Wednesday, 20 October 2010

BEDESO #17 (Esther 2 v 1-18)

I thought I'd once again share with you my notes for tomorrows Christian Union and therefore, the next bit of Esther. Although, first, I'd recommend you read verses 1 - 18 here.

Esther 2 v 1-18

The book of Esther doesn’t tell us how much time passes between the end of chapter 1 and the beginning of chapter 2 but historians recon it is about four years.
In that time, King Xerxes unsuccessfully tried to invade and conquer Greece. He would have then come back without a wife to comfort him as well as having time to think over what he had done. Therefore, chapter 2 begins with Xerxes being in a mood of regret and depression.(v1)
It wasn’t in the best interests of the king’s personal attendants to let him stay in this mood. They were most probably the ones who gave him the advice to get rid of Vashti and they wouldn’t have wanted the king’s anger to return against them. Therefore, they came up with a plan!

The Advisor’s plan (v 2 - 4)
Their plan was basically to bring lots of beautiful women into the harem or woman’s house.
Each was to get a night with the king to impress him and whoever pleased the king the most would become the new queen.
You would have thought that Xerxes would want to choose a new queen on personality if Vashti was the unpleasant woman history suggests but instead he liked the idea of finding an even more beautiful replacement. He acted on impulse and the search began immediately.
Now, morally, this isn’t the way God intended. Regardless of it being the way it was back then or not, God intended for men to take only one wife and obviously, vice versa.
In Genesis 2 v 24, it says “…a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”

This leads on to the subject of sex. Pressure to have sex starts really young and it would be silly to avoid this subject. God’s plan for us is to not have sex until we’re married and then only with whomever we’re married to. No matter what pressure we’re under to do otherwise, this is the way we should go! Sure, they’ll be times when it’s hard but I’ve been told it’s worth the wait!
So, back to Esther…

Esther’s role (v 5 - 8)
So, Esther was a Jew, and in verse 7 we read that her real Hebrew name was Hadassah. Her family were also Jews, going back to when they had been taken into exile which is why she went by the name of Esther to help fit in with the area she was now living.
If you hadn’t guessed, she was one of the girls taken into the palace to be a possible queen for Xerxes.
Esther means star and she was absolutely beautiful, we are told but her personality was also amazing. Her parents had died and she was being brought up by her older cousin, Mordecai.
We’re not told if she was taken by force or not but it’s most likely that she was encouraged very strong and so went quietly.

A whole new world (v 9 - 12)
It would have been a scary experience. Along with hundreds of other girls they were expected to impress one of the most powerful men in the world and they would have also known that few women, once admitted, would have been allowed to leave.
Before even being able to see the king, she was to go through a year of various beauty treatments intended to make them more attractive. It may seem like a wonderful way to spend the year being pampered but she was unlikely to have many friends. They would have all been immensely competitive so the atmosphere wouldn’t have been at all nice but Esther had no choice.


God was working his purpose out. Esther would have probably felt at times that God had abandoned her completely at times but if we look back, God was working there. Think about what’s already happened:
-          -- Vashti had been deposed
-          -- Esther’s family had stayed in Susa rather than going back to their home country when they were allowed
-          -- Xerxes was given advice to and then held a ‘beauty pageant’ to find the next queen
-          -- Esther was perfect for the position: beautiful in looks and personality and single
-          -- Esther was chosen as a potential candidate

These may only look like coincidences at the moment but remember that God is behind all coincidences.

God’s direction continues… (v 9 - 18)
As the chapter continues, we start to see even more ways in which God is working:

-         -- The chief in charge, Hegai, was impressed by Esther. He would have seen hundreds of women and yet Esther was the girl who caught his attention and the girl who he gave the best quarters and her own maids.
-        --  Esther never revealed that she was a Jew and we will see later on in Esther why that is so vital.
-        --  When choosing the one object she could take in to the king, Esther asked Hegai for advice and followed this advice. We’re not told exactly what it was but it clearly did not hurt.
-        --  Re-read verse 17: After seeing so many beautiful women, King Xerxes just happened to fall in love with Esther overnight. Not only that but he declared her queen there and then.

These aren’t just coincidences, this is God’s direction! A young, orphaned Jew became queen of the Persian Empire. However, the story doesn’t end there. God had a reason why he put Esther in such a dangerous but high up position which we will see as the story unfolds. Esther is going to save the Jewish people and this is only the start.

And remember this verse from Romans 8 v 28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him…”

       "So long and thanks for all the fish."

Current book I’m reading: Life, The Universe and Everything
Last TV show watched: Doctor Who - The Big Bang
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