The Great Reversal

I have mentioned before the book of Esther is considered to be one of the greatest short stories ever written. From a purely literary point of view it is considered a master piece of writing. Many of the chapters end with cliffhangers, like those TV shows that end with you on the edge of your seat and wanting to come back. Chapter one ends with a deposed Queen Vashti and who would be next. Chapter three ends with the king’s prime minister, Haman, issuing a decree to kill all the Jews in all 127 provinces of the Persian Empire, which throws Susa into turmoil. At Mordecai’s urging, chapter four ends with Esther agreeing to risk her life and approach the king, saying, “If I perish, I perish.” Chapter five ends with Haman building a gallows on which to kill Mordecai the next day. Chapter six recounts a one-day flurry of activity that throws everything into turmoil and chaos. In chapter eight Mordecai is raised to Haman’s position. He can’t revoke Haman’s decree so with the king’s blessing he issues a counter decree allowing the Jews to defend themselves against their enemies. Chapter nine begins in a dramatic way that captures the building tension, what will actually happen on that fateful day. Ten months of anxious waiting. The enemies of the Jews plot, the Jews prepare. What will happen? Will it work? The previous decree cannot be revoked, will Mordecai’s decree have any effect? Both sides have royal law on their side. Will the unseen and unheard from God of the Jews help them? Is He really present? Is God’s providential care a real thing or not? Notice how Esther 9:1 is written. Five clauses piled on top of each other before we get to the object of the sentence. It’s like the writer wants us to see how much was stacked against the Jews, or how close they came to utter annihilation. What actually happens comes after a long string of the most improbable of events. No one could have seen this possibility coming a year ago.