“Not a lot of people know that” said a famous actor. Here are some interesting facts that you may not know about the book of Esther:-
A – It is only one of two books in the Bible named after a woman.
B – It is one of the few books in the Bible where the story is based outside the land of Israel and Judah.
C – It makes no direct mention of God by name.
We shall consider the teaching of chapter 1 using three headings:-
1 – Self Promotion (v 1 – 9.)
Xerxes, ruler of the humungous Persian Empire, decided to throw a banquet in his capital city of Susa for all his nobles, officials and leaders. It was the “mother of all parties” and was a full six months of lavish hospitality and a display of royal splendour and extravagance. Then, if this were not enough, he threw a garden party for all the residents of Susa, a somewhat shorter event that lasted only a week, being paralleled by a party that was hosted by the queen for the ladies. It was an orgy of self promotion and ostentatious indulgence.
Wealth, if we have it, is not to be flaunted by way of self promotion, because there is far more to life than riches (Luke 12 v 15.) Neither are riches to come between us and a relationship to God (Matthew 19 v 24.) Instead we are to – “store up for yourselves treasure in heaven” (Matthew 6 v 20) because only these are of eternal value.
2 – Self Protection (v 10 – 12.)
On the final day of the feast, the king being a little worse for wear due to too much wine, commanded that Queen Vashti join the party, so that he could publically display her beauty to the assembled party goers. But the queen refused to attend, protecting her dignity by not only defying her husband, but at the same time the king who was used to getting his own way.
Beauty is so much more than just something physical and external that needs to be displayed; rather it is more about character and is internal (1 Peter 3 v 3 – 5.) It does not come from the shop, it comes from the heart.
3 – Self Perpetuation (v 13 – 22.)
The king felt humiliated, because it seemed that although he could control a vast empire, he could not control his wife! So he angrily assembled his advisors who were really concerned that when the news got out of the queens disobedience, this would be mirrored and perpetuated in the marriages of the realm. So it was decided to legislate, and a “royal decree” was issued banishing Vashti from the royal presence and opening the door for a new queen; as well as legislating that the women of the empire obey their husbands who were to be rulers in their own households.
While it is possible to legislate as to who should and should not be queen, you cannot legislate regarding attitudes in marriage. According to this story, as well as the teaching of the New Testament, the wife is to bring two attitudes to the marriage relationship, those of respect for (Ephesians 5 v 33) and submission to her husband (Ephesians 5 v 22.) Both these are to be in response to her husband’s Christ like love for his wife (Ephesians 5 v 25.)
Theme: “The mother of all parties!”
Reading: Esther 1 v 1 – 22
Preacher: Chris Hughes
Led by: Chris Hughes
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