Esther for This Time #10 – Celebrating God’s Goodness & the Feast of Purim

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.
Esther for This Time #10: Prayer, Reversals, & JOY

Esther and Mordecai Writing the Second Letter of Purim, Painting by Aert de Gelder, 1685

Celebrating God’s Goodness

Do you celebrate God’s goodness? Reflecting on what God has done can inspire you to trust Him more and will strengthen your faith. For Esther and Jewish families, the Feast of Purim is an annual celebration that reminds them how God delivered them from their enemies and continues to do so. Join the podcast today to celebrate God’s goodness and review the many reversals in the Book of Esther.

Reversals Continue

Approximately two months and ten days after the first decree was issued, Mordecai wrote the second edict, empowering the Jewish people to defend themselves against their enemies. The turnarounds were astounding! Today, we share at least 15 reversals and cover these points:

No Plundering (Esther 9: 1-17)

  • To plunder means to steal goods by force, often during a war and with an objective of making profit.
  • In Esther 9, the Jewish people remembered the violation of God’s commands in their heritage (1 Samuel 15) and acted in holy retribution for self-defense but took no plunder for their profit.

 The Feast of Purim Established Forever (Esther 9: 18 – 10: 3)

  • Mordecai and Esther declared two days of celebration in an official decree to be remembered forever.
  • Purim means “lots” or dice which is what Haman used to pick the date for the Jewish annihilation.
  • The Book of Esther, also called the Megillah,  is read twice during the Feast dated according to the Hebrew calendar.
  • Children “boo and hiss” and throw popcorn when they hear Haman’s name.
  • Today, Jewish families celebrate by bring gifts to the poor, giving gifts to each other, and eating fruit-filled triangular cookies called Hamantashens [haa·muhn·taa·shn] or Haman’s Ears. They are delicious! You can pick up a recipe card on my website WRAPYourselfinJOY.com or in my book.

Banquets and Feasts in Esther

  • Esther begins with a banquet and ends with a feast, all with great joy.
  • Four pairs of feasts celebrate the turnarounds and triumphs of God.

The Dream, Memory, and Plot (Esther 10 – 16).

  • Esther 10 -16 , the Deuterocanonical additions A – F,  suggest Mordecai remembers a Dream. It foretold God’s deliverance relating to the main events in Esther. In addition, these chapters add a few details to the occurrences.

The Hero of the Book of Esther is GOD

  • God used the beautiful Esther, caused the sleeplessness of the king, brought down Haman, exalted Mordecai, and gave the Jewish people victory over their enemies.
  • God showed tremendous power on behalf of his people. Almost like fireworks, the reversals came quickly and spectacularly, fifteen in all.

Remembering God’s Goodness

  • The Feast of Purim, still celebrated yearly in the Jewish tradition, helps families remember God has delivered them and will continue to deliver them.
  • Psalm 77 calls us to remember God’s goodness.

Personal Reflection

  1. Do you set aside time to remember, joyously celebrate and thank God for what He has done for you? How can you implement Esther’s example?
  2. Do you call upon God for creative solutions or turnarounds when problems arise? Try it!
  3. Are you encouraging others that God intervenes in history when his people seek him with prayer, repentance, and fasting? Please consider it!

New Podcast Series & Cup of JOY Women™

  • Join my newest podcast coming this summer: Ruth – Finding JOY in Tough Times and Trusting in God’s Goodness.  If you would like to host a weekly one-hour “Cup of Joy Women™ ” study with your friends, email me: karen@WrapYourselfInJoy.com. It’s free and I will send you all the materials you need for the weekly one-hour discussion and study over coffee. You can read more HERE on hosting a CUP of JOY Women or Cup of JOY Gathering small group.

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Esther for This Time #8 – Reversals Begin

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.
Esther for This Time #8 – Reversals Begin

Painting: Esther reveals Haman’s plot to the King by Jan Lievens, 1623

God Loves Reversals

Do you need reversals in your life? Let Esther encourage you. God loves reversals, and He can make them happen for you.

