Esther 3 Part 2–Bewildered

So things were going fine. Israel was doing its thing, Xerxes was doing His thing…Then Hamaan decides to destroy and pillage the people of Israel.  There had been no uprisings. There had been no talk of escape or rebellion.  So when the edict for the Israelite’s complete destruction was posted–well, the whole nation was dumfounded, well everyone but Hamaan. Sometimes the circumstance of Life simply does not make sense.  But, God is faithful to  execute His plan no matter how little sense life seems to make.  It is obvious that the Israelite people were shocked and devestated–How could this be? But the great news was that even in those devastating moments God was working his plan.
 
When life seems completely dark and hope seems a distant dream; that is when God does His best work .  We have to trust that the Lord knows what is going on and will work His plan flawlessly to make our lives full and meaningful.  We must always seek  God and trust His plan for our lives.  If we will then at the end we can point to the countless times He intervened and completed His work in our lives.  Help me, Lord, to never give up in dire circumstances and always trust You to complete Your plan in my life.
 
God Bkess  You

 So the king took his signet ring from his finger and gave it to Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews. 11 “Keep the money,” the king said to Haman, “and do with the people as you please.”

12 Then on the thirteenth day of the first month the royal secretaries were summoned. They wrote out in the script of each province and in the language of each people all Haman’s orders to the king’s satraps, the governors of the various provinces and the nobles of the various peoples. These were written in the name of King Xerxes himself and sealed with his own ring. 13 Dispatches were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces with the order to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews—young and old, women and children—on a single day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods. 14 A copy of the text of the edict was to be issued as law in every province and made known to the people of every nationality so they would be ready for that day.

15 The couriers went out, spurred on by the king’s command, and the edict was issued in the citadel of Susa. The king and Haman sat down to drink, but the city of Susa was bewildered.

Esther 3 Part 1–Then Came Hamaan

Things were going great for the People of Israel. Sure they were in exile, but they were able to carry on with their lives, worship God and be treated as everyone else. Well that was until Hamaan stepped in.  Hamaan did not like that Esther’s uncle refused to bow down to Him.  He took ot quite personally.  It bothered him so much, that not only did he want to get rid of Mordechi, but, he wanted to rid the world of the whole lot of Israel.  So as the King’s chief noble, he asked to do just that.  What is more he offered the king a substantial bribe to be allowed to do it.  The Kig did not even blink and gave Hamaan the permission to wipe out Israel and did not even take the bribe!
 
No matter how well things seem to be going in our lives, we need to remember we have an enemy that wants us wiped out.  It is not only Satan and his lot, but the the world culture does not like the princples of  humility, hiliness and selflessness that we as the body of Christ represent.  So, each day, the world looks for a way to minimise, nuetralize and wipe Christianity from the anals of History and the faceof the earth.  We need to be aware that this is spiritual war and we are always at risk.  The great news is that our Father is greater and he prepares, provies and protects us from those that would destroy us.  We simply have to trust Him and allow Him to lead.
 
God Bless You

After these events, King Xerxes honored Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, elevating him and giving him a seat of honor higher than that of all the other nobles. All the royal officials at the king’s gate knelt down and paid honor to Haman, for the king had commanded this concerning him. But Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor.

Then the royal officials at the king’s gate asked Mordecai, “Why do you disobey the king’s command?” Day after day they spoke to him but he refused to comply. Therefore they told Haman about it to see whether Mordecai’s behavior would be tolerated, for he had told them he was a Jew.

When Haman saw that Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor, he was enraged. Yet having learned who Mordecai’s people were, he scorned the idea of killing only Mordecai. Instead Haman looked for a way to destroy all Mordecai’s people, the Jews, throughout the whole kingdom of Xerxes.

In the twelfth year of King Xerxes, in the first month, the month of Nisan, the pur (that is, the lot) was cast in the presence of Haman to select a day and month. And the lot fell on[a] the twelfth month, the month of Adar.

Then Haman said to King Xerxes, “There is a certain people dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom who keep themselves separate. Their customs are different from those of all other people, and they do not obey the king’s laws; it is not in the king’s best interest to tolerate them. If it pleases the king, let a decree be issued to destroy them, and I will give ten thousand talents[b] of silver to the king’s administrators for the royal treasury.”

