a tale of 2 feasts

17Nov08

We have been looking at the book of Esther in our Thursday night gathering here at the community house.

Esther is a tale of 2 feasts.

It begins with the most powerful human ruler on the earth, giving a show of “his royal glory and the splendor and pomp of his greatness for many days, 180 days.” (1:4) At this feast, “drinks were served in golden vessels, vessels of different kinds, and the royal wine was lavished according to the bounty of the king. And drinking was according to this edict: ‘There is no compulsion.’ For the king had given order to all the staff of his palace to do as each man desired.” (1:7-8) And in an attempt to give a show of his sovereignty, he calls to his wife, that he might show her off to his friends… And she says no. No? The most powerful human on earth cannot make a single individual, his own wife, to do his bidding. And so, the plot of Esther unfolds as this human king tries to assert his “sovereignty” in order that he might avert his own awareness of its artificiality.

The book of Esther does not only begin with a feast, it also ends with a feast.

A much different feast. The feast of Purim. “The Jews of the villages, who live in the rural towns, hold the fourteenth day of the month of Adar as a day for gladness and feasting, as a holiday, and as a day on which they send gifts of food to one another… sending gifts of food to one another and gifts to the poor.” ( 9:19,22) Instead of drinking until drunk and spending lavishly on themselves, doing whatever brings them fleeting pleasure (as in the first feast), the way this second feast was celebrated was to give “gifts of food to one another and gifts to the poor”.

But that isn’t the only difference between these two feasts. The first feast celebrates the artifical sovereignty of a human king, who can’t even get his own wife to do his bidding. The second feast celebrates the utter Sovereignty of the King of the Universe, who makes even his own enemies to do his bidding… Who makes even Haman to build the gallows for his own hanging! (7:9-10) Even more, this Sovereign God of the Universe, is invisible. He isn’t even mentioned once by name in the whole book of Esther. Though we can see the splendor of the kings of the earth and marvel at their artificial sovereignty, there is a day coming when the Sovereign King of the Universe will be seen, and every mouth will drop and every knee bow!

The whole Bible, is itself, also a tale of two feasts. Two feasts that are also much different in nature. The first feast involves Adam and Eve, feasting on the forbidden fruit, trying to be “like gods” gaining “the knowledge of good and evil”. It is this feast that thrusts us into the narrative plot of the Scriptures… of existence really. The good news is, that the Bible ends with a much different feast. The marriage supper of The Lamb. This feast involves those who have been rescued by Christ and enjoy sweet fellowship with Him… the One who loved them, conquered sin and death for them, and calls them to His table. The One who is truly Sovereign over all!

We have all eaten at the first feast… but now I ask you.

Will you indeed eat at the second feast? You have been offered an invitation. Will you believe in the One who came to rescue sinners, repent of feasting to your own false sovereignty, and bow to the King of the Universe?



7 Responses to “a tale of 2 feasts”

  1. 1 Job

    So then, the two feasts form a type of chiasm. One in celebration of man’s power and strength, which is illusory and the other representing God’s true power and strength. That is an excellent way of laying out the book that helps me find meaning in it! Even with an eschatological flavor … the first feast dedicated to human rule can represent the anti – Christ (the number of a man), and the second feast, as you put it, “there is a day coming when the Sovereign King of the Universe will be seen, and every mouth will drop and every knee bow!”, the mighty stone that will crush the statue as recorded in Daniel.

    “We have all eaten at the first feast… but now I ask you. ”

    Now that is something to ponder indeed! Thank you for your assistance in this matter.

  2. 2 Polycarp

    I think it is well said and helps to articulate the message of Esther much more plainer than laying it out as a simple story of God’s deliverance.

  3. 3 sjs889

    Esther is a good story that makes you want to read it from beginning to end. To me the important bit is at Esther 4:13-14

    Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

    Mordecai did not know whether Esther was going to be agent of God’s providence but he had faith that God would deliver the Jews.

    And Esther’s response is inspiring as well

    “Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.” Mordecai then went away and did everything as Esther had ordered him.”

  4. I like the way you’ve shown how in His sovereignty, the Creation is God’s story, and the ending will be His ending.

    I like to tell people that the Bible is not merely an instruction manual, but primarily (if not exclusively), a Redemption Story.

    Loved the way you pointed that out in the Esther “bookends,” something I had never noticed before.

    Thanks for your edification in bringing this to light.

  5. Jeff,

    Great insight my friend! I never quite saw Esther that way, but it is very helpful in understanding the book. Like two bookends! With a great message in between of the “silent sovereignty of God.”

  6. 6 sheepfodder

    Excellent post! I love the concept of “two feasts” and the contrast you made. sjb


  1. 1 Esther as ‘a tale of 2 feasts’ « The Church of Jesus Christ

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