Have you wondered if life is somewhat like a game of chess? Sometimes it feels like you’ve been checkmated by life’s issues and challenges where things are seemingly dark and out of control, and God seemingly absent. But is He?
That was how it probably felt like for the Jews who were living in exile in Persia during the time of King Xerxes 1 (486-464 BC). The book of Esther began with pompous and decadent feasts thrown by King Xerxes 1 to show off his wealth and power. His then wife, Queen Vashti was deposed for refusing to be an object of entertainment. A search for a new queen began.
Esther, an orphaned Jewish girl, lived with her cousin Mordecai in Susa, Persia. Given that she was a dazzling beauty, she was taken into the king’s palace, was enrolled into a beauty pageant together with other young beautiful virgins, found favour with the king, and was crowned queen.
Haman the Agagite entered the scene, was promoted to the highest office in the King’s court and ordered that all bow to him. He was triggered by Mordecai who refused to bow to him. When he found out that Mordecai was a Jew, Haman set in motion a plan to annihilate the Jews throughout the empire. Esther, made aware of this plot by Mordecai, resolved to act to save her people, even if it meant giving up her own life.
In this 3-week sermon series on Esther, we will see how God, the Chess Master, worked behind the scenes – using a Jewish orphaned girl to save a nation. And this heroic act of saving the Jewish nation, is still celebrated today among Jewish people, called the Festival of Purim.