Job 1-3: Echoes of the Fall from Paradise

Many people only read the entire book of Job as an allegory – yet, there is a lot of specific reference to him as an actual individual and the book provides suitable context to the background of his time period.  The story of Job takes place outside Israel to the east and south (Uz is related to Edom, which may be the setting of the book c.f. chapter 2:11, 6:19; Lamentations 4:21), and it is clear that the author of the book is thoroughly immersed in the Hebrew Scriptures.  This author knew the constellations (Job 9:9; 38:31), could discuss meteorology (Job 38:22-38), and makes direct allusion to other Scriptures (e.g. Psalm 8:4; c.f. Job 7:17-18; Psalm 107:40; Isaiah 41:20; c.f. Job 12:21, 24) – suggesting that the book may be dated in the exilic/post-exilic period (around 600 to 500 BC – approximately just before the Ezra-Nehemiah-Esther books).  However, it has also been surmised that Job predates even the exile – that he may be a contemporary of Abraham’s son Isaac.  See Matthew Henry’s commentary:

We are sure that it is very ancient, though we cannot fix the precise time either when Job lived or when the book was written. So many, so evident, are its hoary hairs, the marks of its antiquity, that we have reason to think it of equal date with the book of Genesis itself, and that holy Job was contemporary with Isaac and Jacob; though not coheir with them of the promise of the earthly Canaan, yet a joint-expectant with them of the better country, that is, the heavenly. Probably he was of the posterity of Nahor, Abraham’s brother, whose first-born was Uz (Gen. xxii. 21), and in whose family religion was for some ages kept up, as appears, Gen. xxxi. 53, where God is called, not only the God of Abraham, but the God of Nahor. He lived before the age of man was shortened to seventy or eighty, as it was in Moses’s time, before sacrifices were confined to one altar, before the general apostasy of the nations from the knowledge and worship of the true God, and while yet there was no other idolatry known than the worship of the sun and moon, and that punished by the Judges, ch. xxxi. 26-28. He lived while God was known by the name of God Almighty more than by the name of Jehovah; for he is called Shaddai–the Almighty, above thirty times in this book. He lived while divine knowledge was conveyed, not by writing, but by tradition; for to that appeals are here made, ch. viii. 8; xxi. 29; xv. 18; v. 1. And we have therefore reason to think that he lived before Moses, because here is no mention at all of the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt, or the giving of the law. There is indeed one passage which might be made to allude to the drowning of Pharaoh (ch. xxvi. 12): He divideth the sea with his power, and by his understanding he smiteth through Rahab, which name Egypt is frequently called by in scripture, as Ps. lxxxvii. 4; lxxxix. 10; Isa. li. 9. But that may as well refer to the proud waves of the sea. We conclude therefore that we are here got back to the patriarchal age, and, besides its authority, we receive this book with veneration for its antiquity.

The name “Job” means persecuted, he who weeps – yet could also be related to the Hebrew word for “enemy”, perhaps referring to Job’s response to suffering.  It would appear the earliest reference to Job outside the book itself is in Ezekiel where the prophet names three virtuous persons: Noah, Daniel and Job (Ezekiel 14:14, 20); he is also mentioned in James 5:11 as a man of steadfastness receiving the LORD’s compassion and mercy.  It is important that Job’s “virtue” is interpreted hand in hand with the LORD’s mercy – for Job’s queries of his suffering goes to the heart of the gospel. 

Chapter 1

The first verse opens with describing Job as a “blameless and upright” man who feared God and turned away from evil (c.f. Genesis 6:9 and Genesis 17:1 where the same description is applied to Noah and Abraham).  He was considered the “greatest of all the people of the east” (v.3) and had:

  • 10 offspring (7 sons, 3 daughters)
  • 7,000 sheep; 3,000 camels; 500 yoke of oxen; 500 female donkeys; and very many servants

It is important that Job is from Uz – and in understanding Job 1, we understand the final chapter of Job as well.  Uz is known as a fertile/oasis/garden-like pace – a garden land situated in the east, sounding a lot like the garden in the east mentioned in Genesis 2.  Where Genesis 2 considered sin and death coming into the world, Job considered suffering – an echo of the fall.

Following Esther, note the lavishness of Job’s sons – that each is able to hold a feast each day of the week, with the three sisters joining (v.4).  They are immediately consecrated and Job would arrange burnt offerings for each of them to ensure that their hearts are in the right place – in the Son.  It is important that this first chapter and last chapter of Job show that the book is bookended by burnt offerings, just as Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega.

V.6-12 describe the heavenly beings gathered before God like a council before a king (15:8; Psalm 29:1; Isaiah 6:1-8), notably Satan the chief angel coming among them (implying he, too, is a “son of God”).  Consider what Satan had been doing prior to joining this council in v.7 – Satan had been “going to and fro on earth, and from walking up and down on it”.  This phrase is peculiar, as Adam Clarke comments:

“The translation of the Septuagint is curious: περιελθωντηνγηνκαιεμπεριπατησαςτην υπουρανονπαρειμι; “Having gone round the earth, and walked over all that is under heaven, I am come hither.” The Chaldee says, “I am come from going round the earth to examine the works of the children of men; and from walking through it.” Coverdale, who generally hits the sense, translates thus: I have gone aboute the londe ond walked thorow it. Mr. Good has it, from roaming round the earth, and walking about it.

St. Peter, as has been already stated, 1Pe 5:8, refers to this: Be sober, be vigilant; for your ADVERSARY the DEVIL GOETH ABOUT, as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. I rather think, with Coverdale, that arets here signifies rather that land, than the habitable globe. The words are exceedingly emphatic; and the latter verb hithhallech being in the hithpael conjugation shows how earnest and determined the devil is in his work: he sets himself to walk; he is busily employed in it; he is seeking the destruction of men; and while they sleep, he wakes-while they are careless, he is alert. The spirit of this saying is often expressed by the simple inhabitants of the country: when they perceive a man plotting mischief, and frequent in transgression, they say, The devil is BUSY with him.”

