Holocaust. It’s a word that brings to mind images that we’ve seen on TV or in movies. It’s an ugly word. The massive, reckless, deliberate, and systematic extermination of an entire race of people: that was Hitler’s goal. He intended to wipe the nations free of a group of people simply because they were Jewish. No other reason. Interestingly, the Hebrew word for ‘burnt sacrifice’, olah, literally means ‘going up in smoke’. The parallel is unmistakeable. The burning furnaces of the death camps was not God’s intention, it was Satan’s. His original plan was the burning sacrifice of an animal to take the place of the sins of His people until the Messiah appeared. Jesus would be the final substitute. Even though it seemed that Hitler’s plan of genocide was working, God’s plan was that His Son Jesus was the final solution, not the extermination of the Jews. How does this coincide with the book of Esther? Let’s dive into the story.
Hopefully you’ll remember from previous blogs that God had reached His limit with His chosen people and their idolatry. The Babylonian armies were allowed by God to capture and exile His people as Jeremiah had prophesied: a 70 year stay and so it was. We read last Friday that Ezra and Nehemiah, under the new Persian Empire, were assigned to return and rebuild with those who would go. Among the ones who decided to stay and continue their life within the empire was Hadassah, a young Jewish girl. As you read the dramatic story of Esther (Hadassah’s name was changed) keep in mind that Satan never is ahead of God. He will always try to steal, kill, and destroy but God doesn’t follow him: God is sovereign over him.
As Esther emerges into royalty through God’s divine plan, she becomes the star player; it’s quite poetic that her name means ‘star’. God moves His plan of deliverance through her in juxtaposition to the evil Haman’s plan. Satan has been working in the darkness to bring a holocaust to the Hebrew people in Persia. Haman-Hitler, the same evil spirit, tried, with no success, to systematically exterminate God’s treasured possession.
The Feast of Purim, instituted after Esther’s plan of deliverance was successful, is the year-end celebration of God’s deliverance of His people from their enemies. Remember back to Moses and the first feast of the year, Passover? God loves to celebrate with His people. There are many similarities between these two great deliverers, Moses and Esther, ending with the two yearly feasts as reminders of God’s covenant faithfulness. Jesus the Messiah is the final fulfillment of those two great forerunners as He was the chosen One, The Deliverer, that would bring salvation to the world. That is where we find Jesus in the story Esther.
No Haman, no Hitler, and no Antichrist will be able to thwart God’s plan of deliverance. He was in total control then and will be there for us as well.