Bible Readers

With Pastor Dave Roussel

We Too Have “Hamans” Who Want To Destroy Us

November 13 – Today’s Readings – Esther 7-10 and Psalms 133

Esther 7:7-8:3 reads, “The king got up in a rage, left his wine and went out into the garden. But Haman, realizing that the king had already decided his fate, stayed behind to beg Queen Esther for his life. Just as the king returned from the palace garden to the banquet hall, Haman was falling on the couch where Esther was reclining. The king exclaimed, ‘Will he even molest the queen while she is with me in the house?’ As soon as the word left the king’s mouth, they covered Haman’s face. Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs attending the king, said, ‘A gallows seventy-five feet high stands by Haman’s house. He had it made for Mordecai, who spoke up to help the king.’ The king said, ‘Hang him on it!’ So they hanged Haman on the gallows he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the king’s fury subsided. That same day King Xerxes gave Queen Esther the estate of Haman, the enemy of the Jews. And Mordecai came into the presence of the king, for Esther had told how he was related to her. The king took off his signet ring, which he had reclaimed from Haman, and presented it to Mordecai. And Esther appointed him over Haman’s estate. Esther again pleaded with the king, falling at his feet and weeping. She begged him to put an end to the evil plan of Haman the Agagite, which he had devised against the Jews.”

When we deal with worldly governments, we need to constantly be on our toes. We need to be in prayer and have our ears tuned in to the “tone” of what is happening. Is there favor for God’s people or is there “an enemy” or two in positions of great authority who are seeking to destroy all that is Godly in the land. Do we have strong opposition in government or are the doors being opened for the Kingdom of God to advance. What we are looking for of course is open doors so that the Gospel of Jesus Christ can have a voice. If God puts “Mordecai” types of people in places of influence, then we will have great success. If on the other hand, we have a bunch of “Hamans” around, we can expect to have more than our share of struggles with ungodly and destructive legislation. Do you see why Paul taught us to pray for governments? So much has to do with what is going on in the “halls of power”. We also need to be active in electing good people to positions of authority. We live in a privileged society where we can join our hearts together and make sure that we elect some more Mordecais to positions of power. School board members, heads of community leagues, city Counselors, MLAs, MPs – they are all supposed to represent us in the affairs of our society. We must unite – we must pray – and we must vote for Godly people. We cannot afford to have division in our ranks on this issue or we will find ourselves governed by someone whose goal is to destroy the cause of Christ. There is great rejoicing when Godliness prevails. Let’s be on our toes for we live in a world where “Haman” would love nothing more than to destroy much of what we stand for!

Questions:

1. Give another example from Scripture where there was political upheaval so that God’s purposes could go forward.
2. Give and example of voting for the “right person” and seeing it make a difference.

She Could Have Become A Selfish Queen

November 12 – Today’s Readings – Esther 4-6 and Psalms 132

Esther 4:10-14 reads, “Then she [Esther] instructed him [Hathach, the king’s eunuch] to say to Mordecai, ‘All the king’s officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that he be put to death. The only exception to this is for the king to extend the gold scepter to him and spare his life. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king.’ When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, he sent back this answer: ‘Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?”We now come to the second “great” woman of the book of Esther. Esther was a young and rather timid woman who, despite her age, had learned a lot about wisdom. She had suffered her share of hardship, having lost her parents early in life and being raised by her uncle. As we have already witnessed, living in the king’s palace with all of its luxuries also held extreme dangers. Esther’s wisdom emanated from humility and her ability to listen to advice. She listened to the Lord, to the King’s advisors and to her uncle Mordecai. This young woman could easily have been self-absorbed and oblivious to the difficulties of others. She had been chosen as the winner of one of the most prestigious beauty pageants of the then-known world – Miss Universe. Her husband was the most powerful man that we know of at that time. The palace itself was under her supervision so it would be “normal” for Esther to have behaved like a Hollywood starlet/bimbo but instead she was prepared to count the cost of being a woman of God. She was willing to put her life into God’s hands – remember the last wife who had broken protocol with this husband of her’s?

