Estherís story is set in ancient Babylon about 30 miles from present day Baghdad, and it took place about 500 years before Christ. Itís about human love, palace intrigue, and in-fighting in government politics in the 5th century B.C. but whatís more important, itís about Godís intervention in manís affairs on behalf of His covenant people.
The story takes place just after Israelís 70 year exile and the Persian Empire is ruling most of the Middle East including Israel.
Some Israelites had returned to Palestine to rebuild the temple and restore the sacrificial system but many were scattered all over the Persian Empire. Both Isaiah and Jeremiah had warned them, long before the 70 year exile, to return to where God could bless them under the covenant promises of Deuteronomy 28.
Mordecai and Esther were an uncle and his orphaned niece who hadnít returned to the land and didnít seem interested in Godís command to return.
If youíre not familiar with the book of Esther, youíll probably wonder why itís in the Bible. Parts of it might seem like they came out of the National Inquirer.
It doesn't mention the name of God even once, thereís no reference to worship or faith, no prayer, no prophecy of Christ. No mention of heaven or hell.
The Law is never mentioned in the book nor are the sacrifices or offerings referred to. One mention of fasting is made.
Thereís nothing you might call ďreligiousĒ about this book. The book of Esther is included in the Bible because it reveals that God is working behind the scenes.
God actually uses the free-will choices of men and women who arenít conscious of the fact theyíre doing His will.
Neither Mordecai nor Esther displayed any awareness of God except in their assurance that God would protect His Covenant People and save the Nation of Israel.
Itís a story behind a story so when we read it, look behind the scenes. Itís sort of a parable.
Itís possible that we may be involved in Godís actions in our own lives that parallel this. God is at work in the lives of His people (and even those who arenít His people), arranging things so that at times weíre privileged to do what He wants done because we are a part of His overall plan.
Nothing just happens. God knew the history of man centuries B.E. You know what ďB.E.Ē stands for? B.E. stands for ďBefore Eve.Ē
The Book of Esther tells how God preserved His disobedient people, including Esther and Mordecai, not just the faithful back in Palestine, and that should be encouraging to us because He still does that today.
Chapter 1shows that Godís people need deliverance from an enemy, and then it shows how He set things up for that deliverance. God did that again when He sent His Son to the cross to provide salvation for sinful man.
Esther 1:1-9: Now it came to pass in the days of A-ha-sue-rus,[A-who-sewer-us] (this is the king which reigned, from India even unto Ethiopia, over an hundred and seven and twenty provinces:) 2: That in those days, when the king sat on the throne of his kingdom, which was in Shushan the palace, 3: In the third year of his reign, he made a feast unto all his princes and his servants; who were the power of Persia and Media, the nobles and princes of the provinces, being before him: 4: When he shewed the riches of his glorious kingdom and the honour of his excellent majesty many days, even an hundred and fourscore days. 5: And when these days were expired, the king made a feast unto all the people that were present in Shushan the palace, both unto great and small seven days, in the court of the garden of the king's palace; 6: Where were white, green, and blue hangings, fastened with cords of fine linen and purple to silver rings and pillars of marble: the beds were of gold and silver upon a pavement of red and blue and white and black marble. 7: And they gave them drink in vessels of gold, (the vessels being diverse one from another,) and royal wine in abundance, according to the state of the king. 8: And the drinking was according to the law; none did compel: for so the king had appointed to all the officers of his house, that they should do according to every man's pleasure. 9: Also Vashti the queen made a feast for the women in the royal house which belonged to the king.
The name of this king is never given, A-ha-sue-rus [A-who-sewer-us] is his title. Secular history tells us he may have been Xerxes the Great or even "Darius the Mede" from the book of Daniel, the one who took the kingdom from the drunken Belshazzar on the night that Babylon fell to the Medes and Persians.
