I’m pretty sure that no one likes to dwell on judgment. I know I don’t. It’s much easier, and far more comfortable, to think about God as our loving Father (which He is, of course), rather than consider His justice—though Scripture assures us He is a righteous, faithful, and loving judge (Psalm 89:14). Still, I’m sweating it, reading this passage today. Because I can’t not think about God’s wrath when I read about the unfurling drama playing out in Esther chapter 7.
King Ahasuerus was furious when he learned of Haman’s plot to annihilate the Jewish people. Haman was a trusted advisor, yet he betrayed the king. He used the king to take revenge on one man for a perceived slight by planning genocide! And his fury only increased when he saw Haman falling on the couch where Esther reclined, begging for his life. It’s hard to imagine what it must have been like for Esther to be in the room as Haman’s head was covered, to hear his cries for mercy as he was taken to be executed. I can’t not think about the scene John sets in Revelation, as all the dead rise and stand before God’s throne. All who stood before Him are judged, and those whose names are not found in the book of life are thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11–15).
But even as I can’t not think about this—the wrath of God against all ungodliness, His sure judgment against sin—I also can’t help but notice the conviction of Esther in the moments leading up to the death of Haman. “Spare my life; this is my request,” she said. But she didn’t stop there, though she could have. She could have asked the king to exempt her from death at Haman’s hand. But she went further—“And spare my people; this is my desire” (Esther 7:3). It wasn’t enough for her to be spared. She desired above all that her people would be delivered from death. And just as Ahasuerus gave Esther her heart’s desire, rescuing her people from Haman’s scheme, there is something else stirred up as I read this passage. A desire that echoes Esther’s desire for her people’s deliverance.
I know what it’s like to be rescued from the “bird trap, from the destructive plague” of sin (Psalm 91:3). I know that my life has been spared, but that’s not enough. I long to see the rescue of all of humanity. But no one longs for that received rescue like the One who has provided it. He “is patient with [us], not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:8–9). He waits to show mercy and compassion (Isaiah 30:18).