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2011.11.27 - Esther, Part 3

  • | Chris McCann
  • Audio: Length: 43:46 Size: 10.0 MB
  • A look at Esther 2:1-7.

Let us go to the book of Esther. We have been looking at this over the last couple of weeks and we just finished chapter one. We saw that Vashti the queen is a type and a figure of national Israel. She was married to King Ahasuerus and he was a type of God. He was the king of the Medes and the Persians.

Ahasuerus was probably not saved. So can God use a heathen king to typify Himself? Yes. He used Cyrus. In the book of Isaiah, He says of Cyrus, “He is my shepherd,” and He calls him “his anointed.” This word for “anointed” is the same word for “Messiah” that is found in Daniel 9. Cyrus was a king of the Medes and the Persians. So, yes, God could use someone who was not even saved themselves. Even Solomon was not a saved man, and yet God used him at times to typify Christ. Solomon’s name means “peace,” and Christ is the Prince of Peace.

In Esther, we find Ahasuerus ruling over 127 provinces. This number identifies with all of God’s elect which are in all of the world. Ahasuerus is married to Vashti, a beautiful woman, and we saw how God typified Jerusalem as being beautiful, but she was also a rebellious woman. He called for her to come and she refused.

We do not read that this was her habit. Actually, it seemed like she had never done this before because the king was so furious. It sounded like he was surprised that she would refuse. But how many times does it take for us to disobey one of God’s commandments before He can legally and justly and rightly put us away? It only takes one. James 2:10 says, “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” You are therein a lawbreaker or a transgressor.

How many sins did it take Eve and then Adam to commit before the whole human race was cast down? It took one sin. One sin of disobedience is all that it takes. Of course, that one sin would destroy all mankind, each one of us, except God provided a way of salvation for certain individuals, His elect whom He predestinated to save from before the foundation of the world.

How many sins do those elect have? Well, it depends on how long they live, I suppose. Just think of yourself. How many sins do you have that you are aware of? Whatever sins you are aware of, you could probably multiply that by a few thousand and that would be your actual number of sins, because there are many sins going on deep down in our hearts that we are not aware of.

Yet all sin, the Bible tells us, all the iniquity that we have ever done in the past, today in the present, or tomorrow and for however long we live, all sin is paid for. There is no more condemnation to those in Christ, to only those in Christ. Anyone else might be a much nicer person, much more moral, and might not have as many sins as that elect individual, yet it only takes but one sin. This is because they do not have a Saviour. No one has paid for whatever number of sins that they have.

This was Vashti’s problem. That was Israel’s problem of old. They thought that they were in such a close relationship with God. After all, they were the holy people. They were Israel. They were the caretakers of the oracles of God, His Word. The prophets came from among them. They thought that it certainly did not matter too much if they refused God every now and then and if they disobeyed Him, which is much like the church today. Like the church today, they think that they can get away with anything, “We stand by grace, after all.” Well, that is just a complete misunderstanding of grace.

Who stands by grace? Does the church? No; it is individuals. It is by grace that we are saved. Grace is for any individual, but a church is under works, just like Israel of old was under works. This is why Jesus says in the book of Revelation when He was talking to the churches that if they failed to keep His commandments, He would come and remove the candlestick.

Why would He remove their candlestick if it was all by grace? Yet we have seen all through history that He has removed His truth from individual churches, from denominations. Now at this time, He has removed Himself from the whole church world – every church. This is because it is a works relationship, like we read in Revelation 2 where God is speaking to the church of Thyatira. He is just using this church as a figure of all churches. He says in Revelation 2:20-21:

Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee…

But it only takes one. It continues:

…because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.

God gave the New Testament church 1,955 years of space. He saw their sins and He overlooked them. He overlooked them until He decided it was time. After He gave space and she repented not, it says in Revelation 2:22:

Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation…

This is what happened after the end of the church age.

God did a similar thing with Israel. He knew that they were rebellious. He knew that they were disobedient, but He gave them hundreds of years until Christ came. When Christ came, at that time when Jesus went to the cross, the veil of the temple was rent in twain. This exposed the holy place, which meant that it was no longer holy. The temple was no longer the holy temple, Jerusalem was no longer the holy city Jerusalem, and Israel was no longer the holy people of God. God divorced them. He put them asunder. To put asunder is a very good description of what happened. He rent the veil that covered the temple in twain, in two pieces.

So the Bible tells us that God was married to national Israel and then He divorced them and put them away, just like Vashti. Vashti was to come no more before the king. But there was a plan in place in the book of Esther to find a new wife.

Do not feel too bad for Ahasuerus. Even when he put Vashti away, we do not know how many concubines and wives he still had in the house of the women. He was not spending too many nights alone. Do not feel too bad for him about that. But the figure is that when God divorced Israel, He then established a plan to send the Gospel into all the world in order to find a new wife. That would be the Bride of Christ.

So we read here in Esther 2:1-4:

After these things, when the wrath of king Ahasuerus was appeased, he remembered Vashti, and what she had done, and what was decreed against her. Then said the king's servants that ministered unto him, Let there be fair young virgins sought for the king: And let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom, that they may gather together all the fair young virgins unto Shushan the palace, to the house of the women, unto the custody of Hege the king's chamberlain, keeper of the women; and let their things for purification be given them: And let the maiden which pleaseth the king be queen instead of Vashti. And the thing pleased the king; and he did so.

So here, the command given through his princes or counselors was to send out to the kingdom, to all the provinces, to find all the fair young virgins and gather them to Shushan.

Remember how the Bible typifies all who hear the Gospel, “For many are called, but few are chosen.” But remember also the parable of the virgins in Matthew 25. We will just look at Matthew 25:1-2:

Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.

So all of those who hear the Gospel are typified by ten virgins and there was a division. There were five wise and five foolish. This is not the actual percentage. It is not 50% that are wise or foolish or 50% saved and 50% unsaved. To be wise means you have wisdom, who is Christ. To be foolish means that no matter how smart you are, no matter if you have a college degree or a doctorate, even though you can have a worldly sense and common sense, if you do not have Christ, you are a fool. You are a fool if you do not have Christ who is wisdom.

Whenever you read in the Bible of the wise and the foolish, this is the difference. The fool does not have Christ. The Gospel goes out. Many are called. During the church age, the church was filled all over the world, and they were all like virgins. They were all virgins in God’s sight, although He knew who were truly saved and who were not, who were His elect people and who were not His elect. This is why that distinction is made in Matthew 25.

Look at 2 Corinthians 11:2. God is moving Paul to write. It says:

For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.

This is referring to those who hear the Gospel. Paul is speaking to the Corinthians and he is saying, “I am basically a servant. My job is to find a bride for my master.”

This is much like Abraham’s servant that we read about in Genesis 24 when he sent his servant to get a wife for his son Isaac. He went and he found Rebekah and Rebekah happened to be a virgin.

So this has actually been the believer’s job. They were to carry the Gospel to the world in order to find a bride for our Master, much like Abraham’s servant and the task that he was given. We desire to present these people who hear the Gospel as a chaste virgin to the Lord Jesus.

Then look at 2 Corinthians 11:3:

But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

This tells us that the true Gospel, the pure Gospel, is what leads to chaste virgins. God uses the figure of a virgin because of innocence. Purity is involved with this. When a sinner becomes saved, all sins are cleansed and washed away and we become like white as snow. In God’s sight, we become as a virgin.

So it is very important that the Gospel be pure in order that those who are hearing it can be chaste virgins. Otherwise, you are going to end up with foolish virgins who are not saved.

Another reference is all those saved during the church age that we read about in Revelation 14. Here is how God looks at all those who became saved from the cross up until 1988. We read in Revelation 14:4:

These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.

So all of the elect are virgins in God’s sight. Here in the book of Esther, this is not an accident. God wrote the Bible and He, of course, did not just write the book of Esther to give us an interesting and dramatic story. It must have the Gospel, because all Scripture has the Gospel. We know that Christ spoke in parables and we know that Esther is actually an historical parable.

So when the king’s servants say in Esther 2:2:

…Let there be fair young virgins sought for the king:

This points to sending the Gospel out into all the world during the church age.

Then we read in Esther 2:3:

And let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom, that they may gather together all the fair young virgins unto Shushan the palace…

“Shushan the palace” is mentioned ten times in the book of Esther. Again and again, we read of “Shushan the palace.” Shushan was in the province of Elam. That was one of the 127 provinces under Ahasuerus’ rule and it was the principle city. This was the city where he had decided to establish his throne. This is why it was a palace. This was where the king lived. The royal house was in Shushan. The virgins were coming from all of the provinces and they were being gathered to that one city of Shushan.

Why Shushan? This past week I had an opportunity to listen to Mr. Camping’s studies that he did on the book of Esther back in the 1980’s. He pointed this out. It was good and I was able to learn a few things. Of course, in the study that he did in the 1980’s, it is a little dated in the sense that you will hear about eternal hell and about Christ dying (for sins) at the cross. He did not have an understanding at that time of the great tribulation or Satan’s role in overcoming the churches to the degree that we have since learned, as well as several other things. But he had some good insight into many things. One of them was Shushan, which is Strong’s #7800. This is derived from Strong’s #7799, the word before it. That word is translated as “lily.” It is basically the same spelling. It is identical to the word “lily.”

