Monday, January 7, 2013

Monday, January 7 - Esther 4 - Tiffany

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Genesis 13-14, Psalm 5, Matthew 5
Today's scripture focus is Esther 4

Good Morning!  Or Afternoon, or Evening, or Night - whenever you're getting to this.  My name is Tiffany, and I'm new to the Bible In a Year and Beyond blog.  You can read my brief testimony here.

On my personal blog, I use a lot of movie quotes and song lines to title my blog posts.  If I were to write this study over there, I'd probably title it "Help us, Obi-wan Kenobi, you're our only hope."

We know from chapter 2 verse 20 that Esther and Mordecai weren't telling anyone they were Jews.
We also know that the lines of communication are open between Mordecai and Esther, since Mordecai saved the king's life in 2:22.  And after saving the king's life, Mordecai let the guards know his true background and nationality and those guards told Haman what they had learned (3:4).
And as we just learned through our study of chapter 3, Haman is ticked, so ticked he isn't happy with just eliminating Mordecai, he wants to get rid of all of Mordecai's people. That doesn't just mean his aunts, uncles and cousins, that means all the Jews in Xerxes's lands (which we know are considerable).

Which leads us to chapter 4, where Mordecai approaches the king's gate in sackcloth and ashes.  And there he sets, in mourning, like every other Jew in the province.  He can't go in, but he doesn't leave either.  He waits for Esther.

Without finding out why Mordecai was in mourning, Esther sent him clothes to wear instead of his sackcloth.  John Wesley states in his Explanatory Notes that Esther either sent Mordecai the clothes so he could return to his own home, or so that he could enter the king's gates and explain his troubles.  When Mordecai refuses, she sends her eunuch Hathak.

Esther's original answer to Mordecai's plea for help was to downplay her importance.  "The King hasn't asked for me in 30 days.  He obviously isn't that interested in his new queen. If he doesn't accept me, I'll be killed!"

Mordecai responds with a very prophet like statement, in any other book of the Bible his speech would've been followed by "Thus saith the Lord." Mordecai says:
"Do not think that because you are in the king's house you alone of all the Jews will escape.  For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish.  And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?"

Esther responds in a way that reminds me of Drago in Rocky IV - "If I die, I die."  Whether it was knowledge that either she dies when Haman's decree is carried out, or dies when the king rejects her, either way she was facing death. So Esther asks Mordecai to fast and pray for her, indeed for all the Jews in Susa to do so, and that she and her maids would fast as well.

Mordecai comes to Esther as Princess Leah does to Obi-wan Kenobi, pleading, "You are our only hope."
Mordecai thought Esther could save the Jews.  And why did he think this?  Because of his faith in God.   Hear that? Mordecai's faith was in God, and God alone. His faith was strong enough to believe firmly in their deliverance.  Mordecai knows his God has used unlikely people to save Israel before. That God could use any miracle He chose to save them all.   Whether Esther could truly save them or not, Mordecai knew God would not let them be destroyed.  As John Wesley says "From another place - This was the language of strong faith, against hope believing in hope. Who knoweth - It is probable God hath raised thee to this honour for this very season."

Where was Esther's faith in all this?  She has hidden that she is a Jew, and yet she takes seriously Mordecai's statement that she and her family will perish.  The Bible has not told us that she has spent any time in fasting or prayer before this. 
However, I believe her faith in God is stronger than written.  For after considering the options, she did not also go into mourning, but went into action.  She requested the Jews of Susa to fast, and she required her maids to fast with her.  She called upon the Lord to give her the wisdom and strength to face the challenge that was before her.

And with their faith in God strengthening them, Mordecai went and carried out all of Esther's instructions, while Esther prepared to meet the king.

It is easy in our day to day life to forget how important our faith in God is.  Life can become routine and easy, and so can our relationship with God.  It is important to remember, however, that our faith must not falter.  That we must work with it, study and strengthen our faith, our knowledge, and our relationship, so that in "such a time as this" we may be prepared for the challenges brought to us.  I end with Wesley's words again, "We should every one of us consider, for what end God has put us in the place where we are? And when an opportunity offers of serving God and our generation, we must take care not to let it slip."


Tomorrow's scripture focus: Esther 5

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Genesis 15-16, Psalm 6, Matthew 6


LaughingLady said...

Good first post, Tiffany!!

I actually really like the emphasis Driscoll puts in his corresponding sermon in this particular passage, namely the progression both Mordecai and Esther make faith-wise as events continue to unfold. I sometimes feel like Driscoll's reading a little much into the script, but here it's impossible NOT to see their growth, although whether it's spiritual or just strength of character might still be debatable.

But I do think this is a perfect example of faith being tested and growing as a result. The Bible clearly says many who call themselves believers will fall away in tough times, and certainly, we see that all the time. But Esther and Mordecai are among The Remnant ~ possibly rather non-committal in their faith while life is going according to their plans, but realizing their need for God and relying on His strength when life gets dicey. Instead of turning away and blaming Him for the turns their life has taken like so many do, they turn TO Him for wisdom, strength, and deliverance.

Miriam said...

I don't know if I really noticed before that Mordecai has complete faith that God will deliver their people somehow. If not through Esther, then some other way - but obviously his faith was strong enough that he fully believed there would always be a remnant, whether it included his family or not. I can easily see how Esther's faith could have been strengthened by this display of faith in Mordecai.

TammyIsBlessed said...

Tammi - do you have anything specific in mind when you refer to Driscoll reading into the text?

I do like it that he said that there definitely is personal opinion involved in this, simply because Esther is so very factual and doesn't get into motive or feelings at all.

I really appreciate his point about progress being so much more important than where you start out. It's so encouraging because it means that it's never too late to repent, it's never too late to recommit, it's never too late to give God full control of your life instead of hiding parts away. God can and will use anyone to accomplish His purposes for His glory!

TammyIsBlessed said...

I hadn't really thought of it before either, but is there a veiled threat in Mordecai's words about Esther not thinking that she alone would be spared. Mordecai is the only one that knows she's a Jew, so is he threatening to expose her if she doesn't do something? Or is it just a warning that she shouldn't assume that no one will find out, and her keeping silent is also a gamble? Obviously we don't know. Interesting to think about though.

Thanks so much for a great post Tiffany - looking forward to continuing to get to know you as we all grow together in the study of His Word.

Pamela said...

This stood out for me:

It is easy in our day to day life to forget how important our faith in God is. Life can become routine and easy, and so can our relationship with God. It is important to remember, however, that our faith must not falter. That we must work with it, study and strengthen our faith, our knowledge, and our relationship, so that in "such a time as this" we may be prepared for the challenges brought to us.

So true.

LaughingLady said...

I've sometimes wondered at Mordecai's choice of phrases there, too, but always just chalked up the threatening tone to something being lost in translation! Like, maybe he was just informing her she was delusional if she figured she'd be spared while all the other Jews died.