Esther 8 ushers in the beginning of a final resolution to the story. Things have definitely started looking up for the Jews, but Haman’s death is only the beginning of their salvation, not the end. Much is still uncertain in Susa other than Haman’s decree that didn’t die with him. Esther senses the momentum she and her people have gained, and alongside Mordecai, who is elevated to Haman’s previous position, she pleads with the king for the salvation of her people.
Unlike her previous meetings with the king, Esther is not emotionally reserved this time around as she falls at his feet and weeps for her people. However, her cunning remains as she asks the king to save the Jews for her sake, not their own. The Jews’ only hope is not in the king’s kindness or mercy, but in his affection for the queen.
King Xerxes once again finds favor with Esther and gives Mordecai authority to write a second decree to combat Haman’s. Haman’s decree could not be revoked because it carried the authority of the king. So, a competing decree which nearly perfectly mirrored the first allowed the Jews to defend themselves against anyone who would come against them. The chapter ends as the kingdom’s fastest horses are sent out in blazing speed to take the new edict to the ends of the empire. The Jews who were once fasting and weeping are now feasting and rejoicing as they prepare themselves for battle against their enemies.
Mediation is an important theme in this chapter alongside God’s sovereignty in bringing about an ironic reversal of fates. Esther serves her people maybe not as the mediator they were looking for, but exactly the mediator they needed. Esther won favor with the king and won salvation from his decree of death.
Jesus is a better Esther. He stands in the place of his people and mediates for them before the King. Esther provides March Madness hope. When your favorite college basketball team wins another game in the NCAA tournament, they give you hope that they may win it all. But this hope is fragile. It is hope in a chance to win. The hope Jesus brings his people as their mediator is not like March Madness hope.
Jesus won favor with God the King through his sinless life and substitutionary death. But while Esther’s mediation gave her people a chance for survival, Jesus’ mediation gave his people a certainty of salvation.
Mathew Gilbert is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is a student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mathew and his wife, Erica, live in Tupelo with their two boys, Jude and Jack.