Churches are finally starting to reopen, but the quarantine life goes on. We all need encouragement to get through, and we can be quick to look to books like Psalms or Romans. But what about Esther? While I was studying Esther 1-2, I found a surprising connection and relevant encouragement for our lives during COVID-19.
This week we are studying the first two chapters. They aren’t very long, so I would recommend you go read them yourself real quick, but this is basically what happens:
- King Ahasuerus has a big party and everyone gets drunk
- While he is drunk, he asks for his queen, Vashti, to come so he can show her off
- Queen Vashti refuses so he gives her the boot and makes a decree that all women honor their husbands
- The king regrets getting rid of Queen Vashti later on when he is sober, so he holds a beauty pageant sort of thing to choose his next queen from a bunch of beautiful young virgins
- Hadassah, whose new name is Esther, wins his favor and becomes queen
- Mordecai (Esther’s uncle) catches a couple of dudes scheming to kill the king, and tells Queen Esther, who tells the king, and the crooks are hung (this little chunk may seem spontaneous at the end of chapter 2, but it will be remembered later in the story!)
I’m going to highlight this half of Esther 2:3 (ESV):
And let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom to gather all the beautiful young virgins…
The king’s order to gather all the beautiful young virgins in all the provinces of his kingdom was a huge thing. The Persian Empire was two million square miles! That’s a lot of girls!
And when each of those virgins thought about her future, I doubt she had any idea that she would be uprooted from her home and taken to the harem. I bet Esther thought she would live a normal life, marry a Jewish guy, and have kids—not marry the king! And when the appointed officers came to take her to the harem, her day-to-day life changed a lot.
But God worked through that to save the Jews. The book of Esther shows us that God plans everything out perfectly. Everywhere in Esther, we see that all the little coincidences are ordained pieces of a master plan. And these first two chapters show us that God’s plans cannot be thwarted by circumstances, no matter how big.
Not even by worldwide events. Not even by COVID-19, or riots, or anything.
God is completely in control.
God’s plan goes beyond the Old Testament, and even beyond the New Testament, and 2020 is a part of it. You and I are a part of it too.
His plan can be scary sometimes, but Scripture proclaims to us that we need not fear. God is sovereign. Our holy, good, and loving God is perfectly in control.
Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. – Proverbs 19:21
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28
The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? The Lord is on my side as my helper; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me. – Psalm 118:6-7
So do not fear, Christian soldier. But also know this about God’s plan:
God works through the unlikely and imperfect.
No one would have thought that God would choose young Hadassah to save His people. Girls didn’t have much power in those days so wouldn’t a man be better suited for the job? And no one would have thought that a Jewish girl would become the queen of Persia. But God gave her favor in the king’s eyes and got her just where she needed to be.
Esther was an imperfect person in an imperfect situation. She had struggles and temptations, same as the rest of us. But God worked through her and the situation anyway, and He used them for good.
You and I are imperfect too, but God can use us as well. Everyone who follows Jesus is here for a purpose.
You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. – Matthew 5:14-16
You may be imperfect, but don’t hide your light, Christian soldier. If the Holy Spirit is living in your heart, don’t put its work under a basket. We can show Jesus to this dark world. Even as our contact with people is limited, people are dying without knowing Christ. But God can work through us to show them. It might be showing kindness to your unbelieving sibling, or having patience when it’s tough. It can be praying for others or having a good attitude. God works through imperfect people in all sorts of ways, and He can work through you too.
What Do You Think?
What did you think of the post? How is your quarantine going? How do you keep your eyes on Christ when life gets dreary?