Ok so I know I said we were gonna finish up Esther yesterday but the post ended up longer than I thought, so let’s pick it up with our last three influencers from the book of Esther!
DUN DUN DUUUUN! the villain in our account. Haman had a few problems that caused him to be such a negative influence.
First Haman let anger rule his life. It defined him. Mordecai didn’t do as he wanted. He didn’t bow as Haman rode by. HOW DARE HE! Does he not know who I am ? Look what the King has given me!
Pride: when the king asked human what should be done for someone who has done noble deeds, Haman immediately thinks “OH BOY HE”S TALKING ABOUT ME”. So he rattles off all the things he would like. Oh to be a fly on the wall when the king said OK go do all that you have said….to MORDECAI! WOW!
AND LASTLY HATE- Hate is when you decide to destroy a whole nation because one man will not bow to you! I mean really? No in all seriousness many think that the roots of hate run deeper than that with speculation of ties to a battle where Humans family was killed by the Jews. I am not given those details with in the passage so I cannot tell. BUT for whatever the reason, the reality was Haman was controlled by hate.
We don’t know if what Vashti did was a positive or negative influence but she had a choice. She made it. There were consequences because there was fear of the. influence she had!
All we know was that Xerxes in the middle of his drunken feast requested the presence of his Queen So he AND ALL HIS DRUNK BUDDIES could look at his beautiful wife. She said no!
Now there is much speculation as to what all this means. Many scholars believe that she was to parade around all his buddies with no clothses on. Enough said. We don’t really know other than she said NO. and for that choice she was disbarred as queen and sent to live in the concubine residence no longer to be called to the king again.
The King’s advisors
I’m gonna call these guys a bad influence because of two things
they were selfish
they didn’t man up to Xerxes and say you crossed a line.
When Xerxes asked this men what to do there response was- PUNISH her because if you don’t all the women will think they too can rebel against their husbands. they weren’t worried about what was right but instead what was easiest.
I know I said that I don’t know what exactly was requested BUT I do know he wanted Vashti to be gawked at by a bunch of drunk men. She wasn’t a show pony. How humiliating.
These dudes could have said ” ya know what we blew it, things got out of hand a. We had too much to drink and we lost control of our senses.” But instead the took the east=y non confrontational road so as not to make king Xerxes mad.
doing what we think is the easy way out is almost NEVER the Easy way out!
Let’s Chat : have you ever considered any of these as influencers? Who was the most surprising?
Did you fret when you saw the title ? Oh don’t worry I will be referencing it still throughout the rest of this writing Challenge. But first we really need to look at the Influencers who rounded out the rest of the book of Esther. Here are the 5 others we will be discussing together today.
King Xerxes’ advisors
Some will be assigned the title of positive or negative Influence. We will discuss what makes them such. BUT then there are two who are up in the air- we don’t actually know how their influence panned out.
Mordecai was a positive influence for sure. There is no doubt about that. Though he really ruffled Haman’s feathers when we made the hard decision not to bow to him as he passed, he made the RIGHT decision because God had been clear about bowing to others bestowing honor that was rightly deserved by only God.
sometimes when we take a stand like Mordecai did it is an unpopular decision. It doesn’t make it any less right or positive BUT it can put a hefty price on our heads.
This can be as simple as standing up for someone who cannot defend themselves OR as life and death as taking a stand for your faith while faced with the possibility of death for doing so.
Mordecai also chose to speak up when he overheard a plot to kill king Xerxes. He could have played dumb and never said a word. Not standing for what is right, would have been an active decision for the worst kind of negative influence there is. DEATH. King Xerxes could have been murdered, because it was easier for Mordecai to keep quiet.
And He was a positive influence to Esther. He had helped raise his orphaned cousin and she was now a lovely woman married to the king. She respected him and what he had today. She followed all he told her to do, even when she didn’t want to.
And finally in Esther 8:17 b we are told, “and many people of other nationalities became Jews because fear of the Jews had seized them.” COVERTS! Despite the fact that God is not mentioned in this book, you can see him working in every aspect. None of this was by chance or happenstance This all Happened for a purpose.
When this book opens and we first see King Xerxes we see that he LOVES to PAR-TAY! And he loves his wine. The good stuff ALL the time no matter how drunk they got it was always the best-In those days as people partied (feasted) and got drunker the cheaper and less potent the wine would get. But not for good old king Xerxes. SOOOOO clearly he was a bad influence! BUT he most certainly did not stay there.
I think the turning point came when Esther walked in and he had a choice to make. Hold out the scepter or consult his advisors (as he did with Vashti)He made a choice to extend grace rather than ask for opinions. He chose grace and mercy.
Xerxes was also a very angry man. When he was didn’t get his way when he called for Vashti he was livid. So much so he sought others opinions. ( not always a bad choice, especially when we are angry) However note the difference when he is angry with Haman that he sought to kill the Jews in all the kings land, which included Mordecai who the king had just honored for saving his life and Esther his queen. Do you remember how he handled his anger, he left the room! To think. and he made a decision, the right one to punish Human. >
Tomorrow we are going to hit the last 3. Two of them will be super short and the other well, we could maybe go on about him for a whole lot longer.
