Well, last Sunday we finished up our Esther series. With the holiday this week, I gladly took a couple of days off and so I’m a tad behind in my writing musings. So, maybe this week’s addition should be Weekend Wonderings (or Wanderings, depending on where I end up). So here it goes:
From the cutting room floor:
- One of the things that really stood out to me, that I had to cut was how responsive the Jews were to the ordinances of Mordecai and Esther. We’re told in Esther 9:20: “So the Jews accepted what they had started to do, and what Mordecai had written to them.” And this is followed with Esther 9:27: “the Jews firmly obligated themselves and their offspring and all who joined them, that without fail they would keep these two days according to what was written and at the time appointed every year…” The reason this stood out to me in my study was because earlier in the book, when the King made his edicts, no one “accepted” it or “obligated themselves” to keep it. It was demanded of them and they had to do it, whether they liked it or not. But when Mordecai and Esther have royal thrones…the Jews accepted it and obligated themselves to keep it. It reminds me of Proverbs 29:2, which says, “When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, but when the wicked rule, the people groan.” You can feel the groaning in the book under King Ahasuerus and under Haman. And you can feel the exuberance to Queen Esther and Mordecai.
- The other issue that I cut out, was during the celebration of Purim the Jews were to give gifts of food to one another and to the poor. This stood out to me as an implication of their deliverance. Think about it: they were facing annihilation and they were freed from destruction. So, to celebrate, rather than be extravagant, they were to give or “deliver” others from poverty or famine. It reminds me of implications of the gospel that are given to us through Christ. Examples of this to me are the following:
- “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)
- When Paul was talking about Christian giving, he tied the gospel to his reasoning: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” (2 Cor. 8:9)
- “Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” (Romans 15:7)
- In other words, our deliverance from sin, should inspire us to “give” to others to help “deliver” them.
From One Night with the King:
I love our family movie nights at church. It’s been fun the last two years to do this and to tie it to a series that we’re covering on Sundays. Last year, it was Luther, at the conclusion of our “Five Sola” Series during the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Next year, we will watch Paul, Apostle of Christ, in October as we study through Paul’s books of Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians.
One Night with the King is a bit of a challenge because it follows closely with Jewish tradition, but doesn’t follow all that closely with the Bible. So here are a few “musings” about the movie, after our series on Esther:
- I really enjoyed the background of King Saul and King Agag at the beginning of the movie. That is a huge part of the story of Esther that’s hard to cover.
- King Agag’s wife slipping away from King Saul, after she and Agag conceived a child is part of Jewish tradition that I find fascinating because it shows that Haman was a direct descendant of Agag. This adds lots to the story of Esther.
- I also thought the manipulation of the King was made clearer in the movie. The Bible makes this point, but the movie drew this out to show the true colors of those leaders.
- There’s a scene in the movie where Mordecai and Esther are in anguish about her not revealing her Jewish identity. It was powerful and well done. I can’t imagine the anguish this might’ve had on them.
- Several moments were a bit of poetic license by the director that didn’t match the biblical story:
- Haman’s hatred of the Jews in the movie was because of his family line, not because Mordecai refused to bow to him.
- Vashti rejected the king’s invite to parade herself in front of the king’s friends because she was philosophically opposed to the war with the Greeks.
- It’s difficult from the Bible to gauge how dedicated Esther and Mordecai actually were to their Jewish heritage, until later in the book. The movie seemed to take the view that they were faithful Jews and nothing they did was impure. I’m not sure I agree with that assessment. Nor do many other bible scholars.
- The centrality of the pendant that she wore, which the Star of David was seen when up against a candle, was a bit far-fetched.
- Esther’s one night with the king…well, let’s just say that she didn’t impress him with her reading skills…I think that’s all I need to say about that.
- Further, while the Bible does make it clear that the King was overwhelmed with Esther’s beauty, it does not seem to indicate that this was a marriage for love. The movie made it out that they deeply loved each other. If that were the case, I’m not sure the king would’ve continued his parade of virgins in and out of his room. He was a sensual man.
- The movie made it out that the King and Esther didn’t see each for 30 days due to a misunderstanding of Esther’s faithfulness to the king and vice-versa. See the point just above this one to understand why the king didn’t see her for that long.
- When Esther entered the throne room on the day she decided to reveal her identity, she was dressed up as the Queen, not soaking wet. She did not slam the door open…rather, she waited quietly outside the door, where the king could see her, and then walked in respectfully.
- The movie only showed 1 banquet/feast with the King, Esther, and Haman. The Bible indicates there were 2.
- Further, her invitation to the feast was not rushed and the King was eager to know what she wanted. The movie made it out that she was rushed, the King was impatient because he was ready to head off to war and he was frustrated with her.
- When the King returned to the room to catch Haman assaulting Esther…I know of no place that tells us that the King saw the stars from her pendant shining through the candlelight.
- Finally, let me say this: movies are not meant to give us biblical truth. They’re meant to entertain. Getting together with our church family, enjoying a family movie…is always fun.
So, there you…some wonderings for your weekend! See y’all on Sunday as we dive into Galatians.
To watch or listen to the sermon described in this post, please click here.