This is exactly how the Samaritan enemies of the Jews were able to stop the construction work on the temple. They charged the Jews with being stiff-necked and rebellious against their captors. They encouraged the king of Persia to check it out in the official records.
And there he discovered they were right; the Jews were trouble-makers. It appears from their history that allowing them to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple would only serve to equip them for another rebellion. In chapter 3 of the Book of Daniel, it is very clear that bowing down to the golden image is false worship.
Such is not the case here. In chapter 5, verse 9, Haman is again angered by Mordecai, because Mordecai would not stand up or move for him as he passed. This is not worship; this is simply showing respect to one in a higher position. It was also done to show respect to pagan authorities:. A Jew would wear a beard while an Egyptian would be clean-shaven. It is easy to understand how Joseph, a prisoner, would have a beard, but it was also a part of his Jewish identity. Joseph shaved his beard, however, before he appeared before the Pharaoh. He was not worshipping the Pharaoh; he was simply showing him proper respect.
But Mordecia seems to have worn his Jewishness as a banner. He would do nothing to show respect to this man Haman, even though the king had commanded it. Obeying the king of Persia was not simply a matter of necessity—do so or die. It was a command from God. When the false prophets urged the people of God not to serve the king who captured them, it was God who commanded the Jews to serve Him:. Were the Jews to worship the king? But they are not being asked to worship him; they are only commanded to show respect to his appointed officials.
And this Mordecai would not do. Haman was right; Mordecai was a rebel, and in this he was not much different from his Jewish brethren. But I did it in order that I might not put the glory of a man above the glory of God. If it were not so obvious that Mordecai was a proud, self-willed Jew, later Jews would see no need to tamper with the original text. Mordecai lives by a double standard. If bowing to the king or one of his officials is some kind of false worship, then he is forcing Esther to be an idolatress by insisting she conceal her identity as a Jew.
But Esther could offer no such excuse, because she was told to conceal her identity. Thus, Esther must have bowed to her king and to his officials.
Confidence in God in Times of Danger: A Study of God's Providence in the Book of Esther
If doing so is so wrong, why would Mordecai allow—better yet necessitate, her doing so? It only becomes worse. Mordecai receives what he is unwilling to give. Mordecai will not honor the man whom the king has commanded all the citizens of his kingdom to honor. But in chapter 6, when the king orders Haman to see to it that Mordecai is honored, Haman reluctantly obeys, and Mordecai willingly receives this honor:. I have no doubt Mordecai expected and received the very honor from men which he, as a Jew, would not give to the man who held the same position.
Mordecai is a hypocrite! I am not entirely alone in this conclusion. Whitcomb comes very close to saying that Mordecai is a stubborn, willful, rebellious Jew, whose refusal to show deference to Haman is nothing less than sin:. I believe this is what the author wants us to conclude. Neither he nor Esther are model saints. They are much more like Jonah than like Daniel. He does so in spite of their willfulness and sin.
To sanctify the actions of Mordecai and Esther, we must distort the text just as the Jews of the first century did by adding verses which obscured the sins of these individuals, who did not return to the promised land but stayed behind in the land of their captivity. Haman pulled it off. It is hard to grasp how this king could give Haman blank check permission to pass irreversible legislation to exterminate an undesignated people.
But it was done. The king gave Haman approval of his plan and then left the details to him. He gave Haman his signet ring so he could seal the document without the king so much as reading it. Haman knew all too well what to do from here, and he did it. The law was written, translated into the languages of those in the kingdom, and then distributed by couriers to all the provinces.
On the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the citizens of the kingdom were given license to kill the entire race of the Jews, men, women, and children, and to take their possessions as spoil 3: The law was to be published in all the provinces so all would see it and comply. The implications of this law are astounding. Not only were Mordecai, Esther, and the residents of Susa condemned to death, but all the Jews throughout the Persian empire. This includes the Jews who have returned to the promised land! Can you imagine the jubilation of the Samaritans when they read the Jews were not only condemned to death, but they could take their possessions as well?
It was a dream come true to the enemies of Israel. This summer a series of disastrous forest fires swept across the Northwest. Tragically, in one of the large fires in Colorado, over a dozen fire fighters died when they were trapped by flames, whipped up by high winds and tinder dry forests. Just recently, the results of an investigation into these deaths was released with a most distressing conclusion.
Officials determined the incident was the result of a sequence of human failures. Had policies and procedures been followed, none of the dead would have perished in the flames. Our passage ends in disaster as well. While the king and his drinking buddy, Haman, sit on the balcony of the palace sipping their drinks, the whole city is in turmoil. How could things have gone so wrong?
The answer, in part, is that men failed. Our text is an illustration of the truth of Romans 3: It should not come as a surprise that things would go so badly for those Jews who refused to return to Jerusalem and Judah. After all, God had long before warned that those who rebelled against His laws would live in constant danger:. A series of fatal failures brought matters to the low point of chapter 3 of Esther. First, the king had failed by showing the same wisdom and discernment found in chapter 1. In chapter 1, the king heeded the wise counsel of his noble princes.
In chapter 2, he acted on the advice of his valets. Now in chapter 3, he acts on the sole counsel of Haman. The king will later be shocked by the law Haman passed, with his permission. In effect, the king pronounced the death sentence on an entire race, a race not even identified other than in vague, general terms. The king failed to honor a man whose actions saved his life and his kingdom, and he handed that kingdom over to Haman, who intended to kill Mordecai and his entire race.
From a merely human point of view, the king makes some very foolish mistakes in our text. She has become the queen of Persia on false pretenses. Of course, Haman is a wicked man. It is not at all difficult to see that he is arrogant and proud and that he hates not only Mordecai, but all Jews. He deceives his king and manipulates him, abusing his power. He seeks the destruction of an entire race. Who can say anything good about this wicked man?
Surely he contributes to the chaos and confusion. But my focus is on Mordecai. I am especially interested in him because he seems to be the central figure of the entire Book of Esther. The book might be more properly called the Book of Mordecai: But most of all, Mordecai brought the entire Jewish race into grave danger because of his stubborn pride and rebellion—not because of his righteousness.
Even when rebuked, Mordecai would not submit or show respect. It is bad enough that Mordecai was wicked and endangered his own people. But his hypocrisy in doing so is even worse. In the midst of his sin, he sought to sanctify it so it looked like righteousness. It still works today, because Christians are still not only defending him, but are holding him up as a model for all of us to follow as we see in this comment:.
Esther was a model disciple of God we should imitate. She constantly did the right thing, made the right decision, and said the right words. Here is a warning for us. Let us beware of being just like Mordecai, practicing sin in the name of Christianity.
Many of us who name the name of Christ have angered others because we were not acting like Christians. But when we defend our actions as being Christian, the unbelieving world sees our hypocrisy and concludes all Christians are like us. Not only do we bring a reproach on ourselves, we bring a reproach on the name of Christ.
This is exactly what Mordecai refused to do. He was living in Persia, but his behavior was not excellent among these heathen, like Joseph and Daniel and others had been. His behavior did not exhibit respect for those in authority. Peter has something to say about this in the verses which immediately follow:. But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God 1 Peter 2: We should consider how we imitate Mordecai by sanctifying our sin with seemingly righteous labels. We continue to live out the same fleshly characteristics we had as unbelievers, but we change the label on what we are doing.
We try to get even by crying out for church discipline. We draw attention to ourselves by acting as though we were crusaders, eager only to preserve the pure truth. We seek to counsel others, not because we care so deeply about them, but because it is a pretext for probing into those secret areas of their lives we would not otherwise have the license to explore, satisfying our own curiosities. We tell others what to do, not so much because God has commanded it and we are exhorting them to obey, but because we love to give our own opinions and direct the lives of others.
We preach in a way that criticizes others and challenges their leadership and contributions to the faith to draw attention to ourselves. We talk about discipleship, but in reality, we are simply persuading men to follow us and not our Lord. We talk about prayer requests, which are sometimes merely a pious label for gossip. We say we are preserving purity by separating ourselves from others, but we may really be creating schisms, which the Lord and His apostles condemn and prohibit.
Christians are to be different from unbelievers. We are to be pious in contrast to the lifestyle of the pagans. When you look at the fruit of the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit, you will discover we are to be different not just by attacking the world, but by living in the world with grace and gentleness and kindness. Our Lord submitted Himself to earthly authorities, and so should we. Our Lord was gracious and compassionate, and so should we be.
Our Lord did rebuke and He did attack, but this was not the rule; it was the exception. Let us give serious consideration to those sins we have sanctified in our lives, rather than casting them aside as wretched and filthy and offensive both to God and to men. The story is not yet over. When it is, we will see that while men meant this for evil, God meant it for good.
But it is all too clear that no credit goes to men. All the glory goes to God, as it should. The difficulties centre, i. This is the position taken by J. No one who was not connected with the royal service would have been permitted to reside within those jealously guarded precincts.
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Zondervan Publishing House, , Vol. While this is possible, it is neither entirely necessary nor crucial to understanding the story as it unfolds. Therefore, in the interest of his adopted Esther and the fate of the Jewish people, Mordecai foiled the plot of the would-be killers. Moody Press, , p. A century ago C. This enmity stems from the time of the exodus when Israel fought with Amalek in the wilderness. The ancient feud between the Israelites and the Amalekites is reported in 1 Sam Agag was king of the Amalekites.
Saul the Benjamite, son of Kish 1 Sam 9: He took Agag prisoner, but Samuel the prophet confronted Saul and cursed him for not completing the task. Dieulafoy, who excavated at Susa , discovered a quadrangular prism which has the numbers one, two, five, and six engraved on its sides. This no doubt was the type of die used in this determination.
Inter-Varsity Press, , pp. In fact, it must have been their growing prosperity in Babylonia that deterred the great majority of the exiles from returning to the desolations of their homeland. Years ago, my friend Bill McRae and I attended a funeral in a church which no longer clearly proclaimed the gospel.
In the Book of Esther, what is not said is vitally important. As we begin our study of chapter 4, I want to ask you to make a commitment: When the author specifically mentions certain things, take note of them. And when the author omits certain crucial elements, do not think he really meant us to assume them; rather, the author expects us to note their absence. In so doing, you will read the text as it is and learn from what is not said as well as from what is. The author begins the book with a six-month long royal celebration which king Ahasuerus Xerxes holds for the nobility of his kingdom.
At the end of this celebration, the king holds a week-long banquet for all of the inhabitants of Susa, the capital city, whether rich or poor. For some unexplained reason, Vashti did the unthinkable—she refused to appear. The king was humiliated, for he had spent the last six months displaying the glory and sovereignty of his dominion.
Now even his wife would not submit to his leadership. Consequently, they advised the king to remove Vashti as queen and select another better than Vashti; they also advised this should be made a matter of law sent to every province in the kingdom so all would learn that such actions would not be tolerated. For a man like Ahasuerus, this was a great pleasure and kept him from trying to reverse his previous decision. The process of selecting a queen resulted in the selection of Esther, a young Jewess who had been raised by her cousin and step-father, Mordecai. At his instruction, Esther kept her Jewish origins and her relationship to Mordecai a secret.
For whatever reason, there was a second gathering of young women whom the king was busily engaged in trying out for queen? Esther continued to keep her identity from the king. Further inquiry proved this report to be true, and these two traitors were hung. The king was usually careful to reward acts of loyalty, but for some reason Mordecai was not rewarded, and the matter was forgotten, although it was recorded in the chronicles of the king as he looked on.
Suddenly Haman, a new character, is introduced. The king had elevated him above all the rest and clearly placed complete trust in him, a decision which proved to be foolish. When challenged, he excused his actions by simply saying he was a Jew. For him, that was all that was necessary. Although furious, Haman kept his anger concealed. He looked upon Mordecai as a typical Jew, and his purpose was not only to do away with Mordecai but to do away with every Jew in the kingdom. At the propitious moment, he approached the king with an indictment and a proposal.
He informed the king that a certain race of people in the empire were rebels, who could not be kept in submission not unlike Vashti and that the king would do well to be rid of them. He offered a very large sum of money to Ahasuerus to proclaim a certain day as the time when anyone in the kingdom could kill every living Jew they encountered and then confiscate their property.
It was a tempting way for people to get ahead, to be rid of their enemies, and to practice their racial bigotry. The name of this race was not made known to the king, and neither did he inquire. Ahasuerus gave his signet ring to Haman, which gave him a blank check. From all we can tell, the king never read this law nor did he sign it. He left these matters to his most trusted official, Haman.
While the king and Haman sat drinking their wine, the entire city of Susa was in confusion. Our text takes up the story at the confusion which came upon the citizens and the city of Susa. Mordecai, we are told, learned all that had been done. We also know this was not Esther, for he is the one who tells her all that has taken place. When Mordecai becomes aware of the law which has just been created and put into effect by Haman, he begins to mourn. He does not mourn in private, but in public; in fact, his mourning could not have been more public.
The king wanted to keep a distance between himself and sadness. It was not popular with kings to have sorrow expressed in their court see Nehemiah 2: I would have expected him to mourn privately rather than publicly. I wonder if Mordecai was not a leader among the Jewish people, and his public mourning was the cue for the rest of the Jews to join him in mourning.
What we are told is that Mordecai mourned, and so did the rest of the Jews, not only in the capital city of Susa but throughout the kingdom. What we are not told is that Mordecai or any of his fellow-Jews repented. We are not told that any prayed. The name of God is not mentioned here or elsewhere in the Book of Esther. There is no specific mention of prayer, no mention of the Jews speaking to God, nor any reference to God speaking to His people through His prophets. Based upon the instruction given to dispossessed Jews in 2 Chronicles 6: This is further indicated by the words of the prophet Isaiah:.
