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Golden Nursing Center in Mannington, NJ –Evening Service on 2/17/2011
(edited June 2019)
Verses 1-4: “After these things, when the wrath of king Ahasuerus was appeased, he remembered Vashti, and what she had done, and what was decreed against her. Then said the king's servants that ministered unto him, Let there be fair young virgins sought for the king: And let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom, that they may gather together all the fair young virgins unto Shushan the palace, to the house of the women, unto the custody of Hege the king's chamberlain, keeper of the women; and let their things for purification be given them: And let the maiden which pleaseth the king be queen instead of Vashti. And the thing pleased the king; and he did so.”
What could be more mundane or, could I say, less spiritual than a beauty pageant in a heathen court? At the time of Esther, God’s people were far away from Jerusalem and the temple. They were being held captive in the ancient Persian Empire. In this section of Scripture we find ourselves steeped in common places of everyday life, far from the usual rituals and recitations of faith. In fact, of all the 66 Books of the Bible the Book of Esther is the ONLY one where the Lord is never mentioned. This is not a very “religious” book, and yet we can see God at work in the life of Esther.
Then, as now, God IS part of common living. He is active outside of church buildings, religious activity, and preaching. I would say He is often at His best and most effective in the mundane parts of life. Not to say that He doesn’t work in and through religion, too. The Lord does deserve to be publicly worshipped, but in a sense, isn’t church just a place to celebrate what God is accomplishing in the real, everyday world?
Israel had hindered the Lord by rejecting His love for them and His Covenant with them. We do the same today by rejecting His Son. But God still loves all people, regardless of their religious practices or non-practices. He would, right now, love to work effectively in the life of every person alive today.
Verses 5-7: “Now in Shushan the palace there was a certain Jew, whose name was Mordecai, the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjamite; Who had been carried away from Jerusalem with the captivity which had been carried away with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away. And he brought up Hadassah, that is, Esther, his uncle's daughter: for she had neither father nor mother, and the maid was fair and beautiful; whom Mordecai, when her father and mother were dead, took for his own daughter.”
Esther was pretty. And she was going to be compelled to parade before a wealthy pagan king. But God is still at work in her situation. And He is still at work in the life of her people.
Verses 8-9: “So it came to pass, when the king's commandment and his decree was heard, and when many maidens were gathered together unto Shushan the palace, to the custody of Hegai, that Esther was brought also unto the king's house, to the custody of Hegai, keeper of the women. And the maiden pleased him, and she obtained kindness of him; and he speedily gave her her things for purification, with such things as belonged to her, and seven maidens, which were meet to be given her, out of the king's house: and he preferred her and her maids unto the best place of the house of the women.”
Esther was blessed with a certain grace (more than just looks, I think) which appealed to Hegai, the custodian of the potential new queens. Sometimes, because of some of the TV evangelists, we start to think of miracles as coming suddenly like a bolt of lightning. Showy and sometimes, at least, not totally believable. But when God works out something in your life through more common events, in stages, and over a long period of time it is far better in my view. Far, far better. And this is what is happening with Esther.
Verse 10: “Esther had not shewed her people nor her kindred: for Mordecai had charged her that she should not shew it.”
There is nothing wrong with asking for help, in general, but sometimes the best way is just to let God handle a situation. Often this will bring All the glory to the Lord in the end.
Yet the prayers and caring of a confidant can be very comforting and Esther has a great one in Mordecai:
Verse 11: “And Mordecai walked every day before the court of the women's house, to know how Esther did, and what should become of her.
Verses 12-14: “ Now when every maid's turn was come to go in to king Ahasuerus, after that she had been twelve months, according to the manner of the women, (for so were the days of their purifications accomplished, to wit, six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with sweet odours, and with other things for the purifying of the women;) Then thus came every maiden unto the king; whatsoever she desired was given her to go with her out of the house of the women unto the king's house. In the evening she went, and on the morrow she returned into the second house of the women, to the custody of Shaashgaz, the king's chamberlain, which kept the concubines: she came in unto the king no more, except the king delighted in her, and that she were called by name.”
This is mundane alright, but true and important in Esther’s life and story.
Verse 15: “Now when the turn of Esther, the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her for his daughter, was come to go in unto the king, she required nothing but what Hegai the king's chamberlain, the keeper of the women, appointed. And Esther obtained favour in the sight of all them that looked upon her.
I have sometimes mistaken the “Hegais” in my life for God. I have learned to thank them which is polite and fitting but, in my deepest heart, to remember that all credit for goodness in life goes to God Himself. It was actually the Lord Who was providing for Esther’s needs through Hegai.
Verses 16-19: “ So Esther was taken unto king Ahasuerus into his house royal in the tenth month, which is the month Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign. And the king loved Esther above all the women, and she obtained grace and favour in his sight more than all the virgins; so that he set the royal crown upon her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti. Then the king made a great feast unto all his princes and his servants, even Esther's feast; and he made a release to the provinces, and gave gifts, according to the state of the king. And when the virgins were gathered together the second time, then Mordecai sat in the king's gate.”
Well, Esther wins the beauty pageant! Some folks really frown at this whole concept today and I can see where Esther was very vulnerable even in victory here. But still, this is an amazing accomplishment for this young woman.
Verse 20: “Esther had not yet shewed her kindred nor her people; as Mordecai had charged her: for Esther did the commandment of Mordecai, like as when she was brought up with him.”
The Holy Spirit will not lead us to openly lie and deceive (not in any way to enrich ourselves), but sometimes, I think, we may be led not to share everything.
Verses 21-23: “ In those days, while Mordecai sat in the king's gate, two of the king's chamberlains, Bigthan and Teresh, of those which kept the door, were wroth, and sought to lay hands on the king Ahasuerus. And the thing was known to Mordecai, who told it unto Esther the queen; and Esther certified the king thereof in Mordecai's name. And when inquisition was made of the matter, it was found out; therefore they were both hanged on a tree: and it was written in the book of the chronicles before the king.”
The thwarting of this deadly conspiracy by Bigthan and Teresh against their king is just the beginning of the Lord’s plans for good in Queen Esther’s life.
Think for a moment, if you will, about how the Lord may be working in and through the more mundane aspects of your life. May He reveal new insights to you of His long-range plans for you which are even now unfolding over time. It IS His will to bless you and/or to make you a blessing to someone else in many ways and in many stages over time.