QT – Esther 10

***We will be moving back to the New Testament to the book of James tomorrow***

Vs. 3, “Mordecai the Jew was second in rank to King Xerxes, preeminent among the Jews, and held in high esteem by his many fellow Jews, because he worked for the good of his people and spoke up for the welfare of all the Jews.” Reminicent of Joseph in Egypt, Mordecai held the second highest rank in the land. Unlike Haman, Mordecai would rise in rank and not abuse his power. In addition we see in this very short chapter a comment about “tribute” (tax) made throughout the land (vs. 1). Some believe Mordecai helped orchestrate this since there was no plunder in the land now that there was peace.

Regarding application…God Uses Us. What a wonderful priviledge it is to important to God! It was Mordecai who had taken Esther in and raised her. It was Mordecai & Esther who helped see the unjustness of their people and willing to stand up to the tyranny that was before them. I often mention this, but when I went to Bible College had these grand dreams of being used by God in powerful ways! I was going to die in glory on the mission field (who knows, perhaps this still could happen). But, instead…I took a much quieter route as a Youth Director of a small Korean church. But alas…God used me and it truly is important ministry! Never forget that…we get caught up in recognition and numbers and forget the true purpose of why God has us on earth. Don’t make the mistake in assuming that what you do isn’t important to God. Just keep your eyes fixed on Him and he will guide you!

QT – Esther 9

Vs. , “On the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, the edict commanded by the king was to be carried out. On this day the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, but now the tables were turned and the Jews got the upper hand over those who hated them.” Indeed, the tables have been turned and God’s people are now vindicated. Not only were they ready for battle, God had given them an advantage for the enemy feared them. I believe it was a fear that God had instilled in the enemy for His people to triumph as they did. It seems a rather harsh response as they would kill Haman’s sons and many thousands of others. But, remember that those who were killed were guilty of such hatred as Haman. Additionally, the Jews were ready to “Defend” themselves…not go on the attack. They would also celebrate a new holiday called Purim (derived from the word “pur” – meaning “lot”). Remember, lots were drawn to determine the time that the Jews were to be exterminated.

Regarding application…One Way. Lots were casted (kinda similar to rolling dice) and by chance Haman determined his destruction day. While we humans like games of chance (i.e. stock market, gambling, sports, etc.) there is but one way. God’s way. God’s way may have many roads we venture on, but it is still only way way that He desires for us. It’s a dangerous thing to play a game of chance to determine what and where we ought to go. I remember I used to love spinning the old globes (of the earth) that most of us kids had back in our rooms in the olden days. As it spun round and round, I would close my eyes and stop the spinnig globe with one of my fingers. I would pretend that wherever it landed on, I would one day go there. Suprisingly, many of us make irrational decisions based on superstitions or taking a chance from the choices we have. We must be careful to seek God’s will through prayer, affirmation of others, knowing His Word, etc. One Way!

QT – Esther 8

Vs. 3, “Esther again pleaded with the king, falling at his feet and weeping. She begged him to put an end to the evil plan of Haman the Agagite, which he had devised against the Jews.” Esther had defeated the enemy Haman and saved her own life…now it was time to save her people! While the King could not rescind his own edict, he could send out another one that would supercede it. Mordecai goes from nearly dead to being quite blessed to say the least. He would have the very signet ring of the King. We see the sense of urgency as the King’s couriers ride out in haste to deliver the message for the Jews to be saved. But it also gives them enough time to arm and protect themselves should any group decide to rebel against them.

Regarding application…Celebration. Vs. 16, “For the Jews it was a time of happiness and joy, gladness and honor.” There is a time for everything and now was the time to celebrate! What roller coaster of emotions as God’s people go from being sentenced to death and now saved from death. Likewise, we were sentenced to die…But God sent his own son to die so we may live, his own new Edict. We are the King’s couriers rushing out to those who are perishing and give them a answer that can save them! I know this world is a crazy place to live and it’s not an easy road…but let’s truly take time to remember the happiness & joy that God also desires us to have. When I look back at my own life….what makes me appreciate the good times so much more is because of the tough times.

QT – Esther 7

Vs. 3, “Then Queen Esther answered, “If I have found favor with you, O king, and if it pleases your majesty, grant me my life—this is my petition. And spare my people—this is my request.” Don’t forget…Until this time, Esther had not revealed to the King her true nationality. More than likely, Esther was very nervous and worried about how the King would react. I’m sure Haman was just as shocked, for he did not know his King’s Queen was a Jew. It’s obvious that King Xerxes is not exactly a man who cares too much about human life. He so easily allowed Haman to give an edict to destroy God’s people without evening hardly knowing anything. But, this was his precious Queen. Once again, God is ever-present behind the scences. It must have enraged the King to realize Haman had such power and schemes behind his back…no wonder he would soon have him dead. Ironically, Haman would die that same day on the very gallows he had built for Mordecai.

Regarding application…Death Penalty. Vs. 9, “Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs attending the king, said, “A gallows seventy-five feet high stands by Haman’s house. He had it made for Mordecai, who spoke up to help the king.” The king said, “Hang him on it!” The penalty was death…the sin penalty for all of us is also death. We all have sin nature in us…we all have the same condemnation upon us. By the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, we are no longer condemned to death (Romans 8:1). I remember when I was a sophomore in high school, I gave my first public speech in speech class on the death penalty. On a sidenote…I remember I endorsed it then and I still have not changed my views. Anyways…part of the purpose of the death penalty isn’t only for justice but to also put fear in the perpatrators that might do a crime. We would think the fear of death is a good motivator, but sadly some knowingly do it despite the cost. What we all don’t realize (before knowing Jesus) is that we already are sentenced. Many on death row who know they are dying turn to Jesus. Let’s not wait for death to be knocking at our door or anyone else’s door for that matter. We have the answer against death, let’s share it!

QT – Esther 6

Vs. 1, “That night the king could not sleep; so he ordered the book of the chronicles, the record of his reign, to be brought in and read to him.” Coincidence? I think not! God’s hand was at play as Xerxes tossed and turned that night and I’m sure his curiosity towards Esther’s intent was looming. God was working on behalf of His children yet at the time, they were not privy of this. The drama unfolds as Haman wakes up early to request the death of Mordecai to the king (vs. 4). A shocking twist unfolds before Haman’s eyes as he surely thought that the King was referring to him (vs. 6). Haman must have nearly fainted when he heard Xerxes mention the name of Mordecai. If this setting were a movie at the theatre, the audience would have a rousing applause! It must have been a humliating experience for Haman as he had to profess pubicliy the honor of Moredcai (Vs. 11).

Regarding application…Justice is Served. Vs. 13b, “…His advisers and his wife Zeresh said to him, “Since Mordecai, before whom your downfall has started, is of Jewish origin, you cannot stand against him—you will surely come to ruin!” We’ve all heard the saying, “What comes around goes around.” Haman was an evil man and God would bring justice to this situation. Justice may not always come in the manner or timing that we would like, but God wins everytime! Sometimes in my human perspective, I want to administer justice to those who have wronged others. Perhaps that is why I want to be a police officer. But, even then…we must be careful to not go outside of the the will of God. Esther or Mordecai could have tried to have Haman assasinated, but instead…attempted diplomacy and faith. It’s not an easy life we live on this earth, but let us remember that God is on our side!

QT – Esther 5

Vs. 2, “When he saw Queen Esther standing in the court, he was pleased with her and held out to her the gold scepter that was in his hand. So Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter.” God’s providence is at work and she would find favor with the King. Xerxes is intrigued to say the least at this unexpected visit from Esther. Esther wisely holds out in telling her true intentions and asks to have a banquet with Haman later that day. Perhaps the wine and food would lend the King to a more happier disposition. Once again, Xerxes asked what Esther’s inquiry was all about…but Esther would again wisely hold back her response to another day. It’s interesting to note Haman’s false sense of security and pride (vs. 12). That evening after the banquet, Mordecai happened to have another encounter with Haman which would bring Haman to a rage since Mordecai was not respecting him. In Haman’s wrath against Mordecai, he would have gallows built to hang him…little did he know what truly would happen soon.

