Day 1: Chapter 1
Have you ever been listening to a presentation in which the speaker moves from facts to a personal story? Did you sit up, connect and revel in the story? Everyone likes a good story. Jesus knew this, and used parables, rather than academic monologues, to get the point across.
Esther is a good story and more. You’ll probably enjoy the intrigue and “what will happen next” feel of the story. The story is so compelling that Jews read it annually at the celebration of Purim. Sometimes, they will hiss when Haman is mentioned and yell “Thank you” when Mordecai appears. This reading of Esther annually is a reminder of the providence of God and His willingness to save the Jews. The main characters are King Xerxes, Queen Vashti, Esther, Mordecai and Haman.
As background, the Book of Esther is taking place after Cyrus released the Jews from captivity in Babylon. But, understandably, some people didn’t want to move and stayed in what was now the Persian Empire.
Notice that the story begins with a feast, one that Vashti gives for the women in the palace. There are ten banquets in the ten chapters of Esther, so feasting is a big theme in this book, as is fasting. Watch for those two things. Indeed, when Jews celebrate Purim now, they often have a banquet which follows fasting.
Also, note that God is never explicitly mentioned in Esther. However, you can see the power of God in the bravery of Esther and in the way that events unfold. God saves the Jews in this story, just as his power and perfect plan saved us with the death of Jesus.
“But when the attendants delivered the king’s command, queen Vashti refused to come. Then the king became furious and burned with anger.” ~ Esther 1:12
Questions to ponder:
- When do you think it’s okay to refuse to do what someone in authority asks you to do? Why do you think Vashti refused the King?
- In your mind, what kind of a guy is Xerxes? Do you like him? Do you know anyone who is similar to him?
- Esther is a story of how she participated in God’s plan to save the Jews. How has God saved you?
- Verse 19 says that the king was going to replace Vashti with “someone else who is better than she.” Have you ever felt like someone ditched you for “someone better?” What did you do?