The reconstruction of the temple is complete. The people celebrate joyfully by offering sacrifices to the Lord and re-establishing the Levitical system as written in the Book of the Law. The people also observe the Passover and “they kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with joy; for the Lord made them joyful, and turned the heart of the king of Assyria toward them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel.”
Over in Persia, King Ahasuerus is having a massive seven day drunken party. On the seventh day of the festivities, when King Ahasuerus is all liquored up, he asks for the beautiful Queen Vashti to come to him so he can show her off to everyone. However, Queen Vashti refuses to come and partake in that nonsense, which infuriates King Ahasuerus. Therefore, he has her removed from the position of queen.
Now the hunt for a new queen is on! This is when we meet Mordecai, a Jew from the tribe of Benjamin, who was born in captivity in Babylon. Mordecai raised his uncle’s beautiful daughter, Esther, who was an orphan. Because of Esther’s beauty, she is taken to the king’s palace where she becomes the new queen. However, Mordecai asks her to keep her heritage a secret and she complies.
Mordecai is faithful to the king; so when he hears of a plot against the king’s life, he tells Esther “and Esther informed the king in Mordecai’s name,” resulting in the king being spared and the men plotting against him being killed.
Mordecai is also faithful to the Lord. Therefore, Mordecai refuses to bow down to Haman, King Ahasuerus’ number one man, which fills proud Haman with wrath. For retaliation, Haman has the king sign a decree to completely annihilate all of the Jews — Mordecai’s and Esther’s people.
Haman is a descendant of Agag, the Amalek. Remember that during the Exodus Era the Amalekites were the ones who first attacked the Israelites when God brought them out of Egypt. Then the Lord said the day would come when He would blot the Amalekites off the face of the earth (Exodus 17:8-16 & Deuteronomy 25:17-19). However, in the Kingdom Era Saul disobeyed the Lord’s command and spared King Agag and the best of the spoils for himself and the people. As a result of his disobedience, the Lord rejected Saul as king and gave the kingdom to David, a man after His own heart. The Amalekites later attack David and his men while he is on the run from Saul (1 Samuel 30). The last mention of the Amalekites is here in the book of Esther with Haman being a descendant of the Amalekites who is seeking to totally destroy the Jews. This just shows how disobedience can have long lasting consequences.
At the news of the decree, the Jews mourn and Mordecai sends a request to Esther to intercede for her people. Esther is hesitant because she could be killed if she approaches the king without the king requesting her. However, Mordecai responds saying, “Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews. For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
“Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai: ‘Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!’”
The Lord is never mentioned in the Book of Esther. However, He is clearly active. Keep reading to see how God works behind the scenes for the good of His people. (Ezra 6:14-22, Ezra 4:6, Esther 1:1-4:17)