As we begin to look at Ester and her six influential attributes, (Willingness, Faith, Transparency, Persistence, A tad bit of Crazy, and Action.) I want you to understand that these were the 6 attributes that stood out to me in the months I spent studying her. When you read Esther you might just see 6 more attributes that will stand out to you. So you can say, “Yeah Mary, but what about_____?” and That My friends is what God is talking about in Isaiah when He states ,
New International Version
so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
Yep That is EXACTLY what I mean! Yes I know she was kidnapped (against her will of course). So how on earth can I possibly say she was willing. Well heres the thing She had a choice, a hard choice. but it also seems like a small, seemingly insignificant choice. It was her choice to be willing, but will for what?
Ester was willing to:
Listen -listen to wise counsel….the counsel of the king’s Eunuchs,who gave extra preparations to Esther because they saw something different in her.
Listen to Mordecai’s advice both to say nothing about being a Jew and then when the time was right to say she was a Jew.
Lay her life on the line when she approached the king.
She had to be willing to wait, because God’s plan sometimes (ok often times does not look like what we think the plan should).She had to hold two banquets because God’s planwas bigger.
Change, both her opinions and he plans. (Yeah I just said that-OUCH!!)
New International Version (NIV)
15 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 16 “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”
17 So Mordecai went away and carried out all of Esther’s instructions.
20 Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, 21 equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen
Did you see that!!! In the Hebrews passage it says ” God WILL equip you with everything good for doing His will”. Wow!! what an amazing promise!
Now as I was studying out this passage we had the opportunity to go to a Newsboys concert back in April. and as we sang and danced and enjoyed the concert with church friends and our family, Micheal Tait said something that spoke right into what I had been studying.
We arenot called because we are gifted, we are gifted because we are called.
Esther was not trained to be a Persian Queen nor was she gifted in over-throwing evil plots to wipe out a genocide plot for an entire people group. We have people in this country who are highly trained in these areas. And here we find a teenaged girl who finds herself in just these circumstances. She was Called for such a time as this, but you can be called and not be willing.
BUT Willingness Works Two Ways!
However there is a negative side to willingness as well. And that comes in the form of what we are willing to let influence us.
Is it negative messages from music, TV or people OR do we feed ourselves negative messages.They usually start with I Can’t…..
BUT She ….
If only I….
Someday when I….
Those influences take the focus off God and put them on me.But it’s not about me.
Mordecai is clearly the most influential person in Esther’s life He was willing to take in his orphan Niece.Esther could have chosen to let the Persian culture influence every part of her life.She could have also been the opposite of willing and chosen to be stubblorn, Digging in her heals saying “NOpEI’m not gonna do It Because…..” And we would not have blamed her. BUT I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t have the book of Esther either.
Examples in Unwillingness
The closest Kinsman in Ruth Chapter 4 Said he wasn’t going to take Ruth because his own inheritance would be on the line.And yet HE CHOSE to lose out on a fantastic legacy of being in the line of Jesus.
Pharaoh admitted to sinning 2 different times.He knew the choices he was making werewrong and yet when he couldn’t have his own way because the plan had changed and he became angry. He then let hisanger influence his decision making. His pride and his anger were his influences.Not even his advisors could change it. his mind!
So What’s It Gonna Be?
You and I have a choice too. Are we willing to be a Christ-like influence. Sacrificing our own desires, likes and dislikes, pet peeves , insecurities, hurt feelings, misunderstandings, discouragements, circumstances, ( I can keep going , and going and going). We let all these things influence us and in the end we are rendered ineffective because what ends up happening is those “things” start eating at us and before long we are rooted firmly in bitterness, anger, self doubt, discouragement, and completely focused on ourselves. And unfortunately we tend to think that we are hiding these things but in reality, the condition of our hearts are revealed through the words of our mouth,
Matthew 15:18 NIV
But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them.
That’s hard but when we let those negative influences into our lives we are willingly choosing to forfeit that being equipped by God to do his good work. We are essentially putting ourselves first whether we are protecting ourselves -like Esther could have . Thankfully she didn’t So what’s it gonna be ? Are you gonna be an Esther or that nameless dud in Ruth protecting HIS rights, HIS comfort, HIS whatever?
Let’s Chat: This is someone in Your Life who exemplifies Willingness to serve God with every ounce of who they are, sacrificing their safety, comfort, finances, and/ pride to make God Famous?
HERE IT IS AS PROMISED ESTHER!!! Early this year a friend of mine came to me and asked if I would do a Bible study with her. She has been going through some tough stuff and this study I had done in Esther while I was going through some tough stuff came to mind, so we set to work. And quickly I realized that as I sat and studied Esther God was using this study to work a miracle in my heart , but more on that later. I found myself (yet again) being influenced by a person I have never met, and more so dead! I’m sure Esther had no idea what on earth God was going to do in her life. I’m sure she had no idea that millions of people would read about sweet Esther in the Bible.
Esther- A Invisible Teenager
Let’s lay some ground work for this young woman:
She was young- most scholars place her around 14-16 years old
She was a Jew that had been exiled to Persia.
She was an orphan being raised by her cousin Mordecai..
She wasn’t married.
By all rights Esther didn’t really fit the bill for an influencer at all. They were living in another country because God had punished the Israelites by kicking them out of the promised land (they had ample warnings to change). Esther was just in the age bracket to get married, common in those times.
So not only did Esther have a sad childhood when we pick up with her in the Bible, we are about to see that her teenaged life is about to take a turn for the worse. But let’s talk about the king of Persia- Xerxes. I don’t know much about this dude other than what the Bible tells me and some other details from other sources but no matter what you read there are two things about Xerxes that they all agree on. XERXES LOVES HIS ALCOHOL and XERXES LOVES PARTIES!! And we find Xerxes in the midst of a crazy party where there was no limit on the alcohol. He then calls for his queen-Vashti! She says no. He consults his buddies and basically they say if you don’t de-throne her and you let her get away with this, we too are gonna have trouble with our wives and it’s gonna be your fault!
So Vasti is moved to the concubine house to live out her remaining days.
Now the king needs a new wife.
and so his med ride throughout the kingdom “collecting suitable women”. Let’s stop right there. Does that sound familiar? Can you say HUMAN TRAFFICKING? they kidnapped all these girls and brought them to the palace and you guessed it Esther is in the mix. these girls were given a years worth of beauty treatments and then one by one they went in to spend one night with the king and in the morning they would be taken to the concubine house where many women would live out their remaining days , never to see the king’s face again.
Esther’s Initial Influence
So here is this young Jewish girl amongst all of these Persian women. I’m sure she wasn’t the only Jewish girl there but Esther stood out above the rest. Her character influenced the eunuchs and they gave Esther special treatment. We aren’t given very many details as to what exactly this entailed but we do know that they instructed how to carry herself before the king and wha to bring with her.
Esther’s Impact So Far
I don’t know about you but if I were in her shoes I’m pretty sure I would be a basket case! no longer able to see my family and being kept in a home that wasn’t mine with women who also didn’t want to be there. Whew! I would also be asking some serious questions of God and I know it doesn’t give details about God working in this book (because He isn’t mentioned once) we can see him fulfilling his promises to his people to protect them.
Sitting here writing this account, it seems so hopeless for this young woman, BUT the cool thing is I have the rest of the story
Over the next 6 days we will look at the 6 Influential Attributes of Esther. Tomorrow we will start with her WILLINGNESS, won’t you join me?
Let’s Chat: What are some positive influential attributes in others lives that have really impacted you?
I would like to sit here and think that today begins a new journey but in reality it’s not new. Life is the journey. Yes at times we come to a fork in the road and we need to decide which path to take. It is the very reason why I chose the theme for my blog to be walking by faith. Journey is in the subheading. and as I alluded to in yesterday’sblog post that there were somethings up my sleeve. I have been thinking and praying and planning for the last few months and I have really needed to wrestle through some stuff. Things like :
Lack of confidence ( this one strikes me as funny because that was my word for last year. ,
Once upon a time….Journey back in time
I struggled with intense fear. Fear that left me curled up in the corner of my bedroom sobbing. I had come home to no power and I feared what lurked in the darkness. The unseen, You know what was there? Furniture Thats it. . I was as quiet as a mouse all of the time. When we moved into a different apartment a year and a half later I was pregnant with our first son and I quickly learned that the guy downstairs was on the creepy list. When our oldest was born hubby and I praised God that he was too young to ask questions about what was going on downstairs, on many levels. I was still scared but now I could no longer be as quiet as a mouse, because I had this youngling…and what do younglings do? They Cry. Sometimes a lot. But in my heart my thought was what if that creepy guy comes up stairs……? Then one day! He did. I was standing at the sink tasing dishes and this insane pounding came . I froze. He yelled Get out, the Apartment is on fire. Wait what? IS this for real? Sure enough I picked up our newborn son and scrambled down the stairs. It was filled with smoke, firetrucks everywhere.
Fast forward….the journey between then and Now
As I look back over the nearly 13 years since that day. I see an on again off again relationship with fear. What was once an absolutely gripping fear of being alone…as in no one in the same house. I could be alone, actually I really liked being in solitude, just not in the sense of being left alone….and in the ONLY ONE, morphed into a different kind of fear. Fear of people. Nope not kidding one single bit. I was afraid that I was going to get hurt. There was a time on my life as a young mom where I was convinced that it was my job to be hurt…by people. It was during that time that I had no friends. I was home all the time alone and arrows flew at me from every direction.. Now This did not just happen once or twice. there is a lesson in this for me. I knew there was but I was DENSE (still am). So I had to keep learning it over and over and over again.