Summary: THe Book of Esther is written in a storybook fashion where each chapter ends climatically. It brings us to the point "for such a time as this" we are where we are.
Saying Yes to God
Esther Chapter 1
The Book of Esther is written in dramatic fashion, each chapter ends in a cliffhanger fashion. Each chapter ends in such a way to say, “Stay tuned” or “to be continued.” The story begins about 483 B.C.; about 55 years after Zerubbabel led the first group of exiles back to Jerusalem under Cyrus decree. Esther lived in the kingdom of Persia, which overthrew Babylon. The Jews found great freedom there. Many people remained in Persia even after given freedom to return. Some may have stayed because they feared the dangerous journey; some may have stayed because they built a successful business, for whatever reason, this orphaned girl is there for a reason. “For such a time as this” highlights the idea that Esther or as she is known by her Hebrew name Hadassah, was still in Persia by God’s providence and protected and chosen by God for a reason. The reason is revealed near the end of the story, to save her people from annihilation.
While the author is unknown, it is believed to be written by a Jew, probably Mordecai, around the year 460 B.C. It is read during the feast of Purim, for it is the historical document telling of the reason for the feast. It continues to this day to a favorite with the Jewish communities. Although God is not mentioned in the text, His powerful and victorious intervention in the lives of his people and in the events of history cannot be denied. God reigns and his purposes will be accomplished. The theme of the book is told in chapter 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?"
The same can be said for us in this community, if we do not rise up to share the gospel, salvation will come to this area from another, and we will perish. Yet, how do we not know, that for such a time as this we were here to bring the Good News to this area.
There are five main characters in this narrative. Esther also known as Hadassah, King Xerxes, Queen Vashti, Esther’s Uncle Mordecai, and the nemesis or villain of the story Haman the Agagite. Actually, the story becomes more interesting if we understand the history. Agag was the King of the Amalakites, and since the days of Moses, the Jews and the Amalakites were bitter enemies. According to Biblical history, the Amalakites attacked the Jews after the exodus. God commanded that the Israelites kill the Amalakites, they were to destroy them and take no plunder, yet Saul disobeyed God, he allowed his army to plunder, he also allowed King Agag to live. Yet hundreds of years later, in the palace of Xerxes, God allowed the descendant of Agag, Haman, to confront a descendant of Saul, Mordecai, in a battle to death. By this, He gave Israel a second opportunity to obey His Word.
As we go through this book, we are going to try to identify the characteristics of God as he orders and directs our lives and the circumstances of history for the benefit of us and the glory of His Name.
In chapter 1, the stage is set. Queen Vashti displeases the king and loses her royal position.
This is how it came about.
Scene 1 Xerxes is throwing an extravagant party showing off all his prized possessions. His party goes on for about a half a year. After showing off for half a year, he throws a banquet. All people were invited to the banquet at the Citadel. At the same time, Vashti was throwing a party. The idea I get is that Xerxes party was for the men, while Vashti threw a party for the women.
While Xerxes was drunk (high with spirits) (v10), he calls for Vashti to join his party. It is a matter of pride; he wished to show off another of his possessions, the beautiful Vashti. He treated her as a possession to be paraded out for all to see at his command. Vashti was throwing a party of her own, maybe she did not wish to leave her party as a gracious host, or maybe she was tired of being treated as a possession. For whatever reason she refuses to come and her refusal costs her everything.
What was it the men feared? They feared that other women would follow Vashti and rebel against the men. In other words, they were afraid the women would start standing up for themselves. Men, treat your wife like a possession and she might do the same, but treat her, as a Queen and she will honor you as King.