Providence–Book of Esther #2: “2 Queens” ~ Esther 1:3-2:23

Providence, Part 2

Insights From the Book of Esther

“Two Queens”

Bruce A. Hess

Right click on audio player to download mp3 or to change listening speed

Now, if you would, please take out the word of God and turn in it to the book of Esther, in the Old Testament. The book of Esther.

You know, it’s kind of fascinating that in many ways the book of Esther is a semi-obscure book in the Bible. It is frequently overlooked and yet, when you look at it more closely it is an enthralling page turner. There are twists and there are turns and there are ups and there are downs. The setting of the book is among the rich and the powerful and there is beauty and there is opulence and there is intrigue and there is suspense in the book. When you look at those elements, you know, an enthralling page turner, twists and turns, and rich and powerful, and beauty and opulence, and intrigue and suspense, you would think you would be looking at a pop novel or maybe a creative screen play or movie plot. But, it is a true story and it is part of the word of God and it is worthy of our time to delve into it.

Now, the overarching title that I have given to this series of messages on Esther is the title, ‘Providence.’ Last time I read part of Isaiah, chapter 46: 9-11. I quoted part of this, I want to quote a little more extended portion of it this week. Speaking of God’s providence, we have God here actually talking and He says, “I am God and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning.” He goes on to say, “My purpose will be established, I will accomplish all My good pleasure…Truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it.” That is a statement of providence from the heart of God.

Last time, as we just introduced our study, I shared with you several definitions of providence that came from various theologians. I want to share another one with you this morning. This is A.H. Strong and here is how he defines providence. He says providence is God’s attention concentrated everywhere. That is a good definition. God’s attention concentrated everywhere.

I also shared with you my perspective on providence. I said providence means God is behind the seen.

S-e-e-n. And, we stated that providence is His superintendence of all that happens in life, all that happens remains within God’s control and divine purpose. Providence. That is what we are looking at as we look at the book of Esther.

The title I’ve given to today’s message, which really involves chapter 1 and chapter 2, is “Two Queens,” because that’s what we are going to see in chapters 1 and 2.

Now, since the book of Esther is ten chapters long and we are going to be covering it only in a handful of weeks, we’re not going to be able to give a full Scripture reading every Sunday morning of the section we are going to be looking at, so I am somewhat reliant on you in the week beforehand to spend some time reading through the book of Esther. Next time we will be looking at chapters 3 and 4. So, if you could read those before you come next week.

The outline I have for these first two chapters breaks out like this:

  • First of all, we have the big banquets, plural, in the first chapter, verses 3-9.
  • Then, we have Queen Vashti demoted in verses 10-22.
  • Then, we have the successor search in the first eleven verses of chapter 2.
  • Then, we have the final contest in verses 12-16
  • and then, we have Esther chosen in chapter 2, verse 17 down through the end of the chapter.

So, that’s the plan, that is what we want to look at. Is everyone ready to do that or should we just say, ‘Amen,’ and go home right now?

Let’s go ahead and look at it. Let’s begin with the big banquets, plural. Banquet, phase one, is found in verses 3 and 4. Look at them with me with me. “In the third year of the reign of Ahasuerus he gave a banquet for all his princes and attendants, the army officers of Persia and Media, the nobles and the princes of his provinces being in his presence. And he displayed,” verse 4, “the riches of his royal glory and the splendor of his great majesty for many days, in particular 180 of them.”

So, the first phase of the big banquets is this banquet he holds and it says all these groups of people were coming and this is really the cream of the crop [the top groups] he invited. It included all of his princes, which in that day would really mean your extended relatives that you nominated to be a prince. So, all of his extended relatives were called in. All of his attendants were present at this banquet. All of his close advisors, all of the army officers of the entire empire of Medo-Persia were invited to the banquet. The nobles were invited to the banquet and that would be the wealthy people, you know, the millionaires and the billionaires, you’ve got to have them at the big banquet.

