My Part in the Rebuilding (For Such a Time as This)
from the book of Esther
The story of Esther happens during the 58 year gap between Ezra chapter 6-7. This is about 60 years after the Babylonian exile of the Jewish people had ended. The story is set in Susa (modern day Sush, Iran), the primary capital of the Persian Empire during the reign of Xerxes. Esther is the 12th of the 12 books of history in the Old Testament. The name of God is not mentioned in this book, but you can see his fingerprints all over it! Esther is about the providence and sovereignty of God. Esther had a part to play in God's grand story!
Here is a brief overview of the story. Xerxes is showing his riches and throws a 180 day drunken party, followed by a 7 day feast. He calls Queen Vashti to come before him and his men so they can "ogle" her, but she says "no". Xerxes banishes her and decides to have a beauty pageant between his 127 provinces to see who his next queen should be. Esther, an orphan who has been adopted by her cousin, Mordecai, ends up becoming queen after a 12 month "spa year". She is Jewish, but no one knows that but Mordecai. Mordecai and Esther have stayed behind and not gone with Zerubbabel back to Jerusalem.
In chapter 2, we find out that Mordecai is at the king's gate and overhears that two of the kings eunuchs are angry with him and want to kill him. Mordecai gives word of this to Esther, who tells the king and Xerxes' life is spared.
In chapter 3 we are introduced to Haman, a narcissist who is second in command. He is an Agagite, which is a descendent of the Amelekites, enemies of the Jews. He especially hates Mordecai because Mordecai will not bow to Haman when he sees him. So, Haman devises a plan to wipe out the Jewish race. Haman has gallows 75 feet tall built to hang Mordecai due to his hatred of him.
Chapter 4-6 shows God's sovereignty in that Xerxes can't sleep, has stories read that include Mordecai's heroism, and decides (with Haman) how to honor Mordecai. Haman assumed the honor was for him, but instead is for Mordecai, which enrages him even more! This is where Mordecai tells Esther of Haman's plans. Esther puts her life on the line and requests an audience with the king, which almost surely meant death for her. The king shows her favor, and accepts an invitation for 2 dinner parties that include Xerxes, Esther, and Haman. At the second dinner party, Esther shares Haman's plans with Xerxes, and Haman ends up being hung from the gallows that he had built for Mordecai.
Here are some amazing thoughts regarding the sovereignty of God:
1. Persia is ruling, not Assyria or Babylon. The stage is set for the Jewish people to be worshipping Yahweh again.
2. Vashti is removed just in time for the events that follow to fall in place.
3. Esther, a young Jewish woman, is chosen among all the beauties from 127 different provinces.
4. Mordecai just happens to be at the right place at the right time to overhear two guards secretly plotting an assassination of the king.
5. The king just happens to read the accounts of Mordecai's heroism on a night when he cannot sleep and the night before Haman proposes hanging Mordecai on the gallows.
6. Haman just happened to have built gallows to hang Mordecai when the king needs a way to hang Haman.
7. Ezra was a much younger man when Esther became queen, but he was there!
To Discuss Today:
1. Do you believe that all of "this" is God's story? Have you let "Narcigesis" (the belief that the Bible is all about me) creep in? How does this show itself in your life? How do you protect against this?
2. Do you believe that God is doing something in your life right now that is preparing you for something in the future? If so, what do you need to "do" in order to see that happen?
3. Over the last year, have you gotten "stuck" waiting until the pandemic is over before you really start "living" again? What does that look like in your life? What part of God's story are you supposed to be playing now?