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8 posts categorized "Esther"
Dear friends, just wanted to share the live Facebook video I did on Wednesday regarding my post about the Mordecai Time we are now in and how the Holy Spirit "dropped" this revelation upon me. In addition, I share a word about God's Spirit being given "without measure," right from the book of John. It's amazing, these times were are living in, SUMites! God is moving in stunning ways. Walk with Him, trust Him to do it, and watch what He does. By His Spirit! Amen! Love you! Dineen
For such a time as this…
Hello, my dear SUM family. I’m so excited to share this last part of the Esther series, because you are about to see something new. Something new that only God could do.
Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. — Isaiah 43:19 (ESV)
Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told. — Habakkuk 1:5 (ESV)
These two verses are very near and dear to my heart, my friends, because for seven years straight, God would bring these two verses to my attention around September. And every year I would take note of this and grow in expectation of this new thing God was about to do, then I’d wait all year until they showed up again!
Yet this last year, He has brought the verse from Isaiah out all over the place, and constantly. Many of you have shared this verse as well, because God has spoken it to your heart regarding His promises for you and your marriage.
Isn’t it amazing?! And it’s getting even better.
But I want to start with the concept of authority and what it meant for Jesus and what it means for us today. This is also a key principal for our marriages as well, my friends, for I believe this is another aspect of 1 Cor. 7:14.
For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. — 1 Cor. 7:14 (NIV)
First, let me clarify a few things. A leader is defined in the dictionary as a commander. However, as I said in an earlier post, you can have a leader who is limited in their position and power, because he doesn’t have authority. For example, your husband can be the leader of the family in the natural, but won’t have authority in the spiritual aspects of the family because they haven’t received Christ yet, or haven’t chosen to step into that place yet.
Authority has to do with power or the right to give orders and influence. And power is defined as ability and influence. This is where we come in, SUMites. We walk in the authority we’ve been given as co-heirs with Jesus Christ (Romans 8:17). And our power in this place is more in how we influence the atmosphere of our home, because of the Holy Spirit living in us. We release this into our homes through our faith and our prayers. We have a great deal of influence, even without saying a word. More than we realize sometimes. We are truly atmosphere changers!
As the book of Esther comes to a close, we see King Xerxes was in leadership, and he had power and authority. When he promoted Mordecai, King Xerxes placed him at a new level of leadership and power, then he also gave Mordecai the royal seal (king’s ring) which gave him a new level of authority.
Now this is what the Holy Spirit showed me about authority. Before his crucifixion, Jesus was asked where His authority came from.
And when he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” — Matt. 21:23 (ESV)
And Jesus answered this question many times to clarify where His authority came from.
So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. — John 8:28 (ESV)
Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. — John 14:10 (ESV)
Jesus didn’t work within His own authority as the Son of Man. He deferred to the authority of the Father for everything He said and did. And within that parameter He was able to give the disciples power and authority over the enemy. Think of this as more of an anointing for the commission they were sent to do.
And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. — Luke 9:1 (ESV)
Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. — Luke 10:19 (ESV)
And in Luke, we see the enemy held authority as well, over the earth.
And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. — Luke 4:5-6 (ESV)
Then after the cross, everything radically changed. Jesus describes His authority in a very different way.
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. — Mat 28:18 (ESV)
Before the cross, Jesus walked in the authority as a son of Man and the pre-resurrection Messiah. After the cross, He has the authority He originally walked in, all the authority on earth, which He took from the enemy through His death on the cross, AND now the authority of the Father through His resurrection and the Son of God. He holds ALL authority.
In essence like Mordecai, Jesus received the signet ring, my friends, and all the authority of THE KING. Do you see the transfer of power and authority here? Mordecai was promoted and given power and authority to act in the king’s name. Jesus Christ died and was fully revealed in His position as the Son of God with all the power and authority of the Father, because He and the Father are one.
The last chapter about the greatness of Mordecai seems almost like an afterthought, yet in fact, he is the the point of the story of Esther for us today, my friends. How is that possible?
This is what the Holy Spirit told me, and please read this very carefully.
We have been in an Esther time, for quite a while actually.
But now, we are moving into a Mordecai time.
God is moving us from the level of authority we have been operating in to a higher level of authority than we have ever known.
