God is Setting All Things Right. So I am Blogging Through the Bible in a Year.

Monday, September 23, 2013

September 23 - Esther 1-5: God's Chosen People Placed in Positions to Set Things Right

Today’s Reading: Esther 1-5

The Message

English Standard Version

Only one week to go in the Old Testament! Keep it up, you're almost there.

Thought to Guide Your Reading

As you read today and tomorrow, try not to judge by 21st century standards. This book is not on how to run a country. It is about setting things right.

Summary in 100 Words or Less

King Xerxes wanted to show off Queen Vashti's beauty. She refused. Xerxes banned her from his presence.
Esther replaced Vashti. No one knew she was a Jew.
Mordecai, Esther's uncle, won King Xerxes's favor by foiling an assassination attempt.
Mordecai refused to bow to Haman in reverence, inciting him to plot to a massacre of the Jews.
Mordecai asked Esther to intervene, "Maybe this is why you are queen."
Esther asked for a banquet for Xerxes, Haman, and herself only. After the banquet, she asked for a second, similar banquet.
Haman's friends convinced him to build gallows to hang Mordecai.

How Today’s Reading Contributes to the Gospel: God is Setting All Things Right

The story of Esther is about God's Chosen People setting things right.

One of the most interesting things about the story of Esther is that God is never mentioned by name. This book is about God's Chosen People using their God-given positions to set things right. Both Mordecai and Esther have opportunities to take an easy route and compromise their loyalty to God in return for a comfortable living. Instead, the story is about how God's Chosen People can set things right without direct intervention by God's Hand.

Wherever you may be, God wants you to set things right.

Esther had a difficult choice. She could either put her life in her hands by going in front of the king uninvited (a capital offense) or allow her people to be killed because of an evil man's grudge against her uncle. Through Mordecai's immortal words, "Maybe you were made queen for just such a time as this" (4:14, The Message) she chose to risk her life to set things right for God's Chosen People. God places us in areas where we can set things right. We should be willing to set things right for Him no matter how difficult it may be because Mordecai was right—we are placed in our positions for a reason.

Esther asked for support from the Jews in her city.

In what may seem a small request, Esther asked for the people in her support group to join her fast as she made the difficult decision to put her life on the line. God's Chosen People should support and join other Chosen People in their time of grief and difficult choices. By doing this, we strengthen each other.

Be careful reading this story with 21st century eyes.

There is so much in this story that seems wrong to us. King Xerxes doesn't treat his queen like a queen, Vashti doesn't treat her king like a king, and their way of finding another queen does not fit our style of treating women. What we must understand in reading and learning from this book is that it wasn't meant to be a primer on marriage, the treatment of women, or what could happen when you do ________. It is a story of God's Chosen People setting things right when they go haywire. Reading into each action and trying to find the "moral" thing for each person to do misses the point of the story.

How can you set things right where you are placed?

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