Heroes of the FaithMarch 7-11
If it please the king, let a royal order go out from him, and let it be written among the laws of the Persians and the Medes so that it may not be repealed, that Vashti is never again to come before King Ahasuerus. And let the king give her royal position to another who is better than she. – Esther 1:19 (ESV)
The only survivor of a shipwreck washed up on a small uninhabited island. He cried out to God to save him, and every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming. Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a rough hut and put his few possessions in it. But then one day, after hunting for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, the smoke rolling up to the sky. The worst had happened; he was stung with grief. Early the next day, though, a ship drew near the island and rescued him. “How did you know I was here?” he asked the crew. “We saw your smoke signal,” they replied.
God used tragedy to elevate Esther and to rescue Israel. God’s Name is not mentioned in the book of Esther, yet God’s “Hand” is clearly present and active throughout the book. Esther’s name means star in Hebrew. However, she is the co-star or supporting actress in the book of Esther. God is the star and His providence and plan are seen at work in the life of this simple orphan girl. Another shooting star is Queen Vashti. In Esther 1, her husband, King Ahasuerus went from 7 days of feasting(5); to drunkenness(10); to wanting to show off his wife’s good looks(11). Queen Vashti refused what basically amounted to a request to appear naked before her husband’s guest. This would open the way for God to use Esther.
One pastor wrote of Queen Vashti, “She was stripped of her Royal Insignia, yet clothed in her own Integrity, in sumptuous fine purple apparel! She wore a crown no king could take away…the crown of exalted womanhood! She chose Deposition rather than Dishonor! With beauty, charm, courage, heroism, character, and integrity, she flies off the pages of scripture, like a shooting star. ‘All praise to the heroic Vashti for her decent disobedience!’”
Take some time to read the entire book of Esther this week and note where God is at work. Where have you seen God at work lately in your circumstances?
Praise God for always being at work. Thank Him for wanting to use you in good and bad circumstances.
More Than A Pretty Face
He was bringing up Hadassah, that is Esther, the daughter of his uncle, for she had neither father nor mother. The young woman had a beautiful figure and was lovely to look at, and when her father and her mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter. – Esther 2:7 (ESV)
In The Wizard of Oz, a tornado lifts and carries Dorothy, her dog, Toto, and her house, to a magical land. They must journey to the Emerald City to seek an audience with the Wizard of Oz. It is by his power that they hope to return to Kansas. Upon first meeting him, they tremble with fear as his thunderous voice booms through a cloud of smoke. Toto later sniffs out that this fear-inspiring Wizard is nothing more than a man behind a curtain, turning switches and pulling levers. Until we draw back the curtain in this opening scene of the book of Esther, King Ahasuerus appears to be the embodiment of power in this story. (Today in the Word)
King Ahasuerus was not in charge. God was in charge. And God used so much of Esther’s backstory to prepare her to be used by Him to deliver His people. Esther was an orphan being raised by her cousin after the death of her parents. Esther’s beautiful figure and extremely good looks won her the King’s beauty pageant but her godly character enabled her to be used greatly by God. Appearances aren’t everything. Undoubtedly, as an orphan, Esther must have felt all appeared lost. But God had a grand plan.
1 Samuel 16:7 says, “But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” How do things appear in your life right now? How can God be at work even in things that don’t look good in your life currently?
Thank God for seeing beneath the surface. Praise Him for taking things that appear bad and using them for good.
For Such A Time As This
Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” – Esther 4:13-14 (ESV)
Seeking to know God better, John Chrysostom became a hermit in the mountains near Antioch in A.D. 373. Although his time of isolation was cut short by illness, he learned that with God at his side, he could attend alone against anyone or anything. In A.D. 398 he was appointed patriarch of Constantinople, where his zeal for reform antagonized the Empress Eudoxia, who had him exiled. Allowed to return after a short time, Chrysostom again infuriated Eudoxia, who sent him away again. How did Chrysostom respond to such persecution? With these words: “What can I fear? Will it be death? But you know that Christ is my life and that I shall gain by death. Will it be exile? But the earth and all its fullness are the Lord’s. Poverty I do not fear; riches I do not sigh for, and from death, I do not shrink.” (Source: Unknown)
British politician Edmund Burke said, “All that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to do…nothing.” In Esther 4, Mordecai finds it necessary to use considerable pressure to persuade Esther to intercede for the Jews with the king. He warns Esther that if she remains silent not only will the Jews be killed but she will also be killed. Mordecai also tells Esther, maybe you were put in the position of Queen for “such a time as this.” In Esther 4:16 Esther concludes, “ If I perish, I perish!” She was willing to lay her life on the line to do what was right for her people.