Three Reversals

Today in our podcast, we encounter three reversals in Chapter Seven of the Book of Esther. This is God’s providence, bringing dramatic changes in circumstances in response to the prayers of His people. It can happen again, and it can happen in your life! Join us today as we cover these points:

God’s Intervention

  • When King Ahasuerus cannot sleep, he reads his chronicles and discovers Mordecai’s service needs a reward.
  • The King asks Haman what he can do for the man he delights to honor.
  • Haman replies the man should wear the King’s clothes, ride the King’s horse, and be proclaimed for service throughout the streets.

A Peripety

  • Haman hates Mordecai and is humiliated when the King tells him to proceed with these actions for Mordecai.
  • It is a peripety – a significant reversal of circumstances or turnaround of intentions written in heaven.
  • When Haman told his friends and wife Zeresh about the Mordecai incident, they warned him: “If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of the Jewish people, you will not prevail against him but will surely fall before him.”

God Reverses Evil (Esther 7: 1-8)

  • Esther dishes up sweet words to the King.
  • She knew when it was NOT time to speak and when it was time to say her request to the King.
  • She used the exact words from the edict so that the King knew he was hearing the truth.

Persian Culture

  • In Persian culture,
    • Diners eat at a table while reclining on a couch.
    • Men could not come within seven steps of a woman in the King’s charge or harem.
  • Haman approached Esther’s couch to beg for mercy – he had overstepped his bounds by 7 feet.
  • To the King, he was assaulting Esther. So, he orders a face cloth draped on Haman.
  • In the Persian culture, a facecloth covers an enemy of the King so the King would not have to look upon the one he condemned.

The Lord Loves Reversals  (Esther 7: 9 – 8: 2)

  • Harbona, one of the King’s chief consultants, appears to know of Haman’s hatred for the Jews and of the gallows he built in his backyard to execute Mordecai. He suggests Haman hang on these gallows.
  • Oh, how the Lord loves reversals! His divine providence reversed three evil events for today.
    • The gallows built in Haman’s backyard for Mordecai are used to hang Haman.
    • The King removes the signet ring, indicating “a second in charge” position, from Haman and gives it to Mordecai.
    • Haman’s decree is reversed.  Instead of plundering the property of the Jews, the King gives Haman’s property to Queen Esther.
  • What the study of literature calls peripety—an event that suddenly brings a reversal of fortune and dramatic change in circumstances, is what Christians call a miracle.

Personal Reflection

  • Romans 15: 4 reminds us: “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.” Let Esther give you hope. God can give you reversals too:
  • Which of the following principles do you find most helpful for you?
    1. God can reverse the evils around us.
    2. Gentle leadership with prayer and God’s discernment accomplishes much.
    3. Teachers of drama or literature call a reversal “peripety,” but Christians call it a miracle.
  • What miracle or turnaround do you need today?  Based on what you observed from Esther and Mordecai, how will you pray for one?
    1. Read Psalm 37: 1-5 and notice all the phrases “do not fret” and “trust in the Lord” instead. Which will you do? The Lord will act as you delight in Him and commit your way to Him.
    2. Ask Jesus to bring laughter and joy to your life as you pray for the reversal.

Links

Esther for This Time #7 – God-Designed Comedy

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.
Esther for This Time - Prayer, Reversals & JOY

Mordecai Led Through the City by Haman by Azor Masters, Painting, 1420 AD, The Hague

God-designed Comedy

God-designed comedy can reverse calamity! Don’t you wish every tragedy turned into a good laugh instead? Sometimes, we think God doesn’t have a sense of humor. Today in our podcast on Esther, we cannot help but see the comedy from the hand of God that reverses a tragedy.

