Summary: God’s Providence Sets the Stage for His Dramas; He places us where we need to be to accomplish His purposes.
Esther: The Book of God’s Providence
1. Israel’s History is Filled with Irony and Tokens of God’s Providence
2. Hitler’s attempts to exterminate the Jews resulted in the modern nation of Israel; Joseph Stalin, who was insane and hated the Jews, was on a Manic high when the UN voted to allot Israel part of the unincorporated region of Palestine, so he did not object; his objection would have killed the resolution.
3. On the 9th of Av, Moses broke the first tablets of Law when he came down from Sinai to find the people worshipping the golden calf.
Solomon’s Temple (the First Temple) was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586, under the rulership of Nebuchadnezzar.
The Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE, under the leadership of Titus.
In 1492, the Jews were expelled from Spain.
World War 1 began on the 9th of Av.
Hitler presented his plan to the Nazi Party on the "Final Solution" to the Jewish problem, July 31, 1940 - Tisha B’Av
4. Greatly outnumber during the 1967 War, but the Israelis not only won, but they took territory from their agrgressors…
5. The surprise attack on two fronts from Egypt and Syria began on October 6, 1973, which was Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year for the Jewish people. Egypt’s forces swiftly crossed the Suez Canal and overran the Bar-Lev line. Syria moved into the Golan Heights … Israel was outnumbered in the north nearly 12 to 1 (there were 1,100 Syrian tanks versus 157 Israeli tanks)…The tide of the war began to turn on October 10. The Syrians were pushed back and Israel advanced into Syria proper. ..The result was UN Resolution 338… This cease-fire was broken and again the Soviets threatened to intervene. However, the US pressured Israel into accepting a second cease-fire on October 25, 1973.(source: www.campus.northpark.edu/history/WebChron/MiddleEast/YomKippurWar.CP.html)
6. Many of us here were alive in 1967 and 1973, and I remember the news casts as these things happened.
7. But the original genocide attempt on the Jews was made around 478 B.C., and it failed miserably, as documented for us in the book of Esther.
The Structure of Esther: A True “Royal Court Story”
A. 13 EPISODES
1. center point: the providential change in Haman’s lot (6:1-14)
2. six symmetrical points before the center point, six after
• Because it is so arranged does not mean events did not happen just as they are spelled out; as the International Bible Encyclopedia points out, “the discovery of a cuneiform text…referring to a court official of Xerxes I called Marduka’ would seem to rule out the mythological approach. It seems clear that Mordecai was a real person” (Vol. 2, p. 159).
• Centered around banquets and fasts
C. Esther’s Theme and Purpose
1. Theme: God’s Providence, though imperceptible, is real nonetheless
2. Secondary Theme: Israel is ultimately indestructible because of God’s Providence
3. Immediate purpose: to explain the origin of the feast of Purim
Main idea: God’s Providence Sets the Stage for His Dramas; He places us where we need to be to accomplish His purposes.
TS---- The first three acts lay the groundwork for what is to come.
I. Act One: Out With the Old Queen (1:1-22)
1. Third year of Xerxes I/Ahasuerus
2. King holding the ultimate banquet
• Showed off his city and accomplishment for 6 months (4)
• After all, what do you do when you have it all? You show off!
• Followed by a 7 day drunken banquet (men and women)
• Orders the Queen brought in with her “turban” (more literal than crown)
• Without going into details, this is an indecent request
3. Queen Vashti refuses
• King goes to his counselors
• They are fearful an example of disobedience will mean the women of the kingdom will disobey their husbands
• Divorce the Queen, issue an order (look at verse 22)
• Was Vashti killed? Probably exiled. You can do the right thing and suffer for it.
? Did Vashti do right? Yes! Chuck Swindoll writes:
“Queen Vashti represents a good example of the limits of a wife’s submission. The command for a wife to submit to her husband is clear in Scripture (Eph. 5:22-24). But it is not absolute and without limits. The woman does not give up her dignity as a human being when she becomes a wife. Neither should she allow her principles to be trodden underfoot by an unprincipled husband. Marriage does not give the husband license to pursue his basest sexual fantasies, and neither does it enslave the wife to fulfill them.”
(Esther, p. 14).
II. Act Two: In With the New Queen (2:1-20)
1. Chapter one: Xerxes I 3rd year (1:3) ; new queen in 7th year (2:16); what happened in-between? Xerxes/Ahasueres tried to take on the Greeks…and lost!