John Wayne said, “Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway.” Esther was put in the right place at the right time by God. Has God placed you in a situation where it’s time for you to exercise courage and do the right thing?
Praise God for His perfect timing. Ask Him to give you the courage you need to make the decisions you need to make for His glory.
And when the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, she won favor in his sight, and he held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand. Then Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter. – Esther 5:2 (ESV)
An old farmer who was a loyal, church-going Christian was spending the day in a large city. He entered a restaurant and sat down at the table near a group of young men from the city. When his meal was brought to the table, the farmer quietly bowed his head and said grace. One of the smart-aleck young men thought he would have some fun mocking the old farmer. He said in a loud voice where everybody in the restaurant could hear: “Hey, old Farmer, does everyone do that stuff where you come from??” The crowd laughed out loud. The old farmer looked at the young critic and simply replied with a grin, “No, son…….the pigs don’t!”
“Saying grace” is simply thanking God for His grace in providing. When Esther approached the king, she was risking her life and would need grace. Entering the king’s presence without having been summoned is tantamount to taking one’s life in their hands. She was also going to have to confess she had deceived him about her nationality. Finally, she would ask him to reverse an irreversible law. The only way she would escape alive was if the king showed her grace or “favor.” When the king “extended the gold scepter,” he showed Esther grace and favor. In Esther 7:3 she makes her request to the king, “If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be given me as my petition, and my people as my request.”
Esther was shown favor by the king because God had given her favor. Had God not extended the cross of Jesus Christ to the world, all would die because of their sins. We, like Esther, are undeserving to come into the presence of our King, yet He allows us to come by the mercy and favor of God.
Hebrews 4:16 says, “Therefore, let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need.” If you’ve never asked God for saving grace, ask Him now. Thank God for His favor in your life.
A Time of Rejoicing
Letters were sent to all the Jews, to the 127 provinces of the kingdom of Ahasuerus, in words of peace and truth, that these days of Purim should be observed at their appointed seasons, as Mordecai the Jew and Queen Esther obligated them, and as they had obligated themselves and their offspring, with regard to their fasts and their lamenting. The command of Esther confirmed these practices of Purim, and it was recorded in writing. – Esther 9:30-32 (ESV)
A thirty-eight-year-old cleaning lady would go to the movies and sigh, “If only I had her looks.” She would listen to a singer and moan, “If only I had her voice.” Then one day someone gave her a copy of the book, The Magic of Believing. She stopped comparing herself with actresses and singers. She stopped crying about what she didn’t have and started concentrating on what she did have. She took inventory of herself and remembered that in high school she had a reputation for being the funniest girl around. She began to turn her liabilities into assets. Years later, Phyllis Diller made millions as a comedian and actress. She wasn’t good-looking and she had a scratchy voice, but she could make people laugh.
Oswald Chambers once wrote, “Laughter and weeping are the two most intense forms of human emotion, and these profound wells of human emotion are to be consecrated to God.”(Chris Surber) In Esther 9, the people of God have gone from weeping to rejoicing. Here, The feast of Purim is established. It is a celebration filled with joy, laughter, and hope. It is the celebration of God’s protection and promise to deliver His covenant people. It’s a reminder that even when things look bleak, God is there! The Feast of Purim is still celebrated today with great laughter and joy because God has turned our despair into hope!
Write down some of the victories God has given you. Find a way to celebrate your list today.
Thank God for offering us joy in the place of pain and hope in the place of disappointment.