Monday Morning Musings
What I’d like to try to do, is after Sunday’s sermon, write down a few different (random) thoughts about a variety of things. My hope is to expand your appreciation for the text & also to give a brief glimpse into the “cutting room floor” of sermon prep.
So, let me start with just a couple of things:
1. There are items every week that I have to cut from the sermon due to either length of time or simply because they don’t fit the text. These are “cutting room floor” items. My hope is to give you some of these tidbits to help feed your soul, like they do mine.
2. There are things each week that I normally wish that I had not said or things I wish I would’ve added. These might be a story I wish I could retract or a theological portion I wish I would’ve added. I hope this will give you a glimpse of things that go on in a Sunday sermon, but also to help you grow in Christ.
Now, let’s take on yesterday’s sermon “Behind the Scenes” out of Esther 1.
- Let me say, what a joy it was to worship with our church yesterday. The song portion during our service was moving and I found myself enjoying hearing our church sing. It really is the best time of the week.
- There are many things to say about Ahasuerus & Vashti that I did not have time to draw out. This is especially difficult because the story is not primarily about husband/wife relationships or leadership/submission qualities. So, here are a few things that I had to leave out that I find interesting.
• There’s no doubt that an application can be drawn that he was not only a dictatorial, out of control king, but he was also a dictatorial, out of control husband. He most certainly did not lovingly lead her & he shows us the sinful temptation for men to “rule over” their wives (Gen. 3:16). Ahasuerus shows us this sinful tendency in spades.
• As for Vashti…after reading much on her response, my feeling is that Vashti refused on a matter of principle. I would agree with Abraham Kuyper, who called her “one of the nobler women of humanity.” Vashti shows us how to respond to rulers, leaders, or authorities, who ask us to do things that are against our conscience or ethically/morally wrong.
- In Esther 1, the immense wealth of the Persia & the dictatorial spirit of her ruler, show us what the Jewish people were really up against. Because the story of Esther is really the story of God working behind the scenes for His glory and the good of His people, I simply didn’t have the time to draw this point out further. Hugely powerful Persia is going to wipe out the tiny Jewish people…yet God is going to rescue her. I found this quote really helpful regarding this: “The contrast of the Jews could not have been sharper. The Persians were strong; the Jews were weak. The Persians were wealthy; the Jews were poor. The Persians seemed to own the world; the Jews seemed to be passed around from empire to empire. Ahasuerus could do whatever he wished; the Jews could not.” This is what makes this story so real…we all feel this same tension trying to live as Christians in a world gone mad. Everywhere…secular, humanistic philosophies seem to win out. Everywhere…might seems to mean right. Everywhere…it seems the odds of the Kingdom of God winning are small. But this story speaks that any people, no matter how small, with God as their covenant-keeping King, always have the assurance that He will accomplish His plans.
- Here are a couple of quotes that I left out that I found really helpful:
• “But the author of Esther encourages us to see our world instead with eyes of faith and to understand that those things can never bring life; like all imperial ideologies they are doomed in the end. They are merely “banquets in the grave”-no less pathetic than the Persian banquet, when seen from an eternal perspective. Instead, we need to see our world with eyes of faith, though the lens of Jesus-his life, death, and resurrection-to know that God is always at work, positioning things in the world, and in individual lives, even if we cannot see it. Behind the scenes, God is orchestrating all things to serve HIs greater purposes, even when it means that crosses must come before resurrections.” Bryan Gregory
• I Found this to be a great summary of Esther 1: “Xerxes decides to give a banquet, apparently from the purely political need to solidify support for his impending military campaign. A completely pagan king decides for purely worldly reasons to give a banquet designed for self-aggrandizement. On the last day of the banquet, he decides to treat the men of his empire to a good look at his beautiful Queen Vashti. This decision is probably not made from the most admirable of motives, at least not as judged by Christian standards. With this, Xerxes sets in motion a chain of events that takes on a life of its own.” Karen Jobes
- In closing, Esther 1 was used this past week in my life to remind me of how faithful God is to us & how He uses “normal, mundane” moments to move His purposes forward. As Christians, in the Western World, we tend to think “bigger is better” and that mountaintop experiences with God are the only times that God is at work. Esther 1 reminded me that God is always at work…even if I don’t “feel” Him, see it or have “firm” evidence of it. I needed that reminder.
So, there you go…a few “musings” that I hope will add to your appreciation for Esther 1 or serve as a reminder of things you already knew. Feel free to use the comment section to add thoughts that you had as well from Esther 1.