Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Arc de Triumph

Monday, May 29, 2017

Canonical Reading Plan for May 30, Est 1-5

Today's readings are Esther 1-5.

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 of 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. So, while it's never a good idea to assume that kings always represent God or Jesus, particularly in Ahasuerus’s case, we can still learn about how God interacts with His creation from how King Ahasuerus interacts with his subjects.

Despite the lack of directly referring to God, there are profound biblical truths and gospel lessons scattered throughout Esther. We would do well to remember that Esther, just like every other book in the Bible, is inspired and written to reveal God and His plan of redemption through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Est 1 relates Queen Vashti's demotion for not responding to the call of the king. Because of her disobedience and disrespect, she will never see the king again. This is our first example of biblical truth, disobedience will prevent someone from being in the presence of the King.

Est 2:1-18 introduces Esther (her Persian name), a beautiful Jewish girl along with Mordecai, her cousin who is raising her. The king is looking for an addition to his harem. Esther is chosen, from hundreds of women. With the help of Hegai, she wins the heart of the king who makes her his queen. Another portent of the gospel message is revealed in Esther’s being appointed, many women were called, yet only one was chosen (Mt 22:14).

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 essential element of Esther's story, and another biblical lesson for us - the appropriate sacrifice will lead to the deliverance of God’s people.

Esther’s path to becoming queen bears echoes of the gospel. There is a king, (Ahasuerus), a mediator (Hegai, Est 2:15) who guides Esther into the king’s presence, and Esther, a woman who is unworthy of being queen, yet is chosen by the king.

Meanwhile, Mordecai uncovers a plot to harm the king, tells Queen Esther who warns the king and averts disaster (Est 2:19-23).

In Est 3:1-14, 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 to get back at Mordecai.

Mordecai convinces Esther to go to the king and get him to reverse Haman's decision. The law of the land decrees that it is unlawful to enter into the king's presence unless he summons you. Esther agrees even though she is risking her life (Est 4:1-5). Esther’s decision to approach the king reflects two scriptural truths: one does not go to the king unless one is called and not everyone is called.

Meanwhile, the Jews fast and pray (Est 4;16-17) giving us yet another lesson; the appropriate response to persecution and oppression is fervent prayer and fasting with total dependence on God.

Esther, apparently with a plan in mind, plans a feast for the king (Est 5:1-8). The day before the feast, Haman spends his time gloating over his position and his riches. Haman plots to hang Mordecai while he has gallows built (Est 9-16).

Once again, we see God's sovereign, invisible 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.


  1. Hey Pastor John. I just found your blog and it is a gift from God. I've been looking for a bible study to do in the mornings. Know that I am praying for and Aunt Kelly.

  2. It's great to have you reading along with us, Savannah! We appreciate your prayers!