Day 208 – Thru the Bible
Today we start Esther. Here’s the overview video.
Video – Read Scripture: Esther
Watch the video on YouTube – here.
How does this video help you understand Esther better?
Esther 1 – In gaudy display, Ahasuerus, king of Persia, hosts a 180-day-long party, culminating in the call to his wife, Vashti, to flaunt her beauty before him and his cohorts. Vashti refuses to oblige, and the king is enraged. This is more than the story of a dysfunctional royal marriage. It is the hand of the sovereign God who is orchestrating events to bring Esther, a Jewish woman, into a position of authority so that God’s people will be preserved. Right from the start of the book of Esther, God’s sovereign grace is guiding all events, down to every last detail. Sovereign irony is also meant to be on display here: the king who had so much earthly authority was powerless over his own wife!
The king decreed that, “every man be master in his own household.” Once again, we’re meant to smile at the tin-pot dictator who commands that every husband do what he himself is unable to do: be a master in his own household. Jewish readers in later generation were to understand the contrast: Only God is all-powerful, doing whatever he wants—and not in a rash or fickle way, as Ahasuerus does.
How does this remind you that God is truly the only one on complete control?
Esther 2 – Following the counsel of his young men (and God’s sovereign plan), Ahasuerus gathered beautiful young virgins from his vast kingdom to be placed in his harem, so that they might have a one-night audition with the king. It is here that we meet Mordecai, a self-identified Jew, and his orphaned cousin, Esther, who was chosen because she “had a beautiful figure and was lovely to look at.” We learn that Mordecai worried about his cousin, for “every day Mordecai walked in front of the court of the harem to learn how Esther was and what was happening to her.”
To bolster his reputation and salve his wounded pride, wicked Ahasuerus gathers the captive girls he considers beautiful to select his queen. In contrast, from a Jewish perspective, Esther spoils and demeans herself by acceding to the pagan king’s desires. Yet as queen, Esther will be used of God, despite her impurity and shame, to protect the lineage of the “seed of the woman,” Jesus Christ, who will ultimately crush the head of the Serpent (Genesis 3:15; Romans 16:20).
God continues behind the scenes, as Mordecai becomes aware of a plot against Ahasuerus and communicates it to the king. Although Mordecai should have been rewarded for his allegiance, he was forgotten for the time being—like Joseph before him (Genesis 40:23). But God is ruling sovereignly and will use these events in His own time. The invisible hand of God continues to work toward His people’s preservation.
God’s timing may not be what we prefer, given the limited knowledge we have, but He is always “on time” according to His own sovereign plan. Observing this, Believers today take heart in the confidence that, whatever our circumstances, God has promised to preserve those who are in Jesus (1 Corinthians 1:8; Philippians 1:6).
How does this reminder help you continue to trust God, even when things do not look good from your perspective?
Esther 3 – Many times throughout God’s story of redemption down through history, the wicked have sought to lay hands on the godly, as Haman sought to do to Mordecai and to the Jews. We see this, for example, in the lives of Joseph (Genesis 37:23–24), Moses (Exodus 2:15), David (1 Samuel 18:10–11; 24:1–2), Daniel (Daniel 2:13), and Jeremiah (Jeremiah 38:6). Evil may have its day, but God will have the final say. The ultimate example of this is Jesus Himself, whom wicked men seized and wrongfully crucified.
Like the religious leaders in Jesus’ day (John 12:19), Haman couldn’t stand the thought of losing the approval of the masses, so he promised Ahasuerus 10,000 talents of silver for an unchangeable edict that would ensure the annihilation of the Jews. Ironically, Haman unintentionally declared war on the queen, who herself was Jewish; his yearlong superstitious casting of lots (the Pur) did not ensure his success or protect him from God’s judgment (see Proverbs 16:33). We are to be reminded that humans plan and God laughs (Psalm 2:2–4), for His ways are far beyond ours (Isaiah 55:8–9).
Again, although annihilation of the covenant people seemed inevitable, God was at work. Haman is rejoicing as all his plans come together, but he’s in for an unexpected reversal. Such surprising reversals have often been the way the Lord has worked down through history. Indeed, grace itself, the core message of the Bible, is a matter of surprising reversal. The supreme reversal is when Satan rejoiced at the supposed demise of the Christ and the end of God’s plans on Calvary; it was Jesus’ very death that accomplished the greatest victory for His people.
When things go “wrong”, how do you remember that God is working all things for your good?
Esther 4 & 5 – Mordecai encourages Esther that now, in the time of the Jews’ need, “who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” By his own merciful initiative, God delights to raise up deliverers for His people when they need Him most (1 Corinthians 1:27–28). We think especially here of the judges and then the kings down through Israel’s history, who frequently deliver God’s people, yet just as frequently are themselves corrupt. And all of them, eventually, die.
The King who never dies is Jesus, who, like Esther, was raised up at just the right moment in history (Romans 5:6; Galatians 4:4), “for such a time as this”—or as Paul elsewhere says, “when the fullness of time had come” (Galatians 4:4).
“If I perish, I perish” are the words of Esther’s Gethsemane (4:16). Unlike our Savior, however, Esther had to be threatened with destruction before she would act. Again, we see here how the Bible is honest about the flaws of its heroes. No one is without the need of God’s grace in their lives.
Once Esther does act, she has the support of all the Jews in Susa standing with her. She dresses herself in her royal robes and goes in before the king. The disgraced Jewish girl is about to be used of God to deliver His people.
How is God using you to bring deliverance to the people around you?
What other thoughts or questions does today’s video and reading bring up?
Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.
Videos produced by www.TheGospelProject.com.
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