You may not be familiar with the approaching Jewish holiday called Purim, which celebrates the courage of a beloved heroine, Queen Esther. This year it begins at sundown on the evening of February 23. Christians also have many reasons to reflect upon and celebrate the life of Queen Esther, which we will do through our devotional posts this week of Purim. You will find the short book of Esther in the Old Testament a challenging, yet encouraging lesson in faith.
The name Esther means “star.” And like the first twinkling of an evening star, in Esther, a common Jewish girl, and her uncle, Mordecai, we find the first ray of light in pagan and godless kingdom. King Ahasuerus (called Xerxes in ancient Greek) had banished his first queen for not appearing before a drunken crowd of his advisers and political allies. The plan for replacing the banished queen was to gather the most beautiful virgins in the kingdom for the king to pick from. Esther, with her Jewish-ness un-disclosed was “taken” as one of these young virgins, who started their preparations to meet the King with a year of royal beauty treatments.
Esther, no doubt, was living in obscurity, doing what she did every day of her life… when suddenly something happened that transformed her life and moved it from the mundane to the mysterious. Does Esther’s opportunity sound like a Cinderella story? As tempting as such pampering and potential power may sound, Esther and the other young women were merely concubines – possessions existing only for the king’s pleasure. Those not chosen likely spent the rest of their lives in luxurious, but desolate seclusion – unable to leave the harem nor marry or return to their family.
Yet, God began to work in Esther’s difficult circumstances. We will see more of His great work in our posts this week. But, for now its time to consider when you have faced pivotal changes in your life— a moment that changed everything for you? Some of us are “taken” aback by a phone call, a knock on the door, a notice in the mail, or an appointment with a doctor or a lawyer. Pivotal moments like these often bring uncertainty. Was your reaction fear, worry or surrender to God?
The lesson that is repeated over and over throughout a study of Esther is that God is always at work in the shadows on behalf of his children. We can be sure that God planted the idea in the minds of the king’s counselors to look for a queen in such an odd way. Thus a plan was hatched that threw the doors to the kingdom wide open for a “nobody” like Esther to walk through.
Question: Do you acknowledge God’s power, plan, and purpose in your every circumstance? This would be a good moment to spend time in prayer thanking your sovereign, all-powerful, loving God for the exercise of His continual care in each and every detail of your life.
You will find more insights into your life as a woman by studying the faithful in my book, The Remarkable Women of the Bible.