Today’s Bible Reading: Esther 4-7:10; 1 Corinthians 12:1-26; Psalm 36:1-12; Proverbs 21:21-22
The Book of Esther is one of only 2 books in the Bible that does not directly mention God. Even so, we can see God’s hand in the events that take place and in the process learn a lot about how God works and who He is.
Esther learns of Haman’s plot to kill all the Jews in Persia but is not sure how to proceed. Evidently, she had not seen her husband in a month and going to him on her own would risk her life (Esther 4:11). But Mordecai says something very interesting. He expresses confidence that God will rescue the Jews somehow, with or without Esther. Their fate was not dependent on her. But her fate was dependent on her (Esther 4:14).
If someone refuses to do something that God asks them to do, God will find another person to do it. God’s will is always accomplished. But refusing to serve God can, and often will, bring negative consequences on that person. Its better to obey. God will never ask us to do something without also promising to be right there with us the whole time. We never need to be afraid of even the most daunting task. After its over we’ll be glad we did it.
Mordecai utters one of my favorite lines in the entire Bible in Esther 4:14 – “Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?”. Esther didn’t realize it, but we can see as we read this book thousands of years later – God was working through Esther to rescue the Jews in Persia. She was made queen for this exact occasion. For the same reason we should not disobey God when He asks us to do something. Perhaps the very reason we are where we are at in life at that moment is because God wanted to use us in that exact situation.
Its interesting to read how Esther stalls in chapter 5. Here is a perfect example of the Bible presenting human beings in a real way. Haven’t we all gotten similarly nervous before making a big request? The Bible is not mythology. It is the very real story of very real people serving a very real God.
In Esther 6 we see more of God’s hand in these events. Coincidentally (not!) King Xerces could not sleep after finding out about Haman. Coincidentally (nope!) he reads to try to fall asleep. Coincidentally (no, again) he ends up reading the account of how Mordecai saved his life. Clearly God was controlling these circumstances.
At the second banquet Queen Esther summons the courage to tell King Xerces about Haman’s plot to kill her and her people (Esther 7:3-4), saving Mordecai, herself, and all the Jews from death. Haman is impaled on the same sharpened pole on which he was going to impale Mordecai. Impaling was a precursor to crucifixion.
When we think of impaling, we think of a pole being passed into someone’s chest, through their torso, and out their back. But that was not how it worked. People were impaled, not front to back, but bottom to top. The pole entered at the bottom of their torso (you know what I mean) as they were pulled down with ropes onto the pole as the pole passed upwards into their body. The person could live for a while like this. Impaling was a public execution so the person would be exposed (naked), ridiculed, and humiliated not to mention being in incredible pain. Death could not come fast enough.
Paul discusses spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12 today. Spiritual gifts are given to born-again believers by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:4) so that we can serve Jesus (1 Corinthians 12:5) by allowing God to work through us (1 Corinthians 12:6). Here is another biblical mention of the Trinity which can be used to refute those who deny the Trinity, like Jehovah’s Witnesses.
In verses 7 through 11 Paul lists some of these gifts (he mentions others elsewhere in the Bible). When I was a new Christian my church offered a spiritual gift class that helped us identify which gifts we had. I came out of that class knowing exactly how I could serve God and have enjoyed doing so for over 20 years. It really is very fulfilling to serve God in a way that suits my personality and skills. I think many Christians are frustrated because they aren’t using their gifts because they don’t know their gifts.
In the remainder of today’s passage in 1 Corinthians 12, Paul reminds us not to get too arrogant about our gifts or too unhappy with our gifts. No matter what talent or skill God has given us, all our gifts work together to serve Him just like all our body parts work together. No one part is more important than another. No one part is less important than another.
People who do not walk with God are blind to their own sin (Psalm 36:2) and they don’t have the capacity to do anything good (Psalm 36:3). They are missing out on the blessing of knowing God (Psalm 36:7-10).
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