Summary: One of the most exciting stings in all of literature is found in a true story that has been preserved for us in the Bible. It contains some romance and a lot of action and has a plot that contains more twists than a treacherous mountain road. If you’re
Esther: Maximizing Ministry Potential
Beth and I enjoy watching movies but we don’t always like the same kind. She usually prefers the love stories while I go for the action-oriented ones. On rare occasions, we find a movie that has both romance and action. Actually, even though I often make a stink when Beth wants to see a mushy movie, I’m the one who ends up crying during the sad parts.
I didn’t see a lot of films when I was young (it was way before the time of VCRs), but I do remember when my parents took me to a “grown-up” movie called “The Sting” starring Robert Redford and Paul Newman. It was great. The bad guys set a trap for the good guys but end up falling into it themselves. In the end, the tables are turned and the good guys come out ahead.
One of the most exciting stings in all of literature is found in a true story that has been preserved for us in the Bible. It contains some romance and a lot of action and has a plot that contains more twists than a treacherous mountain road. If you’re looking for a good story to read this summer, I encourage you to pick up a copy of the Book of Esther.
There are 5 primary characters in this literary masterpiece. Three of them are positive models that we can follow and two of them are negative examples to avoid. Let’s start with the bad guys.
King Xerxes: Ruler of the world. Focused on money, sex and power
Haman: The villain (When I spoke on Esther at the PCS graduation two years ago, I had everybody shout out “loser” whenever I said Haman’s name. You can do the same if you’d like); he was second in command to the king
Then we have a pair of queens:
Queen Vashti: Woman of character and conviction; involved in opening scene
Queen Esther: Exhibits both inner and outer beauty; goes through identity crisis
And a good guy, who is a strong believer:
Mordecai: Stepfather of Esther; a man of integrity and faith
The Miss Persia Pageant
King Xerxes was the leader of the most powerful nation on the face of the earth in the land that is now Iraq. Historically, he had just lost a military battle so he decided to throw the “mother of all parties.” This was much bigger than the Queen’s jubilee party held this last week in England. Persian banquets were known to have up to fifteen thousand guests. In college, a party that lasted all night was a real party -- and I went to a few of those. But King Xerxes was a party animal; his party lasted for 7 days.
While the King and his buddies were tying one on at this open bar bash, Queen Vashti had a more dignified get-together of her own inside the royal palace. On the last day of the party, King Xerxes asked his gorgeous wife to come out and parade around in front of all his drunken buddies.
When word came to Queen Vashti that her husband, who was probably as drunk as a skunk, wanted her to come outside, she told him to take a hike. Can you blame her? She wasn’t at all interested in being gawked at by a bunch of crude men. Well, this really ticked the King off and he ordered her banished from the kingdom he wanted everyone to know who wore the toga in his family. We don’t hear from Queen Vashti again.
A couple years later, King Xerxes decides its time to find another Queen. His buddies tell him to hold a Miss Persia Pageant in chapter 2. Mordecai, who heard about the upcoming Beauty Pageant, told his stepdaughter Esther all about it. When the king saw her, he stopped the pageant immediately and took Esther as his wife. She was now Queen of the entire Persian Empire. I should add that no one knew she was Jewish. It’s at this point that we begin to see the invisible finger of God at work behind the scenes.
Shortly after Esther became queen, she got her stepfather Mordecai a government job I guess some things never change! One day, when he was sitting outside one of the doors to the king’s palace, he overheard two disgruntled employees talk about how they were planning to assassinate the king. When Mordecai heard what they were going to do, he sent a note to Esther telling her all about it so she could warn the king. Esther then told the king what she had heard, giving the credit to Mordecai. The king had the two conspirators killed. This incident was recorded in the official royal records. Keep this detail in mind because this event will come up again later in the story.