What an amazing 24 hours of worship we had on Tuesday/Wednesday. I’m writing this just after finishing my hour. The house is quiet, and I’m at peace. How impactful it was to spend an hour thinking about God. There was nothing else but Him. Not even an inkling of my 'stuff. Just Him.
I’m writing today with a change in gears. It’s time for our summer study on the Book of Esther, and I have the pleasure of kicking it off. Lynn will post next, and we’ll take turns. Many will remember we studied this book two years ago (April 2017) but we seem to hear ‘Esther’ again. I’m helping with the writing as I have a little more time than usual this month. So, are you sitting comfortably? I am!
I’ve been praying for this first post, that the Holy Spirit will show us what He wants us to see; and, in praying, this is what came to mind:
Esther’s story is like a chess game. God is the smartest player. Satan is weak. But Satan still plays the game. When a pair is this mismatched in battle, we know whose victory will come: CHECK MATE!
Esther’s story occurs in the time of the Medes and Persians, most likely 483BC. Intriguingly, the timing has been a little elusive to historians. They have debated the identity of Esther’s husband, King Ahaseurus. That alone gives the book an air of mystery. The names of the key players are not the same as known historical Persian figures. That’s not to say it’s not true, just elusive. Alongside this, God is not mentioned; yet He is symbolised throughout. He is a hand behind the scenes, somewhat concealed.
So, the book has playful secrets. Its famous verse is “For such a time as this”, and yet historians can’t confirm the timing! It’s as if God invites us to chase Him for it, to play hide and seek, asking, “What time is it, Lord?”
I wonder if you’re like me, and ask: “Lord, what time are we in now? What time of church history and Kingdom expansion are we in?”
The book of Revelation feels the same. There are clues, but we have to strain hard and get on our knees to find out more. What we do know is that Esther’s story is set in Persia, modern-day Iran. The empire is enormous, extending into Africa, Europe and Asia, absorbing Jerusalem. This is as Daniel prophesied: The rule of a powerful foreign empire is upon them (Daniel 2:39). It’s quite possible that Daniel was there, in the city of Shushan, watching and praying for Esther -- An elderly man who in younger days conquered lions. That thought completely intrigues me.
In this powerful territory, then, live the Jewish people, God’s chicks. They’re scattered; some are in Jerusalem but there is a substantial number in Persia. They all live under foreign rule, but God’s eyes never leave them. He broods over them like a mother hen, remembering His beloved Abram:
“I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” Genesis 12:3
Those in the know should say, “don’t bother coming against Abram’s children; it won’t go well for you,” but who in Persia remembers that? God does allow slavery, but annihilation is something different. His "NO!" booms in the heavenlies. Satan, the enemy of our souls, can’t help himself, though. The thought of the Jews birthing the Messiah makes him scream in rage. His mission? Jewish extinction.
Satan’s plan is enacted through a prideful and powerful character, Haman. But God’s plans are enacted through a humble girl, Esther. Satan moves. God moves. Satan moves. God moves. And as this happens, mysteries get unravelled, bit by bit.
Phew, what a ride. Friends, I will pause it there. I’m excited about Lynn’s post on Monday, to hear what she sees. We’re unrolling the scroll of Esther, prayer by prayer, post by post. It seems apt, as this book is known by the Jews by a beautiful Hebrew name: Megillah. It means ‘The scroll’.
Now here’s a curious question to keep us going:
How easy is it to believe that there is an unfolding ‘check-mate’ in your own life situation?
We'll chat in the comments!