Archive for the ‘Esther’ Category

Esther 10

Esther 10 is three short verses and summarizes the two leading men in this book.  King Ahasuerus wasn’t really plugged in spiritually to God, but he was used by God to allow Esther to become queen and Mordecai to become his number two.  God is able to use anyone and anything to accomplish His plan.  He has not limitations.  He has no resource constraints.  He took a king that was mostly oblivious to what was going on and used him to change the course of history.  The evil course was destroying the Jews.  God’s plan through the king was exactly the opposite.

Mordecai became “second in rank to King Ahasuerus” which is quite a feat considering he was the target of an evil plot to get rid of him.  He remained true to God and refused to bow down to Haman.  He stayed faithful in caring for Esther even when she had achieved the big time.  Mordecai “was great among the Jews and popular with the multitude of his brothers, for he sought the welfare of his people and spoke peace to all his people”.  He was a man of the people and put them at the top of his concern.

God shows His hand strong throughout this story.  A young woman from humble beginnings who grew up an orphan in the care of a cousin rises to a position of power as queen.  What would the outcome have been had Esther not been on the throne when evil raised its head?  What would the outcome have been had she not been willing to risk her own life to go before the king and save her people?  What would Mordecai’s future have been had she not exposed the plot to kill him and all the Jews?  She was put in a place of position for such a time as this.

And she took advantage of that time and saved a nation.  Neither she nor Mordecai worried about their own safety or consideration.  They served God and obeyed His plan.  That is what God calls us to do.  He wants us to line up with His plan – to be on His page – to walk in His ways.  And when we do, we can experience the kind of outcome that Esther and Mordecai did.  They were used by God to do far more than either ever dreamed.  They had no insight on what would happen but had to trust God each step of the journey.   That is what we are called  to do too – to trust and obey!

Esther 9

Esther 9 has Haman gone.  It had come down to the wire as this was the day “when the king’s command and edict were about to be carried out, on the very day when the enemies of the Jews hoped to gain the mastery over them, the reverse occurred: the Jews gained mastery over those who hated them.”  Can you imagine what would have happened had Mordecai not challenged Esther with his words about being where she was for such a time as this?  Of course it was all happening under God’s plan, but there was little room for procrastination here.

But the turnabout was more than the king’s letter to change the game.  “All the officials of the provinces and the satraps and the governors and the royal agents also helped the Jews, for the fear of Mordecai had fallen on them.”  Mordecai has become a force in the leadership structure under the king.  He now has taken on the number two spot and speaks with great power and authority.  So leaders across the kingdom lined up and were following his direction.  Talk about a change of places.  He went from the one being persecuted to the one in charge.

“The Jews struck all their enemies with the sword, killing and destroying them, and did as they pleased to those who hated them.”  They went from the hunted to the hunters and destroyed 500 men in Susa but 75,000 throughout the kingdom.  These were enemies of the Jews who had every intention of destroying them.  Now the tables have been turned and they are destroyed.  They also kill the ten sons of Haman.  No bad apples are left in the barrel. It’s a total cleanup of the enemies.

After that is done, the king wants to know what else Esther wants.  And she asks for a celebration which they called Purim.  They had replaced an evil plan with God’s plan, and now it was time to celebrate.  So a written decree went out from the queen and Mordecai calling for the people to celebrate, not just this year, but each year going forward.  They were to commemorate God’s goodness and blessing and His saving them from their enemies.  We need to learn to celebrate God’s goodness and point glory to Him.

Esther 8

Esther 8 has the story of Mordecai being Esther’s keeper and cousin coming to light. And Esther has Mordecai come and meet the king. “The king took off his signet ring, which he had taken from Haman, and gave it to Mordecai.”  There is much gratitude for what Mordecai has done in the past as well as for the relationship with Esther.  He is made head over the house of Haman.  But there is still the matter of the orders to kill all the Jews.  And Esther now pleads with the king to stop that order and revoke the letters that had been sent.

She fell at his feet and wept and pleaded with him to avert the evil plan of Haman”.  The king hears her plea, and gives Esther and Mordecai permission to write a new letter to change the earlier orders.  “You may write as you please with regard to the Jews, in the name of the king, and seal it with the king’s ring”.  That is quite an offer – to revoke something that had gone out under his signature.  But they wasted no time and drafted a new letter to each people in their own language and sealed it with the ring.

