Context: Esther’s story begins in 483 BC. Esther is part of a large Jewish community that has remained in Persia (modern day Iran), where God had sent them into exile. In 536 BC the Persian king, Cyrus, said the Jews could return to their homeland and rebuild the temple. A large group returned the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah. But there was a group of Jewish people remained in Persia and didn’t go with Ezra and Nehemiah. The group that remained in Persia was sometimes looked down on by the Jews who returned to Israel. They were looked down upon because they were considered too worldly.
In Esther the king throws a massive party to celebrate himself. When he summoned the queen to come to the party wearing only her crown, she refused. This greatly embarrassed the king and would set a terrible precedent in the eyes of all the men of Persia. So Queen Vashti was kicked to the curb and the king held a long search for a new queen. Esther was one of the young women that was taken to the king as a possible queen. She was apparently extremely beautiful. She had been living with her cousin Mordecai as his daughter until then. She was chosen as the new queen.
Haman was an adviser to the king and had an agenda to get rid of the Jews. There was a decree that everyone had to bow to Haman. Well, Mordecai refused to. Mordecai learned of Haman’s plan to rid Persia of the Jews requests Esther’s help since she is the queen. Esther hosts a dinner with Haman and the king. Haman thought he was really doing well to be eating with the king and queen and Esther asked them back the next night.
When Haman was walking home, he saw Mordecai and grew angry and ordered a gallows to be set up for him tomorrow. That same night the king had trouble sleeping and had some past events read to him. One of those events was when Mordecai had saved the king’s life. The king had never done anything to thank him though. Haman walked in and the king asked him what he would do for someone who deserved the highest praise. Haman assumed the king meant Haman, so he suggested a grand parade.
The king told him to put together the parade for Mordecai. After the parade, Esther hosted that second dinner and revealed Haman’s evil plot against the jews and the fact that she was a Jew. The next day, Haman is on the gallows instead of Mordecai.
Four big ideas for a new year:
God is able to use ‘Mordecais’ and ‘Esthers.’ … What matters in the Kingdom of God is your surrender and availability to the King. Mordecai and Esther were normal people who simply were willing to be part of God’s plan.
God is always at work in your life. … God is weaving the stories of His people for His Redemptive Plan. God’s name is never mentioned in the book of Esther, but His fingerprints are all over it. There’s just too many coincidences for it not to be a plan.
You can’t hold on to this life, so risk it all for the Gospel. … “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” --John Elliott
The need is urgent. Our time is short. … Just like Esther could not ignore the life and death reality, neither can we.
We’re in the same moment as Esther--we’re in a divinely orchestrated moment, with life or death implications. We’ve been placed here for “just such a time as this.”
How are you going to respond in 2019?