Today I would like to you to think for a minute about how this life is full of great women. All we need to do is look through history to know it. For just a few seconds today, just us take some time to write down a few of the great women of history. What comes to your mind?
I did this exercise myself yesterday while I was writing this sermon, and here are some of the names that I came up with: Joan of Arc, Madame Curies, Mother Teresa…
I could write down many others, some you would know and some you would not. I’m sure it would be just as easy for you to think of some. Maybe you would think of your own mother, maybe someone here, or perhaps one of your sisters.
Abraham Lincoln used to say, “A man is not poor if he has a pious mother!” He credited a great part of his success to his mother.
There are several military heros, politicians, evangelists, athletes, and musicians who have, like Lincoln, attributed their success to their mothers or their spouses.
Throughout human history, we find a succession of women full of courage, virtue, and sensibility.
The bible speaks of some of these women. Yesterday, I noted many women of the Bible on my paper.
There was J??????, the mother of Moses who hide her child until he was weaned. There was Hannah the mother of Samuel. There was Deborah who was a judge in Israel and Abigail who saved Nabal her husband while David’s anger was pacifying. The Bible tells us also of Ruth who took care of her mother in-law in spite of the famine. Then the New Testament speaks of Elizabeth, of Eunice, Lois, Priscilla, Lydia, and Phoebe. All of these women contributed in one way or another in changing the world a little which affects us even today.
Among these it is important to add Esther’s name. She is the heroine that we are studying in this series.
Today, I invite you to take out your Bibles and open them to the book of Esther.
You probably remember the last time, we finished our account of God preparing his daughter for a grand future.
At that time, Esther was living her ordinary life, not thinking that maybe one day she’ll become apart of the king’s court.
As for the king, he just came back from an important war in which he was defeated. His moral was at it’s lowest. Being depressed, he was in great need of affection for he felt so alone. He realized soon that he made a huge mistake in getting rid of queen Vashti. His advisors told him to find for himself the most beautiful woman in the land and make her his new wife.
What they suggested in other words, is the organization of a beauty contest.
Josephus Flavius, an ancient historian, said that 400 women were involved in this competition. The Bible also tells us that they all had the right to prepared for one year before being presented to the king. They were all massaged with oils, cleaned in perfumed baths and they received all sorts of cosmetic care. (Ch. 2:12)
At the end of this year, it was necessary for each one to be at her best in beauty, charm, and seduction. Why? Because they were only given one night with the king, and that would be how he would choose his queen.
This contest was in a way like Miss Persia, or Miss World all in one with a prize most attractive than anything that’s even offered nowadays. The woman who wins won’t receive just a title of honor for a year, she will become an immensely riche queen for the rest of her life.
I bet that there were many women all over in the country who dreamed of participating in this contest.
There are always women full of vanity and superficiality, but Esther wasn’t one of them.
How do I know that? In Esther 2: 8, the Hebrew text indicates something that the French does not. Let’s read it together: “…Esther was brought to the imperial palace as well…” but in reality it actually was meant to say this: “was taken by force, was obligated against her will”. In other passages in the Old Testament, these words are translated in the same way with the same sense.
Apparently, Esther didn’t want to leave her uncle. She loved and respected Mordechai because he was her only family.
She was brought up with the values of the Jewish people. Normally a Jew didn’t have the right to marry a foreigner because they may be tempted to worship idols.
It’s then with reluctance that Esther was placed into this beauty contest.
It’s very important to understand the context to be able to take away the major lesson of our study today.
Esther didn’t want to be sucked into this mundane event. It doesn’t take a genus to know that there will be tons of ridiculously competitive women involved in this game. I imagine them being overtaken with jealously, pulling hair, and participating in cat fights often.
Can you imagine the harem? A procession of veiled litters?. On each little, there was a beautiful and attractive woman, hoping with all her heart to make a place in the palace.
If you want to have an idea of what this looks like, you could watch the show called Greg the millionaire. Then you could magnify the situations you see on that show by 20.
Just imagine how difficult it would be to maintain a spiritual balance in a place like that.
All of the importance in the harem was placed on what? It was placed on the physical being, the beauty of the body, the exterior. Seduction was tool to obtaining favors. It was a superficial world, full of vanity.
Thanks to the God’s hand in all this, Esther will find her lot. The rest of this story she will be successful in keeping to her values. Thanks to that fact, this ‘star’ will shine more brilliantly than all the others. She does other things to win the heart of the Harem chief. Look in chapter 2: 9, “…”.
