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used with full unequivocal meaning by Esther, when she had dared, unbidden, to enter
the presence of the king, "If I perish, I perish" (Esther 4: 16). The perishing here is
again explained by the words of verse 11, "All the king's servants. . . . do know that
whosoever. . . . shall come unto the king into the inner court, who is not called, there is
one law of his to put him to death, except such to whom the king shall hold out the
golden sceptre, that he may live." Esther dared the death penalty, and expressed her
feelings by the words quoted, "If I perish, I perish." The multiplication of terms in
Esther 7: 4 is striking, "For we are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be slain,
and to perish. But if we had been sold for bondmen and bondwomen, I had held my
tongue." Here it is evident that perishing is much more than the horrors of eastern
slavery; it is used in connection with destruction and death, not life in misery.
In Jonah 1: 14 the cry of the storm tossed sailors is no jugglery with words when they
said, "Let us not perish for this man's life." They did not intrude any idle speculation
concerning "after death," they knew they were in immediate peril of drowning, hence
their cry. So also with the gourd which sprang up over Jonah, "which came up in a night
and perished in a night." The gourd had withered, and as far as its purpose was
concerned it was the same as if it had been destroyed by fire.
In Deut. 9: 4 we read, "How He made the water of the Red Sea to overflow
them. . . . and how the Lord hath destroyed them unto this day." What this destruction
was like we may read in Exod. 14: 28, "There remained not so much as one of them."
They had perished, they had been destroyed, although their bodies were seen by the
Israelites "dead upon the sea shore." We say nothing about "annihilation;" that word is
used by those who wish to cast a slur upon the teaching of the Word in order to keep their
own traditions. The dead bodies were there, but life, conscious being, enmity or love,
sorrow or joy, were gone; as conscious beings they were destroyed, even although their
carcasses lined the sea shore.
Turn again to another passage, Deut. 12: 2, "Ye shall utterly destroy all the places,
wherein the nations which ye shall possess served their gods." How were they to destroy
them? Were they to sit down and argue concerning the "indestructibility of matter"?
Certainly not; their instructions were definite, "Ye shall overthrow their altars, and break
their pillars, and burn their groves with fire, and ye shall hew down the graven images of
their gods, and destroy the names of them out of that place" (verse 3). Surely words
cannot be more explicit.
When Athaliah waded through a sea of blood to the throne, we are told that she
"destroyed all the seed royal." When we hear the doom of the "cherub of the anointing"
(satan) uttered in Ezek. 28: 16, we find the words are, "I will destroy thee, oh covering
cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire," but this destruction is explained in verses 18
and 19 by these words, "I will bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour
thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth. . . . and never shalt thou be any