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Sermon No: 2737-Esther chapters 1 and 2



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SERMON TOPIC: Esther 1

Speaker: Gavin Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 22 November 2015

Topic Groups: ESTHER, TYPOLOGY, FASTING

Sermon synopsis: The book of Esther is also unique in that it is the only book in the Bible (with the possible exception of Song of Solomon) that doesn’t directly mention God’s name! But despite that, God’s signature is seen in the book:

- In the events which take place in this book we repeatedly see the working of God acting in providence on behalf of his people.
- We find some very interesting types and shadows of New Testament truths.
- Esther calls for a fast regarding the plight of the Jews. Although not explicitly stated, fasting was always associated with prayer.
- God’s name appears in the acrostics.
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The Book of Esther

CHAPTER 1

The Book of Esther is a book in the OT which relates the story of a Jewish girl who becomes queen of Persia.

The story forms the core of the Jewish festival of Purim, during which it is read aloud twice: once in the evening and again the following morning. 1

Besides the Book of Ruth, Esther is the only other book in the Bible named after a female. Interestingly both books are “rags to riches” stories.

The poor widow Ruth, who has to rely on the generosity of others for food, wins the favour of a wealthy man Boaz who marries her. She then becomes the ancestor of the Messiah.

Esther, an orphan and foreigner, becomes the queen and delivers her people from the destruction of a planned genocide.

1 https:// en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/ Book_of_Esther

INTRODUCTION

The book of Esther is also unique in that it is the only book in the Bible (with the possible exception of Song of Solomon 2) that doesn’t directly mention God’s name! But despite that, God’s signature is seen in the book:

In the events which take place in this book we repeatedly see the working of God acting in providence on behalf of his people.

We find some very interesting types and shadows of New Testament truths.

Esther calls for a fast regarding the plight of the Jews. Although not explicitly stated, fasting was always associated with prayer.

1 The NASB renders Song of Solomon 8:6 as “… Its flashes are flashes of fire, The very flame of the LORD.” while the NIV renders it “…It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame.”

INTRODUCTION

God’s name appears in the acrostics.

In many acrostics found in OT Poetry, each line or stanza begins with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet in order.

Acrostics occur in Ps 111 & 112, where each letter begins a line; in Ps 25, 34 & 145, where each letter begins a half-verse; in Ps 37, Prov 31:10-31, and Lam 1, 2 & 4, where each letter begins a whole verse; and in Lam 3, where each letter begins 3 verses. Ps 119 is the most elaborate demonstration of the acrostic method where, in each section of 8 verses, the same opening letter is used, and the 22 sections of the psalm move through the Hebrew alphabet, letter after letter. 1

1 J.A. Motyer, “Acrostic” in The New International Dictionary of the Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1987), pg. 12.

ACROSTICS

An acrostic is a form of writing in which the first letter of each word in the text might also spell out a hidden message.

An acrostic poem Can be about anything, Really. Of course, some people like to Start each line as a sentence Though I prefer weaving words into a Creation that is more freeform.

The name of God appears 5 times in the acrostics of the text of Esther. 4 times it appears as an acrostic for ‘YHWH’ (Yahweh) and once as ‘EHYH’ (I AM). 1

1 In at least 3 three ancient manuscripts the letters forming the acrostics are written larger than the others so that they stand out boldly and prominently.

ACROSTICS

Xerxes I (ruled 486-465 BC) was the king of the Persian Achaemenid Empire. He is identified by many as the Ahasuerus of the Book of Esther. 1

1 The Hebrew Ahasuerus (ʔaḥašwērōš) is most likely derived from Persian Xšayārša, the origin of the Greek Xerxes. However Artaxerxes I and II are also possibilities for Ahasuerus. The Septuagint version of Esther translates Ahasuerus as Artaxerxes (a Greek name derived from the Persian Artaxšaϑra). Josephus too relates that this was the name by which he was known to the Greeks, and the Midrashic text, Esther Rabba also makes the identification. Josephus identifies Ahasuerus as Artaxerxes I (r. 465-424 BC) while other see him as Artaxerxes II (r. 405–359 BC).

