What a devastating blow to proud Haman! But what can he do? Failure to comply would mean certain death. So it is not long before Mordecai, clothed in royal apparel and astride the king’s horse, is riding in the public square with a humiliated Haman calling out before him: “This is how it is done to the man in whose honor the king himself has taken a delight.” Afterward, Mordecai returns to the king’s gate and Haman hurries to his house, mourning and with his head covered in shame. His wife and friends bring him no comfort, but say: “If it is from the seed of the Jews that Mordecai is before whom you have started to fall, you will not prevail against him, but you will without fail fall before him.” Yes, to the Agagite’s wife and friends, the fact that he has had to conduct a public ceremony in honor of Mordecai is viewed as an omen that Haman will go down before this Jew. Hardly has Haman heard these dire words when the king’s court officials arrive and take him to Esther’s second banquet.—Esther 6:10-14.
COURAGEOUS IDENTIFICATION AND BOLD EXPOSURE
11, 12. (a) Esther says what about herself and her people during her second banquet attended by Ahasuerus and Haman? (b) How does Haman react when identified as a misrepresenter and treacherous schemer, but why is it that Esther does not relent?
11 During the banquet, Ahasuerus asks: “What is your petition, O Esther the queen?” It takes courage to reply, but the queen says: “If I have found favor in your eyes, O king, and if to the king it does seem good, let there be given me my own soul at my petition and my people at my request. For we have been sold, I and my people, to be annihilated, killed and destroyed. Now if we had been sold for mere men slaves and for mere maidservants, I should have kept silent. But the distress is not appropriate when with damage to the king.”—Esther 7:1-4.
12 What is this? Why, Queen Esther is Jewish, and annihilation has been decreed for her people! Ahasuerus wants to know who is responsible. Boldly, Esther says: “The man, the adversary and enemy, is this bad Haman.” The queen has been fair in having the now-terrified Amalekite present when exposing him. Courageously, Esther has indicted Haman as responsible for gross misrepresentation and has identified him as a treacherous schemer against the Persian monarch’s own interests. Enraged, the king goes into the palace garden. Frightened Haman, knowing he can expect no mercy from Ahasuerus, falls on the couch on which Esther has been reclining. He pleads for his very life. But Esther does not relent, for this would displease Jehovah, who has decreed the complete destruction of the Amalekites.—Esther 7:5-8.
13. What happens to Haman at the command of King Ahasuerus?
13 Returning from the garden, Ahasuerus sees desperate Haman on Esther’s couch and cries out: “Is there also to be a raping of the queen, with me in the house?” Immediately, the king sentences the wicked Agagite to death. Soon the lifeless body of Haman is hanging on the very stake erected for the Jew Mordecai. Only then does the monarch’s rage subside.—Esther 7:8-10.
14. What modern-day comparison can be made in connection with Esther’s identifying herself as a Jewess and boldly exposing Haman as an enemy of God’s people?
14 In retrospect, we note that courageous Esther, not only revealed her identity as a Jewess, but boldly exposed Haman as an enemy of God’s people. Comparably today, those who have since World War I become anointed followers of Jesus Christ have, with earlier anointed ones, courageously identified themselves as spiritual Jews and, as such, witnesses of Jehovah. (Isa. 43:10-12) And they certainly have enemies. For instance, like Haman, the clergy of Christendom have sought the destruction of Jehovah’s people. But genuine Christians boldly have exposed these hateful foes whose schemes will get them no farther than did those of the unscrupulous Amalekite, Haman. This is so because Jehovah’s people, who speak God’s Word with boldness, have divine support in facing plots and persecution.—Isa. 54:17; Acts 4:29-31.
A CHANGE FROM DISTRESS TO REJOICING
15. What is done with Haman’s house, and to what position is Mordecai appointed?
15 Ahasuerus gives executed Haman’s house to Esther, who has told the king about her relationship with Mordecai. Also, the monarch removes his signet ring that had been taken from Haman and gives it to this loyal Jew, making Mordecai the prime minister in place of the Agagite. Acting in accord with the degree of authority granted her by the king, Esther places Mordecai over the house of Haman.—Esther 8:1, 2.
16. In response to an appeal by Esther, what authorization involving the Jews does Ahasuerus grant?
16 Once again imperiling her life in behalf of her people, Esther goes before the king uninvited and falls at his feet weeping. Ahasuerus holds out the golden scepter and Esther rises, saying: ‘If to the king it seems good and I have found favor before him, let a written document be prepared to undo the scheme of Haman. How can I bear to look upon the calamity of my people and the destruction of my relatives?’ Because the laws of the Medes and the Persians are immutable, Ahasuerus authorizes Esther and Mordecai to write in his name a counteracting official document in behalf of the Jews.—Esther 1:19; 8:3-8.
17, 18. (a) What does Mordecai do in behalf of the Jews throughout the Persian Empire, and what right are they granted in connection with Adar 13? (b) Among the Jews, what reaction is there to the counterdecree?