It is the new.
And it is completely by His Spirit, SUMites. He is doing all of this. It’s astounding. It’s astonishing. And it’s absolutely amazing. This is what the acceleration we’ve been experiencing is about, and it’s going to continue as we step into completely new ways of operating in our gifts and territories.
By His Spirit. That’s key. We must be willing to stop doing what we’ve always known to do and leave the comfort of those familiar ways. He is leading us to a new way of simply following His leading and operating under this new authority He is giving us.
So, my friends, begin asking Him what He wants to do for you right now, where He wants to take you, how He wants to lead you (that’s an especially good question), and then follow Him wherever He takes you. He will not tell you the big picture, because this is about His leading and you following. Simply trust Him for each step.
You will begin to grow in trust like you never thought you could, you will begin to hear Him like you’ve always wanted to, and you will begin to see in the natural what you have been praying into the supernatural for so long.
SUMites, we live in the most exciting of times, right now. The “for such a time as this” has come and now we are walking into the next one, a Mordecai Time. And the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are taking you with Them.
I believe this is connected to our salvation word last year too. Last month I experienced an unexpected vision of a scroll and the seal was broken for me to read it. On it was written the word SALVATION, in all caps and in blood. As I read it, the Lord said, "The assignment's been given. Now rest in Me."
Only now as I write this post has God shown me the connection of the new level of authority we are entering to the broken seal on the scroll and the signet ring in Esther…
SUMites, we’ve been given the signet ring!
Dear friends, SUM family, I pray this absolutely encourages and stuns you. And I pray the Lord will make this clear to you in amazing ways. That you will begin to walk completely into the NEW! And I bless you with wisdom and knowledge, peace and comfort, expectation and delight! In the powerful name of Jesus, amen!
Love you dearly!
Copyright: zatletic / 123RF Stock Photo
For such a time as this…
SUMites, when we last left Esther and Mordecai, the king had given them Mordecai his signet ring (authority). Esther seems to hold such great favor with the king that just her explanation of her relationship to Mordecai results in this transfer of authority.
Esther again speaks to the king, falling at his feet in tears as she pleads for the lives of her people. The king gives both her and Mordecai permission to do what they feel best to save the Jews. The king’s scribes are summoned and a new proclamation is written to “react” to the one Haman had made. Since a Persian’s king’s decree could not be revoked, this counter attack was the best way to stop the annihilation of the Jewish population. Once again, the God of the Jews is protecting them.
Take a closer look at this stunning description of what happened next:
Then 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. The Jews had light and gladness and joy and honor. And in every province and in every city, wherever the king's command and his edict reached, there was gladness and joy among the Jews, a feast and a holiday. And many from the peoples of the country declared themselves Jews, for fear of the Jews had fallen on them. — Esther 8:15-17
Did you catch that last line? Not only were the Jews saved, but people were converted to Judaism as well. God’s presence among the Jews was unmistakable. We’ve seen that in the subtle hints by the author using the number seven. What’s so interesting, my friends, is in the midst of this study, I’ve been rather fascinated by the mention of the seven Spirits of God.
There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. — Isa. 11:1-2
From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, — Rev. 4:5
Now interestingly enough, in reading through Esther the Holy Spirit began pointing out the characteristics of God present in this story. Seven of them. I began to wonder if these characteristics could be linked to the seven Spirits of God. Take a look:
God of Sovereignty (Spirit of the Lord—mandates us for position): God chose specific people to put in key places—Esther, Mordecai and Xerxes. He first placed Esther in a position to be queen and then Mordecai to be in an even greater position of power.
God of Justice (Spirit of Wisdom—equips us for position): The gallows built by Haman become his own death sentence. Esther and Mordecai create decrees that uniquely counter Haman’s plot by bringing justice to the Jews.
God of Provision (Spirit of Understanding—authorizes us for position): Esther’s favor is secure throughout the story. Mordecai’s favor continues to increase. And God is generous in His astonishing provision for Esther, Mordecai and the Jews.
God of Partnership (Spirit of Council—prepares us for position): God chooses to partner with His people to accomplish His plans and purposes. Even though we are not told He is there, we see His presence at work throughout the story, especially in the council Esther receives through Mordecai and Hegai.