Regarding application…Wisdom. Vs. 8, “If the king regards me with favor and if it pleases the king to grant my petition and fulfill my request, let the king and Haman come tomorrow to the banquet I will prepare for them. Then I will answer the king’s question.” Esther in a sense was “working” the King. She had the wisdom to know that she would need Haman there if she were going to bring up the accusation of Haman’s intentions to kill her people to the Xerxes. I’m not sure if Esther froze up and was too scared to do it the first day, but in this verse, she waits another day. And there was truly a reason for it as you will see in the following chapter. Esther must have surely prayed and had the wisdom to discern how to approach such a grave accusation. It reminds me how we tend to want to bring justice immediately or solve a issue without thinking it through. What a brave & wise woman Esther was!

QT – Esther 4

Vs. 3, “In every province to which the edict and order of the king came, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping and wailing. Many lay in sackcloth and ashes.” Earlier we see Mordecai set the example in both bravery and now in mourning (sackcloth and ashes were a visible sign of mourning). Remember, it was Mordecai who had told Esther to hide her nationality. But now we see a different unashamed Mordecai who would not be afraid. When Esther finds out why Mordecai is mourning, she begins to realize the ball is now in her court. If she approaches the king without being summoned she could die immediately! It is a intense time for Esther as she weighs the death of her people and her own mortality.

Regarding application…Tough Decisions. Vs. 14, “…And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” Remember the saying, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” This is what seperates the little boys and girls from the Men and Women. I’m sure Esther’s little hairs on her neck stood up when she realized the decision she was to make. While Mordecai had faith that God would deliver them, he also realized Esther could play a huge role in this. This is where we see God’s providence shine through. Esther would become Queen, so she could eventually save her own people. She was now willing to even die so that others may not perish. Jesus would say, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13). We make many tough decisions in this life we live. While many of us probably won’t have to physically die for another (though it could happen)…we still must die to ourselves so others can see the reflection of the Lord in our lives.

QT – Esther 3

Vs. 1, “After these events, King Xerxes honored Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, elevating him and giving him a seat of honor higher than that of all the other nobles.” Five years have passed since the previous chapter…and we are now introduced to the evil Haman. We are reminded here of the extent of evil that we as human beings can possess. Mass genocide is on par with Adolf Hitler (and bear in mind that thousands of years had passed between Haman and Hitler, yet the people they targeted was the same). It is noteworthy to mention that when Haman casted lots to determine his destruction day, it would fall nearly a year later (vs. 7). The amount that Haman offered the king to get rid of the Jews is equivalent to $25,000,000 (notice, how he also withheld who the people group were). King Xerxes irresponsibly gave Haman his signet ring authorization, not realizing his own queen was at risk of death!

Regarding application…Standing Up. Vs. 2, “All the royal officials at the king’s gate knelt down and paid honor to Haman, for the king had commanded this concerning him. But Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor. ” Wow~~~this is great drama played out before us as we see Mordecai understanding the full magnitude of Haman’s intent! Haman was a power-monger and evil to the bone…had his request to bow down before him been associated with a simple polite respect gesture…Mordecai would probably complied. But Haman’s request/command was beyond the boundary that Mordecai would allow (Haman was an Amalikite an outspoken enemy of God’s people and of God). He stood his ground and would not pay the honor that was only due to God. Call it reckless or call it courageous…Mordecai was a man who stood his ground. While we are to respect authority above us, we do not comply or bown down when it comes between the Lord!

