Monday, March 15, 2010

Introduction - Book of Esther

Esther 1:1-3

This is how the book of Esther begins. Esther is the seventeenth book of the Bible, sandwiched between Nehemiah and Job. Esther is classified in the historical writings and is a relatively short book, only ten chapters, yet it is a powerful and practical book and contains one of the greatest plot lines in all the Bible, dare I say all of literature?

This book of the Bible is a fascinating, historical, account of Esther and her rags to riches tale. Esther is sort of the Princess Diana of her day if you will. She is raised by her uncle, Moredecai, and chosen to be queen. During the course of the book an evil sinister plot is uncovered…it appears that the #2 man in charge of the kingdom wants to kill Esther’s uncle and not only that but to destroy all of God’s people and in a bold move Esther risks her life in an attempt to rescue them. Hollywood only wishes it could right stories this good.

The book of Esther involves a kingdom – the Persian Empire from Ethiopia to India – Esther 1:1:1, roughly 2400 miles, made up of 127 provinces. Esther involves a king, Xerxes, the same Xerxes very loosely portrayed in the film 300 where the Spartans battle the Persians at Thermopile.

Problems with Esther?

Some scholars, and I use the term loosely, question the book of Esther…is it scripture? it historical?...did it really happen or is it just a good story made up to explain a common Jewish festival, Purim?

Why do some have problems with the book of Esther? Here are a couple of reasons they point to:

  1. Author unknown – the author could be Esther’s uncle Mordecai, he certainly knew the story very well, but the fact of the matter is that we just don’t know.
  2. No mention of God – the book of Esther never mentions God, the law, the temple, and so many question if such a book should be in the Bible.

If there are questions or concerns over the book of Esther why are we going to study it?

  1. Esther is scripture. As early as 250 B.C. we have complete copies of the Old Testament. It is important to know that our Bible was not put together by councils or committees. The Bible and the sixty-six books contained between Genesis and Revelation rose to the top among many many historical accounts, letters, other songs, other proverbs as special writings agreed upon independently by various people over time not hand selected by men for one reason and one reason only….the are the words of God not man.
  2. 2 Timothy 3:16 because Esther is scripture and “all scripture is God breathed, useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness.”
  3. We can see God’s power and sovereignty all through the book.

Very often you and I ask questions like…where is God today? In the world with so much tragedy like Haiti or Chile where is God? If there is a God how could he stand by and let this happen? Where is God in government today or in my family with so many lost people or in my marriage when we are hurting so badly? Some of you in reading this are thinking, “I just don’t see God or feel God or sense His presence!”

Yet God is active and present. He is not hiding but sometimes He is hidden. Isn’t it ironic that Esther in Hebrew means hidden?

  1. Without Esther there is no Jesus.

Genesis 3 sin enters into the picture as our first parents disobeyed God and very shortly after Genesis 3:15 God does something wonderful and promises a savior, a deliverer, a redeemer…Jesus! Genesis 12 we see the focus narrow down to one man, Abraham and God promises to bless the nations through Abraham and over and over again and again God enters into one covenant after another with man promising a deliverer.

The book of Esther tells of a plot to destroy God’s people which would include the line of David and without Esther, if the Jewish people are destroyed the line of David is destroyed.

Yet God is faithful.

Psalm 115:3 says “Our God is in the heavens, He does all that He pleases.”

God can’t be touched, nothing can frustrate His plans, God does all that He pleases and through Esther we see God’s mighty hand moving, always faithful, keeping all of His promises as 500 years or so later we see the King of King and Lord of Lords lay aside His heavenly glory, condescending to us becoming one of us being born among us in Bethlehem, in a manger, Immanuel God with us, Jesus, Son of God, savior of man!

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