God of Faithfulness (Spirit of Might—reveals us for position): God continues to save Israel even in her captivity, and uses two of their people to do it through.
God of the Impossible (Spirit of Knowledge—empowers us for position): Esther was a jew living in exile, yet she is made the Queen of Persia. And she uses her position and what she has learned to save her people.
God of Perfection (Spirit of Fear of the Lord—seals us for position): God’s time is perfect in the orchestration of the events. Especially in how Haman’s plots are revealed and used against him. The timing is quite uncanny. And Esther and Mordecai never question whether God is present or not. They know He is there and that He will answer their pleas. For the most part, they are secure in who they are and where God has placed them.
Now, what’s even more interesting is the new holiday that emerges from these events. As you probably guessed, the name Purim comes from the pur (lots) that Haman tossed to determine the date of the Jewish annihilation.
In chapter nine we see one of the first things Mordecai does is make a decree to all the provinces that the Jews are to keep the 14th and the 15th days of the month of Adar as a celebration of their deliverance from their enemies. They were to be days of feasting, gladness, gifts of food and gifts to the poor.
Today that holiday is still observed with the reading of the book of Esther (Megillah) once on the even of Purim and then on the following day, the giving of money gifts to at least two poor people, sending gifts of two kinds of food to at least one person, and a Purim feast, which often includes either wine or other intoxicating beverages.
Purim is actually one of the more livelier holidays on the Jewish calendar. On the day before, it is customary to fast in commemoration of Esther’s prayer and fasting. During Purim, children and adults wear costumes and indulge in sweets like hamantaschen, a three cornered, sweet-filled pastry. (For more information on Purim, click here.
What I found most significant in my research of this holiday is what God has done just recently for the Jewish people. In the early 1950’s, Joseph Stalin had brutal plans to deal with the “Jewish problem” in the U.S.S.R. At the crisis point in 1953, he died…on Purim.
In 1991, Saddam Hussein of Iraq invaded Kuwait and began firing SCUD missiles into Israel. U.S.-led forces attacked Iraq and ended hostilities…on Purim.
Fascinating, isn’t it? God continues to move “behind the scenes” even today on behalf of the Jewish Nation. So encouraging!
My friends, I have one post left in this series and it is the one I’ve been dying to share since I started this series. But the Holy Spirit has continually kept me on track to bring out key points first so that you may fully embrace what He is speaking to us right now. It is astonishing and awe-inspiring!
Love you, SUMites! Great things are happening!
Copyright: zatletic / 123RF Stock Photo
For such a time as this…
My friends, we’re moving deeper into the story of Esther where things are moving much faster and starting to heat up in a big way. We left the story with Queen Esther’s life hanging in the balance.
As chapter five opens, Queen Esther has put on her royal robes (put on her best dress) and enters the king’s throne room. We hold our breath and wait. What will her fate be? Yet we know who, I mean WHO, has her back, right? With God behind her, she is destined for victory.
Just as we are, my friends. Often, it’s all in how we look at it. Like Mordecai, we can turn every situation upside down and ask God, “What do you want to do here? What are the possibilities?”
King Xerxes extends his scepter, and she is welcomed in. And not only that. The king offers her whatever she wants, even up to half of his kingdom. My friends, here is where we see God’s heart working in a big way. He has placed Esther in even more favor in her situation, and, amazingly, displays this through the king, her husband.
Do we miss that sometimes? Do we miss how God can work through our spouses and show His extravagant love through them? I know I have. God has had to almost knock me upside the head at times, but when I see it, I am so overwhelmed. It’s unmistakable in its generosity and goodness.
Now, if you’re like me, the first time you read Esther, you probably expected her to reveal everything to the king at that moment, but instead, Esther invites the king and Haman to a banquet she prepares. And if you’re still like me, you probably asked, why is she prolonging this?
Based upon what we see in the beginning of this story with Queen Vashti, I wonder if Esther wanted to reveal who she was to the king without the presence of the king’s nobles, who clearly seemed to have a lot of power and influence over the king. In fact, King Xerxes seems like a puppet at times, allowing the opinions and ideas of those around him to rule his kingdom.
But then, why would she want Haman to attend as well, if that were the case?
