The Big Picture:
Esther takes place during the time of Persian rule. While some of the Jews have returned home to build the temple, many others remain in exile. When King Xerxes dumps his old queen, he looks for a new one and chooses Esther. Although no one in the courts knows it, she is a Jewish girl.
Haman, the King’s advisor, devises a plot to kill all the Jews. He sets it into effect and things look pretty grim. But God has placed Esther into her position for a reason, and now she must decide if she will do the easy thing, or the right thing.
- The story takes place during the reign of King Xerxes of Persia. Many Jews are still in captivity.
- Xerxes decides it is time for a new Queen. He hosts the world’s first edition of the Bachelor; Esther wins his favor and becomes Queen.
- Esther’s Uncle, Mordecai, saves the life of the King, but his actions are never rewarded.
- Mordecai makes Haman, the King’s assistant, angry. Haman is so angry that he will not be satisfied with killing Mordecai, so he passes a law to kill all of the Jews in Persia.
- Esther learns about the plot and decides to do something about. She and the people fast and pray for three days before she approaches the King.
- The King agrees to listen to her, but first she offers to make a meal for him and Haman.
- The King has trouble sleeping and starts reading through his old court logbooks. He realizes Mordecai saved his life and decides to reward him. He asks Haman, “what should be done for the man the King delights to honor?” Haman of course thinks the King is asking about himself and suggests an elaborate celebration. The King agrees and instructs Haman (who hates Mordecai and is trying to kill him) to reward Mordecai and shout about his greatness in the streets.
- The next night, Esther reveals Haman’s plot to the King and so the King has Haman hung on the gallows he built to kill Mordecai.
- Mordecai replaces Haman as the King’s second in command and the Jews are able to protect themselves from Haman’s plot, and a new festival is put into effect.
- Righteousness trumps wickedness: Haman is an evil and sinister character. For much of the book, it seems like he will win against the righteous. But eventually, his own sin destroys him and the righteous Mordecai is lifted up.
- God is always in control: We may not be able to feel Him and He may not be shouting at us through a megaphone, but his hands are so clearly guiding the events of Esther that you cannot ignore Him. Likewise, His hands clearly guide our lives, and that is a very comforting thought.
- The importance of prayer: Before Esther goes to try and save her people, she and the rest of the Jews spend three days in fasting and prayer. This goes to show you how important it is to depend on God with whatever it is you want to do.
- Be vigilant: God puts us in a specific place in time for a purpose. When the time comes, we have the responsibility to act in such a way that will move His Kingdom forward. We still need to depend on Him for strength and wisdom, but ultimately He moves through people most often.
How it points to Christ:
- The line of Christ is preserved. If the Jewish people had been destroyed, then we would have no Jesus. There will be trials and pain, but God always protects and preserves His people.
- Just as Esther and Mordecai lead with humility, so too does Christ.
- The Jews are literally saved from complete annihilation and destruction. When Christ came to Earth, he also saved us from complete annihilation and destruction. The Jews throw a huge festival to celebrate their salvation, and it is remarkably similar to the celebration we look forward to at the end of Revelation when Jesus returns to His people.