Sunday, September 3, 2023

You Were Made for this Moment by Max Lucado: Synopsis of the Book of Esther

 Synopsis of the Book of Esther

(much more to this book so I advise you get the book for a deeper dive into taking part in your own “you were made for this moment.”


Seal over your heart-wear me like a signet ring


Song of Songs 8:6-7


Place me like a seal over your heart,

    like a seal on your arm;

for love is as strong as death,

    its jealousy unyielding as the grave.

It burns like blazing fire,

    like a mighty flame.


Many waters cannot quench love;

    rivers cannot sweep it away.

If one were to give

    all the wealth of one’s house for love,

    It would be utterly scorned.



Was there a time in your life when you saw it was not going to turn out the way you thought?


What is a six-letter word of encouragement? E-S-T-H-E-R

-it is the book where God speaks the loudest but is never mentioned

-the story of our whispering God who is the unseen

“God is still eloquent in his seeming silence and still active when he appears most distant” (Lucado, pg. 8).

Quiet Providence

-God’s continuous control over His story

-He spoke the universe into being 

-He governs all by his authority


This book was written for

- the emotionally weary

-for the person who feels out numbered by foes

-outmaneuvered by fate

-outdone by fear 




Themes of the book of Esther


-all the injustices of the world will be turned on their head

-Grand reversals are God’s trademark

-when we feel as though everything is falling apart, God is working in the midst, causing everything to fall into place

-God is working in our midst

-He is the King of quiet providence


The book of Esther: Dramatic Plot Line

Act I: Confusion

-God’s people compromised by choosing glamor of  Persia over God’s goodness

Act II: Crisis

-Decree of death 

-fringe minority vs. pagan society

Act III: Conquest

-the unexpected happens that turns sorrow into a joyous holiday


History:

-Disobedience of the Jews caused them to be exiled by the Babylonians in 586 BC

-Persia took control after defeating the Babylonians in 539 BC

-Mordecai and Esther- the Jews were 3 generations removed from Jerusalem

-Jews stayed in Persia even after being set free to go back to Jerusalem, but those who had prospered stayed and in that group we find Mordecai and Esther

-The Jews chose to live in the pagan society and were no longer outwardly Jews-they blended in as a Jewish Pagan


Setting:

-City of Susa, 5th century BC Persia (modern day Iran)

-Persian Empire: Xerxes, the king, who ruled 486-465 BC

-King’s disposition: thirst for wine, disregard of women, and convictions that changed with the weather. -He was comfortable holding a goblet and delegating decisions.

-Haman: wealthy and influential officer in the cabinet of Xerxes, tyrant who was all about death, demanded to be worshiped, and so intolerant to Jews he plotted to exterminate the entire Jewish race.



Foreshadow: Esther 3:8-9

Haman sets the plotline 

-approaches the king at just the right time

-tells the king “certain people” are against him

-convinces the king to make a decree to destroy those “certain people”


Who were those “certain people?”

-the Hebrew nation

-the children of Israel

-descendants of Abraham

-the family tree of Jesus Christ


Mordecai

-one of the exiled Jews who was hated by Hamon

-Esther’s cousin

-refused to bow down at the city gate to hero worship Haman

-that refusal put an arrow of destruction on him, Esther, and the whole Jewish Nation


Act I: Confusion


-King Xerxes is having a lavish  party

-the queen (all women) of Persia was seen as property

-the King calls for Queen Vashti to come to the party so he can show off her beauty

-the Queen refuses to come

-the King is embarrassed and his ego is bruised as his audience laughs at him

“The king became furious and burned with anger” (vs. 12)

-the King proclaims and edict that banishes Vashti from the kingdom and forces women to be even more obedient to their husbands


-Esther and Mordecai had disguised their identity as Jews

-they both had agreed to conform to be and live as Persians

“Esther had not revealed her nationality and family background, because Mordecai had forbidden her to do so” (vs. 8-10)


