Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Mill stream in Quimperle, France

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Chronological Reading Plan for Sep 22, Est 1-5

Today's readings are Esther 1-5. Tomorrow's are Esther 6-10.

While Ezra, Nehemiah and Zechariah tell the story of how the Jews return to Jerusalem, Esther describes what happens to those who stayed behind. It depicts the reign of Xerxes (Greek for the Hebrew name Ahasuerus) over the Persian empire from 485 BC to 464 BC.


While not mentioning God anywhere in the book, Esther clearly shows God's sovereign protection and preservation over His people while it depicts the Gentile king as unaware of the events transpiring in his own kingdom and being manipulated by those around him. 

There are also a number of object lessons taught in Esther. While it's never a good idea to assume that kings always represent God or Jesus, particularly in Ahaseurus's case, we can still learn much from how King Ahaseurus interacts with his subjects.

Est 1 relates Queen Vashti's demotion for not responding to the call of the king. Notice, Vashti is banished from ever being in the presence of the king again because of her disobedience.

Est 2 introduces Esther (her Persian name), a beautiful Jewish girl and Mordecai, her cousin who is raising her. The king is looking for an addition to his harem. Esther is chosen and wins the heart of the king who makes her his queen. 

In a traditional setting, Mordecai would have been appalled at what happened to Esther, as would she. But, Mordecai has been living in Babylon for most of his life. The author of Esther judges neither Mordecai's nor Esther's actions or motives. He simply tells the story. However, in Esther, we see a woman who is willing to sacrifice. This will become an important element of Esther's story and another object-lesson for us. 


Meanwhile Mordecai uncovers a plot to harm the king, tells Queen Esther who warns the king and averts disaster.

In Est 3, we meet Haman, who despises Mordecai. Haman may well have been a descendant of Agag (Ex 17:8-16), one of the kings of the Amalekites, bitter enemies of the Jews. Mordecai offends Haman by refusing to bow down to him. Haman talks the king into ordering the genocide of the Jews in order to get back at Mordecai.

Mordecai convinces Esther to go into the king and get him to reverse Haman's decision. Esther agrees even though she is risking her life. The law of the land decrees that it is unlawful to enter into the king's presence unless he summons you. These are two other object lessons: you do not go to the king unless you are called and not everyone is called. Meanwhile the Jews fast and pray giving us yet another lesson: the appropriate response to persecution and oppression is fervent prayer and fasting with total dependence on God. 

Haman plots to hang Mordecai in Est 5 while Esther, apparently with a plan in mind, plans a feast for the king. The day before the feast, Haman spends his time gloating over his position and his riches. He has a gallows built for Mordecai. 

Once again, we see God's sovereign hand in the affairs of a pagan nation, protecting the king, elevating one of His children to the throne as queen and laying the groundwork for the protection of His people.

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