We find this word “lily” in Song of Solomon 2:1:

I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys.

This is Christ who is speaking, and so Jesus is the lily and “lily” is the same word as “Shushan.”

It really helps a lot when we are reading about Shushan in the book of Esther, which is the central location of King Ahasuerus’ kingdom, and King Ahasuerus typifies God. We can see why Shushan is so important because it is a word that relates to Christ, as God identifies it with the lily.

Now look at Esther 2:3 as you think of this:

…that they may gather together all the fair young virgins unto Shushan the palace…

Unto that which identifies with Christ; unto Jesus Himself.

This is as Paul said in 2 Corinthians 11:2:

…that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.

It is the same thing here. The virgins are gathered to Shushan the palace.

Then Esther 2:3 goes on to say:

…to the house of the women, unto the custody of Hege the king's chamberlain, keeper of the women…

There were two houses of women. There was the house of the concubines. Esther was taken into that house a little later. Then one of the virgins would go to the royal house in order to spend a night with King Ahasuerus. If he delighted in her, as he did with Esther, then he chose her and she would move out of the house of the women of all of the concubines into the royal house and that is where she would spend the rest of her time.

I think we can see the relationship to churches, to houses. There is the corporate house and then there is the eternal house of God, or there is the church above and there is the earthly corporate body, or the two Jerusalems.

So the women are gathered to Shushan, all come to Christ, and they are kept in the house of the women, just like today where we still have church after church on many corners. They are in the house of the women, but they are all under the custody of Hege, the king’s chamberlain, the keeper of the women.

As far as this phrase, “the keeper of the women,” the Bible speaks of the keeper of many things. David in the account of Goliath in 1 Samuel 17 left the sheep with the keeper of the sheep. There was also a keeper of the carriage. A little further in Esther, we will read about the two men, Bigthan and Teresh, who were keepers of the door. Many of these things actually involve the Gospel. The keeper of sheep would actually relate to God Himself. The keeper of the door was God but He also gives underlings. This is why these two men, Bigthan and Teresh, were keepers of the door. Hege was keeper of the women.

Look at Psalm 121. We read in Psalm 121:4-5:

Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.

Keep this in mind later when King Ahasuerus cannot sleep. This was when he had the chronicles read to him that night because he could not sleep.

It continues:

JEHOVAH is thy keeper: JEHOVAH is thy shade upon thy right hand.

The Lord is thy keeper and Hege has the task of being keeper of the women. Who had the job during the church age of keeping basic order in the churches, even though, of course, it was not done perfectly? Who was in the midst of the churches but the Holy Spirit? He was in the congregations until He was taken out of the way when the church age ended.

But here it would seem that Hege is a picture of God Himself, or perhaps the Holy Spirit, as he was the keeper of the women. Notice that they were turned unto his custody, as it says in the last part of Esther 2:3, in order to:

…let their things for purification be given them:

So they came to the house of the women. I am not sure of everything involved with purification, but it had to do with incense.

Look at Esther 2:12:

Now when every maid's turn was come to go in to king Ahasuerus, after that she had been twelve months, according to the manner of the women, (for so were the days of their purifications accomplished, to wit, six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with sweet odours, and with other things for the purifying of the women;)

So the women would be perfumed and they would have to be covered with incense. This would be like a cleansing process before they would go into the king. The king of the Medes and the Persians was a very big deal. His words were unalterable. They would never change. If he gave a law, that law stood.

Historically, this is how they did this; but spiritually, when individuals would go into the church, would there be a purifying process? What would accomplish the purifying process? The Word of God.

Remember that Ephesians 5 tells us that we were cleansed. Let us go to Ephesians 5. This is speaking of husbands and wives. It says in Ephesians 5:24-26:

Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,

So this was the purifying process of the virgins as they were called out of the world and gathered into the congregations. Hearing the Word of God is what cleansed them.

The word in Esther 2:3 that is translated as “purification” is translated as “purifying/purification” every time except for once where it is translated as “cleanseth” in Proverbs 20:30. You can look at this later where it says, “The blueness of a wound cleanseth away evil.” That is that same word as “purification.” So we can see the picture that God is beginning to paint.

Then we read in Esther 2:4:

And let the maiden which pleaseth the king be queen instead of Vashti. And the thing pleased the king; and he did so.

So this is all in line with God’s salvation plan. This is how He has operated especially during the New Testament church age.

