Esther 8 doesn’t contain the gospel. There is no mention of God or grace. Nevertheless, chapters like this are tremendously encouraging to my faith.
The book of Esther is laced with mystery. Much of the plot advances based on what people don’t know. Haman doesn’t know Esther is related to Mordecai. Mordecai doesn’t now the gallows are for him. Haman doesn’t know why he was invited to the feast, and the king doesn’t know Haman’s rivalry with Mordecai. Even the reader doesn’t know why Esther delayed her request one day (although we find out it was God’s providential way of exposing everyone else’s secrets).
In Esther 8, the mysteries are resolved, and it’s time for the king to rend his verdict. He dramatically orders Haman impaled, Mordecai promoted, Esther vindicated, and the Jews spared. Specifically he orders an edict to be written allowing the Jews to defend themselves, and commands that it be translated and spread globally.
This chapter does more than merely resolve narrative conflict. In Esther 8, God providentially brought about this turn of affairs as a way to prepare the readers for some basic gospel truths. Here are six gospel truths foreshadowed:
1). God’s Laws cannot be revoked or tempered.
A driving point in the entire book of Esther is that the King’s laws are irrevocable and inviolable. They Persian Empire didn’t even have a mechanism to alter them. The king could not change his mind. If their king was able to vacillate, then the government would lack stability. It took a cohesive and decisive ruler to unite such a diverse empire.
So it is with God as well. “The glory of Israel is not a man that he should lie or regret” (1 Samuel 15:29). The integrity of God’s word is tantamount to making sense of who God is. If God could change his mind, our election would not be sure, and the Bible would not be trustworthy.
2). Nevertheless, God can devise a way to supersede wrath.
In Esther, the King had ordered the Jews to be punished. They were slated to lose their lives and their land, and there didn’t appear to be a way to void that warrant. But instead of voiding his edict, the king invented a way to supersede it. By allowing the Jews to bear arms against their oppressors, the King relieved them of the wrath that he himself had imposed, and he did so while not violating his own order.
This represents the basic biblical tension: how can God be both just and justifier? How can he punish sin, yet forgive the sinner? The answer the gospel gives is that God supersedes his wrath by pouring it out on his Son instead.