Today’s Bible Reading: Esther 1-3:15; 1 Corinthians 11:17-34; Psalm 35:17-28; Proverbs 21:19-20
Today we begin the book of Esther which is the last of the historical books in the Bible. It is also one of the most historically-proven books. The very palace that the events of chapter 1 took place in has been discovered by archaeology.
During one of Xerces feasts he request that his wife, Queen Vashti, come and display herself in front of a drunken Xerces and his drunken friends. But she wisely refuses (Esther 1:11-12). She is then banished from the king’s presence forever (Esther 1:19) to set an example to the other wives.
Some people claim that passages like this demonstrate how God expects us to behave. But this is not true. What Xerces did here is not an example of godly behavior at all. Although not a follower of the true God, the Queen acts with more wisdom and godliness than her husband.
In an effort to replace Queen Vashti, Xerces “interviews” (to put it politely) women from all over Persia including Esther whose family came in the exile from Judah. Esther (whose Hebrew name was Hadassah) had been adopted by her cousin after her parents had died (Esther 1:7-8).
Interesting historical fact: Hegai, mentioned in this chapter, is also mentioned as an officer of Xerces in the writings of the Greek historian, Herodotus. Just another example of the Bible being 100% accurate.
The book of Esther is all about God having a plan for our lives. In Esther’s case, God is seen arranging events so that He will be able to use her to do something very important. In this chapter we see that of all the women brought into the harem, but God arranges for Esther to receive preferential treatment (Esther 2:9).
After “interviewing” Esther, Xerces makes her queen (Esther 2:14, 17). God has now positioned Esther into a very important place where she can do what He needs her to do.
Meanwhile, Mordecai hears about a plot to assassinate Xerces. He gets this information to his niece who tells the king (Esther 2:21-22). This establishes her credibility with Xerces which will come in handy later. Sometime later Mordecai gets on the wrong side of Haman, an official to Xerces. In response Haman plots to have all the Jews killed in Persia, to which Xerces agrees. Pretty interesting, huh? Who says the Bible is boring?
Its interesting how many times in history someone has tried to eliminate the Jews from the known world. Hitler was the latest. Interestingly, Persia will try again. Persia is now known as Iran and we know from Bible prophecy that Iran will lead a major attack on Israel with the help of modern-day Russia. Considering the vitriolic threats that have come out of Iran in recent years, this attack may be right around the corner. We also know that this attack will miraculously fail because God will intervene.
The final attack on the Jews will be by the antichrist during the 7-year tribulation.
Paul continues to correct the theology and behavior of the Corinthians in our reading in 1 Corinthians today. In today’s passage he addresses the way they are conducting the Lord’s Supper.
In Luke 22:7-23 Jesus teaches His disciples to remember Him (He would be crucified the next day) through a practice we today call the Lord’s Supper or “communion”. In this practice Christians eat unleavened bread and drink wine (or grape juice) as Jesus and His disciples did on the last night of Jesus’ life. The bread represents Jesus’ broken body and the wine/juice represents His blood which was spilled for our sins. It is a very moving and somber remembrance of the sacrifice Jesus made for us.
But the Corinthians were treating it like a pagan ritual by getting drunk and by not treating everyone equally (1 Corinthians 11:21). Paul tells them that it would be better for them to stay home and behave in this manner rather than assembling before God this way (1 Corinthians 11:22).
The purpose of communion is to remember Jesus (1 Corinthians 11:26). It is not an excuse for a party. When partaking of communion we must be of the right mindset (1 Corinthians 11:27, 31). Our focus should not be on Christ and His death while at the same time reminding us that we have been set free from our sins by Jesus’ death.
Whenever we are being harassed or mistreated, as David was in Psalm 35, we can be sure God sees and hears everything (Psalm 35:22). This is a good thing for those of us who are His children. Its not such a good thing for those who mistreat us. God will come to the defense of those who love Him. The world make think that because God doesn’t act quickly that He doesn’t exist or that He isn’t going to punish sin. But as we’ve read a couple of times this year… God waits patiently to give the sinner time to repent. Never fear – God hears. And He will act.
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post