Hovering over Esther 2 this morning and my mind goes down the path of Esther as a type, or a foreshadowing, of the church.
. . . the king loved Esther more than all the women, and she won grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. Then the king gave a great feast for all his officials and servants; it was Esther’s feast.
(Esther 2:17-18a ESV)
This no-name nobody from nowhere finds herself the object of the king’s love. She is the recipient of his grace and favor. He crowns her as his bride. It all being culminated at a great banquet table where their marriage is celebrated. Get the connection?
We too, as the church, have known the abounding love of a King. Through no accomplishment, stature, or claim of our own we have won grace and favor in His sight. We have been promised a crown of righteousness (2Tim. 4:8), and a crown of life (Ja. 1:12), to be presented on that day when we are ushered into His presence, face to face. And a feast? Talk about your celebration when the King’s bride presents herself clothed “with fine linen, bright and pure”, having made herself ready for the wedding celebration. “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Rev. 19:7-9).
Yup, like Esther, like the church. Her story, kind of our story. Or . . . is it?
Chewing on the chapter a bit more and I see a couple of notable exceptions. Ways in which Esther, perhaps, is more of an anti-type of the church.
The young woman had a beautiful figure and was lovely to look at . . .
(Esther 2:7b ESV)
Esther had not made known her people or kindred, for Mordecai had commanded her not to make it known.
(Esther 2:10 ESV)
First, Esther was a looker. Possessing a natural beauty which drew the attention and favor of those who saw her. Attractive. Pleasing to behold. In a sense, it isn’t hard to imagine how a hot-blooded king could be attracted to this young, beautiful woman.
Second, Esther had a secret. While the king might have been able to behold her beauty, he didn’t know her background. While she was ready to put on the cosmetics, the perfumes, and the apparel, she wasn’t prepared to let her suitor in on her history.
So, in many ways the king’s love for Esther may really have been more of a superficial infatuation based on the beauty he saw and the past he didn’t. (That the king’s love may really have been a shallow love makes sense if you consider how he treated his previous bride, Vashti).
But our King is not like that king.
Our King is all-knowing. Looking not as man does, on the outward appearance, but seeing the heart as well (1Sam. 16:7). No secrets before our Suitor. No past that He isn’t aware of. No story He isn’t familiar with. Knowing us better and deeper than we know ourselves.
And having laid bare the thoughts and intents of our heart, we really had no beauty to bring other than the corrupted shadow of the image we bear of our Creator. No matter how we may have tried to pretty ourselves up, no amount of makeup, perfume, or clothing could shield the evidence that we were dead in trespass and sin. Marred and scarred by the consequence of rebellion.
Yet, knowing every secret we would have preferred to remain secret, seeing without hindrance the ugliness of our sin, the King loved us. Not with a superficial, I-might-love-you-if-you-clean-yourself-up-enough kind of love, but with an eternal, I-will-go-to-the-cross-for-you kind of love.
. . . but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
(Romans 5:8 ESV)
No natural beauty to behold. More stuff in the past than we’d care to admit. And still, the Bride of King Jesus won grace and favor in His sight.
O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure —
The saints’ and angels’ song.
The king loved Esther. But while their story might contain the hint of another love story, it fails in comparison to the story of the King who loves the church.
By His grace. For His glory.