4 BIG Lessons From Esther

One of my favorite stories in the Bible shows God’s role in world events, and how the obedience of His people fits into God’s plan. Yet this story doesn’t even mention God by name!

It’s an important reminder that we don’t have to say, “God’s at work here” for God to be at work here. We don’t have to say, “I’m a Christian” to live in a Christlike way.

Have you ever read the story of Queen Esther and her cousin Mordecai? Let me tell you, this is a real page-turner of a story! If you already know the story, skip to the four lessons below. Here’s a quick recap (but you really should read this for yourself)…

  • King Xerxes is the ruler of the most powerful nation on earth
  • Queen Vashti (Xerxes’ wife) defies him and is deposed
  • When the king is looking for a new queen, a young lady named Hadassah catches his eye
  • Hadassah went by her Persian name of Esther, so the king didn’t know he married a Jewess
  • Mordecai was Esther’s cousin, her legal guardian, and a palace worker
  • Mordecai uncovered a plot to assassinate Xerxes, which he shared with Queen Esther, who told the king, who investigated and had the plotters killed
  • King Xerxes had a prime minister named Haman, who was really full of himself
  • Mordecai wouldn’t bow down to Haman because Haman thought of himself as a deity
  • Haman wanted to show Mordecai, and all the other Jews like him, who was boss so he deceived King Xerxes into signing a law that would allow for all the Jews to be killed on a set date
  • Mordecai again told Queen Esther about the plot, but the queen was scared to go before the king unsummoned (where the penalty for doing so could be death)
  • Esther finally had the courage to approach Xerxes and invite him and Haman to dinner
  • At dinner, the king asked Esther why she really invited him to dinner, and Esther said, “Come back to dinner tomorrow night and I’ll tell you then”
  • King Xerxes couldn’t sleep that night so he asked for the royal chronicles to be read to him
  • The king discovered that Mordecai had never been rewarded for uncovering the assassination attempt
  • Xerxes asked Haman what he should do for a man he wanted to honor; Haman thought the king was talking about him, so he gave an elaborate plan of recognition, to which the king replied, “Excellent! Go do all that for Mordecai!”
  • Haman was so ticked off that he built a 75-foot tall gallows on which to hang Mordecai
  • At the second dinner, Esther asked for her life to be spared; the king wanted to know who would presume to attack her and the Jews, and she called out Haman
  • The king stormed from the room while Haman stayed to beg for his life
  • As the king returned, Haman was pawing at the queen in desperation, so the king’s bodyguards grabbed him
  • The king found out about the gallows built for Mordecai and gave orders for Haman to be hanged on those very same gallows
  • Mordecai became prime minister and wrote another law to help save the Jews from annihilation

4 BIG Lessons From Esther for Christians living in a pagan culture today

  1. All of History is His Story. God’s timing to bring all of the key players on the scene at just the right moment is obvious. Even giving the king insomnia at just the right time was a part of God’s plan!
  2. God gives us favor and we win favor by obeying God. The word “favor” is all throughout this story. God-fearing people are given God’s favor which leads to man’s favor as well.
  3. God-following people do make a positive impact on their culture. Esther becoming queen pleased the people, as did Mordecai’s just laws.  
  4. Pride humiliates and destroys; humility elevates the person and glorifies God. Just look at the contrast between Haman and Mordecai!

Do you have any other takeaways from this story? If so, please share them in the comments below.

Poetry Saturday—Everlasting Love

Love, Thou bottomless abyss,
My sins are swallowed up in Thee!
Covered is my unrighteousness,
Nor spot of guilt remains on me,
While Jesus’ blood, through earth and skies,
Mercy, free, boundless mercy, cries. … 

Fixed on this ground I will remain,
Though my heart fail, and flesh decay;
This anchor shall my soul sustain,
When earth’s foundations melt away;
Mercy’s full power I then shall prove,
Loved with an everlasting love. —Johann Andreas Rothe

How Our Faith Is Perfected

“God’s promises and His provision do not lift us from the world of common sense and everyday trials, for it is through these very things that our faith is perfected.” —Lettie Cowman, in Streams In The Desert

Thursdays With Oswald—Where Are Your Feet?

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Where Are Your Feet?

“Where did Jesus placed His feet? He placed them by the sick and the sorrowful, by the dead, by the bad, by the twisted and by the good. He placed His feet exactly where we have to place ours…, in the ordinary rough and tumble of human life as it is. ‘I will make the place of My feet glorious [Isaiah 60:13].’” 

From Run Today’s Race

Run Today’s Race contains short statements from Oswald Chambers intended to stimulate Christians to ponder things like:

  • All of Isaiah 60 is about God’s glory being revealed on earth through Jesus Christ. Am I letting Christ’s glory shine through my life?
  • Do I only look for “super-spiritual” moments, or am I aware that God can make wherever I place my feet a glorious place?
  • Am I willing to go wherever God needs me to go?

11 Quotes From “Man—The Dwelling Place Of God” by A.W. Tozer

A.W. Tozer’s 50-year-old publication Man—The Dwelling Place Of God still rings with timely truth for today. You can check out my full book review by clicking here.

“I long ago decided that I would rather know the truth than be happy in ignorance. If I cannot have both truth and happiness, give me truth. We’ll have a long time to be happy in heaven.”