Rock relief of Xerxes at his tomb in Naqsh-e Rustam

SETTING

According to Herodotus, Xerxes I had a wife called Amestris, 1 who some have identified with Esther. 2 She was the mother of king Artaxerxes I. Here is an approximate chronology based on this line of reasoning.

1 The Greek Amēstris matches linguistically with the Babylonian phrase Ammi-Ištar. 2 “Queen Esther wife of Xerxes: Chronological, Historical and Archaeological Evidence” by Gerard Gertoux

SETTING

Authorship of the Book of Esther is uncertain, but the Talmud claims it was a redaction by the Great Assembly of an original text by Mordecai. 1 Josephus also attributes the authorship to Mordecai. 2

The story is set in Suza where many Jews live in forced exile from Israel. Susa (also known as Shushan) was the main capital of the Persian Achaemenid empire, the same city from where Daniel saw one of his visions (Daniel 8) and where Nehemiah began his public life (Neh 1:1-11).

1 https:// en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/ Book_of_Esther 2 Antiquities 11.6.13

SETTING

Est 1:1-2 (ESV) Now in the days of Ahasuerus… who reigned from India to Ethiopia over 127 provinces, in those days when King Ahasuerus sat on his royal throne in Susa, the citadel…

The NIV renders Ahasuerus as Xerxes:

Est 1:1-2 (NIV) This is what happened during the time of Xerxes, the Xerxes who ruled over 127 provinces stretching from India to Cush: At that time King Xerxes reigned from his royal throne in the citadel of Susa…

1:3-4 in the third year of his reign he gave a feast for all his officials and servants. The army of Persia and Media and the nobles and governors of the provinces were before him while he showed the riches of his royal glory and the splendour and pomp of his greatness for many days, 180 days.

1:5-6 And when these days were completed, the king gave for all the people present in Susa the citadel, both great and small, a feast lasting for seven days in the court of the garden of the king’s palace. The garden had hangings of white and blue linen, fastened with cords of white linen and purple material to silver rings on marble pillars. There were couches of gold and silver on a mosaic pavement of porphyry, marble, mother-of-pearl and other costly stones.

The official title of Xerxes was “Shahanshah” which means ‘king of kings’. Paul writes of God:

1 Tim 6:15 (NIV) … God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords…

In Esther, the earthly king of kings decides to give two banquets. No expense was spared. Clearly the first event wasn’t just a small humble affair – the guest list included the king’s officials, servants, the army, the nobles and governors of the provinces – and it lasted half a year. 1

1 If Ahasuerus is indeed Xerxes we know that he conducted a campaign against the Greeks early in his reign. The feasts may have been a ploy to entice the various kings in his empire to join him on this military expedition to Greece or may have been the battle planning phase. Xerxes is the great Persian king, of whom Daniel had prophesied, “Three more kings will arise in Persia, and then a fourth, who will be far richer than all the others. When he has gained power by his wealth, he will stir up everyone against the kingdom of Greece.” (Daniel 11:2).

THE ROYAL RICHES

The king clearly wanted to impress all by displaying the “riches of his royal glory and the splendour and pomp of his greatness”. The final banquet was more modest, being a mere 7 day event, for everyone in the citadel of Suza (a citadel is the core fortified area of a town or city).

Our heavenly king of kings has also displayed “riches of his royal glory” to the Gentiles. God’s riches of grace are displayed in what he has done through Jesus.

Eph 2:7 (NIV) … in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

THE ROYAL RICHES

Col 2:2-3 (NIV) … so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

But in contrast to the earthly king Ahasuerus, the riches of God glory are demonstrated in his grace and kindness towards us.

Rom 2:4 (NIV) … the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience

Eph 1:7-8 (NIV) In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.

