Sunday, February 8, 2009

Esther: Faith for Such a Time as This

Stories define and build relationships. Every cultural group, every people group, every family, has its stories. These stories are passed down from one generation to the next, uniting families, churches, people groups and cultures.

The Old Testament book of Esther tells the story of a Jewish girl living in exile in the Persian city of Susa who rises from obscurity to the throne of the Persian Queen. This young woman is used by God to rescue the Jewish people from the very real threat of genocide. Her story begins with the story of the King of Persia, who was known by a name that might sound strange to us: Ahasuerus: A Dangerous King. Greek Historian Herodotus’ History of the Persian Wars remains a strong extra-biblical witness and attests to historicity of Ahasuerus/Xerxes’ kingship.

Ahasuerus was an ambitious and ruthless ruler, a brilliant warrior, a jealous lover, and Herodotus even tells us that he was the tallest and most handsome of all the Persian kings. By throwing such an self-promoting, self-indulgent party, he kind of reminds me of that character Gaston from Beauty and the Beast. This is a guy whose silly friends might be heard singing:

“No one thinks like Ahasuerus
No one drinks like Ahasuerus

No one's neck's as incredibly thick as Ahasuerus

For there’s no Persian man half as manly
Perfect, a pure stud-icus

You can ask any Tom, Dick or Stanley

And they’ll tell you he’s a real match for Sparticus”

Only a king with a perfect character should be given absolute power. And that is why the Lordship of Jesus Christ is such a joyful thing. He is king of kings and lord of lords and he is perfect in his character...absolutely no corruption...existing forever without sin. And he said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28, ESV)

Read the whole story of Esther this week. Parents, read it with your kids and talk about it. There are definitely some parts of the story that are going to require your parental guidance. Esther is NOT the ideal heroine: she never mentions God’s name, never prays, and we must wonder, what made the idea of entering the King’s beauty contest so attractive to her anyway?

Have you considered:
  • Will God fulfill his covenant promise through his providence?
  • Will God do another a miracle like the parting of the Red Sea, or could God rescue his people simply by the way that a few critical everyday events are ordered?
  • Those who have studied the Old Testament have learned how God has proven his covenant promises to his people that lived in Jerusalem long ago. But would he also prove those promises to his people who were living far from away Jerusalem then?
  • Even if they were not very spiritual people and not particularly interested in what God says?
  • What about people who are not very spiritual today and who, like us, are living far, far away from Jerusalem right now?
  • Could God’s purposes on earth to glorify himself through people like us really come true?
These questions and many others are the questions that the Story of Esther answers for us. I'm looking forward to continuing our study of Esther at Christchurch next Sunday.

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