How many have read the Book of Esther? It is one of only two Books with a woman's name (the other is Ruth). It is the only Book that does not directly mention God's Name even one time. But prayer, fasting, and faith in God are shown throughout, and His Sovereign Works are seen beautifully. This is an incredible, historical event, which has a powerful message for us today; one this generation in particular, truly needs to contemplate.
During the time of the kings of Israel, the Nation was split into two Kingdoms: the Northern Kingdom of Israel was eventually taken over by the Assyrians, and never returned (722 BC); the Southern Kingdom (Called Judah), was later taken over by the Babylonians (605 BC). Then, in 540 BC, the Medes and Persians conquered the Babylonians, and all of the fallen nations under Babylon, became the property of the Persians. With this victory, along with the territory already taken by the Persians, the Persians ruled the largest area of land and people the world had ever seen, covering the areas we now know as Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, and sections of modern-day Egypt, Sudan, Libya, and Saudi Arabia. Under the Persians many Jews were allowed to return to Jerusalem, but some chose to stay in the Persian Empire in which they had grown accustomed to by then. Esther was a child of parents that had been taken captive some 100 years earlier, from the tribe of Benjamin. Her parents had died when she was young, and she was raised by an older cousin named Mordecai. Her Hebrew name was, “Hadassah”, changed to protect fact she was a Jew? So, Esther had a very humble early life, as a woman (which was looked down on in the culture), who was also born in Jewish exile because her nation was conquered and occupied by the Persians, who had no parents, no education, no skills, no real future mentioned in Scriptures. She was socially in poverty, and then it happened.
At this time, King Ahasuerus (Persian name, Xerxes) was king, and three years into his reign, Ahasuerus gave a 180 day celebration, showing off the grandeur of his kingdom, ending in a luxurious, ongoing feast for seven days with his officials and nobles. His Queen, Vashti, had a similar feast for the women of the palace as well. On the last day of the feast, when King Ahasuerus was drunk, he commanded that his eunuchs bring his wife, Queen Vashti to come before him, so that he might show how beautiful she was to the kingdom—but she refused to come (probably because a room full of seven day drunks did not have noble intentions for calling a beautiful woman to be paraded before them)(but was still disrespect in culture). The king was furious and called on his wise men for direction. They agreed that Vashti not only wronged the king, but all the people of the kingdom because women would hear how she disobeyed her husband, and they would follow suit all over the kingdom, disobeying their husbands as well. So, Queen Vashti was removed from her position, and never allowed in the king's presence again. Then the king gathered all of the most beautiful young virgins from the land under his eunuch, Hegai, and had somewhat of an Ancient Beauty Pageant, with the winner, taking the crown—the ultimate crown. The ancient Jewish historian Josephus wrote that Ahasuerus selected 400 women. They were all given beauty preparations for twelve months, to win one single day with the king, after which, they would be sent to the king's house of concubines, never to see the king again unless called upon. Esther was beautiful in figure and appearance, and was chosen as one of the, "contestants" to come before the king. Because of her beauty and disposition, Esther was favored by all who met her. She was given special treatment and advise by the eunuch, in preparation to meet the king, and when she met the King, she won his heart over all the women of the kingdom—and she was crowned as the new Queen. Through all of this, Esther never revealed her true nationality to anyone at the counsel of her older cousin, Mordecai.
A short time after this event, Mordecai overheard a plot by two of the king's eunuchs to kill him. Mordecai informed Queen Esther of the plot, and she in turn, told the King. The plot was proven true, and the two eunuchs were hanged on a gallows. Based upon the original Hebrew words used, and Persian history, this probably meant they were impaled on wooden poles, and left hanging there to be seen by everyone. (see Adam Clarke commentary)
Mordecai was never rewarded or recognized for this deed, though it was all recorded in the king's chronicles (remember that fact). The next major event in this story, is the promotion of a certain man named Haman, to a place above all the princes of the kingdom. Haman was an arrogant, selfish, and immature man, and when all the people bowed to Haman as he passed, Mordecai would refuse to pay homage to him. His reason given was simply, "Because Mordecai was a Jew." Which could mean 1) (most probable) Haman wanted homage that was too close to worship, which is forbidden by Mosaic law,
(but not bowing in respect to authority) or 2) Mordecai refused to bow because Haman was an Amalekite, who were passionate enemies of the Jews since the Amalekites attacked them in the desert while they escaped from Egypt. Haman, in his immature wrath, determined that to kill Mordecai would not be enough, but that he needed to kill all of the Jews in the Kingdom. So, Haman cast lots to determine what day he should execute his plan to kill all of the Jews. This casting of lots, was called casting, "Pur!" (remember that also). The lot fell on the 13th day of the last month of the year (Adar). Haman exaggerated his story about the Jews to the King, telling him that an entire race of people in the kingdom would not keep his laws because of their laws were different from all other people's. The king gave Haman his signet ring to make an official decree that on the 13th day of the twelfth month, all Jews were to be, "destroyed, killed and annihilated." And as a copy went out to every province, bringing terror and dread to the Jews, the King and Haman sat down to drink together. Mordecai sends news to Queen Esther of the plot, but Esther responds by saying: Esther 4:10-11: to appear without request of the king meant immediate death, and she was not on an intimate basis with him, having not seen him herself for over a month. Mordecai answer with words of incredible impact, even