Summary: In the book of Esther, we clearly see God at work in the lives of individuals and in the affairs of a nation. Even when it looks as if the world is in the hands of evil people, God is still in control, protecting those who belong to him.


The Woman Who Defied Death

Intro: Recently I came across a humorous list of things Hollywood has taught us.”

 It doesn’t matter if you’re heavily outnumbered in a fight involving martial arts. Your enemies will patiently wait to attack you one by one, by dancing around in a threatening manner until you have knocked out their predecessors.

 If you are blonde and pretty, it’s possible to become a world expert on nuclear fission, or anything else, at the age of 22.

 It’s easy to land a plane, providing there is someone in the control tower to talk you down.

 Once applied, makeup never rubs off even while scuba diving or after fighting alien monsters. But only if you are beautiful. However if you are a real woman, your mascara will run and your lipstick will smear.

 A man will show no pain while taking the most ferocious beating, but will wince when a woman tries to clean his wounds.

 If you decide to start dancing in the street, everyone around will automatically be able to mirror all the steps you come up with and hear the music in your head.

Today we continue our message series on Heroes. The heroism found in the books we read and films we watch tends to cheapen the heroic acts of real life heroes. The same can be said of the real life heroes we read about in the bible. Because we are used to images of great strength and courage beyond the realm of real life, we can tend to dismiss the feats achieved in the bible. So as we approach the story of Esther, the Woman Who Defied Death, please keep in mind that she by all accounts was very human. And her feats are nothing less than heroic.

Background: The story of Esther starts some 103 years after king Nebuchadnezzar had taken the Jewish people into captivity. Many Jewish citizens were marched from their home in Israel to Babylon (modern Iraq). Sometime later the Babylonians themselves were conquered by the Persians. Esther lived in the kingdom of Persia. Many of her people had been allowed to return to Israel. For some reason Esther’s family chose to stay where they were. For the most part they were treated well. Many Jewish people were given high ranking government jobs.

The king of Persia during the time of Esther was Ahasuerus (Xerxes). Now the story of how Esther saved her people takes place in the palace of Susa (modern Iran). When we meet Ahasuerus, he was planning an attack on Greece. War was not just for political survival it was for attaining more wealth and prestige. To show off his wealth and military might, Ahasuerus orchestrated a huge feast that went on for 180 days. This was to prove to his people that he was worthy of leading them into battle. At the end of this time, he held a banquet for seven days. In a drunken stupor, Ahasuerus requested that his wife, Queen Vashti be paraded in front of his all male party. For some reason, Queen Vashti refused this request, which brought great shame on Ahasuerus. At that point, Ahasuerus confided with his lawyers as to his response to Queen Vashti. It is deemed that the queen had broken the royal protocol by refusing to submit to the king’s requests. It taught women all over the kingdom to oppose their husbands. Queen Vashti was deposed and sent away from the palace. To find a suitable replacement, a beauty contest would be held. Beautiful virgins from all over the kingdom were brought to the palace and given the finest beauty treatments for a year. After that time, which ever woman pleased the king the greatest, would be crowned as queen. This is how we meet Esther.

Esther was an orphan, a beautiful Jewish girl living with her cousin, a man named Mordecai. Mordecai was some kind of minor government official, perhaps an accountant. One day the king’s people came and took Esther as one of the prospects to be queen. They had no choice as Esther was whisked off to the palace. Alongside the other women, she was groomed for the king. After a year had passed, it was Esther who was chosen to be the Queen.

While undertaking his duties, Mordecai overheard a plot to assassinate the king, and so he relayed what he had heard to Esther. This set off a chain of events that would not only put the lives of Mordecai and Esther in danger; it endangered the lives of any Jew still living within the Persian kingdom. The man who planned to carry out this event was, Haman. He was the Prime minister, appointed by the king himself. His plan involved more than assassinating the king; he also was scheming to rid the kingdom of the remaining Jews. Haman even convinced king Ahasuerus to send out a decree to the four corners of the kingdom with the command to annihilate the Jewish people.

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