In Between Dinner Parties

In our last study, Esther asked the king and Haman to a festive banquet dinner she prepared. At the end of the dinner, Esther invited the king and Haman to a second dinner the next day. She delayed the real request because her discernment through prayer and fasting told her the timing was not right.  Between the two dinner parties, Haman bursts with pride to family and friends at being asked to dine twice with the king and queen of Persia. However, his joy disappears at the sight of Mordecai, who refuses to stand up in his presence. Today, we join the king, whose sleeplessness, ordained by God, leads to a reversal of circumstances. We cover these points:

The Sleeplessness of the King Results in a Peripety (Esther 6: 1-12)

  • The King can’t sleep, so he entertains himself by reading his annals – large volumes that record the history and accomplishments of a king’s reign.
  • The King’s sleeplessness begins with peripety (pronounced “pe-rip-e-tē”). The term is used in dramatic arts to define a sudden reversal of fortune with a change in direction.
  • In a tragedy, the plot turns a lead character’s fortune into ruin.
  • In a comedy, the reversal changes tragedy into comedy.
  • In Esther Chapter Six, we see both kinds of peripety.

God’s Reversals (Esther 6: 12)

  • The king turns in his annals to an event that occurred five years earlier, only to discover that Mordecai’s service had NEVER been rewarded.
  • Just then, Haman arrives at the inner court after constructing a 75-foot-high gallows for hanging Mordecai.
  • Haman lusts for power and hopes to wear the King’s robe.
  • The ancients attached great significance to wearing a royal robe. It was considered a mark of great favor and honor.
  • Haman tells the king what could be done to the man whom the king wants to honor.

Haman Humbled (Esther 6: 13-14)

  • Haman hated Mordecai and was greatly humbled when he proclaimed his greatness while wearing the king’s robes and crown and riding the king’s horse.
  • God’s hand seems to create a peripety: Haman, once honored as second in power to the king, is humiliated, and Mordecai, in sackcloth and ashes, is exalted in the king’s robe and attire.
  • Haman’s friends and wife Zeresh realize that the Jews worshipped a God, who seemed to be intervening.
  • Haman did not know the warnings of Proverbs 16:18 and Matthew 23: 12.
  • Proverbs 16: 18. Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. NRSV-CE or
  • Matthew 23: 12. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. NRSV-CE

 The Greatest Peripety of All (Ephesians 2: 4-6)

  • The greatest reversal of all God planned since creation was our redemption from sin and eternal death through Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection.
  • It was the greatest REAL peripety of all.

Personal Reflection

  • In Esther Chapter 6, we see God’s hand at work reversing many situations. Which of the following principles do you find most helpful?
  1.  Wait for God’s timing and guidance: He can intervene in your life with a miracle that changes everything.
  2.  God intervenes in history when His people call out to Him with prayer, repentance, and fasting.
  3.  Jesus Christ is your reversal of fortune—He died out of love for you to forgive your sins and offer you eternal life. Now is the time to accept His forgiveness as His plan for your life.
  4.  I will try to remember these verses to remind me of God’s ability to intervene in the worst of circumstances:
  • Isaiah 59:1. See, the Lord’s hand is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.
  • Jeremiah 32: 27. See, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is anything too hard for me? NRSV-CE

Links

Esther for This Time #6: Pray, Wait and Discern

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.
Esther for This Time, Wait, Pray, & Discern

Image: Esther before Ahasuerus (1547-48) Painting by Tintoretto

Pray, Wait & Discern

Are you praying, waiting, and discerning? Have you ever prayed in a daunting situation? Were you looking for a quick solution? Sometimes a quick solution is not the best solution. In our podcast today, Esther shows us the value of prayer, but also why it’s important to wait and discern God’s solution.