The plot continues to thicken yet again, my friends. Esther continues to withhold her request by asking the king and Haman to join her for another banquet the next day, with the promise to answer the king’s question.
We can only speculate, but my thoughts here are that she was securing her place once again in the king’s heart and hoping Haman would lower his guard enough to be exposed. After all, she surely knew the place Haman held in the king’s court as his most honored noble. Queen Esther probably wanted to ensure that her favor with the king overruled Haman’s (vss. 5:7, 7:3).
In the meantime, Haman is doing some plotting of his own. He is so certain of his place with the king and now the queen, he orders gallows to be built for Mordecai to be hung on at the suggestion of his wife and friends. (Note: the NIV translation describes a pole and that Mordecai was to be impaled upon it.)
But as we see in the Joseph’s story, what the enemy means to harm us, God uses for our good. That very night, a sleepless King Xerxes orders the book of memorable deeds to be opened and read to him. And what do you know, the story of Mordecai exposing the plot to kill the king is read!
And the king is reminded that Mordecai was never rewarded for his act. We are now in chapter six with Haman’s plan to have Mordecai killed waiting to be initiated, yet the king has decided to honor that very same man. Talk about a clash of the Persians!
My friends, I find this part of the story somewhat hilarious as Haman walks right into his own trap. Only God could orchestrate this "just" moment. “Just” as Haman is entering the king’s court with full intentions to petition the king for Mordecai's death, the king is calling Haman to consult him about honoring Mordecai.
And Haman’s assumption and expectation to be honored by the king with his own suggestions is turned completely upside down. He winds up the one ordered to lead the very man he hates, Mordecai, around the city wearing the king’s robe and riding the king’s horse, shouting, “This is what is done to the man the king delights to honor.”
Haman is completely humiliated. I can’t help but wonder how Mordecai felt in all this. I can’t see him sitting on that horse too comfortably and gloating. I suspect he may have been a tad uncomfortable but was wise enough to comply since it was the king’s order to honor him.
At the end of chapter six, even Haman’s wife and wise men tell him he didn’t stand a chance. They already see his imminent fall when pitted against the Jewish people, which tells us the remnant of Israel already has a reputation of having a God who comes through for them.
And so do we, SUMites. Our God is so faithful. He comes through for us. And in the most unexpected ways! If a people group who didn’t even follow Yaweh have such an expectation, how much more can our expectation be of our God, Who gives us everything.
And not just half the kingdom, but the entire Kingdom through His Son Jesus…
We’re entering chapter seven and the demise of Haman. At this second banquet, Queen Esther answers the king’s question, “What is your wish?” She asks for her life and reveals she is one of the very people the king has decreed to be killed. At the revelation that Haman, the king’s most valued noble, is the one behind the decree, King Xerxes becomes enraged.
Could part of the king’s anger be a realization that he so easily gave Haman his ring and authority to make such a decree? Could we question here whether King Xerxes held much authority at this point as he seemed to allow others to make decisions for him? He certainly seems to regain some of this when he orders Hamas to be hanged on the same gallows he built for Mordecai.
Yet by chapter eight, the king has already given his signet ring to Mordecai after Queen Esther explains who he is. This happens before she pleads with him to avert the pending threat against her people. My friends, in my introduction to Esther, one of my bullet points was “the shifting of positions of those in authority and those in leadership.”
I intentionally worded it that way and you may have wondered what the difference was. This is part of what the Holy Spirit “talked” to me about one Sunday afternoon after church. Authority and leadership are not the same. You can have a leader without authority, but someone with authority will lead. He also explained that leadership without authority falls short of God’s plan.
Now here is where this discussion became very interesting. Using Scriptures, the Holy Spirit showed me there are different levels of authority. It is fascinating, my friends. Something I had wondered about in the past but now understand more clearly. This I will share with you soon and the stunning revelation that goes with it.
In the meantime, share your hearts in the comments. We are nearing the end of Esther’s story and the beginning of another one. What parts of Esther speak to you, my friends? What revelations in this story are taking root and perhaps helping you see your situation in a different light?
Copyright: zatletic / 123RF Stock Photo
For such a time as this…
SUMites, are you as riveted by this story as I am? The intrigue thickens as we walk into chapter three. Mordecai continues to refuse to bow to Haman or explain why to the other gate officials when asked. These men bring this to Haman's attention to see if it will be tolerated.
