By J.G. Bellet
We close this Book with the deliverance of the Jews in the very moment when destruction was awaiting them, and with their exaltation in the kingdom, and the celebration of their joy.
Mysterious workmanship of the hand of God! The Amalekite, the great adversary, cast down in the moment of his proudest elevation, and utterly cut off; the Jew, his purposed and expected victim, when there was but a step between him and death, delivered, then favoured and honoured, and seated next to the throne in rank and authority!
What a history! True in every circumstance of it, typical in every circumstance of it also; significant of those last days in the history of the Jew and of the earth, of which prophets have spoken again and again, the downfall of the man of the earth, and the exaltation of God's people in His own kingdom!
Mordecai, instead of being any longer at the king's gate, now comes before the king and takes his ring, the seal of office and of authority, from his finger. Thus is the Jew translated at the end. All scripture prepares us for this; and here it is illustrated. Here the historic scriptures of the Old Testament end, and here, as in a type, the history of the earth ends.
I may say, that the leading principal characteristics in the story of Israel are these, as we read it in the prophets:-
1. The present casting off of that nation, and the hiding of the divine countenance from them; and yet, their providential preservation in the midst of the Gentiles.
2. The present election of a remnant among them, and that repentance at the last, which leads them, nationally, to the kingdom.
3. The judgment of their adversaries and oppressors, with the especial downfall of their great infidel enemy.
4. Their deliverance, exaltation, and blessing in kingdom-days, with their leadership of the nations.
These are among the great things of the prophets; and these things are found in this little book of Esther. So that, again, I may say, this last Old Testament historic notice of the people of Israel pledges and typifies their present preservation all through this age of Gentile supremacy, and their glory in the last days, when the judgment of their enemies shall be accomplished.
Certain detached features of the coming millennial kingdom are likewise exhibited here. The fear of the Jews falls on their enemies, on those that were round about them; and they are restrained from all attempts to do them harm. Such had been seen in the palmy days of the nation, and such is promised by the prophets to be their portion again. Shushan, the capital of the Gentile world in that day, rejoices in the exaltation of the Jew; as all Scripture tells us, the whole world will rejoice under the shadow of the throne of Israel in the time of the coming kingdom. Many of the people of the land became Jews, as we read the like thing in the prophets again and again. Thus, for instance, "Many people shall go and say, Come ye and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths; for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem." The throne that had exalted the Jew, and put down his oppressor, exercises universal dominion, laying a tribute upon the land, and upon the isles of the sea; as we know that, by and by, the king in Zion "shall have dominion from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth."
And here, let me add, that Ahasuerus represents power, royal authority, in the earth. He then filled the throne that was supreme among the nations. He was "the power," and represents, mystically or in a shadow, the power that will be in a divine head in the day of the kingdom. It is so, I grant, that power in the hand of this Persian is first exercised in evil; serving, as he did, the wicked designs of Haman, though now he is exalting the righteous. Still, he represents power, royal authority in the earth. Just like Solomon in Jerusalem, he did evil personally; he may have repented; but still his personal ways were evil as well as good. Nevertheless, in a general typical way, he represented power, and was the shadow of Christ on the throne of glory, that throne that is to rule the world in righteousness.
Full of mysterious beauty and meaning all this is. Those days of Ahasuerus and of Mordecai were days of Solomon and of prophecy, coming millennial days, days of the kingdom of God in the earth and among the nations. They were as the days of Joseph in Egypt. Mordecai in Persia was as Joseph in Egypt--the first historic book, and the last, in the Old Testament, giving us these varied but kindred notices that will come in upon the close and judgment of the kingdoms of the Gentiles.
The days of Purim celebrate all this. They constitute triumph after the victory, the joy of the kingdom upon the establishment of the kingdom. The Jews took on them, according to the word of Mordecai and Esther, to make the 14th and 15th days of the twelfth month, the month Adar, days of feasting and joy, because they rested therein from their enemies, and their mourning was turned to gladness, and light, and honour. They were a kind of Passover, celebrating deliverance from the land of Persia, as that feast did from the land of Egypt; or, if we would rather have it so, Purim was another song on the Red Sea, or another song of Deborah and Barak on the fall of the Canaanite. And it rehearses the song yet to be sung on the sea of glass in Rev. 15; or again, I say, if we would rather have it so, the joy of Israel in coming kingdom-days, when they shall draw water out of the wells of salvation (Isa. 12). Indeed the Psalms 124 and 126, prepared as they are for future days of Israel's glory and joy, breathe the very spirit that must have animated Israel in this present day of Mordecai and Esther. It is beautiful to trace all this, to see these rehearsals again and again, as we go on the way, waiting for the full chorus of eternal harmonies in the presence of glory by and by. The infant church in Acts 4, in this spirit, breathes and utters the second Psalm, prepared as that Psalm is for the day when God's king sits upon the hill of Zion, after the enemy has perished, and the kings of the earth have learned to bow before Him. The blessed God is pleased with His own works: "For thy pleasure they are and were created." He, therefore, preserves, the work of His hands as their Creator. He is pleased with the counsels of His grace and wisdom. He has, therefore, preserved to this day the nation or people of the Jews, and will preserve them till the fruit of His counsels displays itself in His kingdom. And His kingdom thus will rise on the ruins and judgment of the nations; and Christ's world, "the world to come," shine in brightness and purity and blessing, after the folding up and passing away of "this present evil world."
This coming kingdom, this millennial world, is spoken of in all forms of speech by the prophets; but it has also been set forth in all forms of samples, and parcels, and specimens of it, in broken pieces of history from the beginning: as here we have seen it showing itself at the end of the Book of Esther. Ordinances, prophecies, and histories, in their several ways, have been doing this service.
Ere the antediluvian saints pass away, the spirit of prophecy speaks through Lamech, and addresses, as to them, a word of promise touching the earth; that therein, in due season, there should be comfort instead of curse (Gen. 5).
In Noah, as in the new world, we see an illustration of this prophecy of Lamech's; for after the judgment of the deluge, the earth rises again as in new or resurrection-form; and a pledge, a foreshadowing, of millennial days is before us.
The land of Egypt, under the government of Joseph, is a "like figure."
Under the law, we have a shadow of the same millennial rest in the weekly sabbath--in the annual feast of tabernacles--in the jubilee every fiftieth year.
For a moment, in the day of Joshua, when the tribes of Israel had entered the land, kept the Passover as a circumcised people, and then ate unleavened cakes of the corn of the land, we see, in another form, the same happy mystery witnessed to us (Joshua 5).
After this, the palmy reign of Solomon in a more extended form, in a full and rich manner, tells us the like secret.
And, indeed, I might have noticed the meeting of Jethro with the ransomed Israel on the mount of God, in wilderness-days, was (though in a different form) the foreshadowing of the same coming day of glory (Ex. 18).
And so now, in dispersion-days, as I may speak, we have the same; as we see at the close of this Book of Esther.
Prophecies upon prophecies accompany these ordinances and these histories; so that, in the mouth not only of many but of various witnesses, the kingdom that is still to be set up, and the glory that is still to be revealed, are verified to us. These are rehearsals of the great, the magnificent, issues of the counsels of God, of that purpose which shall be manifested in "the dispensation of the fulness of times."
The New Testament gives us like illustrations and promises. The transfiguration tells us of it. The regeneration or Palingenesia tells us of it. The action in the Apocalypse first makes way for it; and then, at the end, it shines in our sight, when the holy city descends from heaven bearing the glory of God with it, and when the millennial nations walk in the light of it.
Thus, the close of Esther finds itself in company with things from the very beginning to the very end, and all through the volume, all through the actings and sayings of God in the progress of this world's history. It is wonderful. What a witness of the writings that were to be found in Scripture! What a proof of the breathing of the same Spirit in all the parts of it! How it tells us, that "known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world!" We fill our own place, and occupy our own moment, in this great plan.