13 July – Additional Notes
ESTHER 1: Planning A Stage Scene
A vital element to any Play is the scenery. But what goes on behind the scenes and what’s leading up to the unfolding events on the stage, are paramount to the success of everything that the Playwright (and his Director) are trying to achieve. There’s nothing worse than putting in all the effort to a Play in your own mind, only to have the actors spoil your show! Everyone, from the backstage boys to the lighting engineers, have to trust the Playwright’s judgment and obey the Director without question – especially as the scene is unfolding.
Today’s chapter is about moving players out, in order to move players in. The Creator God is planning his next Act in HIStory, and the stage is being set. So, while the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah (in my previous Breadcrumbs), cover the stories of exiles who managed to return to Israel, the Book of Esther is a story about those who remained in exile.
Ezra 1:5, for example, is the place to start for gaining background context to the Book of Esther. God’s Spirit moved in the hearts of those who returned to Israel after the 70-year exile. One could therefore say that, God’s Spirit did not move in the hearts of those who remained. This is almost certainly because Father God was fulfilling His greatest promise to Abraham.[a] For the first time in HIStory, God’s people were now dispersed across 127 countries (Persian Provinces) from India to the Upper Nile. [v1] And today’s chapter marked the start of the link between the Creator God>>one family/nation in Israel’s story>>humanity and the Maker’s Global Plan for those He made in His own image.
For the first time in the history of this family, Ephraim (the son who had the right-hand of Jacob on him, and who therefore received ‘the right hand of blessing’ from Abraham), was in a position of becoming a table (or multitude) of nations in his own right.[b]
Although Ephraim will be shot at, while spreading out to become a table of nations as a fruitful vine, his bow will remain steady, his strong arms will stay limber, because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob, because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel, because of his father’s God, who helps him, because of the Almighty, who blesses him with blessings of the skies above, blessings of the deep springs below, blessings of the breast and womb. His father’s blessings are greater than the blessings of the ancient mountains, than the bounty of the age-old hills. Let all these rest on the head of Joseph, on the brow of the prince among his brothers.[c]
The Book of Esther is, therefore, hugely important for us today. It’s about God’s miraculous protection over the scattered ‘seed’ of Abraham. So, after reading today’s chapter, I had three thoughts:
We have a PLAN in God. With the scene set in the same city that Nehemiah had been exiled to [v2], Esther’s book picks up HIStory where the physical/genetic ‘seed’ (now scattered to the nations), was germinating – just as the prophet Jeremiah’s instructed.[d] This would eventually find fulfilment at a global level and in a spiritual dimension – the “Abrahamic Blessing”: through you (Abraham) and your offspring, all nations on earth will be blessed;
We have a POSITION in God. Upon first read of this chapter, I could imagine modern-day men saying: “Yes! I knew my wife had to obey me!” And modern-day women may think that ancient Persian culture is seriously ‘pre-historic’ with no relevance for us today. But I wonder if you’ve noticed that King Xerxes’ decree [v21] wasn’t exactly ‘unbiblical’, nor was it culturally applicable to his day alone. He was actually declaring only what our Father God decreed over us in the beginning.[e] Until our Maker radically changes the Maker’s Handbook, we’re all stuck with the structure that our Father set out for us.[f] The sons of God will continue to rule over the daughters of God just as (a) women will continue to have pain in childbirth and (b) men will continue to be lifelong slaves – working like a servant by the sweat of their brow and in painful toil all the days of their lives. Most of this, incidentally, is in order to provide for their women and children. Whether we like our spot on the stage or not, the Director has positioned us on His stage for a very good reason. What’s done is done, but He has full control over our present and future.
We have a PURPOSE in God. Some of us may look at King Xerxes request (to bring in Queen Vashti and display her before his guests) as a vulgar and tasteless act from a guy who had been drinking too much wine. Alternatively, however, we could say that (after displaying all his treasures and the vast splendour of his kingdom for 187 days), he wanted to top it all off, on this, the final day! The beauty of his Queen, was his crowning glory! The Creator God did this when He created Eve. After creating all things good[g], He said for the first time that something was “not good”: man, on his own, was “not good”.[h] Coming from a 100% Good God (who does nothing in half measures, and everything is perfect), this is an unprecedented statement ever to come from His mouth! The Creator then made Eve and, at the end of the day – that great and final day after creating and displaying all His vast splendour – He declared that what He had made was now “very good”.[i] Women can now stand tall, and come out as our Father’s crowning glory. Without Eve it is not good, but with Eve it’s very good.
With this in mind, Vashti could have been her husband’s crowning glory. Instead she shrank back away from who she was created to be, and positioned to be. [v12] We don’t know her reasons. Could she not leave her guests without a host? Did she have her period and couldn’t come into a room full of men? Or, was she feeling like a toy on display, and took action based on that negative feeling? Whatever the reason, the results were dire and the consequences permanent. [v16-22]
With the stage now set, the real story kicks in…
So when thinking about the stage planning today, and all the things in my life that confuse, hurt, or even anger me (in the wings, backstage, and what’s hanging over my head), I need to trust that there’s always a bigger picture out there on the open stage. C.S. Lewis (a well-known British writer from the 20th Century) once said that we, in the West, emphasize or focus on the secondary, at the expense of the primary. But in doing that, we lose both. While emphasizing, or focusing on, the rule book for right and wrong, for example, we lose the fact that, in Abraham’s Day, faith in the Great Playwright was the only key to righteousness.[j]
If so, then, until a scene is played out in full and I’ve come and gone from the stage, I need to trust in my Maker’s plan. I need to accept my position in Him, and submit daily to the Director’s purposes over my life. With that said, I wonder what actions I’m taking today, and what I’m missing out on, by trying to plan my own stage scenes…
Based on negative feelings, or a wrong understanding of who I am in Him, am I risking my part in HIStory, and what He’s hoping to do through me?
CLICK to return to today’s “Daily Breadcrumbs”
[a] Genesis 12:3b
[b] Genesis 48:13-20
[c] Genesis 49:24-26
[d] Jeremiah 29:5-6
[e] Genesis 3:16
[f] Genesis 3:16-19
[g] Genesis 1:1-25
[h] Genesis 2:18
[i] Genesis 1:31
[j] Genesis 15:6 (See also Psalm 106:31)