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Kajol Dulhan



The story of Esther has been so mis-interpreted. Why?

  • We have so often failed to realize the Bible is not about us but about God.
  • We have been taught wrong and then read it that way, instead of really looking.
  • We have missed the satire and thus reversed the meaning.


One of my favorite books on the planet is:

Sally Lloyd Jones writes:

Now, some people think the Bible is a book of rules, telling you what you should and shouldn’t do. The Bible certainly does have some rules in it… But the Bible isn’t mainly about you and what you should be doing. It’s about God and what he has done…

Other people think the Bible is a book of heroes. The Bible certain has some heroes in it — but most of those heroes did really bad things, and sometimes on purpose.

No — the Bible is most of all a Story. …It’s a love story about a brave Prince who leaves his palace, his throne – everything – to rescue the one he loves. It’s like the most wonderful of fairy tales that has come true in real life!






















Sally Lloyd-Jones doesn’t cover the book of Esther in her children’s book, and I think that is wise. In order to make it appropriate for children, you would have to leave out so much that it no longer is the true story. Much better to wait until they are ready.

It isn’t just the Jews who have distorted the book of Esther (at Purim the children boo whenever Haman’s name is read and cheer whenever Mordecai or Esther’s name is read — making it a book of villains and heroes), Christians have distorted it too.  I’ve seen books and Bible studies and movies that have completely distorted the story, missing the satire and the sexual abuse involved in the contest for the new queen.

Feminists and liberals want to make Vashti a heroine. She defied the king, refused to be humiliated, and boldly broke the rules. But we do not know why she defied the king – were her motives noble or ignoble? The text doesn’t tell us. Historians say she was a vengeful woman who had the tongues of Ahasuerus’ (or Xerxes in the Greek) concubines cut out. But neither can we know that for certain. This chapter isn’t about Vashti — it’s about God showing the folly of the kings of the earth who do not bow to Him.

Conservatives want to make Esther a heroine. And though it is true and laudable that she risked her life for her people, she made plenty of compromises before that point. This book isn’t about Esther, though she made a turn that is admirable. This book is about God and how He is sovereign over every detail because He loves us so.

It is absolutely vital, in understanding the book, to see the literary device of irony throughout. As Matthew J. Klaassen put it:

The interwoven plot lines of Esther, with different kinds of literary irony,

are identified and illustrated to show the essential fallenness of all peoples.


The Persians — Vashti, Xerxes, and Haman were all fallen. But Mordecai and Esther were fallen too.





This week we will look at the opening of Esther — and of how important it is to read it through its intended literary device: irony. Xerxes thought he was amazing — but he was not. He was a fallen sordid king. His court doesn’t exactly shine either. It’s ironic humor, and you have to see it. When I was growing up there was a television show called Archie Bunker about a man who was a bigot and a sexist. But some people made him a hero — reversing the meaning of the show.

Next week we’ll look at the beauty contest — and if you haven’t seen it before, it will be eye-opening to you. The Keller sermon is amazing and you’ll have this week and next week to listen to it, because I so want you to hear it.

I have a studyguide on Esther, “A Woman of Faith.” (The publisher chose the title, but other than the title, I loved writing this guide and thank God for allowing me to work closely with a woman professor at Dallas Seminary who teaches Hebrew.) If you don’t understand how God is making fun of the king and his “wise men who knew the times,” you can completely misinterpret chapter 1. God was angry at the men who were so abusing women, but instead, this chapter can be used to reinforce bad behavior toward women. Did you know that this is the only place in Scripture were the literal word “obey” is used in regard to wives? And it is used satirically! As Professor Coover-Cox told me, “Women are supposed to respect and submit to their husbands – that is a different concept than obedience. Obedience is appropriate for children, but not for women who are called to be co-heirs. God was angry with these foolish men and is parading their foolishness just as Ahasuerus paraded his possessions.”


Let us not be afraid to look at this story carefully. God has a transforming message for us, and we must not miss it.


1. How were you, if you were, taught the book of Esther?

2. What two things stood out to you about the above and why?


Do not miss the irony as this six month party is described, a perpetual smorgasbord of gold, glitz, and glamour — that Xerxes (also called Ahasuerus) threw to impress all the leaders of the 127 provinces of Persia. (an area bigger than the United States).

Read Esther 1:1-9

1. As you read, find the satire and any evidence of parading of possessions and pride.

2. Meditate on verse 4. How does this show the fallenness of the king?

Read Esther 1:10-12

3.  What is the last “possession” Xerxes wanted to parade before this drunken group? How did his plan backfire?

Read Esther 1:13-22

4. Find the satirical humor. Discover why God may be “laughing” (yet really weeping) in:

A. 1:13-15

B. 1:16-18

C. 1:19-20

D. 1:21-22


This leads into finding a replacement for the queen. Keller thinks as many as 1,000 young virgins may have been taken. Josephus believes the number to be about 400. We don’t know — but there were 127 provinces, and the girls were taken. (Perhaps you’ve seen the movie on the sex trade with the title “Taken.”) Another movie that shows the horror of young girls taken from their homes is Memoirs of a Geisha, Arthur Golden’s account based on his interview with a geisha. In this case they were sold by their father. Below is the opening of this movie — 3 or 4 minutes will give you the idea of the horror of being taken.


We’ll look at this in more detail next week. What you must not miss is that in the midst of a fallen world — whatever your circumstance, God has a plan for His people, to prosper them and not to harm them. No matter the difficulties you face, He is with you. You will see next week how He was with Esther, even in the midst of a terrible situation.

5. What thoughts do you have at this point?

Thursday – Friday

Listen to this amazing message on Esther by Tim Keller. It is free! (LINK) If you don’t get to it this week, you’ll have another chance next week.

6. Share your notes and comments on the sermon.


7. What have you learned about reading the Bible accurately?

8. What is your take-a-way and why?

Leave a Comment

Comment * If this is your first time here, please comment then fill out your name and email as stated at the bottom. Dee will approve you within 24 hours.


