Esther 1:5-10, 2:21, 4:13-14
Humour: A little boy was given the honour of placing the offering envelope on the collection plate on behalf of his family. Instead, he kept it and handed it directly to the minister at the door. The pastor wondered why he gave it to him directly, rather than putting it in with the offering for the church. “Because” he replied, “My mother says you're the poorest pastor she has ever known.”
Bette Mittler stars in a movie series entitled “For The Boys” The setting is one of war and Bette Mittler travels around as an entertainer who travels about the trenches and outposts cheering homesick GI'S, war weary soldiers a long way from home - some of these fellows have witnessed horrendous scenes, exploding bombs, buddies blown up, wounded children left homeless – one of the songs Bette sings to entertain these men is a song entitled “From A Distance” The scene depicts God as distant and detached, perhaps almost uncaring about the affairs of mankind, and if He does care it is almost as if God is paralyzed, unable to intervene, unable to care anything about war and children left in need.
Bette sings, “God is watching us from a distance. From a distance the world looks blue and green and the snow capped mountains white. From a distance the ocean meets the stream and the eagle takes its flight. From a distance we all have enough and no one is in need and there are no guns, no bombs and no disease, no hungry mouths to feed. God is watching us from a distance. From a distance.”
Who among us today has wondered if God is unable to intervene in our lives. I have visited the hospital recently. As I left I prayed, “God you are not at a distance, but show Your power and presence. We've all been there – God seems silent, invisible, almost absent, off in the distance.
Well, we have begun a series on the book of Esther that deals with this whole thought – is God near, or is He detached?
(A) Historical Notes... As you read through the book of Esther you'll find that God is never mentioned once. But, as you read through the book you feel that God is present – He is not off in the distance – there – all powerful, present in every movement in history until He brings everything together in a beautiful climax and conclusion. The book is a parable – an allegory about your life and mine. In each of us the story of Esther is being acted out.
Well, if there is ever one thing this study will teach us is this – God never knows frustration. He's there.
He never looks at mankind and scratches His head like I do and say, “I wonder what I'II do next?” Or, I wonder how I will solve this or look at that. I had no idea that would take place like that. The lesson is this – God is in the midst of our circumstances. He's not faraway. He is sovereign, in control and things that have you baffled and perplexed are really no problem with God. The movements of time and history arew ticking off precisly at His will. As I read through this book, I see that God is not fickle or moody like humans. Like I am or you may be. I also see that God will have His way – He gets our attention one way or the other. Have you discovered that truth that God has a habit of getting our attention? He is in charge – you can count on it.
So, let's review the book again by reading Esther 1:1-2 “This is what happened during the time of Xerces, t he Xerces who ruled over 127 provinces, stretching from India to Cush. At that time King Xerces reigned from his royal throne in the citadel of Susa.”
I'm using the NIV this morning. Note that his name was also Ahaseuerus as well as Xerces. This is the Hebrew name and in history he is known as Xerces. He's the king of the mighty empire of Persia, that modern day Iran. The capital city of Susa or Shushan you'll read elsewhere. The date is about 480BC. No wliving in Persia are 1000's of Jews. They've chosen not to return to Palestine under the direction of Zerubabel,