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Great quotation

It’s God’s job to judge, the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, and my job to love.
~Billy Graham

Esther 8-10

In Esther, Chapters 8-10, the denoument of the story of Queen Esther, King Xerxes, and Esther’s Uncle Mordecai takes place.

Because Mordecai was faithful to his beliefs, God prepared a path of favor for both Esther and Mordecai.  When others sought to destroy the Jews, God protected them in ways that clearly point back to His Providence and provision.

This same God prepares our paths and provides in miraculous ways.

This same God blesses us and still blesses the Jews.

Genesis 12:3
And I will bless those who bless you,and the one who curses you I will curse and in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”

God will never break a covenant.

Esther 7

In Esther 6, the tables were beginning to turn on Haman and is sinister plans for the Jews. 

Remember, things did not look good:  Haman, a man of pretty high power and connection to King Xerxes, decided that because his pride was hurt by Mordecai refusing to bow to him, he’d have Mordecai hung.  (He also planned on harming the Jewish population.)  Queen Esther, a niece of Mordecai, decided to risk her own life by confronting Xerxes, in a respectful way,  about Haman’s plans.

In Chapter 7, Xerxes offers Esther whatever she wants, up to half the kingdom.  He is showing her an amazing amount of favor.  Xerxes’ kingdom was pretty big.  It wasn’t just located in one country.  Imagine being able to take ownership of half of the United States, to do with it whatever you would like.  Instead of taking possessions, though, Esther asked for the lives of her kinsman and the Jews to be spared, as someone with evil intentions (Haman) meant for them to be wiped off the face of the Earth.  (There are still many Haman’s to this day.)

Angered, the king asks who is up to such ill behavior, and Esther points out Haman.  Furious, the king orders Haman’s hanging from the same gallows meant for Mordecai.  Haman begged Esther to spare his life, but she did not respond, and Haman’s begging angered Xerxes even more, causing Haman’s immediate death on those gallows. 

The last two lines in Chapter 7 struck me:  So they hanged Haman on the gallows he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the king’s fury subsided.

I don’t think anything would have made King Xerxes change his mind.  He was absolutely furious.   It is also important to not that this is the wrath that Esther was risking through her actions to try to save Mordecai and the other Jews.

God led her and prepared the way for this time. 

God leads, prepares the way, and shows us favor.  He even uses those who detest Him.  Never doubt the power of God to work through others and behind the scenes.  Also, never doubt God’s power to work in the hearts of our leaders without their knowledge.

It can be done.

Esther 6

Last I wrote about the book of Esther, Queen Esther was beginning her plan to try to save Mordecai’s life.  In between the banquets to be held for King Xerxes (with Haman in attendance), the king was a bit restless and decided to read about his reign.  Within those chronicles, he read about Mordecai exposing a plot that would have ended in Xerxes’ death.    

Coincidence?  Nope.  You see, Mordecai never received recognition or reward for his actions.  Xerxes; upon realizing this, will now provide Mordecai with his recognition and reward.  The timing couldn’t be better!

When I was reading Esther 6 and got to this point in the chapter, I was reminded of a saying I devised in my 20’s:  “Delays are good.”   (Well, it was how I kept my impatience from boiling over into a major froth.)

Which is better?  Receiving something immediately and it having no purpose, or waiting, maybe not even expecting anything, and having the timing being so perfect, that you receive some kind of favor?  I think I would choose favor (even though my terminal impatience would say otherwise.)

Well, Xerxes decides to reward Mordecai for his life-saving efforts.  Guess who the only guy/advisor in the court is when Xerxes has this light bulb moment?  Haman!  He wants Mordecai dead—hung.  In fact, he is about to reveal his plan for Mordecai’s death when he is brought before the king.

Now…we get to the moment that plays like something I’ve seen in sit-coms:  A guy thinks he’s about to get an award, feels arrogantly confident about his standing in the eyes of others.  When the award is announced, he stands up only to realize his biggest competition has won.  Well, that is what happens to Haman.  When the king asks what  he should do “for the man the king delights to honor,” Haman thinks he has “arrived” and will be rewarded.  He says, “For the man the king delights to honor, 8 have them bring a royal robe the king has worn and a horse the king has ridden, one with a royal crest placed on its head. 9 Then let the robe and horse be entrusted to one of the king’s most noble princes. Let them robe the man the king delights to honor, and lead him on the horse through the city streets, proclaiming before him, ‘This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!’ ”

Then Xerxes tells Haman to go get Mordecai and do just as Haman had just said.  HA!  I’m sorry, but I love the payback in this. 

Instead of being hung from the gallows, Mordecai will be honored in a royal robe and on a horse, both of which were used by the king at some time. 

After Haman completed his gut-wrenching duty, he went home to pour out his hurt to his wife and friends. 

Their response?  You should know better than to plot against someone who is Jewish.  They knew from history that anyone that plotted against a Jew saw ruin. 

Genesis 12:3

And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”

 

In the next chapter, Haman goes to the second banquet.  Hmm….let’s just say he won’t be riding the king’s horse through the streets with someone exclaiming the favor of the king.

Esther 5

In Chapter 5, Queen Esther follows through on her promise to speak to the king.  He shows her favor, and she invites him and Haman to a banquet.  While at the banquet, her reason for doing thus is withheld, but she promises her plan to reveal what she would like to say to the king, at another banquet, the next day.

Haman is a very happy man who feels like he’s really “in” with the inner circle.  However, the inspiration for all of his bile, Mordecai, is at the gate, and as is his custom, Mordecai does not bow to Haman.

Promptly, Haman decides that Mordecai needs to die…quickly.

This might seem like a transitional chapter, but it is more important to note that this is an example of God setting up the victory.  Often, as I’ve stated before, God is working behind the scenes.  What we perceive to be a lost cause or implausible outcome, just might come to pass.  If we look closely, we will undoubtedly recount numerous times that God worked at His pace for His perfect will to be done–the seemingly impossible becomes possible or the long-awaited answer is received.  Sometimes in life, we have “transitional” chapters.  Trust that they are leading to victory.

Just as I feel as though this is a repetitive post, maybe I needed the reminder.   🙂

Have a beautiful day!

Esther 4

There are no coincidences. Things do not happen by chance. When I am tempted to think the opposite, I always find my mind filtering back through the events leading up to a particular event or time in my life. What could appear as an accident, a random event, or something ordinary and mundane might actually lead to something greater, because God is in control, behind the scenes, plotting our paths for us.

So, imagine you are Esther. You are a Jewish woman who “wins” a spot in the King’s heart. You have a place of favor, even though you have strict rules of conduct and association to follow. Was all of this by accident? Was it just luck that took her to the ruler’s home? No.

As I stated in my last post for Esther, Chapter 3, Haman was out to exterminate the Jews in King Xerxes’ vast kingdom. Mordecai, Esther’s uncle, knew this information and reported everything he knew of Haman’s plans to her via a middle-man. Was this all by chance? No.

God knew His people were out of line with His will and He also knew that He wanted His promises fulfilled with His people. Even when they weren’t faithful to God, He knew He had to be faithful to them because of His plan. So, He worked behind the scenes. Placing people where they needed to be, even if it seemed out of the realm of sense. Because of that society, Esther should not have risen to the position she had, but she did.

Esther was hesitant to help Mordecai, though. Approaching the king to speak to him, not summoned to do so, was grounds for death unless he pardoned the brave soul. Mordecai warned her, though, that she would suffer the same end as all of the other Jews. Keeping her mouth shut would not save her own life.

“Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?”

Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” –Esther 4:12-16

“For such a time as this…”

Not only does God show us favor and blessings as He wills, be He also does it so that we can be used to further His plans.

Countless times what I thought was a chance meeting, an accident, or a frustrating delay turned out to be something that God used to take my life in different, yet blessed directions.

Sometimes God has us where He has us, just so we are in the right place, “for such a time as this.”

Esther 3

I first read Esther 3 a week or so ago. While I understood the story, I failed to see the importance of what is taking place in the chapter.

In that first reading, I appreciated Mordecai’s faithfulness to his faith. He was being commanded to bow to Haman, and as a Jew, Mordecai was having no parts of it. Unfortunately for Mordecai and the Jews within Xerxes’ reign, Haman was given the authority to use the Xerxes’ signet to declare that all of the Jews should be killed. He even had a date planned. As providence would have it, though, that date was a ways off and there would be time to twist Haman, and his plan, into a very secure knot.

According to McGee and my handy study Bible, Haman was a descendent of the Amalekites. The Amalekites are the people that Saul was commanded, by God, to wash off the face of the Earth. Well, Saul disobeyed, and that ended up being a very bad thing down the road…just look at what Mordecai is facing. Need I say more? Well, there is one other thing. The Jews within Xerxes’ influence aren’t just a scant few, located in an area the size of Iran. The kingdom of Xerxes spanned parts of present-day Asia, Europe, and Africa. As McGee stated, the Jews would have been completely annihilated.

So, if you know the Bible, you know where I am headed: Two of the promises that come to mind, as stated by McGee, are the promises that God will always take care of His people, and that God would curse those that cursed the Jews and bless those who blessed them. (Take note politicians!)

Through God’s providence, He kept His promises to his people. He knew from the time Saul disobeyed Him that He would have to make a way for His people.

How awesome is this message?

Just think: So often we find ourselves in unpleasant circumstances, or we find ourselves in a steady holding pattern of “wait”. In both instances it is common to wonder where God is. We get caught up in what we see as immediacy and the drama. God, all along, has planned our route, how He will bless us, and has lovingly plotted out our steps, so that eventually, we will be blessed by Him and experience what he had planned for us all along (and you know we all fret during that period).

This is why it is so important to give God His proper honor. I know I am so weak in that area at times. I get frustrated with waiting, and I feel like God is just watching me. He is, however, at work all along, guiding us and providing His providence to keep us on His map.

You know what else happens when we get consumed with negativity and angst? We begin to make those things we are trusting God for a god in themselves. God is bigger than all of it.

McGee stated it best: “God moves in the affairs of men by His providence.”

The past year, I have been working on not allowing the desires of my heart and the things around me to be bigger than God and His will. It isn’t easy, even when I know full well how powerful God is. However, I find myself giving things to God more and more, with more acknowledgement of just how in control of things He is.

Sadly, it has taken me 41 years to understand that nugget.

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