In the devil’s busyness, the LORD said to Satan whether he had considered Job “who fears God and turns away from evil” (c.f. Proverbs 3:7, 14:16, 16:6).  Satan contends that if Job was removed from his circumstances, he would curse God (the same verb used in v.5 regarding the children’s cursing).  Although the Hebrew word literally means “bless”, the book of Job is commonly also seen as a commentary on Deuteronomy 28 – the chapter on blessing (as used in v.5 of Job 1) and cursing from the LORD.  So Satan believed that Job would curse the LORD to his face, whilst Satan “went out from the presence of the LORD” (literally, left the face of the LORD) – ironic, since it is Satan who is the prime adversary who cursed the LORD to his face.

It is therefore important that we are immediately faced with Satan’s power, as allowed by the LORD (reminding us of His divine sovereignty never undermined by Satan’s darkness, c.f. v.9-12).  Job is faced with the following troubles:

  • Sabeans attacking (v.15);
  • Fire coming from heaven (v.16)
  • Chaldeans attacking (v.17)
  • Wilderness wind (v.19)

Such tragedies, immediately coming one after another, is to give Job a sense of restlessness (chapter 9:18) – causing the very deaths of his sons, daughters, and much of his material wealth. 

Yet, Job’s reaction is wise.  He fell on the ground and worshiped (v.20) – what a stark contrast to what Satan expected.  Just like Haman (c.f. Esther) who boasted in what he expected of Mordecai’s death, so Satan also boasted that Job would curse the LORD’s face.  Instead – as the underlying inspiration to the Matt Redman song – blessed be the name of the LORD (v.21).  Even the narrator stated from this that Job did not sin nor did he charge God with wrong (v.22).  

Chapter 2

As a repeat of chapter 1:6-12, v. 1-6 explores the second test proposed by Satan and allowed by the LORD – again, to spare Job’s life (v.6).  This test is with regard to Job’s bone and flesh, his very health (v.5, 7), loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head (v.7).  Job, even in this pain, did not curse God and die; it would seem to be an easier exit from his pain that Job should die as a result of cursing (the foolishness of his wife, identified identically with Satan’s provocation c.f. 1:11, 2:4), but he would rather bless the LORD and live a painful but blessed life (v.9-10).  Thus is Job’s theology (c.f. Psalm 119:75):

“Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?”

It is at this point, v.11 onwards, that we meet Job’s three friends – Eliphaz (“God his strength“) the Temanite (an important city in Edom c.f. Genesis 36:11, 15; Ezekiel 25:13; Amos 1:11-12, known for its wisdom – Jeremiah 49:7), Bildad (“son of contention“) the Shuhite (from Shuah, a name of one of the sons of Abraham from his marriage to Keturah, whose brother was Midian and whose nephews were Sheba and Dedan – c.f. Genesis 25:2, 1 Chronicles 1:32; the latter being a place in Edom or Arabia) and Zophar (“sparrow“) the Naamathite (from Naamah, name of a woman listed in Cain’s genealogy – Genesis 4:22, from whom the Kenites were descendants – Genesis 4:22; the Kenites are mentioned in connection with the Midianites in the Sinai and Arabian deserts – Numbers 10:29, Judges 4:11), meeting together to show him sympathy and comfort him.  It would appear that this is the crux of Christian fellowship; to also identify with Job’s pain by tearing their robes and also sprinkling dust on their heads toward heaven (v.12), sitting with him for seven days and seven nights – symbolic of the same amount of time Job’s children used to hold their feasts; but also symbolic of the time God used to create the earth and man – only for man to undo the LORD’s creation on the 7th day (v.13; also signifying a complete time of mourning in response to the suffering – c.f. Ezekiel 3:15).  If only Christians were to learn half of what these friends have done!

Yet, such sympathy and comfort is – like Satan states – skin for skin (v.4).  This is skin-deep – as the flesh of their sympathy and comfort is revealed in the coming chapters. 

Chapter 3

On the eighth day, Job finally opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth – that the day of his birth be darkness (v.4-7), be barren – a large contrast to the joy of creation, the joy of our birth as shown in Genesis 1.  At no stage does he see life as anything other than divine (c.f. 10:8-13), while he poetically focuses on the moment of birth, calling even upon Leviathan (c.f. Psalm 74:14, Isaiah 27:1 – monster used as a figure for Egypt; an awesome creature) as a contribution of lament to his day of birth.  Thus, the opening words of his speech are opened with “let“s in every verse v.3-10.  The next verses 11-26 are characterised by the why’s, ranging from references to kings and princes who laboured to obtain wealth and build cities but now laying without them in death, to the way death removes the constraints of social position, focusing attention on the small and the slave, and those who have been weary or prisoners; ranging from themes of light to death:

  • Why did I not die at birth (v.11)
  • Why did the knees receive me or why the breasts, that I should nurse? (v.12-15)
  • Why was I not as a hidden stillborn child, as infants who never see the light? (v.16-19)
  • Why is light given to him who is in misery and life to the bitter in soul, who long for death, but it comes not, and dig for it more than for hidden treasures, who rejoice exceedingly and are glad when they find the grave? (v.20-22)
  • Why is light given to a man whose way is hidden whom God has hedged in? (v.23-26)

It is possible that Job will not find an answer lest Wisdom be shown (c.f. Job 28; although he does not receive a proper answer until Job 42) – yet, in Job’s accusation – and contrary to Satan’s expected response to Job – Job does not consider his material wealth and health as the cause of his uprightness.  Rather, as the ESV Study Bible states,

“Job refers to his sustained life amid inscrutable circumstances of suffering as rendering him one whom God has hedged in.  Satan’s contention is disproved through Job’s continued faithfulness.  Job’s overall lament of his situation is something which God both reproves and commends (see chs. 38-41; 42:7).”

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Job 1-3: Echoes of the Fall from Paradise

Esther 9-10: Co-heirs with Esther

Chapter 9

Now that the Israelites are victorious, chapters 9 and 10 are the aftermath of what it means when Christ is risen indeed.  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 (v.1).  This could, word for word, be interpreted as “On the very day when the Satan of Christ hoped to gain mastery over Him, the reverse occurred: Christ gained mastery over the enemy who hated Him“.  V.2-14 then describe with detail the result of those who had persecuted the body of Christ and the reversal of fortunes at the hand of God’s sovereignty; such cleansing occurring not only on the 13th day of Adar but also on the 14th day of Adar as requested by Esther (v.13).  The house of Haman, as inherited now by Mordecai, has no more descendants as the ten sons of Haman were also punished on the tree (v.14). Such destruction of the Amalekites and of the enemies of the Jews is but a type of the final judgment on the day of Christ’s second coming (Malachi 4:1-3).  Paul Blackham goes on to state in his Book by Book guide on Esther:

“For many people in the world, their enemies are much more serious and their actions really do cause an outcry that is heard in the heavenly throne room.  Those that suffer serious abuse and injustice call out to the Living God as the only one who can give them help or hope.  They are killed, raped, enslaved and humiliated… yet there seems to be no possibility of overthrowing the tyrant.  These enemies of humanity are enemies of the LORD God, who defends the widow and the orphan.

