“On the very day when the enemies of the Jews hoped to gain the mastery over them, the reverse occurred: the Jews gained mastery over those who hated them” (Esther 9:1b).
The book of Esther is one of the most dramatic in the Bible. It’s a bit of a Cinderella story, featuring a Jewish girl who likely intended to live a normal life suddenly finding herself the queen of one of the greatest nations in the ancient world. All seems to be going well for her, until one day she learns of an evil plot against her people. Haman, the king’s right hand man, has a grudge against Esther’s cousin Mordecai, and for the sake of vengeance he decides to kill every one of the Jews in Persia. At Mordecai’s plea, Esther risks her life to go before the king and beg for mercy on her people. Miraculously, the king agrees. Haman is killed, and the Jews are given permission to defend themselves against those who intend to slaughter them. The result is a complete reversal of what everyone expected. Instead of being wiped out, the Jews obtain an incredible victory over their enemies.
This flipping of the tables is basically God’s signature move. So many times throughout the Bible, God’s people are in desperate situations. Perhaps they are running from an enemy, or maybe they’re struggling with sickness or financial difficulties. There is no humanly possible way out. But then God shows up. And when God shows up, things begin to happen! He takes what appears to be a horrible situation and turns it on its head, bringing about a result that is so amazing, it makes even the memory of the difficulty beautiful to recall. In the case of Esther, her people were on the brink of annihilation. Every one of them was about to be killed for no reason, and they would be unable to do anything about it. But God put Esther, a girl who’d likely never dreamed of becoming the queen, in a position to save her people. Through her, He brought about a complete reversal of fortune. Those who had hoped to prey on the Jews instead found themselves preyed upon. God had once again done the impossible and delivered His people from death.
What’s even more exciting about this story is that it’s only a foreshadowing of what God was planning for the future. Esther’s boldness led to the salvation of her generation—but God is able to do far more than that. Even then, He was planning to send His Son to earth to die for the sins of all the world, thereby saving all of humanity from their own sinful natures. Jesus’ death on the cross was horrible, far beyond what we can imagine. But as with Esther, the terrible moments would soon be overshadowed by the glory of the finished plan. Jesus’ resurrection means that He has conquered both sin and death! He has saved us from our sin, and now we can live with Him forever in a world where pain and death no longer exist. Satan has been defeated once and for all because of Jesus. To borrow from the book of Esther, on the very day when the enemy of God hoped to gain the mastery over the earth, the reverse occurred: God proved His mastery over the one who hated Him.