Esther 10:1-3                     “Ahasuerus Assure Us”


Did we just skip over two whole chapters of Esther? When I am reading the Bible, do I get to skip over those parts that seem upsetting to me? Well, no. Please recall that I asked all of you to read ALL of Esther in advance for this sermon series! You are all supposed to have read chapters eight and nine already. When I am preaching, however, I hope I have some discretion in what to share in the context of the worship of Christ.

I was thinking that if I were to share the entire story of my life, I would most likely jump over the awkward middle school years. You might all ask yourselves then did I skip grades? No, I have so few fond memories of middle school, I just did not think those years were important enough to want to burden you with. Really, how many of you would want to hear about Mr. Zern, my first gym teacher who had been an army sergeant and had us go through basic training that he called “hell week.” Yes, it was hell.

When we are sharing the Bible, the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the very promise of eternal life with the Almighty God, we should encourage all to read the entire book of the Bible, but we would focus on the glorious resurrection of Jesus at Easter, the miracles he performed, and his wisdom for living life here in this world as brothers and sisters of the faith.

In the Book of Judges 3:31 for instance, we have this lone person mentioned that is only mentioned there. His name is Shamgar. He killed some people. End of story. That is not my choice of where in the Bible to lead people to the life everlasting. It is just not helpful, and taken out of context could be harmful.


Before I speak about what does happen in these last three chapters, I want to shoot straight to the end, to the last line in the Book of Esther. Here we see an assurance of peace and goodness. Our pew Bibles do not do justice to the Hebrew text here. It specifically states that in Hebrew that Mordecai through King Ahasuerus brought “debar shalom wa tov.” That translates literally as the “Word of peace and goodness.” And, the term “debar” is Word, like we mean the Word of God. This is meant to be a godly peace and goodness. It has the meaning of being as a heavenly command.

All’s well that ends well? Next week for the start of Advent we light the candle of peace. Here we talk about peace and goodness being assured by Mordecai and King Ahasuerus. Is this actually the same kind of peace?

In chapters 8 and 9, we read that Mordecai is given the position that Haman once had with the King. He is now the Empire’s number two guy. He is wearing the signet ring that Haman used to wear. He is given so much power.

Meanwhile Esther goes back to the King to ask that he revoke the initial edict that Haman had tricked him into issuing that called for the complete annihilation of the Jewish race. If you recall, that was to take place on the 13th day of the month of Adar. As it turns out, it is mostly impossible to revoke such an edict. So, a second edict is put out stating that the Jewish people may go ahead and kill their enemies–anyone who raises a weapon–before those same people are allowed to kill any Jew.

In the capital of Susa, 800 people will perish at the hands of the Jews. 500 on the first day and 300 on the next. That is really quite a human loss and tragedy to the city. However, throughout the entire empire from India to Ethiopia the Bible states that 75,000 enemies of the Jews were killed outright. Does that sound like peace? Does that sound like goodness? Is that to be in any way equated with the “peace of Christ’s birth” at Christmas? When we think about peace, do we find that to mean that all of our enemies have been annihilated?

The Jesus peace, that passes all understanding, Philippians 4:7, is a peace that is based on love, joy, hope, and the inner spirit in the heart and mind. The peace that Mordecai offers is one that is strangely circumstantial and strategic; that is to say, “You got rid of the people who wanted to get rid of you.” This is a peace that does not include hope, joy, and love. It is a peace that says “today I am okay,” but does not take into account what might befall in the coming days. All one has to do is turn on the news today to see that Israel is not at peace.


            There is one line that I have to really point out again from the Bible reading concerning this point: Chapter 10:1 says that King Ahasuerus “laid tribute” on all the lands. The word for “tribute” here in the Hebrew is “mes,” and it literally means to enslave. One could easily and correctly translate this as “enslavement was enforced through the land.” So, we are talking about a kind of peace by killing one’s enemies and subduing everyone else. Well, if you need to subdue someone else in order to have “peace,” that really cannot be peace.

            A statement by the Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov that was made prior to the latest invasion of Ukraine made the argument, “The only way that Ukraine can exist as a nation is under the Russian Federation.” To be sure, many diplomats were left scratching their heads at the time. Of course, another way of saying this is that according to Putin, Ukraine must be subdued–or destroyed. The biblical language is “Putin lays tribute on Ukraine.” Of course, how can Ukraine be a free country if it is subdued by Russia? That does not make logical sense to us Western thinkers. It makes sense if you have a different understanding of peace. And, the Russian term for peace, Russian peace, “Rossikiya mir,” can also be translated as “the subjective Russian world.” To this day, someone in Russia cannot call the war in Ukraine a war. It is a “special military operation to re-establish peace,” to re-subjugate Ukraine.

            At the afternoon Bible study one of the participants brought up the point that the term “Islam,” that world religion following the Prophet Mohammed, literally means “submission.” That is in fact true. However, the basic understanding is of a submission to God, which would bring peace, not the submission to a foreign army.


            After the Thanksgiving worship service here, I had the chance to speak with a visitor, a fellow who has recently moved to the Westside, and who at the age of 63 has just surrendered his life to Jesus. He told me that he feels such a sense of relief right now. All the stress of living just for himself and trying to manage work, family, and a social life without faith in Jesus was extremely stressful. Now, in submission of living under the authority of Christ, his life is for the first time godly and peaceful. He had found inner peace through the submission to Jesus Christ. He said that he doesn’t worry about everything like he used to. He just turns it all over to God in prayer. Amen?!

            As we prepare for Christmas and we think about the peace that Jesus brings, of course we remember that the birth story itself is about this power struggle between what has been dubbed the Pax Romana, that is all nations must submit to Caesar, and the Christmas tableau of shepherds, three kings, and even lowly animals bowing before the Lord of heaven who is born in a humble stable.

            So, here lies the issue with the end of the Book of Esther. The book ends not with everybody bowing down to God in heaven. There is no heavenly peace actually represented here at the end of the story. It seems more like the set up for another war eventually. Ahasuerus and Mordecai “lay tribute” over all the lands. All the enemies of the Jews have been eradicated, but for sure new enemies are being made through this enforced enslavement of the people.

            Let me just lift out verse 17 of Chapter 8 of Esther: “Furthermore, many of the peoples of the country professed to be Jews, because the fear of the Jews had fallen upon them.” Doesn’t that sound more like the Nazi Gestapo operation than the true faith in God?

            From my own family history in Germany, my father’s family signed paperwork that said that they were loyal to Hitler so that my father and his brother could go to school. They had to be Hitler Youth to get an education. It was a matter of survival really. When the Americans came through, the Nazi paperwork was hidden (not destroyed because they were not sure if the Nazis were ever coming back again), and my grandmother and grandfather signed paperwork that said that they had had no loyalty to Hitler and the Nazi Party. I have held both sets of papers in my hands!

            Living in fear is not peace. Knowing Jesus and submitting your life to God is peace. That is truly the life that we are thankful for. No assurance from an earthly king, no matter how great, can give us that peace.