When the Amalekites killed the weak and wounded of the Hebrews in the exodus from Egypt, they showed a terrible heartlessness and cruelty.  They showed how godless they were by this vicious slaughter.  The problem of the human condition is not always so clearly seen.  If we live far from the Living God then the darkness gets ever deeper into our souls and we are driven further away from light and love and goodness. 

The LORD God saw the hardness and evil in the Amalekite people.  Their wicked lives provoked His anger and His verdict was just and true.  There was time for repentance, but the Amalekites remained entrenched in their godlessness and cruelty.  In the case of the people of Jericho, although they were all under the fatal judgment of the LORD, yet Rahab found mercy as she joined with the Hebrews (Joshua 6).  In the case of the Amalekites, they seemed to have harboured their evil and malice down the generations.  Finally, under the leadership of Saul the day of judgment arrived and they were mostly removed from the LORD’s earth. 

However, as we saw, Saul’s disobedience left a root to re-grow.”

Therefore, it is by the hands of Mordecai and Esther that Saul’s disobedience is rectified; that the root of sin is removed completely, allowing the Israelites to live new lives without persecution by the old enemy. 

Note, however, that the Jews laid no hand on the plunder (v.10, 14, 16).  This is compared with Esther 3:13 where Haman’s decree demanded the enemies of the Jews to take the Jews’ plunder; similarly under Mordecai’s decree in 8:11, they are entitled to take the spoil as well.  Yet, this is the act of mercy the Jews decided to show to their enemies – although they were entitled to the spoil, they relinquished this right to the true vengeance of the LORD on the day of Christ’s return (1 Corinthians 10:23-34; Hebrews 10:30).

Once the cleansing is complete, the Jews in the king’s provinces (i.e. the rural towns) rested on the 14th day – yet, under Esther’s request, the Jews in Susa rested only on the 15th day since they were given one more day of relief after the 13th (v.16-18).  Such day of rest is for gladness and feasting – as a holiday – as a day on which the Israelites send gifts of food to one another (v.19), as grateful remembrance of the divine reversal of the enemy’s plan to purge the world of Christians.  This is recorded and sent in letter form to all the Jews in the provinces of the king, both near and far, not too dissimilar to the letters of the apostles and disciples of Christ when Christ was risen – teaching the ancient Church to respond appropriately to the typological victory of Esther over Haman, of Jesus over Satan (v.20-28).  The days of Purim (meaning “lots“, an ironical term of the method which Haman used to destroy the Jews) should never fall into disuse among the Jews, nor should the commemoration of these days cease among their descendants (v.28).

Thus, the festival of Purim was initiated by the hand of Queen Esther and Mordecai the Jew in this chapter (v.29-32) – a new Jewish festival, a new practice; just as the new spiritual practices developed from the Mosaic law upon Christ’s resurrection – from passover to communion, from circumcision to baptism. 

Chapter 10

The book ends on the king imposing a tax on the land and coastlands of the sea – and yet, the ultimate focus is not on the king, but on Mordecai.  Even Mordecai was recorded in the book of the Chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia, spreading the gospel down the line of Gentile heritage.  Such reference to the Chronicles also indicate that the book of Esther is primarily a book about Jesus, and not a historical recording of Ahasuerus’ actions. 

Finally, despite Esther’s mediatorial actions, it is Mordecai who is exalted as he served as the faithful Christian who bookended this book.  His faithfulness is lauded as he inherited the house of Haman (which was Esther’s) and received the power of the king by His signet ring (which was Esther’s).  All of such things were shared with Esther as if she were Mordecai’s sister; and yet, this is the picture of the gospel, that we share in Jesus’ inheritance (Romans 8:17) – all that is His is ours, for in Esther we saw a glorious picture of the king fighting for his bride. 

 

 

 

Esther 9-10: Co-heirs with Esther

Esther 5-8: Esther our Mediator

Chapter 5

It would appear that Esther’s fears are allayed – and her expectation of victory is sweetly met.  She touched the tip of the scepter of Ahasuerus, a scepter of power (v.2).  Paul Blackham states in Book by Book guide on Esther:

“John Preston (1587-1628) produced a book called “The Golden Sceptre” held forth to the Humble”.  The title is derived from this scene in Esther.  Preston powerfully describes our Heavenly Father as a Great King into whose presence we cannot safely go.  In fact, it is fatal for any sinner to be in the presence of the Living God.  However, Preston portrays the gospel as the golden sceptre that is held out to the sinner to give them safe welcome into the presence of the Living God.”

Her request is that Haman is brought to the feast she has prepared for the king (v.4); and after having such a feast she requested Haman join them again (v.8).  Paul Blackham states:

“The joy of [verse 5] is seeing it in stark contrast to what happened in chapter 1.  [Quoting Tull, page 26:]

 

(Xerxes) calls for Haman saying, ‘Bring Haman quickly, so that we may do as Esther desires‘ (5.5).  Literally the Hebrew says, ‘so we may do the word of Esther‘.  This is a deliciously ironic twist on a king who only three chapters before was terrified that women might not do the word of their husbands.  Vashti was banished for not coming when the king called, but now Esther has gotten away with coming when the king did not call.  The king who worried about women obeying their husbands is now obeying his wife, and ordering Haman to obey her as well.  And to add irony to irony, Haman not only obeys a woman, but delights in being hosted by a Jew – a Jew passing as a Persian so splendidly that she puts a lie to all he said about her people’s disruptiveness.

