Esther 1 & 2
In the country of Persia, where many of the people of Israel had been taken into captivity many years earlier, a queen decided to disobey her husband, the king. He had demanded she attend a banquet which he was giving for people he was trying to impress. This queen was beautiful, and the king wanted to show her off to his associates. He probably wanted to brag about her, making his associates jealous.
The queen refused to do what the king demanded, and he punished her by removing her as the queen. He could have had her killed, but decided against that. Almost certainly she was sent to a place where she would be alone for the rest of her life.
There are times in our lives we have hard decisions to make. Did Queen Vashti have a good cause for not wanting to appear at this banquet where she was almost sure to be the only woman, and where she would have to endure all these strange men looking at her? I think I would have wanted to make the same decision if it had been my choice to make. Was the king wrong in his demand for her to appear? He certainly was not thinking of her!
But the point was, the king made the demand, and it was, therefore, a lawful demand on her. The choice she made to disobey would carry consequences to herself. She made the choice of knowing she would be punished.
The Bible tells us about some choices we as believers need to make too. Read the story of Peter and John when they were charged in court with inciting people to riot – a crime punishable by imprisonment or death in their day (Acts 5:17 and following). The demand came both because the men in government did not want to hear about Jesus, and because the Roman officials had threatened that anyone making trouble would be killed. Disobeying this command and this Roman law had serious consequences.
Yet, Peter and John had a choice to make. Jesus had told them in Acts 1:8 that they were to be witnesses for Him in Jerusalem, and everywhere else He sent them. The two commands (one from the government, one from Jesus) were in opposition, and Peter and John must choose which to obey.
This is our choice too – we must obey the laws of our countries (Roman 13:1-7) until or unless they specifically are opposite to what the Bible says. God tells us when we are children we are to obey our parents, and all our lives we are to honour them (Ephesians 6:1-2).
Therefore, if we choose to disobey a person or a government agency which asks us to do something that contradicts what the Bible teaches, we must be willing to take the consequences for that disobedience with grace, thanksgiving, and respect – because Jesus tells us to do all for His glory (Colossians 3:17).
*Sometimes we are asked to do things we might not want to do. They may be things, however, that we cannot find anything in the Bible to say they are wrong. Therefore, if it is a lawful request, we are required to do what is asked. How can God be glorified through such obedient action from us?
The king’s advisors and officials demanded that he not allow the queen to remain in her position since then all the women of the country would think they could disobey their husbands as Queen Vashti had done. These men demanded that he replace Vashti with a new queen. So the king’s men gathered beautiful young ladies from all over the country and brought them to the palace where the king’s official in charge of his women would take care of them.
We are not told how or where Esther was taken, but we do know that she was not recognized by the officials in the palace as being a Jewish girl. And the Bible says Esther did not tell anyone in the palace either. Did she know where she was being taken? Was she afraid because she had been taken from the loving home of her uncle?
God often takes us to places we have never been before. It may be an uncomfortable place where we do not know how we will have money to care for our loved ones, or a fearful place where we do not know if we will survive, or a lonely place where all our friends have left us, or a place of shame where all those around us dishonour and mock us. But God never leaves us or forsakes us (Hebrews 13:5). These are times of testing us – not because God wants to know how strong we are (He already knows), but for Him to show us how weak we are and how much we need Him.
In Esther’s situation, God had a plan. He gave the man in charge a fatherly love for Esther so that he took special care of her, always making sure she had everything she needed. We are not told details of her life with her uncle, but we do know he taught her about God and His ways. He taught her to love and honour people as well as God. And now, when she found herself separated from her family in this palace full of other beautiful young women, she was a beautiful woman in more than just appearance. She also displayed beautiful conduct and behaviour.
We must fully believe and trust that God will never take us where His love and grace cannot keep us (John 17:12). We must fully believe and trust that He allows nothing into our lives which He cannot turn into good for us (Romans 8:28). We can be certain He gives us nothing for which we cannot be thankful (Ephesians 5:20 and 1 Thessalonians 5:17). We can also be certain that nothing will come into our lives here on this earth which will ever be greater than the glory He has waiting for us in Heaven (2 Corinthians 4:17).
*Memorize 2 Corinthians 4:17-18.
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