Saturday, October 17, 2009

Good people, with a tear in their eye and a tear in their soul...


They were good.
He was in ministry. She a good person and a good wife.
They loved each other, and happily settled into the roles and responsibilities of married life.
God. Family. Church. Work. Community.
Life rolled on - except no kids.
They went to the doctor.
Took tests.
Tried things, conventional and unconventional.
Mostly they prayed. "God, you made us. Couples all around us are having babies. Could you please give us the desire of our hearts?"
No answer.
They went forward to be prayed for.
They took fertility pills.
Still no answer.

Their prayer never was answered.

Certain events were harder than others. Fathers Day. Mothers Day. Invitations to showers. First their friends. As the years rolled by, then it was the children of their friends.

They arrived at old age, trying to be polite when all their friends pulled out the grandchild pictures, and raved about how great it was to be a grand parent. It was a joy they would never know.

Why, God? Why?

No answer.
They were good people.
With a tear in their eye...
And a tear in their soul...
o
Here is the story, as told by doctor Luke.
o
5 -7During the rule of Herod, King of Judea, there was a priest assigned service in the regiment of Abijah. His name was Zachariah. His wife was descended from the daughters of Aaron. Her name was Elizabeth. Together they lived honorably before God, careful in keeping to the ways of the commandments and enjoying a clear conscience before God. But they were childless because Elizabeth could never conceive, and now they were quite old.
8 -12It so happened that as Zachariah was carrying out his priestly duties before God, working the shift assigned to his regiment, it came his one turn in life to enter the sanctuary of God and burn incense. The congregation was gathered and praying outside the Temple at the hour of the incense offering. Unannounced, an angel of God appeared just to the right of the altar of incense. Zachariah was paralyzed in fear.
13 -15But the angel reassured him, "Don't fear, Zachariah. Your prayer has been heard. Elizabeth, your wife, will bear a son by you. You are to name him John. You're going to leap like a gazelle for joy, and not only you—many will delight in his birth. He'll achieve great stature with God.
15 -17"He'll drink neither wine nor beer. He'll be filled with the Holy Spirit from the moment he leaves his mother's womb. He will turn many sons and daughters of Israel back to their God. He will herald God's arrival in the style and strength of Elijah, soften the hearts of parents to children, and kindle devout understanding among hardened skeptics—he'll get the people ready for God."
18Zachariah said to the angel, "Do you expect me to believe this? I'm an old man and my wife is an old woman."
19 -20But the angel said, "I am Gabriel, the sentinel of God, sent especially to bring you this glad news. But because you won't believe me, you'll be unable to say a word until the day of your son's birth. Every word I've spoken to you will come true on time—God's time."
21 -22Meanwhile, the congregation waiting for Zachariah was getting restless, wondering what was keeping him so long in the sanctuary. When he came out and couldn't speak, they knew he had seen a vision. He continued speechless and had to use sign language with the people.
23 -25When the course of his priestly assignment was completed, he went back home. It wasn't long before his wife, Elizabeth, conceived. She went off by herself for five months, relishing her pregnancy. "So, this is how God acts to remedy my unfortunate condition!" she said.

Doctor, Doctor can you tell?


When I was a child there was a skip rope song that went like this:

Doctor, doctor can you tell,
What's the matter with _____ (Junell)
She is sick and about to die,
That would make poor _____ (Billy) cry,
Billy, Billy don't you cry,
She'll get better bye and bye
That would make poor Billy glad
Because he is now so sad.

Today a doctor speaks...

Luke 1
1 -4
So many others have tried their hand at putting together a story of the wonderful harvest of Scripture and history that took place among us, using reports handed down by the original eyewitnesses who served this Word with their very lives. Since I have investigated all the reports in close detail, starting from the story's beginning, I decided to write it all out for you, most honorable Theophilus, so you can know beyond the shadow of a doubt the reliability of what you were taught.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Return to Me so I can Return to You


Malachi 3
The Master You've Been Looking For
1 "Look! I'm sending my messenger on ahead to clear the way for me. Suddenly, out of the blue, the Leader you've been looking for will enter his Temple—yes, the Messenger of the Covenant, the one you've been waiting for. Look! He's on his way!" A Message from the mouth of God-of-the-Angel-Armies.
2 -4But who will be able to stand up to that coming? Who can survive his appearance?
He'll be like white-hot fire from the smelter's furnace. He'll be like the strongest lye soap at the laundry. He'll take his place as a refiner of silver, as a cleanser of dirty clothes. He'll scrub the Levite priests clean, refine them like gold and silver, until they're fit for God, fit to present offerings of righteousness. Then, and only then, will Judah and Jerusalem be fit and pleasing to God, as they used to be in the years long ago.
5"Yes, I'm on my way to visit you with Judgment. I'll present compelling evidence against sorcerers, adulterers, liars, those who exploit workers, those who take advantage of widows and orphans, those who are inhospitable to the homeless—anyone and everyone who doesn't honor me." A Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies.
6 -7"I am God—yes, I Am. I haven't changed. And because I haven't changed, you, the descendants of Jacob, haven't been destroyed. You have a long history of ignoring my commands. You haven't done a thing I've told you. Return to me so I can return to you," says God-of-the-Angel-Armies.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Rejoice!


Dedication of the Wall
27 -29 When it came time for the dedication of the wall, they tracked down and brought in the Levites from all their homes in Jerusalem to carry out the dedication exuberantly: thanksgiving hymns, songs, cymbals, harps, and lutes. The singers assembled from all around Jerusalem, from the villages of the Netophathites, from Beth Gilgal, from the farms at Geba and Azmaveth—the singers had built villages for themselves all around Jerusalem.
30 The priests and Levites ceremonially purified themselves; then they did the same for the people, the gates, and the wall.
31 -36 I had the leaders of Judah come up on the wall, and I appointed two large choirs. One proceeded on the wall to the right toward the Dung Gate. Hashaiah and half the leaders of Judah followed them, including Azariah, Ezra, Meshullam, Judah, Benjamin, Shemaiah, and Jeremiah. Some of the young priests had trumpets. Next, playing the musical instruments of David the man of God, came Zechariah son of Jonathan, the son of Shemaiah, the son of Mattaniah, the son of Micaiah, the son of Zaccur, the son of Asaph, and his brothers Shemaiah, Azarel, Milalai, Gilalai, Maai, Nethanel, Judah, and Hanani. Ezra the scholar led them.
37 At the Fountain Gate they went straight ahead, up the steps of the City of David using the wall stairway above the house of David to the Water Gate on the east.
38 -39 The other choir proceeded to the left. I and half of the people followed them on the wall from the Tower of Furnaces to the Broad Wall, over the Ephraim Gate, the Jeshanah Gate, the Fish Gate, the Tower of Hananel, and the Tower of the Hundred as far as the Sheep Gate, stopping at the Prison Gate.
40 -42 The two choirs then took their places in The Temple of God. I was there with half of the officials, along with the priests Eliakim, Maaseiah, Miniamin, Micaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah, and Hananiah with their trumpets. Also Maaseiah, Shemaiah, Eleazar, Uzzi, Jehohanan, Malkijah, Elam, and Ezer. The singers, directed by Jezrahiah, made the rafters ring.
43 That day they offered great sacrifices, an exuberant celebration because God had filled them with great joy. The women and children raised their happy voices with all the rest. Jerusalem's jubilation was heard far and wide."
An exuberant celebration because God had filled them with great joy!
Rejoice!

Revival

It starts with Nehemiah's prayer, mourning, fasting and repenting for his sins and the sins of his people.

Then he gets commissioned to go rebuild the walls and gates of Jerusalem.

Amidst enormous opposition, that task is accomplished. Now it is time to seek the Lord as a nation...

Nehemiah 8
Ezra and The Revelation
1 By the time the seventh month arrived, the People of Israel were settled in their towns. Then all the people gathered as one person in the town square in front of the Water Gate and asked the scholar Ezra to bring the Book of The Revelation of Moses that God had commanded for Israel.
2 -3 So Ezra the priest brought The Revelation to the congregation, which was made up of both men and women—everyone capable of understanding. It was the first day of the seventh month. He read it facing the town square at the Water Gate from early dawn until noon in the hearing of the men and women, all who could understand it. And all the people listened—they were all ears—to the Book of The Revelation.
4 The scholar Ezra stood on a wooden platform constructed for the occasion. He was flanked on the right by Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah, and on the left by Pedaiah, Mishael, Malkijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam.
5 -6 Ezra opened the book. Every eye was on him (he was standing on the raised platform) and as he opened the book everyone stood. Then Ezra praised God, the great God, and all the people responded, "Oh Yes! Yes!" with hands raised high. And then they fell to their knees in worship of God, their faces to the ground.
7 -8 Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, and Pelaiah, all Levites, explained The Revelation while people stood, listening respectfully. They translated the Book of The Revelation of God so the people could understand it and then explained the reading.
9 Nehemiah the governor, along with Ezra the priest and scholar and the Levites who were teaching the people, said to all the people, "This day is holy to God, your God. Don't weep and carry on." They said this because all the people were weeping as they heard the words of The Revelation.
10 He continued, "Go home and prepare a feast, holiday food and drink; and share it with those who don't have anything: This day is holy to God. Don't feel bad. The joy of God is your strength!"
11 The Levites calmed the people, "Quiet now. This is a holy day. Don't be upset."
12 So the people went off to feast, eating and drinking and including the poor in a great celebration. Now they got it; they understood the reading that had been given to them.
13 -15 On the second day of the month the family heads of all the people, the priests, and the Levites gathered around Ezra the scholar to get a deeper understanding of the words of The Revelation. They found written in The Revelation that God commanded through Moses that the People of Israel are to live in booths during the festival of the seventh month. So they published this decree and had it posted in all their cities and in Jerusalem: "Go into the hills and collect olive branches, pine branches, myrtle branches, palm branches, and any other leafy branches to make booths, as it is written."
16 -17 So the people went out, brought in branches, and made themselves booths on their roofs, courtyards, the courtyards of The Temple of God, the Water Gate plaza, and the Ephraim Gate plaza. The entire congregation that had come back from exile made booths and lived in them. The People of Israel hadn't done this from the time of Joshua son of Nun until that very day—a terrific day! Great joy!
18 Ezra read from the Book of The Revelation of God each day, from the first to the last day—they celebrated the feast for seven days. On the eighth day they held a solemn assembly in accordance with the decree.
Nehemiah 91 -3 Then on the twenty-fourth day of this month, the People of Israel gathered for a fast, wearing burlap and faces smudged with dirt as signs of repentance. The Israelites broke off all relations with foreigners, stood up, and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their parents. While they stood there in their places, they read from the Book of The Revelation of God, their God, for a quarter of the day. For another quarter of the day they confessed and worshiped their God.
4 -5 A group of Levites—Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Kenani—stood on the platform and cried out to God, their God, in a loud voice. The Levites Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah said, "On your feet! Bless God, your God, for ever and ever!"
5 -6 Blessed be your glorious name, exalted above all blessing and praise! You're the one, God, you alone; You made the heavens, the heavens of heavens, and all angels; The earth and everything on it, the seas and everything in them; You keep them all alive; heaven's angels worship you!"

It ends with weeping, repenting and worshipping God!

Not dissuaded, not intimidated, not tricked

Sometimes, to accomplish God's will, you have to be a hard head.