Such is Esther’s plan that Haman would appear to be exalted temporarily only for Haman, the type of Satan, to pride and boast in his self-praises and unwarranted accolades (Ezekiel 18) – the same Haman whose sole wish is still to destroy the ancient promised church of God (v.8-13) as one would if one was the son of the devil (John 8:44).  Yet, this is all in Esther’s plan as Haman is dancing in her palm.  The irony that the Satan should wish to use the same tool of death to destroy the Christ, and yet this tool of death has become the iconic symbol in Christianity of Christ’s victory (v.14).  Again, although the ESV states “gallow”, it is more likely a stake for impalement – the Hebrew word ates simply means tree.  From a biblical and prophetic perspective, the clearer comparison between Haman and Satan is shown when Haman is seen to have set up a 75 foot tree for Mordecai to be killed on.

Chapter 6

By the LORD’s providence, the king’s inability to sleep allowed him to read the chronicles of Mordecai the Jew who saved the king (v.1-2).  By Mordecai’s faithfulness to the king as stipulated under Romans 13, he receives the royal robes of righteousness and honour (v.7-11) – suggested by Haman himself since he thought such honour would be given to him (v.6-9).  What ironic mockery! Such theology of divine reversals is saturated throughout Scripture.  As Paul Blackham states:

“An important biblical theme, very much related to Haman’s highs and lows, is the theme of reversal, of divine justice turning power upside down.  This theme is so pervasive in the Bible, and so commonplace in Christian discourse, that its radical implications can sometimes be forgotten.  Explicit reversals characterize many Proverbs, such as 16:18: “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Reversals also permeate narratives, such as the story of Joseph and his brothers (Genesis 37-50), the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt (Exodus 1-15), and the poem of Isaiah’s suffering servant who will be exalted (Isaiah 52:13-53:12).  The narrative of reversal best known to Christians, of course, is the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection (quoting Tull, 30-31).”

Note how beautifully this was done before Haman’s sins were exposed – just as Satan was never in power, nor was he ever honoured, and he certainly had no leverage to offer Christ anything (Luke 4) for Christ was the only Honoured One of the Father.  This status of matters was already the case before Satan was nailed to the cross – just as Haman is shamed by handing over all honour (which only appeared to be his) over to Christ.  What prophetic words of Zeresh (v.13):

“If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of the Jewish people, you will not overcome him but will surely fall before him”.

Indeed – if Christ, before whom Satan has begun to fall, is of the Jewish people, Satan will not overcome him but will surely fall before Him!  Clearly even Zeresh has heard of the prophecy of the Offspring of Adam, and that the LORD protects the Jewish people.  What ridicule that Haman could think he could uproot the promise that the LORD has made to Israel!  Immediately after Zeresh’s statement of judgment, the impending demise of Haman comes to his doorsteps (v.14).

Chapter 7

There is an eery sense of parallel between the death of John the Baptist and the death of Haman here.  Where Herod also offered the same vow (c.f. Mark 6:22-23) as Ahasuerus, Herodias’s daughter was no Esther.  Esther, the type of Christ, sought to protect the Jews; and where Herod and Ahasuerus were cut from the same cloth, the role of the mediator plays a large role.  If Esther was like Vashti (who did not appear to have Israel’s interests at heart) – what would have happened?  Yet it was Mordecai’s plan to place Esther into the courts of Ahasuerus, the same Mordecai and Esther who obeyed the LORD despite their imminent deaths at the hands of Haman and Ahasuerus.  What is your wish, Queen Esther?  The Head of Mordecai, or the Head of Haman?  The latter.

The parallel is more astounding here – the last time the king was recorded to be drunken with wine was in chapters 1-2, when Vashti was banished from his sight; yet here, Esther uses the situation to remove Haman upon pleading the truth to Ahasuerus (v.1-6).  Yet this is the gospel story summarised – the king who was jealous for his wife; the king who is angry against the Satan as personified by Haman; the king who hung Satan by his own devices, nailing him to the same cross that he planned to destroy the Christ with.  As the Father cries “Will he even assault the Bride in my presence, in my own house?” in parallel to Ahasuerus’ words (v.8), His jealous love for us covers us in his righteousness and holiness whilst he never ceases to destroy the enemy whose only plan is to destroy us, rape us, annihilate our heritage, and kill our future (v.4; c.f. Psalm 73 for a summary of the LORD’s view of Haman’s types of actions).

Chapter 8

This is a chapter of victory.  Esther, the type of Christ, inherited the heritage of Haman (v.1; Henrietta Mears subtitles her chapter on this book: “Esther portrays Jesus Christ, Our Advocate”) – the enemy (Satan) of the Jews.  Esther, before the king as a type (albeit a flawed type) of the Father, recognises Mordecai here as the church and community under which Esther was nurtured.  Thus, the signet ring, as a seal and sign of the deposit of the Holy Spirit and of His election (c.f. Song of Solomon 8:6; Haggai 2:23; Ephesians 1:14; 2 Corinthians 1:22, 5:5; 2 Timothy 1:14, 2:19) was given from the Father to the Son (i.e. Esther), and from Esther to the church (i.e. Mordecai) to rule over the house of Haman, just as we rule over the enemy by His power.

In v.3-8 we see Esther mediating on behalf of the Jews – how can she bear to see the destruction of her kindred (v.6)?  Indeed, she cannot.  Yet, this is a picture of Christ pleading on our behalf – and with the Father’s seal (v.8), spiritual Israel shall not be harmed.  The elect body of Christ shall not be harmed.  The kindred of Esther shall not be harmed.  So we are similarly sealed by the Father by the sacrifice of His only begotten Son, and wrath is diverted onto the enemy.  And as we are given His power by the Spirit, His signet ring, whatever we command in His name (John 20:23) is released in this creation (v.10-12).  This is the great exchange – although it appears harsh that the Jews are allowed to gather and defend their lives, the retribution is exactly matching to the edict of Haman (Esther 3:13).  Note however that this is but the Jews’ response and only to armed forces – on the condition that the Israelites could defend, and attack only if they were attacked (symbolically on the same day that the Jews would have been destroyed – v.12; c.f. Esther 9:1).  Such is the beauty of our redemption, that we – like Mordecai – by the work of the true Esther Jesus Christ could wear the LORD’s righteous robes of salvation (Isaiah 61:11; c.f. v.15), the restoration of the Israelite traditions occurring not only in Jerusalem by Ezra and Nehemiah’s hands – but also in the kingdom of Persia.  This glory is felt not only by the Jews but also by the Gentiles, leading to mass conversion (v.17).

