Monday, February 21, 2011

"For Such A Time As This"

I recently started a series of lesson at church out of the book of Esther. Normally when I teach through a book I just go verse by verse. With Esther I wanted to do things a little different. I’m still going verse by verse, but I wanted to teach each chapter with a theme. No doubt there is one statement made that sets the tone for the entire book. That statement is made by Mordecai as he asks Esther “and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

With this in mind I began teaching on “Such A Time As This”. I have given each chapter a theme, or a thought. This will make more sense as I blog, or you listen to the lesson archive. In this blog I really just want to give you an introduction into the book. (I don’t know why but the introduction to a book has always been one of my favorite parts of a study. I like to know what’s going on in history at the time the book is wrote. It just makes the book more meaningful I guess.)

No one knows for sure who wrote the book of Esther. Mordecai is the most likely candidate for the writer. The book of Esther is a remarkable book in many regards. It is remarkable in that the name of God is never mentioned in the book. There are no divine titles that even refer to God. The king is mentioned 192 times, but God is never mentioned.

This book is remarkable in that prayer is not mentioned. The book of Esther is not mentioned or referenced one time in the New Testament. Lastly it is a remarkable book in that it is named after a woman. There is only one other book in the Bible named after a woman, and that is Ruth.

The record of Esther is the record of a group of people who are not in the will of God. The Jewish nation has been in Babylonian captivity. After 70 years the captivity was over. Cyrus, the Persian king, was moved by God to make a decree allowing the Jews to return to their homeland and rebuild Zion. It was God’s will the people return, but only 60,000 actually did return. That meant several million Jews remained.

When the Jews were first carried away into Babylon they were asked to sing the songs of Zion. With broken hearts they hung their harps on the willow trees and cried bitterly saying they could not sing the songs of Zion in a strange land. Now, many years later, Zion lies in ruins but they are unwilling to go back and rebuild it.

May I say in passing that it is sad when God’s people refuse, or don’t care to move forward with God. So many times God opens up doors, makes opportunities for us to do something meaningful. Yet, many times, the average church and the average Christian would rather just stay where they are. Complacency will kill a church.

So, when we pick up in chapter one, we see Persian ruling the majority of the known world, the people of God out of the will of God, and a drunken feast. This seems like a pretty grim setting, but standing somewhere in the shadows is God. Although He is never mentioned we see Him moving on behalf of His people.

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