Summary: God’s exiled remnant preserved.
Theme: God’s exiled remnant preserved.
Key Verse: Esther 4:14
"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?"
Key Words or Phrases: The most important words of the Bible are
missing from this book, "The Name of the Lord."
King, Queen, Haman, Mordecai
I. Esther becoming the Queen - Chapters 1,2
II. Haman becoming the renegade - Chapters 3-7
III. Mordecai becoming the hero - Chapters 8-10
This historical narrative takes place during the reign of Ahasuerus (Xerxes I) 486-465 B.C. This specific event is believed to have occurred in his third year reign which was 483 B.C.
This time frame fell between Ezra 6 & 7. This book is believed to have been written by Ezra or Mordecai for the Persian historical records. (One reason why God’s name is not mentioned but definitely inferred.)
The primary teaching of this book is the concept of God’s Divine Providence. The book also reveals how the Jewish Festival of Purim (lots) originated. Thus, Esther is considered the Purim scroll.
The Festival of Purim is considered a minor holiday. It is one of the most joyous festivals though in the Jewish year. Purim is one of only two festivals commemorating an event taking place in the post-biblical period and the only one that occurred during the Diaspora. This Jewish Festival even today teaches how God intervenes to avert a terrible calamity to the Jewish nation, it promotes the triumph of good over evil, and the victory of the Jewish people over their enemies. (Eckstein, 130).
This Festival was inaugurated by Queen Esther, and Mordecai and was to be celebrated annually on the 14th day of the 12th month, Adar (130).
The name of the book, "Esther" itself relates the message of this book. Her name means, "Hiddenness". Since the name of God does not appear in Esther and the very name Purim denotes "lots" which reflects the capriciousness of events to mere chance. The point becomes clear though, when you observe the book’s teachings. These coincidences of events form an inescapable pattern of Redemption and reveal that even though God’s name is not mentioned, He is at work in every action and event in Esther and in history. (Eckstein, 134).
Eckstein notes "Nachmanides, along with other Jewish thinkers, suggests that there are two basic categories of miracles - those which are supernatural and which transcend and defy the laws of nature, such as Purim, in which God’s redemptive actions take place through nature in the course of normal events." (134)
Therefore, Purim celebrates God’s miraculous hidden way of working through the natural process. This means through our 4 primary characters in Esther. It’s important to note that they all had their own wills and desires, and even though they were all doing their own thing, God was at work orchestrating a miracle for the Jewish nation through the events of life. Note what Morgan states, "They all went their own way, had their own will. They were left absolutely to work out their own purposes. Yet, while they were absolutely free to work out their own will, the sphere of the operations of will is God, and they could not escape Him." (276)
T.S. Let’s now look at our four main characters in Esther to discover how God works all things out to His glory.
I. KING XERXES CHARACTER PORTRAYED (See Chart)
A What would you say were Xerxes’ priorities? What did he value? (See, for instance, 1:4-15, 22:, 2:2; 6:1-3; 8:8.)
He valued money, riches, booze and sexual pleasure. He was self-centered, conceited and very prideful.
B. Consider how Xerxes dealt with women - Vashti, Esther, and the virgins of his kingdom. What good or bad examples did he set for men (especially husbands)? (See 1:10-12, 1:13:22, 2:1-4, 2:15-18, 5:1-8, 7:1-10, 8:1-8, 9:11-15.)
1. He definitely was not a Promise Keeper
a. See Promise Keeper list.
2. Vashti - a bad example of being a tyrant.
a. Note - He wanted her to parade around nude in front of all at the party he was throwing only wearing her crown. She refused.
3. Esther - treated with respect and was good to her. Offered her half the Kingdom
4. Virgins treated as sex slaves. Once he had slept with them they then lived in isolation from all others. Family could not even see them.
C. Yet God intervened in this man’s life through sleeplessness, for the Nation of Israel.
Note Esther 6: 1-4
6:1 That night the king could not sleep; so he ordered the book of the chronicles, the record of his reign, to be brought in and read to him. 2 It was found recorded there that Mordecai had exposed Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s officers who guarded the doorway, who had conspired to assassinate King Xerxes. 3 "What honor and recognition has Mordecai received for this?" the king asked. "Nothing has been done for him," his attendants answered. 4 The king said, "Who is in the court?" Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the palace to speak to the king about hanging Mordecai on the gallows he had erected for him.