Esther 5-8: Esther our Mediator

Esther 1-4: Esther and the King

It is typical to see Esther simply as a book about a woman coming out of her young shell of faith to stand firm and risk death at the hands of her otherwise tyrannical husband.  However, it is also one of the core books which firmly portray by contrast the relationship between the true husband and the Church, as well as a rare example of Christ being portrayed typologically by a woman.

These events take place approximately in the 5th century BC, a number of years prior to the events in Nehemiah after the events of Ezra.

Chapter 1

Note the immediate contrast between the struggle of the Israelites in Ezra and Nehemiah and the lavishness of the kingdom of Ahasuerus in the first chapter of Esther.  V.1-5 is almost a mockery of the state of Israel and its traditions – a seven day feast (held in the court of the garden and the king’s palace – v.5) which is comparable to the Feast of Booths described in Leviticus 23:34-39, except that it is not bookended by solemnity in remembrance of the sacrifice of Christ; rather, Ahasuerus’ pomposity is very much summarised in v.7-8 – “There is no compulsion” and each man can do as each man desired.  Note also the distinction between the feast which was for men (v.1-8) and the one versed description of the feast for women held by Queen Vashti (meaning “beautiful“) in v.9 where the women only celebrated in the palace that “belonged” to King Ahasuerus.  This verb “belonged” will be a common refrain throughout these chapters, as is the undermining of women a common theme.

Noticeably v.10 begins with “on the seventh day”, which is a repeat of Genesis where the LORD rested on the seventh day to enjoy His creation.  Yet, the opening chapters of Esther 1 is a direct mockery of Genesis 1; where the LORD spent seven days to provide a beautiful creation for man and woman’s joint enjoyment, the king’s feast culminated in bringing Queen Vashti to “show the peoples and the princes her beauty, for she was lovely to look at”.  Paul Blackham states in his Book by Book guide on Esther:

“The Garden of Eden is called the Garden of God in the Bible (Ezekiel 28:13; 31:8-9), so Xerxes holds his seven day celebration in the Garden of Xerxes for everybody in the capital Susa!  Xerxes seems to position himself as (at the very least) the mirror of the Living God on earth.

The pride of Xerxes is also shown by the way he decorated his ‘garden’.  His blue and purple linen seems to echo the courtyard of the tabernacle of the LORD described in Exodus 38.  The temple of Solomon in Jerusalem had been destroyed by the Babylonians about 150 years earlier, so there must have been records of the architecture and furnishings of the temple.  His use of the pillars with silver rings also indicates this kind of knowledge and symbolism.  He formed a pavement of precious metals and jewels (v.6).  If we remember the banquet with God in Exodus 24:9-11 or the throne room of heaven in Revelation 4:1-6 we get an insight into the way that Xerxes viewed himself.  If we remember that the book of Daniel had been written 100 years before we can understand how Xerxes got so much knowledge of heavenly realities.  A book of such literary and theological significance, written by such a high official in the empire, would certainly have been in the royal library.  Daniel’s work included a vision of the throne room of heaven (Daniel 7:9-14), so it is not too much to imagine that Xerxes saw himself as a Son of Man figure over all the nations.”

Such objectification of Vashti, though beautiful, is a far cry from the personal intimacy of the LORD who not only looks on us but embraces us and exalts us.  The LORD does not require Eve, nor does he require His ancient church Adam and Eve, to celebrate in a room separate from the garden and the king’s palace.  Contrarily, He celebrates with us in His garden of Eden, the ancient prototypical Temple.  Unsurprisingly, the king’s anger and drunkenness (c.f. Proverbs 20:1, 23:29-35) is atypical of and a direct contrast to the LORD’s patience and steadfast love.

As if this were not enough, these “wise men” (v.13) who were versed in law and judgment decided to brand Vashti as a poor example of how women should behave towards their husbands and immediately replace her with someone else.  It is heavily implied that their edict is unreasonable, and given that Vashti had upheld her duty towards the king and was an upright queen by way of the brief mention in v.9, their method of stifling her voice is most concerning when compared with the LORD’s edict in Ephesians 5:22-33.  Rather than love and die for her wife, Ahasuerus decided to oppress her and drive her away.

Further, this oppressive edict serves as a background and platform for Esther when she enters the scene.  Will she be like Vashti, beautiful but unloved and ultimately rebellious – in many ways similar to the old Israel (save that the king here is atypical of the LORD)?  Or will she be a new example for the women of Persia and Medes as a follower of Jesus?

Chapter 2

What nonsense that the king should listen to his advisors to replace the queen (v.1-4) – and what contrast it is that the LORD should never forsake His firstborn Israel in spite of His love for the Gentiles (Romans 11:11).  Yet, it is also this foolish plan (c.f. 2 Timothy 4:3) that the LORD used to further His glory, by introducing Mordecai (meaning “little man“), the uncle of Esther (meaning “a star“, the Persian name of Hadassah, meaning “myrtle” – a type of flowering plant, a family of trees and shrubs that are usually evergreen; myrtle plants often produce aromatic oils and are used in spices (e.g. cloves), and seems to indicate fertility and usefulness in Scripture – c.f. Isaiah 41:19; 55:13, Nehemiah 8:15, Zechariah 1:8, growing on the hills about Jerusalem).  Here is the little man of Israel, taken into captivity and living in Persia to bring up his cousin Esther (v.5-7) – a man who is godly, mindful of the rebuilding of Israel and was mentioned once in Ezra 2:2.  The first description of Esther is that she is immediately contrasted with Vashti – where Vashti is a beautiful queen who hosted a banquet for fellow women, Esther is a star who is also beautiful to look at but with a torn past of deceased parents (v.7).  Although Mordecai commanded Esther to not make known her people or kindred (v.10, repeated at v.20), this is firmly distinguished from his later rebuke in Esther 4:12-14 where she is to no longer remain silent.  This is often seen as an example of Mordecai commanding Esther to be wise as a serpent and innocent as a dove (Matthew 10:16), allowing Esther to enter into the realms of Ahasuerus and be the example that Vashti was not, securing the safety of the future of the Israelites.  Mordecai had a very firm understanding of his position under Ahasuerus’ rule, and did not seek to destroy his kingdom; rather, through His understanding of Romans 13, he upholds Ahasuerus (v.21-23) – though the king’s two eunuchs were angry with the king. Notice how Mordecai was “sitting at the king’s gate” (v.19, 21), the gate being a place of public government and judgment in Scripture (c.f. Genesis 23:10-20, 34:20-24; Deuteronomy 21:19, 22:15, 25:7; Ruth 4:11; Job 29:7; Lamentations 5:14).  This may indicate that Mordecai was appointed as a judge or government official, possibly due to Esther’s coronation, another example of the LORD’s care and love for Mordecai and his and Esther’s house – enabling him to continue to preserve Esther’s interests.  Although Esther is the one who reveals the plot, she does so “in the name of Mordecai” (v.22) – clarifying that glory is due to Mordecai and not Esther.  These men were hanged on the gallows (v.23) – or more accurately, as the Hebrew puts it, “hanged on a tree” (see King James’ translation) – akin to the Hebrew curse under Deuteronomy 21.

