Thursday, July 9, 2020

Esther 4: The Book of Esther's Prophetic Timeline

The Bible often tells us exactly when events occur in the biblical lunar calendar, given to the Jews by Adonai (God) Himself.  Most of the time, Christians brush right past these mentions, because they have no meaning for us, as most of the "modern" world operates on the Julian solar calendar.  However, when we take the time to study those scriptural mentions, we can learn new ways to celebrate that God's timing is perfect.

My pastor, a few Sundays ago, told of a preacher who would tell "the end" at the beginning of his sermon, and then go on to the beginning, working his way through to the ending he shared ... at the beginning.  That's want I'm going to do now.

The dates of the denouementin the book of Esther are significant, because they parallel Jesus' triumph over the grave.  It's amazing and glorious, really.  Let me show you.

The climax of the story of Esther takes place in the biblical month of Nisan, specifically on Nisan 14-17.  Here are the mentions of dates/times in the book.

Esther 1:3 - - - 3rd year of Ahasuerus' reign which, "going with" the Cambyses II dude, would be
527 BCE.2
Esther 2:1 - - - "Some time later..."
Esther 2:16 - - 523 BCE - - month of Tebeth, 7th year of king's reign, usually Dec.-Jan.
Esther 3:7,12 - - 518 BCE - - 13th day of the first month, that is, the 13th of Nisan.  (The king's issued command, instigated by Haman, was that by the 13th of Adar, the 12th month, all the Jews would be annihilated.)
Esther 4:15-16. Esther proclaims a 3-day fast for all the Jews in Susa, from Nisan 14-16.
Esther 5:1-4. "On the third day", that is, the 3rd day of the 3-day fast, that is Nisan 16 - - this was the first day of the banquet.
Esther 7:1. The setting of this chapter is the very next day, Nisan 17.  This is the second day of the banqueting.  Haman is exposed by Esther, defeated and hanged on the 75-foot gallows he had ordered constructed for the hanging of Mordecai.
Esther 8:1. "On that day" or "That same day"... Nisan 17 - - complete restoration of the Jews

Nisan 15-17 are very significant dates in the Bible.  Let's look at other occasions on which the Lord God triumphed over Satan on Nisan 15-17.3  In Hebrew, the word translated in English as “nes”, means “miracle”.  Therefore, Nisan is often viewed as the “miracle month”.  Often in the Bible, prophecies have more than one fulfillment.  What has happened before, will happen again.

It was in the month of Abib, another name for Nisan, that is, the first month of the Hebrew calendar, that God instituted the Feasts of Unleavened Bread, of Passover and of First Fruits.  This is recorded in Exodus 13 and 14.  It was also the time period during which the Hebrew people were delivered from Egypt and crossed the Red Sea on dry ground.

King Hezekiah is often viewed as a foreshadow of Messiah for several reasons, but let's look at this one occasion in particular.  His story begins in 2 Chronicles 29.   (Remember that Nisan is month 1.)

 17They began the consecration on the first day of the first month, and on the eighth day of the month they reached the portico of the LORD. For eight more days they consecrated the house of the LORD itself, finishing on the sixteenth day of the first month.
18Then they went in to King Hezekiah and reported, “We have cleansed the entire house of the LORD, the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils, and the table of the showbread with all its utensils. 19Moreover, we have prepared and consecrated all the articles that King Ahaz in his unfaithfulness cast aside during his reign. They are now in front of the altar of the LORD.”
20Early the next morning King Hezekiah gathered the city officials and went up to the house of the LORD. 21They brought seven bulls, seven rams, seven lambs, and seven male goats as a sin offering for the kingdom, for the sanctuary, and for Judah. And the king commanded the priests, the descendants of Aaron, to offer them on the altar of the LORD.

So, on Nisan 17, King Hezekiah arose early {according to most translations} and re-dedicated the Temple, restoring the service of the house of the Lord. (Who else rose early on Nisan 17?!)

Judas betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver on Nisan 13, and Jesus was crucified on Nisan 14, buried before sundown.4  Jesus was in the grave before sundown in the waning hours of Nisan 14 through Nisan 16 and arose early in the morning on Nisan 17, the Feast of First Fruits.  So, it appeared Satan had won, on Nisan 14-16, just as Haman thought he had "cancelled" the Jews of the Persian Empire.  But, Nisan 17.... Hallelujah!  Jesus Christ arose from the dead!

Isn't God amazing?  So, you see that Haman's defeat on Nisan 17 was no accident nor mere coincidence.  His downfall and death on that date show a perfect picture of God's judgment and His mercy to His chosen people.  The events that followed show God's continued redemption at work in the lives of His people.  Mordecai's elevation on the same day typify the coming Messiah's triumph over death and the grave.  Messiah brings complete restoration, of the human soul (His first advent) and of all creation (2nd advent - - His Second Coming.) Anytime you read “on that day” (as I happened to be reading in Micah this morning), it is referring in some aspect to the final restoration of God’s people, during the millennial reign of Jesus Christ.5

This is the last of my Esther posts, and I hope they have been a blessing.  Not an exhaustive treatment of the book, by any means...


Sources:

1   https://www.google.com/search?q=define%3A+denouement&rlz=1C5CHFA_enUS829US829&oq=define%3A+denouement&aqs=chrome..69i57j69i58.3488j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

2    https://resplendentdaughter.blogspot.com/2020/06/esther-1-ahasuerus-and-vashti.html

3    https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/4333602/jewish/12-Facts-About-the-Month-of-Nisan-Every-Jew-Should-Know.htm (Keep in mind this is a Jewish source.)

4    http://resplendentdaughter.blogspot.com/2018/03/first-fruits.html

5   “Shadow Pictures from the Book of Esther", Dr. Jennifer Scrivner, May, 2020

2 comments:

  1. Am so enjoying this "Deep Dive" into a book of the Bible I've not spent much time truly studying. Thank you for this ma'am. I knew the story, but there's so much behind it.

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    1. J.D., I have enjoyed the study and it always cheers my heart to learn others do as well. As always, your visits and comments are greatly appreciated.

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