Monday, December 12
Esther occurs at an interesting time in Biblical history. The Jewish people had been living in exile in Persia. The Persian king, Cyrus, allowed the Jews to go back to Jerusalem. Many went back to Jerusalem, but some stayed behind in Persia. Esther is the fascinating story of those people who stayed behind in Persia.
At this time God’s people were basically controlled by a dictator. The king of Persia is a guy named Xerxes. In Esther chapter 1, we see he threw a huge party for all of his most important officials that lasted for 6 months. In the last 7 days of the party, Xerxes expanded the party to include everyone in the city. After seven days of getting drunk, Xerxes called for his wife, Queen Vashti. He wanted all of his friends to view his wife and see how beautiful she was. But Vashti refused, which made Xerxes angry. (Uh-oh.) Vashti is removed as queen, and all the wives of Persia are told not to be defiant like the queen!
Enter Esther. In chapter 2, Xerxes decides to find a new queen. He’s not romantic, however. He’s a sick dictator. He has his servants go throughout Persia to find beautiful virgins. They are brought back to the palace, and then they are to spend one night with Xerxes. One of the women brought to the king is Esther. In chapter 2, we are introduced to Esther, and her cousin Mordecai who raised her because she was orphaned. Esther is taken into the king’s harem. And when it is her turn to be with the king, he falls for her. Esther becomes queen, but we learn that she doesn’t tell anyone she is Jewish. (Psssst.) It’s a secret.
It is also in this chapter that we learn that Mordecai found out about a plot to assassinate the king. He told Esther, who told the king, and the perpetrators were executed. As chapter 2 ends, Esther is queen and Mordecai is responsible for saving the king. But remember, no one knows Esther is Jewish.
Chapter 3 introduces us to the true villain of the story -a man named Haman. He was the most powerful official in Persia after the king, and he was a jerk! Mordecai refused to bow to Haman. And Haman got mad. He didn’t just hate Mordecai, but all the Jews. Haman came up with a plan to exterminate the Jews from Persia. He told the king that if he was allowed to kill this group of people, he would take their money and give it to the king. Xerxes agreed to this arrangement without hearing the details.
In chapter 4 Mordecai and the Jews began to be in mourning because of this decree. Esther wanted to know what was the matter with Mordecai, and why he was in mourning. Mordecai believed that Esther can help, but she was afraid to go before the king. If a person came before the king unannounced, they could be executed.
Mordecai sent this reply to Esther: “Don’t think for a moment that because you’re in the palace you will escape when all other Jews are killed. If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?”
God would save the Jewish people. He promised to do it in the Old Testament. But Mordecai saw that Esther might be God’s instrument of salvation for the Jews. You have to remember, neither Mordecai nor Esther knew how the story was going to end. Both of them could have been killed.
Finally, Esther decided to help, although death was a real possibility for her. She asked the Jews to fast and pray for her. This was a turning point in Esther’s life. She went from being a young woman who was at the mercy of the king and her cousin, to a person who was decisive and in control.
At the completion of today’s post I hope you realize that everyone faces turning points in their lives. Have you faced a turning point in your life yet? Some possible turning points in your lives could be:
Will I cheat on this test or not?
Will I date a non-Christian or not?
Will I have sex with my boyfriend/girlfriend or not?
Will I let everyone know that I am a Christian or not?
Maybe you can see some turning points in your life where you didn’t follow God with your decision. There is good news. God forgives.
God uses unusual events to accomplish his plans. The story of Esther is like an elaborate chess board, and God is moving the pieces of the chess board into place to accomplish his purposes. He does this in our lives too. You might wonder why God allowed your parents to get a divorce, or why he allowed your family to move to a different state. You might wonder why God isn’t giving you the things you want in life. He takes all of the experiences of your life and uses it for your good. As we continue tomorrow in Esther, you will see how this rings true!