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.
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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.