We can count on the truth that God is a Redeemer! He sent His son, Jesus, to redeem all of us from the curse of the law. (Galatians 3:13) Even before Jesus came to earth, God was working redemption in the lives of His people. The story of Esther demonstrates this.
Esther and her cousin Mordecai, from the tribe of Benjamin, lived in Persia (Modern day Iran). The generation before them had been exiled to the capital of Susa. Because of her great beauty and sensitivity to the Spirit of God, Esther became queen to King Xerxes without him knowing that she was a Jew. In this position she was introduced to Haman, the second in command to the king. Haman's immense pride, jealousy, and hate for the Jews led him to plot their destruction. We learn that Esther was placed in the palace "for such a time as this." (Esther 4:14) Her cousin Mordecai encourages her to go before the king without being summoned so she could plead for his mercy for her people.
By honoring the king with two exquisite banquets, Esther showed the king her loyalty to him and took advantage of this time to reveal her true identity as a Jew. She also exposed the plan that Haman was about to carry out in killing her and all the Jews in the Persian empire. The king wrote out another decree that allowed the Jews to fight for their lives against those who would attack them. Great fear of the Jews came upon those in the Persian empire, and they won a victory over their enemies. The king gave permission to the Jews to collect plunder from those who were going to kill them. However, no plunder was taken! The Jews understood that doing this would have been an idolatrous action. By not doing so, they could redeem the sin that had taken place years ago.
To understand the redemption that took place, we must look back to the days of King Saul and remember that he was from the tribe of Benjamin. 1 Samuel 15 tells how Saul went to battle against King Agag and the Amalekites. God's instructions to Saul were very clear: "Now go and attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belong to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys." (Verse 3) "But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs—everything that was good." (Verse 9)
The prophet Samuel confronted Saul: "Why did you not obey the Lord? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the Lord?” (Verse 19) "To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams." (Verse 22) Saul, representing the tribe of Benjamin, committed a sin of disobedience and arrogance against the Lord by stealing His plunder. As Benjamites, Mordecai and Esther were given the opportunity to redeem the taking of idolatrous plunder by the Benjamite King Saul. Is it not fitting that their enemy, Haman, was an Agagite of the Amalekites? With their actions, the Jews vindicated the tribe of Benjamin and all of Israel and destroyed the descendants of God's enemies.
If we look at the larger context of this story, we can see that Haman represents satanic opposition to the Christian community along with the Jews. We too have redemption from Christ's death on the cross and resurrection. Christ won the battle for us so that we can win plunder for Him through sharing the good news of Jesus with those who need to hear it. We can celebrate this season and rest assured of the Lord's redemption for every season. What an encouragement!
Joan E. Mathias