Whoever says the Bible is boring has certainly not read the thing very much. It's better than the novels on the New York Times Best Seller’s List. I mean…the stories are filled with intrigue, deception, and adventure; stories of illicit affairs, murder, conspiracy, back-stabbing, drama, and love. There are spies, thieves, murderers, villains, heroes, warriors, champions, and stories where the underdog comes out on top. Seriously, if you have not spent much time between the pages of this great book, grab a cup of hot chocolate, coffee, or tea and settle in by the fire and take a journey that will change your life forever.
Not too long ago I watched (again) “One Night with the King” by FoxFaith movies. It had been a while since I read the book of Esther and decided to see exactly what kind of liberties had been taken for the sake of political correctness. However, it was not long before I was sucked into the pages and totally forgot about the movie!
It is a story of profound interplay of God’s sovereignty and human will. God prepared the place and the opportunity…Esther and Mordecai chose to act. Because of Queen Esther’s courageous act, a whole nation was saved.
The scene opens with a huge lavish feast lasting many days when the king calls for the queen, she doesn’t come, and his advisers are worried that because of her example all the other women will do what they want instead of obeying their husbands so he “sets her aside.” Sometime after that he “remembers Queen Vashti” so his advisers tell him to gather up all the young, beautiful virgins and pick a new queen.
Hadassah, a young Jewish girl, being raised by her elder cousin, Mordecai happens to be picked. He had urged her that should she be chosen to use another name and she becomes known simply as Esther. After a year of beauty treatments with oils and perfumes, the king “sets the crown upon her head.” Mordecai was always hanging around the "gates" so he could communicate with Esther because he loved her as his own.
Enter the wicked Hamen…(imagine evil music here) he has worked his way up the ranks through intrigue and malicious maneuvers however, when Mordecai would not bow down to him he was furious and devised a plot to not only kill Mordecai but to exterminate all the Jews.
But God had other plans! Mordecai sent word to Esther that she had to go to the king to save her people. She was worried because it was unlawful to do so with out the king first summoning a person and he had not called for her in a long time. If she approached him and he did not lower his scepter toward her she would be killed. What to do, what to do? When Mordecai heard of this he sent word back to her:
“And Mordecai told them to answer Esther: ‘Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews. For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?’ Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai ‘Go gather all the Jews present in Shusan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!’” Esther 4:13-16 ~NIV
So…walking by faith….she puts on her royal robes and goes before the king who inclines his scepter toward her and tells her she can have anything she wants up to one half the kingdom. What a relief! She simply invites the king and Hamen to a banquet that day but at the “banquet of wine” she asks them to come back the next night for another banquet and she will tell the king what's on her mind then.
Now by this point in the story, Hamen thinks he is all that… he is in a position of high authority and living a lavish lifestyle, has convinced the king to get rid of the Jews, and now is attending “banquet” with the queen in which he is the only other guest of honor besides the king. But as he walks out of the gate who does he see? Mordecai standing tall and Hamen is madder than ever before. He complains to his wife and friends that all he has accomplished is for nothing as long as Mordecai sits at the gate and disrespects him in front of everyone. Hamen’s wife tells him…build a gallows, hang Mordecai and get it over with so that he can go to the banquet and enjoy himself.
But again, God had other plans! The king could not sleep that night and like us, he wanted something to read. As he was reading the book of records he came across the entry where Mordecai had sent word and an assassination attempt on the king was thwarted. When the King asked what had been done to reward this guy, his servants informed him nothing. Talk about God’s timing!
Since Hamen was the only advisor lurking around the palace at the time, the king asks him what should be done…thinking it could only be Hamen, himself, the king wanted to reward (Man he is so full of himself!) he comes up with a lavish reward.
Not only did Mordecai get rewarded…Hamen was further humiliated by being the one to parade Mordecai, his nemesis, through the streets as he sat upon one of the kings horses, wearing a robe that the king had worn. After all, in Hamen's opinion it should be him on that horse and in those clothes. I can see his face as he shouts to all who can hear, “Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor!” over and over again.
That evening Hamen attended Queen Esther’s banquet with the King. When the King asked her this time what was her petition and again promising her what ever she wanted up to half the kingdom, she asked that her life be spared and that of her people. I can see the kings face now…what? Who has done this to you? When she told him it was Hamen he was livid and Hamen, rightly so, was terrified.
And so the story ends with Hamen being hung on the gallows built for Mordecai and Esther receives the house of Hamen as compensation. The king sends out a decree to all the land that the Jews were to rise up in resistance to any who attempted to kill, steal, and destroy their people upon the date that had been allotted.
During these battles Hamen’s sons and wife were also killed. Some Jews died but all-in-all the Jewish people were successful. Mordecai petitioned the king (for he had grown in prominence) that “these days should become a time of feasting, gift giving, and giving gifts to the poor: for their sorrow was turned to joy, their days of mourning into a holiday and that they be remembered for all time." We know it today as the Jewish holiday Purim.
Esther's life made a difference. Seeing her God-given opportunity, she seized it! I encourage you to get out your Bible and as you read the book Esther, watch for God at work in your life…has He prepared you to act in such a time is this?