Mordecai also seems to have harboured, in his own heart, the possibility that Esther is the rescuer of the Israelites should anything detrimental arise (c.f. Esther 4:14). Perhaps the Septuagint version of Esther, which provides several additions (including a prologue which describes Mordecai receiving a vision of a potential clash between the Israelites and its enemies), prompted Mordecai to prepare for such detriment.  The prologue is as follows:

“In the second year when Artaxerxes the Great was king, on the first day of Nisa, Mar- dochaios the son of Iairos son of Semeias son of Kisaios, from the tribe of Beniamin, saw a dream. 2He was a Judean man dwelling in the city of Susa, a great man, serving in the court of the king. 3Now he was of the group of exiles which Nabou- chodonosor, king of Babylon, took captive from Ie- rousalem with Iechonias, the king of Judea. 4And this was his dream: Look! Shouts and confusion! Thunder and earthquake! Chaos upon the earth! 5Look! Two great dragons came forward, both ready to fight, and a great noise arose from them! 6And at their sound every nation prepared for war, to fight against a nation of righteous people. 7Look! A day of darkness and gloom! Affliction and anguish! Oppression and great chaos upon the earth! 8And the whole righteous nation was in chaos, fearing the evils that threatened themselves, and they were ready to perish. 9Then they cried out to God, and from their cry, as though from a small spring, there came a great river, abundant water; 10light, and the sun rose, and the lowly were exalt- ed and devoured those held in esteem. 11Then when Mardochaios, who had seen this dream and what God had determined to do, awoke, he had it on his heart and sought until nightfall to under-stand it in every detail.

12 And Mardochaios took his rest in the court- yard with Gabatha and Tharra, the two eunuchs of the king who guarded the courtyard. 13He both overheard their deliberations and inquired into their ambitions, and learned that they were prepar- ing to lay hands on Artaxerxes the king, and he told the king about them. 14Then the king interro- gated the two eunuchs, and when they confessed, they were led away. 15And the king wrote these things in the record, and Mardochaios wrote con- cerning these things. 16And the king ordered Mar- dochaios to serve in the court and gave to him gifts for these things. 17But Haman son of Hama- dathos, a Bougean, was highly esteemed by the king, and he sought to harm Mardochaios and his people because of the two eunuchs of the king.”

Separately, it helps to compare her with Daniel (c.f. chapters 6-7 of Daniel) as Daniel and his friends were in a position where they could get on with obeying the law of the LORD, but Esther’s situation was directly forbidden (c.f. Deuteronomy 7:3-4 – marriage to a pagan man), and would make her a difficult witness.

It is peculiar that the 12 months of beautifying included six months of myrrh (one of the ingredients of the oil of holy ointment – Exodus 30:23, used also for embalming and preparation of the body either for love – Psalm 45:8; Proverbs 7:17; Song of Songs 1:13, 3:6, 4:6, 14, 5:1, 5, 13, or for burial – Matthew 2:11, John 19:39) and six months of spices and ointments – as if purifying the women for a holy act of divine marriage.  Esther’s charm is not lost on the king as she plays the game safely under the direction of Hegai the king’s eunuch, and is finally elected as the new queen (v.15-18).  Strangely, v.17 describes the king as loving Esther more than all the women – a verb not often associated with the king, given his failure to understand how marriage should work like Ephesians 5:22-33.  Yet, by contrast, the verbs associated to Esther do not fare much better – she is a woman often the object of other people’s initiations (she was adopted (v.7), she was taken into the king’s palace (v.8), she did not make knkown her people (v.10), she asked for nothing except whatever was advised to her (v.15), she was taken to the king (v.16)).  Her actions, so far, are mostly passive – indicating her vulnerability to the circumstances around her.  It is not until a later stage that Esther begins to take her own initiative to stand firm as a type of Christ the Mediator.

Chapter 3

Yet, in spite of Mordecai’s actions to protect the king, Haman the Agagite (perhaps one of the Amalekites – c.f. Numbers 24:7, Deuteronomy 25:17-19, 1 Samuel 15) gets promoted.  Saul’s failure to remove the Amalekites (1 Samuel 15) certainly laid the groundwork for Agag, the king of the Amaelkites, to live and prosper against the LORD’s command, the consequences of his sin creating this tricky situation for Mordecai to confront.  It is certainly peculiar that Mordecai should wish to protect the king (perhaps to lay the groundwork for Esther’s influence, since Mordecai warned the king through Esther) yet does not wish to bow down and pay homage to Haman – despite the king’s decree (v.1-3).  This is not taken lightly (v.3), filling Haman (the “magnificent“) with fury.  By Mordecai’s firmness in his faith, he was seen as an example of the Israelites – in many ways his act of rebellion being comparable to that of ex-Queen Vashti’s act of rebellion seen as an example of the women of Persia and Medes.  However, unlike Vashti who was eventually replaced, the LORD will continue to preserve the remnant of the Israelites despite the ridiculous genocidal decree (v.7-11) that Haman conjured (Genesis 45:7).  It is significant that the king grants Haman the signet ring (v.10, 13) – for without this ring, Haman could not act on behalf of the king.  Yet, it is more significant that Haman’s plot does not come to pass until the 12th month (rather than the first month upon casting lots), providing the Israelites one year to prepare for this incoming persecution (c.f. Proverbs 16:33).  What irony that Haman sets out to destroy the very man who uncovered the plot to destroy the king (v.9), such confusion which is lost on Haman and the king as they ironically sit down and enjoy their drink whilst the city of Susa was simply bewildered (v.15).

