Book Overviews · Esther

Esther Overview

I have been feeling “dry” through Zechariah (well, overwhelmed with the text is more like it).  But NOW we get 2 days to soak up a great book called Esther.  Here is what we know:

  • a Persian King named Cyrus decreed that the captives be released and were given provisions to return to Jerusalem to re build the temple.
  • out of about 1 million people only 50,000 returned.  That’s 5%!
  • Why?  Well, while they were on captivity they had established a new life.  New families.  New Cultures.  New Businesses.  Many had grown fond of their new life.
  • What was in Jerusalem?  Not much.  On top of that, a ton of work to rebuild a Temple many of them had never experienced the first time.

Esther is a book set at the same time the Temple is being built from the view point of the captives that chose to stay in Babylon.  Interesting!

Old Testament Survey — The Gathering Place

Should the book of Esther be in the Bible??  Here is what is NOT mentioned in the Book of Esther:

  • The Lord (what???)
  • Prayer
  • Faith
  • The Law of Moses
  • Jerusalem (except that they were exiles from there)
  • It is never quoted or referenced in the New Testament
  • No miracles (or anything supernatural)
  • It was not induced in the Dead Sea Scrolls
  • Did I mention The Lord?

Still the answer is YES.

The Lord’s Name may not be there BUT His hand is!!

Speaking of His name: fun fact- scholars have found hidden tetragammatons in the scriptures.  What’s that you ask?  It is when the first letter of the words in a sentence or phrase makes a word.  In Esther 5:4 it says: “If it pleases the king,”.  The fist letters make up the word “YHWH” in Hebrew.  The Lord is in the details.


Esther’s Jewish name was “Hadasseh” which means “myrtle”.  The myrtle tree was native to Babylon.

Esther is her Persian name meaning – “Star”. The myrtle tree bears a beautiful star flower.

Many of the Jewish captives were given 2 names: Jewish and Persian.


The book takes place during the Persian Period and covers about a 10 year period.

The Theme of this book is Providence.

Providence:

  • the protective care of God or of nature as a spiritual power.
  • timely preparation for future eventualities.

My view of God is “all knowing” however Providence is different.  It is Foresight.  He knows it before it happens.  So where does Free Will fit here?  We do not know what a day might bring BUT God foresees our free will choices and can act to accomplish His plans because of that foreknowledge.  Cool huh!

Some things to ponder:

  • Providence: even though people do not acknowledge God’s presence (or think He is absent) He is always at work.
  • The Lord never coerces people but God uses their decisions.  (Haman in the book will build gallows for Modecai, but God used the gallows to hang Haman instead).
  • God gives people genuine freedom and yet causes things to turn our the way He wants them in the end.
  • If we believe in God’s Providence we can live in confidence and courage.
  • We are in control of our destiny, but God uses all circumstances in history for His ultimate purpose.

I haven’t talked about the Book of Esther BECAUSE I want it to fall fresh on you when you read it!  Enjoy!

Here is a map for you to get your bearing!

Elam and The Elamites: The Evidence No Believer Can Afford To Ignore – Black History In The Bible

Zechariah

Zechariah 8-14

I skipped chapter 7 yesterday.   Honestly I was exhausted…the visions took 2 days to research and I was seeing things!  But chapter 7 is a great little chapter!

“Should I mourn and fast in the fifth month, as I have done for so many years?”

Ouch!  That was a kick  in the shins to God.  Worship had become a ritualistic burden.    I am going to plead the 5th amendment on this so I do not incriminate myself!  What did the Lord say?

And the word of the Lord came again to Zechariah: “This is what the Lord Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. 10 Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.’


Chapter 8-  This chapter has many layers to it.  In short it is written to encourage those that are rebuilding the temple.  To give them a view of what is to come for their labor.  You will read several times that people will gather and fill Jerusalem again.  This will not be in their time but there will be moments in history that Jewish people will again fill the nation.  A few weeks ago I talked about looking “back” on key events in History like how God used Palestine (Israel) for refugees during WWII, when the cold war ended and the people were released from the Soviet Union, or my personal favorite, when President Truman took part in declaring Israel a state.


Chapter 9 1-

Map of the Territory of the Philistines (Bible History Online)

Back in Ezekiel 25-32 the captives were given a message of hope.  They were told of the destruction of the foreign nations.  Now another prophet gives the same message.  The remnant that returns did not come back to a Peaceful time, so this is encouraging to them that God will still fulfill his plan. Many of these have been fulfilled when Alexander the Great becomes the next powerful nation.

So keep building the Temple….

But I will encamp at my temple
    to guard it against marauding forces.
Never again will an oppressor overrun my people,
    for now I am keeping watch.


Verse 9- Now for the good part!  The prophecy of the Messiah!  A king enters a town in 2 ways:

  1. On a donkey– This means that the King comes in a time of Peace or to bring Peace
  2. On a Horse– This is a military King- come to fight a war

If you have read Revelation 19, you might picture this:

Revelation 19: The Messiah Makes War - בית מלך Beth Melekh

BUT in Zechariah the scripture says:

Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
    Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
    righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey,
    on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Image result for Trimphal Entry

Matthew 21:

21 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”

This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:

“Say to Daughter Zion,
    ‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
    and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”

The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,

He was coming to be the sacrificial lamb to bring Peace to Earth.


