Esther 4-7

Mordecai, after receiving the letter from Haman sealed by the king, wept and wailed in the city square in sackcloth and ashes. Esther, unaware of the letter was in tremendous anguish due to her uncle’s sadness. Esther sent Hathach to Mordecai to find out why all the weeping among the Jews was happening. Mordecai explained and asked Esther to make her stand.  “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this? Esther made haste sending a letter to Mordecai asking all the Jews to fast for three days. Esther and her maidens would do likewise and at the end of three days she would enter to the king.  We realize in Esther five that King Ahasureus has the utmost respect for Esther. As she entered the inner court with the king sitting in his royal throne he extends the golden scepter accepting Esther into the presence of his majesty. The king offers have of his kingdom to Esther, but she invites the king and Haman to a banquet the next day.  Haman’s pride is challenged after this special invitation from Queen Esther. As he leaves the palace Mordecai refused to stand or bow before Haman. Haman’s wife and family suggest having Mordecai hung in the gallows, which seemed like a reasonable idea for Haman. So Haman immediately ordered the gallows built.  Although Haman had quickly prepared to execute Mordecai, God had other plans. God awoke the king in the middle of the night and had his attendants read to him. Not surprisingly, they recounted the story of Mordecai informing the king about the king’s doorkeepers planning to assassinate the king. Ahasureus wanted to know if anything had been done for Mordecai’s dedication to the royal throne. Soon after reading this Haman approached and the king asked Haman what he should do for a man who honors the king. Haman, in pride, suggests letting the honorable man where the king’s robe and ride the king’s horse through the town square. King Ahasureus asks Haman to carry this out for Mordecai. What an insult to pride? Haman was terribly distraught as he returned home and explained to his family what had just happened. Soon after explaining the king’s eunuch arrived to rush him to the Queen Esther’s banquet.  The dreadful fall of pride is evident in chapter seven. Haman, believing he is on the way to the pinnacle of success sharply falls. The proverb is still true, “pride cometh just before a fall”. Once the king learned of Haman’s plot to have the Jewish race exterminated, which included Esther, he grew very angry. The king had Haman hung on the gallows that were built to execute Mordecai.

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Esther 3

In this chapter we recognize the total depravity of man. The pride of man will take him/her to such wicked low points. Haman had been promoted to oversee all of Ahasuerus’ princes. With the promotion Haman expected worship, which Mordecai was unwilling to give. Instead of seeking Mordecai’s head individually Haman would go after the entire Jewish race. Haman convinced Ahasuerus to accept the plan of exterminating the Jews from his kingdom and sent decrees throughout the land.

Esther 1-2

The author of his book takes time in the first chapter to describe in minute detail the eloquent setting of the King and Queen’s banquet (i.e. “white and violet linen held by cords of fine purple linen on silver rings and marble columns, couches of gold and silver on a mosaic pavement of porphyry, marble, mother-of-pearl and precious stones.”). King Ahasuerus insists that Queen Vashti come and show her beauty to the men who have joined him for the banquet. Queen Vashti, hosting her own banquet, refuses the king’s command humiliating the king. King Ahasuerus takes counsel on what he should do to Queen Vashti for disobeying the command. The counsel suggested an edict declaring that Queen Vashti could not see the king any longer. The goal of the king’s edict was to have women give honor to their husbands. After the edict the attendants of the king sought out young beautiful virgins to bring to the king. So a letter went out to all the provinces to bring the young virgins to King Ahasuerus. Esther, a young Jewish virgin who was being raised by Mordecai her uncle, was taken to the citadel of Susa and placed in the custody of Hegai who was in charge of the women. Esther found favor with Hegai and he provided her cosmetics, food and  seven maids to care for her. Due to the respect shown by Hegai Esther was placed in the best place of the harem. The young virgins were prepared for the king by giving themselves six months to oil of myrrh and six months to spices and cosmetics. When she entered into the king’s quarters she could take anything she desired. The first harem consisted of all the young virgins, but once she had sex with the king she was committed to the second harm, which were the concubines. Shaashgaz was in charge of the concubines.  

  1. First harem = young virgins
  2. Second harem = concubines (had sex w/the king)

 When Esther’s turn arrived for her to go into King Ahasuerus she took the advice of Hegai of what to take with her. Esther found favor before the king so he sat the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. This favor ultimately saved the life of the king as Mordecai overheard a plot by guards to kill the king. So Mordecai told Esther who told the king and his life was spared.

Nehemiah 10-13

In Nehemiah ten we understand that God’s people have an obligation to abide by His law. Any with knowledge and understanding should… 

  1. Separate themselves from people to the law of God
  2. Take an oath to walk in God’s law
    1. Keeping & observing His commandments, ordinances and statutes.

  In Nehemiah the Jewish people are given different responsibilities. Some would have to live in Jerusalem, which was the city most likely to be attacked so very few wanted to live there. In fact they did a draft by casting lots and 1/10 families had to live in Jerusalem. For the volunteers who would live in Jerusalem they were offered multiple blessings. We also find leadership important in this chapter as they designate leaders for each family. The Levites set-up their procedures as they prepare to live and take care of the temple.  In chapter eleven we are given the proper lineage of the priestly line. The people of Jerusalem waited for the Levites so they could celebrate the building of the wall with gladness, hymns of thanksgiving, and songs accompanied by cymbals, harps, and lyres. Nehemiah separated Judah into two groups who walked on top of the walk singing at the top of their lungs so to speak. After singing on top of the walls they arrived in the temple to worship the Lord. The praise and worship mixed with rejoicing was so loud that the noise could be heard from afar.  Finally, they conclude their celebration by reading from the law of the Lord. Not only did they read the law, but they cleansed the temple. Tobiah discovered the Eliashib the priest had committed evil inside the temple. So Tobiah had everything removed and the temple purified. Tobiah also recognized that some Levites had walked away from their duties as priests. So he fetched them and put them back at their posts. Nehemiah was responsible for restoring proper respect for the Sabbath day. Many of those in Jerusalem had given themselves to pressing grapes and carrying sacks of grain. Outsiders came into Jerusalem and were trading goods on the Sabbath. Nehemiah ordered the gates of Jerusalem shut the night before the Sabbath and they were not to be reopened until after the Sabbath. Once this was implemented traders would wait outside the gates to get inside of Jerusalem once the doors were opened. Nehemiah threatened the traders that he would use force if necessary to move them away from Jerusalem during the Sabbath. Finally, Nehemiah considered a most heinous sin that is very delicate. Mixed marriages were not acceptable and he insisted these relationships be broken and lives put back on a straight path.

Nehemiah 8-9

In Ezra eight he calls an assembly of men, women, and children who are able to understand. Once they have assembled the book of the law of Moses is opened and read to the assembly, which lasted for hours. After standing on a wooden podium reading the book of the law to the assembly the people blessed God, lifted up their hands, and bowed low to worship Him. After the service of corporate worship others came and explained the law to the people in the assembly. Ezra was reading from the common denominator that would hold this group of people together. For a group to stay unified they must have something outside themselves, law of Moses, that will be the authority.  After the law was explained to the Jews many began weeping causing the leader, Ezra and Nehemiah, to encourage them to celebrate this holy day rather than weeping. Nehemiah said, “Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” The assembly we are told “understood the words which had been made known to them.” Leaders have a responsibility to make known the words of the Lord. Listeners should understand and respond.  During the second day of the festival Ezra gathers the priests and Levites to teach them the law and give them better insight into the words of the Law. What they studied this day was about the Feast of Booths, which resulted in the men leading their families to celebrate this special day. The obedience caused “great rejoicing.” We are told that Ezra read from the law daily.  Nehemiah nine is an incredible chapter on introspection and true worship. True worship results in true blessing so how does it work? 

  1. Genuine confession of sin and wrongdoing
  2. Read from the book of the law of the Lord your God (1/4 day)
  3. Confess & Worship God (1/4 day)
  4. Sing & Bless the Lord with song.

 In this chapter Nehemiah tells us about all four parts from verses 1-5 and then participates in all four parts from 6-38. It is very obvious to me that you can only get a proper view of God by recognizing sin, listening and reading God’s word, verbally confessing his sovereignty through worship and singing to His AWESOME name.

Nehemiah 1-3

In the first chapter of Nehemiah we get a glimpse of Nehemiah’s heart. Some of his brothers arrived from Jerusalem and his first question was to determine how the Jews in Jerusalem who had escaped the exile were doing. Nehemiah’s heart was torn apart as they told him the city of Jerusalem was in absolute disarray and the hand of God could not be found. Nehemiah’s emotions flow out through tears, but his theology drives him to the earth in prayer and fasting on behalf of God’s people and God’s city. Nehemiah prays with confidence as he relies on the written words, “Remember the word which You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful I will scatter you among the peoples; but if you return to Me and keep My commandments and do them…though you were scattered…I will bring them to the place where I have caused My name to dwell.’” In Nehemiah chapter two King Artaxerxes (20th year) recognizes that something is wrong with the demeanor of Nehemiah. When Artaxerxes inquires about Nehemiah’s attitude, then the door is wide open for Nehemiah to explain. Artaxerxes had a tender heart towards Nehemiah and granted everything that was requested, “because the good hand of my God was on me (Nehemiah).” This included protection, wood, and a decree to build the city of Jerusalem. When Nehemiah arrived he stealthily observed the ruins of Jerusalem and made a plan in the middle of the night to make massive renovations. This was going to be an Extreme City Makeover Nehemiah Style.  In chapter three we discover Nehemiah’s plan is implemented as different families are scattered throughout the city along the walls building particular sections. Nehemiah, the leader, had assembled a mobile working force with designated areas to restore the city.  

  • HEART, PASSION, & AMBITION
  • THEOLOGY / PRAYER & FASTING
  • PERMISSION FROM THE KING
  • RENOVATION PLANS
  • IMPLEMENT THE PLAN with a TEAM

   

The Man Watching by Tim Crothers

Dorrance on training leadership

 “Dorrance conducts a thirty minute meeting with his rising senior class once a week during spring semester, and they discuss Frankl’s book (Man’s Search For Meaning) and how it applies to the UNC program’s core values of attitude, character, performance, discipline, community, and ambition.  All we are trying to do is to let them know how we expect them to behave, but it is shocking to see how few understand the value of something as simple as nobility.”

“Dorrance regularly reads what he feels is the seminal quote from the book, ‘If there is a meaning in life at all, then there must a meaning in suffering. Suffering is an ineradicable part of life, even as fate and death. Without suffering and death, human life cannot be complete. The way in which a man accepts his fate and all the suffering it entails, the way in which he takes up his cross, gives him ample opportunity—even under the most difficult circumstances–to add a deeper meaning to his life.’ For Dorrance the quote is a scathing indictment of whining, which he sees as one of the most destructive aspects of athletics…Frankl writes about the nobility of suffering, and his basic message is that you can’t always control the events in your life, but you can control your attitude toward them.”