Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Dec 13 2019 - Esther 8 – The king's decree

Haman has gone. His estates were taken from him and given to Queen Esther. Esther told the king of Mordecai's relationship to her and he was presented in court. The king's signet ring which he had taken back from Haman was now presented to Mordecai; he occupies a place of influence in the kingdom and now has power to act in the king's name. Esther appointed Mordecai as her agent to manage Haman's estate – or, more properly, her estate. All this is wonderful, but the threat to the Jewish people remained in place.

Esther again pleaded with the king that the edict Haman had propagated in the king's name be withdrawn. You may remember from the book of Daniel that the laws of the Medes and Persians, once enacted, could not be repealed (Daniel 6:8, 12, 15) – hence the phrase has become proverbial for something that is immutable or for intransigent behaviour by governments or other authorities. Mordecai was given full authority by King Xerxes to, "write another decree in the king’s name on behalf of the Jews as seems best to you, and seal it with the king’s signet ring" but he adds, "no document written in the king’s name and sealed with his ring can be revoked" (v. 8). For all his newly gained power, Mordecai cannot simply repeal the former decree.

So, with the help of the royal secretaries, Mordecai sends out a new decree, written in the language and script of all the ethnic groups within the empire. This edict, "granted the Jews in every city the right to assemble and protect themselves; to destroy, kill and annihilate the armed men of any nationality or province who might attack them and their women and children, and to plunder the property of their enemies" (v. 11). In other words, the Jews were given the right to defend themselves from any attack. This second decree, like the first, gave permission for action on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month. The Jews were not given the right to attack indiscriminately any whom they did not like, or even those they viewed as enemies. But they did have the right to strike down any who came to attack them and who sought to implement Haman's evil decree.

Mordecai left the king's presence "wearing royal garments of blue and white, a large crown of gold and a purple robe of fine linen" (v. 15). He must have been splendid to behold. And we read, "the city of Susa held a joyous celebration." It would seem that these celebrations were not confined to the Jews of the city. The people of the city had been bewildered by Haman's edict, now they were glad to hear of the new law. They seem to have been glad to be rid of the evil Haman and to welcome Mordecai in his new clothes, welcoming a man of integrity and humility who had been raised up to a position of power. At the same time, Jews in every city of the empire rejoiced at the new decree, hoping, no doubt, that this decree would be sufficient to dissuade any from seeking to enact that of Haman.

We also should rejoice whenever men or women of integrity and humility, men and women whose lives speak of a concern for others rather than a hunger for self-promotion, are elevated to positions of influence and power. These are the kinds of leaders the world needs but all too rarely gets. These are the kinds of leaders that should be found amongst the people of God.

And this is the character seen supremely in our Lord Jesus Christ. He was not concerned to keep a tight hold on his place in glory. He humbled himself, identified himself with us in all our misery and need and went to the cross for us, paying the penalty for our wrongdoing in our place. He is now risen and is our exalted king in the heavens. He has laid upon us the splendid robes of his own kingly righteousness and has placed a ring of authority on our finger (see Luke 15:22). He has called us to share in his reign and to be agents of his gracious kingdom of righteousness and peace. What are you going to do today in the name and authority of your King?

Father God, we thank you for Jesus and that through his humbling of himself we have been raised up to sit with him in a place of gracious authority. Teach us by your Spirit how to follow him and act for him in everything we say and do. May all the world rejoice in him.

Peter Misselbrook