Sunday, December 6, 2015

Sunday, December 6th: Esther 1-2, Luke 12:1-31 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Esther 1-2; Luke 12:1-31

Esther is a difficult book to contend with.  Our tendency is to try to make everyone  in the Bible into a hero, and so we try to make Esther out to be the female version of Daniel.  Only she's not.

They were both exiles, but Daniel knew who he was and in whom he believed and he never backed down in his convictions.  Daniel not only admitted that he was a Jew, but asked for concessions based on his Jewishness. He refused to bow down to any other gods and he prayed, even when prayer fell under the penalty of death.

Esther, on the other hand, does not have that kind of devotion to God.  She and Mordecai have grown so comfortable in Persia that they do not return to their homeland in order to rebuild the walls along with the remnant, despite King Cyrus' decree.  She goes by the Persian name Esther instead of her Jewish name of Hadassah, and hides her Jewishness from everyone.  Mordecai seems to encourage her participation in a beauty contest which includes spending one night with a pagan king, and quite presumably, all that that would entail.  As far as we know, she goes along with these plans willingly. When Mordecai finally confronts her with Haman's plans and forces her to make a decision, she doesn't want to do it.  The fact that in the end she decides to go to the king does not necessarily speak to her courage, but more likely her desperation.  Her choice, after all, was between certain death and possible death.

We like Daniel.  Like the song says, we want to "dare to be a Daniel".  But we're uncomfortable with Esther.

But the thing is - in reality, most of us are more like Esther than Daniel.  Perhaps that's  exactly what makes us uncomfortable. We look at her faults - willingness to compromise, materialistic, lack of devotion, focus on appearance, lack of courage - and we see them in ourselves.  But that is the good news.  God can use us, in spite of ourselves, in spite of our sin.

In his sermon, For Such a Slime as This, Hershael York says:

You need to understand that just because you don't see God in Esther that doesn't mean he's not there. And if there's anything you need to learn to trust, it's that you can trust that God is with you in spite of your dim vision. Sometimes your vision will be dimmed by your own sinfulness, sometimes by the circumstances, sometimes by the pain and grief that envelops you. But God does some of his best work in the shadows, hidden from view, obscured by the dim vision on those whom he is dealing with. I think for every Daniel who sees a clear vision of the Son of Man, there are a thousand Esthers who come stumbling, staggering, reluctantly dragged into the will of God by desperation and a lack of alternatives....

[We serve a] God who is so big that he can take the tragedies, the sorrows, even the sinful choices and decisions of your life and still weave them into the fabric of his purpose and plan for your life so that he gets glory from you anyway... That's the God who is hidden in Esther and yet displayed everywhere in Esther...

That's the God we serve. It's the God that has brought you through everything in your life—your failures and tragedies and grief and bad decisions and sinful choices. He has brought you to this moment so that you may come to him in your imperfect place and with your broken past, and you can know that the King of Kings holds out not a golden scepter but a bloody cross, and see that he is not hidden in the shadows but on his throne.


Nathan Reimer said...

Luke 12:29-31
29 And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. 30 For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 Instead, seek his[e] kingdom, and these things will be added to you.

The key part of this passage for me is found in verse 30, "your Father knows that you need them..."

So often I act like God doesn't know what I need, I do this by not trusting in Him. I worry about future work sonetimes, and God always provides. When looking back I see clearly how He has lead us and provided for us. Why do I worry sometimes then? I pray for strength to trust and not worry.

Conrad said...

Unfortunately most of us are more like Esther than Daniel.

I like how the NT passage related to the OT in the sense that we do need to trust in God for everything - protection, food, clothing, shelter, health - everything! The verse that Nathan selected stood out to me too. I guess we're also like the Israelites and tend to forget how God has always supplied us with all that we need, but yet we somehow doubt His ability.

Pamela said...

I like the "what ifs" of life stories. I think it's why one of my favourite movies is Back to the Future. To think about what if a certain circumstance would't have happened can alter everything. What if Vashti would have come down that night the King had asked her to? What if Esther wouldn't have been in a position of power right at the time she needed to be? What if the King would have had different advisors who would have never suggested getting rid of Vashti and holding a beauty contest to decide who would replace her? What if Mordecai and Esther would have returned instead of staying in Persia? What if....

God is in control of all the what ifs and knows what will happen and what needs to happen to make it so.