Then, he said he also invited the princes of all of his provinces to come. Remember, the empire was made up of multiple regions and multiple language groups. We learn from the first couple of verses that there were 127 provinces, so the princes of all those provinces, like we might invite the governors, of 127 states, all came to the banquet.

In verse 4 it tells us that the banquet went on for 180 days. How many months is that, a little math question this morning? It’s what? Six months. How many people have been to a banquet that went on for six months? Let me see all those hands. We don’t do six-month banquets. Now, I know it’s possible that maybe they were rotating these various leaders over a period of six months, but it just appears when you look at it that they were all together for six months.

What is really interesting is, many historians believe, and remember the history of Esther is some of the oldest history we have in the Old Testament. It’s not just chronological. Because it is some of the older history, we have a lot more information about what went on. Many historians believe that what we have in this first big banquet is a fundraising venture that Ahasuerus was doing because he wanted to conduct an invasion of the kingdom of Greece. So, what he was doing was raising funds. That is why you bring all these bigwigs (prominent or significant person), all the cream of the crop, all the millionaires, all the billionaires, all those people. What he needed was the cooperation from all districts in order to launch a war because you were going to have to also raise the manpower, not only the finances, but the manpower to pull off a big invasion.

So, he has all of these leaders coming together and what is interesting is, that Herodotus, the Greek historian, actually recorded an address that Ahasuerus, or Xerxes, his Greek name, actually gave at a banquet and it was most likely this banquet. Here is part of what he said at that banquet, “From the day which I mounted the throne, I have not ceased to consider by what means I may rival those who have preceded me.” In other words, I want to be better than anyone before. “My intent is to march an army through Europe against Greece. In behalf of all, I undertake the war and pledge myself not to rest until I have taken and burnt the city of Athens. We shall extend the Persian territory as far as God’s heaven reaches and we shall bring all mankind under our yoke.” That was the message he was communicating at this big banquet, phase one.

What is really interesting is, that Ahasuerus, or Xerxes, his own uncle was opposed to conducting this war, not unlike happens in any government situation. But it appears that this big show that he puts on seems to convince the large group of leaders, ‘this is a great idea to launch an invasion of Greece.’

We are looking at the big banquets. Big banquets, phase two, happens beginning in verse 5. It says, “When these days (the 180) were completed, the king gave a banquet that lasted seven days.” This one is different, rather than just all the cream and all the leader types and the wealthy types, he invited “all the people who were at the citadel in Susa, from the greatest to the least, in the court of the garden of the king’s palace.” In other words, he invited all the people in town. ‘Come on, I’ve got a banquet for you. Everybody, I don’t care what your standing is, come on into my courtyard.’

And, this was a very elaborate banquet, verse 6 begins to describe it. It tells us that there were actually, in this courtyard area, where everybody gathered together in the city, there were couches of gold and silver. How many people have those at home? We don’t have those, right. There were paved mosaics in the pavement and these large patio areas and part of those mosaics included precious stones and other valuable things. Can you imagine such a thing, when the sun shone down on it? Then, there were all this purple linen hanging everywhere and purple linen was extremely expensive. They would have to actually go to a mollusk that is found in the Mediterranean Sea, they would have to get multiple, multiple, multiple, mollusks. They would boil them for three days to extract the purple dye, which would be then put into all this material. This was very, very expensive stuff. I mean, people didn’t have purple, violet linen hanging in their homes.

We learn from verse 7 that they were drinking out of gold drinking vessels. It says there, “the royal wine was plentiful.” Translation, no cash bar at this banquet. Drink as much as you want, it is available to you.

Then, something interesting is talked about in verse 8. It is very fascinating. It says that “drinking was done according to the law, there was no compulsion, so the king had given orders to each official of his household that he should do according to the desires of each person.” You may say, ‘I don’t understand what’s going on here.’ Well, here is something we need to understand about the way things operated in the Persian Empire. Normally, if you ever were at an event where the king was present, you wouldn’t drink anything until the king drank something. Whenever the king would drink, you would drink, everyone would drink, but otherwise you would wait, in deference to the king. What he is really saying is, not only was there an open bar, man, as much as you want, you could just drink according to the desires of each person. You didn’t have to wait for the king, you could just drink, drink, drink away.

It is kind of interesting, there was a common Persian belief in that day, that if you became intoxicated that you would be more in contact with the spirit world. It kind of reminds me of growing up in the sixties when people used to say about LSD, you take LSD and you are more in contact with the spirit world. So, having that belief, of course, would help people lean in when getting intoxicated.

It is kind of interesting, in Proverbs, chapter 20 and verse 1 it says this, “Wine is a mocker…whoever is intoxicated by it is not wise.”  We are going to see that played out in the rest of the chapter. Being intoxicated is not wise.

Then, we have the big banquets, phase three, down in verse 9. Queen Vashti also gave a banquet for the women. Now, it is important to understand, the way that the Medo-Persian Empire worked, we normally think of the King sitting here and the Queen sitting next to him. That is not the way that it worked. The Queen would normally be sequestered away with the King’s harem. In Persian law it said that if you were just a regular person off the street, you could not look directly at the Queen. In fact, one of the things that they would do with the Queen is, they would surround her with seven eunuchs. That would be seven guys who’d had sexual surgery. The idea is, wherever she would go, those seven guys were with her. The idea was, it was going to guarantee that if the Queen ends up pregnant, we are going to know that it was only the King who could have done it. So, she is having a separate banquet.

In the next section we are going to see Vashti demoted. What happens? Well, in verse 10 Ahasuerus gets tipsy, he gets intoxicated and he comes up with this harebrained (extremely foolish) idea. He says to these people who are caring for Queen Vashti, “I want you to bring her out before the king,” verse 11, “with her royal crown in order to display her beauty to the people and the princes, for she was very beautiful.” He gets intoxicated, he says, ‘I’m thinking about my bride, I want you all here in the town to check out my little chickadee, she is b-e-a-utiful. Bring her out!’ Not wise.

Verse 12, Queen Vashti refuses. We respond with, can you blame her? I mean, can you blame her? I mean, this is a really bad, bad move by Ahasuerus. He shows here a deep lack of a grasp on the proper principal of the submission of a wife. I mean, a wife being submissive to her husband has never included the idea that she should be required to submit to some sort of carnal lust-based desires of her husband. Or, to be just paraded in front of people and gawked at as a sex object. I mean, this request was humiliating, and she refused.

I also want you to notice, I think there is something else working in the background here, a number of historians believe that Vashti, which was her Hebrew name, is the same person as Queen Amestris, which was her Greek name. Just so you know, Amestris was known as a very vindictive woman. In fact, before the events that we see here in the book, Ahasuerus, or Xerxes, had an affair. It was an affair with the daughter of his brother’s wife. That would be his niece by marriage. And, he chose to have this affair with his niece by marriage at the same time the Queen had so wanted to express her affection for her husband that she had made a hand-woven multi-colored robe. The Queen had given it to her husband, ‘Here wear this and be proud of who you are.’

Well, the King was so taken with this new lover, who was his niece by marriage, he at one point said to her, ‘Hey, whatever you want, I’ll grant whatever you wish for.’ That young lover said to him, ‘You know what I really want? That multi-colored robe that your wife hand made for you. That’s what I want.’ And, the King is going, ‘What? I can’t give you that. If I give you that, I mean, it’s going to cause all kinds of problems.’ So, he offered her gold and he offered her a number of other things, but this lover who was his niece by marriage said, ‘No, no, no, what I want. I want that multi-colored robe.’ And, of course eventually he relented and what did she do when she had it? What would any girl want to do when she had the most beautiful piece of clothing in the kingdom? She wore it and the word got back to the Queen.