Esther Puts Her Life on the Line

Esther’s name comes from the Hebrew root “SIT-UR seter,” which means “concealed.” It suggests her identity would be concealed for a time, but the time had come for her to reveal her faith.  Mordecai asked her to go to the king to stop the edict against the Jews, but without an invitation, she could be executed.  Esther finally agreed to put her life on the line for such a time as this. She knew she needed God’s intervention, so she called for three days of fasting from food and water for all Jews, and even her maids. Then she would go to the king with the conclusion, “If I perish, I perish.”  In the podcast today, we will cover these points.

The Third Day (Esther 5: 1-8)

  •  The “third day” in the Jewish faith is significant. A Jewish commentary suggests believed God’s deliverance for Israel would come after prayer on “the third day” (Midrash Raba, Esther).
  • For example, in the Old Testament, Hosea 6: 2 says,  After two days, He will revive us; on the third day, God will raise us up, that we may live before him. NRSV-CE
  • The third day also connects to the Christian faith and Jesus’ resurrection.

Esther’s Gentle-Discerning Leadership (Esther 5: 5-7)

  • Esther “stood” before the king, radiating inner strength and outer beauty from God.
  • Esther 15 (Deuterocanonical): the King invited Esther to him, saying: “Come near. 11 Then he raised the golden scepter and touched her neck with it; 12 he embraced her, and said, “Speak to me.”
  • Gentle leadership characterizes a leader who is kind, compassionate, loyal, and willing to listen to the needs of those around her.
  • A discerning leader prays and waits for God’s direction.
  • Queen Esther was truly a gentle and discerning leader.  She leaned completely on God for strength and guidance.

 Esther’s Discernment and the First Banquet (Esther 5: 9-14)

  • The fasting and prayers of Esther and God’s people changed the heart of the King.
  • On the third day of fasting, Esther abandoned herself in total submission to God, put on royal robes to show her authority as Queen of Persia, and became the leader God designed her to be.
  • Esther asked the king and Haman to a festive dinner banquet she had prepared.
  • At the end of the meal, Esther delayed and again asked the king and Haman to come to a second dinner on the following day.
  • God’s guidance and discernment indicated Esther needed to wait one more day.

 Haman and His Prized Sons

  • Haman boasted to his family and friends (v. 10-12). He had 12 sons.
  • Historian Herodotus says the Persians prized a large number of sons, second only to great courage in war.
  • Haman’s pride burst with pride at being invited to dinner twice with the king and queen of Persia.
  • Only the sight of Mordecai, who would not bow to him, pricked his joy. His wife, Zeresh, suggested he build a 75-foot (50-cubit)- high gallows and hang Mordecai immediately.

Personal Reflection

  • Which principles on prayer, waiting and discernment will you apply?
  • I need to seek God with other pray-ers for support to stand firm in spiritual battles.
  • To become gentler and more discerning, I need to increase my time in prayer, repenting for myself and others, fasting, and waiting.
  • I want to rely more on God’s discernment. I must wait where God has placed me and invite his discernment and leadership.
  • I will try to remember this verse: Isaiah 40:31.“But those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” NRSV-CE

Links

Esther for This Time # 5 – Your Mission For Such a Time as This

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Your Mission For Such a Time as This

Do you have a mission for such a time as this? You indeed do, and this podcast will help you!  Join us today as Queen Esther trusts the power of God in prayer, gains needed courage and discovers her mission.

A Passover Turned to Weeping

In Esther Chapter 3, Mordecai refuses to bow down and pay homage to Haman.  Enraged Haman hatred for Jews and cast Purim (somewhat similar to our dice) to determine the date for the killing of all Jews throughout all of Persia. The king agreed, and the announcement for the annihilation of all the Jewish people was distributed throughout the kingdom on Passover—the very day Jewish families annually commemorate the time God delivered them from slavery in Egypt and saved their firstborn.

Now, their joy-filled Passover celebration was turned into a time of wailing. Could you imagine this happening to you, your family, or your church family on a celebration like Easter?

For Such a Time as This is a phrase that comes directly from Chapter 4 of the Book of Esther.

Today, we cover these points:

Sackcloth and Ashes (Esther 4: 1-4)

  • Mordecai heard of the edict, and he sobbed greatly, tore his clothes, and put on sackcloth and ashes. He wailed and wept bitterly on the city square at the palace gate.
  • For all Jews, the happy celebration of Passover with family, friends, traditions, and food quickly turned into wailing, fasting, and prayer. According to Scripture, the Jewish people always linked prayer and repentance with fasting.
  • Sackcloth, made from grain bags, was scratchy and could cut the skin. It served as an act of penance and pleading with the Lord. Ashes, worn on the head or sat in, were a sign of self-humiliation and deep sorrow, often over a national disaster. See Joel 2:12 and 17 to summarize this Biblical purpose for fasting, weeping, and penance.

Persian Palace Life (Esther 4: 5-12)

  • Esther lived in the plush palace environment, but she may have become secluded from the world around her. She was not aware of Haman’s edict.
  • She tried to send clothes to Mordecai. Only when he refused the clothes did she ask what was wrong? Mordecai gave her the evidence of the edict, but she indicated she could not go to the king as he had not called for her in over 30 days. She could be put to death if he did not reach out.

National Fasting (Esther 4: 13-17)

  • Esther called a day of national fasting.
  • Throughout Old Testament history, fasting meant fervently calling out to God with a heart of repentance, sorrow, submission, and supplication to seek his help, protection, provision, and forgiveness. For example, refer to Judges 20, Deuteronomy 9, Joel 1-2, 1 Samuel, and Jonah 3.
  • Every year, according to Leviticus 23, all of Israel fasted on the Day of Atonement, and a scapegoat would be driven into the desert to represent the people’s sins (a foreshadowing of what Christ would do on the cross for us). As they prayed, repented, and humbled themselves, their sins would be taken from God’s sight on the scapegoat.
  • See Esther 13 and 14 for examples of how to intercede/pray for a nation from Esther and Mordecai’s prayers (e.g., praising God’s goodness, repenting for your sins and the sins of your nation, pouring out your heart to God, asking for God’s intervention).

Planning a Fast

  • Fasting is about aligning ourselves with God—drawing close to Him, worshiping Him, hearing from Him, repenting (turning), and changing our ways.
  • Fasting requires planning for most of us, but most importantly, it involves replacing our time spent focused on food and “busyness” with prayer and seeking the Lord.
  • A fast, drinking only water or juice, can last for a meal, a full day, or more. Fasting can also involve refraining from certain foods (see Daniel 10: 2-3). or refraining from distractions like media or television, internet usage, shopping for a certain amount of time, etc.).
  • For the plan, you may want to take five steps: (1) write down your objective, (2) decide how you will fast, (3) schedule time in adoration & personal prayer, (4) read God’s Word & ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you (e.g., John 14 and 15), and (5) believe that God will answer with discernment, direction, and/or a miracle.
  • In Esther’s case, an extreme response would be required for her to safely go to the King, so she called for an extreme fast— three days of abstaining from food and water for the entire nation!

Personal Reflection

Today, our story teaches us:

  • At first, Esther was unaware that God had a mission for her—God planned to use her powerfully. With Mordecai’s help and God’s providence, she discerned her mission but was initially afraid and denied it.
  • Esther needed fellow pray-ers. She asked her entire Jewish nation to pray, fast, repent, and seek God’s intervention. Only after three days of prayer and fasting did she find the grace and strength to proceed in her mission- to be used by God to save the Jewish People.

Application

  1. What is God’s mission for you at your place and time? The Lord Jesus has a mission for you. Ask Him in prayer. Often, it involves bringing God’s love and testimony to those around you. But sometimes, it may be more than you ever thought possible.
  2. Finally, you can pray with St.  John Henry Newman’s Prayer I Have a Place. Start with praying these few sentences:  “I have a place in God’s counsels, in God’s world, which no one else has; whether I be rich or poor, despised or esteemed by man, God knows me and calls me by my name. God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me, which He has not committed to another. I have my mission…” The rest is in a free bookmark on my website WrapyourselfinJOY.com.

