Monday, September 26, 2016

Monday, September 26: Esther 1-5-by Pamela

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Esther 1-5

I found this commentary with some insight into the book of Esther:

Did you know that Esther is mentioned more times in the Bible than any other woman? Did you know that the book bearing her name in the Old Testament does not mention God even once? What lessons can we learn today from studying the book about this very remarkable woman?

Background to the book of Esther

The story of Esther takes place in the Persian Empire during the reign of Ahasuerus, known more familiarly to us by the Greek form of his name, Xerxes I. He was the son of Darius the Great and reigned from 486-465 B.C. He ruled over a vast empire that extended from India to Ethiopia (Esther 1:1).
Esther was a descendant of the tribe of Benjamin, which had been part of the kingdom of Judah. Her ancestors were among the Jews who had been carried captive to Babylon nearly 100 years earlier. There were many Jews who didn’t return to Jerusalem when it became possible, preferring to continue living where they had settled around the Persian Empire. After the death of Esther’s parents, she was raised by Mordecai, an older cousin (Esther 2:7), who served in the Persian ruler’s palace.
The author of the book of Esther is unknown, though some attribute the work to Mordecai.
The popularity of the story of Esther is great. Listen to this description in The Five Megilloth, a Jewish commentary published by the Soncino Press: “Esther is, among the generality of Jews, the best known of all the Books of the Bible” (p. 193).
There are many reasons for this popularity. The book of Esther tells a compelling story, dramatic and exciting, with clearly defined heroes and villains. It also reveals deep and abiding spiritual truths about God’s power to deliver us from danger and oppression, even when despotic rulers plan to do evil to God’s people. Though God’s name or a direct reference to the divine does not appear in the entire story, nonetheless, God’s presence and deliverance of His people is clearly felt and implied throughout this story.

It is interesting that the book of Esther does not mention God. However, just because the name of God is not mentioned, that dies not mean that He is not an integral part of the story.

One of the things that stood out for me was the last verses in the reading:
And Haman went out that day joyful and glad of heart. But when Haman saw Mordecai in the king's gate, that he neither rose nor trembled before him, he was filled with wrath against Mordecai. 10 Nevertheless, Haman restrained himself and went home, and he sent and brought his friends and his wife Zeresh. 11 And Haman recounted to them the splendor of his riches, the number of his sons, all the promotions with which the king had honored him, and how he had advanced him above the officials and the servants of the king. 12 Then Haman said, “Even Queen Esther let no one but me come with the king to the feast she prepared. And tomorrow also I am invited by her together with the king. 13 Yet all this is worth nothing to me, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king's gate.14 Then his wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him, “Let a gallows[p] fifty cubits[q]high be made, and in the morning tell the king to have Mordecai hanged upon it. Then go joyfully with the king to the feast.” This idea pleased Haman, and he had the gallows made.
(Emphasis in bold is mine)

How unfortunate it is that sometimes we can be consumed by our own pettiness that we cease to see all of the things that are good in our lives. Here was Haman--invited to a solo banquet with the King and the Queen and all he could focus on was the anger he felt towards someone who didn't do what he asked. Haman even goes so far as building a gallows for Mordecai--not knowing that it would be Haman himself using it.

We too can become consumed with our anger and our resentment that it causes us to overlook the good things in our lives. We become blind and can't see the goodness before us. If only Haman would have seen beyond his hatred towards Mordecai, he would have been able to enjoy his position of power instead of becoming greedy with power and having the desire to kill all of the Jews.

God is in control whether he is at the forefront of the story or working behind the scenes. We can trust Him to place the right people in the right place at the right time for such a time as this.

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Esther 6-10


Nathan Reimer said...

God is in control, whether He is working behind the scenes or up front. Letting Him be in charge and following His ways is the only way that will work.

Tammy Reimer said...

Indeed, God's sovereignty is on clear display throughout the book of Esther. As well as His sense of irony and timing it seems!