Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 3 * BOOK 69
FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
Book of Esther
Okay, it’s good to see everybody back so quickly. We’re going to get out of here early today if we keep this up! So, again we want to make our television audience feel right at home. Like I told someone in the studio before one of our programs this afternoon, I had a letter, or a phone call, from a gentleman who heard me refer to previous letters that say they feel like they’re sitting on the back row. This guy says, “Not me. I’m sitting on the front row right beside that gal with the red hair.” (Sharon)
We appreciate the fact that you just make yourself at home with us, because all we are is an informal Bible study. We just have a good time searching the Scriptures together. So, if you’re ever headed toward Tulsa on, usually, the first Wednesday after the first Sunday of the month, try to make it in and enjoy the day with us.
Okay, we’re in the Book of Esther. It’s a little different Bible study than what I’ve been normally doing. I hope I’m not losing you. But on the other hand, I felt it was too good a book that’s just sort of lying back there. Nobody ever studies it. The primary reason I’m doing this is because, as we’re seeing again today, we’ve got this fellow in Iran who is just bound and determined that every Jew be thrown into the sea. Well, it’s nothing new. This is the satanic effort to interrupt God’s prophetic program.
Remember, prophecy can never be fulfilled if Israel is not in their homeland. They have to be there, because when Christ returns, where is He going to return to? Well, not New York or Washington or Tokyo. He’s going to return to the Mount of Olives which is in Jerusalem. So, it’s prophetic. It has to happen. And Satan is never going to win.
Somebody called the other day and said, “Is Satan ignorant? Is he stupid? Why can’t he understand he can’t win?” That is a good question. Satan evidently still thinks he can win. But he can’t, because prophecy has set all this in concrete, as I like to say, and they have to happen.
So, my number one reason for teaching this Book of Esther is not just to fill up book 69, but to make the point that Satan never stops trying to destroy the Nation of Israel. It’s happened over and over all the way back in antiquity, back in recent history, and now even today. The world in general would just as soon see every Jew disappear. That’s why I’m always reminding my classes here in Oklahoma, and I might as well remind my television audience – you pray! You pray for our President. I don’t care whether it’s a Democrat or a Republican in the White House. You pray for them that they will maintain our stand with Israel.
You know, I’m telling everybody lately to send a message to the White House: Remember Harry Truman. Harry Truman proved that if you do what God wants you to do; He’ll end up blessing you. For those of you who may not know what I’m talking about. In the spring of 1948 he was at the bottom of the polls. He didn’t stand a “Chinaman’s chance,” as we’d say, of winning the election in the fall. All his advisors, every member of his cabinet, and every member of congress begged him not to stand up with this little emerging Nation of Israel while they were still fighting for their independence. And I trust you all know the story. When Ben-Gurion announced to the world that Israel was now a sovereign state, Harry Truman was the first major player on the stage of history to declare that America will stand with this little Nation of Israel and defend her.
Well, that was in May of 1948. In November, you all know your history. Harry Truman beat Thomas Dewey hands down. I maintain it was all because, against all of his advisors and against all the media of the day, Harry Truman did what was right. He stood up for Israel. I feel that this is still appropriate today. So, you pray for our men in high places. You pray for the Nation of Israel, because they have to be there. Otherwise, prophecy can’t be fulfilled.
All right, now I’m going to go back to Esther, again, with that premise that here we have another opportunity where Satan thinks he can destroy the Nation to the last little boy and girl. They were to have no mercy and to kill every Jew in the empire. All right, we were down at chapter 4. I’m going to read again the last part of verse 14. This is exactly what it boiled down to, where Mordecai tells Esther:
“…and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom (as a queen in a place where she can really get something done) for such a time as this. (To stop the obliteration of the Jewish people.) 15. Then Esther bade them return Mordecai this answer. 16. Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish.” In other words, she could not go in unless he would invite her. But she’s going to make the move, and he could have just as well made the decree to kill her.
“So Mordecai went his way, and did according to all that Esther had commanded him. 1. Now it came to pass on the third day, that Esther put on her royal apparel, (She’s going to get dressed to the hilt.) and stood in the inner court of the king’s house, over against the king’s house: and the king sat upon his royal throne in the royal house, over against the gate of the house.”
“And it was so, when the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court, that she obtained favor in his sight: and the king held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand. So Esther drew near, and touched the top of the scepter.” This, of course, was the custom. You’ve seen it in movies. I know you have. Where the king would appoint whoever touched the scepter to come into his presence.
“Then the king said unto her, (Here it comes now. We’re setting the stage to reverse everything against this Amalekite Haman.) The king said unto her, What wilt thou, queen Esther? and what is thy request? It shall be even given thee to the half of the kingdom. 4. And Esther answered, If it seem good unto the king, let the king and Haman come this day unto the banquet that I have prepared for him.”
Now, she’s just not asking him straight out – reverse the decree. But she’s going to, I think, get them pretty well as we would say today, loosened up. You know, like a lot of people call it – attitude adjustment or whatever. Alcohol has been the vehicle for centuries, you know that. So, she’s going to use the same thing. She prepares a huge banquet.
“Then the king said, Cause Haman to make haste, that he may do as Esther hath said. So the king and Haman came to the banquet that Esther had prepared. 6. And the king said unto Esther at the banquet of wine, What is thy petition? and it shall be granted thee: and what is thy request? even to the half of the kingdom it shall be performed. 7. Then answered Esther and said, My petition and my request is;” Here it comes.
You know how they did in the antiquities. I know this because I read a lot of archaeology stuff. This is exactly how they wrote each other letters. They would just flower and give all kinds of descriptions of how great they were. So, she does the same thing.
“If I have found favor in the sight of the king, and if it please the king to grant my petition, and to perform my request, let the king and Haman come to the banquet that I shall prepare for them, and I will do tomorrow as the king hath said. 9. Then went Haman forth that day joyful and with a glad heart: but when Haman saw Mordecai in the king’s gate, that he stood not up, nor moved for him, he was full of indignation, (That’s another word for wrath.) against Mordecai.”
“Nevertheless Haman refrained himself: and when he came home, he sent and called for his friends, and Zeresh his wife.” He rehearsed all that was taking place between him and the king, and how he feels that one of these days he’s going to be second in the kingdom. He’s really flying high. Then verse 12.
“Haman said moreover, Yea, Esther the queen did let no man come in with the king unto the banquet that she had prepared but myself; and tomorrow I am invited unto her also with the king.” You see how they like to lubricate their ego. I guess that’s part of politics, isn’t it? They just love to have their ego stroked, and, as we say, lifted up. So, Haman was just ecstatic that he alone would be in this banquet with the king and the queen. All right, then he says:
“Yet all this availeth me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate.” He had such a hatred for Jews that even though he thought he was really making headway with the king, yet this just overwhelmed him.
“Then said Zeresh his wife and all his friends unto him, Let a gallows be made of fifty cubits high, and tomorrow speak thou unto the king that Mordecai may be hanged thereon: then go thou in merrily with the king unto the banquet. And the thing pleased Haman; and he caused the gallows to be made.” But now, here God moves in. Yes, God moves in on the thinking of a king lying on his bed at night.
“On that night could not the king sleep, and he commanded to bring the book of records of the chronicles: and they were read before the king.” Now, do you see why I made special note of that a few chapters back? What happened in that book of chronicles? It was recorded how Mordecai had kept him from being killed by these two chamberlains. It was in the book. Now he reads it, see? Oh, the Providence, the hand of God in everything, Beloved. Id it’s no different today. It’s not one whit different. God is in everything.
“And it was found written, that Mordecai had told of Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s chamberlains, the keepers of the door, who sought to lay hand on the king Ahasuerus. 3. And the king said, What honor and dignity hath been done to Mordecai for this? Then said the king’s servants that ministered unto him, There is nothing done for him.”
“And the king said, Who is in the court? Now Haman was come into the outward court of the king’s house, to speak unto the king to hang Mordecai on the gallows that he had prepared for him. 5. And the king’s servant said unto him, Behold, Haman standeth in the court. And the king said, Let him come in. 6. So Haman came in. And the king said unto him, What shall be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honor?…” Now remember, Haman is all puffed up. He thinks he is about to become second man in the Kingdom. The stage is being set.
“…Now Haman thought in his heart, To whom would the king delight to do honor more than to myself? 7. And Haman answered the king, For the man whom the king delighteth to honor, 8. Let the royal apparel be brought which the king used to wear, and the horse that the king rideth upon, and the crown royal which is set upon his head:” Now, this is almost comedy isn’t it? I love this little book after spending all this time in it. Here this guy is thinking all this is going to happen to him.
“And let this apparel and horse be delivered to the hand of one of the king’s most noble princes, that they may array the man withal whom the king delighteth to honour, and bring him on horseback through the street of the city, and proclaim before him, Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delighteth to honor. (All right then, here it comes.) 10. Then the king said to Haman, Make haste, and take the apparel and the horse, as thou hast said, and do even so to Mordecai the Jew,…” Glorious, isn’t it? Glorious! You know, someone has said, does God have a sense of humor? I think He does.
Now mostly, you know, even when I have the question come up, did Jesus ever smile or laugh in His earthly ministry? Well, we don’t know that He did. If He didn’t, it was because the sin of the world was the number one thing on His mind. And naturally, you know, you can’t make light of things when you’re thinking of that aspect of it. The same way with God in general, you know. “He’s not willing that any should perish,” and He looks at the wickedness of man. Yet, I have to feel, especially in a situation like this, that He does have a sense of humor. So, here Haman is being set up. He thinks to bring in his own honor and glory and then to have it suddenly go to the Jew. Boy! That must have been a real hammer blow to the man’s ego.
“…and do even so, do it to Mordecai the Jew, that sitteth at the king’s gate: let nothing fail of all that thou hast spoken. (In other words, you fulfill every detail Haman.) 11. Then took Haman the apparel and the horse, and arrayed Mordecai, and brought him on horseback through the street of the city, and proclaimed before him, Thus shall it be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honor.”
“And Mordecai came again to the king’s gate. But Haman, hasted to his house mourning, and having his head covered. (I mean, he is in complete sorrow.) 13. And Haman told Zeresh his wife and all his friends everything that had befallen him. Then said his wise men and Zeresh his wife unto him, If Mordecai be of the seed of the Jews, before whom thou has begun to fall, thou shalt not prevail against him, but shall surely fall before him. 14. And while they were yet talking with him, came the king’s chamberlains, and hasted to bring Haman unto the banquet that Esther had prepared.” Now, here’s where Esther came in and began to set the stage for a reversal of the decree to destroy the Jew.
“So the king and Haman came to banquet with Esther the queen. 2. And the king said again unto Esther on the second day at the banquet of wine, What is thy petition, queen Esther? and it shall be granted thee: and what is thy request?… 3. Then Esther the queen answered and said, If I have found favor in thy sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be given me at my petition, and my people (the Jews now remember) at my request:”
“For we are sold, (Remember, the decree has gone out.) I and my people, to be destroyed, to be slain, and to perish. But if we had been sold for bondmen and bondwomen. (In other words, if we’d just been sold into servitude–) I would have held my tongue, although the enemy could not countervail the king’s damage. 5. Then the king Ahasuerus answered and said, unto Esther the queen, Who is he and where is he, that durst presume in his heart to do so?” In other words, to kill all the Jews.
“And Esther said, The adversary and enemy (Now remember, there’s only three people at that banquet, if I read right – the king, the queen, and Haman.) And Esther said, The adversary and enemy is this wicked Haman. Then Haman was afraid before the king and the queen. 7. And the king arising from the banquet of wine in his wrath, went into the palace garden:…” Now, that’s why I referred to the archaeological digs of this palace. They could reconstruct, according to the foundation stones, that this was the floor plan of this palace. So, this is all set in antiquity, archaeologically.
“And the king arising from the banquet of wine in his wrath went into the palace garden: and Haman stood up to make request for his life to Easter the queen; for he saw that there was evil determined against him by the king. 8. Then the king returned out of the palace garden into the place of the banquet of wine; and Haman was fallen upon the bed (Or couch, I feel that they had been reclining to eat and partake of their banquet. This is just about a repeat of Joseph back there in Egypt.) whereon Esther was. Then said the king, Will he force the queen also before me in the house?’ As the word went out of the king’s mouth, they covered Haman’s face.”
“And Harbonah, one of the chamberlains, said before the king, Behold also, the gallows fifty cubits high, which Haman had made for Mordecai, who had spoken good for the king, standeth in the house of Haman. Then the king said, Hang him thereon. 10. So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then was the king’s wrath pacified.” So, the very gallows that Haman had built hoping to kill Mordecai was used to hang Haman. Well, now we just keep right on going in chapter 8, and we’ll finish the whole story of Esther this afternoon.
“On that day, did the king Ahasuerus give the house of Haman the Jews’ enemy unto Esther the queen. And Mordecai came before the king; for Esther had told what he was unto her. 2. And the king took off his ring, which he had taken from Haman, and gave it unto Mordecai. And Esther set Mordecai over the house of Haman. 3. And Esther spake yet again before the king, and fell down at his feet, and besought him with tears to put away the mischief of Haman the Agagite, and his device that he had devised against the Jews.”
“Then the king held out the golden scepter toward Esther. So Esther arose, and stood before the king, 5. And said, If it please the king, and if I have found favor in his sight, and the thing seem right before the king, and I be pleasing in his eyes, let it be written (Now, here it comes.) to reverse the letters devised by Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, which he wrote to destroy the Jews which are in all the king’s provinces:
“For how can I endure to see the evil that shall come unto my people? Or how can I endure to see the destruction of my kindred? 7. Then the king Ahasuerus said unto Esther the queen and to Mordecai the Jew, Behold, I have given Esther the house of Haman, and him they have hanged upon the gallows, because he laid his hand upon the Jews.”
“Write ye also for the Jews, as it liketh you, in the king’s name, and seal it with the king’s ring: for the writing which is written in the king’s name, and sealed with the king’s ring, may no man reverse.”
“Then were the king’s scribes called at that time in the third month, that is, the month Sivan, on the three and twentieth day thereof; and it was written according to all that Mordecai commanded unto the Jews, and to the lieutenants, and the deputies and rulers of the provinces which are from India unto Ethiopia, an hundred and twenty seven provinces, unto every province according to the writing thereof, and unto every people after their language, and to the Jews according to their writing, and according to their language.” Okay, now here we come. This is what I wanted you to see. The post office, everything, was already operating clear back there 500 years before Christ, verse 10.
“And he wrote in the king Ahasuerus’ name, and sealed it with the king’s ring, and sent letters by posts on horseback, and riders on mules, camels, and young dromedaries:” Boy, if that isn’t the Pony Express, I don’t know what is. So, all these riders went out all the way across the empire. Now picture that, all the way from India to around the Mediterranean, on the south and on the north. All the posts were made aware of the king’s reversal that would now put the Jew in the place of preeminence. Now verse 11:
“Wherein the king granted the Jews which were in every city to gather themselves together, and to stand for their life, (Now, it’s reversed.) to destroy, to slay, and to cause to perish, all the power of the people and province that would assault them, both little ones and women, and to take the spoil of them for a prey. 12. Upon one day in all the provinces of king Ahasuerus, namely, upon the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar.”
“The copy of the writing for a commandment to be given in every province was published unto all people, and that the Jews should be ready against that day to avenge themselves on their enemies. 14. So the posts that rode upon mules and camels went out, being hastened and pressed on by the king’s commandment. And the decree was given at Shushan the palace.”
“And Mordecai went out from the presence of the king in royal apparel of blue and white, and with a great crown of gold, and with a garment of fine linen and purple: and the city of Shushan rejoiced and was glad. 16. The Jews had light, and gladness, and joy, and honor. 17. And in every province, and in every city, whithersoever the king’s commandment and his decree came, the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a good day. And many of the people of the land became Jews; (In other words, even some of the Gentiles came in and began to embrace the Jews religion.) for the fear of the Jews fell upon them.”
Well, anyway, as we go through the rest of this Book, we find that the vengeance is turned from killing the Jews to killing all those who hated them. The Jews come back into a place of preeminence. Now go to verse 5 of chapter 9.
“Thus the Jews smote all their enemies with the stroke of the sword, and slaughter, and destruction, and did what they would unto those that hated them.” Now see, this is contrary to our line of thinking. But all the way back in antiquity, especially in the Middle East, just like you see it today, what is their favorite statement? The Arabs love death, and the Jews love life.
Just think of that. And you’re seeing it. Every day! They love death, but the Jews, on the other hand, love life. Hey, it’s no secret. The Jews know how to live sumptuously. They always have. They’ve been stricken in poverty a good portion of their history. But on the other hand, they have the wherewithal; they know how to live sumptuously. So, here again, the whole thing is reversed, and now the Jews are in the place of killing their enemies. Then down to verse 10.
“The ten sons of Haman (Now, this is the end of the Amalekites, historically speaking. This is where God finally said, this is the end of the Amalekites.) The ten sons of Haman the son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews, they slew; but on the spoil they laid not their hand. 11. On that day the number of those that were slain in Shushan the palace was brought before the king. 12. And the king said unto Esther the queen, The Jews have slain and destroyed five hundred men in Shushan the palace, and the ten sons of Haman; what have they done in the rest of the king’s provinces? now what is thy petition? and it shall be granted thee: or what is thy request further? and it shall be done.”
“Then said Esther, If it please the king, let it be granted to the Jews who are in Shushan to do tomorrow also according unto this day’s decree, and let Haman’s ten sons be hanged upon the gallows. 14. And the king commanded it so to be done: and the decree was given at Shushan; and they hanged Haman’s ten sons.” Which, like I said, brought an end to the Amalekites, which King Saul should have ended himself hundreds and hundreds of years earlier.
“ For the Jews that were in Shushan gathered themselves together on the fourteenth day also of the month Adar, and slew three hundred men at Shushan: but on the prey they laid not their hand. 16. But the other Jews that were in the king’s provinces gathered themselves together, and stood for their lives, and had rest from their enemies, and slew of their foes seventy and five thousand, but they laid not their hands on the prey, 17. On the thirteenth day of the month Adar; and on the fourteenth day of the same rested they, and made it a day of feasting and gladness.”
Now, we’ll pick that up in our final half-hour. We’ll find that it is a feast day that is still celebrated in Israel today. The name of the day is Purim (p-u-r-i-m). It is still celebrated traditionally by Jews, going all the way back to the time of Queen Esther.
Interesting, not like I normally like to teach, but hopefully this is just a little interlude. We’re going to be going into the Minor Prophets in our next study.