THE ROYAL RICHES

The riches of God’s glory are further revealed by what he does in our lives through the indwelling of Jesus.

Col 1:27 (NIV) To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Eph 3:16-17 (NIV) I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.

His riches are displayed in our glorious inheritance:

Eph 1:18 (NIV) I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints

THE ROYAL RICHES

While the first feast included the likes of nobles and governors, the invite for the second feast was extended to “both great and small”. Everyone was offered a chance to experience the king’s benevolence and riches.

Just as everyone was invited to this banquet, so today all are invited to participate in the riches of God’s glory. Though many refuse, the invitation it is still open to all.

Matt 8:11 (NIV) “I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.”

Matt 22:10 (NLT) “So the servants brought in everyone they could find, good and bad alike, and the banquet hall was filled with guests.”

ALL INVITED

1:9-11 Queen Vashti also gave a feast for the women in the palace that belonged to King Ahasuerus. On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded … the seven eunuchs … to bring Queen Vashti before the king with her royal crown, in order to show the peoples and the princes her beauty, for she was lovely to look at.

According to law, what must be done to Queen Vashti? She has not obeyed the command of King Xerxes that the eunuchs have taken to her.

1:12-15 (NIV) But when the attendants delivered the king’s command, Queen Vashti refused to come. Then the king became furious and burned with anger. Since it was customary for the king to consult experts in matters of law and justice, he spoke with the wise men who understood the times and were closest to the king… the seven nobles of Persia and Media who had special access to the king and were highest in the kingdom.

There was a third banquet being held at the same time as the king’s second banquet. This one was for the women of the palace and the host was Queen Vashti.

On the seventh day of the banquet Vashti is summonsed by the king who is keen to show off her beauty and her royal crown at his banquet. In the presence of all the women at her party, Vashti refuses to go.

We do not know her reasons - whether she simply didn’t want to be on display for a room full of drinking men, or if she was just being defiant to the king.

Maybe Vashti was trying to impress the women at her banquet, by demonstrating that women don’t have to be subservient to their husbands.

VASHTI’S REFUSAL

In any event, while many feminists today commend Vashti for her actions, we cannot view her conduct through 21st century eyes. In the Medo-Persian empire over 2000 years ago you simply didn’t refuse a king’s request and embarrass him publicly in front of his subordinates without any repercussions.

Now irrespective of whether or not Vashti was justified in her actions, God in his providence used this sequence of events to pave the way for Esther to be crowned queen – thereby enabling her to later thwart the murderous plans of Haman against the Jewish people.

The Biblical text does not indicate whether she was motivated by modesty or contempt for the king, but the king’s advisers clearly assume the latter.

VASHTI’S REFUSAL

1:16-20 (NIV)Then Memukan said:

Queen Vashti has done wrong, not only against the king but also against all the nobles and the peoples of all the provinces of King Xerxes.

For the queen’s conduct will become known to all the women, and so they will despise their husbands and say, ‘King Xerxes commanded Queen Vashti to be brought before him, but she would not come.’

Therefore, if it pleases the king, let him issue a royal decree and let it be written in the laws of Persia and Media, which cannot be repealed, that Vashti is never again to enter the presence of King Xerxes. Also let the king give her royal position to someone else who is better than she.

This very day the Persian and Median women of the nobility who have heard about the queen’s conduct will respond to all the king’s nobles in the same way. There will be no end of disrespect and discord.

Then when the king’s edict is proclaimed throughout all his vast realm, all the women will respect their husbands, from the least to the greatest.

1:21-22 (NIV) The king and his nobles were pleased with this advice, so the king did as Memukan proposed. He sent dispatches to all parts of the kingdom, to each province in its own script and to each people in their own language, proclaiming that every man should be ruler over his own household, using his native tongue.

So the affronted king asks his advisers what should be done to the queen for standing him up in front of his guests and for publicly disobeying his order in front of her friends and all the women of the citadel.

