Cruising Route 66
“The Sum of Our Parts”
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, 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. Esther 1:1-3
The Book of Esther is a story of courage and virtue, a romance story minus much of the romance. It is the story of a young girl who won the Miss Persia beauty contest and became Queen. It is a clear analogy of modern-day life and God’s expectations of His people. God’s name never appears anywhere in this book, but His hand is clearly apparent as are His actions, thoughts, and plans.
Esther is a story of unity in the face of adversity, in getting the job done by each one taking a stand yet working together. The environment in which the story begins is a party atmosphere, a time for the king to show off his success and influence, kind of like the Oscars in Hollywood.
By the king’s command each guest was allowed to drink in his own way, for the king instructed all the wine stewards to serve each man what he wished. Esther 1:8
This is a party of royal proportions at a time when the Scripture says, “each man did what was right in his own heart.” Self-indulgence was allowed without limitation or restraint. Does this sound familiar? If not, go turn on the local news and watch what is happening around your world.
On the seventh day, when King Xerxes was in high spirits from wine, he commanded the seven eunuchs who served him ….. to bring before him Queen Vashti, wearing her royal crown, in order to display her beauty to the people and nobles, for she was lovely to look upon. Esther 1:10-11
The king is drunk, and his true character is revealed. He commands the queen to come to him so he can show her off. During this time in Persia a woman was not to unveil her face. For her face to be exposed to anyone other than her husband was tantamount to standing naked, shamefully exposed to strangers.
The seven messengers listed weren’t all sent to the queen at the same time. The king had to send the message seven times because she wasn’t responding. When she finally did, it was negative.
But when the attendants delivered the king’s command, Queen Vashti refused to come. Then the king became furious and burned with anger. Esther 1:12
The king’s party went sour. The man previously described as a happy partier is now just an angry drunk. The king sought counsel from the nobles and their response was more of personal concern then concern for the kingdom.
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. Esther 1:18
By the advice of his counselors, he divorces her, and then just to make sure that another party isn’t crashed by any expression of individualism, he asserts by a public decree the authority of men over their wives.
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. Esther 1:20
This is today. We have become a society that looks to the courts for answers rather than taking responsibility. So the king gets drunk, and does what out of control, inconsiderate bullies do, humiliates another for their own personal satisfaction and self-aggrandizement. The refusal of Vashti, the queen to expose herself to the view of such a group is praiseworthy, but had she considered the consequences of her actions?
The king was wrong, but so was the queen. Culturally, legally, and biblically, she was to submit to this man because he was her husband, and he was also her king. The influence she had upon the people by her decision may not have been considered. Nor had she consider the embarrassment she would bring to the highest office of the land. I sincerely doubt that the shame and disgrace that her husband would face even entered her mind. Lets not leave out those bastions of virtue, the court nobles. Who out of fear that their wives might have an opinion of their own, used their office as advisors for their own ends. So in order that they might not have to heed rather than lead, they actually counseled a family to break up. Then they sponsored legislation to make any difference of opinion other than their own illegal.
Let me introduce you to another character of this unfolding drama named Mordecai, a man who is a foreshadowing or depiction of the Holy Spirit. As a result of recent events, the king was in the market for another queen, and Esther caught his fancy. So at his expense, he sent her to the spa for a complete makeover, not for Esther’s benefit but for his own pleasure.
Mordecai as her counselor, never left her, and knowing that his only desire was for her good, Esther listened to and heeded his counsel.
Esther had not revealed her nationality and family background, because Mordecai had forbidden her to do so. Every day he walked back and forth near the courtyard of the harem to find out how Esther was and what was happening to her. Esther 2:10-11
The Holy Spirit, like Mordecai, guides, and looks after us, and is concerned about our lives. Where good is found, there you will find evil, and in this story, his name is Haman, a man who held a position of power and demanded homage. Mordecai however would bow down to none but God.
When Haman saw that Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor, he was enraged. Yet having learned who Mordecai’s people were, he scorned the idea of killing only Mordecai. Instead Haman looked for a way to destroy all Mordecai’s people, the Jews, throughout the whole kingdom of Xerxes. Esther 3:5-6
The concept of genocide is nothing new. Throughout the ages others have wanted to exterminate the Jews. Haman was so great he was even willing to pay for it himself. Someone had to go to the king to plead for the lives of the Jews. Getting the attention of the king was another matter and all but impossible unless someone already had the king’s ear! Mordecai sends an urgent message to Esther, along with instructions to go to the king and plead for the lives of the Jewish people. It wasn’t going to be easy.
All the king’s officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that he be put to death. Esther 4:11
Mordecai says, “it’s time to take a stand!”
For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this? Esther 4:14
The Book of Esther shows us from the lives of Esther and Mordecai. a classic example of successful teamwork. Their existence and the survival of the Jews depended entirely on their unity and their devotion to someone other than themselves.
The Holy Spirit seeks to awaken you to your potential as an instrument within His hand. Just like Esther, we may find ourselves entering situations uninvited, but with God’s help, we will never enter unprepared. As God’s chosen instruments, we are to be used at His discretion, as He deems necessary. We don’t choose the time or the circumstances. What we can choose is whether we will respond or not.
God has always left the choice to you.
Until next time,