Hey Relentless Students! I hope you are all having a great memorial day and have had a great weekend up to this point. Now, I know what you're thinking "Why has it been a couple of days since your last post?" Well, on Thursday the Governor lightened some of the restrictions allowing us to see more of our families. So, over the last few days, we have had basically every member of our family over to see Ezra. Which made it a bit difficult to step away and write, but I'm back. Today we will be continuing our journey through the Bible!
So, we left off with Ezra and Nehemiah beginning to bring the Israelites (now called Jews in the text) back to Jerusalem post-exile. So, the people have been freed...for the most part. The Jews are allowed to return home, though most have made lives elsewhere in the Persian Empire. This leads us to our next book of the Bible, Esther.
Due to VeggieTales, we all know the core story in Esther. Esther was a Jew girl living in the city of the King. The King had a wife who displeased him so, he had her killed and had women brought to him to chose the next one. Esther was chosen to become the new queen. Two other key characters are her guardian Mordecai and the king's right-hand man, Haman. Haman thought himself worthy of praise like the king and expected people to bow to him. Mordecai, having fought for the Persians, didn't care and refused to bow to anyone other than the king. This infuriated Haman and thus a plot to destroy all Jews so that Mordecai would die was created. The king unknowingly approves of Haman's plan and a letter is sent out to begin the count down of their destruction. Mordecai enlists Esther to persuade the king to undo the actions set forth by Haman. Worried for her life, she decided to try anyway by feeding the king a Haman and requesting the order be lifted, otherwise, she will die. The king was appalled and in realizing the order was created by Haman orders his execution. The king then works with Mordecai to create a decree protecting the Jews so when they were attacked by the previous order the Persians would step in to help. There is a lot of bloodshed to the enemies of the Jews and the book ends with Mordecai becoming the king's new right-hand man.
There are a few things we need to highlight within this story. First, these Jews weren't concerned with leaving Persia, because they had created a life in this city, jobs, homes, etc. Second, Haman's plan was the genocide of the Jews by their enemies. Third, God is never mentioned in this book, we may see Him working, but never by name.
These were Jews who had created lived for themselves in Persia. Mordecai had even served alongside the Persians as a warrior. The Jews were still practicing their beliefs and we are lead to think still serving God, but they were also becoming ingrained in the surrounding culture. This can be seen in Esther being chosen as the queen of Persia. The point is, not all Jews were as focused on leaving as the ones listed in Ezra and Nehemiah.
Haman was basically Hitler. He was popular, he had favor with the king, he was full of himself and expected others to worship him as they did the king. When he didn't get his way he and his wife devised a plan to rid them of their problem. To Haman, Mordecai was the main issue, but to ensure others didn't rise to his spot, his plan included the death of all Jewish people. This was a genocide of the Jewish people. Just as they faced under Hitler. Except, Hitler did it because he saw Jews as inferior people, Haman did it out of hatred for one man.
Throughout the book of Esther, we see God moving. The way Esther was placed as queen just before an edict to kill all Jews. Her ability to come before the king without being deemed an issue to be dealt with. Her ability to persuade the king to reverse Haman's plan. We can see God setting each event up and even see how He had called Esther to do each piece. Yet, God is never mentioned in the book. The people are referred to as Jews, never God's people. There is no prayer form Mordecai or Esther as they figure out how to solve the dilemma. The people put on sackcloth and lay in ash as they do in repentance and mourning for the decree made by Haman, yet God is never mentioned. It is often speculated just how reliant the people were on God in this era. You see, these Jews were ones born into exile, they had assimilated into the Persian culture. So, perhaps they didn't call on God. Perhaps the Persians had adopted some of the rituals like sackcloth and ash from the Jews when they first came into their land. Yet, God spared them, they were still His people.
Esther shows God's love in ways that aren't even mentioned. He loves His people so much that as they were faced with extermination, we never see Him called upon, yet He acts. God spared the people much bloodshed from their enemies and even granted them victory over those people. And now that same love abides over us all through Christ. Through the bloodshed on the cross, we are all offered salvation. This is love, even more so then what was shown to the Jews in Esther.
For more info on Esther check out this video: