All of the undertones that we uncovered in Esther are powerful and new gifts to our faith.
Today, I want to talk about the unequally yoked aspect of this story. I also want to point out Esther’s divine calling and how it’s fulfilled.
In reality, all of us that are unequally yoked, could take a few notes from Esther. What truly is astonishing is the influence she extended over the most powerful man in the world. Whoa!! So, how did she achieve this kind of power?
She listened. Esther must have been extraordinarily bright. Upon her arrival in the Kings palace, she was intentional to keenly follow the instructions of Hegai. Now, most of you know I have a vivid imagination so go with me here. Hegia was no fool. He knew what the King liked – in the bedroom- I’ll bet money he told Esther what and how to do…. It…. *grin* Also, she wore and took with her only what the King’s eunuch suggested (Esther 2: 15)
What is suggested all over the place but isn’t mentioned emphatically is this: Esther realized the implications of her potential. She was selfless and willing to follow advice from wise counselors. She listened to Mordicai. She listened to Hegai.
I wonder, who are we listening to? Where are we obtaining our truth? Esther listened to the right people and she perceived the greater assignment that awaited. She saved a nation! One little girl!
Esther fulfills her highest and greatest destiny that God wrote in her book before time began (Psalm 139:16). She gathered her courage and stepped before the scepter, risking her life. She was brave in the face of fear.
If we take anything from this study, let’s choose to be brave. We must petition the King for the deliverance of our unsaved family members. It’s risky to stand up for what is right. Let’s choose to be self-less in our pursuit of the highest and best.
So today let’s choose BRAVE:
Well done Warriors! Esther has nothing on you. For you were born for EXACTLY such a time as this!
SUMITE, what are you being brave about right now? What holds your heart in the night? What do you pray in the morning? What is your brave heart asking of God today? Share with me. I want to pray with you in the comments. Your petitions will be heard in heaven because I’m asking with you.
Keep showing up! You are BRAVE!
We're now in chapters 4 and 5 of Esther.
As I begin this post, I have this in my head: Know your enemy.
I don’t talk about the enemy much. I deliberately don’t give him airtime. But I do take careful notice of his activities so that I can move appropriately in prayer.
One of my earliest questions as a Christian was whether there really was an enemy of our souls; a being, or beings who were influential in this world. Without going into detail, God did answer that question for me and showed me there is. On a couple of occasions, I’ve even heard a demon, though I’ve never seen one visually. Though I was surprised to hear the thing, it didn’t scare me one bit. It used a lot of F-words, and then spat out what its intentions were. My reaction was “You’re busted! I know what you’re up to.” I guess God allowed me to hear it so that I could pray.
Later, I told a pastor that I’d had this experience. I hadn’t told anyone as it seemed crazy. The pastor nodded, “Yes, they do use F-words, so that would’ve been a demon.” Okayyy… A wild experience.
Why this story? Because chapters 4 and 5 proclaim how we thwart the enemy, and we do it by uncovering hidden things. Esther’s moves are, in essence, spiritual warfare.
The first noticeable move of Esther’s is that she sought out, from Mordecai, Haman’s secret plot. Similarly, for us, beating the enemy involves asking the Holy Spirit to reveal things. If we ask, He will show. Like intelligence agents we can then roll up our sleeves and say, “I’m game! Show me more, Lord!”
Next, came a time of reflection for Esther, helped by fasting. Hearing Mordecai’s wisdom she recognized her own responsibility and the safest way forward. The safest way forward, in fact, involved her saying “If I perish, I perish”. So be it. Lord, so be it. That’s the point we get to, as Christians: “I'm dying to myself now. Let’s go.”
From that strength, she moves. The King extends his sceptre. She touches its top. And in that very move, where she extends her hand and makes physical contact, her favor is established. She will take the territory. I think something similar happens spiritually for us the moment we move forward with faith of a mustard seed. We’ll take the land.
Yet, there is still the process of the feasts. Esther fasts, then feasts. But her feast is not about her eating fun food. Instead, it’s a feast that draws on every ounce of courage. She invites her husband to her table, and it’s a table God has laid for her in the presence of her enemies (Psalm 23:5). Her husband says to her, “What do you want, my darling? You can have half my Kingdom.”
Half his kingdom: Gold. Power. Prestige. No. Esther wants salvation, single-mindedly.
The funny thing is, she doesn’t do this over one feast, she does it over two. That is, instead of leaping forward into her plan at feast #1, she waits and holds another one: feast #2. It’s as if something in her is saying, Not yet. Wait for it. Wait for it. Wait for it.
SUMites: Wait for it. Wait for it. Nearly there.
In between feasts #1 and #2, a critical process happens. The enemy's head expands to the size of a balloon as he soaks in his power among his minions. His wife Zaresh is egging him on; her name means ‘misery’ and ‘strange’. “Build a gallows!” miserable Zaresh cries. “YES!” he roars back. The point is, the wait between feast #1 and feast #2 allows him to expand to the point of defeat.
If we are waiting for victory, is there a place for process while the enemy builds his own downfall?
I'm currently reading a spiritual memoir* by someone whose own life conveys this very thing. The author’s life was racked with drugs, sex, and dysfunction for the entire time she raised her children to adulthood. What a waste, one might say. Her Christian parents watching, could only grieve. BUT, in her fifties a divine reversal came. She is now a deeply impactful minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. All to His glory.
Friends, hope you enjoyed that. Do you have any thoughts or comments on these aspects of spiritual warfare?
Till the next post,
*Haynes, A. (2018). Too many voices: My journey from confusion to clarity. San Diego, CA: Eternal Voice Publishing.
Before we get started on Haman, I want to revisit the word, EDICT. This is a governmental word and a word of great power when spoken by royalty over a Kingdom. It’s power and significance landed squarely upon my spirit one night when driving down a California freeway toward home following an evening church service.
As I’m driving, the Holy Spirit began to speak to me and this is what I heard: “Set and edict over…..” Immediately, I began to speak out loud in my car with a voice of authority. I spoke as a daughter of the King and in the authority of Jesus Christ, who gave me authority over all the power of the enemy in Luke 10:19. For the next twenty minutes I let loose a barrage of “edicts” over my family, my city, the churches in the valley and over the witchcraft that was floating in the air.
Example: “In the name of Jesus, as a daughter of the King, in authority I set an edict over the churches in our valley that every assignment of the enemy is now defeated, thwarted, and rendered powerless. All assignments of evil and witchcraft must fall to the ground powerless.” I took another deep breath and then launched directly into another edict.
“I set an edict over my family that the mandates and promised written in the books of my husband, children and grandchildren before time began, shall come to pass and they shall fulfill their potential and purpose for the Kingdom of God. In Jesus name.”
“I set an edict over our state legislature that the demonic spirits of lawlessness and rebellion shall be quelled. Honest men and women of integrity and who fear God shall rise up and step into places of governing and authority and the purposes of God shall be rendered from our legislature and all assignments of evil shall be defeated. In Jesus name.”
Okay, for twenty minutes, I let go of powerful edicts that came tumbling out of me through revelation of the Holy Spirit. It was the first time I was ever directed by God to release edicts into our land, family, legislature, ministry and more. THIS EXPERIENCE WAS AWESOME. I knew my words were spoken out of authority and I’m bearing witness that these words are moved upon by the angelic. I often issue edicts in my prayer time now as I follow the Holy Spirit.
The book of Esther is a teaching about the power of edicts. When a son or daughter of God KNOWS who they are and whose they are, then begins to walk fully in their authority and royal position, God backs up our words that are spoken in harmony with His will.
Whoa!!! Could it be that we are more powerful than we understand? Just like Esther? Oh, the possibility…… Things that make you go hmmmmmmmm???
Ya, this chapter is on repeat throughout human history.
Destroy the Jews. Destroy the believers. Wipe out God’s people. I see Haman as a pawn of evil, just like Hitler, same with King Herod who killed the babies hoping to destroy Jesus, the Romans persecuting Christians i.e., the lions in the Colosseum. Did you know the Romans used to place Christians on poles, light them on fire and use them as street lights in Roman cities. Sorry to be graphic, but let’s be real. Satan is more determined to destroy us that we are determined to do whatever it takes to follow Jesus. Ahem, okay not all of us……. 😊
If it pleases the king, let a decree be issued to destroy them, and I will give ten thousand talents of silver to the king’s administrators for the royal treasury.” — Esther 3:9
It remains the same today, powerful people are corrupted with the lure of wealth. And did you notice that Haman is pushing his agenda and asking for a decree? An edict? Fascinating.