-King Xerxes, in his 7th year of reigning, wants a new queen

-Mordecai worked for King Xerxes so he was on the payroll of the pagan king

-both Mordecai and Esther chose to disguise and conform

-both Mordecai and Esther buried their Jewish identity beneath multiple layer of compromise

-Mordecai has Esther apply for the now open position of queen by becoming one of the women in the King’s harem 


8 When the king’s order and edict had been proclaimed, many young women were brought to the citadel of Susa and put under the care of Hegai. Esther also was taken to the king’s palace and entrusted to Hegai, who had charge of the harem. 9 She pleased him and won his favor. Immediately he provided her with her beauty treatments and special food. He assigned to her seven female attendants selected from the king’s palace and moved her and her attendants into the best place in the harem (Esther 2: 8-9).


Act II: Crisis

-Haman, the King’s vice regent convinced the King to order that all people would bow in his presence

-Mordecai’s friend knew he was Jewish and would not bow to Haman like a God

-Haman comes through the King’s gate and Mordecai refuses to bow before Haman

-Haman’s anger burns against Mordecai and plots to put him to death

-Esther has been queen for 5 years 

-In-between Mordecai sat at the King’s gate daily where he overheard of a plot to kill the King

-He tells Esther who warns the King of the plot

Twist:

-the King elevates Haman, son of Hammedathat, the Agagite, to the seat of honor higher than all nobles

**An Agagite were descendants of Agag, the king of the Amalekites. The Amalekites were the most ancient enemies to the Hebrews

-Amalekites attacked the people of Israel when Moses was bringing them to the promised land

-King Saul was told by God to destroy the lineage of the Amalekites, but he disobeyed and saved King Agag-the lineage of Haman


***Plot line: Haman’s family line wants to kill all Jews


-Mordecai encountered Haman in Susa-it was a collision of centuries of bias and hatred 

-Day after day Mordecai refused to bow when Ham passed through the King’s gate

-Finally, Mordecai admits he is a Jew and would not bow down before the enemy of God’s people


5 When Haman saw that Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor, he was enraged. 6 Yet having learned who Mordecai’s people were, he scorned the idea of killing only Mordecai. Instead Haman looked for a way to destroy all Mordecai’s people, the Jews, throughout the whole kingdom of Xerxes (Esther 3: 5-6).


The Climax 

Haman’s mission to annihilate God’s chosen people, root, and branch


8 Then Haman said to King Xerxes, “There is a certain people dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom who keep themselves separate. Their customs are different from those of all other people, and they do not obey the king’s laws; it is not in the king’s best interest to tolerate them. 9 If it pleases the king, let a decree be issued to destroy them, and I will give ten thousand talents[b] of silver to the king’s administrators for the royal treasury.”

10 So the king took his signet ring from his finger and gave it to Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews. 11 “Keep the money,” the king said to Haman, “and do with the people as you please” (Esther 3: 6/8).


-Haman sends couriers to post the edict that all Jews will be exterminated on a certain date

-Mordecai wails loudly and dresses in sackcloth like a man in mourning

-Mordecai sends a copy of the edict of extermination

-Mordecai asks her to reach out the her husband, the King 


Esther’s Decision


-Esther had the title of queen, but she still had no power as all the power is from the king

-A queen couldn’t just enter a room the king was in unless he summoned her 

-The king had to extend the gold scepter to allow her to enter in his presence and to even speak



Reasons Esther would say no to Mordecai’s request


-It is against the law to approach the kin

-It’s been 30 days since the king has given her a 2nd look

-The king’s in a foul mood most of the time

-He will probably kill Esther as she remembers what he did to Vashti


Change of heart-One Jewish mission



-Mordecai sends a message to Esther 


12 When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, 13 he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. 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 your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4: 12-14).


-Esther responds by asking Mordecai and all Jews to fast and pray


15 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 16 “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish”(Esther 4: 15-16).


-Esther and Mordecai show that inaction and apathy is costly

-Esther prays the prayer of desperation

-Esther knows she is risking her life

-Esther prayed a prayer of tears

-Esther didn’t eat or drink for 3 days

-Esther humbled herself to let God take control 



The Call to Courage


-Esther could have remained hidden and done nothing

-Mordecai’s days as a diplomat were over

-The days of the Jews were numbered

-The Jews needed someone to plead their case to the king

-That person is Esther who is now standing at the door of the king’s throne room



Esther the Queen:  Plan in Action


-The King sees Esther and extends his scepter to her so she approached to touch the end of the scepter

-The King asks her what she is requesting as he was pleased with her

-Esther requests a dinner date with the king and Haman

-The King accepts and Haman thinks he has won the favor of the Queen

-Haman goes home to throw a party as he anticipates the death of all the Jews and on top of that the queen seems to want to honor him at a dinner with her and the king

-Haman can’t enjoy his party as his hatred of Mordecai burned because as he was headed home he say Mordecai standing at the King’s gate and all he wanted was him to be dead

-His family and friends tell him to plan a way to have a public execution of Mordecai

-Haman has a pole built with the plan of impaling Mordecai with the King and Queen’s blessing

-Ham felt delighted with the plan to impale Mordecai and goes to the Queen’s 1st banquet


An Unexpected Ending


-King Xerxes has a bad night and couldn’t sleep so he had the book of records read to him 

-In the book of records, King Xerxes is reminded that it was Mordecai who told his Queen Esther of a plot to kill him which saved the King’s life

-The next day, King Xerxes asks Haman how he would honor a man who has found favor in the eyes of the king

-Haman thinks it is him who the King wants to honor so Haman said he would put the royal rode on the man, place the royal crest on his head, and have him ride through the streets on the King’s own horse

-King Xerxes loves the idea and tells Haman to do just that for Mordecai the Jew

-God had orchestrated all the details: the sleepless king, the detailed reading, and Haman’s entrance willing to give himself honor 

-A bit of “poetic justice” and divine reversal 

-Queen Esther pleased King Xerxes with the 1st banquet but she did not reveal her heritage but requests his and Haman’s presence for a 2nd banquet

-It is in the 2nd banquet that she asks the king to spare her life and that of her people 


3 Then Queen Esther answered, “If I have found favor with you, Your Majesty, and if it pleases you, grant me my life—this is my petition. And spare my people—this is my request. 4 For I and my people have been sold to be destroyed, killed and annihilated. If we had merely been sold as male and female slaves, I would have kept quiet, because no such distress would justify disturbing the king.” 5 King Xerxes asked Queen Esther, “Who is he? Where is he—the man who has dared to do such a thing?” 6 Esther said, “An adversary and enemy! This vile Haman!”

-Haman is fearful as King Xerxes leaves the room in a rage

-Haman goes to throw himself on the mercy of Queen Esther but as he does he ends up falling on top of her

-King Xerxes reenters the room and sees Haman groping Queen Esther

-Twist: Haman who wanted to kill a Jew for not bowing down is not caught falling down before a Jew

-The King’s guard take hold of Haman and impale him on the pole Haman had set up for Mordecai

-King Xerxes gives Esther Haman’s estate

-Mordecai is welcomed into the presence of the king

-Xerxes took off his signet ring that was on Haman’s hand an put in on Mordecai’s hand

-The King’s edict would not be removed, but gave all Jews permission that if attacked they had every right to defend themselves 

****On the day Jews were destined to die, Haman’s terror was over, his family destroyed, and Mordecai was positioned as the new Prime Minister of Persia


Interesting:

Peripety is a literary device that describes a redirected story line

  1. Mordecai found a spine and refused to bow

  2. Esther’s 3 day fast resulted in a surge of courage

  3. Esther told the kin what Haman intended to do

  4. Haman went from 2nd in command to being impaled on a pole

  5. Mordecai went from sackcloth to wearing the king’s robes

  6. Jews could live out their identity or hide their nationality

  7. Jews can trust the hidden hand of God


The book of Esther does not end with a victory in battle, but it ends with a call to remember. Mordecai recorded all of the events. He sent a letter to all Jews in King Xerxes’ kingdom that there will be a yearly celebration of the day God moved in a way that the Jews found freedom.



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