Then we read in Esther 2:5:

Now in Shushan the palace there was a certain Jew, whose name was Mordecai…

Why is Mordecai continually called a Jew in the book of Esther? Mordecai is called a Jew seven times in the book of Esther, “Mordecai the Jew.” This is because who was a Jew but Christ? He was born of the virgin Mary. Into what nation was He born? He was born into Israel. He was a Jew. He was not a Samaritan, even though some accused Him of this. He was not a Roman. He was a Jew and Mordecai was called a Jew.

Look at Zechariah 8:23, which is the last verse of that chapter:

Thus saith JEHOVAH of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.

This is a prophetic and Messianic reference to Christ. He is the Jew and, of course, all nations want to take hold of Christ’s skirt. The churches throughout all the world want to be identified with Jesus because they have heard that God is with Him.

Going back to Esther 2, we read in Esther 2:5-6:

Now in Shushan the palace there was a certain Jew, whose name was Mordecai, the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjamite; Who had been carried away from Jerusalem with the captivity which had been carried away with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away.

Who is this talking about? Is this talking about Mordecai? It almost makes us think that it is as we read this, but we have a problem if it is Mordecai because Jeconiah’s reign was 608 B.C. to 597 B.C. We have pretty much settled on 404 B.C. to about 391 B.C. for the book of Esther. This is not a little difference. Mordecai might have been an elderly man, but he was not nearing 200 years old. We do not read about that kind of age later on. After Abraham and Isaac and the patriarchs, their lifespans began to decline. Mordecai was not 175 to 200 years old. This is referring to one of his forefathers:

…there was a certain Jew, whose name was Mordecai, the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjamite; Who had been carried away from Jerusalem…

So one of those mentioned there – maybe Kish, a Benjamite, or maybe Jair – is the one who was carried away in the days of Jeconiah when Nebuchadnezzar took Judah and Jerusalem.

I remember looking at this. I think I asked Mr. Camping at one of the conferences about this. Is this talking about Mordecai? When was the date for this book? But it is not.

Then we read in Esther 2:7:

And he brought up Hadassah, that is, Esther, his uncle's daughter: for she had neither father nor mother, and the maid was fair and beautiful; whom Mordecai, when her father and mother were dead, took for his own daughter.

Hadassah is a feminine form of the word for myrtle tree. Hadac (had-as) is the word for myrtle tree. Hadassah is the feminine form of this word and she was a female, so this is slightly different. This is why in the Strong’s it would be #1919 for Hadassah and #1918 for myrtle tree.

Myrtle tree(s) is found six times in the Bible. The first time is in Nehemiah, which is the previous book from Esther. We read in Nehemiah 8:15:

And that they should publish and proclaim in all their cities, and in Jerusalem, saying, Go forth unto the mount, and fetch olive branches, and pine branches, and myrtle branches, and palm branches…

This would be to make the booths for the Feast of Tabernacles.

The second time is in Isaiah 41:19:

I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the shittah tree, and the myrtle, and the oil tree…

If you look at the context, God is opening up the Gospel in a wasteland, so it is a very positive context.

The third time is also in Isaiah. We read in Isaiah 55:13:

Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree…

In all three instances, it is positive because the thorn and the brier have to do with the curse. So the fir and the myrtle would be the reverse or the blessing.

The other three times it is found in the book of Zechariah 1, which we read last week. We read in Zechariah 1:8-11:

I saw by night, and behold a man riding upon a red horse, and he stood among the myrtle trees that were in the bottom; and behind him were there red horses, speckled, and white. Then said I, O my lord, what are these? And the angel that talked with me said unto me, I will show thee what these be. And the man that stood among the myrtle trees answered and said, These are they whom JEHOVAH hath sent to walk to and fro through the earth. And they answered the angel of JEHOVAH that stood among the myrtle trees, and said, We have walked to and fro through the earth, and, behold, all the earth sitteth still, and is at rest.

We read here three times out of a total of six about myrtle trees, which is basically Esther’s name Hadassah. Three times it is found in this one passage.

This sort of reminds us of John 21 when Christ asked Peter three times, “Lovest thou me?” Here we have myrtle trees mentioned three times. A man standing amongst the myrtle trees is also mentioned three times. So this is God’s purpose for something related to Esther.

Why is this significant? Go to Zechariah 1:7:

Upon the four and twentieth day of the eleventh month, which is the month Sebat, in the second year of Darius, came the word of JEHOVAH unto Zechariah…

We cannot really see this here. Zechariah 1:1 speaks of the “eighth month, in the second year of Darius.” This is the eleventh month, the 24th day of the second year. This is only about three months later.