Memukan, one of the seven princes of Persia and Media sees this not just as a slight against the king, but against husbands in general. (Although not stated in the text explicitly, according to the Jewish Encyclopedia, Memukan is identified by the Talmudists with Haman. 1)

Vashti never acted in private, but spurned the king when summonsed in the presence of all the women at her party. Memukan surmises that if left unchecked, wives throughout the kingdom might rise up in rebellion against their husbands!

1 http:// www.jewishencyclopedia.com/ articles/7124-haman-the-agagite

VASHTI’S FATE

To ensure that the first “women’s-rights movement” is speedily crushed, Memukan proposes that a strong precedent be set and that Vashti be stripped of her position as queen and denied access into the king’s presence. And note that this decree is written in the laws of Persia and Media which we are clearly told cannot be altered or repealed (This detail is important later on in the story of Esther).

Now we might debate whether Memukan is overreacting or not, but he clearly has the ear of the embarrassed and angry king, who accepts and implements his recommendations. To make sure that the message regarding Vashti’s treatment is clear, letters are sent to each of the provinces affirming that every man is indeed master in his household. You have been warned – women!

VASHTI’S FATE

What can we learn from Esther 1? Despite it being an account of a pagan king whose actions are somewhat questionable and who seems to act impulsively on bad advice, there are some valuable truths and shadows contained here.

The summary of the events in chapters 1 to 2 are:

A king summons his wife to his banquet.

She defiantly refuses to come.

She is subsequently banished from his presence. The banishment is irrevocable.

A new replacement wife is sought.

TYPOLOGY

In one sense what happens in Esther 1 to 2 and also displayed in Jesus’ parable about a banquet are typical of Israel and the church.

Israel was God’s “wife” just as Vashti was the wife of Ahasuerus.

Jer 3:14 (NIV) “Return, faithless people,” declares the LORD, “for I am your husband…”

But like Vashti, Israel defied her “husband”:

Jer 3:1 (NIV) “… But you have lived as a prostitute with many lovers…”

Jer 31:32 (NIV) “… because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD.

TYPOLOGY

Vashti was banished because of her actions. God “divorced” Israel because of her unfaithfulness:

Jer 3:8 (NIV) I gave faithless Israel her certificate of divorce and sent her away because of all her adulteries.

Just as Ahasuerus sought a new queen, Christ has taken a wife from the Gentiles because of Israel’s unfaithfulness.

2 Cor 11:2 (NIV) I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him.

Eph 5:25 (NIV) Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…

But there is also a personal application for these types in Esther and Jesus’ banquet parable.

TYPOLOGY

In Matthew 22 and Luke 14 Jesus used the illustration of the king of heaven extending an invite to all to attend a banquet where he generously displays the riches of his grace and mercy.

Those who accept the invitation experience the riches of God’s grace, provision and spiritual blessing upon their lives, just like the inhabitants of the Medo-Persian kingdom attending the banquet found an abundance of the king’s provision.

TYPOLOGY

And those who reject God’s invite will, in like manner, be banished from the king’s presence.

Luke 14:16-24 (NIV) Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ “But they all alike began to make excuses… “Then the master told his servant, ‘… I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’”

TYPOLOGY

Vashti’s banishment is an act that cannot be overturned or repealed.

Similarly while universalists claim that those who reject God in this life will be given another chance in the next, the Bible does not teach that.

Heb 9:27 (ESV) And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment

Rev 20:12-15 (ESV) And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done… And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

TYPOLOGY

We need to respond today to God’s invite for salvation, because we have no guarantees of tomorrow.

2 Cor 6:2 (NLT) For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.” Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.

TYPOLOGY

The Book of Esther

CHAPTER 2

Esther 2:1-4 After these things, when the anger of King Ahasuerus had abated, he remembered Vashti and what she had done and what had been decreed against her. Then the king’s young men who attended him said:

Let beautiful young virgins be sought out for the king. And let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom to gather all the beautiful young virgins to the harem in Susa … And let the young woman who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti.