10 So the king took his signet ring from his finger and gave it to Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews. 11 “Keep the money,” the king said to Haman, “and do with the people as you please.”

Esther 2 Part 3–God’s Bigger Plan

It is no secret that God is large and in charge. As we continue to look at the life of Esther, it is critical that one remembers that it is also a look at the life of Israel, the Exile and Mordechi–Esther’s uncle and guardian. Just after Esther is crowned queen of the empire, her uncle overhears the plotting of the King’s assignation.  He reports the plot to Esther, she reports the plot to the King and the King executes the would be assassins.  Not a big deal…or was it? Had Esther not been made queen, Would her guardian be able to sit at a place of honor at the gate? If he was not Esther’s uncle would his report gotten to the King? Had the assassins been successful, what might have become of the people of Israel?
 
The point being, the things God does each day to execute His plans for our lives entertwine, interact and work together for the good. We can never try to figure God out, it is simply too far above our ability to comprehend. But suffice it to say, that God knows what is going on and cares deeply and personally for each of us–even a heathen King. We can never give up or think that God has abandoned us.  He may simply be orchestrating a plan for our salvation  or the salvation of many others.  Our contribution may seem small, but one never knows what impact our faith and obedience may have.  It is like the story of the retiring tent evangelist that was preaching his heart out, but noone was coming forward.  He felt so useless.  The only documented conversion in his last revival tour was a young man from North Carolina, the boy’s name–Billy Graham. We must trust that God has a plan and He chooses us to be a part if we are simply willing to trust and obey!
 
God Bless You

 When the virgins were assembled a second time, Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate. 20 But Esther had kept secret her family background and nationality just as Mordecai had told her to do, for she continued to follow Mordecai’s instructions as she had done when he was bringing her up.

21 During the time Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate, Bigthana[b] and Teresh, two of the king’s officers who guarded the doorway, became angry and conspired to assassinate King Xerxes. 22 But Mordecai found out about the plot and told Queen Esther, who in turn reported it to the king, giving credit to Mordecai. 23 And when the report was investigated and found to be true, the two officials were impaled on poles. All this was recorded in the book of the annals in the presence of the king.

Esther 2 Part 2–The Favor of the Lord

Esther was raised differently. She was humble and grateful. She found favor with everyone with whom she made contact.  She was different.  She was different bbecause she walked with the Lord.  The selflessness that comes with following God stands out in the world and makes those that follow Him seem different.  It was a stark contrast from the queen Vashti. Vashti thought it was her job to be served and to be exalted. Esther asked for very little, expected very little and sought to be kind and humble.  When the folks in the palace saw that, they adored her.  When the king saw that, it was true love.  He picked Esther over all the candidates, made her queen and threw a party like none other.(Esther gladly attended it!)
 
In our lives, we need to have the same heart of humility.  We need to expect very little and live to serve God.  We should be selfless and grateful–ready to give and to serve.  If we walk with that attitude, God will be honored and we will find favor with many who will ultimately be affected for Christ.  As Solomon said in Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding. Acknowledge Him in all your ways–and He will make your path straight!”
 
God Bless You

 Now when the turn came for each young woman to go in to King Ahasuerus, after being twelve months under the regulations for the women, since this was the regular period of their beautifying, six months with oil of myrrh and six months with spices and ointments for women— 13 when the young woman went in to the king in this way, she was given whatever she desired to take with her from the harem to the king’s palace. 14 In the evening she would go in, and in the morning she would return to the second harem in custody of Shaashgaz, the king’s eunuch, who was in charge of the concubines. She would not go in to the king again, unless the king delighted in her and she was summoned by name.

15 When the turn came for Esther the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her as his own daughter, to go in to the king, she asked for nothing except what Hegai the king’s eunuch, who had charge of the women, advised. Now Esther was winning favor in the eyes of all who saw her. 16 And when Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus, into his royal palace, in the tenth month, which is the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign, 17 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[b] on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. 18 Then the king gave a great feast for all his officials and servants; it was Esther’s feast. He also granted a remission of taxes to the provinces and gave gifts with royal generosity.