Sound familiar? Everyone watched to see if former Queen Vashti's refusal of the king would be tolerated as well. All eyes are on the king waiting to see precedent set. We see the same mentality today in our own political arenas, my friends. It's like a pack mentality.
Haman is now alert to Mordecai's ongoing refusal and is enraged. He has learned who Mordecai's people are and decides he the idea of just killing Mordecai isn't enough. He wasn't to eliminate all the Jews.
There is history in the works here as well, my friends. Haman is described as the son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, in the beginning of chapter three. It's likely this refers to King Agag, king of Amalek. The Amalekites were the ones who attacked the Israelites after they fled Egypt. Exodus 17:16 says, "The Lord will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation."
This history no doubt influence Haman's and Mordecai's view of each, I believe. Bad blood, so to speak, raised it's ugly head and determined destruction was the only answer. In the twelfth year of King Xerxes reign (and Esther's seventh as queen), they (which is unclear who) cast the pur, which means "the lot."
Pur, or lots, were either sticks with markings or stones with symbols that were thrown into a small area and then the result was interpreted. It’s also where the name of the Jewish celebration Purim comes from, which we will discuss more later in this story.
This is how Haman determined the exact date of the demise of the Jews. Once he did this, he manipulated the king to agree by describing the Jews scattered all over the his provinces as a threat to his reign. Haman even offers the king a large sum of money out of his own wealth to fund the cause. King Xerxes hands over his signet ring, which was used to mark official documents with the official seal and authority of the king, tells him to keep his money and "do with the people as you please." (Esther 3:11)
Then the king's scribes were summoned on the thirteenth day of the first month, and an edict, according to all that Haman commanded, was written to the king's satraps and to the governors over all the provinces and to the officials of all the peoples, to every province in its own script and every people in its own language. It was written in the name of King Ahasuerus and sealed with the king's signet ring. Letters were sent by couriers to all the king's provinces with instruction to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate all Jews, young and old, women and children, in one day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods. A copy of the document was to be issued as a decree in every province by proclamation to all the peoples to be ready for that day. The couriers went out hurriedly by order of the king, and the decree was issued in Susa the citadel. And the king and Haman sat down to drink, but the city of Susa was thrown into confusion. — Esther 3:12-15 (ESV)
Did you catch that last line? The entire city was thrown into confusion. Clearly this decree baffled the people with its instructions to destroy an entire people group. Can you imagine what those from other nationalities thought? Would they be next? Israel wasn’t the only nation conquered by King Xerxes.
At the start of chapter four the news sends Mordecai into a traditional expression of grief in the Near East. He dons sackcloth and ashes and walks through the city crying and weeping loudly. And he was not the only one. Jews everywhere were doing the same thing.
The news deeply distressed Esther, but what could she do? The king still didn’t know she was Jewish—no one did except Mordecai. She sends the eunuch Hathach (how many of these guys does one palace need?) to bring Mordecai proper clothing but he refuses them. My guess is she wanted to protect her cousin from scrutiny and further harm.
Through Hathach, Mordecai gives Esther the full picture, even to the amount of money Haman had offered the king. Speculation says the king’s initial refusal was just customary and that he did accept the money based upon Esther 4:7. But I’m thinking at this point, surely Hathach must know more about Esther’s true heritage as the go between here. In her seven-year-reign, she’s surely surrounded herself with trusted advisors and confidants.
Now here’s where we find out two interesting details. No one, not even the queen, can go to the king without being summoned. To do so is to risk of death. If the king doesn’t want to talk to you and doesn’t extend his scepter, you are condemned to death (vs. 4:11).
We also find out Esther hasn’t seen the king in a month. They’ve been married now for seven years, remember? Could it be the king was growing tired of her? (Maybe the seven-year-itch existed even then!) How could Queen Esther not wonder if that were the case? It’s no wonder she felt her life could be at risk.
But Mordecai, as he seems to always do, gives her the full perspective. Even though she is the queen, she is still a Jew and will not escape what is about to happen to her people. In other words, her life was already forfeited as it stood. Yet Mordecai does something genius here, my friends. He turns the perspective on end.
