Image courtesy of Shari Lilly Flynn

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Weekly Recap #20 - Nehemiah and Esther


I'm absolutely loving reading from the New Living Translation....
....oh, I've said that already, huh?
Well....it bears repeating....I'm LOVIN' it!!!

Last year, our Ladies Bible Study group at church did the Beth Moore study of Esther. I read from the KJV and also the commentaries in the study guide....but....didn't glean nearly as much as I did from reading from the NLT this past week.  It was such an exciting story of how God was able to use Esther....."for such a time as this".  
Don't you agree that applies to each and every one of us?   All we have to do is be willing to listen and obey!!!

Here are my highlights from Nehemiah and Esther....but....be forewarned.....I gleaned A LOT!!!

Nehemiah

***Ezra probably wrote both Ezra and Nehemiah.

***Nehemiah was the cup bearer for King Artaxerxes, meaning he tasted the king's wine to make sure it was not poisoned....which gave him daily access to the king.  The king made Nehemiah governor of the province of Judea for 12 years to aid his fellow Jews in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem.  

***Nehemiah had a strong personal faith, as seen by his prayers and his confidence in Divine guidance and help.
Right here I want to say....I was amazed at some of the prayers that Nehemiah prayed against his enemies.  I don't think I realized we could ask for some of those things that he asked for!!!   Made me feel empowered!!!

***Nehemiah kept a low profile when he first arrived in Jerusalem and looked over the walls of the city by night.

***Nehemiah spent 4 months in intensive intercessory prayer, including praising God for His power, and love...confessing the nation's sins....and calling on God to act.

***Nehemiah was made fun of as the walls around Jerusalem were being rebuilt.  So....guess what he did?  What he always did....he prayed and asked God to allow the mocking fall back on the heads of the mockers.  Nehemiah's practice was to cry out to God in times of need!!!

***The workers carried their weapons with them at all times because of the threat of being attacked.

***As accusations were made against Nehemiah that he planned on being king of Judah - which wasn't true - he just became more determined to finish rebuilding the wall.  A man was hired to lie and intimidate Nehemiah and make him sin by entering the Temple to hide from his enemies.

***The wall was finished in 52 days.  When the enemies and surrounding nations heard about the wall being completed, they were afraid and humiliated.  They realized the work had been done with the help of God!!

***It amazed me at how well the record keeping was during this time, as they were able to research genealogical records for descendants.  After the wall was rebuilt, and the doors were placed in the gates, Nehemiah registered the people.

***Once all the people settled in their towns, all the people assembled at the square, just inside the Water Gate, and asked Ezra, the scribe, to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses.  Ezra faced the square and read aloud...from morning 'till noon, standing on a high wooden platform.

***Loved this verse....Nehemiah 8:10b
Don't be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.

***As the Israelites had the Book of the Law of the Lord read to them, they stood for THREE HOURS. Then, for THREE MORE HOURS they confessed their sins and worshipped the Lord, their God.
Isn't that amazing?  Can you even begin to imagine a 6 hour worship service today?


***Nehemiah confronted the people who were bringing their grain, wine, grapes, figs, and produce to Jerusalem to sell on the Sabbath, and asked them why they were profaning the Sabbath in that evil way.


Esther

King Xerxes had a huge banquet for nobles and official and military that lasted 180 days....mostly to display his wealth.  Afterward, he gave a banquet for the local people that lasted 7 daysA lot of drinking took place at this celebration and each man was encouraged to drink as much as they wanted.  At the same time....Queen Vashti gave a banquet for the women in the royal palace of King Xerxes.

King Xerxes was drunk....and he sent for Queen Vashti so that he could show her off....but....Queen Vashti refused (you go, girl!!!).  This made King Xerxes furious and he immediately asked his advisers what to do about his disobedient wife.  Now...keep in mind....that King Xerxes....and his advisers....were all "under the influence".  One of his advisers told him that women everywhere would begin to despise their husbands when they heard what the Queen had done (isn't that hilarious?!?).  An order was issued to ban Queen Vashti forever from the presence of the king....and he was advised that he should choose another "more worthy" queen.  (in other words, somebody he could control!!!)  When this decree was in place, it would make husbands everywhere receive respect from their wives (I'm sorry, but I find this to be so funny!!!)

The king and his nobles thought this made good sense
(of course they did....because they were drunk!!).
Letters were sent out proclaiming every man should be ruler of his own home and he should say whatever he pleases.

***Xerxes anger subsided and he realized what he had done (probably after he sobered up).  His personal attendants set about to find him a new queen by bringing beautiful young virgins into the royal harem.  They were given beauty treatments and the young woman who most pleased the king would be made queen instead of Vashti


***Mordecai, a Jew had adopted his cousin, Esther, after the death of her parents and had raised her as his own daughter.  She was one of the young women brought into the king's harem.  Hegai, head eunuch over King Xerxes' harem, too special interest in Esther and gave her special attention.  She had not told anybody of her background...the fact that she was a Jew....because Mordecai told her not to. 


***Each young lady was given 12 months of beauty treatments.  Esther was taken to King Xerxes and he loved her more than any of the other young women....so he set the royal crown on her head.  To celebrate, he gave a great banquet in Esther's honor.


***Mordecai overheard a conversation of a plot to kill King Xerxes.  He told Esther who told the king, giving Mordecai credit.  The men were killed by being impaled on a sharpened pole....OUCH!!!


***King Xerxes promoted Haman over all other nobles, making him the most powerful official in the empire.  All the king's officials would bow down before Haman....but not Mordecai.  He wouldn't bow down or show him any respect at all.  Haman was furious at Mordecai and because he knew that he was a Jew...he plotted to destroy not only Mordecai, but all Jews throughout the empire of Xerxes.


