Young Adult Sunday School Lesson – August 12, 2012
“I'm tired of looking 'round rooms
Wondering what I've got to do
Or who I'm supposed to be...” Gavin DeGraw
We ended our quarter-long study of Elijah last week and I’m hoping (and working) to get all of the notes condensed and put into a blog-type format to hand out to each of you for future reference. See the thing is, I honestly consider the story of Elijah to be more important today than it was not even five years ago as we are in times/circumstances very similar to the ones he faced.
But you already know that by now.
Our new quarterly study will begin this upcoming Sunday and we will delve deeply into a tale of what I think is very closely related to the subject we have already been studying. If you want a title for these lessons, I can say that something Brother Randall preached from the pulpit last Sunday put an idea into my head, and it is a thought the Holy Spirit keeps pressing my heart about: For such a time as this.
First things first, let’s take a look at the key verse that keeps me awake at night and, when I do sleep—seemingly visits me in my dreams:
“For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14
The book of Esther in the Bible is a very ironic book. It reads much like a ‘Made for TV’ movie and is fairly easy to understand as a result. Let me give you a little background here... it is the story of a patently pretty, devout young-Jewish woman living in exile in a foreign country where justice and morals have twisted to a point very much akin to what we see in our modern world today. According to records in the Hebrew Midrash, Esther is listed among the four most beautiful women in Hebrew history. (The other three were Rachel, Rahab, and Abigail) Although she is the central character in the plot, there is also a powerful king, a watchful cousin, an evil villain, and even a slighted queen thrown in for good measure. So where is the irony, you ask? In the book of Esther, G_d is not mentioned in any of the chapters or verses, even though it is a book that has been included in the very same Holy Bible we study today. Although He is not mentioned, He is there in every verse and at every turn of events; in control and always on time just when He is needed most. That is very comforting to me when I wrap my mind around it. The G_d who is always in control.
Our last quarter’s study considered the powerful works of JEHOVAH as He delivered His message through Elijah. We witnessed ravens feeding Elijah by the brook Cherith, a widow’s son raised from the dead, fire falling on Mount Carmel—followed by an answered prayer for rain. And there were many other miracles too numerous to mention here without a severe dose of digression on my part. But as we are going to see in this book, sometimes, G_d doesn’t answer with fire or rain, or really via any miracles at all. Sometimes He merely chooses to use people to fulfill His will, even if they are unaware that they are doing so at the moment.
Why the Gavin McGraw lyric? The story opens in just such a manner; a beautiful queen named Vashti decides she is not going to conform to what either society or her husband expects her to do. She draws a proverbial line in the sand that ends up costing her everything and leaving her with nothing in return. Sometimes it’s like that when we take a stand for what is truthful and right—sometimes there will not be a miraculous deliverance and things won’t ‘all work out for the best’—at least in our perspective. But that does not negate the importance of choosing the right path in our lives and standing up for what we know in our hearts to be truth. Yet, by taking that stand, we might finally realize just who we really are.
Since we’ll be examining Vashti’s stand to begin this quarter, some quick historical notes on the first chapter are in order before we get started:
1. According to historians, she was the daughter of Belshazzar, thus the great-grand-daughter of Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. When her father had his ‘writing on the wall moment’ and was slain by Darius the Mede per the prophecy of Daniel, she supposedly was captured in the palace and Darius gave her to his son for a wife.
2. Darius was the king who regretfully sent Daniel to the lion’s den and repented of his deeds the next day. Unfortunately his son did not follow in his father’s footsteps, and he is this king in the book of Esther known as Ahasuerus, or secularly known as Xerxes. Yes, he's historically the same Xerxes who fought the Spartans and brave King Leonidas at the Battle of Thermopylae.
3. At the beginning of the story, King Ahasuerus throws a 180-day-plus party which was actually a fund raiser for his expedition to fight the Greeks. In between (probably) chapter 1 and 2 of this book, he would conquer Athens, but eventually be forced to return to Shushan (and our narrative) by the beginning of chapter 2.
I welcome you to come with me on this journey through this wonderful book. We’ll learn how to stand up for what is right at opportune moments, and we’ll be reminded that G_d is always in control; not only in our lives but of the entire world as a whole. The G_d of Esther and Mordecai is the same G_d we worship out at the Chapel on Sunday mornings—and He still wants to remind us of who we are and what we’re supposed to be.
See you on Sunday!