Summary: Lessons from the story of Esther.
1. King Xerxes and Queen Vashti
a. King throws a wild party where he gets drunk. He demands that the Queen be brought so he can parade her beauty before his friends.
b. She refuses
i. Possibly pregnant at time
ii. Wasn't proper
iii. King was drunk
c. King is very angry. Talks to advisers who see problems with women in rest of the country following Vashti's example.
i. Advisers tell King to banish her and he does it.
ii. He does it and it becomes law that cannot be revoked.
2. Esther, Mordecai, and A New Queen
a. King demands that all the most beautiful virgins in the country be brought to him for a new Queen (kind of a "Miss Persia" contest)
b. Mordecai is a Jew who had grown up in Persia and had risen in the ranks of politics to become fairly important (vs 2:21 "sitting at the King's gate").
i. He had taken a young cousin named Esther into his home because her parents had died and he has raised her as his own daughter.
ii. She was very beautiful and was chosen by the King's representatives to be put into the King's harem to be considered for Queen.
iii. Mordecai told her not to reveal she was a Jew.
c. When Esther was taken into the presence of the King, he was really impressed and she was then allowed to be one of the few girls who were given special privileges and groomed to be considered for Queen.
i. Special beauty treatments for 1 year
ii. Special food
iii. 7 attendants to tend to her every wish (including one of King's own personal attendants)
d. At the chose time, Esther is taken to the King and he is so overwhelmed by her beauty and charm that he immediately chooses her to be Queen.
e. In meantime, Mordecai is sitting in counsel at the King's gate one day when he accidently overhears two of the King's personal bodyguards (stood guard at his own door) plotting to assassinate the King.
i. Mordecai gets word to Queen Esther and she gets word to the King.
ii. The 2 guards are arrested and executed by impaling on poles
iii. Mordecai is given credit, but is not immediately rewarded.
a. King promotes a man named Haman to the post of 2nd in command of Persian empire.
i. He is full of himself and flaunts his power and position.
b. Haman demands that everyone bow and worship him when he passes by, but Mordecai refuses when he passes by the gate.
i. This infuriates Haman and he plots to kill not only Mordecai, but all Jews (probably because of Haman being a Jew).
c. Haman's plot with King
i. Haman convinces the King that all Jews are evil and bad for the kingdom. They should all be put to death (nobody knows that Esther is a Jew).
ii. King Xerxes issues a decree (cannot be revoked) that on a certain date a year later, that all Jews are to be rounded up and executed.
4. Mordecai Persuades Esther to Help
a. When Mordecai hears the decree, he (and most other Jews) begins to mourn, fast, and pray for God to do something.
b. Esther does not know of the decree until she contacts Mordecai and he sends word of what is going to happen in the next year. He asks her to plead with the King to change the decree.
c. Esther responds that nobody (including her as the Queen) can simply enter into the King's presence without being summoned first. To do so would be inviting the death penalty.
d. Mordecai sends this reply to Esther: (read vs 4:12-14) "Do not think that because you are in the King's house you alone of all the Jews will escape. 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?"
5. Esther's 1st Party for King & Haman; Haman's Gallows Built
a. Esther takes some time to consider what she will do. She knows that she is risking her life if she approaches the king. 3 days later Esther puts on her finest clothes and approaches the King's throne. He sees her and allows her to enter, asking her to request anything from him.
b. Esther simply asks him and Haman to attend a banquet she has prepared that day. King is pleased and Haman is "beside himself" that the queen has included him.
c. King and Haman attend the banquet.
i. King again asks Queen Esther what she would request of him and she replies that they both should come to a 2nd banquet the next day.