Esther 1:1-3:15 ~ 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 ~ Psalm 35:17-28 ~ Proverbs 21:19-20
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Old Testament - Today we begin reading about Queen Esther! Hold on tight because Esther is an amazing book – and next week we launch into Job, which is incredible in its spiritual depth. We’re entering some amazing spiritual territory of the Old Testament. Don’t miss it! Below is Esther:
~ Esther ~
Date: Fifth century B.C.
Content: The book of Esther deals with a momentous event that took place after the Persians had destroyed Babylon and while many Jews were still living in the land of their captivity. The story concerns a Jewess named Ester who had become the wife of the Persian King Ahasuerus (Xerxes I). An evil advisor to the king, named Haman, sought the destruction of the Jews in order to gain control of their wealth, but Esther tactfully intervened and saved her people from this fate. Haman was executed, and after some civil strife things quieted down once more. The remarkable deliverance of the Jews was celebrated by a feast named Purim and it remains to this day.
Theme: The providence and power of God are the central points of this book. God was protecting his people even in their captivity and was working al things together for their good. God’s power is seen in the overthrow of Israel’s enemies. It is important to note that God used human beings to accomplish his purpose here, rather than doing it directly himself. We must be ready at all times to do God’s will when he so directs. (Above commentary is from Tyndale Publishers “The One Year Bible Companion” p. 9) More commentary on the book of Esther is at this link. Below is a fresco of "Queen Esther" from 1450 by Italian artist Andrea Del Castagno:
A map of the Persian empire at the time of the book of Esther in approximately 480 B.C. is below. You can see the city of Susa, just above the Persian Gulf, where the book of Esther begins, as we read in verses 1 & 2 today: "This happened in the days of King Xerxes, who reigned over 127 provinces stretching from India to Ethiopia. At that time he ruled his empire from his throne at the fortress of Susa."
New Testament - Wow.. great verses from Paul today! I think most of us will recognize these words, or slight variations, as to how Communion happens at many churches today. It is beautiful to come across these words in verses 23 through 26 in the context of Paul's overall letter to the Corinthians. It reminds me of how Communion comes upon us at church in the midst of our often busy / distracted lives. We so need to hear these words and so need to receive Communion: "For this is what the Lord himself said, and I pass it on to you just as I received it. On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me." In the same way, he took the cup of wine after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant between God and you, sealed by the shedding of my blood. Do this in remembrance of me as often as you drink it." For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord's death until he comes again." How is the Communion experience for you these days? Do you consciously take Communion in remembrance of Jesus? Do you consciously realize when you participate in Communion you are announcing Jesus' death until he comes again?
Paul's teachings in verses in 27 through 29 are something for us to take note of: "So if anyone eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord unworthily, that person is guilty of sinning against the body and the blood of the Lord. That is why you should examine yourself before eating the bread and drinking from the cup. For if you eat the bread or drink the cup unworthily, not honoring the body of Christ, you are eating and drinking God's judgment upon yourself." How do these verses speak to you? Do you examine yourself before participating in Communion?
Bible.org's commentary on today's readings in First Corinthians titled "Corrections for Communion" is at this link. Below is a painting by British artist Alphonse Legros from the late 1800's titled "Communion":
Psalms - Psalm 35 verses 22 & 23 are two very impassioned verses that I think we should take note of: "O LORD, you know all about this. Do not stay silent. Don't abandon me now, O Lord. Wake up! Rise to my defense! Take up my case, my God and my Lord." I think what these verses do is remind me that we don't have to always speak to God in "hushed" tones or in our "church voices". We can interact with God at any moment as we really are. I don't think we should try to hide our emotions from God. We should come before God at any time - as we are - and let Him take us from there... and heal us from there... When is the last time you literally cried out to God?
Proverbs - Proverbs 21 verse 19 I'll let someone else pick up in the Comments... :) Verse 20 is intriguing - "The wise have wealth and luxury, but fools spend whatever they get." Why do you suppose this is? Do the wise spend money? Do they save money? Do they give money away to their church and charities? And fools spend whatever they get... on what? Maybe there is a difference in how the wise and fools interact with money. I guess some foolish pursuits that come to mind on how one might spend money would be potential addictive behaviors such as gambling, pornography, or drugs. It's probably safe to say that the wise aren't too into these types of things. How are you doing with money these days? Are you spending it wisely? Are you saving it? Are you giving it away to your church and charity? Do you think it matters how we spend our money? If a $100 bill appeared in your hands right this very moment, what would you do with it?
Worship God: As Paul teaches on Communion today in First Corinthians, it seems an appropriate time to post up this video of Kutless' "Sea of Faces." I have loved this song since I first heard it. And every time I hear it I immediately think of Communion!
Comments from You & Questions of the Day: What verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!