Zechariah 9:11 As for you, because of the blood of my covenant with you,
    I will free your prisoners from the waterless pit.
12 Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope;
    even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.

The covenant in the Old Testament was sealed with the blood of a sacrifice.  God’s covenant remains faithful with the blood of the Messiah!


Verse 14-17- Split screen prophecy.  The Lord will win future battles for them (verse 13 noted Greece) and this will happen during the Silent years between the OT and NT, BUT we can also see that this is referring to the Final Battle when Jesus returns in End times.


CHAPTER 10– A reminder of the old days when the people relied on idols to bring rain: It is the Lord that Provides.  The leaders in the past have led them astray like lost sheep but one is coming:

“My anger burns against the shepherds,
    and I will punish the leaders;
for the Lord Almighty will care
    for his flock, the people of Judah,
    and make them like a proud horse in battle.
From Judah will come the cornerstone,
    from him the tent peg,
from him the battle bow,
    from him every ruler.

In verse 6 The house of Judah (the south) and the House of Joseph (the north) will reunite!  (Yes, we know this!) Those scattered in the captivity WILL eventually be brought to Israel.  We see the beginning of that in Ezra and it is still happening today.  It will be eventually fulfilled in the End times when they are all gathered!


Chapter 11-The Shepherds.  Again, the Lord is talking about the leaders that lead the sheep ashtray (still happens today)-so be careful who you take your advice from.   He will discipline the shepherd and the flock.  He takes staffs:

Allacin's Illustrated Summaries of Christian Classics: ZECHARIAH+—An Illustrated Summary of Life Applications from Every Chapter of the Bible by G. Campbell Morgan

The Lord will remove his hand of protection from them.  He will not give them favor and they will split into 2 nations: Judah and Israel and again when the Romans become the nation of Power.

10 Then I took my staff called Favor and broke it, revoking the covenant I had made with all the nations. 11 It was revoked on that day, and so the oppressed of the flock who were watching me knew it was the word of the Lord.

12 I told them, “If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it.” So they paid me thirty pieces of silver.

For Thirty Pieces of Silver. – Snyder's Soapbox

In Exodus 21:32, Thirty pieces of silver was the price of a slaves death.  It was an insulting amount: a life was worth 30 pieces of silver?  The “three shepherds” might be a  reference to the three religious offices during Jesus’ day that worked to condemn Jesus: the elders, the scribes, and the chief priests in Matthew 16.

12 I told them, “If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it.” So they paid me thirty pieces of silver.

13 And the Lord said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—the handsome price at which they valued me! So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them to the potter at the house of the Lord.

I know this post is too long but you MUST see the fulfillment of this:

Matthew 27:

27 Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people made their plans how to have Jesus executed. So they bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate the governor.

When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.”

“What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.”

So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.

The chief priests picked up the coins and said, “It is against the law to put this into the treasury, since it is blood money.” So they decided to use the money to buy the potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners. That is why it has been called the Field of Blood to this day. Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “They took the thirty pieces of silver, the price set on him by the people of Israel, 10 and they used them to buy the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me

Jesus was crucified for 30 pieces of silver.  The price to set a slave free.  YOU.


Chapter 12- Take note to the phrase ON THAT DAY.  We are talking about the FINAL Day.  The Lord will keep his Covenant with His people.

Romans 1:16  For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.

Zechariah 12:“The Lord will save the dwellings of Judah first, so that the honor of the house of David and of Jerusalem’s inhabitants may not be greater than that of Judah.


10 “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.

Spear Thrust into Christ's Side

“Awake, sword, against my shepherd,
    against the man who is close to me!”
    declares the Lord Almighty.
“Strike the shepherd,
    and the sheep will be scattered,
    and I will turn my hand against the little ones.
In the whole land,” declares the Lord,
    “two-thirds will be struck down and perish;
    yet one-third will be left in it.
This third I will put into the fire;
    I will refine them like silver
    and test them like gold.
They will call on my name
    and I will answer them;
I will say, ‘They are my people,’
    and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’”


Does anybody want to call in sick for work today and take Chapter 14 verse by verse??  The End of the Bible (almost the End) will occur on the Mount of Olives.  How do I know?

On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south.

We have read about this setting in the days of David and Solomon, and a vision of the Glory departing the Temple heading towards the mountains.   What else happens there??

  • Jesus went there to visit Lazarus, Mary and Martha
  • Many miracles took place
  • The Triumphal Entry came from that direction (Bethany)
  • The Olivet Discourse
  • After the Last Supper Jesus went to Mount Olives: Garden of Gethsemane.  This is where Jesus prayed the last time, Judas brought the soldiers, High Priest, and Pharisees to arrest Jesus
  • Post Resurrection Jesus led his disciples to talk to them.

The Best one is:

11 “Men of Galilee,”( they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back( in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

STANDING ON THE VERY MOUNTAIN HE WILL DEFEAT SATAN!