Chapter 4

Such a ridiculous edict is met with an appropriate response of the Israelites’ weeping and covering of sackcloth and ashes (v.3; c.f. Genesis 37:34, 42:35; 2 Samuel 3:31 – Matthew 11:21, and Jonah 3:8 – as a sign of repentance; Mordecai’s actions especially modeled after Daniel’s – see Daniel 9:3-19).  Yet, note the queen’s response is quite different.  Hers is an emotion of distress (v.4) – but she is far removed from Mordecai and the other Israelites’ scene and demise, as she had not voiced her heritage openly in the courts of Ahasuerus.  Even when Mordecai pleaded for the queen to beg his favour – this same Mordecai who had brought up Esther and who Esther owes her life to; the same Mordecai who disclosed to Hathach that Esther is of the same people who are being persecuted (v.8); the same Mordecai who would be murdered relentlessly by Haman’s edict, meeting the same end as the other Israelites in Ahasuerus’ reign – Esther’s response is cold (v.11):

“All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that if any man or woman goes to the king inside the inner court without being called, there is but one law—to be put to death, except the one to whom the king holds out the golden scepter so that he may live. But as for me, I have not been called to come in to the king these thirty days.”

In other words – either the Israelites, including Mordecai, dies or Esther dies!  Mordecai immediately salvages this by rebuking Esther (v.12-14) and reminding her that even if Esther were to stay silent, “relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but [Esther] and [Esther’s house] will perish.”  What faith and trust that the LORD will indeed continue to rescue Israel His remnant (c.f. 2 Kings 19:4-31; Ezra 9; Isaiah 10:20-22, 37:4-32) through various possibilities not fatalistically predetermined through Esther.  Paul Blackham quotes Derek Prime’s “Unspoken Lessons about the Unseen God” (Evangelical Press, Darlington, 2001) pg. 20-21 which states:

“…crucial to the background of the book of Esther is the conflict described in God’s words to the serpent, the devil’s instrument, in Genesis 3:15… Satan’s activity is traceable throughout the Bible.  His tracks may be discerned, together with the aliases he employs – in this case, that of Haman.  Satan, the enemy of souls, was endeavouring to destroy the Jews, the people through whose seed the Messiah was to be born into the world, in order to make null and void God’s promise of a Redeemer… God was committed to preserving the Jewish people so that from them salvation might go out into the ends of the earth… God’s protection of his people was the protection of the Offspring of the woman though which he preserved and carried on his plan of redemption.”

Mordecai simply trusted in this Promised Seed, and knew clearly that whatever Satan’s plan was, the prophesied Offspring of Adam will protect His church of all times.

Esther’s response is finally one of initiation (v.15-17) – for the first time in these chapters, she proactively acted for God’s kingdom, commanding Mordecai to gather the Jews and hold a fast on Esther’s behalf (including her young women (v.16) which indicates that Esther’s quiet faith has also evangelised to others in Ahasuerus’ court to join the Ancient Church), for Esther may perish (v.16), although she is expecting a victorious outcome as a type of Christ the One who – to Esther – will be victorious from his mighty feat of resurrection by the third day (v.16).

Esther 1-4: Esther and the King

Nehemiah 10-13: Remember me – the Ancient Reformers

Chapter 10

The covenant briefly described in chapter 9 was sealed by the people listed in this chapter (cf v.20-27, and chapter 3) in v.1-28.  More importantly, these people are described as those “who have knowledge and understanding” – a refrain of what was stated in Nehemiah 8:12.  But for such clear understanding, they would not be able to observe and do all the commandments of the LORD (v.29) and enter into a curse and an oath to walk in God’s law.

Note how the law is seen as a curse (c.f. 1 Kings 19:2, Jeremiah 34:18) and an oath, a conveyance of the people’s serious intention to simultaneously to be faithful to the LORD but also understand that such law works to only reveal our sins and is a curse unto us, holding us captive (Romans 7; 1 Corinthians 15:56; Galatians 3:23-24).  As Paul states, righteousness is not by the law, for the law did not give life as long as we did not look on Christ (Galatians 3:21).  So the Israelite mentality is not simply that of justifying their walks with God by their own righteousness, but recognising what the purpose of the law is – to point us to Christ the fulfiller. 

Of the law, the following are described, indicating the foci of Ezra and Nehemiah’s day:

  • v.30 – Problems of inter-faith marriage – bringing us back to the precepts of Ezra (Ezra 9-10);
  • v.31 – Crops of seventh year (Leviticus 25:2-7)
  • v.32 – Third part of shekel is a new law (c.f. Exodus 30:11-16).  Service of the house of God.
  • v.33 – Offerings /showbread – Leviticus 24:5-9
  • v.34 – Wood offering (no specific law on this tax, but implied) – Leviticus 6:12-13
  • v.35 – Agricultural offerings re: temple personnel supply (Exodus 23:19, 34:26, Num 18:12-13, Deut 26:1-11).
  • v.36 – Firstborn of sons (Exodus 13:13, 34:20) (redeemed), herds / flocks (Num 18:15-18) and Deut 15:19-23
  • v.37 – First of our dough (Num 15:20-21, Deut 18:4)
  • v.38-39 – Tithes (Num 18:21-24), laity participates in a celebration of the tithe at the sanctuary in Deut 14:22-27, and for Levites as well (Num 18:25-32)

Notably, most of the commandments are in relation to spiritual adultery through inter-marriage, the lack of offerings and the relinquishing of the Levitical practices.  These laws are also noticeably free-will related, indicating that the heaviness of the law has weighed on the hearts of the Israelites to the point where worship and praise has long been forgotten.  It should be a delight then that their rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem shall be coupled not with a re-statement of the entirety of the law, but with acts of worship and praise out of the pure joy that the LORD has been faithful to the Israelites unceasingly.  His cords of love could never be broken even by the Israelites’ and our constant rebellion.

Chapter 11

Just as a tenth was given to Melchizedek the King of Peace (Genesis 14:20; Hebrews 7:2-4; c.f. Numbers 28-29), so a tenth of the people were given to the City of Peace.  The opening verses of this chapter touch on the Temple servants who were part of the classes of Levites (Ezra 2:40-43) descendants of Solomon’s servants (Ezra 2:55-58), blessing this free-will offering of the people who lives apart from their towns to be in this city (v.2 – “willingly offered“).

