Friday, May 14, 2010

Kings and Queens

Released in 2006, the movie “One Night with the King” portrays the story of Hadassah, later known as Queen Esther. Tiffany Dupont, Peter O’Toole, and Omar Sharif, star in key roles. Although romanticized, the history and setting are close to the biblical account. If you chose to rent or buy the movie, you’ll see the portrayal of the Citadel of Susa, surrounded by 60’ walls and a mote. You’ll also see Esther’s character and devotion to God depicted in scene after scene.

A few artistic intrusions occur, especially the appearance of the Star of David in a piece of jewelry. Historians tell us that the Star of David came into use in the Middle Ages, but overall, watching the movie can boost your faith in how God walks ahead of his people and arranges for their future needs.

I suggest reading the short book of Esther in the Bible (10 chapters), and then watching the movie. God’s name is not mentioned in Esther, but through reading the biblical account, you will see God-behind-the scenes, orchestrating the future for his chosen people.

The real Queen Esther of long ago could not be billed as a drama queen. When King Xerxes finally chose a young woman to wear the official title of queen, he chose Hadassah of Jewish heritage—discreet, obedient, and wise beyond her years. In today’s column, we’ll wind up our look at Esther.

Already, we considered Esther’s early beginnings and the obvious training she received from her guardian-cousin Mordecai. While living at the palace, she remained in touch with her cousin, who helped to guide her.

After Esther became queen, the rest of the story encompasses the universal theme of evil verses good. Mordecai overheard that a high official Haman had hatched a plan to destroy and kill all the Jews throughout Persia and Media (127 provinces). The influential Haman arranged a future day of slaughter, which was then signed into irrevocable law.

When Mordecai heard about the plan, he sent a message to Queen Esther, who chose to fast and she also asked Mordecai and the Jews in Susa to not eat or drink for three days. An additional hurdle also lay ahead—the palace law forbade anyone gaining an audience with the king unless the king summoned them into his presence. King Xerxes had the power to decapitate, drown in the moat, burn at the stake, or whatever brutal means he chose to dispose of any person who displeased him.

Esther needed to see the king, but she had not been called into his presence for 30 days. Her cousin Mordecai bolstered her courage through a longer message that also contained his classic statement, “Who knows but what you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” (4:14). Esther made plans to go see the king, and sealed her fate with these words, “If I perish, I perish” (4:16).

After the days of fasting, she moved beyond any desire to spare her own life and entered the throne room of the king. He held out his royal scepter signaling his welcome. Soon after, the king got news of Haman’s wickedness. The date for the attack could not be changed. Persian law was Persian law. But an edict went throughout the land issuing Jews the right to defend themselves on the day deemed for attack.

After winning defense tactics, the Jews celebrated with feasts and giving of gifts. Today, Jews celebrate the Feast of Purim by listening to the book of Esther. They hiss, stamp their feet (some write Haman’s name on their shoe soles), and use rattle makers to blot out his evil name. On February 28, 2010 at sundown, Jews celebrated the Feast of Purim worldwide. I understand the celebrating. When wickedness disperses, giddy praise takes over.

I’m sure that when the palace squad searched for young beautiful girls to become queen, that no one suspected the thievery of daughters would ever bring about good. However, God has a track record throughout the Bible of walking ahead of us, preparing in advance for what we will need in two days, 10 or 50 years.

Watch for God’s footprints ahead of yours, preparing the way for you to do his will as queen or king of the small domains under your care.

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