Monday, February 2, 2015

The Book of Esther (1)

(Read through the 10 chapters of the book of Esther) 
This is a  three part series covering the whole book of Esther. I will cover this by the end of this first week of February, a sermon preached at Trinity Baptist Church, Nairobi)

The Book of Esther contains a wonderful story filled with thrilling drama and intriguing excitement. Is there anything that this book can teach us? Every word of God is precious to us. Every Scripture is breathed out by God is profitable for us (2Timothy 3:16). Let no man; therefore, pretend that there are some parts of the bible from which he can derive little instruction to be made wise for salvation. We have the privilege of gleaning truth that has a bearing on our eternal perspective from this historical book, let us pay attention. The blame is in yourselves, if you do not find treasures more precious than gold, in this inexhaustible mine of sacred knowledge, the Holy Scripture. Herein is something sweeter than honey and honeycombs – enjoy it!
The purpose of the Book of Esther is to display the providence of God, especially in regard to His chosen people, Israel. In providence, God wisely and powerfully preserves and governs all His creatures and all their actions in order to execute His decrees and accomplish His purposes. In a biblical context, providence means that God sees what is ahead and is at work to accomplish His future purposes through the events of the present.  Providence is God at work, through natural means, in our world.  This is one of the greatest encouragements and comfort for Christians – the knowledge that the Lord God is in absolute control of all things. “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord” (Proverbs 16:33). He orders our footsteps, so that we are not overwhelmed by the wickedness of this world as to be distracted from our eternal perspective.
 The Book of Esther records the institution of the Feast of Purim and the obligation of its perpetual observation. It was read at the Feast of Purim to commemorate the great deliverance of the Jewish nation brought about by God through Esther. Jews today still read Esther during Purim.
The noble Esther risked her own death as she realized what was at stake. She willingly did what could have been a deadly manoeuvre and took on the second-in-command of her husband‘s kingdom, Haman. She proved a wise and most worthy opponent, all the while remaining humble and respectful of the position of her husband-king.
“But, though the name of God be not in it, the finger of God is directing many minute events for the bringing about of his people’s deliverance” (Matthew Henry)
“He [God] doesn’t sit for a pent portrait in the story of Esther, but His mind, His will, His power, and His presence are working in concert on every page.” (Charles Swindoll

1.      The Feasting (1:4)
·         The Great feast
Ø  Lasted 180 days (six months)
Ø  Lavish Display of Wealth  and pomp
Ø  Nobility, Officials, Employees of the Empire were invited
·         The Smaller Feast (1:5-9) 
Ø  Lasts for seven days (a week)
Ø  All people in Susa were invited
Ø  Wine for everyone (Hebrew is literally “drinking feast”) 
Ø  Queen Vashti also gave her own feast for the women in the palace
        The Awkward Request (1:11-2:1-4) 
Ø  “Queen Vashti to the banquet hall, wear your crown.” 
Ø  Show your beauty
Ø  The Refusal (1:12)
Ø  The king was enraged and banished/divorced her (1:13-22) 
Ø  Four Years Pass: During which time Xerxes invades Greece suffering defeat 
Ø  Then the king missed his queen 
Ø  His advisers hold a beauty contest to find a new queen, a better queen
Ø  The Beauty Pageant to look for another queen
2.      Mordecai  introduced (2:5-23)
v  Tribe of Benjamin, a descendent of Saul 
v  Caring for his cousin Hadassah (Esther) 
v  Introduced to Esther 
ü  Beautiful figure and lovely to look at (2:7)
ü  Esther is made queen (2:17) 
v  Mordecai overhears an assassination plot and reports it to Esther who tells the king saving his life.
3.      Haman introduced with his wickedness (3) 
v  He was an Agagite, son of Hammedatha
v  He is a proud, arrogant man 
v  He resents the attitude of Mordecai
v  Haman, knowing that Mordecai is Jewish, seeks to destroy all Jews.  He accomplishes this with a sizeable bribe to the king’s treasury.  The date of the genocide is set almost 12 months in the future. 
4.      The Courage of Esther (4:1-5:8)
v  Mordecai informs Esther of the plot against the Jewish people
v  Mordecai enlisted Esther’s help 
v  Esther risked her life to go before the king and invite him to dinner 
5.      The Tables Turn (5:9-6:13) 
v  Haman angered by Mordecai and seeks to have him killed
v  The king can’t sleep and reading the annals, realizes he owed his life to Mordecai
v  Queen Esther holds the first feast, inviting the king and Haman
v  Mordecai is honored at the expense of Haman
v  The Second Dinner (6:14-7:6)
v  Esther reveals Haman’s plot   
v  Haman is killed on the gallows intended for Mordecai (7:7-7:10)

v  The Salvation and victory for the Jews and the destruction of their enemies (Chapters 8 -10)

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