Reading through the Bible together

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

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The king’s servants came up with a plan to find a new queen: a beauty contest. Beautiful young women from around the empire were brought—we are not told if they came willingly, or were forced to come to the palace. 

 

We meet Mordecai and a group of people living quietly under the umbrella of the Persian Empire—God’s people. The book of Esther takes place in the 5th century B.C., when many of the Jewish people had returned home from exile after Cyrus’ decree.  Only a small number of Jews were still in Persia.

 

Mordecai is introduced to us as a Benjamite. His ancestry is far from being an entertaining account, as we will see later in the book. The king’s command brought Hadassah—that is, Esther—to the palace. Mordecai had raised the orphan girl, and loved her like his own daughter. Mordecai knew enough of the political climate of Susa to instruct Esther to keep her identity a secret—she was not to identify herself with her people. 

 

Esther immediately gained the favor of those in charge at the palace.  Her outward beauty was certain, but her tender heart and sparkling intellect combined with these physical attributes must have made Esther truly lovely. The king was struck by her beauty and graciousness and made her his queen.

 

Mordecai paced the palace grounds keeping an eye on Esther. When the king proclaimed a grand holiday—the Feast of Esther—we can imagine his anxiety for her well-being was second only to his pride. We are reminded again in verse 20 that Esther was compliant and did not reveal that she was related to Mordecai, or part of the Jewish people.

 

While at his assigned post within the king’s gate, Mordecai overheard whispers of a sinister plot to kill the king.  He told Esther, and Esther informed the king, and the conspirators were hanged. This incident is not inconsequential, and later provides a crucial turning point.

 

A young, Jewish, beauty has a remarkable reversal of fortune: from orphan girl to queen of the Persian Empire. God loves to use the weakest members of society; if they are willing. He has turned rebellious teens into patient teachers; drug addicts into deacons; prostitutes into prayer warriors; and a young woman with a 3rd grade education into a prophet. God, in His mercy, is a God of reversals.

 

Jean Boonstra
Voice of Prophecy