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Esther 2

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

FRIDAY, JUNE 15

SCRIPTURE:  ESTHER 2

Today we continue a little further into the story of Esther.  Most believe that chapter two occurs some four years after the end of chapter one.  Among other things, that means that King Ahasuerus had already tried his ill-fated military campaign against Greece and was back home undoubtedly “licking his wounds”.

At some point he began to think about Vashti who had been banished earlier.  But the men in the king’s court convinced the king to gather up all the beautiful virgins in the city and put them in a harem.  It is here that we meet two important characters: Mordecai and his cousin Esther.  Esther was actually her Persian name and meant star.  Her Jewish name was Hadasseh which meant myrtle.

This selection process to create a harem brings us to an important topic.  Just because something is found in the Bible doesn’t mean that God caused it to happen or even approved of it happening.  There are many times that things happen in the Bible because of Satan, sin, and selfish humanity.  The Bible doesn’t support those things.  But it does often faithfully record them for us.

The reason I bring this up is this harem business was not God’s idea.  In fact, the whole notion of a harem violated many of God’s laws.  But God in His sovereign deity is more than able to use things that we do to accomplish His plan.

Along this line is another interesting aspect of this story.  People didn’t know that Mordecai and Esther were Jews.  There was nothing necessarily wrong with the fact that they didn’t tell anyone about their heritage.  If they had been asked and lied that could have been a problem.  But not telling someone about your ethnic background is not necessarily wrong. 

However, it is interesting that no one knew about it.  You would think that if Mordecai and Esther were living kosher lifestyles that it would have been evident to many that they were Jewish.  I don’t mean to throw stones at them or to cause you to think badly about them.  But I just want you to think about the possibility that God is able to use folks who belong to him but aren’t living like they belong to Him.

Maybe today’s take away needs to be that God is a great big God who can do great big things with and through people that are far, far from perfect.  This is not an excuse to be far from perfect or far, far from perfect.  But it is intended to be an encouragement to think about just how big God is and what big things He can do.

As the chapter progresses we meet Hegai, the eunuch that kept the king’s harem.  And again we see God working in the background.  Esther finds favor with Hegai who in turn helps her find favor with the king.  And as the chapter draws to a close, Esther becomes queen.

There is one more aspect to this chapter that needs to be brought forward.  Somewhere along the line Mordecai was given the position of “sitting at the king’s gate”.  This could have been a formal position like that of a judge.  But regardless it put him in a place that he overheard the plot to assassinate the king.  He got the information to the queen who told the king and the plot was overthrown.  Again, we see the powerful hand of God working behind the scenes to accomplish His great purpose.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

Esther 1

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

THURSDAY, JUNE 14

SCRIPTURE:  ESTHER 1

 

Today we start a most interesting book.  It is one of those books that we don’t talk a lot about in the Baptist church.  It is not taught or preached much either.  Another interesting thing is, to my knowledge, God is not specifically mentioned in this book.  It is obvious that He is at work and that His people are relying upon Him and trying to honor Him.  But He is not specifically named in this book.

This book fits in the history category of the Old Testament.  Often the Old Testament is divided into four categories: The Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible); The History; The Wisdom and Poetry; and, The Prophets.  Again Esther belongs to the history books.

When we start the book we are introduced to a king named Ahasuerus.  He was king of the Medo-Persian Empire.  This empire consisted of the Persians and the Medes.  The king called for a huge party that lasted for 180 days.  And then for good measure, he added another 7 day party to the end of it. 

By the way parties or feasts play a prominent role throughout this book.  Besides this particular party there is also Esther’s coronation banquet, Haman’s celebration feast, Esther’s two banquets for Haman and the king, the Jews’ banquets when they heard the new decree, and the Feast of Purim.  It is interesting that God can use parties and banquets and feasts to accomplish His great purpose. 

Historically (not Biblically) we know the reason Ahasueras had this party.  He was trying to drum up support to invade Greece.  His dad, the previous king, had tried that and failed miserably.  Now Ahasueras decided that he would invade Greece to regain his dad’s reputation and to increase the territory of the Medo-Persion Empire.  We also know historically (not Biblically) that Ahasueras had his sights set on ruling the whole world.

As the story unfolds in chapter one, the king decided to show off his trophy wife, Vashti.  She refused.  That caused a problem.  In fact, her refusal was a triple offense.  It was a woman challenging a man.  It was a wife disobeying her husband.  It was a subject defying her king.  I’m not saying that I think any of those are acceptable grounds for what happened to her.  I am just saying that was a triple offense in the culture in which this story occurs. 

Although wives do a have a Biblical responsibility to submit to their husbands  (This is not something I made up.  It is in the Bible.), men and women are created equally.  And men and women are equally important.  Biblically they have different roles and responsibilities but they are equal and equally important.  In fact, in Galatians we read that in the New Covenant there is no male and female.  That doesn’t mean God doesn’t know if we are male or female.  It simply asserts that our access to Him is not determined by our gender.  Men and women both have a responsibility to defend and honor the other gender in Biblical ways.

The king didn’t do that.  Instead he issued a new rule that effectively banned Queen Vashti from his presence and changed the relationship between all husbands and wives in the kingdom.  Although we would undoubtedly disagree with what he did, his actions actually paved the way for Esther to come on the scene.

God never wastes anything.  He is able to use our decisions, even our bad ones, to accomplish His great purpose for our lives.  That’s not permission to make bad decisions.  It is just evidence that God is bigger than our decisions.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

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