Archive for August 25th, 2008

Boldness to Protect God’s Child

Wow! The St. Philip’s 3-year-reading plan is zipping through Esther at 2 chapters a day. I’ll probably get a little behind here as a result, but it is such an interesting book, perhaps we will be able to make it through them all in good time. As long as I keep taking the time to meet with God, I shall be more than content!!

Before I scribble on, I will just say, that there is a pretty good rendition of Esther put out by Hollywood called One Night with the King”. It’s a clean edition, some critics have said ‘too clean.’ But I found the movie very enjoyable and just fine without having to change the rating from PG.

Anyway, Esther is said to be the only book in the Bible that the name of God does not appear (though I still haven’t found God or Lord in the Song of Songs). But the providence of God is throughout the whole book, perhaps even the purpose of the book.

It’s like the book of Esther is a commentary, or an example, of the truth found in Romans 8:28:

All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.


The whole book of Esther occurs chronologically between Ezra chapter 6 & Ezra chapter 7. Zerubabbel took a group of Jews back to Jerusalem, while most stayed behind in Persia. Hence, we have the book of Esther, the meanwhile, back at the palace kind of perspective of the story of the Jews.

The Persian Empire was the largest the world had ever seen. It covered Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Jordan, Lebanon, and Israel; and also parts of modern day Egypt, Sudan, Libya, and Arabia.

The Royal Court threw 3 feasts, apparently as a matter of pride and with hopes that they might win some allies as they prepared to take on Greece 3 years later.

1) The first feast was ½ year long! A party that never seems to end! But Xerxes did just that, with the upper echelon of society as the participants.

2) He threw another feast, this time for every citizen of the capital, but it only lasted 7 days!

3) Meanwhile, Queen Vashti was throwing her party for the women in the royal palace.

I’m sure the Xerxes popularity went up in the opinion polls during this time (except for the few naysayers who understood that it was probably the public treasury that was footin’ the bill!)

As the parties were all coming to a close, the King, with his wine-impaired mind, thought it would be a great idea to use his wife’s beauty as the grand finale for all men to google at! And, as is often the case, we shall find the king regretting the deeds done and decisions made while in the intoxicated state.

But what strikes me most strongly in this chapter is Vashti’s sense of values as well as her strength to follow through with those values despite being in a very dangerous position with the king. With the understanding that this was a drunken revelry where emotions can go from merry to furious in a heartbeat, Vashti wisely choose not to put herself in the midst of it.

Some argue that the king was asking Vashti to come out and be immodest. But even if he wasn’t asking for anything immodest, the idea of putting such a beautiful and desirable woman in the presence of men with authority, who are drunk beyond reason…who cannot commend Vashti for not exposing herself to “a group of drunken Bacchanalians”*. Her prudence and modesty and courage should be emulated.

*Adam Clarke’s commentary

By the king passing his decree, he instead gave men everywhere throughout his whole kingdom the right to coerce their wives into unwise and dangerous situations. As a result, all respect was lost, for respect comes only when their a choice (which could lead quite nicely into a blog about free will!!)

BTW: Ahasuerus = Xerxes depending on which translation you are reading, and the events of this chapter occurred around 483 BC when Greece was celebrating their 79th Olympic Games!

Lord Jesus, thank You for giving us worth, purpose, and joy. It is a gift from You and it seems to be the way that we can best glorify You…is to walk in that way of joy. I pray You would give us the same boldness and courage that Vashti had, to protect Your children as well as to protect Your name. Grant us discernment to know when it is just being plain ole selfish and when it is righteously protecting purity and honesty. Thank You for being a tender, gracious, loving, patient King! In Your name we pray, Amen!

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Zeal to Keep My Word!

We read of Nehemiah being so radical in the rest of chapter 13, that we wonder if perhaps he isn’t a bit irrational and overbearing. But I’m sure the memory of the day the people of Israel made a solemn covenant to God regarding three things grieved his spirit deeply.

1) In Nehemiah 10:30 they promised not to have ungodly romantic relationships.
Some 10-12 years later, they were steeped in that exact sin which provoked Nehemiah to address it in 13:23-31.

2) In Nehemiah 10:31 they swore off buying and selling on the Sabbath day.
But alas! Nehemiah’s righteous judgment is stirred as in 13:15-22, we find them violating the 4th commandment given by Moses.

3) And then to top it all off, in 10:32-39 they pledged to support the work of God with money as He commanded.
But ten years later Nehemiah returns to the restored Jerusalem only to find that the work of God had fallen into neglect because no one had supported it in 13:10-14.

Nehemiah was radical. He was earnest. He was zealous. He was a man of action and a leader. I may not want to try to implement that style in dealing with all sins or bad choices in everyone else’s lives, but I do want that kind of passion when it comes to protecting me and my relationship with God!

Lord Jesus, thank You for Your patience, for communicating with us and giving us clear direction. You are our creator and know better than anybody what is best for us and what will help us function to our fullest joy and to Your greatest glory. Help us to walk in Your ways. And oh for some of Nehemiah’s passion and leadership! In Jesus’ Name. Amen.