This pleased the king, and he did so.

Some time later when the king has calmed down, he seems to realise that he has acted rashly and is clearly missing Vashti. But because the Medo-Persian law is irrevocable, he cannot reinstate her.

To compound matters, if Ahasuerus and Xerxes are one and the same, the king has just returned from an unsuccessful war against the Greeks.

So he is most likely licking his battle wounds, depressed and missing the comfort of Vashti. Not surprisingly the young men who attend the king have a great idea – a “Miss Persia” contest, where the winner gets to be the new queen. This suggestion immediately cheers up the king. 1

1 The feasts are in his third year of reign (Est 1:3) and Esther is crowned in the seventh year (2:16) after a year’s preparation. It was in the gap that the Greek campaign was conducted.

MISS PERSIA

uncle, for she had neither father nor mother. The young woman had a beautiful figure and was lovely to look at, and when her father and her mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter.

2:5-7 Now there was a Jew in Susa the citadel whose name was Mordecai, the son of Jair, son of Shimei, son of Kish, a Benjaminite, who had been carried away from Jerusalem among the captives carried away with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had carried away. He was bringing up Hadassah, that is Esther, the daughter of his

2:8 So when the king’s order and his edict were proclaimed, and when many young women were gathered in Susa the citadel in custody of Hegai, Esther also was taken into the king’s palace and put in custody of Hegai, who had charge of the women.

In captivity Hebrews were often given second names which were more familiar to the prevailing Gentile culture. Many of these names were derived from the foreign gods of their captors.

E.g. Daniel (whose Hebrew name refers to the true god, “God is my judge”) was called Belteshazzar (“Bel protects his life”).

Likewise the name Mordecai is most likely derived from Marduk (the head of the Babylonian pantheon 2) and may mean “servant of Marduk”. 1

1 https:// en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/ Mordecai 2 https:// en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/ Marduk

MORDECAI

It is considered identical to the name Marduka or Marduku attested as the name of officials in the Persian court in 30 texts (the Persepolis Texts) from the period of Xerxes I and his father Darius, and may refer to up to 4 individuals, 1 one of whom may have been the biblical Mordecai.

In particular about the time of Xerxes’ ascension to the throne, there is a record of a royal accountant in Susa named Mordecai. 2

Mordecai had adopted his cousin Hadassah when her parents died. Note that Mordecai is her cousin, not her uncle as some mistakenly think. She is the daughter of Mordecai’s uncle.

1 https:// en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/ Mordecai 2 Carey Moore, Esther, in the Anchor Bible series (Doubleday, 1971)

MORDECAI

The Bible says of Hadassah (Esther) that the “young woman had a beautiful figure and was lovely to look at”, characteristics which no doubt would turn out to quite handy in the “Miss Persia” contest.

Hadassah is known by her Persian name “Esther” as Mordecai had advised her to keep her Jewish identity concealed. It seems there were strong anti-Semitic feelings in the empire which might hamper her chances of becoming queen.

The name Esther possibly has roots in “Ishtar” (Babylonian goddess of fertility) or could be derived from a reconstructed Median word “astra” meaning myrtle. 1

1 https:// en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/ Esther

HADASSAH

While chapter 1 focussed on the invitation of the king, chapter 2 is about the preparation for the king. I hope you have accepted the king’s invitation and are busy with the preparation.

As an orphan, Esther has humble beginnings but under the guidance of her cousin and guardian Mordecai she will make a bid to be the new queen.

In her preparation there are again some useful types regarding the preparation that we as believers go through for our heavenly king.

THE PREPARATION

2:9 And the young woman pleased him (Hegai) and won his favour. And he quickly provided her with her cosmetics and her portion of food, and with seven chosen young women from the king’s palace, and advanced her and her young women to the best place in the harem. Esther had not made known her people or kindred, for Mordecai had commanded her not to make it known.

Because Esther quickly finds favour with Hegai she is given further gifts of cosmetics, food and personal staff acquainted with the palace procedures and protocol. All of this would improve her chances of succeeding in her bid for queen, by making her even more appealing to the king.

As Christians we too have been given gifts which assist us in finding favour with our king.

1 Peter 4:10-11 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.

THE GIFTS

Like Esther, our simplicity and purity will please the king:

2 Cor 11:2-3 … for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin. But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. (NASB)

Our king is pleased by holy lives.

Eph 5:25-27 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendour, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. (ESV)

THE GIFTS

Just as Esther received Esther gifts to facilitate her preparation, so we have been given what we need for our preparation and sanctification.

Esther received food. The ‘food’ that we have been given the Word of the God for “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matt 4:4). It is by reading, studying and listening to the word of God that we are informed of the will and ways of our king and what pleases him. It is by obeying the Word of God that we will find favour with him.

John 14:23 (NIV) Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.”

THE GIFTS

Esther received 7 assistants. God has us the seven-fold Spirit to lead and guide us into all truth and supply the inner strength required to perform the will of our king.

Rev 5:6 (Berean Study Bible) Then I saw a Lamb who appeared to have been slain, standing in the centre of the throne…The lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which represent the sevenfold Spirit of God sent out into all the earth.

Rom 8:5-8 (NIV) Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. … the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.

THE GIFTS

She received cosmetics and perfumes. Our praise and prayers to God are like a sweet smelling incense.

Psalm 141:2 (NIV) May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.

2 Cor 2:15 (Berean Literal Bible) For we are a sweet perfume of Christ to God in those being saved and in those perishing…

She received the best place in the harem. We too have been seated in a place of favour.

Eph 2:6 (NIV) And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus…

THE GIFTS

2:11 And every day Mordecai walked in front of the court of the harem to learn how Esther was and what was happening to her.

Throughout the book Esther is a type of the church and Mordecai is a type of the Holy Spirit.

Esther is guided by Mordecai and succeeds by listening to his wise council. Even when her situation changes and she becomes queen she still heeds the advice of Mordecai. Likewise the Holy Spirit is given for spiritual guidance:

John 14:26 But … the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said unto you. (ASV)

THE HOLY SPIRIT

Every day Esther and Mordecai are in contact – so there is constant fellowship and communication.

2 Cor 13:14 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

Later when she waivers, he encourages her to be bold and to do the right thing. Likewise the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin and gives us boldness.

2 Tim 1:7-8 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord…

THE HOLY SPIRIT

2:12-15 (NIV) Before a young woman’s turn came to go in to King Xerxes, she had to complete twelve months of beauty treatments prescribed for the women, six months with oil of myrrh and six with perfumes and cosmetics. And this is how she would go to the king: Anything she wanted was given her to take with her from the harem to the king’s palace.

THE PREPARATION

In the evening she would go there and in the morning return to another part of the harem to the care of Shaashgaz, the king’s eunuch who was in charge of the concubines. She would not return to the king unless he was pleased with her and summoned her by name. When the turn came for Esther … to go to the king, she asked for nothing other than what Hegai, the king’s eunuch who was in charge of the harem, suggested. And Esther won the favour of everyone who saw her.

THE PREPARATION

So the contestants are all enrolled in an “Ultimate makeover” program, lasting 12 months before they are even presented to the king. We are currently in a makeover program as well, courtesy of the Holy Spirit and his sanctifying working in our lives.

2 Thess 2:13 … God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.

1 Thess 4:3-7 It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honourable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God… For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.

THE PREPARATION

We need to consecrate our lives and offer them in sacrifice to God. This will enable us to find out what is pleasing to Him.

Rom 12:1-2 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

THE PREPARATION

But note also that Esther made a point of finding out what pleased the king. Although she was given the option of taking whatever she pleased with her when she met the king, she followed the advice of someone who knew the king well, ensuring that she would be as appealing as possible to the king.

