December 3, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“King Xerxes imposed tribute throughout the empire, to its distant shores. And all his acts of power and might, together with a full account of the greatness of Mordecai, whom the king had promoted, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Media and Persia? Mordecai the Jew was second in rank to King Xerxes, preeminent among the Jews, and held in high esteem by his many fellow Jews, because he worked for the good of his people and spoke up for the welfare of all the Jews.”—Esther 10:1–3 (NIV)
The Book of Esther ends where it began: with a feast and letters being sent out across the empire of King Xerxes. You could say the story has come full circle and, in fact, that’s by design.
The authors of the Bible often used a literary technique known as a chiastic structure. This method of storytelling is characterized by words or themes in the beginning of a passage that are presented in reverse order in the second half, like a mirror image with a turning point in the midpoint of the story that made it memorable.
To break it down into its simplest terms, chiasms in the Bible often follow a simple A-B-C-C’-B’-A’ pattern that we can use to summarize Jesus’ teaching on money in Matthew 6:24, for example, which might look something like this, according to the website, Compelling Truth:
A No one can serve two masters,
B for either he will hate the one
C and love the other,
C’ or he will be devoted to the one
B’ and despise the other.
A’ You cannot serve God and money.
This is true of the entire Book of Esther as well, which follows a more complex sequence of events but still replicates the chiastic pattern. There’s not enough space here to give you the full picture, but if you recall from earlier readings:
Do you see the pattern? If so, you’re getting a glimpse into the beauty of God’s design and redemptive plan for His people. In fact, The Gospel Coalition notes that you could summarize the entire message of salvation in the Bible with another simple chiasm:
And at the center of the entire Bible is the ultimate turning point in God’s story: the crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Everything before it—from Genesis to the Prophets—spoke of His coming; and everything after—from the Gospels to Revelation—speak of His victory and second coming. Everything we hope for hinges on it because Jesus is the central figure in all of human history, because “from Him and through Him and for Him area all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen” (Romans 11:36 NIV).
As we close the Book of Esther, note that it ends with a feast where it began. It’s a foreshadowing of the Wedding Feast of the Lamb we’ll be part of in heaven one day. And just as God created the heavens and the earth in Genesis, He will also recreate a new heaven and a new earth where He will dwell among us (Revelation 21:1-4).
Beloved, we are coming full circle; He is coming soon for His bride! Are you ready?
Pause: Take a moment to appreciate the intricate details of God’s Word. Why do you think He inspired the authors of the Bible to use literary devices like the chiastic structure? How does it change the way you view Scripture?
Practice: See if you can spot the chiastic patterns in the story of Noah and the Flood (Genesis 6–9) or the story of Abraham (Genesis 17).
Pray: Heavenly Father, thank You for Your Word; Your Word is truth! Show me how Your redemptive plan is unfolding not only for me, personally, but also for Your people. Thank You for sending Jesus! Prepare me for His return today. Amen.
Rob Nieminen is a seasoned writer and editor who has written devotionals for Calvary since 2015. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, FL. He serves in the Worship Ministry at Calvary Boynton Beach and is an avid reader, an erratic golfer, and an aspiring photographer who loves to cook and spend time with his family.