Verses 10-19: On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, and Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcas, the seven chamberlains that served in the presence of the king, 11: To bring Vashti the queen before the king with the crown royal, to shew the people and the princes her beauty: for she was fair to look on. 12: But the queen Vashti refused to come at the king's commandment by his chamberlains: therefore was the king very wroth, and his anger burned in him. 13: Then the king said to the wise men, which knew the times, (for so was the king's manner toward all that knew law and judgment: 14: And the next unto him was Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and Memucan, the seven princes of Persia and Media, which saw the king's face, and which sat the first in the kingdom;) 15: What shall we do unto the queen Vashti according to law, because she hath not performed the commandment of the king by the chamberlains? 16: And Memucan answered before the king and the princes, Vashti the queen hath not done wrong to the king only, but also to all the princes, and to all the people that are in all the provinces of the king. 17: For this deed of the queen shall come abroad unto all women, so that they shall despise their husbands in their eyes, when it shall be reported,
The king commanded Vashti the queen to be brought in before him, but she came not. 18: Likewise shall the ladies of Persia and Media say this day unto all the king's princes, which have heard of the deed of the queen. Thus shall there arise too much contempt and wrath. 19: If it please the king, let there go a royal commandment from him, and let it be written among the laws of the Persians and the Medes, that it be not altered, That Vashti come no more before king and let the king give her royal estate unto another that is better than she.
The king followed Memucanís advice. If you remember, Eve took Satan advice, too.
This king divorced his queen and a king without a queen doesnít have any hope of producing an heir. If a king dies without an heir, thereís nothing to represent him after his death. Itís a picture of each one of us as individuals.
If we were nothing more than a body and a soul and lacked a spirit, there would be no immortality, nothing to represents us after death. But we have a spirit and our spirit will live for all eternity.
Each one of us is a kingdom within ourselves and whatever the king in us does affects that kingdom; whatever goes wrong with our soul affects that kingdom. The body only acts on the things that come from the mind, the emotions, and the heart of man.
This is a very personal thing and only the Word of God can reveal what is in our heart. Hebrews 4:12 says, "The Word of God is quick and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, making known the intents and purposes of the heart."
When the queen refused to obey the king, he chose to cut himself off from her fellowship. Put that alongside the story of man, youíll see what happened between man and God.
The first man and woman on this planet willingly chose to cut themselves off from the intimate fellowship they had with God.
A king has dominion over certain things and the Bible puts man in the place of a king, but not by his own right. King David wrote, in Psalm 8:3-4, ďWhen I consider thy heavens, the work of thy hands, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; 4: What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?Ē Then he answers the question and states that man originally was over all that: Verse 6b: Thou hast given him to have dominion over the works of thy hands;Ē
Godís original intention was for man to be like a king with dominion over the earth. He was to govern himself and the earth properly, and that in turn would display the glory of God along with the power of the God Who indwells man.
Man never attained that potential, and man has never forgotten the power that could have been his.
What motivates men to climb to the top of Mount Everest? Whatís up there that people risk their lives to see? Just the other side of the mountain. Itís all downhill from there.
A successful climb is always referred to as ďconquering Mount EverestĒ but not all the climbs are successful. Around 200 people are still up there, frozen in the ice and snow.
But man still retains the unconscience knowledge that he was given dominion over all the earth, and man is still trying to realize that power.
It was ours to master and to discover all it's mysteries and secrets, and that would show the majesty and the glory and power of the God who indwells man.
This is why God put man here, but we blew it.
Thereís an old story about a young man that did something that really hurt his parents. His dad called him on it and he apologized to his mother and him, but he didnít seem sincere. His dad took him out in the garage to give him an object lesson. He handed him a nail and a hammer and told him to drive the nail in the wall. Then he told him to pull it out, which he did. Then his dad asked him to pull out the hole the nail left. You canít. Once you do something, good or bad, you can never remove the effects of it.
When a manís pride gets the best of him, he invariably hurts the ones he loves, be it our family, our friends, or our God. Itís our sinful nature.
This king fancied that he had created the glory of his kingdom and in his pride he sent for his queen to make a public display of her, the one he should have reserved for private communion.
It didnít work. She refused and he was embarrassed instead. This came after a week of partying, and his judgment was messed up by drink. He wanted to show he was in control of his kingdom and the glory and majesty was his own doing.
Apply this to the story of man throughout the Scriptures starting with Eve approaching Adam with the forbidden fruit, Adam understood what the outcome would be but he deliberately chose his own way over God's decree and cut himself off from the glory of God in his own spirit.
Like the hole the nail left in the wall, what he did couldnít be undone. It left eternal consequences for all men. This pictures how man continues to try to over-rule God by insisting on his own will.
This king made a bad choice in a fit of anger and pride, and rejected his queen and cut himself off from her forever because of his self will and pride.
Man is born with a desire for something that transcends material and physical things. We have an empty spot in our heart that can only be filled by accepting Jesus Christ into your heart as your Savior.
The empty spiritual loneliness that is characteristic of the unsaved person, ever since Adam, is the longing to be right with God.
Those nail holes in the hands and feet of Our Savior are the only thing that can fill that empty place in our heart for eternity and those nail holes will be there for all eternity.
Back to the story. At the time this story took place, some of the Jews from the 70 year captivity in Babylon had gone back to Jerusalem, others had stayed and were scattered throughout the Persian kingdom.
All was at peace there and the king held a feast that lasted 187 days.
Evidently there were no internal problems for his nation up to now and no threat from any outside enemy.
The economy was good and the king was sharing the bounty with his subjects in the form of a feast that included anybody who wanted to take part.
In verse 13 & 15, the king got some bad advice. Sound familiar? Sadly, this king and Eve followed the bad advice willingly. Verse 13: Then the king said to the wise men, which knew the times, (for so was the king's manner toward all that knew law and judgment: Verse 15: What shall we do unto the queen Vashti according to law, because she hath not performed the commandment of the king by the chamberlains? He was advised that the queenís actions would affect the whole kingdom, so in Verse 19 a sentence that canít be reversed is passed:
19: If it please the king, let there go a royal commandment from him, and let it be written among the laws of the Persians and the Medes, that it be not altered, That Vashti come no more before king; and let the king give her royal estate unto another that is better than she.
This was now a law that couldnít be broken. We see another law that canít be broken in the book of Romans. Itís the unchangeable law of sin and death.
We may have the right to make a choice, but we donít have the power to change the results.
One writer gave this illustration: ďI may have two glasses of liquid, both looking like water. One is water, one is poison, and I know itís poison. I have a choice, I can drink the water or I may drink the poison. If I choose to drink the poison, Iíve exercised my own free will, but once I make it, I no longer have control over the results. I have put in motion a law that can never be changed, the law of inevitable consequence.Ē
Once we make the decision, we have to accept the inevitable consequences just like the king had to. In chapter 2 we read where he started to regret his rash decision.
In the Garden of Eden, when man chose his own reasoning over the voice of God, and chose something that he wanted more than the fellowship of God, he set off a string of circumstances that he had no power to change.
Here was the law of sin and death. Ever since then, the human spirit has been governed by our mind, our emotions, and our self will while our ego climbs up on the throne of our kingdom unopposed.
Our emotions and our own will would make the decisions for this life. This explains all the misery, the injustice, the evil and sin in the human life. You and I are not exempt from that because you and I descended from that man Adam.
Only God can give us a permanent cure and He did it through the blood of His Son, Jesus.
God sent His Son to redeem fallen man and that Son obeyed His Fatherís will, something fallen man couldnít do.
He was obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. He died there to pay for our sins, and all God asks of us in return is to repent and accept that forgiveness.
The blood that flowed from those nail holes that can never be removed from His hands and feet, and the blood that flowed from His wounded side, bought us redemption.
Chapter 1 of Esther shows us that God is working in our lives in spite of ourselves and He can and will use whatever He chooses to accomplish His purpose.
Chapter 2 begins the story of redeeming grace. It starts with the king looking for something or somebody to satisfy his restless soul, someone to fill the vacuum in his life. Itís a picture of the sinner seeking satisfaction for the longing in his soul.
One more thing. Later on in this story, this king finds his earthly soulmate.
Have you found your heavenly soulmate?