We need to find out what pleases our king – we find that out by reading his Word and obeying it’s instruction.

1 John 3:21-23 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him. And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.

THE PREPARATION

Esther preparation was with myrrh and spices, ours is through the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

Ex 30:22-25 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Take the following fine spices: … liquid myrrh… fragrant cinnamon… fragrant cane… cassia… olive oil. Make these into a sacred anointing oil, a fragrant blend, the work of a perfumer. It will be the sacred anointing oil.

The anointing oil in the tabernacle was made from myrrh and other spices. It was used to consecrate all objects and priests who ministered within the tabernacle. This symbol, as with Esther’s preparation of myrrh and spices is a picture of the Holy Spirit’s presence upon those who are consecrated to the Lord.

THE PREPARATION

The preparation was a process and it took time. We are currently in preparation for meeting our king. Rather than 12 months, our preparation lasts a lifetime.

1 John 2:28 (NIV) And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.

Rev 19:7-8 (NIV) “Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God's holy people.)

THE PREPARATION

2:16-18 And when Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus, into his royal palace… in the seventh year of his reign, the king loved Esther more than all the women, and she won grace and favour in his sight more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.

Esther pleased Hegai. 2:9 And the young woman pleased him and won his favour. In a harem of hundreds of beautiful women, it’s hard to believe that this was a result of good looks alone, so it speaks of her character.

She finds favour with those she meets in the palace. 2:15 And Esther won the favour of everyone who saw her.

She finds grace and favour with the king. 2:17 … the king loved Esther more than all the women, and she won grace and favour in his sight more than all the virgins

Psalm 5:12 (ESV) For you bless the righteous, O LORD; you cover him with favour as with a shield.

FAVOUR

As you prepare yourself to meet the king of heaven, God will grant you favour too:

Gen 6:8-9 (NIV) But Noah found favour in the eyes of the LORD… Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God.

Gen 39:3–4 (NIV) When his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favour in his eyes…

Job 10:12 (NKJV) You have granted me life and favour, and Your care has preserved my spirit.

Ps 103:4–5 (NKJV) Who redeems your life from destruction, who crowns you with loving kindness and tender mercies, who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

FAVOUR

Ps 23:5–6 (NKJV) You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Num 6:25–26 (NKJV) The Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.

Jer 29:11 (NKJV) For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Psalm 30:5 (NKJV) For His anger is but for a moment, His favour is for life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

FAVOUR

Acts 2:46–47 (NKJV) So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favour with all the people.

Eph 1:3 (NKJV) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ

How do we find favour with God and man?

Prov 3:3-4 (NIV) Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favour and a good name in the sight of God and man.

FAVOUR

Then the king gave a great feast for all his officials and servants; it was Esther’s feast. He also granted a remission of taxes to the provinces and gave gifts with royal generosity.

So Esther is the undisputed winner of the ‘Miss Persia’ contest and is set to replace Vashti as queen. She is crowned and a great marriage feast is prepared. This is a picture of the marriage feast of the Lamb.

Rev 19:9 (NIV) Then the angel said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’”

MARRIAGE FEAST OF LAMB

To celebrate the king gives gifts and remission of taxes to the provinces. This reminds us of the future marriage of the Lamb when the love of the heavenly king for his bride will translate to grace and favour for the entire world!

Rev 21:2-4 (NIV) I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

MARRIAGE FEAST OF LAMB

So Esther, though an orphan and foreigner in the Medo-Persian kingdom, rises from obscurity to be the queen.

But behind all that was happening on the natural level, God in his providence was working behind the scenes to use all these events to play a part in his plan to eventually rescue his people.

There are many more twists in the story which display God’s providential workings. The same is true in your life if you are a child of God.

Rom 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

CONCLUSION

COPYRIGHT INFORMATION

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations are taken from the ESV:

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations taken from the NIV:

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB:

New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission. (http:// www.Lockman.org)




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