Book 17 of the OT, having 10 chapters. The author of this history book is unknown but it was written between 483 to 471 BC, and although it follows Nehemiah in the Bible it actually records events 30 years prior to those in Nehemiah. God is not mentioned in this book although His care and overruling or sovereignty are evident. Time to read: 30 mins.
Key people are King Ahasuerus, Esther, Mordecai, Haman.
Outline. The Persian Queen refuses to obey an order from her husband, the King. She is banished and a new Queen is sought. Esther, a beautiful Jewish woman is appointed. Mordecai, Esther’s older cousin, foils an assassination attempt on the King. Ambitious, arrogant Haman is appointed Prime Minister but is furious that Mordecai doesn’t bow to him and seeks not only his destruction but that of all Jews. The Queen is given permission to ask for anything up to half of the kingdom and she requests that her people be spared from Haman’s evil plan. Ultimately, Haman was destroyed along with those who hated the Jews. The feast of Purim celebrates this salvation from extermination and is still observed by Jews in March each year.
Main lesson. God’s sovereignty and plans will be outworked for His people – the Jews as well as Christians. God uses people to bring those plans about. Am I available and preparing myself to be used? While availability is more important than ability, we should still be growing in spiritual maturity, developing natural talents and learning new skills.
Key verses and thoughts: * When the Persian Queen refused the King’s orders, he became furious and burned with anger. Those ‘in authority’ are often especially annoyed by their subjects not complying with their orders. Later this was also Haman’s reaction when others didn’t respond as he thought they should (Est 1:12, 2:4, 3:5, 5:9). No one though, likes having his or her wants or expectations denied. What is my attitude and reaction when I don’t get my way? Are my emotions under control or do others see how much of my old nature is still not dead? What steps am I taking to deal with it?
* “Don’t tolerate but destroy these people” (Est 3:6,8,9). Haman and his friends devised an evil scheme that became a royal decree to annihilate the Jews. Evil often backfires and in this case the complete reverse happened (Est 7:9,10, 9:1). Although the King’s decree could not be revoked, Esther and Mordecai were able to write and implement a law that pre-empted the other ruling and 75,000 Jew haters were killed (Est 9:16). Justice prevailed. Praise God, what had been intended to harm, actually worked for good (Gen 50:20). Many times in our lives what Satan tries to use to destroy us, if we react correctly, will make us stronger and is the means of our victory (Jn 10:10).
* “And who knows but that you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Est 4:14). Esther was in a strategic and influential place, but there was no easy option. She laid her life on the line, prepared to take the consequences, as she didn’t know what the outcome would be (Est 4:16). We too, must walk by faith, doing what we believe God would have us do, and making our mark for Christ.
* “In the morning... that night... now Haman had just come in to set in motion his plan” (Est 5:14, 6:1,4). God’s timing was precise, even if it appeared to be at the last minute, He is never late! The Lord works out everything for His own ends... even the King’s heart is in the Lord’s hand (Prov 16:4, 21:1). Whatever God does is so that He will receive the glory.