Instead of declaring death over their lives, he brings a different possibility to the forefront. What if all that had happened to Esther was to bring her to a place to ultimately help her people?
For such a time as this…
And take notice here that neither Esther or Mordecai question the presence of God in this situation. They don’t even doubt His presence. It is assumed God is there, and they will do their part by fasting and praying.
At the end of chapter four we watch Esther rise to the call and tell Mordecai to gather the Jews in Susa to fast and pray for three days. Now she is the one giving the orders to Mordecai, and he is the one obeying. Esther has chosen not only to position herself in the full authority of her place as queen, but to use it to benefit her people. No matter the risk.
SUMites, we’ve talked in the past about how similar our roles are to Esther. She was most definitely mismatched in that she was married to someone who didn’t share her faith. Yet she ultimately held a great place of influence as she put her faith in God to uphold and save her. And ultimately justify her as well. At times we too stand in a precarious place, unsure whether to speak at the risk of losing the favor of our spouse, or to remain silent. But look closely, my friends, and see if there is a Mordecai there, pointing in the right direction. He can be the leading of the Holy Spirit, a timely placed person who speaks truth like a mentor, a circumstance or even a moment that clearly calls us to rise to the place God is calling us to. He speaks to our hearts and says, “Come up here!”
My friends, we see God meet Esther with strength, courage and provision so that she can rise and walk the path she is called to. God has placed her for that such a time as this moment, my friends, just as we are in the lives of our spouses and even more. So much more, SUMites. That’s part of that big revelation that I told you about. We’re almost there. You are going to love it!
For such a time as this…
I remember nearly twenty years ago studying the book of Esther and finding myself enamored with this woman of humble means and her willingness to sacrifice her life to save her people. I wondered if I could do such a thing myself. I felt (and still do) very connected the Jewish people and their story. Most likely because my birth father and my grandfather were Jewish. However, my grandfather married a Methodist woman and refused to allow his children to be raised Jewish.
Interesting how one person's decision can change the entire course of those who come after, isn't it? Vashti chose to refuse the king. Esther chose to risk her life. Mordecai chose to reveal a plot against a king, who would haphazardly follow the council of a wicked man bent on destroying the Jews.
So here we are, my friends, at a pivotal time in Esther's story. Her life story is changed by Vashti's choice and the king's decision to find a new queen. Makes you wonder what her aspirations may have been before this. We can only theorize based upon what we know about the culture of the time. The movie "One Night with the King" is one such venture to imagine a backstory for Esther while staying grounded biblically. (If you haven't seen it yet, plan a movie day!)
Chapter two opens with King Xerxes seemingly in a place of regret. His fury has subsided and he remembers Vashti and what he has decreed about her. Perhaps seeing his regret, his personal attendants rush in to assuage the king's heart. Let's find a new queen for the king!
And this is where the lives of the King Xerxes, Mordecai and Esther begin to intersect. Mordecai (which means "little man" or "worshipper of Mars") was captured under King Nebuchadnezzar’s reign and now holds a position of leadership. He stands outside the gates, most likely as an elder to settle disputes brought to him by respected citizens. In chapter three he is referred to as a royal official. In fact, we are introduced to him before we meet Esther.
Esther, which means "star," is actually the daughter of Mordecai’s uncle. Perhaps her parents were killed in the invasion by Nebuchadnezzar. However, we only know Mordecai has raised her like his own. Esther is brought to the palace as a candidate for the position of queen and is about to walk into a world of which she probably knows little and become the star of the show, so to speak, though it is her humility and demure nature that begin to win her favor with those she encounters. And we continue to watch the "behind the scenes" workings of God, Who is still unmentioned. Yet from our perspective we clearly see God's hand at work, as good and evil interplay.
Esther pleases the eunuch Hegai (which simply means "eunuch") and wins his favor immediately. He provides a year of beauty treatments, special food and assigns her seven (there it is is again) female attendants selected from the king's palace. God continues to prepare this pivotal time in history to bring Esther into a constant light of favor, ultimately with the king who was more attracted to her than any of the other candidates.
And we see Esther grow in wisdom as well, as she takes with her to the palace only that which Hegai, the eunuch advises her to take. Hegai is clearly strategic in his actions to ensure that Esther will be chosen. And she continues to be obedient to Mordecai's instructions that she keep her nationality a secret.
