INTRODUCTION: Part 1
Esther: Steps in Spirit Warfare
Rebellion Disenfranchises -Esther 1:1-14
Rebellion started in heaven before the creation when Lucifer tried to elevate himself to a position equal with God. The earth that he ruled was plunged into chaos until its renewal in Genesis 1 with Adam as the man in charge. Through deception, satan convinced Adam and Eve to rebel against God's single commandment to them. Rebellion against God's righteousness has continued through every generation of mankind, motivated by satan and his hordes. The book of Esther personifies that conflict, particularly as it occurs in these Last Days.
At the Creation, God desired fellowship with man whom He made in His image. Adam and Eve walked in intimacy with God before their fall into sin. Ever since their disobedience, God has used various means to declare both His holiness and His great redemptive love for people to bring them back into fellowship with Himself. Infinite in His wisdom, God has given us His revealed purposes and will in writing, so that anyone can find and know Him in restored intimacy as deeply as their desire draws them.
Therefore, every book in the Bible contains His message at more than one level of meaning. Jewish scholars cite four levels of interpretation known as PaRDeS:
For example, the first five books of the Old Testament called the Torah chronicle the history of the Jews' beginnings. At what is called the Peshat or literal interpretation level, we learn about
- the call of Abraham,
- the miraculous birth of Isaac and his 12 grandsons,
- their move to Egypt and years of slavery under Pharaoh,
- God's miraculous deliverance, and
- His provisions for Israel during her subsequent wilderness wanderings for 40 years.
The natural mind easily perceives these facts and declarations as history. Many are satisfied with going no farther than this and hear nothing more in the words.
At the next level, called Remez, the hint or allegorical, practical application, God has concealed truths within events and patterns of each book that speak of the coming Messiah and life in the Spirit. When Abraham obeyed God and took his only son Isaac to Mount Moriah to sacrifice him at God's command, that entire scenario spoke of God's sacrifice of His own Son, Jesus. God hid His secrets in historical narratives, poetry, and prophetic documentary waiting to be revealed through His Holy Spirit to the one who hungers until he finds!
The Deresh or moral, prophetic implication level demands more hunger on the part of the seeker to know personal application, while Sod, the secret mystical level is for the one who refuses to be satisfied until God reveals Himself in the supernatural.
Thus at the simple level of reading, the book of Esther vignettes Jewish history during their exile among the various countries that comprised the Persian empire under King Ahasuerus (Xerxes). Because of Esther's unique position as his queen, she intervened in the cause of her own people to prevent their complete annihilation. Jews around the world celebrate Esther and her victory during their springtime Purim holiday to this day.
At deeper levels of meaning, though the book of Esther never directly references the name of God or anything about Him, it reveals the process of our preparation by the Holy Spirit to engage in warfare against the spirit of rebellion and antichrist spawned by satan. It is these truths we shall look at in this series of articles.
The King's Lavishness
Although the Old Testament covers Middle Eastern history thousands of years ago, as modern readers we tend to interpret its events according to Western culture and social customs. When we read about the posh banquet King Ahasuerus hosted for the princes, attendants, army officers, nobles and leaders from the 127 provinces that formed his Persian Empire, it sounds extravagant and ostentatious. Yet the King feted his guests for a whole six months at great personal expense just to show off the riches of his kingdom and the wealth of his personal estate!
On his former weekly television program the late Myles Munroe listed six significant characteristics that distinguish the glory of a king:
- A king's power, which is his glory, is displayed in his amassed wealth.
- Wealth secures the king's reputation or glory, especially among other kings.
- The glory of a king is his power to out-give all other kings.
- Giving to a king places a demand on the king's wealth, i.e. another person can never out-give the king.
- Giving to a king demands a response from him.
- Giving attracts the king's wealth to the gift-giver--the gift a king gives in return abundantly out-sizes the one he was given.
Thus we see that after succeeding his father Darius to the throne, Ahasuerus show-cased the extent of his power before his royal subjects. Following six months of enjoying his displayed wealth amid great festivities, everyone at Susa attended a banquet at the palace for seven days. True to a king's glory, Ahasuerus' headquarters were adorned by lavish woven hangings, marble columns and expensive mosaics with accessories of gold and silver.
After regaling the banqueters with rare delicacies and expensive wines for a week, the King sent messengers to bring Queen Vashti to the stag celebration. He wanted to show off the beauty of his wife, his crown jewel.
The Queen's Response
In another part of the compound, Vashti was feting women at a banquet all her own. The ladies must have admired and lauded Vashti, whose name meant "Beautiful." Perhaps she revelled so much in their admiration she hated to become the object of her husband's glory display. One commentary says she rejected his request out of modesty. Whatever her reason, we know she 'refused' to join her husband...and essentially launched a potential women's lib movement!
In reality, Vashti rebelled against the king's order. It's clear from Esther's experience farther in the book that no one dared to cross the king without paying a price, not even the queen! Vashti's denial of his authority as supreme ruler greatly humiliated her husband in front of his inferiors. His embarrassment quickly turned to rage. When his advisers said he ought to remove her crown and find a new and better queen, he agreed.
Rebellion vs Righteousness
At a deeper level of interpretation, could this account of King Ahasuerus and Queen Vashti reflect what occurred in Heaven before time began? Might it be that God, King of the Universe, had a glorious celebration for the angels of His kingdom, sparing nothing in feting and showing them the glory of His dominion? The description of Ahasuerus' banquet room speaks of the lavishness of the king's palace. That being so, somewhere apart from God's throne room, perhaps on earth in its original state, had Lucifer, His most powerful and beautiful angel (Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28), gathered his followers to stage his own celebration? Certainly God would have tried to persuade him to join the main banquet as part of His glory.
Instead, Lucifer refused to come, too proud to humble himself and leave his admirers to join God's celebration. Lucifer insisted he should sit on a throne next to God's and be elevated to His status. Imagine a created being having the chutzpah to insist he could be equal to the One who created him!! But he did--and he's been in rebellion against God and His glory ever since.
Beginning in Genesis 1, rebellion is a recurrent theme of the Bible. Rebellion against one simple rule in the Garden tested the love of Adam and Eve for God and marked their fall. "You shall not eat from the tree," He told them, but they disobeyed and brought the curse of sin on the whole human race.
Repeated rebellion marked Israel's relationship to God. The people of Israel rebelled against God's authority when they turned from worshipping Him to golden calf idolatry. They rebelled against God's government when they insisted on having a king like the pagan nations around them. And, worst of all, Israel rebelled when they rejected Jesus as their Messiah-King, demanding His death instead.
Rather than letting Vashti's rebellion create havoc within the kingdom, King Ahasuerus removed her crown and sought a new queen. God cast rebellious Lucifer and his followers out of Heaven and in his place created man to be His glory. And Adam and Eve were thrust from the Garden of Eden for their rebellion.
Those who rebel against God's authority always forfeit blessing and favored standing to incur judgment instead, their ultimate sentence being Hell. Submission and obedience to God open the door to privilege and spiritual inheritance. As we move on, the book of Esther makes this increasingly clear.
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