The God of Second Chances
“Mordecai the Jew was second in rank to King Ahasuerus, and he was great among the Jews and popular with the multitude of his brothers, for he sought the welfare of his people and spoke peace to all his people” (v. 3).- Esther 10
As we finish our study of the book of Esther today, we must highlight an important connection of this work to the other Old Testament Historical Books. Note that Haman, who sought to destroy the Jews in fifth-century-BC Persia, was an “Agagite” (Est. 3:1). Agag was the king of the Amalekites hundreds of years earlier during the reign of King Saul of Israel, who lost his throne when he did not kill Agag as God had commanded. Eventually, Samuel killed Agag, but the rise of Haman the Agagite, who was somehow related to Agag, reveals that Saul’s failure created problems for the Jews centuries later (see 1 Sam. 15). Due to Saul’s inaction, there were Agagites to attack the Jews during the Persian Empire.
Mordecai just so happened to be from the tribe of Benjamin, as was Saul (Est. 2:5; 1 Sam. 9:1–2). But as we have seen, there are no coincidences in the Esther story. In Saul’s era, a Benjaminite failed to destroy the Agagite as he was supposed to. In Esther’s time, God gave the Benjaminites a second chance, as it were, to destroy the Agagites when Mordecai and Esther defeated Haman (Est. 7).
Our sovereign Lord is the God of second chances, as the Old Testament Historical Books show us. Joshua died before completing the conquest of Canaan, but God gave the Israelites a second chance to do so in the era of the judges. When the people described in the book of Judges became as bad as the Canaanites themselves, He gave them another chance to obey by raising up King David to lead His people against their enemies (1 Samuel). (David, of course, was a descendant of Naomi, who was given a second chance at happiness and at having a family, as narrated in the book of Ruth.) When David failed to be the perfect king of God’s people (2 Samuel; 1 Chronicles), the Lord was patient with his successors, tolerating the division of Israel and Judah and sending prophets to call for repentance (1–2 Kings; 2 Chronicles). Even when God finally sent the people into exile, He did not abandon them but brought them back and gave them a second opportunity to obey. In many ways, the postexilic people were faithful, but that generation failed as well (Ezra; Nehemiah; Esther).
Why does the Lord give so many opportunities? Because He is saving a people for Himself to exalt them over the nations, as foreshadowed in Mordecai’s exaltation over Persia (Est. 10; see 2 Tim. 2:12). We are that people if we trust in Christ alone, the perfect King whose merit covers all of our sins and failures.
The full story line of the Old Testament Historical Books points us finally to Christ. We learn in these books our need of a perfectly righteous king when we see the leaders of God’s people fail time and again. Because Jesus led a perfect life and atoned for sin, we know that the Lord will forgive us when we turn to Christ in faith. We know also that He has promised to use us to advance His purposes in His world today, tomorrow, and always.
Passages for Further Study
2 Samuel 7:1–17