Again we see more of the author's elusion to God's presence in the seven attendants assigned to Esther, who is brought to King Xerxes in the seventh year of his reign. What's fascinating here, as well, is the time involved in all of this. We tend to read the story and assume it unfolds quickly after Vashti's deposition, but in fact, four years have passed. And Esther sits as queen for five years before the conflict with Haman begins.
Yet another smaller plot unfolds at the end of chapter two that seems to also be part of God's great "set-up" in this story. Two of the kings eunuchs who protected the king's private quarters have become angry for some reason and are plotting to kill the king. And Mordecai happens to be the one positioned to overhear it from his place at the king's gate. I can't help but wonder what went through Mordecai's mind when he first overheard this plot. Did he consider the implications first?
He gets word to Esther of the plot, who in turn tells the king, giving Mordecai credit as the source. The eunuchs are are hanged and the events are recorded in the book of annals right in the king's presence, yet Mordecai isn't rewarded. I find it interesting how conveniently the king forgets only to be reminded during a sleepless night in chapter six.
The intrigue continues to build, my friends. In the opening to chapter three King Xerxes honors Haman, giving him a seat higher than all the other nobles. Haman isn't even mentioned in the list of those seven nobles mentioned in chapter one, but here he is elevated to the highest position next to the king. What shifts of power have occurred during this six to seven year period of Esther's place as queen?
As the spotlight shifts to Haman, which means "magnificent," he is revealed to be quite a vain and conniving person. His ego seems to only be fueled by the king's royal officials requirement to bow before him—an order from the king himself.
But Mordecai refused.
And that is where we will leave it for now, SUMites. So much more is coming as this story continues to unfold and culminates to a very unexpected revelation the Holy Spirit showed me. I'm excited to tell you about that...soon. First the pieces must all come into place to build the full picture of what God was doing in the story of Esther and what He is doing in us today. It's astonishing and mind blowing!
Love you, SUMites!
Copyright: zatletic / 123RF Stock Photo
For such a time as this...
Hello, my friends! Welcome to part one of our study of Esther! Like many of you who commented on Monday, I love the book of Esther. The more I read and study it, the more I appreciate the complexity and the multiple layers that compose this fascinating story.
And that is how I've decided to approach this amazing book of the Bible. We will go chapter by chapter in search of the truths and details of each layer.
The Layers of Esther
When I look at stories, I tend to look for layers and how they intertwine together. Esther is rich in this kind of structure and symbolism as well. I hope you get as excited as I do when I discover these details. They truly bring the story to life in my mind, and in my heart, my friends.
These layers appear to be:
- God's work "behind the scenes"
- The enemy's reaction to God’s work "behind the scenes"
- The changing and building relationships between the characters
- The shifting of positions of those in authority and those in leadership
- The positioning of key people to save the nation of Israel
First, let's ground our story in a relatable timeline. Esther's story begins to unfold about 15 years before Ezra would lead his expedition to Jerusalem. If you've read the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, you're probably already familiar with the poor state of the temple and surrounding walls in Jerusalem and the astonishing way God moved a pagan king (Cyrus) to help the Israelites begin to rebuild it. So basically, the books of Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther are about the restoration of Israel.
So, imagine if you will, that you are a Jew living in one of the 127 provinces ruled by King Xerxes. Your people have been in exile for some time and have settled all over these provinces. Yet you sense things are about to stir and change. You know the prophecies of the Torah and have a tenuous hold on the the promise that one day Yahweh would restore the nation of Israel and return you and your people to Jerusalem. But perhaps you're struggling to imagine how God could accomplish such a thing after the destruction of the past.
Yet right in the midst of your story, another begins to unfold. We're now peeking into the palace of King Xerxes as he closes 180 days of celebrations to display his vast wealth and the glory of his majesty. The palace is full of nobles, officials and the servants doing their bidding. And now, the king is giving a final banquet in the enclosed garden with unlimited food and drink.
Here's where we find the first hints of God's presence, clues I believe the unknown author of this story included to show that God was always there even though He's not mentioned. We see this in the use of the number seven, which is associated with God and His creation.
- The king's banquet was to last seven days.
- The king commands seven specifically named eunuchs to bring Queen Vashti before him.
