Saturday, June 29, 2024

June 29, 2024

On the third day, after the prayer and fasting, Esther adorned her royal garments and went to the king. According to Flavius Josephus, Esther had two maids to accompany her, one to lean on and one to help carry her train. As she approached the king and saw his unpleasant expression and the sparkle of his royal garments making him look more fierce, she fainted, and the king rushed off the throne and took her in his arms to help her recover. His countenance changed to love, and he told her she was not included in that law. However, he reached out his scepter, and she touched the top of it. Then the king asked what she petitioned, offering her half his kingdom, but she held off requesting by inviting him and Haman to her royal apartment for wine. The king sent for Haman, telling him to hurry because Esther had invited them for wine. Then, she requested their presence at the banquet that she would prepare tomorrow. 

Haman then headed out the king's gate, and upon seeing Mordecai and him not bowing or acknowledging him, he became fiercely angry. Still, he refrained from acting on his anger because he wanted him to be taken out with the other Israelites. However, while gloating over his wealth to his family and friends and feeling honored at the request of the queen for his presence at a banquet, they encouraged him to build the gallows and request the king to take him out early so he could enjoy his time with the king and queen without fretting over Mordecai. 

Jesus, unlike the harsh King Artaxerxes, always shows us His favorable countenance. We can approach His throne with confidence, knowing that His loving heart will console us and help us recover from our fears. Just as God softened the king's heart towards Esther, we can see her bravery as a powerful example of what God will do when He calls us to serve Him on behalf of His people. Esther's courage should inspire us to be brave, for Jesus has called us to serve Him by introducing others to His love and encouraging them to accept His gift of salvation. 

If I have found favour in the sight of the king, and if it please the king to grant my petition, and to perform my request, let the king and Haman come to the banquet that I shall prepare for them, and I will do to morrow as the king hath said. Esther 5:8

Friday, June 28, 2024

June 28, 2024

After Mordecai heard the news about the destruction of the Israelites, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth, went into the streets, and wept bitterly. He then went before the king's gate, where you could only go if you were well dressed, but didn't enter to do his usual duties. Esther heard about him and sent him clothes to change into, but he refused them because his grief hadn't been relieved. So Esther sent her attendant, Hatach, to find out what was wrong, and he told him of the king's edict to destroy all the Israelites. Mordecai told Esther  that she should go before the king on their behalf. However, there was a problem with doing that; there was a law that you could only go before the king if you had been called. Otherwise, you would risk your life unless he holds out the golden scepter. Mordecai sent a message back saying that her life was in danger anyway, being she was also an Israelite. He reminded her that God had placed her the position as queen for such a time as this. If she didn't, God would sent someone else to save his people but her life would be over anyway. He stressed the importance of trusting in God's plan. She agreed to do it, saying if I die, I die. She enlisted the help of all the Israelites to help petition God on her behalf by fasting and praying for three days. Mordecai did what she said. 

Observation: Why did these Israelites stay when Cyrus released them from captivity to return to Israel? They had put themselves in danger by not obeying God. 

Reminder: We are all called to go before King Jesus, and He holds out his scepter every time; we do not need to fear Him. Only those who reject Him need to fear Him. If you have something weighing heavy on you, petition others to help you by praying and fasting. God answers prayers. 

For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this? Esther 4:14

Thursday, June 27, 2024

June 27, 2024

Haman, an Amalekite, was cunning and convinced Artaxerxes to promote him over the princes of the nations, making him second in command. If you remember, God had warned the Israelites not to mix with the Amalekites because they didn't help them when they were in the wilderness, which made Haman an enemy of Israel. This took place five years after the king married Esther. I'm giving you a timeline because the cartoons and movies make you think it happened simultaneously. Mordecai was devoted to God and refused to bow before Haman, which angered him, so rather than ask the king if he could kill Mordecai, he decided to convince him to get rid of all the Israelites. The king was quite susceptible to the wiles of Haman and gave him his seal to do whatever he wanted. He drafted a new law that would have all the Israelites, including women and children, killed by a specific date and retain all their possessions for themselves.

Do not be misled; our government would like nothing more than to remove all the Christians from the face of the earth, much like Haman's desire to rid Persia of Israel. For the most part, we do what's right in the eyes of the Lord, and they hate our devotion to Him and would like nothing more than to replace our good intentions that come from Jesus with their evil desires that come from Satan and the wickedness within their hearts. Keep praying that God would route wickedness from the government and all the earth. Remember, our joy and peace come from knowing Jesus; He is in charge of the world's governments; once you realize that, the political issues will not ruffle you.

And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there. Ecclesiastes 3:16

The copy of the writing for a commandment to be given in every province was published unto all people, that they should be ready against that day. Esther 3:14

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

June 26, 2024

King Artaxerxes was depressed over losing Vashti for what she had failed to do, but there was nothing he could do about it because of the law. Several years later, his servants encouraged him to allow them to search the kingdom for a young woman to replace her to bring back his joy, and he allowed it. They gathered all the beautiful young women, including Esther, who was orphaned. Mordecai, her uncle, raised her, and when she was called among the young women, he told her not to reveal her lineage. All the women underwent a purification process for six months and were given treatments with ointments and fragrances. Once that process was over, one was brought to the king daily for him to sleep with. The girls he didn't choose for a wife were put away as secondary wives. However, when it was Esther's turn, he was enamored by her beauty and selflessness; he fell in love with her and chose her as his queen. He had a feast for his wedding and required all the provenances to celebrate his marriage. Mordecai had kept tabs on her throughout the process and was easily found at the king's gate. He discovered a plot against the king and reported it to Esther, and she told the king. The men who plotted against him were hung for treason. 

To see the inner workings of God's design are incredible. Time is of no concern to Him; His plans never fail and are eventually brought into the light. Though it may seem slow to us, we can count on his plan to prevail. Look at poor Esther losing her parents; it doesn't seem like good could come from that, but when it's part of God's plan, we can be confident it's for our good. If you are dealing with an unpleasant situation, you can be sure that God will make good of it.

And the king loved Esther above all the women, and she obtained grace and favour in his sight more than all the virgins; so that he set the royal crown upon her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti. Esther 2:17

Note: Any information not found in the Bible comes from Matthew Henry’s Commentary On The Whole Bible and The Complete Works of Flavius Josephus.

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

June 25, 2024

Ahasuerus, also known as Artaxerxes, was king over many provinces, but we know him as King of Persia. He decided to show off all his riches and hold a feast for the many princes in his kingdom. The merrymaking lasted 180 days, with him entertaining the men and Queen Vashti entertaining the women. One day, when the king was drunk, he called for the Queen to come to him so he could show off her beauty. She refused because it was forbidden by the law of the Persians for the wife to be seen by strangers. After several attempts to get her to come, he became angry, ended the party, and ordered that his counselors inform him of what he could lawfully do to her. It seemed he loved her and didn’t want to divorce her, but she embarrassed him and set a precedent for a wife to disobey her husband. His counselors pushed the issue of divorce so that the other wives wouldn’t follow her example of disobedience. We know this had to happen as bad as it may seem for Queen Vashti because God needed to usher in a new queen that He could use to further His will to advance His people. King Artaxerxes sent out a decree to all the people that the wives of all men should honor their husbands. Vashti was following the law, so they needed to make a new law that would override the old one. 

This kind of thing is happening in our government today; if one law isn’t working for them, they have to make new ones! This first chapter of Esther gives us a little insight into how laws are made. Men call their boys together for a bit of fun, get drunk, and make new, ridiculous laws when things don’t go their way. God will rescue us from the hands of evil in due time. Wait for it; it will surely come.

And when the king's decree which he shall make shall be published throughout all his empire, (for it is great,) all the wives shall give to their husbands honour, both to great and small. Esther 1:20

Monday, June 24, 2024

June 24, 2024

It was read in the book of law that the people of Ammon and Moab shouldn’t come into the congregation of Israel because they hadn’t helped Moses and the people during their time in the wilderness. Israel was forced to separate from the mixed multitude. While Nehemiah was back in Babylon for a time, some things went awry in Jerusalem and within the temple. Eliashib had allowed Tobiah, the servant of Sanballat, to take up residence in the temple by clearing out a couple of the storage rooms. Remember, when he began rebuilding the wall, Tobiah and Sanballat gave Nehemiah trouble. Upon his return to Jerusalem, Nehemiah kicked him out of the temple. If that wasn’t bad enough, the Levites were not getting paid as required, so they left their temple duties and returned to the country to provide for their families. Nehemiah gathered them, put them back in their assigned places, and ensured they got paid out of the tithes and offerings. Then, to top everything off, people began to work on the Sabbath, bringing their corn into the city to sell it and making their cattle work when God required them to allow them to rest as well as themselves. Nehemiah made them close the city gates during the Sabbath, not allowing them to sell their products. Nehemiah prayed that God would notice what good he had done. He was worried that he would get punished for everything that had gone wrong. 

When you take a break or step outside of God’s will, you can expect your life to go sideways, which happened when the people did their own thing while Nehemiah was out of town. We must each learn to govern ourselves to do what’s right in the eyes of God because we may not always have someone looking over our shoulders telling us how to live. 

Remember me, O my God, concerning this, and wipe not out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God, and for the offices thereof. Nehemiah 13:14

Sunday, June 23, 2024

June 23, 2023

Upon settling in Jerusalem, the priest purified the people, wall, and gates and dedicated the wall to God. The wall encompassed the entire city, so everything within it was devoted to God. They knew that none of what they did would have been possible without Him, recognizing that He was the one keeping them safe while they dwell there; He was their hope for a future. The people sang, played their instruments, and offered God the praise he deserved. They walked around the entire city with the priest walking along the wall, worshipping, praying, and rejoicing with great fanfare. 

Also that day they offered great sacrifices, and rejoiced: for God had made them rejoice with great joy: the wives also and the children rejoiced: so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off. Nehemiah 12:43

Imagine getting a new home or place to dwell in, and other people had once been living in it, worshipping idols or praising other “gods” within those walls. Although it may sound ritualistic, I think we should follow the lead of Nehemiah and dedicate our homes to God. Though Jesus has already purified us, you can still repent your sins, pray, and praise while walking around your home, thanking him for giving you a place to live. This is just my opinion, but I think it will help run any demons out or keep them from trying to take up residence there. You will be worshipping God there, so invite him to fill your home with His blessings.