The book of Esther is a very interesting book in the Bible. It is interesting & unique in that it is in the canon of scripture, and God’s name does not appear in the book. There is no divine title whatsoever, nor any pronoun even referring to God. However, the king of Persia – Xerxes name is mentioned 175 times. In addition to no mention of God neither is there any reference to prayer which involves the thought of God as the hearer and answerer.
So why has God inspired so strange a book and what is His reason for omitting His name? The answer is 2 fold:
- In this book we see the people of Israel on a self chosen path.
- Although God is not mentioned, throughout the book we see God’s sovereign hand preserving his people, showing that everything is under his control.
Historically, the book of Esther would have taken place around the same time as the book of Ezra and before the Book of Nehemiah. While many Jews had returned home to Judea after the exile, many decided to remain in Persia. Which begs a question…
Why not return to their promised land?
I believe the answer to this question is the same as to the following…
- Why do I choose not to follow God whole heartedly?
- Why when God calls me to pray with that person in Walmart do I not?
- Why when I should be reading my Bible do I turn the TV on instead?
- Why do I decide to go out and eat, instead of giving God a joyful offering?
The answer is comfort!!!!
- It is just easier to not be transformed by God.
- It is just easier not to pray for the person in public.
- It is just easier to turn on that TV instead of diving into God’s Word.
- It is just easier & more fun to do what I want to do.
Let’s take a look at why, in the world would, the people of God remain in this heathen nation & you will see this is a heathen nation.
Now in the days of Ahasuerus, the Ahasuerus who reigned from India to Ethiopia over 127 provinces, in those days when King Ahasuerus sat on his royal throne in Susa, the citadel, in the third year of his reign he gave a feast for all his officials and servants. The army of Persia and Media and the nobles and governors of the provinces were before him, while he showed the riches of his royal glory and the splendor and pomp of his greatness for many days, 180 days. (Esther 1:1-3)
Now this is a party!! 180 days a 6 month long vacation. How many of you are thinking – I could go for a 6 month vacation? The king is paying for the party. What is he doing? Well history shows that he was trying to buy the people’s favor.
Good thing this doesn’t happen today, right? We see our politicians regularly making promises and trying to buy votes. Our culture is a little less in your face, but it is done. This is what King Xerxes was doing. He was strategically planning to try and over take the Greeks, which his father Darius had failed to do.
And when these days were completed, the king gave for all the people present in Susa the citadel, both great and small, a feast lasting for seven days in the court of the garden of the king’s palace. There were white cotton curtains and violet hangings fastened with cords of fine linen and purple to silver rods and marble pillars, and also couches of gold and silver on a mosaic pavement of porphyry, marble, mother-of-pearl and precious stones. Drinks were served in golden vessels, vessels of different kinds, and the royal wine was lavished according to the bounty of the king. And drinking was according to this edict: “There is no compulsion.” For the king had given orders to all the staff of his palace to do as each man desired. Queen Vashti also gave a feast for the women in the palace that belonged to King Ahasuerus. (Esther 1:5-9)
This is quite an edict. The only rule for 7 days of drinking wine and partying following the 180 day party is: there is no compulsion – he is not demanding them to party down with him, but the rule is there is NO RULE – do as each man desired. What do you think this looked like?? A bunch of drunken guys with a large harem and their wives are having a feast somewhere else in the palace. Some of you are thinking? This is a nightmare. Others are thinking? I wish I would have been invited!!!
On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha and Abagtha, Zethar and Carkas, the seven eunuchs who served in the presence of King Xerxes, to bring Queen Vashti before the king with her royal crown, in order to show the peoples and the princes her beauty, for she was lovely to look at. But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s command delivered by the eunuchs. At this the king became enraged, and his anger burned within him. (Esther 1:10-12)
We Are Not That Different
So a worldly king – sins & asks his wife to sin with him. This is a shocker, right? As you read the word of God it is often times easy to point fingers. Look at those heathens. They stayed in Babylon where they weren’t suppose to be and now they are involved with this king.
- They aren’t praying
- They aren’t reading the scriptures
- They aren’t sacrificing like God instructed Moses to do.
The reality is we aren’t any different – are we?
When we have the opportunity to follow Christ, we often choose that which seems easier, more comfortable, or more fun. We are living in an entertainment culture. A culture of consumerism. Even in church we don’t come in the door looking to serve, but looking to be served.