Links

Esther for This Time #4 – Unwavering Resolve & the First Edict

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Unwavering Resolve & the First Edict

Esther for This Time #4

Esther 3: 8 Painting: “Haman Convinces Ahasuerus” by Masters, 1420 AD

Do you ever have unwavering resolve? In relationships, we use compromise for cooperation and keeping the peace. Nonetheless, we must stand firm, determined, and unshakable in some situations.  Join us today as Esther reveals the importance of unwavering resolve in difficult times.

Persia, 474 BC – Five Years After Esther’s Banquet

Welcome to Esther & Turnaround Joy Episode #4: Unwavering Resolve & the First Edict, where we encounter Esther and Mordecai five years after King Ahasuerus sponsored the beauty contest, crowned Esther as queen and celebrated with Esther’s banquet.

Next, we watch as the providential hand of God becomes more evident. We will see why God put Esther in a position of influence—even before the Jewish people faced the possibility of annihilation.  It’s 474 BC, and we join Mordecai as he stands near the palace gate and overhears a plot to kill the king. We cover these points:

Mordecai at the Palace Gate & Assassination Plot Foiled (Esther 2: 19-23)

  • Mordecai is “sitting at the gate” checking on Esther and likely working in a government position.
  • Mordecai told Esther not to reveal her nationality.
  • While at the gate, Mordecai overheard a plot to kill King Ahasuerus and reported it to Esther, who told the king. He hanged the would-be assassins Bigthan and Teresh.
  • Acts of loyalty like Mordecai’s were officially recorded so the king could reward the hero.

Mordecai is Resolute (Esther 3: 1-6)

  • Mordecai stood firm with unwavering resolve, which means firm, determined, not shakable, and displaying unwavering loyalty. (Vocabulary.com dictionary).
  • Therefore, he refused to bow down to Haman because God had commanded the Jewish people not to bow in adoration to anyone (e.g., Exodus 20: 3-6).
  • Haman was the king’s top advisor and “an enemy of the Jews” (Esther 3:10).
  • Haman was an Agagite, a descendent of King Agag of the Amalekites, who was of a fierce nomadic tribe that made their living by raiding settlements, killing the men, women, and children, and then taking their possessions. They had a “blood feud” with Israel, which demanded total extermination of the Israelites (see Exodus 17 and Deuteronomy 25).

The Pur, the Plan, and the Drink (Esther 3: 7-15 & Esther 13)

The Pur

  • Mordecai stood firm in his faith and obedience to God’s law and would not bow to Haman.
  • Infuriated Haman in April 374 BC cast the purpurim is the plural form.
  • The Purim were similar to our dice and were thrown to help make decisions and choose dates.
  • Esther 3:7 indicates the pur fell on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Aadar, March 7, 374 BC, for destroying all Jews.

The Plan

  • Haman offered the king 10,000 talents or about 375 tons of silver, which of course he hoped to acquire by killing Jewish families and plundering their homes.
  • King Ahasuerus gave Haman his signet ring, his signature used to stamp the wax on an official letter from the king.
  • Haman summoned the scribes to draft the edict on the day before Passover- April 17th, 474 BC (Esther 3:12).
  • The announcement was sent out to the 127 provinces of the Persian Empire on Passover—the day Jewish families annually commemorated God delivering them from slavery (see Exodus 12). The date was chosen to dishearten and terrorize the Jewish people.
  • The Passover celebration with family and friends quickly became a day of confusion and weeping. How ironic! The day of the announcement would fall on a commemoration of God’s deliverance. Could God again deliver them from destruction? It would be only God who could!

