This month the Jewish people in Israel and worldwide will celebrate the feast of Purim and read the book of Esther. What a great opportunity for you and me to discover how this story directly relates to us today and to our role for Israel’s salvation.
As a kid growing up in Jerusalem, Purim was definitely one of the most exciting days of the year! I mean, what can be more fun for a Jewish Israeli boy than dressing up as a TX cowboy??? Not to mention, eating “Haman’s ears” (a sweet traditional Purim treat), having a day off from school, receiving gifts, and even, if we were extremely lucky, enjoying the rare blessing of playing in the snow! Yes, believe it or not, people that love snow still exist in this world.
I would have never guessed that thirty some years later I will write about the feast of Purim with even greater excitement in my heart – excitement over finding Jesus!! First and foremost, finding Jesus as my own Messiah and Savior, and secondly, finding Jesus all over my Jewish Bible! Yes, even in the book of Esther.
Consider this. In Luke 24:44, Jesus said to His disciples: “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” In other words, Jesus was saying: “You can find Me in all the three sections of the Hebrew Bible – everywhere – and all of it will be fulfilled”. Also, in John 5:39, Jesus said to the religious leaders concerning the Scriptures: “it is they that bear witness about Me.” Indeed, the Scriptures are all about Jesus!! No surprise at all – as our Jesus is the Word that became flesh (John 1:14).
So where can we find Jesus in the book of Esther? Isn’t that one of the two books in the Bible where God is not even mentioned? Let’s put on our spiritual glasses and have a close look.
While God is not mentioned in the book of Esther, there are three other persons that play a major part in the events: Esther, Mordecai and Haman. Are they a foreshadowing of someone we know? How will their role be fulfilled?
Let’s start with Mordecai. What is the first thing that is being told us about him? – that he is Jewish: “Now there was a Jew in Susa the citadel whose name was Mordecai…” (Esther 2:5). Interestingly, when we open the very first chapter of the New Testament, what is the very first thing that we are told about Jesus? You guessed it right! That He is Jewish: “This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David” (Matthew 1:1).
What makes it even more fascinating is that Mordecai was the only Jew that didn’t bow down to Haman (Esther 3:1-5). Any parallels here? Yes!! Jesus is clearly the only Jew that never bowed down to satan (Luke 4:5-8, Jn. 8:29b). The rest of the Jews and all humanity prior to salvation did bow down to satan. Ephesians 2:1-2 conclude: “And you… just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil, the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God.”
This verse also makes it clear that the spirit of satan was at work in Haman’s heart! He not just refused to obey God – but he took it to the extreme! He didn’t just want to kill Mordecai – he wanted to kill ALL the Jews!! – “…he disdained to lay hands on Mordecai alone. So, as they had made known to him the people of Mordecai, Haman sought to destroy all the Jews, the people of Mordecai, throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus.” (Esther 3:6)
I wonder why Haman wanted to kill all of us Jews…. could it be for the same reason that Pharaoh wanted to kill every male Jew (Exodus 1:22)? Is that somehow related to the fact that, after realizing that the “King of the Jews” was born in Bethlehem, Herod “was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under” (Matthew 2:16)? Why this satanic hatred towards the Jewish people? Why is satan so obsessed and determined to kill all the Jews?? The answer is clear – satan was doing his best to prevent the coming of the Jewish Messiah.
Throughout generations, satan knew well that One will come from the seed of a woman that will crush his head (Gen. 3:15). Satan is well aware of God’s promise to Abraham that through his seed – in singular (Gal. 3:16) – God will bring the Jewish Messiah and by that fulfill his promise to Abraham to be “father of many nations” (Gen. 17:5) and that “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen. 12:3b). This consistent satanic attack on the Jewish people also continued after the first coming of Jesus, and still continues today! Guess why? — This time, to prevent the second coming of Jesus, which according to Jesus Himself, will not happen until the Jewish people will welcome Him back. In Matthew 23:29, Jesus prophesied over the people of Jerusalem and said: “For I tell you, you will not see Me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.’”
Now that we understand the bigger picture and that we see who Mordecai points to and who Haman is representing here, let’s think who Esther is all about. So what do we know about her? First, Esther is really Jewish, but appears to be Gentile by hiding her Jewish roots. Second, Esther had a rough start to her life; and Mordechai was the one that came to her rescue (Est. 2:7). Third, Esther had a major part in God’s plan to save the Jewish people. And forth, Mordechai is the one sending her to her mission.
It is hard not to see the amazing parallels. Esther is a foreshadowing of the Church!! Like Esther, the roots of the Church are really Jewish yet we are perceived almost as a complete opposite of anything Jewish. Each one of us had a rough start to life in one way or another, and Jesus is the One that came to our rescue. The Church has a MAJOR part in God’s plan to save the Jewish people by being a witness of God’s love and faithfulness to Israel AND by proclaiming the Gospel to the “Jew first” (Rom. 1:16). And of course – Jesus is the One that is sending us to our mission. The only question is – will we be obedient to Jesus in the same way that Esther was obedient to Mordecai?
Mordecai instructed Esther to fulfill her calling from God and not to be silent (Est. 4:14). Yes, Esther had to open her mouth for God to use her to save the people of Israel. Today Jesus is telling you and me to do the same! He gave us His life and He gave us His message to proclaim. For Zion’s sake, let us not keep silent! Let us “not be quiet until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a burning torch.” (Isaiah 62:1).