***Haman approached Xerxes, telling him that there was a race of people scattered thru all the provinces who refused to obey the laws of the king.  At Haman's encouragement, Xerxes signed a decree that a year later, all Jews....including young and old and women and children....must be killed.


***King Xerxes was described in one of my commentaries as someone very irresponsible and easily manipulated....I totally agree that this man  certainly had no mind of his own!!!


***Mordecai was in mourning over what was going to happen to his people.  When Esther found out, she sent Hathach, one of the king's eunuchs appointed as her attendant....to find out what was wrong.  Mordecai sent a copy of the decree back to Esther to explain the situation.  He also told Hathach to tell Esther to go to the king and beg for mercy and plead for her people.  Queen Esther sent a message back to Mordecai that King Xerxes hadn't called for her to come to him in 30 days and she had to be invited to speak to him, unless he would hold out his gold scepter for her to enter into his presence.  Mordecai explained to Esther...that since she was also a Jew....her life was in danger, too.


***Esther 4:14 - Mordecai sent word to Esther that perhaps she was made queen....for such a time as this!!!


***Esther asked Mordecai, via messenger....for him and all Jews to fast and pray for 3 days and she and her maids would do the same....then, she would go to the king.


***Esther went to King Xerxes and he held out the scepter for her to enter and asked her want she wanted.  She invited the king and the evil Haman to a banquet.  In the meantime, Haman went home and gathered his wife and friends and bragged to them about his wealth and his many children...and the honor that King Xerxes had given him.  Then, he bragged that Queen Esther had invited only him and the king to a banquet  (little did he know what was about to happen!!)


***Haman couldn't enjoy the thoughts of the banquet because he was so angry at Mordecai for not bowing down to him.  At the advice of his wife and friends, he had a sharpened pole that stood 75 feet tall built for Mordecai to be impaled on.


The plot thickens.....here's where things start to really heat up and get good....and my favorite term "it's not odd, it's God" can be applied.....


That same night....King Xerxes couldn't sleep so he had an attendant bring the book of history of his reign for him to read.  Wen he read about how Mordecai had saved him from being killed, he asked what had been done to honor Mordecai....and was told nothing. 

It gets even better......

When King Xerxes saw Haman, he asked hm what should he do to honor a man who truly pleased him.  As conceited as Haman was, of course he thought that the king was speaking of him....so here's what he told him.
He said that he should give him one of the king's own royal robes and a horse that the king himself had ridden on with a royal emblem on its head...and that he be led thru the city square on the king's horse by one of the king's officials shouting, "This is what the king does for someone he wants to honor".



King Xerxes thought this was an excellent idea....so he told Haman to take the royal robes and the king's horse and to do just as he had said....FOR MORDECAI THE JEW (are you laughing, too?!?!?).


Can you only begin to imagine the disappointment and the humiliation Haman was feeling?
I just can't help it....it totally served Haman right....he got what he deserved)

Oh, but, my friend....it gets even better....the plot thickens....read on....


***The king and Haman went to Queen Esther's banquet.  The king asked Esther what she wanted of him.  She asked King Xerxes that her life and the life of her people be spared and told him that her people were going to be killed (remember King Xerxes didn't know that Esther was a Jew, also).  He asked her who would do such a thing....and....Queen Esther said....


"This wicked Haman is our enemy"!!!


Haman grew pale from fear and King Xerxes was furious.  He went out into the palace garden...and Haman stayed behind to plead for his life to Esther.  In his desperation, he fell on the couch where Esther was lying just as the king came back into the room.   He accused Haman of trying to assault the queen right before his eyes.  One of the king's eunuchs told the king about the sharpened pole that Haman had set up and told him of Haman had intended it for Mordecai.  So Haman was impaled on the pole.
A death he had planned for his enemy....became the death of him!!!


***Esther explained to Xerxes how she was related to Mordecai.  The king gave Mordecai his signet ring that he had taken back from Haman.  Esther appointed Mordecai to be in charge of Haman's property, which King Xerxes had given her.  Esther begged King Xerxes to stop the evil plot against the Jews.  Since the first decree couldn't be revoked, Mordecai was given the right to write another decree saying what he pleased.  What Mordecai wrote allowed the Jews to defend themselves when attacked.  So...on the very same day....both decrees went into effect.  The Jews overpowered their enemies.  No one took a stand against them because everyone was afraid of them.


***Mordecai, the Jew....became prime minister with authority next to that of King Xerxes himself.


***The festival of Purim was established to celebrate the Jew's victory over their enemies.


Another favorite verse in my reading this past week....
Esther 19:22b
....their sorrow turned into gladness and their mourning into joy.


Hope each of you have a blessed weekend!!!


In His Most Precious Love....and with mine!!!
 




3 comments:

  1. I've done the Beth Moore Esther study as well - I LOVED it! Have you done her Psalms study? I think that one was my favorite... maybe it was just that time of life... anyway, I absolutely love those studies.
    I look forward to reading through your blog! I'm stopping by from NFF. Please come visit me at www.openbookgirls.com - I think we relate on many levels! :)
    In HIM,
    anne

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  2. I Deb, Thanks for sharing about the weekly reading. I love this story. I feel like Esther was such a good example of dignity and power under authority. She did what she knew was right but didn't just throw a fit. She appealed to the king, but did it after feeding the king. Smart girl!

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  3. You're so right about those "instincts"! I think we can develop them, too - or at least our capacity to recognize them and trust them....

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