So, with a little more alcohol --->(satanic spirit of deception, deceit and distortion), the edict was written and delivered throughout the Kingdom. The City of Susa was bewildered.
I know exactly how this feels. Let me ask you this. Were you bewildered in America the day the Supreme Court issued an edict that redefined marriage? --->A Biblical construct that has been in place for more than two thousand years, created for our benefit and its design is to prosper humanity through marriage and family.
I sat in utter astonishment and bewilderment that day. I cried…. Then pain…. Then remorse and fear. Oh, how I know how you felt City of Susa.
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 3:15
BUT……. God is on the THRONE… And there is ALWAYS A SAVIOR…. Stay tuned……..
Gang, this story continues on repeat. Our Christian identity is under siege in every nation. We must pray. We must set an edict in the spiritual realm. We must become on fire, sold out, people of faith who march the Kingdom of God forward.
Today, I want you to practice. Set an edict over your life via your faith proclamation in the comments. Let’s watch God move over words of faith spoken by His children. I will echo your decrees and statements of faith. See you in the comments Kingdom Warriors!!
March on Warriors… WE WIN!! Hugs, Lynn
Oh, I enjoyed the story of the crazy King and Vashti on Monday. Now, let’s hurtle towards chapter 2, where we meet Esther, this “lovely and beautiful” daughter of God. She carries an intense cocktail of pain and growing strength.
What is it we ourselves carry? Something similar I’d say, even though different. I see Esther as a fragile baby bird: Orphaned and snatched. But I also see her as strong as an ox. The 'ox' part comes later.
Putting ourselves in her shoes, can you imagine being taken hostage for the sole purpose of a King's pleasure? It makes me inwardly choke. I wonder how she would have felt; I really don’t know. There was an honor to it, but a powerlessness. After her night with the King, in my mind it gets worse: She was shifted to a different house (v.14). No longer a virgin, she was now an on-demand concubine. Uggh. It seems her husband celebrates her, but after his big Feast of Esther (v.18), the very next verse tells us he gathers a new wave of virgins, a faithless husband.
He might be a King but he’s a distorted one. It goes on today, distortions of relationships. Our world and its ways are so far from God’s heart, we cannot conceptualize the chasm between what we are now and what we should have been. To adapt the words of a Beatles song:
How I wish it were yesterday.
In the Garden of Eden.
I’m not half the man I was meant to be.
As a refreshing breath, I like looking at Jesus, the human God meant us to be. He was radical. He was homeless, for a start -- Voluntarily. That alone captures His difference. I also like to look at his deep love for women, opposite to King Xerxes.
To sit with Jesus, for a minute, I see He had special moments with His male disciples: John leaned on His chest, Peter breakfasted with Him; but there was also VIP treatment for women. The women’s moments are poignant: It was the girls who were the first to preach the Gospel of His Resurrection Life at dawn, and the first to care for his bruised body. Symbolically, this tells me of His honor for women.
Beautiful Esther is not just a champion for women. She represents anyone on the back foot, the weaker vessel; and she shows that such a person can walk with the strength of an ox. Her point of difference is Mordecai. He quietly speaks, speaks into her ear. With that gift – Like the Holy Spirit -- she is as strong as an ox, able to plough the toughest heart soil. The Apostle Paul received that very same whisper:
“And He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.' ” 2 Corinthians 12:9, NKJV.
I look at her early life and think “Esther, you have no idea yet how much strength you carry.” Indeed, we know the full story. We can see her strength with the King in later chapters, but for now – as a newlywed – that strength is only a seed. Her story mirrors Joseph’s: There is a pit before the favor comes in prison.
Like Joseph, Esther’s favor explodes: She ends up second in the Kingdom, signet rings are distributed, and God’s people (the Jews) are kept safe as a result. In verses 9-10 she pleases the eunuch Hegai so much she is given every provision she could possibly hope for. Why this favor? Could it be that her ancestral promise from Jacob kicks in? She is a Benjamite, and long ago he blessed her:
“Benjamin is a ravenous wolf; In the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil.” Genesis 49:27, NKJV.
This blessing means she carries a seed of power. Hers is a conquering kind of strength. And, what else does she carry? A scriptural gem within her very name, Hadassah (v.7), which means ‘myrtle’.
“And instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree.” Isaiah 55:13.
That verse -- the myrtle verse -- sits within the wider, well known Isaiah 55. It’s a chapter worth revisiting with Esther, and perhaps ourselves, in mind. It makes me want to shout from the rooftops that we can dream big, because that is what both Isaiah 55 and the book of Esther tell us!
SUMites, I can’t wait to chat more in the comments.
SUMite Nation: Pick up your Bible. Turn to the book of Esther, that’s on page 793, please *grin*
Read chapter one.
I realize that most of us are very familiar with the story of Esther. So, my approach during our study is to point out some of the lesser known aspects of this classic book. I want you to ponder and wrestle with some of the underlying truths that are captured in these ten chapters.
Couple of things that immediate jump out at me.
This is a story about marriage and divorce. Then a remarriage. How like our current society. And this is a story about an unequally yoked marriage. Say what??
Ya, at this moment, I wonder how many of you have been asked by “well-meaning” Christians if you KNEW your husband was unsaved when you married him. Those were stinging questions in the early years that heaped on condemnation and were laced with judgement. Ouch. The Word of God is filled with stories and verses that indicate mismatched marriages continue throughout history. It’s not that uncommon.
Before we move on, let me take a moment to stand as a representative of all those who made off-handed remarks or straight-out accusations that hit home and caused you pain. I stand in place of them and I humbly ask for your forgiveness. Please forgive those who spoke words out of arrogance, judgement and condemnation. They were unaware of how much the Bible speaks to the many of us who are living in faith and married to an unbeliever. God wants us to prosper, even within our mismatched marriage.
Whew…. Okay, I feel better.
In chapter one of Esther the shenanigans are on full display. Banquets, drunkenness, pride in the display of the vast wealth and splendor of the King Xerxes. Gold couches, mosaic pavement, marble and costly stones are the setting and the royal wine….. it was a flowin’ without restriction.
Let me ask you, what does this scene look like today in our current society? I’ll let you know something, I’ve been doing some research into some of the darker side of high society, Hollywood, High-level politics and high-level satanism. It’s eerie!!!!!
And, don’t even get me started about the King commanding his beautiful wife to appear before him so that she can be ogled by all the drunks. (frown face)
What is amazing about chapter one is Queen Vashti. – SHE REFUSED-
It’s likely that in that era, her disobedience presented her with the possibility of beheading. I wonder would we be, could we be, bold enough to stand up to shame even if it cost us dearly? This book really makes you think.
Queen Vashti is the only person with integrity in the bunch. She carries herself with dignity and honor. And demands that NO ONE, not even the King, take it from her. Wow and WOW!
Her position cost her the queenship.
Then all of the men of the Kingdom went into straight-out panic mode. They were facing a cataclysmic problem. CONTROL…. They feared all the women would demand dignity and honor. So, they launched into a demonically inspired protocol to retain their oppression and control over the women of the realm. (This comment may make some of you mad with me: But, I wonder, how much the control over women continues to go on an on, century upon century and even within the Christian church? Ahem, it’s best I don’t get sidetracked on this subject today.)
Chapter 1:18 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. ß-THIS, this verse, is the lie the devil propagated!
The truth is, it’s likely that if the nobles didn’t take action, the women wouldn’t respond with disrespect. Indeed, within their new freedom and position of honor, I’m convinced their response would have been greater honor and mutual respect for their husbands. Mutual respect births, trust, loyalty, fierce protection and genuine love.
Things that make you go….. hmmmmmmmm.
So, from my heart --- WELL DONE QUEEN VASHTI.
The second thing that I want to take from chapter one is this.
Verse 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.
I want to comment on the second half of this verse before I get to the good stuff. Intimidation is not respect. It’s fear-based control. Control is rooted in witchcraft. (I deal a lot with this kind of stuff in my prayer sessions.)
The part I want to focus on is this. The book of Esther establishes details about how a Kingdom operates. And in this season of my faith march, I’m utterly intrigued with the nuances of the Kingdom of God. We are offered a great deal when reading between the lines of this story and catching the demonstration of a Kingdom. The structures exist in the spiritual realm. And do you want some really good news? Our Kingdom is ruled by a good, faithful, forgiving and lavish Lord who is our Father!
THAT’S THE BEST NEWS EVER!
I want to focus on the word edict. This is a decree. And I know that we post decrees often on Facebook, but do you know why? Do you understand what constitutes an edict? And what happens when an edict is issued. Who issues an edict and what happens in the realm when it’s released?
Answering these questions are essential to gaining our power and authority as a royal heir with Christ. I’ll share with you next week what God recently told me about “setting and edict.” It’s crazy good.
Now, what are your thoughts about this crazy-town King, his advisers, the women, the queen??? Do you want to know more about how the Kingdom of God operates and how we play a vital part? Talk to me in the comments.
I love you my dear friends. March on Warriors!! We WIN! Hugs, Lynn
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!
"Whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thou God my God." (Ruth 1:16 KJV)
With that final scripture spoken over us, my groom and I kissed and ran down the aisle to start our new life together.
Fast forward to another season of this high school sweetheart romance and marriage-I wanted out!
I had grown tired of waiting on God's promises to be fulfilled in my marriage. Waiting is always hard, but to live in the same house with someone who is in opposition to your faith is even harder. (Can you relate?)
And so it was, I began praying for God to give me permission to vacate the premises-not divorce, just separate. After a couple of weeks of praying, I began hearing the words, "who is to say that you have not been brought into the kingdom for such a time as this?"
"Where had I heard those words before? Oh yes, the book of Esther. No Lord; I don't want to be an Esther; just let me out of here!"
But, then He began to show me others in The Bible He had pre-positioned in a position for a special purpose. What was that purpose? TO BRING FORTH A GREAT DELIVERANCE!
Not only was the deliverance for their families, but for others as well. In the midst of their designated position, they had to experience discomfort, risk, ridicule, condemnation, and rejection.
I raced to my computer and composed a poem, recalling people and, yes, even animals who were pre-positioned for an important role in the history of all mankind.
Who is to Say?
Esther, a Jewish slave, became the wife of a pagan king in the land,
Discovered that Haman wanted all the Jews destroyed by the king's command.
But, Esther had favor with the king and Haman's plot went amiss,
Who is to say that a slave girl wasn't brought into the Kingdom for such a time as this? (Esther 4:14)
Think of Rahab, who was called a harlot by name,
Heard about God drying up the Red Sea and bringing the Egyptians to shame.
So, she hid the Israelite spies and every wall of Jericho fell without a miss,
Who is to say that a harlot wasn't brought into the Kingdom for such a time as this? (Joshua 2)
And then there is the donkey that stopped Balaam in his tracks,
From going the wrong way less the Israelites be cursed and attacked.
Now, we might scoff at the thought of God using a donkey and say, "That idea I will dismiss,"
Who is to say that a donkey wasn't brought into the Kingdom for such a time as this? (Number 22:21-35)
What can we say about Jehaziel whose name was mentioned only once in the good book,
Heard a word from God saying, "Stand still," before the battle Jehoshaphat undertook.
The enemy killed themselves as the Israelites sang praises to God with joyful bliss,"
Who is to say that a prophet wasn't brought into the Kingdom for such a time as this? (11 Chronicles 20:17)
Let's never forget Mary, a young virgin in her day,
Received a visit from an angel who had powerful words to say.
"You shall bring forth a son to save the world by shedding blood of His,"
Indeed, a virgin was brought into the Kingdom for such a time as this! (Luke 1:31)
But, wait, there were others involved in the nativity scene,
Shepherds, wise men, angels, all around the stable they leaned.
Quite unnoticed was Anna who proclaimed the redemption message in their midst,
Who is to say that an unknown woman wasn't brought into the kingdom for such a time as this? (Luke 2:36-37)
Now, each of these people probably questioned their position from the start,
Why, even Mary pondered these things in her heart.
No doubt they even found discomfort in doing what they had been pre-positioned to do,
For example the donkey: "I'm sure he didn't like being kicked by Balaam, would you?"
But, the Bible shows how God uses slaves, harlots, prophets, virgins, and even donkeys, too,
In order to fulfill the purpose they were created to do.
And so if I should be pre-positioned by God in a position that I would rather dismiss,
Who is to say that I, an ordinary housewife, wasn't brought into the kingdom for such a time as this?
Yes, I stayed and as Lynn says in Winning Him Without Words, I have a front row seat watching God pursue my husband to be his God. So, go ahead, Lynn, and pencil Glen and I into your schedule for Facebook Live.
Note: To my Sumite Friends: I wrote this blog from my own experience. Every marriage is different, and guidance from the Lord is needed when deciding to leave the marriage or not.
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:
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.
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!
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