They immediately got the letters in motion.  “He sent the letters by mounted couriers riding on swift horses that were used in the king’s service, bred from the royal stud”.  They didn’t want to take any chances that someone might execute the previous orders and kill their fellow kinsman.  So they got the couriers onto their swift horses and sent the letters to every province and people.  Esther, through God’s plan, has averted destruction of her people.  Mordecai was used as well and together they made a great team walking in God’s ways.

Disaster has been stopped.  And now it is time to stop and celebrate God’s goodness.  What had been intended for evil, has been turned to good.  “Mordecai went out from the presence of the king in royal robes of blue and white, with a great golden crown and a robe of fine linen and purple, and the city of Susa shouted and rejoiced”.  He has seen God’s hand at work and experienced the power of His plan.  They declared a feast and holiday to celebrate their joy.  God is good, all the time!

Esther 7

Esther 7 has the king and Haman attending the queen’s feast a second day.  After eating and drinking, the king again asks “what is your wish….what is your request”?  Esther now makes the request she’s been waiting to make.  “If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be granted me for my wish, and my people for my request. For we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated. If we had been sold merely as slaves, men and women, I would have been silent, for our affliction is not to be compared with the loss to the king”.

Right to the point.  She asks for life – for herself and her people.  The king has no clue what is happening and asks Esther for clarification – who has made this decree.  Esther doesn’t hold back and calls Haman a foe and enemy – a wicked man.  Haman is terrified.  He’s just been called out for ordering the death of the Jewish people which includes the queen and Mordecai, a man the king just exalted last night.  The king rises in his anger and heads out to the garden.

“Haman stayed to beg for his life from Queen Esther”.  He knows the king is not favorable to his future.  So he makes a plea to the queen and falls on her on the couch just as the king comes back from the gardens.  The king is furious.  “Will he even assault the queen in my presence, in my own house?”  Haman has gone from the chosen number two to being an enemy of the king.  He has made a fatal misjudgment in seeking to destroy the Jews because of his prideful desire to be worshipped.  Pride comes before the fall!

The king gets an option to deal with Haman from one of his eunuchs by the name of Harbona.  He reminds the king of the gallows that had been built for Mordecai by Haman.  Those were “standing at Haman’s house, fifty cubits high.”  The king orders that Haman be hanged on the gallows he had built right there by his house.  So that is what happened and only then was the king’s wrath cooled down.  He was furious with Haman’s actions once they were disclosed and took quick and decisive action to clean up the evil and unjust plan.

Esther 6

Esther 6 has God at work.  “On that night the king could not sleep”.  Ever experience that – you just can’t get to sleep and God puts something important on your mind.  The king asks his servants to bring the book of memorable deeds and they were read before the king.  This was stories of great things that had happened, that had been recorded and written down for history.  During that process “it was found written how Mordecai had told” the kings men about a plot to try and kill him some years earlier.

At that same time, Haman comes to the palace.  His agenda is to ask the king to hang Mordecai from the gallows the next morning.  But as he enters the king’s presence, “the king said to him, “What should be done to the man whom the king delights to honor?”  It is another God move.  Haman thinks the king is talking about him, but he was referring to Mordecai whom Haman wanted dead.  Haman describes how he would like to be honored and treated, not knowing that he was in fact creating the way his enemy would be treated.

Then the king drops the bomb without even realizing what he was doing.  “The king said to Haman, “Hurry; take the robes and the horse, as you have said, and do so to Mordecai the Jew who sits at the king’s gate. Leave out nothing that you have mentioned “.    Can you imagine Haman’s jaw dropping when he is ordered to go and honor the very man he had come to ask permission to kill?  That had to be a low blow indeed.  Haman took the robes and horse and other items the king instructed and dressed Mordecai in honor.

But it gets worse for Haman.  He has to lead Mordecai through the square and proclaim his honor.  What a humiliating change of outcomes.  He rushes home to mourn and cry to his wife and friends.  Everything had backfired.  And now those closest to him were predicting his own demise.  “If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of the Jewish people, you will not overcome him but will surely fall before him“.  They see the writing on the wall as Haman goes to the feast again this day.

Esther 5

Esther 5 has the queen making her move after asking Mordecai and the Jewish folks to fast and pray for her.  “Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the king’s palace, in front of the king’s quarters….he held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand”.  This is critical as only when the king held out his scepter were uninvited guests allowed to live.  She took a chance, and the king receives her with favor.  God’s hand was obviously preparing the way.  That is how He always works.  He doesn’t call us unless He prepares the way.

