November 19, 2015

Esther
The book of Esther opens a window on the world of violence directed, whether openly or covertly, against God and God’s people.  Three characters shape the plot.  Mordecai, identified simply as “the Jew” anchors the story.  He is solid, faithful, sane, godly.  His goodness is more then matched by the evil and arrogant vanity of Haman, who masterminds the planned massacre.  Mordecai’s young, orphaned, and ravishing cousin, Esther, whom he raised, emerges from the shadows of the royal harem to take on the title role...You can’t eliminate God’s people.  No matter how many of them you kill, you can’t get rid of the communities of God-honoring, God- worshiping people scattered all over the earth.  

Esther 1-2
King Xerxes - In the 3rd year of his reign, he gives a banquet for all his officials and ministers...For 6 months, he put on exhibit the hugh wealth of his empire....At the conclusion of the exhibit, the king threw a weeklong party for everyone in Susa, the capital...

Meanwhile, Queen Vashti was throwing a separate party for women inside King Xerxes’ royal palace.  On the 7th day of the party, the king, high on the wine, ordered the 7 eunuchs who were his personal servants to bring him Queen Vashti resplendent in her royal crown....But Queen Vashti refused to come...

The king lost his temper.  Seething with anger over her insolence, the king called in his counselors...the inner circle with access to the king’s ear...Memucan spoke up in the council... “It is not only the king Queen Vashti has insulted, it is all of us, leaders and people alike, in every last one of King Xerxes provinces...the day the wives of the Persian and Mede officials get wind of the queen’s insolence, they will be out of control.  Is that what we want, a country of angry women who don’t know their place?....Vashti is permanently banned from King Xerxes presence.  And then let the king give her royal position to a woman who knows her place...

The king did what Memucan proposed...Later, when King Xerxes’ anger had cooled and he was having second thoughts about what Vashti had done and what he had ordered against her, the king’s young attendants stepped in and got the ball rolling.  “let’s begin a search for beautiful young virgins for the king...bring every beautiful young virgin to the palace complex of Susa and to the harem run by Hegai, the king’s eunuch who oversees the women;...then let the girl who best pleases the king be made queen in place of Vashti.  The king likes this advice and took it.

Now there was a Jew who lived in the palace complex in Susa.  His name was Mordecai-a Benjaminite.... He had reared his cousin, Hadassah, otherwise known as Esther, since she had no father or mother.  The girl had a good figure and a beautiful face.  After her parents died, Mordecai adopted her.  Esther was among the girls brought to the palace complex of Susa.....

Hegai liked Esther and took a special interest in her...special food, assigned 7 personal maids and put her in the best rooms of the harem...

Esther didn’t say anything about her family and racial background because Mordecai had told her not to.  Each day Mordecai strolled beside the court of the harem to find out how Esther was and get news of what she was doing...When it was Esther’s turn to go to the king...she asked for nothing other than what Hegai...had recommended.  Esther, just as she was, won the admiration of everyone who saw her.  She was taken to King Xerxes in the 10th month in the 7th year of the king’s reign.  The king fell in love with Esther...he was totally smitten by her.  He placed a royal crown on her head and made her queen in place of Vashti.  Then the king gave a great banquet for all his nobles and officials---Esther’s Banquet.

On one of the occasions when the virgins were being gathered, with Mordecai sitting at the King’s Gate, Bigthana & Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs who guarded the entrance, had it in for Xerxes and were making plans to kill him.  But Mordecai learned of the plot and told Queen Esther, who then told King Xerxes, giving credit to Mordecai...This was all written down in the logbook kept for the king’s use.

I Peter 4
Since Jesus went through everything you’re going through, and more, learn to think like him...Stay wide awake in prayer (lesson learned last night with Jesus).  

Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it.  Love makes up for practically everything.  Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless,--- cheerfully.  

Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it, if it‘s words, let it be God’s words; if it’s help, let it be God’s hearty help.  That way, God’s bright presence will be evident in everything through Christ, and he’ll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything...

Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump on the conclusion that God isn’t on the job.  Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced.  This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner....So if you find life difficult because you’re doing what God said, take it in stride.  Trust him.  He knows what he’s doing and he’ll keep on doing it.