In the end she will eventually conquer the heart of the king as well. Esther 2: 17 “…”
So the question we asked today is why? Why does Esther win the heart of everyone? Is it because of God? Yes, but how does God bring it all about?
It seems to me that she exhibits the true beauty of character. She manifests internal qualities that no one could ignore. She places importance on the development of her personality.
In the text, I see six other qualities that God develops in her.
We live in a world where holding the tongue has become a forgotten virtue. All you have to do is read a magazine from a bookshelf in a store or watch a talk show on television. Nothing any more is a secret; everything is spoken of and without shame. How many of our lives are ruined by a lack of restraint from someone who is close to us.
We find some advice on this subject from James 3, and also in Proverbs 18: 6-8 there’s this: “…”
Esther controlled her mouth. It’s something that held her above the other women.
I tell you today that a woman who knows how to keep the confidences, e specially those of her husband, of her family and friends is a pearl.
Ladies learn to develop this quality, because in God’s eyes it’s something that shows your dignity and worth.
It was probably a way to test her heart, to see what she values.
Esther chose a good thing. Why? Because she listened to advice. In chapter 2, verse 15 we read, “…”
The image what is given to us is of Esther who has an open mind and who is humble.
He probably continued to advise her, because she had the tendency to listen.
Even when she became queen, she continued to accept being advised. Her position didn’t make her arrogant. She listened as well to the advice of her father even into her adulthood.
Allow me to say this, in our time some women have become exceptional teachers.
Some here maybe have this gift of captivating audiences and teaching pertinent things in extraordinary ways.
Others have maybe distinguished themselves in public service by holding difficult positions, brilliantly executing their duties. Maybe today there are some among us who have this gift that may allow them in the future to be among tight circles in politics where they are called by their first name by great men.
If this happens, be sure not to lose your malleable mind and openness to the advice of others.
Because when we think ourselves to be an infallible authority in a predilection manner, we’re going towards a fall. God helps us to realize the little that we really know given all that there is left to learn.
Like someone once said: “To be educated, is to be conscious of all that one really doesn’t know”.
In going along with that same wisdom, it’s necessary to stay open to other’s teachings, to be humble, to always be ready to learn whether it come from our friends, our children, or even our enemies. A heart that is malleable and open mind is beautiful to see, especially when those who have them are in high positions.
Of all qualities, I think that those two are the most important when someone goes into preaching school.
Whenever she comes into power, Esther doesn’t forget her uncle. If he finds a position in the palace, it’s most likely because of her.
In our days, people who obtain what they want tend to forget those who helped them get into their positions. They use others as pawns on a chess board to get what they need and later forget them.
Remember that she was brought to the Harem of the king against her will. At this place she could complain and be bitter towards all of the kings subjects.
However, the Bible tells us this in chapter 2: 15c that she won the favor of everyone.
Know today that we can’t win favor with people when we have a spirit of bitterness. We can only can favor by our goodness, when we do things with a good heart in spite of our fate, and when we show a positive attitude.
So why was Esther able to accept so graciously her circumstances? The only reason that comes from the text is that she had faith. Faith that was taught to her by her uncle and faith that God was working behind the scenes. (Esther 4:15-16)
Her faith was probably the greatest of all her qualities and what helped her most than all her other character traits.
It’s important to teach our daughters what is really important in a world where physical beauty and external appearance is emphasized.
Here are two pieces of advice, first ask for the help of God, your Father. Ask him to cultivate the character of Esther within you.
Ask him to help you discern what’s superficial and to not buy into the world’s message. Ask him to help you believe more deeply spiritual truths. Write spiritual truths down and meditate on them when you have time.
Ask God to make you someone authentic and someone who places importance on the heart rather than on external appearance that is temporary.
Secondly, put your trust in God. He controls everything around us. He directs even the circumstances that you maybe use as an excuse to not be the woman that you should.
When you desire to do what’s right, don’t wait for the perfect circumstance to come to you, seek them out.
Remember that Esther, when in the most extreme competition, succeeded in doing what’s right. She was surrounded by superficiality and manipulators. God gave her the strength because she didn’t excuse herself in a difficult circumstance.
In the end, God modeled her in all her charm, beauty, dignity and elegance of spirit. Esther’s spirit attracted all the attention in the end.
In ending, I would like to take some time to address the men in this room. Brothers, has God given you a woman of Esther’s character? If yes, then does she encourage you in the pursuit of those qualities?
In order to respond honestly, consider these three questions: