The great ladies of Persia and Media, who have heard what the queen has said, will quote this day to all the king’s officers, and there will be no end to the disrespect and discord! If it please your majesty, let a royal decree be issued by you . . . never to be revoked, that Vashti shall not again appear before King Ahasuerus; and let your majesty give her place as queen to another who is more worthy of it than she. When the edict made by the king is proclaimed throughout the length and breadth of the kingdom, all women, high and low alike, will give honour to their husbands . . . Dispatches were sent to all the king’s provinces, to every province in its own script and to every people in their own language, in order that each man, whatever language he spoke, should be master in his own house. (Esther 1:17-22)The Gospel of Esther. For quite some time now I have believed that Mathew, Mark, Luke and John are not the only Gospels in the Bible. In fact, every book of the Bible is a “Gospel” in its own right. The purpose of every book is to illuminate the darkness in each of our hearts in regards to our picture of God. Yet, what does the book of Esther contribute to our concept of God and His other-centered love? Though there are many gospel lessons in this book, there is one that stands out above the rest. Two great principles are contrasted.
First, we find women being kept “in line” by decree, control, and fear. Women kept “in line?” That phrase brings a crooked smile to my face. You see, I was raised by a single mom and I can already hear how she would be ranting at the thought of it. But outside of gender issues, notice the principles used by one to control another. Law, control and fear.
Next, we are introduced to Modecai and Haman’s scuffle. Modecai refuses to “bow” to show Haman the respect and honor he feels he deserves. So how does Haman respond? “Kill ‘em all!”
What is alarming to me is that many people picture God to be exactly like King Ahasuerus and his servant Haman. God is “keeping us in line” through the methods of Law, through control and fear. We had better do as He says or we’ll end up “like Vashti.” But stop for a minute! Isn’t this exactly why Lucifer was given time and did not immediately meet the fate of death that sprang from his rebellion? If Lucifer would have been destroyed, the angelic hosts would not have understood how or why it came about! But secondly, assuming God had wiped Lucifer out for his rebellion, they would have either rebelled themselves or buckled down under a much more shallow version of “service.” They themselves would have remained loyal, placing their necks under the yoke of the “master of the house.” Their obedience would have been driven by the fear that what was “done” to Lucifer would be “done” to them if they did not submit.
And Haman? Many today feel as if God’s final act on this planet will be to, with blood dripping from His fangs, wipe out all who have refused to “bow,” so to speak.
Are these really the principles God uses to win our hearts? Absolutely not! God forbid! For these principles can only ever win outward conformity, but never accomplish inward transformity. (I know that’s not a real word, but it rhymes, give me some grace.) It will win outward obedience but these principles can never truly win our hearts. At best, they will cement us in our own self concern and self preservation, but never transform us into the likeness of God’s self-abandoning love.
Then where do we see God in the book of Esther? Where are the principles of the King and Haman contrasted? It’s in the decision made by Esther herself. (My mom would be beaming that it was through a woman!)
When faced with the proposition of death, Esther’s mind was set. She would risk all to save the lives of her people.
‘Go and assemble all the Jews that are in Susa, and fast on my behalf; for three days, night and day, take neither food nor drink, and I also will fast with my maids. After that, in defiance of the law, I shall go to the king; if I perish, I perish.” (Esther 4:16)
Ponder this well, dear reader. In this statement we see self-sacrifice. We see self-abandonment. We see other-centeredness. In short, we see love! Love for her people caused Esther to risk her well-being for the good of others. To put them first rather than herself. Is this where we find God in the book of Esther?
Consider the cross. John wrote these words in response to God’s own “risk” that He took to save us:
Having loved his own, He loved them to the end. (John 13:1)
Or as the Amplified version states it:
And as He had loved those who were His own in the world, He loved them to the last and to the highest degree. (John 13:1, AMP)
And why? Control, manipulation, guilt, fear and legislation? No, NEVER! You were made for love from a willing heart, not forced devotion! God isn’t interested in getting anything from you, but in continually giving to you. When faced with the prospect of staying on the cross and never seeing His Father’s reconciling face again, the God of this universe encountered love for You beyond description. His final thoughts were, “I will save YOU at any cost to Myself, and ‘if I perish, I perish!”
Dear friend, will you allow this selfless love to become your picture of the God of this universe? If you will, you will truly never be the same.
“For the love of Christ controls us once we have reached the conclusion that one man died for all and therefore all mankind has died. He died for all so that those who live should cease to live for themselves . . .” ( 2 Corinthians 5:14,15 REB)
I wish you God’s best this week!