But turn the page to Haggai. Haggai is the book right before Zechariah. Look at Haggai 1:1:

In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, in the first day of the month, came the word of JEHOVAH by Haggai…

What does he say? We are not going to read it all because we read this earlier. If you read it, God is talking about the heaven over you is stayed from dew, the earth is not giving its fruit, and this sounds very much like a famine that Amos 8:11 would describe, a spiritual famine.

Why is this important? Look at Haggai 1:13-15:

Then spake Haggai JEHOVAH'S messenger in JEHOVAH'S message unto the people, saying, I am with you, saith JEHOVAH. And JEHOVAH stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and did work in the house of JEHOVAH of hosts, their God, In the four and twentieth day of the sixth month, in the second year of Darius the king.

So it begins the first day of the sixth month. Then we read of God basically admonishing them because they had let His house lie waste while they dwelt in their ceiled houses. So He stayed the dew of Heaven and did not bless them with fruitfulness. Then through the prophesying of Haggai, the Lord’s messenger, this stirs up the spirit of Zerubbabel and the spirit of Joshua the high priest and they begin to work on the 24th day of the sixth month. That would be 23 days later.

Some people have noticed this before and I think that they have identified this with the 2300 evening/mornings. But in this case, what we have is within a 23-day period, a time of God withholding the dew of Heaven or the rain and fruitfulness. Then also within this 23-day period, they are finally stirred up, they begin to work, and God begins to bless. This happens all within 23 days, which reminds us of the 23 years of the great tribulation.

Within that 23-year period, there was an awful period where God was virtually not saving anyone. There was a terrible famine and that famine remained in the churches throughout, but then there was the latter rain. He began to send forth the Gospel and greatly bless the world in saving a great multitude.

In Haggai, all of this happens within 23 days. This is in the second year of Darius it says in Haggai. We read again in Haggai 1:15:

In the four and twentieth day of the sixth month, in the second year of Darius the king.

Turn to Zechariah 1:7:

Upon the four and twentieth day of the eleventh month, which is the month Sebat, in the second year of Darius…

How much time has transpired? Five months have transpired. We can say this because it is the same year of the same king. Haggai and Zechariah are prophesying in the same year of the same king.

It is interesting that Haggai talks about a 23-day period, which ends on the 24th day of the sixth month. Zechariah 1 picks up five months later in this verse, which would follow that 23-day period.

I think that we can see how this relates to our present time. We had 23 years of great tribulation followed by five months and we thought that would be it, but, by God’s grace, we are going to the book of Esther and we are learning some more things.

It just so happens that as we go to the book of Esther, Esther’s Hebrew name, Hadassah, leads us to Zechariah 1, precisely to a point that is after five months. Three times the name “Hadassah” is found in Zechariah 1 after this vision is seen on the 24th day of the 11th month.

Some people might say, “Now, come on! You are looking at Zechariah. You are looking over at Haggai. You are piecing things together.”

Well, despite the fact that this is how we always learn from the Bible, there are two reasons why we can do this. Number one is that this is the same King Darius and it is the same second year. God is the One who is giving these dates. He is dating Haggai’s book and He is dating Zechariah’s book. They were contemporaries and this is the second reason.

Go to Ezra 5:1-2:

Then the prophets, Haggai the prophet, and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied unto the Jews that were in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, even unto them. Then rose up Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and began to build the house of God which is at Jerusalem: and with them were the prophets of God helping them.

God joins them together. He brings both of these men together. They were alive at the same time. He moved in both of them to prophesy, to stir up the Jews of that day, to get to work, to rebuild the temple, which would be known as Zerubbabel’s temple.

We can say some things absolutely right now. We can say absolutely that there was a 23-day period, historically, in the second year of Darius, from the first day of the sixth month to the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month in which there was a famine or God was withholding blessing. Then at the very end of that period, it seems that He poured out blessing.

Then we can say absolutely that Zechariah picks up five months after that and begins telling us this strange and mysterious vision. It is unusual. Nothing really stands out as we read this. We read about a man standing among myrtle trees and there being red horses. Then it is asked of the Angel of Jehovah, which is really Christ among the myrtle trees, “What are these?” Then they answer, “These are they whom the LORD hath sent to walk to and fro through the earth.” Then we read that “all the earth sitteth still, and is at rest.”

This is important. This is important because this is after five months. At 23 days, followed by five months, the statement is made that “all the earth sitteth still, and is at rest.”

Lord willing, next time we are going to look at little bit more at Zechariah 1. We are not going to learn everything, but we can maybe pick up a couple of things from there. There is more in the book of Esther that I think can help us in understanding the day that we are in right now, which is post five months. We are in a period of time that comes after five months.

Let us stop here.