Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Failure does not mean Finished

Esther chapter 2

Personal Failure does not mean God is finished (verses 1-4)

In this chapter we will see God use a heathen king, and a wicked contest to bring about His will. When we pick up in chapter two we see a defeated king, who is considering himself a failure.

Every one of us has failed God on many occasions. Sometimes we like to act like we are super spiritual. Naturally we want everyone to think we are the best Christian in the church. The fact remains that every person has their own regrets. There are things that haunt your mind. Things you wish you could do over. Words you wish you would have never said.

In the second chapter of Esther we will see God moving on behalf of His people even when the people are not moving on God’s behalf. When the chapter begins we find King Xerxes in a very low state of depression. In the first chapter he put away his wife, a move he is regretting, and since chapter one he has lost a great military battle. Xerxes thought that he would send large numbers of soldiers to Greece, destroy their army, and virtually take over the known world. Instead the Persian soldiers were whipped by the Grecian soldiers, and sent them home disgraced.

Now some four years after chapter one the king is walking through the palace and regretting the decision he made about the queen. Xerxes would pace up and down the halls of the palace thinking of the queen. No doubt the king had a large number of concubines at his disposal, but there is a difference between physical pleasure and love. The servants see the king depressed and suggest that a contest is held. They will find the most beautiful women in the kingdom, bring them to the king, and he will pick one of them to become the new queen.

This sounds like a good idea to the king, so it is ordered. There is some controversy as to whether this was some kind of a beauty pageant for the women in the kingdom, or if the women were taken with force and brought into the kingdom. In either case, hundreds of women were brought into the kingdom, and presented before the king.

I wonder how many young women were hidden by their parents. I wonder how many parents lied and said they did not have a daughter. I wonder how many women married a man just to avoid being taken to the kingdom. Only one woman would become the queen. The rest of the women would be shut up into a harem. They would never be able to marry. They would forever be the property of the king.

Public Failure does not mean God is finished (verses 5-23)

Beginning in verse 5 we are introduced to two of the main characters in this book, Mordecai and Esther. First we meet Mordecai.

The first question I have is, “Why is Mordecai here?” God had permitted his people to return to their own land. Cyrus had signed a decree allowing them to return home, and rebuild their home land. The problem is that most of the Jews stayed behind. They had grown accustom to the lifestyle, and business of the Gentiles, so they just decided to stay behind. Mordecai was one of them. Mordecai is out of God’s will.

Next we meet Esther. Her name means “star.” Esther was actually her Persian name. Her given name was Hadassah which means “myrtle.” It is interesting that the myrtle tree brings forth flowers that are star shaped. This lady must have really been a star. Esther is being raised by Mordecai, but she is really his cousin, not his daughter.

In these verses we see some real problems. First of all if Mordecai and Esther were passing themselves off as Persians then this means they were not living a kosher lifestyle. For if they were keeping the laws of Moses in relation to their diet, worship and lifestyle they would have quickly been found out.

I’m sure that Mordecai did this for personal safety. No doubt there were people who would hate or harm them if they were discovered as Jews. Daniel and his friends stayed true to the laws of their God while captive in Babylon, why not Mordecai and Esther?

Even more serious is the problem of a Jewish girl being in a harem and ultimately marrying a Gentile. The Law of Moses was clear that the Jews were not to enter into mixed marriages.

It is amazing to see that God allowed all of this to happen. And after all these things He still took care of His people. Just as Joseph found favor in Egypt and Daniel found favor in Babylon, so Esther finds favor in Shushan. Even today God is moving in areas and ways where we just assume that He is absent.

After a year of preparation the time came for the women to go before the king. Every night a new girl was brought to the king and in the morning she was taken to the house of the concubines, unless the king liked her and called for her by name to come to him again.

When the king saw Esther the decision was made. Esther was to be the new queen. Again, this was no accident. This move was essential for God to save His people.

Finally the chapter closes with Mordecai getting a new position now that Esther is the queen. He is sitting at the gate which was where the court was. Mordecai was made a judge. While sitting at the gate he overhears a plot being made on the king’s life. Mordecai immediately tells the plot to Esther, who in turn tells the king. The men that were plotting against the king are found out, and killed. This is a seemingly insignificant event, but we will see in a couple of verses how big of an event this is.

You can watch these lessons taught live by clicking on the links to the right.

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