    1. Will be praying Dee and listening for you on the radio. I have Moody on all day at work thru my IPad.

    2. Yeah, the books arrived! 🙂 🙂 Happy birthday Dee! We will be praying for your recording. Let us know when it airs!

    3. Thank you Dee. I knew there is a clear difference.
      Can’t wait to read your new book!

    1. Happy Birthday, Dee! Praying for your recording and safe travels. Thanks for keeping us posted.

    2. Happy Belated Birthday!

      1. Praying for you too, Dee! Laura Marie…Dee’s birthday is today, so your not too late!

    3. Wishing you a truly Happy Birthday and a year filled with rich blessings, you are such a treasure Dee!
      It is a great honor to pray for the Moody recording day tomorrow, is it going to be a Midday program?

  1. It is so funny how God works in our lives. Yesterday on Moody I heard Tony Evans talking about Esther and I just started training to be a children’s small group leader and the director sent me the curriculum and wouldn’t you know it’s on Esther. Will be interesting to see how the lead teacher discusses it.

    1. Julie, WOW! Isn’t God amazing-how He is moving in your life and how He has made it obvious? 🙂 Wonderful how God weaved this together with you there. Keep us posted on how this goes! I will pray for you.

  2. Read Esther 1:1-9

    1. As you read, find the satire and any evidence of parading of possessions and pride. – the King reigned from his royal throne in his fortress. This paints a picture of not being accessible to the people being in a fortress. He held a feast for the higher up people and the army and displayed all his wealth and showed off his greatness for 180 days. He then held another week long banquet for the others that were not as important and had the best if the best displayed from table linens to the finest china. The finest wine was served endlessly.

    2. Meditate on verse 4. How does this show the fallenness of the king? The CEB version says it this way…he showed off the awesome riches of his  kingdom and beautiful treasures as mirrors of how very great he was. The event lasted a long time-six whole months to be exact. – this shows that he put himself above the greatness of God and forgot the one that put him in that place and allowed him to have the riches he acquired.

  3. Sweet sisters, I need prayer if God brings me to mind today.:-) Isaac kept me up since 2 a.m. last night with a bad bout of acid reflux-poor guy! I haven’t had hardly any sleep and need to go to the outlet stores today to return some things-None of Drew’s school clothes fit and I thought for sure they were the right size. I need to get Isaac in to the doctor today before he starts school. I also have other things I need to do. It is my youngest two’s first day of school today. In the hurry of today, and how Satan will take advantage of the thoughts that will race through my head-pray that I would NOT FORGET! Pray that He would press in deeper today. Thanks so much!

    1. Praying for you now Rebecca. Stay focused on the Lord and what he wants you to do today.

      1. Oh thanks so much Julie! 🙂

    2. Oh my, I’m praying, Rebecca. Sounds like Satan has hit you will attacks on many sides today! I don’t function at all well on little sleep so you really have my sympathies.

    3. Praying, Rebecca.

    4. Praying, too. Sounds like a hectic day, especially with little sleep.

    5. Praying too, that God will direct your path today, and for Isacc’s reflux.

    6. Praying sweet Rebecca!

    7. Rebecca, iam late but praying just the same.

    8. Praying for you now, Rebecca, to keep you awake and alert and to get what you need done today and to keep the devil at bay and that you would press in closer today to Jesus.

    9. Rebecca-did you get into a Dr with Isaac? Praying for a smoother day for you all~

      1. Thanks my most beautiful sisters for praying!

        Isaac had another bad night last night, but didn’t wake me up this time. He feels nauseous but only at night time-through the night, sometimes in the morning too-but he can’t seem to throw up. He had a headache the other day. The Doctor yesterday said he isn’t sure it is Acid reflux since the Pepcid ac i have been giving him didn’t work. He thinks it could be something else-but instead of having him go through tons of testing we are going to try Prilosec for ten days. If it doesn’t help then he will have to undergo further testing like a scope and MRI’s, etc. I will be relieved if it is just Acid Reflux. He has also said his neck hurts from time to time and his back-but not severe. I am so hoping it isn’t in his brain or something. God is in control so I am not going into the future or worried right now, but that thought has crossed my mind.

        1. Lord, we lift up Isaac to You–please come and heal his body. Please let the Prilosec be helpful and restore his body. I pray You would cover Rebecca, Isaac, all of them with Your mighty peace and assurance that You hear them, You are with them. In Your Name we pray, Amen

  4. 3.  What is the last “possession” Xerxes wanted to parade before this drunken group? How did his plan backfire?

    His wife, vashti. She wouldn’t come to him.

    Read Esther 1:13-22

    4. Find the satirical humor. Discover why God may be “laughing” (yet really weeping) in:

    A. 1:13-15

    I guess his consultation with the “wise” men about his wife?

    B. 1:16-18

    That Xerxes had no control over his wife so others would follow suit.

    C. 1:19-20

    That the husbands and wives of the land would “learn a lesson” by Xerxes’ banishment of Vashti.

    D. 1:21-22

    That he had to tell men to be rulers of their own households?

  5. Good morning, ladies. This is probably the last night I will be on all week as I am off to the conference today.

    Happy birthday, dear Dee. Your obedience to the Lord’s call to teach us the Word of God has blessed me richly in this past year. May you have a blessed day!

    It’s great that the first batch of books arrived. I will try to remember to pray for you Dee tomorrow. May God be with you as you travel and speak.

  6. Listen twice to the Keller sermon and drew new insight on the book of Esther.
    I always admired the “spunk” of Queen Vashti , however had she listened to her husband, a whole nation of Jews would have been wiped out.
    Appreciate the quote Keller gave:
    Don’t mistake God’s silence for Absence!

    Good to know the writer of Esther purposely kept the mention of God out in order to show the reader who God moves in subtle ways. Coincidence is not in God’s vocabulary!
    Everything happens for a reason, this seems to be an almost unlining theme in the book of Esther!
    So much more to draw from, but I have to get to work!
    Please remember me in your prayers.
    I had a lengthy discussion with my nephew who is an “avowed” Atheist. We had good and respectful discussion and it all started when I shared this study on FaceBook.
    I try to limit my posts but a majority of my posts are geared for my Christians family & friends.
    And a tool to witness.

    1. So great that you had a “good and respectful discussion” with your nephew. It is great that Facebook can be a tool of witness. I try to use it that way too. I pray your ongoing conversations with lead him toward the Lord.

    2. Laura Marie,I will pray that you can witness to your nephew and he would have ears to hear the word. It hard not to post things on fb that we don’t love! And this is a good thing, that it brought up a discussion between you two!!

  7. 5. What thoughts do you have at this point?

    It strikes me that we may have studied Ester in the past and enjoyed thinking of her as a heroine, but when her sin is pointed out we are then perhaps inclined go too far in the other direction, defining her by her sin.

    She is both, she is a sinner and a heroine, she is human. The story is Gods, He kept His promise to Abraham through this story, in spite of the flaws of the people involved. He sometimes uses us, in spite of our flaws, I am feeling relieved that my faith is in Christ, and I can count on Him, even though my past has some ugly mistakes in it.

    I also am thinking about the part of the sermon that says when you go through suffering understanding that God loves you it makes you beautiful, for me going through suffering is what made me dig deep enough into my faith to start really believing that God loves me, it is still sinking in.

    1. Chris, these are very good thoughts. Esther surely is a heroine and imperfect, like us. Maybe that is what we love about her. As you said it is God’s story. Something you said brought to mind also is that He is stil at work in a very sick culture and in spite of evil government. Good also about how suffering taught you of His love for you.

  8. Well, my youngest started full day kindergarten today and I was on the fence about letting him go until about 7:30 this morning! SO HARD! Just praying God’s protection.
    And Rebecca–praying for you too–and especially Isaac to get some relief. So many things to juggle. If it makes you feel any better, I had bought some new tennis shoes for my daughter b/c she kills her shoes and they literally have 2 huge holes in the toe…anyway, I’ve had them all summer but I insisted on waiting for the first day of school, so they’d stay “nice”–well, I didn’t bother trying them on until 7:15 this morning and they didn’t fit! She was happy to wear her “church shoes” but I’m headed to Wal Mart for new ones!
    The one blessing is that I’m noticing the more I feel at the end of myself–just about stripped of physical, emotional, and mental energy–the more I have to trust in His power alone!

    1. aww Kindergarten, praying alongside!

    2. Elizabeth, I remember the first day of kindergarten for my oldest, Kyla. I followed her bus clear to school (we were in the country), crying the whole way! Trevor (2 yrs) sat by me, wondering what was wrong with mommy:) Three years later, I cryed when he started kindergarten, but we were in town then, within walking distance and Kyla walked him to school. That was the year Kendra was born, siezuring, and their daddy left us, so I had plenty to cry about then:(
      It is very hard to let them go…I so understand! Praying for you!

      1. Joyce, you remind me of me. I so wanted to be in the classroom with mine when they went to Kindergarten the first time. When Isaac had his first day of Football practice a few weeks ago I had so much to do at home, but went into the parking lot where I could face the field and watched him for a while. None of the parents were there watching their boys, but I couldn’t help it. 🙂

      2. Such sweet memories Joyce–I can picture it so well–your heart is so full! How is your cold? Praying too for Maurice.

    3. Elizabeth, Loved this-so cute..Wow, he is in kindergarten-big boy! Time goes by fast doesn’t it. 🙂

      So girls are hard on shoes too eh? Didn’t know that! I keep thinking things like I wonder what having a girl would be like-not a lot of chaos, ruined furniture, walls, stair spindles, plugged toilets-just friendly tea parties and dolls. 🙂

      Such great encouragement about trusting in His power alone-I see it so in your life- you are having to endure such ongoing physical trials being at the end of yourself daily! That wonderful butterfly/cocoon picture you gave us comes to mind-you are so beautiful!

  9. Read Esther 1:1-9

    1. As you read, find the satire and any evidence of parading of possessions and pride. well it talks about the area being so wide, the long time frame, the over indulgent living, all extended.

    2. Meditate on verse 4. How does this show the fallenness of the king? I think it funny they used the word pomp of the parade. Such a bragging time…he truly things he did this, earned this, he is all in all.

    Read Esther 1:10-12

    3. What is the last “possession” Xerxes wanted to parade before this drunken group? How did his plan backfire? The queen in her royal crown…She refuses.

    Read Esther 1:13-22

    4. Find the satirical humor. Discover why God may be “laughing” (yet really weeping) in:

    A. 1:13-15-women are not to be commanded and these guys are scared because Vashti was and refused

    B. 1:16-18-apparently none of them treated their women well, they are panicking because all women may act this way now it must be stopped! (wow!)

    C. 1:19-20-making a law that cannot be repealed (again playing god) that all women are to honor husbands. You cannot demand honor!

    D. 1:21-22-it pleased them…they sent an edict out.

  10. Happy Birthday Dee! Safe travels 🙂

  11. Happy birthday, Dee!

    1. As you read, find the satire and any evidence of parading of possessions and pride.
    When I was in christian high school I heard a report that they had troughs that the people would eat and drink until they were sick and go throw up so that they could keep eating and drinking.
    I guess 180 days wasn’t quite long enough he had to do another seven.

    He exhibited his stuff 180 days! Then 7 days of partying in HIS honor. He displayed kings colors, silver items, gold goblets, and precious materials including his palace with marble pillars, gold and silver couches, and abundant wine.

    2. Meditate on verse 4. How does this show the fallenness of the king?
    This man is acting as though he was a god, or the God.

    3. What is the last “possession” Xerxes wanted to parade before this drunken group? How did his plan backfire? The queen refused making him a laughingstock, the opposite of what he was trying to accomplish.

    Read Esther 1:13-22

    4. Find the satirical humor. Discover why God may be “laughing” (yet really weeping) in:

    A. 1:13-15 The king doesn’t know what to do. They are afraid of women.

    B. 1:16-18

    C. 1:19-20

    D. 1:21-22

  12. Oops

    B. 1:16-18 The queen has done wrong to all the men and will cause women everywhere to despise their husbands. These men are afraid of women!

    C. 1:19-20 The must have an edict so women will respect their husbands.

    D. 1:21-22 They thought an edict would solve the problem. I also see satire in the king needing others to give him ideas as to how to rule.

    5. What thoughts do you have at this point?
    I like understanding the Bible in the light in which it was written!

  13. Happy birthday Dee! I will be praying for you. 🙂

  14. DEAR DEE,


    You are so loved by all of us, Dee – hope you can feel the love and birthday wishes coming to you!

    1. Praying for traveling mercies, Dee

  15. Happy birthday! Praying all goes well tomorrow!

  16. Please pray for my friend Lynne, who went in for a hysterectomy surgery nearly 2 weeks ago and is still in the hospital. She has had 3 total surgeries for several other issues and called me a few minutes ago crying and in such pain.

    Please Lord help her cope. Calm her Jesus. Be near to Lynne and let her know you are there. Thank you for medicine and competent medical staff. Lynne knows you are in charge of her life. Thank you for guiding her Lord. Amen.

    1. Oh Laura, Praying for Lynne. I can’t even imagine. With the exception of a couple small recovery details, a hysterectomy was one of the best things that every happened to me. So when when people experience difficulties or complications related to it, my heart goes out to them — and I do pray.

      Oh Lord, comfort Lynne, help her to rest in your love and focus on you. Please provide her relief from pain, and give wisdom to those who are caring for her. In Jesus’ name.

    2. Laura–I am praying for her now-thankful it sounds like she’s a Christian–I will pray she senses His presence and for relief from pain

  17. 5. What thoughts do you have at this point?

    Well, my parents lived in Japan (Tokyo) for three years right before I was born. My dad was air force and was stationed in manilla. My dad didn’t want me born there and sent my mom home. They moved back and I grew up in a houseful of Japanese things…china, sofas, wall hangings. Everything japanese. It’s funny; the china had different patterns but one was of several geisha girls. I also remember having the Japanese shoes and robes as children. We would dress up and play that we were Japanese. I don’t think we called ourselves geishas, but we might have. I don’t remember it being a “bad” thing. In fact, I think the Japanese put on this idea that it was just part of who they were. Unfortunate. I think I ended up with the plate. I will go see and post it if I have it. I never saw the movie you posted. It seems awful and depressing.

    1. Laura-dancer,
      Interesting you wrote that. I haven’t seen the movie, but I have read the book. It seemed very matter of fact in the parts of the book that I remember.

      Also, a few years ago, I ordered a bunch of silk from Japan; it was used Kimono silk. I wonder if was geisha silk?? If I ever get stuff made out of it, I’ll have a good reminder to pray for those involved in sex trafficking.

  18. This encouraged me this morning Hebrews 12:28-29 “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.”–sometimes it just overwhelms me that WE know the One True God–the only one Whose Kingdom cannot be shaken–and we receive this–I long to keep that perspective in my daily life.

    1. We have to wait until September 20th? 🙁 I have been praying, and am sooooo excited..Want to hear it so bad. I am thinking I might be able to pick it up on Moody today on my phone via Tune In Radio. We’ll see! 🙂

      1. Don’t know if this will work but it seems it should….it is the Chattanooga link http://tunein.com/radio/WMBW-889-s30918/. Online radio.

        1. Actually this is better….listen live via station web page. http://www.moodyradiosoutheast.fm/
          It is on left hand side.

        2. Angela, I just googled and found the same station link as the first one you gave: http://tunein.com/radio/WMBW-889-s30918/

          Now I will go to the second link if it is better! Thanks so much!!! 🙂

        3. So, was this link only for live airing? Just got home, and it sure wasn’t Dee 🙂 That was one loud preacher!

  19. Praying! So glad you made it safe!

  20. Watched the clip…so sad. I have been hearing so much about human trafficking lately and it breaks my heart! Never pictured Esther in this light but it is practically what happened. Used and abused for the sake of a man. Sad. Heart breaking.

  21. Great job Dee. I could listen to you all day! When is the next session?

      1. oh I’m SO SAD I couldn’t hear it! Julie–I love how you put it–there is something about Dee’s soothing, comforting voice that makes you just want to listen!

        1. So true Elizabeth, I could be in a bad mood and hear Dee and be calmed down. Her voice IS so soothing.

      2. Thanks Dee, I usually listen to Janet Parshall too!

  22. Update on Lynne: she finally got a new medication at about 4 am (keflex?). It helped her immensely..unfortunately she has 10 more days in the hospital if all goes well. Continued prayers are appreciated.

    1. Will keep praying, Laura.

  23. Has anyone seen the movie “One Night with the King?” it is the story of Esther and I hate to admit it but I loved it so much I bought it :/ to me, in the movie, Esther is portrayed as much more intelligent than the king. She can read and he can’t. She reads the historical tales of his kingdom to him. That is pretty funny if you think about it! She is kind of abused by Mordecai now that I think of it. He told her she must go with the soldiers. Also, there was a boyfriend in the story. He ended up being taken too and was castrated (?); forced to be a eunuch. That is awful and sad.

  24. Share your notes and comments on the sermon
    The Silent Sovereignty of God

    How do you follow God in morally, culturally, ambiguous situations? When your flying blind and you don’t even know what is the right thing to do?

    How and can God work with you in situations like that?
    Keller covers chapters 1 & 2, there we will find how God is at work by the following:
    1)God is always at work inspite of appearances.
    2)We’ll see how the world was and still is obsessed with appearances.
    3)How God’s work can free us from the enslavement of the world’s ways.

    God is at work even when it appears that He is not there!

    Chapter 1

    We learn of the elaborate banquet that King Xexerus puts on for his servants and men. There the King parades all his wealth and possessions to his guests. His most prized is his beautiful Queen Vashti.
    Without giving a clear reason, Vashti refuses the King when she is summoned.
    This causes a major culture crisis where a cabinet meeting is held.
    In this culture, when you are summoned by the King, even if you are the Queen, you are commanded not asked to be present.

    Because of this defiance, Vashti is sripped of her crown and banished from the kingdom.
    Now commissioners are sent out into the empire for find the most beautiful women ( virgins) in this vast empire. Which by the way, spans India to Ethiopia ( according to my study Bible).

    Scholars think as many as a thousand young girls are brought back to the empire. Which is actually Sushan the citidel. I read that Xerxus’ throne sat in the citadel of Sushan. And that this area had long been an important center of culture, religion and politics since the time it was built during the reign of previous King Darius.

