God’s hand of providence, faithfulness and protection on behalf of His people is evident throughout the book of Esther, even though the name or any title of God does not appear in this work. His sovereignty is seen throughout and He is working behind the scenes to accomplish His purpose.
Esther is a Jewess living in Persia who has been adopted and raised by her older cousin, Mordecai. The Persian King Ahasuerus (also known as Xerxes) became angry with his queen Vashti when she refused to appear at banquet he was giving. The lavish banquet had been going on for 6 months with an extra special blowout the final week. The wine was flowing and the men were “merry.” I can’t imagine why the queen wouldn’t want to come and show off her beauty to a bunch of “merry” men; can you? The king makes a rash (probably half-drunk) decision to have his wife put away. He later regrets it (probably when he sobered up) and misses her.
His servants notice his sadness and suggest that a search begin for young virgins throughout the kingdom to be brought to the king so that he may choose someone new to wear the royal crown. Hence, we have the first Miss Universe contest. Esther is one of the many beautiful young virgins who was brought into the harem for the twelve month preparation period. Each virgin has one night with the king and then is sent to a different harem for the concubines. When Esther’s number comes up and she goes to the king, he immediately falls in love with her and makes her queen! He does not know that she is a Jew.
Mordecai hears of a plot to kill the king. He tells Queen Esther to tell the king. She does and credits Mordecai. The two plotters were hung and it was written in the king’s book of chronicles.
About five years pass and Haman an Agagite, becomes the second in command under the king. (He is the evil villain in this story.) Everyone is to bow when he passes through town. Mordecai the Jew refuses and it makes Haman very angry. (Agagites and Jews are enemies going way back to the Amalekites and Edomites.) Haman decides that he wants ALL JEWS killed. He casts lots (purim) to see what day they are all to be executed and then goes in and makes his proposal to the king. The king makes another rash decision and agrees to it. A decree is issued and sent throughout the empire that all the Jews, young and old, including women and children, are to be killed, slaughtered, and annihilated on March 7 of the following year. Everyone is in shock at this decision.
Mordecai sends word to Esther that she needs to go talk to the king about this and beg for the life of her people, the Jews. She reminds Mordecai that there is a law that states that anyone going before the king uninvited faces the death penalty unless the king puts out his royal scepter to that person.
Mordecai says that if Esther doesn’t do something about it she will die like all the other Jews. He told her that if she was silent, help would come from somewhere else but she and her father’s house would die. He told her that perhaps she had come into the kingdom for such a time as this (4:14). (God holds us accountable for what we do and what we don’t do. He has a plan for each of us. If we don’t do it, He’ll find someone else. God doesn’t need us to accomplish His will, but He gives us the opportunity to be an active, obedient part of His will.)
Esther asks all the Jews to fast for three days and then she will go in to the king. “And if I perish, I perish.”
Then the story really gets interesting. I encourage you to sit down with your Bible and see what happens next in this cliffhanger.
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