Nehemiah 6
"I'm Doing a Great Work; I Can't Come Down"

1 -2 When Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies heard that I had rebuilt the wall and that there were no more breaks in it—even though I hadn't yet installed the gates— Sanballat and Geshem sent this message: "Come and meet with us at Kephirim in the valley of Ono."
2 -3 I knew they were scheming to hurt me so I sent messengers back with this: "I'm doing a great work; I can't come down. Why should the work come to a standstill just so I can come down to see you?"
4 Four times they sent this message and four times I gave them my answer.
5 -6 The fifth time—same messenger, same message—Sanballat sent an unsealed letter with this message:
6 -7 "The word is out among the nations—and Geshem says it's true— that you and the Jews are planning to rebel. That's why you are rebuilding the wall. The word is that you want to be king and that you have appointed prophets to announce in Jerusalem, 'There's a king in Judah!' The king is going to be told all this—don't you think we should sit down and have a talk?"
8 I sent him back this: "There's nothing to what you're saying. You've made it all up."
9 They were trying to intimidate us into quitting. They thought, "They'll give up; they'll never finish it."
I prayed, "Give me strength."
10 Then I met secretly with Shemaiah son of Delaiah, the son of Mehetabel, at his house. He said: Let's meet at the house of God, inside The Temple; Let's find safety behind locked doors because they're coming to kill you, Yes, coming by night to kill you.
11 I said, "Why would a man like me run for cover? And why would a man like me use The Temple as a hideout? I won't do it."
12 -13 I sensed that God hadn't sent this man. The so-called prophecy he spoke to me was the work of Tobiah and Sanballat; they had hired him. He had been hired to scare me off—trick me—a layman, into desecrating The Temple and ruining my good reputation so they could accuse me.
14 "O my God, don't let Tobiah and Sanballat get by with all the mischief they've done. And the same goes for the prophetess Noadiah and the other prophets who have been trying to undermine my confidence."
15 -16 The wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of Elul. It had taken fifty-two days. When all our enemies heard the news and all the surrounding nations saw it, our enemies totally lost their nerve. They knew that God was behind this work.

Sometimes, to accomplish God's will, you have to be a hard head.

If you follow God, things will be easy...


Nehemiah comes to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem and the gates. Everyone pitches in. Things are going good. This is God's will. It will go ahead with no drawbacks... Or will it?

Nehemiah 4
"I Stationed Armed Guards"
1 -2When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall he exploded in anger, vilifying the Jews. In the company of his Samaritan cronies and military he let loose: "What are these miserable Jews doing? Do they think they can get everything back to normal overnight? Make building stones out of make-believe?"
3 At his side, Tobiah the Ammonite jumped in and said, "That's right! What do they think they're building? Why, if a fox climbed that wall, it would fall to pieces under his weight."
4 -5 Nehemiah prayed, "Oh listen to us, dear God. We're so despised: Boomerang their ridicule on their heads; have their enemies cart them off as war trophies to a land of no return; don't forgive their iniquity, don't wipe away their sin—they've insulted the builders!"
6 We kept at it, repairing and rebuilding the wall. The whole wall was soon joined together and halfway to its intended height because the people had a heart for the work.
7 -9 When Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites heard that the repairs of the walls of Jerusalem were going so well—that the breaks in the wall were being fixed—they were absolutely furious. They put their heads together and decided to fight against Jerusalem and create as much trouble as they could. We countered with prayer to our God and set a round-the-clock guard against them.
10 But soon word was going around in Judah,
The builders are pooped,
the rubbish piles up;
We're in over our heads,
we can't build this wall.
11 -12 And all this time our enemies were saying, "They won't know what hit them. Before they know it we'll be at their throats, killing them right and left. That will put a stop to the work!" The Jews who were their neighbors kept reporting, "They have us surrounded; they're going to attack!" If we heard it once, we heard it ten times.
13 -14 So I stationed armed guards at the most vulnerable places of the wall and assigned people by families with their swords, lances, and bows. After looking things over I stood up and spoke to the nobles, officials, and everyone else: "Don't be afraid of them. Put your minds on the Master, great and awesome, and then fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes."
15 -18 Our enemies learned that we knew all about their plan and that God had frustrated it. And we went back to the wall and went to work. From then on half of my young men worked while the other half stood guard with lances, shields, bows, and mail armor. Military officers served as backup for everyone in Judah who was at work rebuilding the wall. The common laborers held a tool in one hand and a spear in the other. Each of the builders had a sword strapped to his side as he worked. I kept the trumpeter at my side to sound the alert.
19 -20 Then I spoke to the nobles and officials and everyone else: "There's a lot of work going on and we are spread out all along the wall, separated from each other. When you hear the trumpet call, join us there; our God will fight for us."
21 And so we kept working, from first light until the stars came out, half of us holding lances.
22 I also instructed the people, "Each person and his helper is to stay inside Jerusalem—guards by night and workmen by day."
23 We all slept in our clothes—I, my brothers, my workmen, and the guards backing me up. And each one kept his spear in his hand, even when getting water."

One thing I have never understood - why is life so hard? Why is life hard when you are following God and trying to do His will?

One day I will understand.

Meanwhile, work day and night, with the spear in one hand and the trowel in the other...

Face it: we're in a bad way here

Nehemiah heard that the walls of Jerusalem were broken down, and the gates were burned with fire.
He wept. He mourned for days. He fasted and prayed. He repented for the sins of his people.

He asked for God's intervention, and God granted him grace before the king.

7 -8 Then I said, "If it please the king, provide me with letters to the governors across the Euphrates that authorize my travel through to Judah; and also an order to Asaph, keeper of the king's forest, to supply me with timber for the beams of The Temple fortress, the wall of the city, and the house where I'll be living."
8 -9 The generous hand of my God was with me in this and the king gave them to me. When I met the governors across The River (the Euphrates) I showed them the king's letters. The king even sent along a cavalry escort."

Wow! Nehemiah is on a roll! Money, permission, materials and an escort. What could go wrong?

10 "When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard about this, they were very upset, angry that anyone would come to look after the interests of the People of Israel."

We will hear more from them later...

"Come—Let's Build the Wall of Jerusalem"
11 -12 And so I arrived in Jerusalem. After I had been there three days, I got up in the middle of the night, I and a few men who were with me. I hadn't told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem. The only animal with us was the one I was riding.
13 -16 Under cover of night I went past the Valley Gate toward the Dragon's Fountain to the Dung Gate looking over the walls of Jerusalem, which had been broken through and whose gates had been burned up. I then crossed to the Fountain Gate and headed for the King's Pool but there wasn't enough room for the donkey I was riding to get through. So I went up the valley in the dark continuing my inspection of the wall. I came back in through the Valley Gate. The local officials had no idea where I'd gone or what I was doing—I hadn't breathed a word to the Jews, priests, nobles, local officials, or anyone else who would be working on the job.
17 -18 Then I gave them my report: "Face it: we're in a bad way here. Jerusalem is a wreck; its gates are burned up. Come—let's build the wall of Jerusalem and not live with this disgrace any longer." I told them how God was supporting me and how the king was backing me up. "

So Nehemiah used to have an easy job. Dangerous, but easy. Go to the palace and taste anything the king drinks before he drinks it.l

Now his job has more meaning, but is going to be much more complicated...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Job No One Wanted

Reality TV is full of them...

Most Dangerous!
Deadliest catch!
Dirtiest Jobs!

Shows about jobs that no one wants...

In a free society, how come guys would choose to have a job capping oil wells on fire? Or trying to catch fish in the surging Alaskan North Sea? Or capturing aligators? Somehow, you are in the wrong place at the wrong time, and just end up doing something distasteful, or difficult, or dangerous.

Nehemiah was a captive. He landed one of the most dangerous jobs in the country. Taste everything the king drinks before he drinks it. If someone has tried to poison the king, the wine taster falls dead, and the king chooses not to drink that particular wine.
o
That was Nehemiah's job. So every single day could be his last. "Bye, honey. I'm off to work. If I don't make it home tonight..."
o
There was an upside to this job. First, he had daily, personal access to the king. He was around at every meal, every day. Over time, there comes to be an easy sense of comfort in someone who is always around. The king had to have at least a small sense of gratitude for the guy who was daily risking his life.
o
"I was cupbearer to the king.
Nehemiah 2
1 -2 It was the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king. At the hour for serving wine I brought it in and gave it to the king. I had never been hangdog in his presence before, so he asked me, "Why the long face? You're not sick are you? Or are you depressed?"
2 -3 That made me all the more agitated. I said, "Long live the king! And why shouldn't I be depressed when the city, the city where all my family is buried, is in ruins and the city gates have been reduced to cinders?"
4 -5 The king then asked me, "So what do you want?"
Praying under my breath to the God-of-Heaven, I said, "If it please the king, and if the king thinks well of me, send me to Judah, to the city where my family is buried, so that I can rebuild it."
6 The king, with the queen sitting alongside him, said, "How long will your work take and when would you expect to return?"
I gave him a time, and the king gave his approval to send me.
7 -8 Then I said, "If it please the king, provide me with letters to the governors across the Euphrates that authorize my travel through to Judah; and also an order to Asaph, keeper of the king's forest, to supply me with timber for the beams of The Temple fortress, the wall of the city, and the house where I'll be living."
8 -9 The generous hand of my God was with me in this and the king gave them to me. When I met the governors across The River (the Euphrates) I showed them the king's letters. The king even sent along a cavalry escort."
o
So God gave Nehemiah favor with the king, and 13 years after Ezra set out for Jerusalem, Nehemiah also set out, to rebuild the walls and gates of the city.
o
He went from one job no one wanted, to the toughest assignment of his life...

Ezra


Now Xerxes son is ruling the kingdom of Persia.

God causes him to facilitate the return of the exiles to Jerusalem, with money and manpower, protected by the law.

Ezra is a leader of the people.

6 -7 That's Ezra. He arrived from Babylon, a scholar well-practiced in the Revelation of Moses that the God of Israel had given. Because God's hand was on Ezra, the king gave him everything he asked for. Some of the Israelites—priests, Levites, singers, temple security guards, and temple slaves—went with him to Jerusalem. It was in the seventh year of Artaxerxes the king.

He had dedicated himself to God, even while in a foreign and pagan land.

"Ezra had committed himself to studying the Revelation of God, to living it, and to teaching Israel to live its truths and ways."

Ezra was a scholar and a priest, and he believed God and trusted God to protect and defend them.

21 -22 I proclaimed a fast there beside the Ahava Canal, a fast to humble ourselves before our God and pray for wise guidance for our journey—all our people and possessions. I was embarrassed to ask the king for a cavalry bodyguard to protect us from bandits on the road. We had just told the king, "Our God lovingly looks after all those who seek him, but turns away in disgust from those who leave him."
23 So we fasted and prayed about these concerns. And he listened.

Even though the little band had 25 tons of silver and a lot of gold, they arrived safely and began to lead the people in worshipping and seeking God and living according to His word.

Oh may we be like Ezra!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Tipping the balance of power

Esther's story has been made into a movie many times. Talk of passion and power, intrigue and double crossing, danger and deliverance!

What struck me this time through was the balance of power.

Esther was an orphan, so Mordecai, who raised her, had the power over her.
Then she becomes queen, and she has all the power compared to him.
Then there is a plot to kill the king, and Esther makes sure he knows that Mordecai was the one who uncovered it and save the king.
Then Haman is promoted, and he has all the power.
Mordecai refuses to bow to him, so Haman has all the Jews put on a death list.
Esther goes before the king, with NO power, and pleads for her people.
Haman is killed, and Mordecai is promoted, so now he has real power.

The apex of the story is Esther going before the king. Here is the text:

12 -14 When Hathach told Mordecai what Esther had said, Mordecai sent her this message: "Don't think that just because you live in the king's house you're the one Jew who will get out of this alive. If you persist in staying silent at a time like this, help and deliverance will arrive for the Jews from someplace else; but you and your family will be wiped out. Who knows? Maybe you were made queen for just such a time as this."
15 -16 Esther sent back her answer to Mordecai: "Go and get all the Jews living in Susa together. Fast for me. Don't eat or drink for three days, either day or night. I and my maids will fast with you. If you will do this, I'll go to the king, even though it's forbidden. If I die, I die."
17 Mordecai left and carried out Esther's instructions.
Esther 51 -3 Three days later Esther dressed in her royal robes and took up a position in the inner court of the palace in front of the king's throne room. The king was on his throne facing the entrance. When he noticed Queen Esther standing in the court, he was pleased to see her; the king extended the gold scepter in his hand. Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter. The king asked, "And what's your desire, Queen Esther? What do you want? Ask and it's yours—even if it's half my kingdom!"
4 "If it please the king," said Esther, "let the king come with Haman to a dinner I've prepared for him."

Esther risks her life and saves her entire nation from extinction! What a great story!!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Woman of Beauty and Character!

Many times God makes good come out of bad.

In today's story, a moral and self respecting queen gets dumped, and punished.

The girl chosen to replace her ends up being a hero to all people everywhere - down through the ages. Especially to women.

She has beauty and noble character, but her life is shrouded in tragedy. Both her parents were killed when her homeland was invaded, and she is raised as an orphan in a strange land. With only a cousin as family...

Here is the story.

Esther 2
"Let's begin a search for beautiful young virgins for the king. Let the king appoint officials in every province of his kingdom to bring every beautiful young virgin to the palace complex of Susa and to the harem run by Hegai, the king's eunuch who oversees the women; he will put them through their beauty treatments. Then let the girl who best pleases the king be made queen in place of Vashti."
The king liked this advice and took it."

5 -7 Now there was a Jew who lived in the palace complex in Susa. His name was Mordecai the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish—a Benjaminite. His ancestors had been taken from Jerusalem with the exiles and carried off with King Jehoiachin of Judah by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon into exile. Mordecai had reared his cousin Hadassah, otherwise known as Esther, since she had no father or mother. The girl had a good figure and a beautiful face. After her parents died, Mordecai had adopted her.
8 When the king's order had been publicly posted, many young girls were brought to the palace complex of Susa and given over to Hegai who was overseer of the women. Esther was among them.
9 -10 Hegai liked Esther and took a special interest in her. Right off he started her beauty treatments, ordered special food, assigned her seven personal maids from the palace, and put her and her maids in the best rooms in the harem. Esther didn't say anything about her family and racial background because Mordecai had told her not to.
11 Every day Mordecai strolled beside the court of the harem to find out how Esther was and get news of what she was doing.
12 -14 Each girl's turn came to go in to King Xerxes after she had completed the twelve months of prescribed beauty treatments—six months' treatment with oil of myrrh followed by six months with perfumes and various cosmetics. When it was time for the girl to go to the king, she was given whatever she wanted to take with her when she left the harem for the king's quarters. She would go there in the evening; in the morning she would return to a second harem overseen by Shaashgaz, the king's eunuch in charge of the concubines. She never again went back to the king unless the king took a special liking to her and asked for her by name.
15 When it was Esther's turn to go to the king (Esther the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had adopted her as his daughter), she asked for nothing other than what Hegai, the king's eunuch in charge of the harem, had recommended. Esther, just as she was, won the admiration of everyone who saw her.
16 She was taken to King Xerxes in the royal palace in the tenth month, the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of the king's reign.
17 -18 The king fell in love with Esther far more than with any of his other women or any of the other virgins—he was totally smitten by her. He placed a royal crown on her head and made her queen in place of Vashti. Then the king gave a great banquet for all his nobles and officials—"Esther's Banquet." He proclaimed a holiday for all the provinces and handed out gifts with royal generosity.

Even though the circumstances of this wedding were not to the highest ideals, God was at work.

Can God work in our lives even when things aren't perfect?