Esther 2 Part 1–Preparing to be Queen

It was no small task to become queen in Xerxes harem. After Xerxes settled down, the leadership searched accross the kingdom and brought several virgins to audition for queen.  To be selected to audition was an amazing honor. The preparation  to appear before the king took a  year. The ladies selected had to not only find favor with the King, but, she had to find favor with those that guarded and prepared the ladies.  Esther did that very well.  Not only was she beautiful, but she had a great heart and won favor with all whom she came in contact.  She was an orhan raised by her uncle.  On paper she would not have been the pick for a king.  An orphaned exile from Israel…But, God had a better plan.
 
God chooses and uses those He has prepared for service.  It is rarely the ones that the world would pick.  Truth be told, God picks the right person because he sees within and without.  If we will prepare our lives for service–seek Him, read God’s word and pray. Then at just the right time God can use us to accomplish His plan for our lives and often the lives of others. Few would expect that a year of spa days would be the training for saving a nation. In Esther’s life. that was God’s plan.    She was faithul to follow the plan and that would in time change the world. It needs to be our goal to be humble, faithful and ready to go where He leads us.
 
God Bless You

 Later when King Xerxes’ fury had subsided, he remembered Vashti and what she had done and what he had decreed about her. Then the king’s personal attendants proposed, “Let a search be made for beaunot only find favor with the Kingtiful young virgins for the king. Let the king appoint commissioners in every province of his realm to bring all these beautiful young women into the harem at the citadel of Susa. Let them be placed under the care of Hegai, the king’s eunuch, who is in charge of the women; and let beauty treatments be given to them. Then let the young woman who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti.” This advice appealed to the king, and he followed it.

Now there was in the citadel of Susa a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin, named Mordecai son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, who had been carried into exile from Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, among those taken captive with Jehoiachin[a] king of Judah. Mordecai had a cousin named Hadassah, whom he had brought up because she had neither father nor mother. This young woman, who was also known as Esther, had a lovely figure and was beautiful. Mordecai had taken her as his own daughter when her father and mother died.

When the king’s order and edict had been proclaimed, many young women were brought to the citadel of Susa and put under the care of Hegai. Esther also was taken to the king’s palace and entrusted to Hegai, who had charge of the harem. She pleased him and won his favor. Immediately he provided her with her beauty treatments and special food. He assigned to her seven female attendants selected from the king’s palace and moved her and her attendants into the best place in the harem.

10 Esther had not revealed her nationality and family background, because Mordecai had forbidden her to do so. 11 Every day he walked back and forth near the courtyard of the harem to find out how Esther was and what was happening to her.

Esther 1 Part 2–What to Do with a Rebellious Queen

Xerxes was in a cunundrum, He loved his beautiful wife, but, her behavior was so over the line that he had to look at the situation as a King, not as a Husband. Vashti’s behavior would have an impact on all wives in the kingdom.  If she was left unpunished, women all over the kingdom would become rebellious to their husbands and chaos would ensue.  So after meeting with his leadership,it was determned that the kingdom would need a new queen and queen Vashti would be exiled.  No more glamour, no more pampering, no more grand parties and never allowed in the presence of the king again.  It was not the way she expected to spend her days, but, actions do have consequence.
 
When we live our lives, we are faced daily with opportunities to trust the Lord and follow Him closely. We are also tempted to “Help God Out” or carry on independent of the Lord’s leadership. If we do that, there is always chaos and ultimately we have to bear the consequences that come with that behavior. If we will, follow the Lord and trust Him, we will not have to bear the consequence of sin.  If however, we refuse, the consequences can be dramatic and permanent.  That is why  we must seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness then all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33. 
 
When we seek Him, He will guide us and He will bless us and He will prepare, provide and protect His own. That is why we must humble ourselves and walk in his path.  If we will, our lives will be full, complete and rich with His spirit.  Help me, Lord to trust in you and follow you closely.
 
God Bless You

Since it was customary for the king to consult experts in matters of law and justice, he spoke with the wise men who understood the times 14 and were closest to the king—Karshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena and Memukan, the seven nobles of Persia and Media who had special access to the king and were highest in the kingdom.

15 “According to law, what must be done to Queen Vashti?” he asked. “She has not obeyed the command of King Xerxes that the eunuchs have taken to her.”

16 Then Memukan replied in the presence of the king and the nobles, “Queen Vashti has done wrong, not only against the king but also against all the nobles and the peoples of all the provinces of King Xerxes. 17 For the queen’s conduct will become known to all the women, and so they will despise their husbands and say, ‘King Xerxes commanded Queen Vashti to be brought before him, but she would not come.’ 18 This very day the Persian and Median women of the nobility who have heard about the queen’s conduct will respond to all the king’s nobles in the same way. There will be no end of disrespect and discord.

19 “Therefore, if it pleases the king, let him issue a royal decree and let it be written in the laws of Persia and Media, which cannot be repealed, that Vashti is never again to enter the presence of King Xerxes. Also let the king give her royal position to someone else who is better than she. 20 Then when the king’s edict is proclaimed throughout all his vast realm, all the women will respect their husbands, from the least to the greatest.”

21 The king and his nobles were pleased with this advice, so the king did as Memukan proposed. 22 He sent dispatches to all parts of the kingdom, to each province in its own script and to each people in their own language, proclaiming that every man should be ruler over his own household, using his native tongue.

Esther 1–Pride is an Awful Sin

We are moving to the next character study for 2020, We will begin looking at the life of Esther.  Esther is the only book within the Bible that God is not mentioned directly. Yet, As one looks at the lives of the characters within the story, it is clear that God is the ultimate Ruler.  In the beginning of the story of Esther, the Persian king is doing very well.  In fact, he is doing so well that he throws a baquet for the nobles and leaders of the land.  His wife also throws a banquet for the wives of those leaders.  Everything is going along swimmingly until the King calls for his wife to come to entertain the men.
 
The queen, Vashti,  was a beautiful woman and had a great life.  She forgot, though, she served at the pleasure of the king.  As such, she decided her party was as important as the King’s and so she simply refused to honor his request to attend the Kings banquet.  So much beauty, so much pride.  Sadly, her pride would end her reign, but, it would also set in motion a series of events that would literally save the nation of Israel.  
 
In our lives, we often treasure the blessings we are given by the Lord.  We rest in the Lord and allow Him to bless us.  But, then somewhere along the way we lose sight that we are serving at His pleasure and begin to be prideful and selfish.  That can lead to a serious separation from God’s blessing and cause struggles that will change our lives and the lives of many we know and love.  God calls us to humble ourselves and walk selflessly and allow Him to lead. If we will do that, the Lord will bless and direct our paths. If, however, we choose to run independent of the Lord, we can rest assured God will allow it and it will end badly–as it did for Vashti.  Help me Lord to always walk in Yur path, humbly and faithfully! So I can trust in you.
 
God Bless You

These events took place during the days of Ahasuerus, who ruled 127 provinces from India to Cush. In those days King Ahasuerus reigned from his royal throne in the fortress at Susa. He held a feast in the third year of his reign for all his officials and staff, the army of Persia and Media, the nobles, and the officials from the provinces. He displayed the glorious wealth of his kingdom and the magnificent splendor of his greatness for a total of 180 days.

At the end of this time, the king held a week-long banquet in the garden courtyard of the royal palace for all the people, from the greatest to the least, who were present in the fortress of Susa. White and violet linen hangings were fastened with fine white and purple linen cords to silver rods on marble[a] columns. Gold and silver couches were arranged on a mosaic pavement of red feldspar,[b] marble, mother-of-pearl, and precious stones.

Drinks were served in an array of gold goblets, each with a different design. Royal wine flowed freely, according to the king’s bounty. The drinking was according to royal decree: “There are no restrictions.” The king had ordered every wine steward in his household to serve whatever each person wanted. Queen Vashti also gave a feast for the women of King Ahasuerus’s palace.

10 On the seventh day, when the king was feeling good from the wine, Ahasuerus commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar, and Carkas—the seven eunuchs who personally served him— 11 to bring Queen Vashti before him with her royal crown. He wanted to show off her beauty to the people and the officials, because she was very beautiful. 12 But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s command that was delivered by his eunuchs. The king became furious and his anger burned within him.