The king asks what she wishes and she says “If it please the king, let the king and Haman come today to a feast that I have prepared for the king.”  Her request is to join her at a feast.  The fastest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.  She has the king and Haman there for a feast and the king asks “what is your request? Even to the half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled”.  He is pleased with Esther and offers her whatever she asks for.  But Esther doesn’t jump on that offer, but asks them to come back the next day.

Haman leaves full of pride.  “Haman recounted to them the splendor of his riches, the number of his sons, all the promotions with which the king had honored him, and how he had advanced him above the officials and the servants of the king”.  He was boasting about his position being the only person to attend the feast with the king.  And he was extremely proud that he had earned a seat at the table the next day as well.  He is extremely prideful and full of himself.

There was one thorn in his side though – Mordecai.  He walks past him sitting at the king’s gate and it really bothers him.  He says “all this is worth nothing to me, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate “.  Mordecai is his spoiler.  He can’t stand the fact that Mordecai refuses to bow down to him and worship him the way he desires.  Haman asks that the gallows be made for Modecai’s demise and his plan is to ask the king in the morning to hang him there.  He orders the gallows to be built.

Esther 4

Esther 4 has Mordecai beside himself as he learns of the plot to get rid of him and all the Jews.  He knows the real target is himself for his failure to worship Haman.  So he puts on sackcloth and ashes and mourns the pending doom.  It spread quickly to the others as “there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting and weeping and lamenting, and many of them lay in sackcloth and ashes.”  Things look pretty bleak, and the people were mourning their future.  Word gets back to Esther in the palace.

She wants to know what is going on.  So “Esther called for Hathach….ordered him to go to Mordecai to learn what this was and why it was”.  He heads out to get the full story so he can report back to Esther.  Mordecai gives him the full story.  How Haman offered to pay the king for the destruction of the Jews.  How he had issued a written decree and signed it with the king’s ring and sent it all over the kingdom.  How evil was running rampant through Haman and the future of the Jews was in question.

Hathach takes the information and returns to Esther.  He tells here everything along with Mordecai’s request that she “go to the king to beg his favor and plead with him on behalf of her people”.  Sounds pretty logical, until you realize that it was not acceptable for anyone to enter the king’s presence without being summoned.  You don’t just walk in and talk with the king, even if you are the queen.  How big a deal can it be?  Only death – that was the penalty for going inside the inner court without being called.  So the request is not just big, it is life or death.

Then come the words that make Esther famous.  Mordecai asks “Who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”  She has a tough decision to make.  Is this God’s time for her to shine?  Is this why she is now the queen?  Esther sends Hathach back to Mordecai asking him to have the people fast and pray.  And she makes the resolve “I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish”.  She knows there is no one else who can do this job.  It is hers alone, and she steps up and says yes to God!

Esther 3

Esther 3 has King Ahasuerus promoting Haman to be his number two, above all the rest of the officials.  The king elevates him to power and the people were expected to bow down to him, but “Mordecai did not bow down or pay homage”.  You know that isn’t going to go over well.  Haman is furious but he doesn’t want to tackle Mordecai as an individual, so he decides to go big and “sought to destroy all the Jews”.  Haman’s anger led him to take out his wrath upon all the Jews in the kingdom.

Haman goes to the king with his plan.  “There is a certain people….their laws are different….they do not keep the king’s laws, so that it is not to the king’s profit to tolerate them”.  Seems pretty simple.  We have this group of people that do things their own way and ignore what the king says.  Easy thing to do is just get rid of the problem children here.  Haman really wants it done, so he offers 10,000 talents of silver.  This was essentially the promise of a bribe. This money would not come from Haman’s own pocket; it would be obtained from the property of slaughtered Jews.

The king is pretty disconnected from reality and listens to his number two man. He tells Haman to “do with them as it seems good to you”.  That is a death sentence for the Jews.  Haman has had enough of Mordecai and his refusal to bow down, and now has convinced the king that the thing to do is wipe out the Jews.  This was a broad brush way to address a very specific problem.  But Mordecai was a bit of a hero for saving the king, so it had to be done as part of a bigger action.  King Ahasuerus probably had no idea what he agreed to; he probably believed that he merely agreed to the execution of a handful of dangerous revolutionaries in his kingdom.

