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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder


Esther 4:14 ...and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

As the story of Esther goes, Ahasuerus ascended to the throne of Persia. His wife, Queen Vashti disobeyed his order causing him much embarrassment before an assembly of high governmental officials. Fearing that this incident would set a bad example, Ahasuerus conceded to the counsel of his advisors who recommended Vashti be put away, and all women commanded to be obedient to their husbands.

After this, orders were given to gather together all of the fair virgins throughout Persia and take them to Shushan from which a new queen would be selected. Esther was a young Israelite lady that was adopted and raised by her uncle, Mordecai. She had a fair countenance, was very beautiful, and was one of those chosen for the group of young maidens from which the queen was to be chosen. As the story goes, Esther gained favor with the king and was finally chosen as his new queen.

Haman, an Amalekite, was the favorite among the king's officials. So much so that the king commanded all people should show their respect for his position by bowing at his presence. All obeyed except Mordecai, the Jew, who refused to pay reverence to Haman. It is worth noting that the Amalekites and Jews were enemies from the beginning of the occupation of Palestine by the Israelites.

Mordecai's refusal to show reverence to Haman displeased him to the extent that he devised a plan whereby Mordecai, as well as all the Israelites, would be destroyed. To this plan Ahasuerus agreed. A decree was written and distributed throughout the land that on the 13th day of Adar, all of the Persian people were to slay all Jewish men, women, and children, and take their spoil for themselves.

Mordecai relayed this decree to Esther and encouraged her to make intercession for the Jewish nation before King Ahasuerus. To do so, Esther made a banquet for the king and invited Hamen to attend. In the meantime, Hamen had built a gallows for the execution of Mordecai. About this same time, the king had a sleepless night and commanded that some of the official chronicles be read to him. From these records, the king learned that Mordecai had been responsible for uncovering a plot to overthrow the government. Understanding this, the king wanted to give proper honor to Mordecai. Haman was asked to suggest a proper honor for the man whom the king delighteth to honor (Est. 6:6)

Thinking the honor was for himself, Haman suggested the person should be regaled in royal apparel and paraded before the people. At this point Haman was requested to carry out this honor for Mordecai. Haman returned home extremely disappointed. At the banquet, Esther asked for, and received, permission to petition of the king. When granted, she asked that her life, and the lives of all Jews, be spared. She also advised the king that the plot to have all Jews killed was devised and put into effect by Haman.

As the king was pondering the situation, Haman came to Esther to plead for his life. Upon returning, the king supposed that Haman was trying to seduce Esther. Feeling humiliation, the king had Haman hanged on the same gallows built for the hanging of Mordecai. Although the king could not void his original edict for the Persians to slay all Jews, he did issue another commandment to the Jews to defend themselves if threatened, attacked , or assaulted by the Persians in any manner. This command virtually made the original decree void thus saving the Jewish nation from destruction.

This incident which occurred in the history of the nation of Israel was so significant that it was then, and is now, celebrated annually to commemorate the preservation of the Jews in Persia from the massacre devised by Haman. It was to be celebrated for two days on the 14th and 15th days of Adar. The Persian word Purim means "lots". Esther 3:7 notes that Pur (the lot) was cast to choose the month and day that the Persians were commanded to slay all Jews. Therefore, the feast was named after the Persian "lot" named Pur - therefore this festive celebration of the Jews was called the Feast of Purim.

The date was significant because it gave the Jewish nation time to plan for their salvation. The selection of Esther as the new queen for King Ahasuerus, was significant because she was in the position to put the plan into effect for their salvation. The text of this lesson indicated that Esther's main purpose in life was to bring about the salvation of the Jewish nation. This was her calling - this was Esther's lot in life.

What is your calling? What is your lot in life? As in the case of Esther, her calling was both physical and spiritual in its nature; one that saved her life and the entire nation of Israel. The writer in Hebrews 3:1 referrs to the lot of all Christians as partakers of the heavenly calling. Paul wrote to Timothy telling him that we are called with a holy calling (2 Tim. 1:9). This indicates that we all have an obligation - a calling - one that is above our secular callings or occupations here on earth.

The first few verses of Ephesians 4, tell us that we are to walk worthy of the vocation to which we are called.As we read further we understand this calling to be God's calling, and we are to except what ever role we are given, and to carry it out to the best of our abilities. We are to do so with lowliness, meekness and longsuffering as well as in the spirit of love for one another (See Eph. 4:1-3).

2 Peter 1:2-4 indicates that God has called us to something higher than our mortal lives here on earth. Through His word we are given knowledge of all things that pertain to life and godliness. Along with this higher calling, we are given great and precious promises that will allow us to escape the corruption of the world and have the opportunity of salvation.

Just as the calling of Esther lead to the salvation of the Jewish nation, God's people are called to bring salvation to those that are lost in this world. In 2 Peter 1:5-7 we are given a formula to put in practice in order to carry out this heavenly calling. Giving diligence, we are told to add to your faith, virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, charity (or love). Putting these godly characteristics to practice, in whatever our heavenly calling may be, we are told that, in doing so, we make our calling sure. It will be firm and solid, allowing others to benefit from our good works.

Like Esther, each of us has a purpose in life. We may havecome into this world for a similar,critically spiritual time as this. What is your calling? What is your lot in life? Who knows, maybe now is the time for you to bring salvation to someone in spiritual need.