When I tell you this love story is about events in the book of Esther you may think you know what it is about, but you’d be wrong. It isn’t about the love the king has for his queen, nor the love of an uncle/cousin for his niece, nor of her love for her people. That’s part of ‘the twist’.
King Nebuchadnezzar had conquered Judah in successive raids, carrying off Daniel and his 3 friends, Ezekiel, and as we learn in Esther 2: 5-7, Mordecai and his cousin whom he had raised, Hadassah, whom we know as Esther. The Hebrew name Hadassah means ‘Compassion’, and is appropriate for this love story.
You know the book of Esther
The story takes place somewhere between 486BC and about 465BC. Queen Vashti was replaced by Esther, who did not disclose she was Jewish. (2:10)
In 2:19-23 we are told Mordecai overhears a plot to assassinate King Xerxes, which he dutifully reports, but in all the activity his act of kindness to the king is forgotten.
Chapter 3 is all about the plot of Haman against the Jews, as he manipulates Xerxes to issue an order to have all the Jews killed on a certain day. In chapter 4 Mordecai goes to Esther for help for their people, urging her with the famous words in v14, “Who knows if you have been called into the kingdom (of Xerxes) for such a time as this?”
The set up
Chapter 5 is focused on Esther’s banquets, the last one with Haman in attendance, and also Haman’s building of a gallows which he intends for Mordecai. Chapter 6 is where the king cannot sleep and happens to open the records to the place where Mordecai had saved his life. He asks what was done to honor Mordecai, and was shocked to learn nothing had been done. The king corrects that oversight, making Haman lead the honored Mordecai through the streets of the city.
And of course chapter 7 is about the final banquet, the revelation Esther is Jewish and Haman’s plot to kill the Jews. Xerxes was not an absolute monarch as Nebuchadnezzar had been, for the law of the Persians was that a king could not change a law he had made. Therefore Xerxes could not revoke his law to kill the Jews, but he issued an executive order that all Jews could defend themselves without facing any charges as it would be self-defense.
The Feast of Purim is celebrated to this day on 14 Adar, which is in the western calendar late winter or early spring, to celebrate the Jewish victory over their enemies.
Where is the love story?
Around 1400 BC, in Exodus 17:8-16, Amalek came out to fight against Israel when they had just left Egypt. The people of Amalek were distant cousins of Israel and should have helped them, but instead fought against them and incurred the wrath of God. The original Amalek was Esau’s grandson. Genesis 36:12.
Most Christians remember the battle because it was there that God is called Jehovah-Nissi, the Lord my Banner, for when Moses’ hand were held up Israel prevailed, and when he got tired and they dropped, Amalek started winning. Aaron and Hur assisted by holding Moses’ hands up for the whole battle while he sat on a rock.
You can’t miss the symbolism here
Moses, meaning ‘drawn out’, sat on the rock (Christ) while Aaron, meaning ‘exalted’ lifts one arm. Hur, which has various meanings, lifted the other arm. ‘Hur’ can mean ‘whiteness, righteousness’, and ‘fire/heat’ and ‘freedom’.
The meaning is clear: While we are seated/resting on the Rock (Christ) we are drawn out of the world (Moses), exalted (Aaron) in victory over the enemy in righteousness and zealous fervor (Hur) If we lose our zeal and righteousness we won’t be exalted in the Lord, and the enemy can triumph over us…back to the story.
The blotting out of Amalek
It is in Exodus 17:14 that God tells Moses to write it down in a book of remembrance, for He will blot out the people of Amalek from the earth. (They had ceased following God but had become idolaters and haters of God as demonstrated by their intense battle against Israel).
About 400 years later, about 1000 BC we have King Saul who in I Samuel 15:2-3 is told by God that He remembers what Amalek did to Israel when they had first entered the wilderness and He wanted them destroyed as He had promised Moses some 400 years earlier – the Father has a long memory. King Saul goes to war and kills all as commanded, though in disobedience he keeps King Agag, who is the family head of the Agagites, a family of Amalekites, alive, as well as many livestock.
God is trying to keep His promise to Moses, but Saul disobeys and as a result loses his kingdom to David. And while he does repent it is too late, and is told that famous line by Samuel in 15:22-23: “To obey is better than sacrifice…for rebellion is as witchcraft..” The reason rebellion is equal to witchcraft is that it manipulates people and events for personal benefit.
That is what rebellion does – it manipulates people and events for one’s personal benefit. From the kid who lies to his parents about where he went Friday night to the husband covering up his gambling addiction by telling his wife he didn’t get paid the bonus he thought he would, those lies are witchcraft at their root.
King Agag does lose his life that day, though some of his family survives. How do we know this? Coming full circle we have the last of the Amalekites make their appearance 500 years later in the book of Esther, and that person is non other than Haman the Agagite of Esther 3:1, direct descendant of King Agag that Saul kept alive, last family of the Amalekites.
Yes, Haman was an Agagite, the last of the Amalekites and exhibiting the same hatred for the Jews as did his forefathers in Exodus 17, some 900 years earlier.
Hadassah you’ll recall means ‘Compassion’, and the book of Esther is not only about the events around Purim, but it is the record of God’s compassion on Israel and His promises to them, even if this one took 900 years to complete. The twist to this love story is that of the Father God and His love for us, His love for keeping His Word, His love for watching over us to perform all He has promised – even if we get to heaven before we see it come to pass on earth.
I remember a couple in a church where I was pastor years ago, who had amazing prophecies over them about going to the nations teaching people of the Lord. But then infidelity happened and they divorced. During a visitation I asked the Lord about them because His Word won’t return to Him void. But how were they going to go to the nations since they were divorced. He said, “Some prophecies will be fulfilled in the next age.” I told Him I needed chapter and verse on that and He said, “There are many prophecies in the Old Testament about the age to come, jumping completely over this time you call the church age, so why is it so hard for you to believe that prophecies given in this age would come to pass in the next?”
His love story to us is that it doesn’t matter if He promises something and it takes 900 years for it to happen as it did with Moses, or if you have to wait for His millennial reign on the earth before it happens – but what He promised WILL happen, and we can rest in that.
Another love story with a twist next week, until then, blessings,