The immediate description of Judah, Benjamin and the Levites which followed (v.4-19) harkens us back to the fact that these were the only three tribes of the Southern Kingdom of Israel (1 Kings 12:21-23, the Levites having no specific land as inheritance) – now composing the majority of the restored community of the entire nation.  As noted in v.20 – the rest of Israel, and of the priests and the Levites, were in all the towns of Judah, every one in his “inheritance” (the ancestral property – Ezra 2:59-63). However, the temple servants lived symbolically on Ophel (v.21), which is the source of water at the Gihon Spring near the Water Gate (Nehemiah 3:26, Ezra 2:43-54).

The places in particular mentioned in v.25-35 are a repeat of the same places of inheritance mentioned in Joshua 15:20-63 and Ezra 2:26-33.  The Levites are now therefore seen more officially as the third tribe in this restored community (v.36), originally to have settlementsthroughoutthe land (Joshua 21).

The fact that the majority of Israel now consists of these Southern tribes and the priesthood is almost a sifting of the wheat from the chaff; a refinement of the spiritual from the nominal (Romans 9-11), that the Root of Jesse and Son of Judah shall be the Incarnate One.  Even the consolidation of the priesthood as an official tribe, and the giving of a 10th of all people to live in Jerusalem sees a type of reformation which is becoming more and more like the Church which the Lord had always envisioned – a Church which is not merely a division of land and spoils, but where the Elect are to live in Jerusalem.  Where the priesthood is at the forefront of this reformation.  Where the entire nation has the law written on their hearts and guarded by the walls of Jerusalem.

Levites effectively a third tribe in the restored community (v.36), originally having settlements throughout the land (Joshua 21).

Chapter 12

This chapter again reinforces the focus on the priesthood and the Levites, relating to the high priesthood from the time of Zerubbabel to Nehemiah.  Zerubbabel was the first leader and Jeshua the high priest who returned with him (which was a century before Nehemiah – see Ezra 2:2a). It would appear in the following verses (v.8-26) that Ezra and Nehemiah lived in the days of Joiakim, the son of Jeshua (c.f. v.13).  The days of Eliashib, Joiakim’s son, until Johanan (Eliashib’s son) was also described at v.22-23.  It is described at v.24 that the divisions were commanded by David (at 2 Chronicles 8:14), for praise and to give thanks – emphasising again the free-will nature at the heart of these Levitical traditions.  This is brought to the fore in v.27-30 by the cymbals, harps and lyres used in thankgivings and with singing by the Levites when the wall of Jerusalem was dedicated with gladness (Ezra 3:10-13).  Thus, the gates themselves were purified, a new start to Jerusalem (v.30; c.f. Exodus 19:10-15).

This free-will worship is emphasised even more in the remainder of this chapter, by way of two choirs (v.31-37, v.38-43 respectively) and the men appointed over the storerooms, contributions, firstfruits, and tithes (v.44-47).  The southern choir is led by Ezra (v.36) to the Dung Gate in the furthest south before moving north through the Fountain Gate to the Water Gate in the east (v.37).

The northern choir is joined by Nehemiah whilst it is led by Jezrahiah (a Levite) to the Gate of Guard (v.39) passing by all the gates from Gate of Ephraim onwards to the Sheep Gate (v.39).  The choirs, jointly offered great sacrifices that day and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy (v.43) – the women and children also rejoiced – such is the beauty of the unified Church of no divisions (Galatians 3:28), led by the priesthood to sing such songs of glory!

This glorious worship shapes the ministry of those appointed over the material wealth of the nation apportioning such wealth to the priests and the Levites (v.44-47).  “They performed the service of their God and the service of purification, as did the singers and the gatekeepers, according to the command of David and his son Solomon” (v.45) – though the treasure that we seek is to see the LORD face to face in such free-will rejoicing, we are also given treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:20) which such apportionment symbolises.

Chapter 13

In spite of such awesome worship, Israel is still Israel – just as the Church is still filled with sinners to the boot.  It is notable that this book of ancient Reformation should end not on a sweet note of victory, but on a note that until the first coming of the Christ, and until the renewal of New Creation at His second coming, such changes are but external and the sin in us festering in our adamic flesh.  Note the following:

  • the removal of those of foreign descent (v.1-3) which is the first act of cleansing presumably on the basis that the Ammonites / Moabites’ spiritual history could lead the Israelites astray;
  • the corruption of Eliashib in favouring his relative Tobiah and setting for him a large chamber in the house of the LORD where the material wealth for the Levites and the Temple had been kept (v.4-9), desecrating the holiness of the Temple
  • the failure of the proper apportionment of wealth to the Levites (v.10-14), replacing the officials with reliable men who distributed to their brothers (v.13)
  • the profanity of the Sabbath by working and doing business with the Tyrians and lodging all kinds of wares outside Jerusalem around the Sabbath date (v.15-22; c.f. Jeremiah 17:19-27; Amos 8:4-6
  • the intermarriage of Jews to women of Ashdod, Ammon and Moab and the failure to speak in the language of Judah, immediately breaching what Nehemiah had done at Nehemiah 10:30 (c.f. Ezra 9-10; Deuteronomy 7:1-5), quoting the widespread knowledge of the sins of Solomon (v.23-29; c.f. 1 Kings 11), desecrating the spiritual purity of the priesthood

Thus Nehemiah cleansed Israel from everything foreign, and he established the duties of the priests and the Levites, each in his work (v.30) – as a summary of his entire work in this book.  The wood offering thus acts as a fitting bookend to this book (c.f. Nehemiah 10:34, Leviticus 6:12-13) – a reminder that it is the wood-offering which points us to Christ the One who was offered on the Tree, the wood.  All of Nehemiah’s reforms mean nothing if Christ is removed from the picture.

Yet – at the end of all this – Nehemiah pleads a prayer that the LORD remember Him for good (a repeated refrain throughout this book – 1:8, 5:19, 6:14, 13:14, 13:22, 13:30; c.f. Psalm 7, 17).  As Nehemiah and Ezra were both the reformers and typological mediators of Christ, their faithfulness are but shadows of the faithfulness of Christ.  It is Christ’s faithfulness which is remembered by the Father and truly eternal in the sense that Nehemiah and Ezra sought to achieve in the ancient Reformation.  May the Christ reform our hearts so thoroughly and guard us with His Spirit!

Nehemiah 10-13: Remember me – the Ancient Reformers