“Shakespeare may be enjoyed without penitence; we may understand Plato without believing a word he says; but penitence and humility along with faith and obedience are necessary to a right understanding of the Scriptures.”

“Faith and morals are two sides of the same coin. Indeed the very essence of faith is moral. Any professed faith in Christ as personal Savior that does not bring the life under plenary obedience to Christ as Lord is inadequate and must betray its victim at the last. The man that believes will obey; failure to obey is convincing proof that there is not true faith present.”

“There are two kinds of love: the love of feeling and the love of willing. The one lies in the emotions, the other in the will. Over the one we may have little control. It comes and goes, rises and falls, flares up and disappears as it chooses, and changes from hot to warm to cool and back to warm again very much as does the weather. Such love was not in the mind of Christ when He told His people to love God and each other. … The love the Bible enjoins is not the love of feeling; it is the love of willing, the willed tendency of the heart.

“Let no one interpret the Scriptures for you in such a way as to rule out the Father’s gift of the Spirit. Every man is as full of the Spirit as he wants to be. Make your heart a vacuum and the Spirit will rush in to fill it.”

“I am among those who believe that our Western civilization is on its way to perishing. It has many commendable qualities, most of which it has borrowed from the Christian ethic, but it lacks the element of moral wisdom that would give it permanence. Future historians will record that we of the twentieth century had intelligence enough to create a great civilization but not the moral wisdom to preserve it.”

“The church today is suffering from the secularization of the sacred. By accepting the world’s values, thinking its thoughts and adopting its ways we have dimmed the glory that shines overhead. We have not been able to bring earth to the judgment of heaven so we have brought heaven to the judgment of the earth. Pity us, Lord, for we know not what we do!”

“David Brainerd once compared a man without the power of the Spirit trying to do spiritual work to a workman without fingers attempting to do manual labor. The figure is striking but it does not overstate the facts. The Holy Spirit is not a luxury meant to make deluxe Christians, as an illuminated frontispiece and a leather binding make a deluxe book. The Spirit is an imperative necessity.”

“I do not believe that it is the will of God that we should seek to be happy, but rather that we should seek to be holy and useful. The holy man will be the useful man and he’s likely to be a happy man too; but if he seeks happiness and forgets holiness and usefulness, he’s a carnal man.”

“That religion may be very precious to some persons is admitted, but never important enough to cause division or risk hurting anyone’s feelings. In all our discussions there must never be any trace of intolerance; but we obviously forget that the most fervent devotees of tolerance are invariably intolerant of everyone who speaks about God with certainty. And there must be no bigotry, which is the name given to spiritual assurance by those who do not enjoy it.”

“The truly spiritual man is indeed something of an oddity. He lives not for himself but to promote the interests of Another. He seeks to persuade people to give all to his Lord and asks no portion or share for himself. He delights not to be honored but to see his Savior glorified in the eyes of men. His joy is to see his Lord promoted and himself neglected.”

A Godly Leader’s “We”

When Nehemiah heard about the devastation in Jerusalem, the first thing he did was a very good thing: “I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven” (Nehemiah 1:4).

An important mark of a godly leader is one who exchanges “you” and “me” for “we.”

Godly leaders identify themselves with their people; they don’t think of themselves more highly nor look down on others.

Nehemiah said in his prayer, “BOTH my father’s house and I have sinned. WE have acted corruptly against You” (vv. 6, 7). Given the fact that this is 70 years after Judah went into captivity, it is doubtful that Nehemiah was captured in Jerusalem, but he was probably born in exile. Yet he said WE sinned against God.

He also asks God to “be attentive to the prayer of Your servant, AND to the prayer of Your servantS” (v. 11). Once again Nehemiah identifies himself with all the people by not claiming that his prayer carries any more weight than anyone else’s prayer. Every prayer, in Nehemiah’s mind, was equally as pleasant to God’s ears.

My prayer—Help me to be a “we” leader.

This is part 3 in my series on godly leadership. Be sure to check out:

Man—The Dwelling Place Of God (book review)

It’s an awesome thing to ponder that Almighty God wants to live and commune with you and me! I can think of no better person to illuminate this amazing thought than the prophetic voice of A.W. Tozer in his book Man—The Dwelling Place Of God.

Although this book is 50 years old, the message still rings true for this generation. Tozer points out that God wants to dwell with man, to reveal Himself to us in powerful and personal ways, but this comes at a price. That price is not trying to control God, but letting Him be in charge.

The book is made up of 39 chapters, the majority of which are fairly short and can be read in just a few minutes. But the application of the truths in these short chapters will be something that you will need to ponder for quite awhile. God is Lord and Master; He is not a genie in a bottle that grants us our wishes if we rub the bottle the right way. God has laid out for us how He will bless us in His Word and, Tozer says, it’s time for us to take God’s Word more seriously.

Tozer makes it clear that we cannot live however we want to live and then ask God to bless our life with His presence. Instead, God has already shown us in His Word, in the life of His Son Jesus, and in the ongoing witness of the Holy Spirit the kind of life He longs to bless. It’s now up to us to place our lives in that place where God’s blessings and presence will flow.

A.W. Tozer speaks with the authority of a prophet of God, and for those who are willing to listen and apply his words, God’s presence and blessing can be expected.

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