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This is the introduction to study of the book of Esther who was a woman chosen by God to do His purpose in the world.
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what we're going to start our study by taking four weeks with Esther. Then we're going to move into four weeks with Jonah and then we're going to spend that last week that last week that Amy told you, you have to come back for comparing Esther and Jonah and then also taking a deep look at our own lives and seeing where God is calling us to take the next step. And so I really am excited about that last week. I think it's going to be a powerful week. But before we get started and Esther, I want to just give you a little bit of background so that when you open your bible study either later today or tomorrow, you'll kind of have a little bit of grounding of where we're going and what's going on with Esther. So Esther the story of Esther takes place in Susa. Now, Souza is really modern day Eireann. And Souza is ruled by the powerful king Xerxes. Okay, so before I can get to why we have a jewish woman living in a pagan nation. We need to back up a little bit to know a little more of the history of why is she even in this place called Sousa. And to do that, we have to actually go all the way back to moses, which is about 900 years before Esther now most of you know who moses is moses, as you will recall, is the man that God sent to rescue the Israelites From slavery under the Egyptian. So the Israelites were enslaved for 400 years. God sends moses. They go on this crazy journey through the desert and they are rescued from slavery. In that time, God makes a covenant with his people. It's called the mosaic covenant. And a covenant is simply holy binding agreement. And this covenant basically says, if you, the people of God will obey me God then you will be blessed and protected. If you, however, choose to disobey and wander away from me, then I will remove my hand of protection over you. So the covenant is actually very simple. If you obey then God will protect and watch over you. And if you disobey then God will remove his hand of protection and actually he will scatter the people all over the nation or he will allow that to happen Now. We live in a different time. We live in the time of jesus and so we don't have this if than covenant that we live under. This is what was set up for the people of this time. So the people, if you have read any of the old testament, you will know that it did not take long for them to start to disobey God. And God was exceedingly patient with his people, exceedingly patient, 800 years long, patient, Which I think is exceeding, don't you? And so for 800 years the people wander back and forth and they come back and God accepts them and finally they wander so far away they start worshipping other gods that God allows the full force of the consequences of the covenant to take place. And it is at this time that the Babylonians attack The nation of Israel and it is now 586 Bc. This is probably the darkest year for the nation of Israel because not only are they attacked, but the nation is actually scattered everywhere and the temple in Jerusalem is destroyed. Now this is a huge deal. This isn't like Irving bible church got flattened. The temple of God in the old testament is actually where God resided. It is actually so symbolic of of his presence with them. That when the temple gets destroyed, they see it as God's presence is gone. It's a big deal that the temple is destroyed. And so this is a dark year in the lives of the nation of Israel. Now, as we know, god has always allowed provisions for them to return. So even when this happens, he just said if you just would return and repent, I am still here. And as we see as the story continues to unfold, we see that with jesus and how he does extravagant things to come toward us. But here we are in 586, the people are scattered, they are taken into exile and everything is just a big mess. Well then you fast forward another 50 years and we find ourselves in 539 BC another peg and king comes to power. His name is King Cyrus and he find favor with the Israelites. And he actually says to the Israelites, you guys can go back to Jerusalem, you can reclaim this is your homeland and you can start rebuilding the temple. And so a remnant of the Israelites decide, okay, we're going to go back and we're going to rebuild. But many of the Israelites don't return Now. I think this is understandable. It's been 50 years. A lot happens in 50 years, write a whole new generation has been born. They don't even know what Jerusalem looks like. So they've stayed put. So you've got a little remnant that's gone back and you've got exiles still living all over. Okay, so then we fast forward another 50 years and here we find ourselves in the story of Esther. So we are now 100 years past, the temple being destroyed and Esther has stayed in Susa with a remnant of the Israelites. It doesn't tell us why the book of Esther does not tell us why she's there or why she and her family stayed in Susa. But I would just imagine they have lives and they have livelihoods and sometimes it's easier to stay even when something is not good than to go into something unknown for the possibility that it could be better. So even though she's in a place as a foreigner, and as you're going to quickly find out she's not super accepted and not welcome, she stays put. So this is the history of the story of Esther and why she's in Susa. And so now we can start with a few of the main characters of our book. I just want to introduce you to four people in the book that you're going to encounter and you'll get to know them a little bit more as we go along. But the first person is the one I already mentioned and his name is King Xerxes. So King Xerxes is the powerful ruler of Susa and actually all of Persia, which is just this all the surrounding land. He is probably the most powerful man in the world at this time. And he not only has untold power, but he has untold wealth and unchecked power and unchecked wealth. So you can only imagine what that does to a human being, right? So he has some unfortunate character traits, he is prideful, he's a bit of a people pleaser and he's impulsive. The other person you need to know is Haman. Now Haman is kind of his right hand guy, He's one of his advisers and he consistently gives bad advice which King Xerxes consistently takes. So you'll hear all about that Now, Mordecai is another person you need to know. Mordecai is actually Esther's older cousin, but Esther's parents have died. And so Mordecai actually takes Esther in and raises her as his own daughter. So he's kind of like an adoptive father to her. And then finally, there's Esther, so Esther is are unlikely hero. Let me tell you why she is a foreigner. She is an orphan, she is young, she's a young woman, she's a woman. Women have no power, they have no influence. They have very little writes, very little standing. By all accounts, she isn't nobody right. And yet, as we will see, she is the one who gets an audience with the king that ultimately saves the entire nation of Israel. So Esther who looks like a nobody actually isn't and nobody at all, not in the eyes of God, but
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