Esther denied herself, fasting for three full days in order to try to get God’s attention – by the way – you don’t need to fast to get God’s attention but it sure helps US to focus better on Him and to deal with any issues in our lives!

“Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” [Esther 4:6]

Here was a gal who would risk the destiny of her life – the destiny of her people – throwing herself on the mercy of God and an ungodly husband/king. What an example to us all. It takes incredible bravery to speak when it is politically incorrect to speak. A few more of us would do well to “fast” and then speak when we know that there is something terribly wrong happening around us.

Questions:

1. Give another Biblical example of a person who risked his life so as to do the right thing.
2. Give a modern day example of someone who exemplifies the “Esther Attitude”.

The Woman We Don’t Talk About

November 11 – Today’s Readings – Esther 1-3 and Psalms 131

Esther 1:15-22; “According to law, what must be done to Queen Vashti?’ he asked. ‘She has not obeyed the command of King Xerxes that the eunuchs have taken to her.’ Then Memucan replied in the presence of the king and the nobles, ‘Queen Vashti has done wrong, not only against the king but also against all the nobles and the peoples of all the provinces of King Xerxes. For the queen’s conduct will become known to all the women, and so they will despise their husbands and say, ‘King Xerxes commanded Queen Vashti to be brought before him, but she would not come.’ This very day the Persian and Median women of the nobility who have heard about the queen’s conduct will respond to all the king’s nobles in the same way. There will be no end of disrespect and discord.’ – ‘Therefore, if it pleases the king, let him issue a royal decree and let it be written in the laws of Persia and Media, which cannot be repealed, that Vashti is never again to enter the presence of King Xerxes.”

People always focus on Esther in this book – and rightly so – she’s a hero of the faith. But let’s have a look at Vashti for a moment. She had been a “beauty queen” for as long as she could remember. She had been groomed in an ungodly, dictatorial society where not only the government systems were insanely cruel and corrupt but where the women were treated worse than we can imagine. They were supposed to obey the men unquestioningly and be slaves to their every whim – (sounds like some religious groups of modern day!). The king would have been the most abusive, for he had to set the example for the rest of the power-thirsty domineering men. We don’t know the number of years Vashti had to put up with all of this, but we do know that she was definitely in a position of influence in the kingdom. Thoughts of an equitable and just society had probably been on her mind for years. She probably had wished she could be a real person and not just a sex object or a subservient slave. Whenever she was “put on display” she no doubt felt worse than a prostitute and her self-esteem would take yet another hit. The day came when she was called once again into a “drunken-stag-party-like” atmosphere where the king and hundreds of vile men could have a close look at her – and something inside her snapped. She became one of the first women’s rights advocates and said “no” to the disgraceful behavior – “no” to the sexual oppression and abuse. – “no” to the indecency and pornography!

Three cheers for Vashti! She stirred something up that was right and just. She saw something terribly wrong within society and did something about it. She showed that she was not just a “bimbo” but also someone with feelings and value beyond her sexuality. Women are still fighting the same kinds of things wherever there is no godliness – wherever Jesus doesn’t have His way. JESUS too was a great women’s rights activist – probably the greatest that ever lived. He sees us all as completely equal and valuable in the eyes of God. There is NO discrimination because of gender with the Lord.

Questions:

1. Give another example from Scripture where women were treated with ungodly disrespect.
2. Give a couple of examples from Jesus ministry where He “broke the norm” and treated women with honour.

Finally – A Conclusion

November 10 – Today’s Readings – Ecclesiastes 10-12 and Psalms 130

Chapter 12:13 of Ecclesiastes reads; “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”

In a book where man’s ideas and confusions run rampant – where God’s wisdom and man’s wisdom seem to be interwoven, we find this “teacher’s” conclusion – he believes that we should be “God focused” and try to obey. Notice, he does not say “know God” or “walk with God” or “love God”. No, he uses a term that keeps God at a distance – “Fear”.

We know for certain that God is in us, through us, around us and walking with us. We also understand that He is the One who gives purpose and ministry to each one of His children. The “conclusion” for us is that we need to be in close relationship with God; to love one another as Christ prayed and to love the world as the Holy Spirit gives direction. Now – THAT is a fulfilled life!

The Holy Spirit put the book of Ecclesiastes in Holy Scripture to let us see the futility of man’s best GODLESS psychological thinking. Spiritually confused thinking only leads to depression, anger, escapism or legalistic religion whereas walking with the Lord leads only to a clear mind and spirit. What this fellow really needed was a head-on, heart-changing encounter with Jesus Christ! The very real tragedy is that this same man, Solomon, was the penman of the not just the Book of Ecclesiastes but when he was spiritually on target he wrote the amazing Books of Proverbs and The Song of Solomon. When we compare all the incredible Godly insights given to us in the Book of Proverbs and the pure prophetic beauty of the Book of Song of Solomon, we realize that something must have gone terribly wrong in Solomon’s life to confuse and depress him so.

The key is found in 1Kings 11:3-4 where we read, “He [Solomon] had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines (also wives but servant-wives), and his wives led him astray. As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not in tune with the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been.” This guy had it all – royal birth – brought up by a man who loved God – the best education available – earthly goods – divine encounters with God – yet he ended his days writing about how depressed he was.

Paul the Apostle warned Timothy of these potential failings in his own life; “Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith. [1Timothy 1:18-19] Solomon hopefully regained his connection with God before the end of his life because he was indeed one of the greatest men who ever lived and I would love to meet him in heaven. He certainly was not having a good time of it spiritually while he penned this particular book however.

Questions:

1. What should we watch out for in our lives so as not to slip away from God as Solomon did?
2. Paul spoke plainly about “finishing” the race God has laid out for us. What things do you need to put in place in your life so you don’t follow the same path Solomon did?

Faulty Thinking

November 9 – Today’s Readings – Ecclesiastes 7-9 and Psalms 129

Here are some of the confusing thought processes that “the teacher” in the book of Ecclesiastes engaged in:

Chapter 7:3 “Sorrow is better than laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart.”

Chapter 7:16 “Do not be over-righteous, neither be over-wise— why destroy yourself?”

Chapter 9:2 “All share a common destiny—the righteous and the wicked, the good and the bad, the clean and the unclean, those who offer sacrifices and those who do not. As it is with the good man, so with the sinner; as it is with those who take oaths, so with those who are afraid to take them.”

Chapter 9:9 “Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun— all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun.”

Why this confused thinking? – Because, at this point in his life, the “philosopher” was only seeing things from an “under the sun” perspective. He had no “Christ focus” when he said these things. A living relationship with a personal and purposeful Jesus was not in the equation. He really did exemplify the “wise” thinking of those who do not know our Lord. He was shallow, earthly and often depressive in his thinking.

Jesus spoke to this issue in Luke 12:19-20 – “And I’ll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’ ‘But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?”

The world’s philosophy is that death is the end of all life – that God is not involved in eternity – that He certainly doesn’t care enough for you and I to give us righteousness, peace and joy. There is no adoption for us as sons of God and Jesus died in vain. What a sad world this is without a relationship with Jesus Christ – it is indeed a “meaningless life”. On the flip side – what an incredible adventure we live in Christ! In Him is found the very meaning of life. His purposes and mission provide constant meaning and fulfillment for us. Nothing we do in the power of the Lord is “meaningless” and we are sure of an eternal reward that is going to make our existence here on Earth seem like living in a garbage can! Bring on the meaningful, purposeful life!

Questions:

Using Scripture, give a wise response to Solomon’s depressing depiction of life:

1. “A sad face is good for the heart.”
2. “Do not be over-righteous.”
3. “As it is with the good man, so with the sinner.”

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