April 9, 2008

Star

This is a story of a Jewish orphan who became queen. One of a woman who played a role in saving a nation of people. It’s a story of beauty and humility. Esther is the story of patience and boldness, favor and faithfulness, obedience and bravery, and
of trust and victory.


It’s one worthy of reading. The lessons in it can speak to anyone. Although much can be surmised from several of the characters and their positions in the story, we will concentrate on Esther in this posting.

In Persia during the reign of King Ahasuerus, there was a young Jewish girl who had been orphaned and raised by her cousin Mordecai. Her name which was eventually changed to Esther when she was crowned, meant star. She was chosen as King Ahauerus’ queen after the former Queen Vashti was banished. Her promotion to this prominent position (as Ahasuerus was King over the greatest empire in that day) was after she had undergone a “beauty treatment.” It’s interesting to note that this beauty treatment which was typical for those whom a king would consider for the position of queen could last up to twelve months. In Esther’s case, the bible says she received six months of oil and six months of perfume. Oil in the Old Testament represented the Holy Spirit. I’d venture to say that she was not only beautiful physically but also inwardly. To say the least, the king was awe struck at her beauty when he took her for his queen. He did not however, know of her Jewish decent nor of her relationship to Mordecai her cousin.

Haman, King Ahasuerus’ second in control, who loved his power, opened the gates for Esther to rise up to the plans the Lord had for her. When Mordecai, Esther’s cousin (although unknown to the King and Haman) and respected person in the community, refused to bow to Haman, Haman became enraged and in his selfish anger and pride he began to plot the execution of not only Mordecai but of all the Jews in the Persian kingdom. He did this deceitfully by convincing the King (without offering specifics and with a bride which was not accepted) that a people were in disobedience to the King and that they should be terminated.

Esther heard of the decree before it was passed and was grieved by it. Mordecai admonished her (4:14) stating that she had to do something about it and that if she “remain[ed] silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to the royal position for such a time as this.” Wow! He told her if she didn’t do something to help, the Lord’s plan of deliverance would still come but that she and her family would die. Have you ever been in that place where you were told by the Lord to do something that you were afraid to do? You knew that He didn’t really need your help, that His will would be accomplished despite your part in it, but you had the choice to be blessed in the obedience or die (maybe not physically) in the lack of it. That’s where Esther was. She had to have been scared!

For three days, after learning of Haman’s decree to kill the Jews, she fasted. Then she approached the throne, and not once, but twice (Esther 41:2; 8:3). She did so knowing that approaching the King’s throne without invitation could result in death but each time she requested the King and Haman to join her in dinner. Patiently she sought the King’s favor and waited on the Lord for the right time to speak of the decree. At the second dinner, after the King again showed his favor, Esther asked that the King spare her life and that of her people. Boldly and honestly, in the presence of the King and Haman, she identified Haman and his deeds. It was at that time that she revealed her nationality and relationship to Mordecai. In her approach she fairly gave Haman a chance to defend himself and to offer a rebuttal if he had so chosen.

When the King realized the true nature of Haman (deceitful and self serving), he put Haman to death. Mordecai in turn became second in command and the Jews were spared. Esther knew the truth of 2 Peter 1:3-4, that the promises of God are given in advance of all our needs and that they are our provision for life.

When I think on the story of Esther I’m reminded of fear. Sometimes we fear doing what the Lord has called us to do because we think we may fail, be mocked, rejected and/or persecuted. Our consuming fear though should be of the consequences of not doing what He’s called us to do (Luke 12:5) It’s funny how many things we fear that never really come to pass. Even Esther, the queen of a mighty kingdom, feared something that did not happen - being put to death because she approached the throne without invitation. We must not easily be persuaded to give up our stance for what we know is right because of how we think people may perceive us or resist us. We must persist when we know the will of God is at stake. The consequences of doing otherwise are far greater than being rejected by man.

In the face of fear Esther prayed. She prepared. She petitioned the king after receiving favor, and a nation was saved. She was a light in a dark time in Jewish history. We should model our actions after hers – praying, preparing, being patient, acting and in turn being a light to the world. In her situation, Esther found that God's timing was perfect. His timing is always best. When we learn to wait on the Lord we avoid the dangerous of leaping to soon.

Here are a few valuable lessons we can learn from Esther:
What appears to be a bad situation is indeed very much under the control of the Almighty God who ultimately has the good of His people at heart
One person can make a difference irregardless of his/her background
True beauty comes from the Holy Spirit
There’s strength in obedience
We should approach obstacles with good attitudes, humility and determination
In our times of need we should pray, prepare and wait on the Lord
When we have the Lord’s favor we usually have favor with others
God works in His own time
What ever advantages we have we must use them for the Lord

I encourage you to read Esther from start to finish. Maybe you’ll make the same pledge as I have – that if I have another daughter her middle name will be Esther : ).

"Lord, in all our comings and goings help us to lift our eyes to you and to know your voice. Steady us when we’re scared and use us as your instruments to further your kingdom. I pray that we devote ourselves completely to you and are obedient despite our circumstances. Use us in mighty ways so that the world can see your goodness and faithfulness. Mold our hearts so that we fear you and not man and so we become more concerned with eternal matters and less concerned with physical ones."

Written by Stephanie

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