17 With that the newly appointed prime minister swings into action. On the 23rd day of Sivan (May-June), the king’s secretaries are summoned and Mordecai dictates a counterdecree. Soon it will reach the Jews, the other people and the governmental officials—satraps (or viceroys), subordinate governors and princes—in Persia’s 127 jurisdictional districts. Mordecai authenticates the documents by sealing them with the king’s signet ring. And what is the substance of the new law? King Ahasuerus has granted the Jews the right to congregate themselves and stand for their souls, to annihilate those showing hostility to them. Yes, they will be able to defend themselves on the 13th of Adar (February-March), the day formerly set for their extermination! Without delay and riding in relays, couriers on speedy post horses urge their mounts forward, carrying the counterdecree to every part of the sprawling empire.—Esther 8:9-14.
18 Going forth from before the king, prime minister Mordecai is dressed in royal apparel of blue and linen. He wears a fine-fabric cloak of wool dyed reddish purple and has a great crown of gold on his head. Certainly, he has reason to be happy because of the counterdecree. In fact, joy prevails in Shushan, and ultimately there is rejoicing, a banquet and a good day for the Jews throughout the empire. Furthermore, dread of the Jews has fallen upon the people, many of whom are becoming proselytes.—Esther 8:15-17.
19. Reflecting on Haman’s plot, the counterdecree and related events, do you see any encouragement for today’s Christians?
19 Reflection on what has just transpired provides encouragement for present-day Christians. As Haman plotted to annihilate the natural Jews, so the religious leaders of Christendom have sought to exterminate today’s spiritual Jews, Christ’s spiritual brothers. Jesus, exercising regal power over the earth as Ahasuerus did over the Persian Empire, has permitted such attempts, but has also made it possible for his anointed followers to stand for their lives as Jehovah’s Christian witnesses. Moreover, thousands of honest-hearted people, like the Persian proselytes of Esther’s day, have taken their stand with these spiritual Jews by embracing true worship.—Zech. 8:23; Gal. 6:16.
JEHOVAH BACKS HIS PEOPLE
20. How do the Jews and their enemies fare on Adar 13 and 14?
20 The months now have passed and it is the 13th day of Adar. Having congregated themselves in their cities, the Jews lay hand on those seeking their injury. Not a man stands his ground before God’s people. In fact, they are assisted by government officials because the dread of Mordecai has fallen upon such men. But it is primarily because of Jehovah’s backing that the Jews strike down those hating them. In Shushan the castle alone they kill 500 men, and Haman’s 10 sons are put to death. Throughout the empire, 75,000 foes are destroyed, but nowhere do the Jews lay their hand on any plunder. In harmony with a request made by Esther, King Ahasuerus grants the Jews in the capital city of Shushan an extra day of fighting, during which they kill another 300 men but do no plundering. Also, the bodies of Haman’s 10 sons are hanged. With their enemies destroyed, the victorious Jews make Adar the 14th in outlying districts and the 15th at Shushan a time of banqueting and rejoicing.—Esther 9:1-19.
21. Mordecai imposes on the Jews the obligation to observe what festival each year, and what is its purpose?
21 Jehovah has delivered his people and they should remember this. Accordingly, Mordecai sends written documents to the Jews throughout the empire. Why? To impose on them the obligation of annually commemorating the 14th and 15th of Adar as days of banqueting, gift-giving and joy. Later, another letter on this matter is sent to the Jews with the confirmation of Queen Esther. This festival of deliverance is called Purim, a name that comes from Haman’s act in having Pur, or the Lot, cast to determine the auspicious day for carrying out the extermination plot that ultimately turned upon his own head.—Esther 9:20-32.
JEHOVAH DELIVERS THE RIGHTEOUS
22. Mordecai, high in government office, continues doing what in behalf of God’s people?
22 For Esther, Mordecai and the other Jews the crisis is past. Jehovah has not deserted his people. As time progresses, King Ahasuerus lays forced labor on the land and the isles of the sea. (For instance, sometime during his reign he completed much of the construction work his father Darius I initiated at Persepolis.) High in government office—in fact, second only to the king—is Mordecai. This faithful Jew, approved and respected by God’s dedicated people, continues working for their good and speaking peace to all their offspring.—Esther 10:1-3.
23. What fine qualities did Mordecai and Esther manifest?
23 Truly, Mordecai was a man of faith, courage, decisiveness, integrity and loyalty to Jehovah and to God’s people. Esther was a discreet woman, who kept silent when necessary, but spoke fearlessly at the right time. She accepted counsel from Mordecai, even when following it endangered her life. Indeed, this beautiful and submissive woman displayed love, unselfishness and loyalty toward her people. Both she and Mordecai trusted fully in Jehovah and prayerfully sought divine direction.
24. In view of what happened in God’s dealings with Mordecai, Esther and the other Jews, of what can Jehovah’s people be confident today?
24 What fine examples for God’s people today! In the face of opposition and persecution, they are serving side by side, loyal to Jehovah and to one another. Yes, they are confident that Jehovah God will uphold and deliver them, even as he backed and delivered Esther, Mordecai and their people. (Phil. 1:27-30) True, “many are the calamities of the righteous one, but out of them all Jehovah delivers him.” (Ps. 34:19) So, let the praises of our God be proclaimed and may we ever trust in him, for Jehovah does not desert his people.
[Picture on page 20]
Esther does not relent and wicked Haman is sentenced to death