But the book was good. Even if it is a fictionalised account with lots of details added, it accomplished this in a way that drew my attention more clearly to some points about the story of Esther in the Bible that I hadn't fully considered before. (As a note, I would probably recommend being completely familiar with the story as the Bible sets it out before reading, so that you don't end up getting confused between what we actually know and what was added for the novel.)
These are some things I thought about - I could write a whole blog post on each, but for now it's just dot points.
- It is amazing the amount of time they spent preparing the women to spend one night with the king. 12 months of beauty treatments and preparation. If that amount of time is spent to prepare to physically please an earthly king for one night, how much more should we do to prepare our selves spiritually to meet our heavenly King for eternity?
- "For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14
God's plans aren't thwarted by our lack of obedience. His plans will always be done. If we don't go out in faith to be used by Him, then someone else will. But then we will be missing out - either in the short term if we make a different choice when we have another chance, or forever if it is enternity we are rejected. We will perish.
Don't take where you are forgranted. Esther had become a queen. She could have easily given herself all the credit for getting there. She could have easily slipped into being ungrateful and selfish in the midst of the luxury and power of her position. But she remembered that what we have and where we are, comes from God. He has placed us there for a reason.
- When Esther went before the king in faith, despite fear, God ensured she was fully welcomed. So are when we seek God in faith.
Esther approached the king even though that normally meant death unless the king lowered his sceptre. For the Jewish people it used to be the only the chosen priest who could approach the presence of God - others would be struck dead. By trusting God, the sceptre was lowered for Esther, like the blood of Jesus has allowed us to approach God without fear.
The final step, like Esther having to touch the tip of the sceptre to accept the kings grace, is for us to reach out and receive God's grace to us.
- A line from the book reads 'favour can restore in a day what was stolen over a lifetime' - God's favour and healing can restore life to us in a moment.
Haman, the man who hated Mordecai for refusing to bow down to him, ended up being the one who had to display the king's favour to Mordecai, the very man he desired to kill.
God's favour washes away everything else. He can even use our enemies to lift us up.
- God's timing is perfect. We aren't really told why Esther asked for two banquets before she gave her requests, but obviously the whole thing fell into place perfectly once Esther trusted God. There are many things in life that happen more slowly than we expect, or take a lot more time to prepare for than we want them to. We may want to rush into things, but often, if we are being told by God to wait, it probably means He has other things in store that need to happen first.
Once the time was right, things happened quickly - Haman was almost immediately sent to be executed. It is the same with God's plans. We should make sure in the time that he has given us, we become as prepared as we possibly can, because when the time is right, we need to be ready!
- Though the order to destroy the jews could not be changed (once a king's decree went out it couldn't even be changed by the king himself), a new order was created aloowing them to defend themselves and even take the possessions of their attackers. They had the king's favour as their protection. Near the end of the book of Esther in the Bible it says that many other nationalities became Jews after this.
In our lives we may not be spared from all possibilities of attack or hardship, but we are always given the means to defend ourselves, with God on our side.
Life may not seem fair always, it may seem like bad people have all the good things happen to them. But like Haman's fall from fortune and all that was his being given to Mordecai, we too will gain it all in the end. But like the Jews did not plunder those that were going to attack them, which they could have done, we know all is something far better than earthly gain.
When we have God's favour, other people can see it, and eternity is ours.