A daily devotional walking through God's word together using The Bible Reading Plan at http://www.bible-reading.com/bible-plan.html. Our website http://alittlewalkwithgod.com.
Bible Reading Plan - www.Bible-Reading.com; The Story, Chapter 20; You Version Bible app Engaging God's Story Reading Plan Days 128 through 134
This week our readings will take us to the story of Hadassah, an orphaned girl who was exiled with many of the other Jews under the reign of Nebuchadnezzar. You may not remember that name, but you probably remember her by her other name, Esther. She became queen after what might be the strangest beauty pageant ever recorded.
King Xerxes didn’t like his first wife’s refusal to obey and has her ousted from the throne. His advisors gather all the beautiful young virgins from around the country to find the king a new queen. Each goes through twelve months of beauty treatments before they see the king and then he sleeps with each one to decide which one he likes best. We frown on that kind of activity in this country, but that’s how the king decided to choose a wife and fill his harem with concubines.
Only if the king like you, did the concubine ever see the king again. Well, as you can imagine the rest of the story, the king not only liked Esther, but made her his queen. But like Paul Harvey, there is the rest of the story. Esther’s uncle, Mordecai, discovers a plot to kill the king and lets Esther in on the secret so the plot can be thwarted. The assassins are discovered and the king writes the event in his memoirs.
The king’s chief advisor, prime minister, chief of staff, or whatever title you want to give him, Haman has this thing about Jews and absolutely despises them. So he gets the king to write a decree to let anyone who wants kill all the Jews in their city on a particular day. But now the rest of the story.
The king can’t sleep one night and reads his memoirs and hears the story of the assassination attempt. He asked Haman, his advisor what kind of honor should be given to someone who does something extraordinary for the king. Haman, of course, thinks the king must be talking about him so he lays it on thick. But the king is talking about Mordecai and tells Haman to personally carry out all the things Haman expected the king to do for him. How embarrassing!
Esther, the queen, is also a Jew. Mordecai convinces her to go to the king and ask for mercy for the Jews because of the slaughter that is about take place because of Haman’s trickery. Esther invites the king and Haman to dinner to explain the plight and Haman begs for mercy from the queen. Well, the king sees Haman falling all over his queen and gets the wrong idea. He doesn’t know he’s begging for mercy, he thinks he’s begging for something else and immediately has him taken to the gallows Haman had built for Mordecai. And Esther convinces the king to not only let the Jews defend themselves, but to destroy their enemies in those same cities where the decree went out.
What a story. But it’s interesting that God’s name is not mentioned a single time in the whole book of Esther. We see His upper story at work all throughout the interweaving of the plot, but His name is nowhere to be found. I’ll come back to that in a minute. First, I want to share what I think is one of the most important verses in the book of Esther. It’s found in chapter 4 verse 14. “...Who knows? It’s possible that you became queen for a time just like this.”
Have you ever wondered why you are in the position you are in today? Maybe you think it’s a good position or maybe you think it’s not so good. But who knows? Maybe you are there for just a time like this. David was the youngest of seven. He should not have been the one chosen as king according to all the traditions of the time. He was doing the worst of the jobs in the family, tending the sheep on the hillsides. But he was faithful and became the king by which all the other kings of Israel were judged. Who knows?
Abraham was just another member of the tribe in Ur trying to survive in a harsh world that took ounce of energy and knowhow just to get by. But God told him to uproot his family to go somewhere he’d never been so He could make a great nation out of him. Who knows?
Personally, I was a medical plans officer trying to figure out how to get medical support to an army spread across hundreds of miles in battle formations we had never done before. God gave me a dream and Army medical doctrine changed because it. Since then, thousands of lives have been saved on the battlefield because of that dream. Who knows? It’s possible that you are in the position you are in for a time just like this.
Maybe you’re in a tough situation at work that just seems impossible. Who knows? It’s possible that you are in that position for God to use you in some remarkable way to make a difference for your boss or your co-workers to get through that impossible situation. Maybe He wants others to see His grace through your reactions to the situations at hand.
Maybe you’re facing some illness or the loss of a loved one. God doesn’t do bad things to us, but He does allow life to happen and who knows? It is possible that He allowed those things to come your way for a time just like this. We live in a sinful, evil time. We don’t hear much about God and how He works outside of the walls of our churches and synagogues. But the world is hungry to know there is something out there besides the evil and death and destruction that plays across the news channels every day.
The world needs to know there is hope in the chaotic environs of the everyday life we find ourselves facing each time we wake up. The world needs to see joy instead of sorrow in the faces of believers because we have something to offer the world cannot. Jesus brings peace in the middle of the storms of life. He brings joy when it seems impossible to find any joy or happiness in life. Jesus brings order to the chaos around us. He brings life in the throes of death because we know there is a resurrection and there is hope in Him.
So back to the point about God not being mentioned in Esther. Why isn’t His name in the book? I think the writer of the book of Esther faced days like we face sometimes. As Purim approached, the day the Jews now celebrate as the day they defended themselves against their enemies, it was hard to see God in their lower story lives. The decree for their destruction had gone out. Their neighbors were allowed to kill them without recourse. They had no defense. Their prayers seemed to bounce off a brass ceiling. God didn’t seem to be anywhere around. They couldn’t see past the bend in the road. They couldn’t see the upper story God had planned for them.
We can get that way, too. We can get so caught up in our lower story that we forget that God can see panoramically and knows what we cannot know. He can see beyond the bend in the road and knows the bright future He has prepared for us. We just need to look up and obey His commands. Follow Him and know He is at work in His upper story to deliver us just as He did Esther and Mordecai and the rest of His people from the hands of their enemies. We can trust Him with all we have and all we are because He is God and we are not. He is always working for good for those that love Him and work according to His purposes.