Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
On that day did the king Ahasuerus give the house of Haman the Jews' enemy unto Esther the queen. And Mordecai came before the king; for Esther had told what he was unto her.MORDECAI’S EXALTATION AND THE SECOND PROCLAMATION
1. Mordecai’s exaltation (Esther 8:1-2)
2. Esther’s second petition (Esther 8:3-8)
3. The second proclamation (Esther 8:9-14)
4. The joy of the Jews (Esther 8:15-17)
Esther 8:1-2. Esther the Queen receives from the king the possessions of Haman, the enemy of the Jews. Then she revealed what Mordecai was to her, her uncle and foster-father. The king had taken the signet-ring of authority from the hand of Haman. The same ring Mordecai received. Esther honoured her uncle by placing him over the house of Haman.
Esther 8:3-6. But while Mordecai had become the prime-minister of Persia, Haman the Agagite had been executed, and all his property given to the queen, the horrible decree still stood; the first proclamation was still in force. Something had to be done to complete the deliverance of her people. Her life and Mordecai’s life had been spared, but what about her beloved people? It is true the fateful day was still in the future, but the evil decreed and not yet recalled had to be met in some way. Once more she enters into the presence of the king. Once more the king holds out the golden sceptre, from which we learn that his decree was still in force and that, therefore, Esther once more risked her life. But she knew he loved her. Knowing this she cast herself at his feet and besought him with tears to put away the mischief of Haman, and his devices he had devised against the Jews. Her pleading and her tears were not in vain. Her petition is that the letters of Haman, demanding the destruction of her people, should be reversed. “For how can I endure to see the evil that will come upon my people? or how can I endure the destruction of my kindred?” The king answers her. But the former decree cannot be revoked; it must stand. Laws made by Persian kings could not be altered or changed. (See Daniel 6:15.) A revocation of the edict is impossible and the former proclamation therefore stands. This Persian custom had for its foundation the idea that a “decree” must be looked upon in the light of an emanation from the king as a person with divine authority. But inasmuch as Mordecai had now the signet-ring, which authorized him to issue decrees in the name of the king, he could do anything he pleased and write to the Jews in the name of the king and this second proclamation would also be irrevocable.
Esther 8:7-14. Then followed a great activity. The scribes were called and Mordecai dictated the message. It was addressed to the governors and princes of the whole empire from India to Ethiopia and written in many languages. He wrote in the name of the king and sealed it with his ring. The letters were dispatched by posts on horseback, riding on swift steeds that were used in the king’s service. The proclamation contained the following good news: “The king grants the Jews in every city to gather themselves together, and to stand for their life, to destroy, to slay, and to cause to perish, all the power of the people and province that would assault them, their little ones and women, and to take the spoil of them for a prey, upon one day in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, that is upon the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar.” The proclamation of death stood, but alongside of it there was given a proclamation of life. They needed not to die. Their enemies were given into their hands. Acting upon this second proclamation, believing its contents, they learned that while the first decree stood and could not be revoked, the second decree set them free from death and gave them liberty.
Esther 8:15-17. How things had changed under God’s merciful dealings with His people! When that first decree was issued Mordecai sat in sackcloth and ashes and all the Jews wept and wailed. But now when the second decree was announced Mordecai went forth from the presence of the king in royal apparel of blue, white and purple, the Persian colours. (They illustrate the ancient Persian view about the world. White the colour of light, blue, the sky, and purple was brought in connection with the sun.) On his head he had a great crown of gold. There was great joy in the city of Shushan. The Jews had light, and gladness, and joy, and glory. Throughout the vast kingdom there was nothing but joy. Furthermore many people became Jews.
In Mordecai’s exaltation as given in this chapter, in Haman’s possession handed over to the queen and her uncle, in the authority which both received, we have a fine foreshadowing of what will take place when the final Haman is overthrown. That will be when the times of the Gentiles are passed and the King, our Lord, has come back. Then Israel will get her great blessings, promised long ago by a covenant-keeping God.
Like it was in Mordecai’s and Esther’s day, the riches of the Gentiles will be given unto them. “Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the wealth of the Gentiles shall come unto thee” (Isaiah 60:5). Israel restored will then be the head of the nations and no longer the tail. As many people became Jews as recorded in the last verse of this chapter, so in that coming day, ten men out of all languages of the nations shall take hold of the skirt of a Jew and say, “we will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you” (Zechariah 8:23). “And many nations shall be joined unto the LORD in that day” (Zechariah 2:11). All this blessing for the Jews in Persia was brought about by the heroic deed of Esther, who passed through a great struggle, who risked her life that her people might be saved. And the promised blessings and glory can only come to the people Israel through Him who gave His life, the true King and Shepherd of Israel, the Lord Jesus Christ.
In gospel application the second decree or proclamation is of much interest. It typifies and illustrates the good news. As we saw, the first decree illustrates the sentence of death passed upon the whole race on account of sin. The second decree does not cancel the first, but declares that which liberates from death, sets free and gives power. And that is the good news as it is given in the cross of Christ. Death is met by death; the death of the Son of God in the sinner’s place, bearing the curse, sets free from the law of sin and death. Thus the sinner’s doom is fully met in the death of Christ. “This second decree has been nailed to the cross of Christ, it has been revealed in His sacrificial death, written with His blood, sealed by His bowed head, uttered by His expiring cry. It has a twofold effect. First, the sinner who avails himself of it, who believes, is saved. It arrays all the forces of righteousness on his side and enables him to find his surest protection in that which but for the work of Christ must have condemned him. Then it puts him in a position to rise up against his enemies by whom as a captive he was enslaved and to lead his captivity captive. From the condemnation of the law and from the cruel dominion of sin believing sinners are equally delivered by the proclamation of the gospel in the cross of Christ, as the Jews had righteous power given to them over their enemies.
But faith was necessary for the Jews. They had to believe the second proclamation as they believed the first. Woe unto the Jews when that thirteenth day of the month Adar came and they acted not upon the second decree. Then the first decree would have been carried out upon their heads and they would have suffered death. So must the sinner believe the first decree--that death is sentence as a sinner; then he must believe the second decree “Christ died for the sins of the ungodly”--there is life in a look to the crucified One. And as the Jews had light, gladness, joy, and glory because they believed, even so he who believes the good news has salvation, peace, joy and glory.