I’ve provocatively entitled today’s sermon: Esther, the clueless Queen because of the following.
Esther, as you may know won a beauty contest put on by her husband, king of Persia. She had a chance to audition for the role because her husbands first wife refused to be part of a fashion show. You see, while drunk he ordered his servants to bring his wife in her royal attire that she might parade about in front of his guests that they might see how beautiful she was. She refused and in a fit of rage he divorced her. Later on he regretted his behavior but it was to late for his first wife. His servants proposed a beauty contest. Esther was collected by the kings servants, along with all the other good looking girls. She won and became the next Queen.
Now Esther had been raised by her cousin named Mordecai. In ch.3 Mordecai gets in trouble because he refuses to pay honor to the kings second in command named Haman. For this Haman hates Mordecai and upon finding out that Mordecai is a Jew he decides that not only must Mordecai die but all Jews in the whole of the Persian empire.
Note: 60 years earlier in 539 B.C Cyrus by God’s direction had decreed that all Jews could return to their homeland. Only a few bothered to return, the majority to apathetic to care.
Haman’s plan was simple. He approached the king and said there was a group of people in the Persian lands whose existence was at odds with the kings best interests. To appear as a real patriot Haman offers to pay for their extermination. The king agrees and tells Haman to keep his money and then ch. 3 ends with Haman and the king sitting down for to a few alcoholic beverages together while the news of the impending Jewish destruction is spread by the kings postal workers.
In ch.4:1-4 we are told that Mordecai and all the Jews in the whole empire were in absolute shock and misery over the news of their impending deaths. Q How would you feel? Meanwhile as the next few verses of the text attest, we discover the Esther has no clue, and hence my sermon title, of what is going on. While her people lie in fear, mourning, grieving, and fasting, she was enjoying the good life, the life of being the Kings Queen. She was completely unaware of the evil plan that had been hatched by the evil Haman.
READ TEXT (mention following 2 paragraphs first)
Esther is one of the favorite books of the Jewish people today. In fact God’s deliverance of the Jews in Persia has been celebrated annually for the last 2500 years. The celebration is called Purim. Once a year on the day of this celebration the whole book of Esther is publicly read in Jewish synagogues. One interesting feature is that every time the bad guys name (Haman) is mentioned, the listeners hiss or stamp their feet in loud derision.
The book of Esther has been a book that has perplexed various Bible scholars over the centuries. Martin Luther didn’t like the fact that this book has been included in the Bible. The reason for his dislike: God is not mentioned even once throughout all 9 chapters of the book. However, as astute readers one cannot fail to see God’s signature all over the book of Esther.
One of the great themes of the book of Esther is that of God delivering his people, the Jews from their enemies. In spite of the fact that his people had not had a desire to return to their Jewish homeland, they still had a place in God’s heart for God, for God is clearly seen in this book to be protecting them from their enemies, from those who wished to wipe them out. Throughout history God has protected the Jewish nation from her enemies. He brought them out of Egypt, He repeatedly has delivered them from superior forces-documented in the scriptures and in the last 2000 years as well—the defeat of Hitler, the 1967 Jewish war being modern examples of God’s hand of deliverance.
Another of the great themes of the book of Esther is that of God working and moving in the lives of individuals and nations. The scriptures continually affirm that He directs the course of history, raising up kings and kingdoms, and bringing them down, all with the intent of accomplishing His sovereign purposes.
One of the defining verses of ch.4 that illustrates God’s working in the life of Esther and in shaping events is in v.14. In this verse Mordecai challenges Esther with these words “Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”