Day 36 of 2011 B90X

Good Saturday Saints~

I just got off the phone with someone participating in the B90X challenge.  He was so pumped.  First, because he never thought he could keep up with the daily reading.  And secondly, because he has been a Christ-follower for oh, several decades and never really had a contextual flow for the events in the Bible and now sees it.  And, lastly, sees how much more present Father is in his life than ever before.

A bit of time-line to help with when and where things happened: (recall some dates are specific, others speculative based on the historian)
587 BC (all dates below)  Fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians (Kings and Chronicles)
539 Fall of Babylon to the Persians
538- 515 Zerubbabel’s return and leadership in Jerusalem
520- 515 Temple rebuilding under Zerubbabel
486-465 Xerxes (Ahasueras) reigns in Persian (Esther)
483 Initial banquet described in Esther ch. 1
481-479 Greek and Persian Wars
478 Esther summoned before Xerxes, becomes queen
458 Ezra returns to Jerusalem from Babylon after Persians take over (Ezra)
445 Nehemiah returns to Jerusalem (Nehemiah)

Some information about Esther~~

An interesting fact about the book of Esther is the name of God in any form is never recorded.  Because of that the book was almost not included in the Hebrew Canon.  That would have been a real disappointment, as we would not have had such a powerful story of Father’s work in the lives of the Jewish race.  Not to mention that the Jews in Persia would have all been annihilated.  Side note- Had King Saul destroyed all of the Amalekites as he was told (1 Sam 15), Haman the Agagite would not have been here to cause trouble.  Is there a lesson there for us?  Certainly.  When Father tells you to get rid of something, do it.  Or the little thing will grow up to be a big thing and cause even more trouble later.

One of the purposes of the book of Esther is to show that God can accomplish his purposes just as easily through “coincidences” as he can through grand miracles of deliverance.  Though he works behind the curtain to deliver his people, he is in control.  Events that others see as chance or fate are seen as signs of God’s sovereignty to believers.  One of the most obvious ways this this purpose is demonstrated throughout the book is by the use of hidden information and the use of irony and reversal.

The book thrives on hidden information:
**Haman hides the identity of the people he wishes to destroy when he procures the decree from the king.
**Esther hides her Jewish identity.
**The king hides the identity of the one he wishes to honor.
**Esther hides the reason for the banquets.
**Esther hides the identity of the people for whom she is seeking protection.
**Mordecai hides his relationship to Esther.

Irony and reversal are also seen in numerous examples, for example:
**Haman thinks he is being honored by Esther when in reality he is being set up.
**Mordecai refuses to honor Haman; Haman if forced to honor Mordecai.
**Haman is hung on the gallows he had constructed for Mordecai.

The significance of the irony is that it demonstrates that there is always more going on than meets the eye and more in the works than any one individual understands or is aware of.  God’s control cannot be calculated, God’s solution cannot be anticipated, and God’s plan cannot be thwarted, because no one has all the information.  God is still in the business of miracles, but more often than not, they are “miracles of circumstance,” occurring behind the scenes in ways that could never be anticipated.  Theologians today call this Providence.  Even the absence of the name of God in the text of Esther serves to accentuate the fact that God’s work is taking place behind the scenes — it is another piece of hidden information.  Just as Esther hid her Jewishness, then worked behind the scenes for deliverance, so the book his God’s name, yet he worked behind the scenes for deliverance.

Finally, the book demonstrates that God is still in the business of protecting his people– even those who have not returned toHaEretz.

Have a great day everyone.  See you tomorrow.  Pastor Mark.

(Some of the above info found in Walton, Strauss, and Cooper, The Essential Bible Companion. 2006, Grand Rapids, Zondervan. P. 39)