The Drink

  • To Haman and the king, it was just another day to celebrate their power, so they had a drink.
  • Haman’s heart was hardened with generational hatred, so he rejoiced in the genocide of the Jews.
  • Hebrews 4: 13 reminds us: “before him [God] no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account.”
  • Little did Haman know that the God of heaven was in control.

Personal Reflection: Unwavering Resolve

  • We witnessed a good example of unwavering resolve with Mordecai. He showed us there are times for unwavering resolve when we must follow God no matter the cost.  We cannot deny God’s commandments ever.
  • Mordecai refused to bow in worship to anyone other than the God of heaven and earth. He followed Exodus 20, “You shall have no other gods beside Me…You shall not bow down to them…”
  • Psalm 119: 2-4 reminds us: “Happy [blessed and joyful] are all who search for God and always do his will, rejecting compromise with evil and walking only in his paths. You [O God] have given us your laws to obey.
  • Unwavering resolve and devotion to God may be met with persecution. However, I can stay strong in the Lord and keep his commandments. 1 Corinthians 16: 13-14 says: Be watchful, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.
  • Ask God, ”Where do you want me to have unwavering resolve?” Henceforth, ask God for help to be resolute. He will give it to you.

Links

Esther for This Time # 2 – The Queen, the Refusal & the Bad Advice

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.
The Queen, the Refusal & the Bad Advice

Vashti Dethroned

Queen Esther ~Refusal of Bad Advice

What can you learn from Queen Esther? Do you need more wisdom and less bad advice in your life?  Today, we will encounter the outrageous King Ahasuerus, who regrets the outcome of his bad decision based on bad advice! Join us as we discuss the true wisdom from God that does not disappoint.

The Party (Esther 1: 1-8)

Welcome to Esther for This Time: Prayer, Reversals & JOY Episode #2 based on my book Esther For Such a Time As This: Prayer, Reversals and JOY.  The Book of Esther in the Old Testament was written so that even 2500 years later, we can still relate it to our culture. We can learn so much from Queen Esther.

Today, we continue in Esther Chapter 1 with our introduction to the pompous and extravagant King Ahasuerus and the opulent six-month party he threw in the capital city of Susa (modern-day Iran) in the third year of his reign. Ancient historians suggest over 15,000 men came to the party, which lasted 187 days. Amid the grand party, the king received and followed bad advice. In the podcast today, we will cover these points.

Vashti’s Refusal (Esther 1: 9-12)

  • Queen Vashti was throwing a grand party herself for the wives of governors, nobles, and officials who came to the king’s celebration when the king called her to appear before an unruly, intoxicated horde of men to show off her beauty.
  • She refused to come for reasons we might guess.
  • When she refused, she did not expect the king’s boiling rage!

The Bad Advice to the King (Esther 1: 13-21)

  • King Ahasuerus’ wise men, led by their spokesman Memucan, advised the king to dethrone and remove Vashti forever. Guided by his wounded pride, with no respect for his wife, the king followed this bad advice and dethroned Vashti.
  • The Scriptures teach women to honor and respect their husbands and men to love their wives (Ephesians 5: 25, 3). But the king was a pagan consumed with pride and self-indulgence who did not know God’s commands or God’s ways.
  • Greek Historian Herodotus records that King Ahasuerus won a great battle after this feast but later suffered a terrible loss to the Greeks during the four years that occurred between Esther Chapters One and Two.
  • The King returned home from battle and likely consumed himself with even more indulgence and sensuality, only to find he missed a lasting relationship with his lovely wife.

Personal Reflection

Where do you need wisdom today? Our historical story teaches us

  1. Be cautious when taking counsel from worldly advisors who stroke your ego or are motivated by a desire for power.
  2. Be courageous and maintain your integrity in difficult situations.
  3. Anger and violence do not demonstrate strength in a husband or a leader.

Application

  1. Read Proverbs 3: 5-7, James 1: 5, and Proverbs 3:17.
  2. These verses instruct us to ask God for wisdom, who promises to give it generously and ungrudgingly.
  3. So, ask God to lead YOU and clear the road for YOU to follow.

Links

 

Esther for This Time: Prayer, Reversals & JOY – The Backdrop & the Party

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Prayer, Reversals, and JOY

Have you studied the book of Esther? Do You Need Reversals in Your Life? Are you struggling to find faith and courage? Esther will show you how. Join our newest series based on the Book of Esther.  It’s a  wonderful study for Lent.  It is about trusting in God, intercessory prayer, and receiving strength to stand firm amid life’s challenges. It is about gentle leadership, discernment, and how God can give you reversals and joy in situations and relationships. Esther is a book of faith, hope, and joy!

[Don’t forget the Joy podcast series here.]

This is the Time

Welcome to Esther for This Time: Prayer, Reversals & JOY Episode #1, based on my book Esther For Such a Time As This: Prayer, Reversals, and JOY.  When we wonder, “Where is God in our lives or our families or communities,” Esther reminds us that God never abandons us. He is faithful. Now is a good time to start if you have never read or studied Esther. You cannot depend on movies depicting Esther because some are more fictional than historically accurate. You will gain so much more by reading it yourself, as the lessons from Esther are so encouraging. And, of course, there is a JOYFUL ending. Today, we will cover these points:

The Backdrop for Esther (Esther 1: 1-3)

  • The days of Ahasuerus (Esther 1:1) refer to the reign of King Ahasuerus, who historically ruled the world as King of the Persian Empire from 486 to 465 BC. In Greek, his name was Xerxes.
  • The Persians, led by Cyrus the Great, the grandfather of Ahasuerus, had defeated the Babylonian Empire of King Nebuchadnezzar, who had taken the Jewish people captive to Babylon beginning in 605 BC. Cyrus the Great had a relaxed attitude toward the Jewish people and allowed them to return to Jerusalem or move to other places. Some went back to Jerusalem. Some scattered throughout Europe. Some stayed in Persia and learned to fit into its culture. This is where we meet Esther.

The Lavish Party (Esther 1: 4-8)

  • King Ahasuerus resided in Susa, one of the three royal cities in the Persian Empire.
  • He threw the lavish party, mostly to inspire patriotism and show off his wealth and splendor to his military leaders so they would support him for going to war against Greece, as history tells us.
  • An old tradition stated that the rest of the party could drink only as the king drank, but at his party, all were instructed to drink freely. The golden goblets used for serving the wine may very well have been the sacred goblets seized from the Jewish temple in Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar in 605 BC (see Daniel 1). Now, they were being used in a very unholy way by a very pagan king!

Personal Reflection.

  • King Ahasuerus was trying to make himself a god in power, prestige, and more.
  • He did not know or refused to acknowledge the truth that God loves us dearly but as Proverbs 15:3 points out: “The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good,” or Hebrews 4:13, saying: “And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”
  • Consider these questions for reflection today:
    • Do you wonder where God is when you see the world focused on self-image, power, and prestige?
    • Do you get discouraged when it appears God is silent about all the evil taking place in the world?
    • When God seems silent, do you turn your attention to the party—that is, to the worldly distractions that draw you away from God, faith, and family?

Prayer Response

  1. Read and pray with Psalm 103: 15-22. Try to memorize the verse that speaks most to you.
  2. Seek God. When you think he is silent as the world parties on, open yourself more to God. Remember that only God, our heavenly Father, Jesus, our Savior, and the Holy Spirit can offer you the true Joy, Peace, Love, and Fulfillment that the world is seeking, as epitomized by King Ahasuerus.
  3. Ask for your needs. When you are lonely, confused, or frustrated, talk to Jesus from your heart.  Ask Him for what you need. Remember Jesus’ words in John 15: 11: As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.   (You may want to listen to my podcast season #1 series, Finding JOY.)

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