    Now the families of these girls had no choice if they wanted their daughters to go or not because they were taken according to verse 8 of chapter 1.

    When they were brought in, every women for a year had to under go beauty treatments, various sorts of training. To get ready for one night with the king.

    Depending on what happened that night 4 things can happen that will effect the rest of their lives.
    1) If the king wasn’t pleased with the girl, he sends her back to be permanent concubines. But he will never call them again. They are not allowed to go home, they are not allowed to get married,not allowed to have anyone else because she is a member of the king’s harem.
    Banished by the age of 18 to permanent widowhood.

    2)He might say ” I do like this one” and she will get called every once in awhile.
    3) If your really really lucky, you might be one of the two or three women he actually marrys. So that they are his wives and that their children becomes heirs.

    4) If you are the one he most favors, you become the queen!

    One of the girls “tapped” is a Jewish orphan named Esther who is raised by her cousin Mordecai.
    When they came for her, Mordecai told Esther not to say anything about her Jewish identity or beliefs.
    So, Esther went secretly not mentioning her Jewish backround.

    Esther went through all the beauty treatments. Followed all the instructions by Hegai. Doing exactly what her cousin Mordecai had instructed her to do.

    And when she was presented to the King. He was pleased and married her, celebrating with another elaborate feast and made her Queen!

    This is the story. But it is told in a certain way to get the attention of the reader.
    1)First thing, there is no mention of God. The writer deliberatly leaves any mention of God out even when Mordecai goes into mourning with the ritual of sackcloth and ashes.

    He is making a point, and that is the Jews are in great danger. There is a whole array of powerful forces seeking to destroy them. And that is nothing new for the Israelites because it has happened so many times in the past.
    And when that has happened, God usually responds to Israels dilemna in some kind of spectacular way!
    Plagues, pilar of fire, Red Sea parting…in other words when God came through, it was obvious.
    But in Esther. No miracle,no vision, not even a dream like he did for Jacob and Daniel.

    Its almost as though He is absent.
    He is totally silent.

    Instead He works through a subtle string of coincidences;
    King getting drunk; Vashti’s refusal of the king’s summons;
    Esther get picked out of almost if not more than a thousand girls; Mordecai sits at the gate everyday to find out what is happening to Esther and over hears the king’s enemies plotting to overthrow him;king forgets to honor Mordecai and remmebers when he can’t sleep one night and starts to read his Chronicles…ordinary things.

    The Book of Esther tells us to not make the mistake of thinking God is not present because He is not obvious to our eyes.

    Love his quote from Karen Jobes;
    When God works in extrodinary ways, we know.
    When He is working in ordinary ways, we think He is not there.
    He is!

    Love this Keller quote:
    God’s silence is not absence!
    His hiddeness is not abandonment!
    He is working for your salvation, He is working out His promises even when it looks like He is nowhere around!
    And this is only the first point of Esther.

    The second point is God doesn’t care about appearances.
    The Book of Esther is saying “it is always inappropriate to get mad at God when we think He is not working in our lives!”

    Chapter one was about a banquet. The banquet lasted 180 days. The reason why it lasted to long was because he wanted to gather all his friends so he can parade all his wealth for them.
    Like a vanity fair!
    And it took 180 days to bring all his treasure, livestock, decor, food , women…all to parade right through the banquet hall.

    Chapter 2
    The International Beauty Pagent.

    In Persian culture,the most important thing about a man was his wealth and power.
    The most important thing about a woman is sex and beauty.

    Much like today!

    The world is like King Xerxus. The world says ” external image matters more than character!”
    ” what you have matters more than what you are!”
    Beauty, money, talent and power…matters more than what you are!

    In the view of liberal or conservative. Esther would not be their choice for a hero because she is sold out to the culture around her.
    Esther is compliant and does everything the men want her to do.

    Liberals see her as a failure because she is not Vashti.
    Conservatives see her as a failure because she broke her religous beliefs as a Jew.

    Esther is us. How manytimes have we given into the culture of sin around us.
    How do we escape? We can’t.
    The world affects us much more than we realize. Which is scary when you think of it.

    Are we concubines to a world system?

    Esther gets off to a horrible start. But by the end she is a “braveheart”.
    God stays with her, God is patient with her and her compromises.

    I think of my carnal nature. And I see myself as an Esther. And God stays with me too!
    And for that I am grateful!

    No matter how bad of a start you get in life, you can’t write yourself out of God’s final script!
    He had a plan for Esther, and I know He has a plan for me as well!

    So much I have learned from this message and the first two chapters of Esther!

    1. I have too, leant so much in reading Esther. I enjoyed your comments so much!!

    1. oh Dee–So thankful to hear this report! 🙂 Praise!!

    2. Great report. Love when God is so near.

    3. This is so good to hear! Praise!

    4. Praise God! Prayers for safe travels.

    5. This is wonderful news, Dee, and definitely answered prayer. I’m so thankful.

    6. 🙂

  25. Last night I picked up a book I hadn’t in a long, long while–“The Four Loves” by CS LEwis. It has one of my favorite passages on friendship in it. But I remembered this one too–and thought of our group–all the suffering, the growing…but also thought of Christ–His pain was so great in His suffering because He chose to love us. Somehow this reading hits it deeper for me:
    “There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket – safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.”

    1. Thank you for this Elizabeth. I have posted the same quote on facebook in the past, it was a good thing to read it this morning, to be reminded.

      1. Chris, you are exactly who came to mind when I read it again last night. With all your suffering and immense loss, you have NOT locked up your heart “safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness”–but have chosen to risk loving more, to stay soft, vulnerable…and He shines so beautifully through you, it is living proof of His power for me.

    2. powerful

    3. That was so good, Elizabeth…it makes me wonder how atheist live…it must be like you said..in a casket. There would be no hope for anything better, than in this life. There was a show on nightline just this week about a atheist camp for kids and those poor kids are infuenced by their parents, everyday. It is so sad.

      I had to google the word atheist for the correct spelling for this paragraph above and clicked on atheist celebrity list, and you would not believe the amount of people listed that we look up to that are athesist! People Bill Gates, Ernest Hemingway, Kathern Hepburn, Jodie Foster, Diane Keaton, Jack Nickelson, John lennon…and on and on! Where do you suppose those that have already passed on, are now?

  26. 7. What have you learned about reading the Bible accurately?

    First of all the Bible is about God and His rescue of us and His continued faithfulness to mold us and make us into shiny diamonds. It isn’t about me and isn’t just a book with a set of rules to live by-although there are principles and promises God wants me to walk in. The Bible is about Him-Who He is-He is the word. The Gospel is breathed into every story-and I am learning to really look into the stories and into the parables and see Him-see the Gospel. So I think approaching it from that foundation is CRUCIAL. Then when I get to applying it-I see Him, not me..I may see myself in all the people in scripture who fail miserably, but I see His Grace, His love, His long suffering, His faithfulness and compassion to broken and sinful people and I see the cross in everything-that is so changing how I respond to Him.

    I have only scratched the surface-there are so many more layers in Scripture that God wants to show me of Himself-layers I am sure I have missed and I am really excited at how God is moving in my life in this!

    1. How wonderful Rebecca…I love to hear how God is moving in our lives!!

  27. I never thought of the connection between Esther’s day and ours. What a relevant message. There is so much we can learn about how to live and not allow the world to affect us.
    Are you a concubine to the world’s culture? What is driving you? The point of what happens to Esther. How are we affected by our culture? Esther sold out to her culture – absolute compliance. Esther got off to a terrible start but in the end she has grown and God uses her mightily. God hasn’t given up on us either. We are in much the same system as Esther.
    Spiritually speaking Esther is no beauty but God takes her hand. We are no beauty either but Jesus loves us despite our flaws and gave up everything to make us lovely. Like a groom waitng for his bride, His heart bursts at the sight of us!
    When we see Jesus we see a real definition of beauty. Self obsession is not real beauty but the total opposite – self sacrifice.
    Once you are assured of His love your suffering becomes a beauty treatment. Wow!
    I love this sermon because I got a glimpse of my beauty in Him. His covering makes me beautiful. I feel saddened when I see women like the Kardashians living such boring lives for themselves – that must get very old at the end of the day when things are quiet and one can actually think.

    1. Love this so much, Kim! “Once you are assured of His love your suffering becomes a beauty treatment. Wow!
      I love this sermon because I got a glimpse of my beauty in Him. His covering makes me beautiful. I feel saddened when I see women like the Kardashiansliving such boring lives for themselves – that must get very old at the end of the day.”
      the day when things are quiet and one can actually think”.

      1. I messed this up coping it, but it was the last comment Kim made, that I meant.

  28. 7. What have you learned about reading the Bible accurately?
    I am amazed by the hidden treasures in the Word of God. He seems to enjoy hiding little nuggets for me to find. I have often prayed the verse Matt 13:11 “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them.” and asked God to reveal them to me.
    As an adult I have a choice to be a seeker of truth not as a child being fed by others, find the mysteries for myself and ask for divine revelation.
    Good week, good lesson and sermon.

  29. 7. What have you learned about reading the Bible accurately?

    That I love God’s Word. When I read it in context, with God, instead of Self, as the center, the reference point–the Bible is…indescribable! I am noticing now that even one verse strikes me as it never has before. There is a richness and depth that draws me in for more. And, not sure if this makes sense out-loud–but there is a RELIEF, a peace that comes from taking myself out of the center. When I stop looking for answers for me–and turn to His Word to know more of Him–there is a satisfying calm that comes over me.

  30. I come to you to ask for prayers. There is a difficult situation going on with my husband’s sister, Kim, and her family. Davie & Kim have 4 girls, though the 2 older ones are his from a previous relationship. They have had custody of them for several years now. The oldest girl, 13, is causing a lot of heartache right now, and the girls’ mother is also causing a lot of stress. They are very likely going back to live with their mom, though it is not a healthy situation. Many are praying, but it’s such a tough situation. It’s hard to explain. Davie & Kim are taking this so hard. They love those girls soo much, but are tired of going to court because of the mom trying to get full custody back. She has never won in court, the judges can figure out it’s best for the girls to stay with Davie & Kim, but she won’t quit. On top all of this Davie has heart issues. Kim is honestly concerned this is going to give him a heart attack. 🙁 He’s only 37.
    So, please pray for them! This is heavy on our family right now.

    1. Krista, I’m praying for them…so sad:(

    2. I will pray now, Krista.

  31. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SUSAN!!!!! Hope your having a wonderful day!! Love you!

  32. Happy birthday to Susan, I hope your day is blessed. 🙂

    1. Happy happy birthday, dear Susan!

      1. Thank you Joyce, Krista, and Kim, for the birthday wishes! Joyce – you don’t forget a thing!

  33. Oh HOW DID I MISS THIS?! HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEAREST SUSAN!!! Oh you are so loved! Praying for you to have a wonderful day!

    Now really–how did you all know? I was unsubscribed while on vacation and did miss some posts a few weeks ago…and I don’t have facebook…

    1. I almost missed it too! Had to jump on to wish you a Happy Birthday Susan!! Hope your day has been wonderful! 🙂

        1. Elizabeth, Rebecca, and Dee – thank you for your kind wishes, too! And Dee – I don’t think it’s as much as a zillion!

  34. A most happy birthday to you dear Susan!

    1. so many blessings in august! OK your turn to tell us when yours is chris…and julie, angela, lauras (both),dawn, krista, renee, kim, anne…anyone else I’m missing? I don’t have fb and I’d hate to miss the day!

      1. And our new gals that are responding, your birthdays too.

    2. Thank you, Chris!

  35. Happy birthday, Susan. Hope you had a lovely day!

    1. Thank you too, Diane!

  36. Read Esther 1:1-9

    1. As you read, find the satire and any evidence of parading of possessions and pride.

    For 180 days he paraded his kingdom’s vast wealth and the splendor and glory of his majesty. (I wonder how he paraded his own “splendor and glory of his majesty”?)

    He paraded his possessions and pride at the 7 day banquet – the decorating with fine linen material, the gold and silver couches, the precious stone-studded pavement, wine served in golden goblets – each one different from the other.

    The satire/irony that I see –

    I kind of see a crescendo in the first couple verses introducing Xerxes –
    …during the time of Xerxes, the Xerxes who ruled over 127 provinces…at that time
    King Xerxes….

    Compared to the God of the Universe, Xerxes is an ant, a speck. It’s kind of like it says, “Xerxes, oh, the Xerxes who rules over 127 provinces, you know, King Xerxes…”
    God is the Posessor of Heaven and Earth – Xerxes has temporary control over 127 provinces.

    Xerxes displayed his wealth and majesty for 180 days, for a “full 180 days” – did people get bored with the display? God’s wealth and majesty is from everlasting to everlasting, and it never gets old.
    Xerxes banquet for all the people lasted 7 days. God will one day have a banquet for His people that will last forever.

    In keeping with the king’s liberality, the wine kept flowing and each guest was allowed to drink whatever he wanted and how much he wanted. What a guy!

    2. Meditate on verse 4. How does this show the fallenness of the king?

    About six full months of being “full of himself”, his pride in his possessions, his pride in what he feels is his own splendor and glory. He had invited military leaders, princes and nobles, but they are only there to feed his ego. He’s not interested in them, they are only there to feed his pride.

  37. 8. What is your take-a-way and why?

    When I re-read the title–“Why Have We Distorted Esther?”–I think, ‘because we want everything to be about us!’ I loved this from Dee—The Bible is “ABOUT GOD AND HOW HE IS SOVEREIGN OVER EVERY DETAIL FOR HE HAS A GRAND PLAN HE SEES HOW WE FAIL YET HE DOES NOT LET OUR FAILURES DETER HIS PLAN HE CAN EVEN TURN THE ASHES OF OUR FAILURES INTO BEAUTY”
    There is comfort for me in knowing I cannot deter His Plan. Sometimes I think we tend to give ourselves more power than we have when we stress so much about mistakes our even decisions sometimes—I think the main point is to trust Him, that we cannot thwart His plans.

    I loved the sermon, especially the ending about how God’s love can free us from the world’s ways. The part about God being my Spouse—and how this does not bring an unreachable requirement. I do remember early marriage years trying SO hard to live up to the P 31 woman—oh, and a women’s book that nearly did me in. God says the requirements are already met–He grabs hold of my hand when I am spiritually ugly—He loves me in spite of my flaws; and He makes me beautiful. He covers me with His own beauty. He has so surrounded me with His beauty, so cleansed me of all my sin, He delights in me—He tells me I have never looked more beautiful. This is the key to freedom from what the world tells me I need in order to be acceptable, beautiful—it’s like the language is changed! There is a change in translation and this is what beauty means now!

    And then there is the refining tool of suffering. Lately I have been more aware of how the world views suffering—it seems to be all negative. There is this need to blame—what did the victim do wrong kind of thing. What gives me hope is viewing suffering through His definition. Like beauty, suffering I think, needs to be re-defined by our culture. It isn’t always someone’s fault—and there is a usefulness, an Eternal purpose—something beyond us—that He will use it for. I’m getting foggy—my thoughts aren’t well-putt together yet on this. I just think something about the problem of us putting ourselves at the center of the Bible, of the world, has caused us to get a false definition of both beauty, and suffering. I’ll ponder more—sorry for these muddy thoughts, but I’m out of time this morning and was afraid I wouldn’t get back to this today! And sorry this got longer than I meant ;0

    1. Elizabeth,
      Your entire post just spoke and ministered to me, every word. First this, “sometimes I think we tend to give ourselves more power than we have when we stress so much about mistakes or even decisions sometimes….we cannot thwart His plans.” Isn’t this so true?! You know, as my 18 year old left for college this week, I’ve thought over the past years and had those regrets as a mom, of things I didn’t do and should’ve done differently, on and on… and isn’t that giving myself “more power than I have when I stress so much about mistakes…” – as if I can thwart God’s plans for my son’s life? It’s the opposite of trusting God to bring beauty out of even my failures and mistakes and poor decisions. It’s trying to “be god” – as if I had the power to create a “perfect family” anyway!

      Your 2nd paragraph is one I think every young girl needs to read – in fact, I’m going to share it with my daughter. The world gives our daughters “unreachable requirements” of beauty, fashion, having it all…yes, God has changed the translation of how the world defines beauty, and His definition is so much better!

      And yes, our putting ourselves at the center of the Bible has led to a false definition of suffering, and I know you speak from your own experience of suffering. I think you are saying that we tend to see our suffering as what God is doing in us (that would be putting ourself at the center) instead of that God is using it for His eternal purposes – “something beyond us”.
      You are right and Dee is right – this is so much to think about and I see it in myself, how I put myself at the center, even in reading the Bible, and I/we need to shift our thinking.

      You did an amazing take-away, Elizabeth!

  38. Read Esther 1:10-12

    3. What is the last “possession” King Xerxes wanted to parade before this drunken group? How did his plan backfire?

    His wife, the queen – Vashti. He is in “high spirits from wine” – that’s a nice way to say he was inebriated, and suddenly remembers the queen, and he needed now to show her off to the crowd.

    Read Esther 1:13-22

    4. Find the satirical humor. Discover why God may be “laughing” (yet really weeping) in:

    A. 1:13-15

    He has a problem in his relationship with his wife, and instead of going to her himself (that would be beneath him), he consults the “experts” – “wise men who understood the times”. He needs seven men to tell him what to do about the queen.
    If he had really asked her to appear naked wearing only her crown, how insensitive of him to her feelings that he wouldn’t have gone and apologized to her. He’s only interested in what must be done, by law, to punish her.

    B. 1:16-18

    It sounds as if Queen Vashti has ignited a feminist revolution among all the women in the kingdom. Now all the nobles’ wives will respond in the same way, and there will be disrespect and discord in their homes. Who knows – the women may take to the streets and begin protesting!

    C. 1:19-20

    His advisors say that in order to get this thing under control, Xerxes must give Vashti the “royal boot” – get rid of her and replace her with a woman who will be “better than she” – more obedient. This will be proclaimed publicly, to put the fear back into all the women of the kingdom so they will respect their husbands, lest the same thing happen to them.

