Learning from Esther to stand heroically against all odds
On March 20 this year, Jewish people will celebrate the annual festival of Purim. This festival commemorates the defeat of Haman's plot to massacre the Jews as recorded in the book of Esther. This book reads like a movie script - we have a beautiful, courageous heroine that was way outside of her comfort zone (Esther), a fearless hero (Mordecai), and of course, the dastardly villain (Haman). It’s a story of faith, bravery, suspense, betrayal and palace intrigue. We read about a forgotten good deed, a dazzling reward, perfect timing from God, and a just punishment for the evildoer, setting up a satisfying ending. For us today, the lessons of Esther should give us comfort that God is in control of history and what might seem unanswerable now will make sense in God’s timing and in God’s way.
The best hero stories are those in which the iconic figure isn’t the obvious choice to “save the day.” Esther exactly fit this description. First of all she was young – very young. Most scholars say that she was not more than twenty years old. Second, she was put in a lofty position of potential power as queen of the Persian Empire not because of some treaty between nations or an arranged deal among those seeking political stability. She was put there because of her beauty. Her pedigree (besides the providence of God) for being queen of that mighty empire was that she essentially won a beauty contest.
Now, before anyone gets all upset about the direction you may think this is going, hear me out. This beautiful young Jewish woman who became a queen of a foreign empire, not only had faith and developed courage, she was humble, wise and even daring. She stepped up when and where no one else could have to save her people from extermination. In order to save them Esther had to risk her own life. She needed to enter into a seriously male-dominated world and set the stage for being heard and respected. She needed to outthink and outmaneuver a deviously clever and egotistical man who happened to be the king’s most trusted advisor. All of this for a young woman who was most likely in her late teens. Now that is a story about a hero!
Check out our January 21, 2019 podcast, “Is This the Moment You Were Created For?” As we unfold the events of the book of Esther, we walk down the twisting turning roads of the crisis that arose. We examine the thinking, praying and actions that were necessary to overcome it. We gain insight into the character and courage of not only Esther but her older cousin Mordecai as well. This account vividly portrays God’s providence, but not in typical fashion. Esther’s story truly is a story for the ages as it displays growth of character, the development of courage under fire and a profound reliance upon God’s delivering hand. Please listen in, you will be blessed if you do!
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