Faithlife Sermons

The Search for a Queen

Esther  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Esther 2 ESV
1 After these things, when the anger of King Ahasuerus had abated, he remembered Vashti and what she had done and what had been decreed against her. 2 Then the king’s young men who attended him said, “Let beautiful young virgins be sought out for the king. 3 And let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom to gather all the beautiful young virgins to the harem in Susa the citadel, under custody of Hegai, the king’s eunuch, who is in charge of the women. Let their cosmetics be given them. 4 And let the young woman who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti.” This pleased the king, and he did so. 5 Now there was a Jew in Susa the citadel whose name was Mordecai, the son of Jair, son of Shimei, son of Kish, a Benjaminite, 6 who had been carried away from Jerusalem among the captives carried away with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had carried away. 7 He was bringing up Hadassah, that is Esther, the daughter of his uncle, for she had neither father nor mother. The young woman had a beautiful figure and was lovely to look at, and when her father and her mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter. 8 So when the king’s order and his edict were proclaimed, and when many young women were gathered in Susa the citadel in custody of Hegai, Esther also was taken into the king’s palace and put in custody of Hegai, who had charge of the women. 9 And the young woman pleased him and won his favor. And he quickly provided her with her cosmetics and her portion of food, and with seven chosen young women from the king’s palace, and advanced her and her young women to the best place in the harem. 10 Esther had not made known her people or kindred, for Mordecai had commanded her not to make it known. 11 And every day Mordecai walked in front of the court of the harem to learn how Esther was and what was happening to her. 12 Now when the turn came for each young woman to go in to King Ahasuerus, after being twelve months under the regulations for the women, since this was the regular period of their beautifying, six months with oil of myrrh and six months with spices and ointments for women— 13 when the young woman went in to the king in this way, she was given whatever she desired to take with her from the harem to the king’s palace. 14 In the evening she would go in, and in the morning she would return to the second harem in custody of Shaashgaz, the king’s eunuch, who was in charge of the concubines. She would not go in to the king again, unless the king delighted in her and she was summoned by name. 15 When the turn came for Esther the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her as his own daughter, to go in to the king, she asked for nothing except what Hegai the king’s eunuch, who had charge of the women, advised. Now Esther was winning favor in the eyes of all who saw her. 16 And when Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus, into his royal palace, in the tenth month, which is the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign, 17 the king loved Esther more than all the women, and she won grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. 18 Then the king gave a great feast for all his officials and servants; it was Esther’s feast. He also granted a remission of taxes to the provinces and gave gifts with royal generosity. 19 Now when the virgins were gathered together the second time, Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate. 20 Esther had not made known her kindred or her people, as Mordecai had commanded her, for Esther obeyed Mordecai just as when she was brought up by him. 21 In those days, as Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate, Bigthan and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs, who guarded the threshold, became angry and sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus. 22 And this came to the knowledge of Mordecai, and he told it to Queen Esther, and Esther told the king in the name of Mordecai. 23 When the affair was investigated and found to be so, the men were both hanged on the gallows. And it was recorded in the book of the chronicles in the presence of the king.
Warning about conjecture.
noun: an opinion or conclusion formed on the basis of incomplete information.
verb: to form an opinion or supposition about (something) on the basis of incomplete information.
Synonyms for conjecture: Speculation, assumption, notion, fancy.
There is some difficulty in studying a book, such as Esther.
First, it is important to note, that we believe that it is the Word of God, we can trust the facts that are given to us. And for the sake of time, I will simply state that there is ample evidence, not merely conjecture, that this historical narrative, (one of the varied genres of literature contained in the Bible) is truly the Word of God.
The difficulty of application in any historical narrative contained in the Bible, is that we are not always, and in fact, often are not told if the character’s are innocent or guilty, if they are good examples for us to follow or bad examples, that we ought to avoid exemplifying. Or even more foundational, is a question worth asking. Are the characters and the details of the narrative intended for us to use as an example for us to determine our behavior, or as a means of revealing God to us?
I would argue, in this case, though the name of God is not even mentioned, nor are we given specific statements that justify or condemn everyone’s behavior, we can learn how we ought to act, and learn about God’s character and glory.
This narrative is the Word of the Sovereign Lord!
The key verse is chapter 4:14, which many of us are familiar with, but we may not have taken its message to heart, or figured out how it applies to us.
Esther 4:14 ESV
14 For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

One in a million

The king’s advisors, suggested that he appoint representatives to select beautiful young women from the kingdom, to be gathered together and placed into the king’s harem. Upon entering into his harem, they would receive training and beautification treatments and eventually be brought before the king so he could choose a queen from their number.
Actually, Esther is probably even more rare than that. There were an estimated 50 million people in the Persian Empire at this time. If half were women, and a quarter of the women the age of the women being sought after, that would mean, she, very possibly, was one in 6.5 million eligible women.
Esther 2:2–4 ESV
2 Then the king’s young men who attended him said, “Let beautiful young virgins be sought out for the king. 3 And let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom to gather all the beautiful young virgins to the harem in Susa the citadel, under custody of Hegai, the king’s eunuch, who is in charge of the women. Let their cosmetics be given them. 4 And let the young woman who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti.” This pleased the king, and he did so.
We can correctly observe, that Esther, being a young female jewish exiled orphan, was blessed to be adopted by her cousin, cared for and trained, and was selected among the millions of young women in the Persian Empire. She was taken, (voluntarily, or involuntarily) given beauty treatments and trained in the rules and regulations of being in the king’s harem.
She found favor “blessed” in the eyes of the king’s eunuch Hagai, and in the eyes of “all who saw her”. We are not told that she did anything moral, or immoral as she was being observed.
My assumption/conjecture is that her finding favor in Hagai’s sight was not simply the result of her physical beauty and appearance, but also in the manor which she carried herself. He was a eunuch assigned to care for the women of the kings harem.
We can also assume there was some concern over the attitude and personality of the woman who would replace Vashti (one who stood up to the king, and consequently was relieved of her duty).

Two in a million

Esther 2:5–7 ESV
5 Now there was a Jew in Susa the citadel whose name was Mordecai, the son of Jair, son of Shimei, son of Kish, a Benjaminite, 6 who had been carried away from Jerusalem among the captives carried away with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had carried away. 7 He was bringing up Hadassah, that is Esther, the daughter of his uncle, for she had neither father nor mother. The young woman had a beautiful figure and was lovely to look at, and when her father and her mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter.
In these verses we learn that Mordecai- son of Esther’s uncle, had adopted Esther into his care, because her parents were gone. His interest in her welfare continued or possibly even increased, once she had been taken into Hegai’s custody.
It was not clear whether Esther was volunteered by Mordecai, whether she volunteered herself, or whether she was “volun-told”(forced under compulsion, or proclamation) to join in the Empire-wide beauty contest/search for a Queen. The queen position was vacant due to Vashti refusing to make and appearance in front of the king’s gathering, which took place 3 to 4 years prior to Esther’s involvement.
Mordecai daily went past the Harem’s court, in order to check on Esther.
The point here is that Esther was not alone and though she was orphaned, was not likely excessively desperate to improve her living conditions. Her basic provisions were being provided.
Despite the circumstances of her childhood, the events that took her parents lives, whether that be sickness, war, famine. If their death as the result of choices that they made, or the result of circumstances out of their control, we don’t know. Esther, is an orphan, who has been adopted, is living in Persia (not her the land of her ancestors) and she is now in a place of being considered to become the Queen of the Persian Empire. The empire, which at the time, was the greatest, largest, richest kingdom on the face of the earth.
Esther may have (conjecture) had many questions about the events of her life. I don’t think it is wrong for us to wonder about her response, as we can also imagine how we may have responded to the circumstances, that she was facing.
She may have been asking . . .
Why did my parents die?
Should I try to go back to Jerusalem, away from this heathen king?
Why isn’t God allowing us to go back to Jerusalem, like the other people?
Why does God allow this womanizer of a king to have all this power and authority?
Why have I been selected and taken into the King’s harem?
When will I have to go before the king?
What will happen, when I am brought into his chamber?
How should I act? What will I wear? Should I speak? If so, what should I say? How will I answer, if he asks me a question?
What we know, from the rest of the story, is that she is likely to have many more questions, which become increasingly significant in nature, right?
The circumstances of our lives, often bring us to a place where we ask questions and seek to find understanding.
Proverbs 1:7 ESV
7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Putting Your Past in Its Place

Am I innocent?
Am I guilty?
Did I respond correctly?
Did I respond incorrectly?
Proverbs 3:5–8 ESV
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. 7 Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. 8 It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.
Even the young and the restless, can find peace in the Sovereignty of God.
Even the Beautiful, can also be Bold in their response to an adverse situation.
Romans 8:1–11 ESV
1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
We may need to put our past in its place, however, as the Spirit of God abides in us, we are able to and ought to put our present in its place!
We are living in a time of crisis (perception is reality). The coronavirus, (Covid-19) has people in this country and around the world on edge, fearful and concerned. Let’s not fall into fear, worry, or placing our trust in anything besides God. We need to respond in a wise, responsible, loving and caring way. We have been placed into our community for such as time as this.
How will be respond? What is God asking you to do in this situation? What actions and attitudes would be honoring and glorifying to Him?
What is the best you can offer in service to the Lord God almighty?
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