    D. 1:21-22

    The king and his nobles are sighing with relief – this is great advice – we’ll keep our women under control after all. In fact, let’s put it into the written and spoken language of all parts of the kingdom and get the word out that the king says every man should be ruler over his own household.

  39. 8. What is your take-a-way and why?

    I have lots of takeaways for the week-have been meditating on the things I mentioned earlier. One thing that was a HUGE encouragement and reminder to me this week is that he is working in the mundane-He is sovereign and when it seems he is absent-HE IS NOT. 🙂 🙂 I can trust Him.

    Another thing is that I need to be on guard to not sacrifice myself for one night with the King. I can easily find myself comparing my kids to other kids and I start thinking why can’t my oldest two be normal..I had that fleeting thought last night..oh my..and in the Christian realm I find pressure to strive to be perfect, or being the perfect proverbs 31 wife and mom. 😉 I feel like the Israelites in a culture with tons of pressure to undergo it’s beauty treatment in order to be ‘worthy’. AND I admit I am effected by it to a certain degree and some days it seems like I really fail in this area.

    The truth is that our culture wants me to sacrifice to it-to fulfill all these outward qualities which isn’t real beauty-and in the end the world will rip me apart-It will demand more and I will always fall short. The world offers no Grace, no Mercy, no unconditional love and acceptance despite my flaws. This has seeped into the church to a certain degree too but the Lover of my soul turned that upside down! The one who is perfect and measures up gave up his glory on the cross for me, a flawed and imperfect person who can’t measure up. He did this so that He could be intimate with me and take me by my hand and make me beautiful.

    1. Rebecca,
      I love your take-away too! Oh…the “comparing my kids to other kids”, and even in the “Christian realm I find pressure to strive to be perfect, or being the perfect proverbs 31 wife and mom”, and this, “I feel like the Israelites in a culture with tons of pressure to undergo it’s beauty treatment in order to be ‘worthy’.”
      Yes, yes, yes! Rebecca, I admit it too, it affects me, too. It’s so hard to not be influenced by the culture. Every time I go to the grocery store and stand in line to check-out, all the magazine covers are obsessed with these things – beauty, get rid of your belly-fat, how to look 10 years younger, the latest fashion ‘must haves’, don’t have another bad hair day, and on and on and on.
      There is no grace or mercy offered by the world, it’s cover it up, hide it, get plastic surgery, get to the gym…

      1. Yes! You go girls! Rebecca and Susan, you put it just like it is in this sick world..thank you.

  40. 5. What thoughts do you have at this point?

    Now having the background of chapter 1, and looking forward to next week when we get into Esther 2, the groundwork has been laid. I find it fascinating how the lives of these two people, King Xerxes and Esther, are going to intersect. A pride-filled king and an orphaned Jewish girl being raised by her uncle. It makes me think of our individual “threads” of our lives and how they are interwoven with the lives of others. And how God permits it to be so. And He sees the big tapestry, the ‘finished project’, and is Sovereign over it all.

  41. 6. Share your notes and comments on the sermon.

    I am way too concerned with outside appearances.

  42. 7. What have you learned about reading the Bible accurately?
    The bible tells the story of God and what he has done through his people for his glory. While we need to think of biblical events in light of our culture today and in order to feel a connection to it, we shouldn’t make ourselves the main focus.

    8. What is your take-a-way and why?
    Xerxes didn’t build his kingdom and provide his riches, God did. As a matter of fact, the bible says “in the 3rd year of his reign”. He didn’t do and acquire all of that in 3 years. It would have taken more than three years to travel the known world to collect all of the exotic possessions. He inherited all of what he had. The palace was the same one that Darius used. He was taking credit for someone else’s work.

  43. I love the take aways! They are helping me to form my own. I am behind in comments and I want to share birthday wishes for Dee and Susan. I pray the Lord has brought many blessings to both of you. We do celebrate your presence here with us. Joyce, I love your birthday avatar!

    I have struggled this week under thought of my many failures as a wife and parent. Elizabeth and Rebecca, your take aways did encourage me. I will now work on my own.

    1. Gravatar! Thank you, Dear Anne! I’m praying for the Lord to lift you up Anne and fill you with his spirit and to keep the evil one away from you…telling you that you are a failure as a wife and parent….WRONG! I have known you here for as long as I’ve been here and that’s maybe 3 years? Anyway, if I’ve admired anyone as a wonderful wife and mother..it has been YOU! You have lifted me up many times when I’ve been down. Just a few days ago, you ask for prayer for your husband (still praying for him) and are always concerned and loving for your boys. They are so blessed to have such a wonderful, loving wife and mother as you, Anne. May God lift your spirits, Sweet one:) Love you and praying for you.

    2. Anne, Wish I was on last night to see this-but that was not God’s plan..I CAN SO RELATE TO YOU BEATING YOURSELF UP. I do it too. I can’t wait for you to read Dee’s study for this week! 🙂 Especially the part where she says even when we give in to worldly pressure and fail HE IS WITH US!!! :):) He doesn’t withdraw! Instead of ignoring me like humans would or abandoning me, or getting tired of my whining he pursues me HARD-so difficult for me to fathom but real.

      An older woman who discipled me used to tell me over and over-“you are His Princess-you are royalty! He died to cover you with His righteous robes.” Anne, you are too! You are a special, radiant woman he is making more and more beautiful here on Earth-His princess clothed with His beauty. I know some days this will be so hard to see as it is for me but even when it is and your faith is weak, he is with you. I am sure I will need this encouragement at some point in the next day or two as well. 🙂

    3. Joyce, you are a wonderful encourager! Thank you! I just can’t believe how blessed we are here. I never would have expected such sweet fellowship among people I have never met. It is one of God’s unexpected blessings.

      Rebecca, after I shared this the Lord really spoke to me. It was like He took me on a tour of all my perceived failures as a parent. He showed me how I had done the important thing which was to bring them to Him. Also, I saw how He had padded my shortcomings. I mean that most of them lost their negative impact and that I can expect Him to continue with that work. Many of the things that I did well were not for outcome as I had thought but for relationship with them. The outcome is His.