- The king consults seven specifically named nobles of Persia and Media, who were considered wise and closest to the king.
- The confrontation with Vashti occurs on the seventh day of the banquet.
What else can we glean and take not of in this first chapter of Esther's story? The celebration of Purim doesn’t exist yet, as it it a tradition direction birthed out of the events of Esther. We will explore that more as it unfolds toward the end of the book and how it continues to be a key part and celebration for Jews today.
Some speculate that the king’s request for Queen Vashti to present herself before the court may have actually meant she was to appear nude, waring only her crown. However, that is not historically or biblically supported. But it does seem she would have been in a somewhat humiliation position to be on display before men who had been drinking without limit for seven days. Yet surely she knew the risk and felt she needed to still refuse the king’s request.
Now let's have a little fun here. How about the names of those nobles and eunuchs? I find those fascinating as well. Names were often used to indicate the person's vocation, character, or relevance in the stories of the Bible. And remember, these were real people, SUMites.
First, let's quickly cover that the role of a eunuch wasn't usually voluntary. The position required the man to be castrated, which seemed to be considered an insurance of loyalty to the king and the protection of the king's property, specifically his wives and concubines.
Here are the seven eunuchs mentioned in chapter one and their meaning:
Mehuman - faith
Biztha - booty
Harbona - ass-driver
Bigtha - in the wine press
Abagtha - God-given
Zethar - star
What's interesting is that Bigtha and Abagtha are listed together in the ESV translation, yet not in others. But that's a question for the scholars out there.
Here are the names and meanings of the seven nobles mentioned in chapter one:
Carshena - illustrious
Shethar - a star
Admatha - a testimony to them
Tarshish - yellow jasper
Meres - lofty
Marsena - worthy
Memucan - dignified
And it is Memucan who speaks in reply to the kings question of what to do about Vashti’s refusal of the king’s request, which they perceive to be a threat not only to the king’s authority but also to the authority of every husband in his home.
My friends, in this first chapter alone have "watched" the positions of two roles change. The place of queen is now vacant due to Vashti's dismissal (divorce) by the king. And a new proclamation in every language has been sent to all the provinces stipulating that the husband is the ruler in his home.
How interesting...how interesting that the voice of the women in this kingdom was silenced at this point of the story. Here we see the enemy's reaction to God's action, as if he is anticipating God's plans to bring a new voice from an unsuspecting place and person to save the remnants of Israel.
And that's where we will leave this fascinating story for today. My friends, what aspects of Esther are coming to life for you? What insights are you gleaning? Let's have some fun in the comments!
For such a time as this...
Hello SUMites! I mentioned last week that I was feeling led to do an series on Esther. Since then I can’t seem to stay away from this book and have poured hours of research into digging into the deeper places of this astonishing story. So consider this an introduction to Esther and what I have in store thus far to share with you. And I encourage you to read the book yourself and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal its truths and promises to you too.
One of the most significant aspects of the story of Esther is that God is not mentioned by name once in the book. He isn’t even referred to. But He is very much implied. However, there are actually clues I believe the author put in place to make indirect references to God’s presence, something I hadn’t noticed before. So fascinating!
In researching the people highlighted in this story, I discovered the Hebrew meaning of their names to often be significant and indicators of their place in this God-driven story. And that even key attributes of God’s character are clearly yet indirectly displayed.
On a larger scale Esther is the story of the birth of a Jewish tradition and celebration (Purim) that has had significant historical impact in that last century alone that is unmistakably God’s work to save the nation of Israel.
My friends, Esther is a very multifaceted true story that holds romance, power, intrigue and much more. I am excited to explore its depths with you and look forward to hearing your comments too. We are going to have fun with this one, SUMites, and in reading about Esther and the nation of Israel, I’ve no doubt we will discover our own stories and God-driven purposes in the lives of our spouses and our families. And in our nation as well.
So, are you with me on this one? Ready to go an adventure with me? If so, give a shout out in the comments and share anything else that’s on your heart, my friends. I know the Holy Spirit is already at work among us, the SUM Nation, stirring our hearts for “such a time as this.”
And in the mighty and saving name of Jesus, I say, AMEN!
Love you so much, my friends!
Copyright: zatletic / 123RF Stock Photo