wondering look September 15 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: Esther 1, 2, 3, 4

What’s God doing?

A good, faithful employee gets fired, a person becomes disabled so that he/she can no longer work, a house burns down, or a good person dies young. There are times when life doesn’t make sense. Christians look to God and ask, “What are you doing?” Sometimes we never find out the answer. We will have to ask God some day when we meet him. Other times the answer comes later. We must be patient and trust his sovereign care and protection. This is what the theme of Esther is about: God’s sovereign care and protection of his people.

At the time of Esther, the Persian King Ahasuerus (Xerxes) was ruler of the entire known world, from India to Egypt. Most of the Jews were either still exiled in Babylon or scattered in various places throughout the Persian Empire; however, 49,000 were back in their homeland of Judah and their key city of Jerusalem. Solomon’s temple had been rebuilt, but as yet Jerusalem was an unwalled city protected only by God. Of the Jews who had not returned, some Jews dwelt in the citadel of Susa, in Babylon. This is where Mordecai and Esther lived.

At that time King Xerxes reigned from his royal throne in the citadel of Susa, and in the third year of his reign he gave a banquet for all his nobles and officials. The military leaders of Persia and Media, the princes, and the nobles of the provinces were present. For a full 180 days he displayed the vast wealth of his kingdom and the splendor and glory of his majesty. When these days were over, the king gave a banquet, lasting seven days, in the enclosed garden of the king's palace, for all the people from the least to the greatest, who were in the citadel of Susa. (Esther 1:2-5, NIV)

At the end of the week, King Xerxes, in his drunken state, wanted to show off the beauty of his wife, Queen Vashti. She refused, however, to be put on display before the drunken court. This was quite embarrassing for the king, so he consulted with his most trusted advisors. They advised that Queen Vashti be removed as an example to all women not to rebel against their husbands. He removed her, but when he sobered up he realized he had no queen. His advisors told King Xerxes that he could hold a beauty contest to determine who would please him to be the next queen. He did this, and through a process of providential events Esther was chosen.

Mordecai was Esther’s cousin and advised her in every way. She was like a daughter to him because he raised her after her parents died. Mordecai’s great-grandfather, Kish, was one of the original exiles from Jerusalem in the days of Jehoiachin, king of Judah (597 B.C., Esther 2:6-7). Mordecai and Esther were apparently born in Babylon because he was given a Babylonian name taken from the god, Marduk, and her name was the Persian name “star” (The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the O.T., by Walvoord and Zuck, © 1985, p.703). He advised Esther not to reveal her Jewish nationality because that might work to her disadvantage as queen.

Perhaps, because he thought he could be useful serving in the empire’s judicial system, Mordecai did not return to the land of Israel (he served in the gate, which was similar to the city square; a place where business was transacted, Esther 2:5, 21-22) . Even if he was disobedient, he was in other ways very devout. Against the pressure of being a servant of the king, he refused to bow to anyone except the LORD God of Israel. When Haman, the king’s chief nobleman, was promoted and honored above all others, Mordecai refused to pay him homage. His refusal enraged Haman! He determined not only to have Mordecai killed but also to have all the Jews killed. He explained to the king that the Jews were a menace to his kingdom, so the king signed Haman’s order to have them eliminated. This was genocide.

When the order was read in all the provinces, there was great shock and grief. What were they to do? What was God doing? Mordecai put on sackcloth and threw ashes on himself in his grief (more…)

When Esther found out about Mordecai, she was very disturbed and sent him clothing to wear. He refused. She sent a messenger to find out what was wrong. Mordecai sent a copy of the edict to her and told her the consequences of it. He asked her to make a special appeal to the king.

Esther was in a quandary as to what to do. She sent a message to Mordecai that she had not seen the king for a month, and to see him without being invited could mean death.

Mordecai responded,

“Do not imagine that you in the king's palace can escape any more than all the Jews. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father's house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?”

Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai, “Go, assemble all the Jews who are found in Susa, and fast for me; do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maidens also will fast in the same way. And thus I will go in to the king, which is not according to the law; and if I perish, I perish,” (Esther 4:13-16, NIV).

Lessons to live by:

  • Are you in trouble? Do you wonder what God is doing? Seek him. Pray to him. If you are in much distress and are earnest for God to give you an answer, you may want to humble yourself and fast (if you are healthy enough to do so). Use the skipped meal to read the Bible and pray for an answer. While you are praying and fasting, think about the ways God has been working in your life, even if it seems strange. Has God already provided the answer? Is the answer for such a time as this? Do you just need to take a step of faith? Seek some godly counsel and then do as God leads you.
  • Perhaps God wants to use you to fulfill his will.
  • Are you a true believer in Christ for your salvation? If not, you do not need to perish in your sins. God offers complete forgiveness, peace, and spiritual life (more...)

What will happen to Esther? Find out in tomorrow’s lesson.

Today’s Bible memory verse: Psalm 73:28 “But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds,” (NIV)

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