Esther 8 & Romans 3

Esther 8

    On that day King Ahasuerus gave to Queen Esther the house of Haman, the enemy of the Jews. And Mordecai came before the king, for Esther had told what he was to her. And the king took off his signet ring, which he had taken from Haman, and gave it to Mordecai. And Esther set Mordecai over the house of Haman.

    Then Esther spoke again to the king. She fell at his feet and wept and pleaded with him to avert the evil plan of Haman the Agagite and the plot that he had devised against the Jews. When the king held out the golden scepter to Esther, Esther rose and stood before the king. And she said, “If it please the king, and if I have found favor in his sight, and if the thing seems right before the king, and I am pleasing in his eyes, let an order be written to revoke the letters devised by Haman the Agagite, the son of Hammedatha, which he wrote to destroy the Jews who are in all the provinces of the king. For how can I bear to see the calamity that is coming to my people? Or how can I bear to see the destruction of my kindred?” Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther and to Mordecai the Jew, “Behold, I have given Esther the house of Haman, and they have hanged him on the gallows, because he intended to lay hands on the Jews. But you may write as you please with regard to the Jews, in the name of the king, and seal it with the king's ring, for an edict written in the name of the king and sealed with the king's ring cannot be revoked.”

    The king's scribes were summoned at that time, in the third month, which is the month of Sivan, on the twenty-third day. And an edict was written, according to all that Mordecai commanded concerning the Jews, to the satraps and the governors and the officials of the provinces from India to Ethiopia, 127 provinces, to each province in its own script and to each people in its own language, and also to the Jews in their script and their language. And he wrote in the name of King Ahasuerus and sealed it with the king's signet ring. Then he sent the letters by mounted couriers riding on swift horses that were used in the king's service, bred from the royal stud, saying that the king allowed the Jews who were in every city to gather and defend their lives, to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate any armed force of any people or province that might attack them, children and women included, and to plunder their goods, on one day throughout all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar. A copy of what was written was to be issued as a decree in every province, being publicly displayed to all peoples, and the Jews were to be ready on that day to take vengeance on their enemies. So the couriers, mounted on their swift horses that were used in the king's service, rode out hurriedly, urged by the king's command. And the decree was issued in Susa the citadel.

    Then Mordecai went out from the presence of the king in royal robes of blue and white, with a great golden crown and a robe of fine linen and purple, and the city of Susa shouted and rejoiced. The Jews had light and gladness and joy and honor. And in every province and in every city, wherever the king's command and his edict reached, there was gladness and joy among the Jews, a feast and a holiday. And many from the peoples of the country declared themselves Jews, for fear of the Jews had fallen on them.

(Esther 8 ESV)

Romans 3

    Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God. What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written,

    “That you may be justified in your words,
        and prevail when you are judged.”
        But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.) By no means! For then how could God judge the world? But if through my lie God's truth abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner? And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just.

    What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written:

    “None is righteous, no, not one;
        no one understands;
        no one seeks for God.
    All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
        no one does good,
        not even one.”
    “Their throat is an open grave;
        they use their tongues to deceive.”
    “The venom of asps is under their lips.”
        “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
    “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
        in their paths are ruin and misery,
    and the way of peace they have not known.”
        “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
        Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

    But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

    Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

(Romans 3 ESV)

Romans 3: The gospel of Jesus Christ answers the great difficulty of man’s greatest dilemma. How is it possible for a righteous God to declare unrighteous people to be righteous without either compromising His own righteousness or condoning their unrighteousness? How could a just God justify guilty sinners and still remain a perfectly just God who exercises perfect justice?

According to the apostle Paul, that is the good news that has now been manifested (unveiled; revealed; clearly laid out). The good news is that the unrighteous can be regarded as righteous on account of what Christ has done. Faith in what God accomplished through Christ on the cross grants us a right standing before God. When we place all of our hope, confidence and trust in what Christ did on that cross, God transfers our sins (our criminal record) to Jesus who has already paid that debt and then accredits Jesus’ righteousness (His perfect record) to us which is the only type of righteousness sufficient for us to stand before the judgement of God. This is the “alien righteousness” (one that comes from outside of ourselves) that justifies the sinner before a just God.

Now, in observing Paul’s powerful explanation of how God has granted us righteousness, there are four notable expressions associated with the cross here in this passage:

  • justified by God’s grace (v. 24)
  • redemption of sinners (v. 24)
  • propitiation of God’s wrath (v. 25)
  • demonstration of God’s justice (v. 25-26)

Justification is the one-time judicial act of God in which He pronounces that He regards the sinner as righteous on account of the righteousness of Christ which God accredits to our account and on which we can rest assured in faith. It is a judicial term. Justification does not refer to God making us perfectly righteous, but that He regards us as perfectly righteous or declares us to be righteous.    

Redemption is the releasing of someone or something for a ransom payment in return. Jesus bought us out of our corrupted condition by giving His life as a ransom payment. The redemption price of sin was the death of a perfect man.
Propitiation is the satisfaction or appeasement of God’s wrath and the turning it into favor instead. God’s righteous anger needed to be appeased before sin could be forgiven, and God in His love sent His Son (who offered Himself willingly) to satisfy God’s holy anger against sin. God Himself, gave Himself to save us from Himself.

Demonstration which is communicated in this passage by the word “show” refers to the act of God proving His righteousness and perfect justice. God’s righteousness is non-negotiable and He will not compromise His holiness in order to save us. The righteousness of God requires justice to be served and sin to be punished. The cross clearly demonstrates and proves God as being ‘just’ (an attribute) and as being the ‘justifier’ (an action).  

Every other religion declares that we must provide a righteousness that we can offer to God for Him to accept us. But the gospel declares that God has provided a righteousness that He has offered to us if we will accept Him through faith. The gospel turns every other religion and view of God completely on its head.

The gospel is the good news about the righteousness provided by God through faith in Jesus Christ, and what He accomplished for everyone who actually believes