for each of us today: Esther 4:14: “Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” The Truth that Mordecai speaks to Esther, strikes her heart because Esther makes a life-changing, history-altering decision at that moment: Esther 4:15-16. The king does hold out his golden scepter to Esther in joy, rather than killing her, and offers her anything she requests, up to half the kingdom. Queen Esther asks the King to join her for a banquet she prepared for him that evening, and to allow Haman to come as well. At the banquet, when the king asks her to reveal her request at last, Esther asks the king to come back to one more banquet she will prepare the following night, with Haman again, and she will reveal the request. Haman is thrilled to be included in the king and queen's private banquets, and goes home bragging, but tells his family that even this honor brings him no joy when Mordecai still lives. So, he builds a gallows 75 feet high on which to impale Mordecai the next day, with the king's permission
(if he can get it). But that night, between the first banquet and the second, one of the most amazing and significant things in the entire story occurs: Esther 6:1-11 (try to tell me that God doesn't have a sense of humor). On what Haman's thought was to be his finest day of evil, when he would brutally humiliate and kill Mordecai in front of the whole kingdom, and then attend a second banquet as the single most honored man in that kingdom, he had the most humiliating day of his life, parading the man everyone knew had disrespected him, as he proclaimed him honored by the king. Afterwards, Haman covered his head in shame and ran home to cry to his family, but as they lamented together, the king's eunuchs came to take him to the banquet. At the banquet, Esther pleads for her life and that of her people, revealing for the first time that she is a Jew also, telling the king that Haman was the one plotting against them. Here was the reaction: Esther 7:7-10.
Haman's position of authority was given to Mordecai, and he and Queen Esther were given the king's signet ring to authorize a second decree: to counter Haman's order to kill all Jews on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, because any order given with the signet ring cannot be revoked. This new decree gave the Jews right to gather in every city to defend themselves from those who would destroy them, even better than cancelling the original order, because, on what would have been their day of annihilation, they instead destroyed their enemies. They were even given a second day (fourteenth) to continue to seek and destroy their enemies in the kingdom (75,000 killed in total). This was the origin of the Jewish Feast of Purim?: Esther 9:20-22.
Now, after hearing this incredible story, do you think God gave it to us just for the entertainment value?: Romans 15:4 So, let's try to understand the powerful lessons that God has for us in this story. Although we could list many, we will simply mention two. 1) Look at how many seemingly unrelated, good and terrible events occurred in this story, beyond the control of anyone but God. (the loss of Esther's parents at a young age; the removal of Queen Vashti at just the right moment in time; the physical beauty of Esther; the choice by King Ahasuerus to make Esther the Queen; the chance for Mordecai to hear of a plot to kill the king; the sleepless night, perfectly timed between the two banquets, which caused the king to have the Chronicles read; the perfectly timed arrival of Haman early that morning, when he was about to ask for the death of Mordecai) Did a single event happen by accident? Then we should realize this same God, working in the same ways, is in control of our lives today. When events in life seem to make no sense in timing or reason, or seem to be evil and unfair, or even seem to be of good luck and fortune, or seem to be solely because of our great skill and ability—recognize that God is working. Do you really believe that? If you do, then anger has no place: forgive. Self-Pity has not place: move on. Pride has no place: glorify God, and place others over yourself. This simply, but profound change in your mindset, could potentially transform some of your lives today, if you will accept Truth. 2) Esther went from a lowly woman, with no parents, of an hated race, living in exile under the rule of another country, to being Queen of the most powerful country on earth at that time, ruling her enemy's kingdom. But, she refused to use the power, position, comfort, and beauty for herself. She knew it was from God, to be used of God. She risked everything she was blessed with (beauty, position, comfort, security, money) to save her people, because she felt God gave her these things for Him only. Everything you have in life, right now, is by the purposeful plan and grace of God (your looks, your intelligence, your education, your opportunities, your skills, your spiritual gifts, your health, your prosperity), just like in Esther's case, and David’s, and Abraham’s, and Paul's—there is nothing in your life that hasn't been put there to be used for, and to glorify God in some way, It is not there primarily for your enjoyment, benefit, or comfort—you have been given what you have, for a purpose. When you decide to use what you have, spend what you have, exhaust what you have, risk what you have—all to serve God and those around you, rather than have the arrogance to believe that it is yours to hoard and waste—what a difference you could make; how powerfully God can use you. If everyone in this room right now, would simply look at your circumstances, your opportunities, and your skills and gifts, your health, and then assume that it is always God's will for you to do good to those to whom you have the ability to do good—no matter the cost, rather than ask God if it is His will for you to act—how much could get done for the Kingdom? Proverbs 3:27-28; Galatians 6:8-10. If you stand before God one day because you made an error one way or the other, do you want to face Him for accidentally doing more than He wanted or expected? Or for not caring as much about others as you do your blessings in life? Many here, have gone from Poverty to Prosperity in many aspects of life; now go from Prosperity to Purpose. Live like you mean it.
What are you hoarding instead of giving to God? Joy, time, knowledge, things, money?
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