She was mad. She waited until it was the King’s birthday banquet and she confronted him at the birthday banquet. ‘How could you? Blah, blah, blah, blah.’ Fill in all the blanks, you know. He said, ‘Well, what do you want me to do?’ She said, ‘What I want you to do is, I want you to give me the mother of your lover and hand that mother over to me.’ So, the King finally just relented and said, ‘Okay.’

Well, the Queen did not kill the mother of the lover, but she mutilated her. She cut off her lips, cut off her nose, cut off her ears, cuts off her sex organs and had them chopped up and fed it to the dogs.

I tell you all that just to understand, there is plenty of dysfunction going on here. Okay? This isn’t just a one drunk thing, ‘Come out and dance.’ No, there is a lot going on here in this situation. I think some of that emotion plays into the King’s reaction in verse 12. He is ticked off, it says, “His wrath burned within in.” I mean, I’m sure part of this whole story of the mutilation and everything else, is part of the background of his emotional response. So, he goes, ‘We’ve got to do something.’ And, we talked about how he is the kind of guy who was very influenced by other people, he gets his inner circle around, ‘what are we going to do? What are we going to do? We’ve got to do something! My gosh, this is embarrassing.’

Then, this guy by the name of Memucan, who is one of his consultants says, ‘Hey, listen, this could really get bad, because all the women of the Empire might hear about her rebellion and there could be rebellion in every one of our homes and all of our wives could start looking with contempt upon their husbands. I mean, hey, King, you are putting the whole male-dominant culture at risk here. So, I have a solution. What we need to do to the Queen is demote her.

In verse 19 there is an interesting phrase there, it says, “If it pleases the king, let a royal edict be issued by him and let it be written in the laws of Persia and Media so that it cannot be repealed.” One of the unique things about Medo-Persian law is, that when it was written out as a written law it could never be repealed. He says, ‘that’s the kind of law we need.’

We are going to see it come into play in chapter 8 and verse 8 of the book of Esther. You can go to the book of Daniel, Daniel, chapter 6 and verse 8, it gets mentioned there. That was the law. If it was written down, it could not be repealed.

He said, ‘What we want the law to say is, that she can no longer come into the presence of the King.’ Not death, but a loss of position and access. I mean, the whole thing is foolish on the part of these guys, I mean, you cannot legislate love and respect, right? You can’t do it.

I want you to notice how diverse this whole empire was. In verse 22 it says, “So he sent letters to all the king’s provinces, to each province according to its script, its alphabet, and to every people according to their language.” You had all these various 127 provinces, many of them had their own alphabet, their own languages, so you had to write these letters in all these various languages and then the only way they could ever get sent out was through their pony express mail system (a delivery service using riders on horses in the 1800’s). All that took a lot of time.

Now, let’s just freeze frame right there. Can anything good come out of all that? Can anything good come out of all of that? The answer is yes, if God’s providence is at work. The answer is yes, if He superintends all that happens in life. The answer is yes, if all that happens remains within God’s divine purpose.

Which leads us to the next section in the first eleven verses of chapter 2 and that is, the successor search. Now, you will notice verse 1 of chapter 2 begins with a little phrase, “After these things.” You might just initially have the idea, ‘Well, this probably happened the next week or the next month, but actually there is a time gap between chapter 1 and chapter 2. We learn from chapter 1, verse 3, that the events of the banquets happened in the third year of his reign, which we saw was 483 B.C. When you come to verse 16, chapter 2, it is the seventh year of his reign, which would be 479 B.C. Why is that significant? Because, between chapter 1 and chapter 2, some things happened in those years. What happened in those years was the invasion of Greece. The attempted invasion of Greece. What happened, if you know your history, is that, our King Xerxes, or Ahasuerus, was defeated. It was the first defeat he ever experienced. It was a humiliating defeat. They were defeated at the hands of the Spartans at Thermopylae.

Now, I’ve never seen it, but the movie, ‘300,’ is a fictionalized account of that very battle. No doubt, when this happened, after all this selling job that he did and everything else, this was highly deflating. This was discouraging. No doubt he was down and depressed. In verse 1 it says that “his anger had subsided, and he remembered Vashti and what she had done and what had been decreed against her.” I think you have a king who is down, depressed and lonely.

It is important to understand. It’s not like he is saying, ‘Hey, I don’t have a woman available to me.’ He had a whole harem available to him. All the sexual satisfaction that he might want, he could have at any time. But, remember, sex is not love. I believe he was hungry for a true companion, someone with whom he could share his emotions and his feelings. So, as this is all happening, the attendants go, ‘Whoa, remember a couple of years ago when we talked about a successor? Let’s do it. Let’s do the ultimate bachelor thing.’ So, they go to all 127 provinces and they pluck the pearls of the pearls of all the virgins and they decide to bring them to Susa.

Chapter 2, verses 5-7 introduces us to our key characters of Mordecai, who was a Jew, who was a Benjamite. His family had been taken into exile by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, they had left Jerusalem and had come to this foreign land. We learn in verse 7 that Mordecai was bringing up Hadassah, that is her Hebrew name, that is Esther, his uncle’s daughter, because her parents had died.

These people who were brought against their will into this area, and Esther’s parents, which was a tragedy of supreme levels in that culture, had died, so Mordecai said, ‘I’m going to adopt Esther.’ Look at verse 8, it says, “So it came about when the command and decree of the king were heard and many young ladies were gathered to the citadel of Susa into the custody of Hegai,” that would be the guy who was in charge of all the bachelorettes, who were coming to meet the bachelor, who was the King.

What is really interesting about Esther is, there are some interpreters who are very critical of Mordecai and Esther. They basically say this, ‘They were Jews, why would they want to expose Esther to the moral cesspool of Susa. Not only that,’ they say, ‘when you get to the end of this beauty contest, part of the process is, you have to audition for the King. Every one of the girls is going to have one night of sex with the King. Then, maybe he will vote for her to be Queen or not.’ I am a father of three daughters, and I can understand that. I would be going, ‘No way! I’m not putting my daughter in that.’ While that is possible, I think it is more probable that this was not an optional thing, this was not where they were calling for volunteers. This is where they went out into the various provinces and looked for the most beautiful virgins they could find, and the winners were sent to Susa.

We learn in verse 8, it says, “Many were gathered.” We don’t know how many there were, and they were put into the custody of this guy named Hegai, who was the one who was coordinating the bachelor event.

In verse 9 he meets Esther. It says there that this, “young lady pleased him and found favor with him.” Literally, in the original language it says she won grace in his eyes. That is not a sinister thing. But, she won grace in his eyes, she found favor in the eyes of Hegai. This, men and women, is the providence of God.

Proverbs 11:16 says, “A gracious woman attains honor.”

Now, their world wasn’t much different from our world, it would be promoting aggressiveness on the part of women, assertiveness, and sensuality. It is all about the externals, you’ve got to dress everything out perfectly on the outside. But Esther was different. In fact, the key word in verse 9 is the word, ‘quickly.’ Very quickly she gains a special advantage with this guy. He gives to her seven choice maids, the cream of the coaches that he had, he gives to Esther. He puts her in the best place in this harem. He gave her the best apartment. Why do you do all that? Well, she was very teachable and wise. Look at verse 10, “Esther did not make known her people or her kindred, for Mordecai had instructed her that she should not make them known.” She was teachable and people noticed it.

Notice what happens in verse 11, “Every day Mordecai walked back and forth in front of the court of the harem to learn how Esther was and how she fared.” I mean, he loved her as her father, he wanted to know what is happening.

Which leads us to the final contest in verses 12-16. We learn from verse 12 what happened to all these girls, we don’t know how many of them, they came from 127 provinces. They would go into this special twelve-month preparation time. While they are in the twelve-month preparation time they would receive special oils and special baths and they would go through the tanning booth and they would have their hair cut and their manicures and their pedicures and special diets they would go on. Then there would be charm school and they would learn about etiquette, they would learn about grace, they would learn about communication skills, they would be educated in the Persian culture and history. They would be oriented to the ways of the palace; they would learn about the importance of eye contact and the power of a smile and the role of the Queen. They were trained in all of that stuff.

You get a bunch of girls together in that kind of competitive environment and you know what happens? Character surfaces. If you’ve ever seen some of the ‘Bachelor,’ twenty-five girls, oh my goodness does character surface. And, you know there had to have been competition and conflict and criticism and cat fights (bickering between women) and backbiting and sour faces. And, guess what? Esther stood out as unique.

We learn from verse 13, when it came time to audition for the King, after she has gone through this twelve months of training, she could take anything with her from there that she desired to take with her, to the audition with the King. The implication was, you could take whatever you want out of here, and you get to keep it even if you get rejected as the Queen. Of course, we would know that most of the girls would choose the most valuable thing, maybe some sort of jewelry that she wanted to take with her. But, we learn from verse 15 that Esther was very different, she only wanted to take what Hegai recommended to her.

It also says in verse 15 that Esther found favor in the eyes of all, including all the girls. You have to kind of think about this situation. Can you imagine you are the King in this deal? All these girls are going to come to you and you are thinking, ‘Well, who can I trust? Who is really a gold-digger (someone who marries another only for their money), who is a manipulator? Who is ego driven in this group? I mean, who is self-absorbed, what am I going to get?’ Reminder, this was not a great scenario for these young girls, because you had to go in for this one night stand and if you were not chosen by the King, it tells us in verse 14 that you were returned to what is called the second harem. That is the group of girls who had already been to bed with the King, there were no longer any virgins in there, and you would be stuck in this second harem unless the King somehow in the future remembered you and called you back in. Frankly, this was a very ugly process.

So, the question is, where is God in all of this? Did God know what was happening? How could this be used for good? Is God still in control in the middle of all of this? Of course the answer is yes. Because, God’s providence can take that which is bad and ugly and work it toward His sovereign aim.

That is what happens when Esther is chosen in verses 17-23. You notice in verse 17 we see a familiar phrase, it says, “The king loved Esther more than all the women, and” here it goes, “she found favor with him.” The exact same phrase that is used of Joseph in the book of Genesis, chapter 39, with Potiphar, who was the captain of Pharaoh’s bodyguard. Joseph found favor with him, she found favor with the King, which as I said, is this repeating theme that we see.

You know what? I have often had prayers and made prayers like that. I really have, for decades I have prayed prayers like that for my family, ‘Oh, Lord, may they find favor in the eyes of their teacher, may they find favor in the eyes of their employers.’ I have prayed that prayer for many of you. I’ve actually prayed that prayer for myself, to appeal to the providence of God.

I want you to notice what happens in verse 18. There is another banquet. This is banquet number four! The King decides to hold a banquet for Esther and yet, notice all the while all this is going on in verse 20, “Esther had not yet made known her kindred, her Jewish background or her people, even as Mordecai had commanded her. For Esther did what Mordecai told her, as she had done when she was under his care.”

Then, in verses 21-23, it is almost like it is a little aside thrown in there, almost seems like a coincidental event. It says in verse 21, “In those days, while Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate,” now, sitting at the king’s gate, what does that really mean? Well, it was very much like our county courthouse and it is likely that Mordecai was a city official or a lower court judge. Had Esther been a reference to get him this job? We don’t really know, but he is functioning there at the king’s gate in this county courthouse environment and there are these two guys by the name of Bigthan and Teresh. They are part of the bodyguards of the King. It says they are angry at the King and they decided they want to lay hands on the King. Translation, they want to take him out.