QT – Esther 2

Vs. 7, “Mordecai had a cousin named Hadassah, whom he had brought up because she had neither father nor mother. This girl, who was also known as Esther, was lovely in form and features, and Mordecai had taken her as his own daughter when her father and mother died.” About four years have passed between chapters 1 & 2….we are now introduced to Esther and she truly must have been very beautiful. Xerxes meanwhile came back from a crushing defeat against the Greeks and must have been looking for something to console him when he returned. Now we see the beginning of the search for the queen. We are also introduced to Esther’s older cousin, Mordecai who raised her like his own daughter. Naturally, Mordecai wanted the best for Esther and devised a plan that I believe was out the Will of God, but God’s providence overruled Mordecai’s bad judgment (vs. 11 shows his uneasiness about the situation). Esther would undergo a whole year of beauty treatments required during that day to have an audience with the king. Favor was upon Esther, much like Joseph when taken into captivity. As the story unfold, we have an “American Idol” type of beauty contest and Esther wins by a landslide. Esther is now the Queen.

Regarding application…God’s Providence. Esther is living proof that God’s providence will prevail. Even though Mordecai & Esther’s intent might not have been in God’s will, God allowed it…for it would be the circumstance that He would use to save His people. God works in mysterious ways and sometimes allows some pretty crazy events to transpire. The important thing here is not to judge Esther or Mordecai, but to just appreciate that even as an imperfect people, God looks at far beyond our weaknesses. Of course, God could have us all perfect beings and worshipping without a choice…but we have the value of a relationship and choice. I look back at all the times I disappointed God and strayed from His will…yet His love & providence has helped me navigate this world just like all of you who are reading this. When tough times come, know God is on our side.

QT – Esther 1

Happy Easter!!!

Introduction:
The book of Esther tells a dramatic story of intrigue, danger and deliverance. A beautiful Jewish girl named Esther becomes Queen of Persia and later risks her life on behalf of her people. Esther is the only one of two books in the Bible named for women. The other is the book of Ruth. We don’t know who wrote this true story about the people of Israel while they were living as exiles in Persia. The name of God is not mentioned in the book, but His providential hand can be seen as clearly as in any book of the Bible. The setting is the Persian Empire covering a ten year period from 483-473 b.c. Though in captivity far from the Promised Land, this story shows how God cared for His people in order to keep His promise to bring them back to their homeland. (NIV Audio Bible).

Vs. 1, “This is what happened during the time of Xerxes, the Xerxes who ruled over 127 provinces stretching from India to Cush…” We are introduced to the Persian King Xerxes (Greek name…his Persian name was Khshayarshan) who reigned for 21 years and was the grandson of King Cyrus the Great. We begin this chapter with much intrigue…it has all the ingredients for a blockbuster movie! The story is compelling from the start…Xerxes is having a lavish banquet in lieu of a coming war with Greece. It is the last banquet of a 180 day feast and Xerxes now wanted to show off his beautiful wife & Queen Vashti (Vs. 11). But Vashit refused to come, perhaps because she knew there was vast amounts of alcohol (not much has changed, huh?)…and was concerned with the rowdiness of the party. Xerxes obviously was stunned by her refusal and his pride was hurt. His close advisors gave him bad advice and instructed him to depose of her (a decisioin he would later regret)…he was a puppet king and was easily influenced.

Regarding application…Alcohol. Vs. 8, “By the king’s command each guest was allowed to drink in his own way, for the king instructed all the wine stewards to serve each man what he wished.” What a foolish thing Alcohol is. It’s suprising how socially acceptable it is within the church these days. Just a few years ago, I would have college students lamenting to me how foolish they were and are when it came to their alcoholic practices in college. Now, it is normal to see Christian college students socially drinking and “buzzing” at any given party or hangout. If we only knew the price of alcohol (not monetarily…but how it literally destroys lives and families.) It is an incredilby foolish slippery slope to walk on and I challenge any student or adult to justify drinking beyond a glass for celebration at a wedding or special event. The moment alcohol enters our system our judgment is impaired (believe me, I know this all to well from my past). Yet, the answer often given is that it’s “social” drinking and I know when to stop. Brothers & sisters…for anyone who knows me…I see many things black & white and this biblical example is another reason why we should not step down the path of Alcohol.