Some Thoughts on Esther

My current trek through the scriptures led to me reading the book of Esther over the last couple of days.  If you haven’t read it, or it’s been a long time, a pretty Jewish girl wins a beauty contest to become the queen, putting her in the position to save her people from certain annihilation.  It is the story of how the Jewish festival of Purim came to be.  And, it’s pretty satisfying to read because the bad guy gets what he deserves.

 

So, how can a book about Diaspora Jews from 2500 years ago teach us today?  Well, I’m glad that you asked! First, we must remember that, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Tim. 3:16-17, NIV)”.  So, there are lessons to be learned from all of God’s Word (even the Old Testament). Second, we must remember to look for principles that transfer from the Bible’s time and place to our time and place. So, let’s take this on!

 

  1. WHEN YOU GET THAT NEW POSITION, SOMEONE VACATED IT FOR A REASON.  In the case of Esther, the position of queen had been vacated by Vashti when she refused the king’s order for her to entertain his drunk guests by appearing in her crown (and many scholars think ONLY her crown).  So, the king was angry, put her away and never saw her again. I know, a really swell guy, right?
  2. BE YOURSELF, TO A POINT.  Esther’s original name, Hadassah, apparently wasn’t really a beauty queen name.  I picture her much like Sandra Bullock’s character in “Miss Congeniality”. If glasses had been a thing then, she would have had to take them off.  But Esther (Star!) was beautiful and interesting. But, she never really took on the beauty queen persona. She didn’t even take any additional make-up when she went to meet the king, she simply went with her natural beauty.
  3. DON’T COMPLAIN ABOUT YOUR BOSS IN FRONT OF PEOPLE.  Bigthan and Teresh made the mistake of talking about killing the king in front of Mordecai.  He told Esther, who told the king, who then hanged the two. I saw a story on TV yesterday about a gentleman in Georgia who was fired for complaining about his boss after he had pocket-dialed him.  Embarrassing! Maintain a servant’s heart at your place of employment.
  4. DON’T INSIST THAT OTHERS KOWTOW TO YOU.  Haman (very important guy, just ask him) became very angry because Mordecai (Esther’s cousin) would not bow down to him.  To a Jew, this was worship, which is only appropriate for God. Haman (literally) made this a life-or-death issue. If you are respectable, you will be respected by the people who matter.
  5. DON’T FEAR WHEN THE GOVERNMENT TURNS ON YOU.  “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matt. 10:28, NIV)”  Haman had used his position in the king’s court to call for the extermination of all the Jews in Persia. It seemed that there was no way out. That is when God does His best work.  The places in the world where Christianity is spreading fastest right now is not the supposedly Christian nations; it’s the nations where Christianity is illegal and subject to harsh punishment.
  6. FAST AND PRAY.  AND GET OTHERS TO DO THE SAME.  Before Esther went in for her meeting with the king, she had the people fast and pray.  It was during this time that God let the king be reminded that Mordecai had saved his life. Then Haman was stuck parading Mordecai through the city and proclaiming the name of his enemy.  Also, it was prayer and fasting that allowed Esther the favor with the king that was needed to preserve her people.
  7. THE ANSWER TO PRAYER DOESN’T ALWAYS LOOK LIKE YOU WANT.  Note that the king did not repeal his command to kill all the Jews.  He simply allowed them to defend themselves and kill and plunder those who came against them.  There was still a lot of work to do when their answer came. We don’t always get the easy answer or the outcome that we expect.  But God’s timing and His ways are always good.

 

Remember that God does not change.  The same God who saved the Jewish people from certain death in Persia still reigns on the throne.  He still puts us in situations that we can’t handle so that we will rely on Him. He still answers prayer, often in ways that we do not expect.  Let’s continue to look to Him!

 


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