Who are these guys? We don’t really know. Are they former loyalists to Vashti? We don’t really know. But, Mordecai hears about this plot and he tells Esther, in verse 22. In verse 23, it is investigated and the two guys are hanged and it is written that such an event happened in the Book of the Chronicles, which was the historical diary of the nation.

Now, we’ve covered all that ground. What I want to do for the next moment or two together is to, just pull together some life reflection on what we have seen.

First of all, a question. What do you think the human odds are that an orphaned Jew, whose parents had been taken as captives from Jerusalem to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar, who had to be adopted out, what are the human odds that, that one would one day be chosen among hundreds and hundreds to become Queen of the Medo-Persian Empire? I’d say pretty low odds. She had a pretty difficult life. Being orphaned was a horrible thing. Much worse than it even is today. Even through all the difficulty and the dire circumstances and the heartache that Esther went through, God was providentially at work.

What does that mean for you? I think it means that God has you where He has you. And He has me where He has me.

I want you to think about your own life for just a moment. What is your story right now? What heartache are you experiencing right now? What difficult circumstances are you facing right now? So, just think about that for a second. Let me ask this. Is God still on the throne? Does He still have a providential plan? The answer is yes and yes. Now, frequently we can’t discern His divine plan, but He has one and He is always at work in our circumstances. Here is what I want us to understand, embracing God’s providence does a number of things.

Embracing God’s providence eliminates certain notions from our life. Notions like: luck, chance, fickle fate, randomness. When we embrace His providence it eliminates all those things.

Embracing providence neutralizes other reactions we often can have when circumstances come up on us. Reactions like: panic, and fretting, and anxiety, and yes, even anger.

When we embrace providence it breeds certain things in our life. It breeds trust, it breeds peace, even when the circumstances are hard. It breeds confidence. It breeds assurance and men and women; you know what God desires of you and me. He desires that we embrace providence.

Walter Chalmers Smith, who was a Scottish preacher, wrote some words to a very famous hymn that I think is an expression of the providence of God. Here is the way part of the lyrics go, it says,

Immortal, invisible God only wise

In light inaccessible hid from our eyes

We can’t always see God’s providence, but it is there. Then, he goes on to write these words,

Unresting, unhasting, and silent as light

Nor wanting, nor wasting, thou rulest in might

He is always ruling in might. That is the providence of God. Let’s pray together. Father, we thank You for this living book that teaches us about Your providence. We thank You that when we embrace it, it will eliminate things from our life like a sense of randomness and chance. It will neutralize the panic and the anxiety and sometimes even the anger we may feel and it will breed in our hearts trust and peace and confidence and assurance. We are grateful for that, Father. Oh, so grateful. We thank You in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Questions for Reflection

Providence (Esther) – 2 Queens

Esther 1:3-2:23

1. It was stated by Bruce that the Book of Esther is frequently overlooked.  Why do you think that is? Explain.

2. What’s the biggest banquet you ever attended?  Elaborate

3. From your perspective, what were some of Ahasuerus’ motivations for these banquets?

4. What mistakes did Ahasuerus make in this banquet disaster?  Could or should have Vashti responded differently?  If so, how?

5. In the Book of Daniel, Daniel and his captivity friends Hananiah (Shadrach), Mishael (Meshach), and Azariah (Abed-nego)—at the risk of their lives—took strong stands against demands placed upon them by their captors (see Dan 1, 3, 6).  Should have Mordecai and Esther also taken a strong stand against the King’s beauty contest (which also included participation in a night of unmarried sex with the King)?  If so, why do you think they didn’t?

6. On the other hand, as did Daniel and his friends, Esther and Mordecai found favor with their captors.  What was the common element that they each displayed?

7. Bruce stated that embracing God’s providence has three benefits:

            – it eliminates certain notions (list some)

            – it neutralizes certain negative reactions to life (list some)

            – it breeds certain positive responses to life (list some)

8. Pray for God’s favor in your life at school, at work, at home.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *