Teens of the Bible: Esther

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Esther's Story

Esther is one of two women of the Bible given her own book (the other is Ruth). The story of her rise to Queen of the Persian Empire is an important one because it shows how God works through each of us. in fact, her story is so important that it has become the basis of the Jewish celebration of Purim. Yet, for teens who think they are too young to make an impact, Esther's story becomes more significant.

Esther was an orphaned, Jewish teenager named Hadassah being raised by her uncle, Mordecai when King Xerxes (or Ahasuerus) held a 180-day feast in Susa. He ordered his queen at the time, Vashti, to appear before him and his guests without her veil. Vashti had a reputation for being very beautiful, and he wanted to show her off. She refused. He took offense and asked his men to help him determine a punishment for Vashti. Since the men thought Vashti's disrespect would be an example to other women that they could disobey their husbands, they determined that Vashti should strip her of her position as Queen.

The removal of Vashti as queen meant that Xerxes had to find a new one. Young and beautiful virgins from around the kingdom were gathered into a harem where they would go through a year of lessons that ranged from beauty to etiquette. After the year was up, each woman went to the king for one night. If he was pleased with the woman, he would invite her back. If not, she would return to the other concubines and never return again. Xerxes chose the young Hadassah, who was renamed Esther and made Queen.

Soon after the teenager was named Queen, Mordecai overheard an assassination plot being hatched by two of the kind's officers. Mordecai told his niece what he heard, and she informed the king. The potential assassins were hung for their crimes. Meanwhile, Mordecai insulted one of the king's prominent princes by refusing to bow to him as he rode throughout he streets. Haman determined that the punishment for the insult was that he would exterminate all the Jews living throughout the empire. By telling the king that there was a group of people who did not obey the king's laws, he got King Xerxes to agree to the decree of extermination. The king, however, did not take the silver that Haman offered. Decrees were then issued in every area of the kingdom that authorized the killing of all Jews (men, women, children) and the plundering of all of their goods on the 13th day of the month of Adar.

Mordecai was upset but took his pleas to Esther to help her people. Esther was fearful to approach the king without being summoned because those that did would be put to death unless the king spared their lives. Mordecai reminded her, though, that she, too, was a Jew and would not escape the fate of her people. He reminded her that she may have been put in this position of power for just this moment. So, Esther asked her uncle to gather the Jews and fast for three days and nights and then she would go to the king.

Esther showed her courage by approaching the king, who spared her by offering her his scepter. She requested that the king and Haman attend another banquet the following evening. In the meantime, Haman was very proud of himself as he watched the building of the gallows where he planned to hang Mordecai. Meanwhile, the king struggled with finding a way to honor Mordecai for saving him from the assassins that had plotted against him. He asked Haman what to do with a man he wished to honor, and Haman (thinking King Xerxes meant him), told him that he should honor the man by having him wear the royal robe and be led through the streets in honor.The next day the king asked Haman to do as such for Mordecai.

During Esther's banquet for the king, she told him of Haman's plan to massacre all of the Jews in Persia, and she revealed to the king that she was one of them. Haman became terrified and decided to plead with Esther for his life. As the king returned, he found Haman lain across Esther and became enraged further. He was ordered to be killed on the very gallows that Haman had built to kill Mordecai.

The king then issued an edict that the Jews could assemble and protect themselves from any man that tried to harm them. The ruling was sent to all provinces throughout the kingdom. Mordecai was given a prominent position in the palace, and the Jews fought and struck down their enemies.

Mordecai issued a letter to all the provinces the Jews should celebrate for two days in the month of Adar every year. The days would be full of feasts and gifts to one another and the poor. Today we refer to the holiday as Purim.

Lessons That Can Be Learned From Esther

  • Be Prepared - We often talk about reading our bibles and praying. We talk about the importance of going to church and developing a relationship with God. Yet, talking gets us nowhere. We have to internalize our relationship with Him. God is not mentioned once in the book of Esther. Yet He is everywhere in it. We don't actually need God to be mentioned because He is such a part of Esther and Mordecai that's it's just a given that He would work in their lives. By preparing, we are able to walk with God in the face of anything, which is what Esther did.
  • Have​ Patience - Neither Esther nor Mordecai made any rash decisions, nor did they have expectations for instant fixes. Plans were made slowly and quietly. Esther asked her people to fast for her, and she waited for the right time. Patience is a difficult lesson to learn when we live in an instant world. Yet, God will work in His time, not ours. If we allow Him to work at His pace, we will see amazing things happen.
  • Everyone Has a Purpose - Esther was Jewish. She was an orphan. She was not rich. She was young. Yet she became Queen of an immense kingdom and she managed to save her people. God had a purpose for her. He has a purpose for all of us. Even now, there are things God is using you to do in the lives of those around you. God doesn't care about your race, gender, age, or anything else. He loves you as you are, and he has purposes for your no matter where you're at in your life.