Blind yourselves and be blind. They become drunk, but not with wine; They stagger, but not with strong drink. Isaiah was a prophet whose task was not to call Israel to repentance or to turn the nation back to God. Their doom was sealed. Their doom was sure. While we read of prophets in Israel in Ezra and Nehemiah, no prophets are mentioned in the Book of Esther. If men are not speaking to God in prayer , neither is God speaking to the Jews in Persia. And she sent garments to clothe Mordecai that he might remove his sackcloth from him, but he did not accept them Esther 4: Learning that Mordecai is in mourning greatly distresses Esther.
Nevertheless, her first efforts are not to learn what has caused Mordecai to mourn but to persuade him to stop mourning. Could it be Mordecai was an embarrassment to Esther so that she tried to quickly silence him? She sent clothing to her step-father, hoping to persuade him to put an end to his mourning. But Mordecai was not dissuaded. Esther needed to find out what was going on, so she sent a trusted servant directly to Mordecai to inquire why he was mourning and would not cease.
It could hardly be a more public meeting, but it seems Mordecai wants his mourning to be public. Mordecai reports to Hathach all that had happened to him verse 7. These things Hathach is instructed to convey to Esther, along with the command that she approach the king and intercede for the Jews. And I have not been summoned to come to the king for these thirty days. We may safely assume Mordecai had also become accustomed to being obeyed, even when Esther was the queen see 2: She first informs Mordecai by Hathach that it was against the law to go in to the king without being summoned by him.
The penalty for doing so was death, with only a small chance that the king might show mercy by extending his golden scepter and granting that the intruder might live.
Esther: A Study of Divine Providence
Since she could not go to the king uninvited, her only hope was to be summoned by the king. That was a problem; it had been 30 days since Esther had last been with the king. What other answer than "No" could she give to Mordecai? Those who hasten to see Esther as a hero should ponder verses , for she is certainly not quick to take up the cause of her people. The principle reason is her own safety.
And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this? I do not know who became involved in the communication between Mordecai and Esther, but now it is indicated that others are involved see verses 12 and Mordecai finds it necessary to use considerable pressure to persuade Esther to intercede for the Jews with the king. His arguments indicate he is now playing hardball with his step-daughter. The arguments are as follows:.
Esther, Mordecai warns, is thinking wishfully. The decree Haman has made into law encompasses all Jews, no matter where they might be found in the kingdom. Esther seems to believe she is safe and that only others are in danger.
She is unwilling to put herself in danger by going before the king unannounced to help her fellow-Jews, believing she is safe. If she would not put herself at risk to save others, at least let her risk saving herself. Mordecai wants her to conclude that the most dangerous thing she can do is to do nothing and hope it will all go away. If Esther does not act on her behalf and on behalf of her fellow-Jews, there is no other hope. How could I possibly reach such a conclusion? Does the text not indicate just the opposite?
Does Mordecai not indicate to Esther that if she does not act to save her people, God will bring about their deliverance in some other way? Let me explain how I reached this conclusion. The text need not be translated as we find it in most versions. A Catholic scholar challenges us to translate and understand it in a very different way, a way he believes is as legitimate a translation which better fits the context. Weibe argues that this phrase should be translated as a rhetorical question, suggesting that the implied answer is no; help would not arise from anywhere else.
Thus Esther was the only hope for their deliverance. Weibe suggests that this translation fits the context of the Book of Esther much better than the traditional rendering. God is capable of using anyone for his purposes. He was not limited to using just Esther, but she turned out to be the one because she answered the challenge. I believe Weibe is right.
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Mordecai could apply a great deal more pressure on Esther by convincing her that she is the only hope of the Jews than by assuring her that another means of deliverance will be provided. In addition, God is not mentioned in the text let alone the entire book! Mordecai is not a godly Jew, trusting in God to save his people.
He is a disobedient, unbelieving Jew, who seems hardly to think of God. If Mordecai does not mention God in our text, we dare not assume he is trusting in God. If she fails, all is lost. And this explains why he threatens Esther that her family will be wiped out. If deliverance comes from elsewhere, then why would Esther die?
As queen, Esther will most certainly not die first. If this is true, then all Jews will perish, and there will be no deliverance from elsewhere. No wonder he is so forceful. You will recall that Esther is an orphan. He parents are both dead. Mordecai has adopted her as his step-daughter. If Esther fails to act, and both she and Mordecai perish, then her family will be wiped out. And it will be all her fault, Mordecai warns. This is real pressure. The young Jewish girl has never known pressure like this.
I and my maidens also will fast in the same way. And thus I will go in to the king, which is not according to the law; and if I perish, I perish. The pressure is too great. Esther gives in, sending word to Mordecai that she will intercede with the king for her people. Now that she has taken orders from Mordecai, she begins to give orders.
She instructs him to assemble all the Jews who live in Susa and to have them fast for her. None of them is to eat or drink for three days, night or day. She and her maidens will do likewise, and then she will attempt to see the king. She will break the law of the land and take her life into her own hands.
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Her final words are most instructive:. There are those who make a hero of Esther. One might be able to stretch the facts far enough to look upon her as a hero. Statements like these below are not the exception, but the rule:. Vashti showed courage in her refusal to humiliate herself for the whimsical desire of her husband, and Mordecai did so in refusing to bow down to Haman. Esther proved braver still. She had decided to break the law of her husband and risk her very life for her people cf. This was, of course, constantly declared by the prophets of Israel e. Every Jew had experienced in the history of his people the guiding and saving hand of God.
She implies that she accepts the suggestion of Mordecai as her duty, but that she is full of apprehension at the thought of fulfilling it. By asking that all the Jews in Susa join her in a fast Esther acknowledges that i. Though prayer is not mentioned, it was always the accompaniment of fasting in the Old Testament, and the whole point of fasting was to render the prayer experience more effective and prepare oneself for communion with God Ex.
I would not argue that Esther was regarded as a hero by the Jews and even by the author of this book. It is apparent she is still looked upon as such by most Christians today. And I am willing to grant that Esther and Mordecai are heroes, though I find the evidence far from compelling. But I am not willing to concede that Esther and Mordecai were godly. One can be a hero, a true patriot, without being godly. I think Esther and Mordecai were, at best, ungodly heroes.
I conclude this for the following reasons:. In other words, Esther acts reluctantly, and in large measure, in self-interest. He had good reason to fear for his safety. At least Jacob refers to God, while neither Esther nor Mordecai do. Years ago a young boy whose father was a liberal minister was tragically killed. All Esther is saying is: To me, the silence on such matters is deafening. Consider this added prayer of Esther not contained in the original Hebrew text, but added to later Greek manuscripts:.
Queen Esther also took refuge with the Lord in the mortal peril which had overtaken her. She took off her sumptuous robes and put on sorrowful mourning. Instead of expensive perfumes she covered her head with ashes and dung. She humbled her body severely, and the former scenes of her happiness and elegance were now littered with tresses torn from her hair. She besought the Lord God of Israel in these words:.
I have been taught from my earliest years, in the bosom of my family, that you, Lord, chose Israel out of all the nations and our ancestors out of all the people of old times to be your heritage for ever; and that you have treated them as you promised. But then we sinned against you, and you handed us over to our enemies for paying honour to their gods. Lord, you are just. But even now they are not satisfied with the bitterness of our slavery: Do not yield your sceptre, Lord, to non-existent beings.
Never let men mock at our ruin. Turn their designs against themselves, and make an example of him who leads the attack on us. Remember, Lord; reveal yourself in the time of our distress. As for me, give me courage, King of gods and master of all power. Put persuasive words into my mouth when I face the lion; change his feeling into hatred for our enemy, that the latter and all like him may be brought to their end. As for ourselves, save us by your hand, and come to my help, for I am alone and have no one but you, Lord.
You have knowledge of all things, and you know that I hate honours from the godless, that I loathe the bed of the uncircumcised, of any foreigner whatever. You know I am under constraint, that I loathe the symbol of my high position bound round my brow when I appear at court; I loathe it as if it were a filthy rag and do not wear it on my days of leisure. Nor has your handmaid found pleasure from the day of her promotion until now except in you, Lord, God of Abraham.
O God, whose strength prevails over all, listen to the voice of the desperate, save us from the hand of the wicked, and free me from my fear. A popular slogan goes like this: But this is where the godly Jew yearned to be see Psalm If Esther and Mordecai are not examples of godliness and faith whom we are to imitate, what are we to learn from this book, particularly from our text?
We are to learn a negative lesson. We are to be warned by what we read in our text. Why are Christians so inclined to embrace Esther and Mordecai as model saints, examples of faith and godliness? First , because they err in assuming that people recorded in Scripture are all godly. Jacob is viewed as a pious man of faith rather than as a deceiving, self-seeking, con artist. And Esther and Mordecai are just one more example of reading the Bible through rose-colored glasses, seeing people in a way that makes us feel comfortable.
Second , we fail to study books like Esther and Jonah in light of the rest of the Old Testament, especially the Law, and contemporary writings. In the case of Esther, we can study this book and its events in light of the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah and the prophecies of Jeremiah and Daniel.
But as we conclude I wish to focus on yet another reason why we fail to understand this book and its message. That reason is simply our being taken in by the hypocrisy of Esther and Mordecai, because we assume that if the right forms are present, the right function is present as well. We assume that there was repentance because the Jews mourned in Susa and all of the Persian empire. We also assume that because there was fasting, there must also have been prayer. As I understand our text, I believe our author is teaching just the opposite.
I believe he wants us to understand that we may go through the right motions and yet never really know God. The Old Testament prophets rebuked the Jews for precisely this. They fasted, but it was a mere ritual with no reality:. They ask Me for just decisions, They delight in the nearness of God. Why have we humbled ourselves and Thou dost not notice? Behold, on the day of your fast you find your desire, And drive hard all your workers. You do not fast like you do today to make your voice heard on high. Will you call this a fast, even an acceptable day to the Lord? Shall I come to Him with burnt offerings, With yearling calves?
Shall I present my first-born for my rebellious acts, The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? Going through the right motions and yet never really knowing God was not just a problem of the Jews in Old Testament days. It was the problem of Judaism in the days of our Lord, and later in the early days of the New Testament church, as described in the Book of Acts and the Epistles. The scribes and Pharisees were all caught up in external things, things which could be seen, while God has always been concerned about the unseen Luke In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus took mere outward compliance to the letter of the Law much further, boldly stating that one must have a righteousness greater than the scribes and Pharisees to get into heaven see Matthew 5: The Jews thought the measure of a man was to be determined on the basis of his ancestors see Matthew 3: Yet Jesus spoke of those who did such things as those who had never been known by God Matthew 7: In the New Testament church at Corinth, some were convinced those who spoke in tongues the right form were most certainly the most spiritual function.
And yet spirituality is not measured in terms of the gifts of the Spirit, but the fruit of the Spirit see Galatians 5: My focus is this: Faith must not be judged so much by form as by function. Without the right functions, the forms are worthless and dead. When accompanied by the right functions, the forms are beneficial. But when we assume that having the right forms assures us we also have the right function, we have gone too far; we have become just like the Persian Jews such as Esther and Mordecai.
This matter not only plagued the ancient Jews and the New Testament church, but we find the same problem very much present in contemporary Christianity. There are those who link spirituality with certain experiences. I may have differences with other Christians about whether such experiences are valid today, but this is not my focus at the moment. When anyone says that having such experiences is what makes a person spiritual, I must strongly disagree. I must not only say this is false, but that it is a continuation of the very error which has plagued true religion through the ages.
We must not equate certain forms with particular functions. This error is evident in the area of Christian worship. Some people worship by raising their hands sometimes without really knowing why. I have no real objection to this. Others worship without raising their hands perhaps for the same reasons others do—custom or culture. I have no problem with this. But if we dare to say there is no real worship without the raising of hands, or that we cannot truly worship with raised hands, we have equated form and function, and we are wrong—whether we raise our hands or keep them down.
Some people try to tell us our worship is not emotional enough. Perhaps we may be too intellectual, but much of the emotion in worship, or the lack of it, is more a matter of culture than biblical mandate and definition. And let us not try to compel others to worship the way we do, as though our way is better.
They seem to think this is a pattern we should follow. I think we can see it was not even normal for David, let alone other Israelites. She was too proud to humble herself in worship, as David did see 1 Chronicles But pointing to David, some think his actions justify a kind of total abandonment in worship. Paul is very clear on this point in 1 Corinthians. Just anything does not go in worship.
Just because one feels like doing something does not mean he or she should. Only two or three are to prophesy or speak in tongues, and the tongues speakers were only to speak if they knew an interpreter was present. Paul taught that edification is the guiding principle in participation, not self-expression. Let us not rush to one extreme and abandon the other guiding principles for worship.
And let me also say, somewhat parenthetically, that for every person who forsakes cold, sterile, emotionless worship for something more stirring and spontaneous, there is another who is tired of frantic, frenzied, undisciplined worship and leaves it for more serene, sober, and disciplined worship. Our church has some very definite convictions about the way a church should be structured and about its worship and ministry. Having said this, I must also say it is possible for us to have just the right forms and lack the right function. The right forms do not insure spirituality, godliness, or worship.
Likewise, there are churches who for one reason or another do not have the same forms we do, but who nevertheless manifest the vitality and function which is biblical and New Testament. Ideally, we should have biblical forms and biblical functions. Practically, it is difficult to have both.
Most often, we can still retain the former without even knowing that we have lost the latter. Let us therefore take this text in Esther as a warning to us not to equate form and function, not to think that because we are going through the right motions we are living in fellowship with God. It is indeed sad when Christians become obsessed with the forms and forget the functions.
But it is even sadder when a person goes through life thinking he or she is a Christian because they have observed certain forms. Some may think that because they have walked an aisle, or raised their hand, or prayed a prayer after someone, or been baptized, or joined a church, or attended worship services, or put money in the offering plate, that they are saved.
Being a Christian is not so much a matter of form as it is of function. A Christian is a person who has passed from darkness to light, from death to life, from being condemned by God to being justified by God. Being a Christian is not so much a matter of what we do as it is of trusting in what Christ has done. He died on the cross of Calvary for our sins. And He offers His righteousness to us, so that we may spend eternity in the presence of God. Do you have this life? Do not trust in forms. Rituals will never get you to heaven. Only Christ can do that. Trust in Christ alone today.
In this appendix, Baldwin provides us with the entire text of additions to the Greek manuscripts of Esther. My wife was raised in Seattle, Washington, and we both attended college there.
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In its early years, the City of Seattle went through a radical change as the result of one simple device. To be sure, each of us considers this an important device, although we would not expect it to change an entire city. Perhaps you have visited Seattle and taken the tour of the underground city which my family and I took some years ago. How could a toilet change an entire city?
A city of several hills, Seattle is located on Puget Sound. In its early years, Seattle was a logging town and consequently was built from the sound inland. Flush toilets were much more popular than outhouses, and so people began to equip their homes and businesses with toilets.
But when the tide came in, flush toilets posed a problem in Seattle. Unfortunately, early Seattlites ran their sewage into the sound. When the tide was out, there was no problem, but when the tide came in, toilets backed up. Worse yet, they overflowed. Obviously, the situation was intolerable. Toilets on upper floors or in houses above sea level had fewer problems. But other toilets were so problematic they were elevated. One had to ascend to the toilet when it was on a low level floor.
Literally, platforms were built to raise the level of toilets above sea level. Finally, it was decided the only permanent solution was to raise the level of the city by moving some of the earth from the hills down to the lower levels. Since many buildings already existed, they simply built them higher and filled in dirt around the outside of the buildings, raising the level of the ground ten or fifteen feet. Sometimes, these lower level floors were virtually abandoned. During the prohibition years, they were used for speak-easies. Now, the city has renovated these lower floors and created a kind of underground city of shops, restaurants, and other businesses.
Yet in the story of our text, the same is true. A sleepless night for the king changed the course of history and resulted in the deliverance of the Jews throughout the Persian Empire. In reality, it was a divinely orchestrated sequence of events. Those events nullified the law wicked Haman had passed by deceiving the king and spared the lives of the Jews throughout the empire. The story is masterfully told, keeping the reader in suspense with unexpected twists and turns in the plot.
Suddenly, the entire course of events is reversed by the king, so that wicked Haman is hanged on the very gallows he had intended for Mordecai, and the man whom he sought to kill is elevated to take his place. It is not just a great story magnificently told, but a story with important lessons for us to learn. Vashti had been removed as the queen, and Esther had been chosen by the king to take her place.
A second group of young virgins was being tried out by the king, and Esther had not been summoned by the king for 30 days. She in turn reported the matter to the king who investigated and had the two traitors hung. Haman, a man previously unknown to us, suddenly and unexplainably rises to power in the Persian Empire, second in power only to the king. Mordecai refuses to show Haman the respect the king had commanded. Haman waits for the right moment to exterminate them all. He is able to deceive the king and obtain power to pass a law which gave the enemies of the Jews permission to kill the Jews and seize their property.
When Mordecai becomes aware of this, he and the other Jews begin to mourn publicly. Esther tries to no avail to persuade him to stop. When Esther sends her trusted servant to speak with Mordecai, she is informed about all that has happened and is instructed by Mordecai to intercede for her people by appealing to the king. Esther declines, indicating this is virtually impossible and very dangerous. Only after Mordecai applies considerable pressure does Esther consent to appeal to the king. After three days of fasting, she makes her appearance before the king, an appearance which could very well cost her her life.
The obstacles are incredible and the timing flawless. The task Esther sets out to accomplish in our text is truly an impossible mission when you consider these obstacles:. For Esther to appeal to the king, she must break the law of the land and face the likelihood of paying for this crime with her life. Haman has endangered the Jews by deceiving the king. Now Esther will attempt to persuade the king to spare her life and the lives of her fellow-Jews. But to do so she has to admit that she, like Haman, has deceived the king. She has reached her position as queen by keeping the fact that she is a Jew a secret.
The edict which permitted the enemies of the Jews to kill them and confiscate their property was executed as a law of the Persians and the Medes, an irreversible law see 1: It does not look as though the king will or can undo the law he has allowed to be decreed in his name. The king has abdicated a great portion of his power to Haman, which enables him to pass laws the king has not even read. Haman has deceived the king. He has used the king to further his own interests. For the king to deal with Haman as the situation requires, the king will have to admit he has foolishly exalted Haman to power and position and that he has been duped by Haman.
So Esther came near and touched the top of the scepter. And what is your request? Even to half of the kingdom it will be given to you. What a tense moment this must be for Esther. Can you imagine the agony she undergoes beforehand—choosing just the right dress, shoes, perfume, and hair style for this occasion? The king is undoubtedly surprised to see her and surely recognizes she is greatly distressed. She touches his heart, and he extends his scepter to her, sparing her life.
Confidence In God In Times Of Danger - Chapel Library
Knowing she has something to request of him, he assures her that virtually anything she asks will be given her up to half of his kingdom. But Esther does not make her request—not yet. Instead, she invites the king and his prime minister, Haman, to a banquet she has already prepared for them. This must have involved another process of deciding the menu, the wines, and so on. Obviously, she chooses those things the king enjoys.
The king knows and understands that she is not yet ready to make her request. Why the delay and intrigue? The king promises to grant her request. Why does she not simply say what she wants? In truth, we do not know. Esther may be employing her feminine wiles. She may be reluctant to ask. She may be waiting for the opportune moment. One thing we can say with a fair degree of certainty—what she is preparing to ask of the king will be most difficult for him to grant. No wonder Esther is not eager to appeal to the king.
It will take something very dramatic and unusual to deliver the Jews from the danger they are in. It will take a miracle. It does not seem that either Esther or Mordecai believe in miracles. God will work miracles, but not as a result of the faith of men. The hand of God should be evident to us, even if it is not expected by our heroes or even recognized as such after God mightily delivers His people from death. Even to half of the kingdom it shall be done.
Esther requests that the king and Haman attend a banquet she has prepared. She also seems to understand the strategic role a banquet can play, because there have already been four banquets in chapters 1 and 2. These festive meals are occasions for drinking, and much is made of the use of wine in our passage and elsewhere in Esther. As they are drinking their wine, once more the king asks Esther what she wishes of him. Again, he gives her every assurance he will grant whatever she asks. Once again, Esther declines to make her petition. The text offers no clue as to why she delays.
The reason she delays is not as important as that she does delay. For it is during this delay, this interval between the first and second banquets, that God prepares the king to act as He purposes. Esther simply asks the king to attend yet another banquet, which she will prepare for he and Haman the following day. From her words to the king, it is clear that she will then make her petition known. It seems as though Esther is seeking assurance from the king that her petition will be granted. Her delays and His repeated assurances including his attendance at the second banquet seem to offer this assurance.
Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Confidence in God in Times of Danger 4. Another quality eBook from Chapel Library. When the times are turbulent and filled with all manner of possible dangers, the great God of the Bible is in control and can Another quality eBook from Chapel Library.
When the times are turbulent and filled with all manner of possible dangers, the great God of the Bible is in control and can be trusted completely. From this book the believer may learn to place unbounded confidence in the care of his God in the utmost danger; and to look to the Lord of omnipotence for deliverance when there is no apparent means of escape. Kindle Edition , 85 pages. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Confidence in God in Times of Danger , please sign up.
Be the first to ask a question about Confidence in God in Times of Danger. Lists with This Book. This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Jun 26, Valerie Caraotta rated it it was amazing. The providence of God that instills rest in the Believer In this classic book Confidence in God in Times of Danger I have better understood the providence of God as reflected in the book of Esther and in the everyday lives of Christians today.
Author Alexander Carson to shares the following: The reader will discover throughout history how God uses both evil and good men to achieve His purposes providentially and how there is no danger from which the Lord cannot rescue his people. He exhorts us to look for God's plan that may have been prepared before hand when we are engulfed on every side. In considering evil for example Carson shares how God raised up Haman to bring his people into danger as well as Esther to deliver them. As you better understand God's work in the transactions of man you will grow to trust him for provision, protection and the blessings of life.
Carson argues rightfully as well as to why the book of Esther should not be rejected just because it does not express the name of God and is not quoted by the New Testament. This solid book is excellent for those in Christian service and for those maturing in Christ. The points of emphasis or heartwarming and will allow the reader to trust God in another dimension.
I highly recommend this five-star book to others. Author Alexander Carson was an Irish Baptist pastor, leading scholar, and prolific writer. This classic book is one you do not want to miss out on. Fre rated it it was amazing May 03, Claude rated it really liked it Nov 23, Kenda rated it it was amazing Jul 25,