Haman is given the king’s signet ring and “letters were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces with instruction to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate all Jews”.  It happened quickly, and created confusion in the kingdom.  When the king sat down to drink, he thought he had done well – but he did not really understand what he had done. Haman also sat down to drink, and thought he had done well – and he knew exactly what he intended to do.  The citizens of the empire knew Jewish people who lived among them, and they knew that they were good citizens who caused no trouble. A bad leader can cause all kinds of confusion, and lead the people to do things that are wrong indeed.

Esther 2

Esther 2 has King Ahasuerus back in his kingdom after unsuccessfully trying to invade Greece.  He has moved now from thinking about war to women, and realizes that Vashti is no longer queen.  His men decide to “Let beautiful young virgins be sought out for the king”.  The plan was to assemble a harem from the most beautiful women of the land; to bring them into a harem for the king, and to choose the most favored woman to be his queen from that group.   “Let the young woman who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti”.

Mordecai was cousin to Esther, a young woman who he had helped raise as his own daughter because she was an orphan.   She was a special woman.  “The young woman had a beautiful figure and was lovely to look at “.  So she was selected as one of the nearly 400 (estimated) women brought to Hegai who had charge of them.  Esther “pleased him and won his favor.”   She wasn’t just beautiful on the outside, but also on the inside.  Because of this favor, Hegai gave Esther special beauty preparations, beyond her allowance. He also gave her seven choice maidservants to look after her beauty needs.

There was one little secret that Esther did not reveal.  “Esther had not made known her people or kindred, for Mordecai had commanded her not to make it known”.  There was some fear that there are situations where God may have us be reticent about our Christian identity – not for the purposes of permanently concealing it, but waiting for the opportune moment to reveal it.  “And every day Mordecai walked in front of the court of the harem to learn how Esther was and what was happening to her”.   He had love and concern for her in such a potentially dangerous place.

Esther finally got her chance to go in to see the king.  “The king loved Esther more than all the women, and she won grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen “.  She now has a place of in God’s plan.  God had a plan, and Esther is part of it. There were a couple of thugs who got angry with the king and wanted to kill him.  “This came to the knowledge of Mordecai, and he told it to Queen Esther, and Esther told the king “.  Right place at the right time put Mordecai in a position to know the information that would save the king.  God has a plan, and we see Him executing it very carefully.

Esther 1

Esther 1 has King Ahasuerus on the throne ruling his great empire from Susa.  He was a pretty proud guy, and “he showed the riches of his royal glory and the splendor and pomp of his greatness for…180 days. The first feast was for all the government officials, where Ahasuerus showed off the glory and splendor of the riches of his kingdom. He also threw a feast lasting for seven days.  This second feast was for the citizens of the capital city Sushan.  It was a big party.  He had inherited the vast Persian Empire from his father, Darius.  And he wanted to show things off.

The basic reason for these feasts was, of course, pride. The king wanted to impress his subjects with a great display of his own wealth and power and majesty and generosity. But there was still a third feast.  “Queen Vashti also gave a feast for the women in the palace”.  But then a problem occurs within the royal family.  King Ahasuerus demands that Vashti display her beauty before the guests at the feast.  “But Queen Vashti refused to come….At this the king became enraged, and his anger burned within him”.

 There is a problem in the castle.  And it didn’t happen in private.  This was a very public refusal, and the leaders under the king come with a strong recommendation that “the queen’s behavior will be made known to all women, causing them to look at their husbands with contempt”.  Time to put a stop to this.  They did not want this lack of submission by the queen to become an excuse, or worse yet, a standard for how women would relate to their husbands.  They want to nip this in the bud and stop any idea that women can refuse a request from their husband.  We won’t get into the weeds around submission here except to say that submission does not mean that a wife must obey her husband if he commands her to sin. Every command to submit on a human level is conditioned by the higher obligation to obey God before man.

The king’s advisors suggest that he “let a royal order go out from him….that Vashti is never again to come before King Ahasuerus”.  If she wants to disobey the king’s request, she was to be cut off as the queen.   “And let the king give her royal position to another who is better than she. So when the decree made by the king is proclaimed throughout all his kingdom, for it is vast, all women will give honor to their husbands, high and low alike”.  This is Old Testament law for a different time than this.  Paul tells us that men are to love their wives, and wives to respect their husbands.  No matter the law, there is a problem in the kingdom and it has to do with relationships.  Men need to step up and lead well – not by demands – but through servant leadership and love!

%d bloggers like this: