Conduct yourselves honorably among the Gentiles, so that when they slander you as evildoers, they will observe your good works and will glorify God on the day he visits. 1 Peter 2:12 CSB
Hey guys. Welcome back to the PSALMS to God podcast. So you know there are certain movies that have the exact same plot, and the reason they all have the same plot is because there are certain books that all have the same plot—and they're coming from the same source material, basically.
There’s nothing new under the sun. We keep repeating the same stories over and over and over again, with new characters and twists. Like, you know, let's set it on a different planet with aliens or you know what. let's set it in the future. Let's set it in the past. Let's do a gender swap on the characters. Let's make it really rich. Let's make it really poor. Let's make it middle class. Oh, let's tell it with black people. Let’s tell it with white people. Let’s tell it with Asians! Like we're just mixing up random, minute details.
We’re telling the same story over and over and over again, but that's okay because there is something about these stories that captivate us. There's something true in the story that pertains to life that keeps us coming back to that story over and over again, that draws us, that makes us love it. And you know, Hallmark is a master at this. I used to watch the Hallmark Channel all the time when I had cable, and I would watch these movies, particularly around the holidays. They always have these movies—there’s always like some love story and you know there's always a princess involved or prince, and it's basically Cinderella with some new twist to it. And even though I would know exactly what was going to happen in the story and even though, you know, there might be parts of me that are like this is so wrong or you know, this isn't right about it or that's not right about it. I'd still watch it. And I'd still be like “Awww! They're so cute, blah blah blah.” And the hopeless romantic in me would just be like so happy to see these two people fall in love, and I would just keep watching—which is why I've probably seen almost all of the Cinderella movies: the whole Cinderella Story series, you know, the live-action Cinderella, the animated Cinderella (there are multiple animated Cinderella, y'all), then you know, there's of course Cinderella with Brandy (that is probably my favorite version of Cinderella), there's Ever After with...I think it's with Drew Barrymore, I don't know. There’s so many versions of Cinderella, right? And you're like why do we keep telling this story over and over again?
A Biblical Cinderella? (00:03:52)
Well guys, the story originates in the Bible, and this is why I think that this particular story, this particular person’s story, would be a Hallmark movie. It would be a hit, because they're already making movies that are basically this plot anyway! And that person is Esther. The Book of Esther is one of two of the only books in the Bible that is named after a woman, and features prominently a woman. So that should already tell you that you need to stop and watch and pay attention, because there's something really serious in this. Women were not highlighted at such a prominent level in the Bible. It was basically a man's world. So for the authors of the Bible to name the book Esther and to spend all of this time talking about Esther’s story and what happened, it should tell you that there's something else here. There's something very important for us to learn from the situation.
Now, from a base point of view, you know, we'll go into like a slight summary of what happens in Esther for those of you who don't remember the story of Esther. The basic overview is like I said a Cinderella story. Esther was an orphan, she was being raised by her uncle—a man named Mordecai—and she was an Israelite who was in Persia or in Babylon. They were under the captivity, so they were basically the lowest caste in society, and she was lower than low because she was an orphan! And during this time, the king has basically a… I don’t wanna say argument, he has a disagreement? Things don't go right with his wife, the queen. Her name is Vashti or Vashti. I'm not really sure how you pronounce it, but I'm calling it Vashti. And in the midst of this argument or this disagreement, he gets rid of her as his wife (and by get rid of her as his wife, I mean he banishes her, not that he kills her).
And so after he has his first wife banished, he goes on search of a new wife... And in my mind this is like some Bachelor-esque type of thing. He's calling all of the eligible maidens in the kingdom to come—does that sound familiar? That sounds real familiar, y'all—and he has them, and you know he's going through them one by one to figure out which one's going to be his wife. Sounds like a ball where the prince might meet a princess, or you know, The Bachelor. Like I said y'all, this could be on our TV today. So during this, Esther is placed with these women; her uncle gets her in, and miraculously the king chooses Esther and she becomes the Queen of Persia.
Y'all Persia was like the most powerful country, nation, whatever you want to call it, of that time. She went from being an orphan as one of the captives to being the Queen of Persia. Like I said, this is golden Hallmark movie type of stuff. This is, you know, epic. So that is the basic story, that is the fluff, but it doesn't stop there, right? And that's why this can't be a Disney movie because there is more and it starts to get dark. OK. So Esther is becoming a queen but her uncle is basically kind of poking the bear with the king's right-hand man, Haman. Mordecai is like “I'm not bowing to this man. I'm not doing this. I'm not doing that.” He has, I guess from Haman’s point of view, Mordecai has a sense of arrogance, you know. I can’t knock Mordecai for not wanting to bow to this man. I probably wouldn't have wanted to bow to him either. Nonetheless, Mordecai knew that this was going to make him mad and he did it anyway.
So after some interactions, some altercations between these two, Haman decides that he wants all of the Jews killed—common theme in the Bible—so he goes to the king and gets a decree made to kill all of the Israelites, which is a problem, obviously. So Mordecai enlists the help of Esther to change the king's mind, or rather to get a new decree put out that would prevent all of the Israelites from being murdered. And of course Esther is very nervous about this because even though she has become the queen, she is not sovereign, OK. She can't just go approach the king whenever she wants to. She can't just do whatever she wants to do. She has to ask to be, to approach him. She has to get permission and then she has to ask for this favor and hope that he will grant her favor.
There is so much underneath the surface of this story. Obviously we know that it ends with a happy note. Esther is successful in her mission; she's able to get the Israelites spared, everything turns out well, and they all lived happily ever after. But there's so much symbolism in it like it made me feel like I was reading a book for AP Lit or something, and again that's what we love about this story, about the movies that are made in this vein, in the same plot line. There's so much that we can dig into and that's what keeps us coming back to it, and so I wanted to go into some of these other points about Esther and how they then relate to us today.
The Allegory (00:10:06)
So first of all, yeah I just went over the overview what happens in Esther, but Esther is actually an allegory. We can separate out everything into symbolism, and turn Esther into the gospel. So in the Bible if you follow along throughout each book, each chapter, the Bible uses symbolism and it has a reoccurring symbols. One of those symbols is the fact that a woman symbolizes the church. There are countless versus—I'll link some in the transcript for those who a curious—but there are countless examples where God references the church as a woman. The most common being the Bride of Christ, right. So if we look at the story of Esther and we think of women as churches, you have Vashti, who was the first queen, as one church, and Esther, who is the new queen, as another church. And of course because the church is the Bride of Christ, then we can see the king as God or as Christ.
We’ll go into go what each of these symbols mean, I just want to kind of pull out the symbols before I start tying them together. Then if you also look, there is a huge number of sevens if you go into Esther, particularly at the very beginning, in Esther 1 and Esther 2, and you start looking at the number seven... Y'all know seven shows up everywhere OK. Especially if you get into Revelation. There are seven plagues. There’s seven trumpets. There’s seven churches. There’s seven candlesticks. It’s sevens, lots of sevens. Well, when you go into the beginning of Esther, the queen has seven people come to her to request her presence. There are seven princes at the party that the king is hosting. The king takes Esther as his wife in his seventh year as reigning as the king, and Esther is given seven maids to look after her once she becomes queen, OK. That's a lot of sevens y'all. There's clearly significance to the sevens.
So when I was researching this, I was watching sermons and I was reading articles and people were trying to link up what these sevens meant in terms of the grand scheme of things. I'm not really sure, you know, all of the things I'll link some of them in a transcript. I don't want to get into everything because I don't... I don't have a full understanding and a full grip on those things to really come...to do justice to it is what I mean.
But one of the things that I thought was really interesting is the fact that Esther is made the queen in the seventh year of the king’s reign. When you think about time and the number seven remember God created the world in seven days. Six days He created things, and on the seventh day He rested, and then He hallowed that seventh day as the Sabbath. And if you follow prophecy and how the calendar worked out and all of these things, you know, within the Old Testament... I mean we know about the seventh day Sabbath, most people know that, but God also talked about the seven-year Sabbath, there was also like the Jubilee—the Year of Jubilee, which was seven seven-year Sabbaths. So like the 49th year marked the Jubilee year. And so there were all of these these types of seven, and if you study in Revelation and prophecy and they talk about the Sabbath Millennium, because they're supposed to be a millennium after Christ comes back where there's just peace before things start going, before the punishments really start getting dictated. And so people call it the seventh Millennium or the Sabbath Millennium.
And so I think it's interesting because women always represent the church in the Bible or a woman and we have two women. We have Vashti and Esther. Vashti represents the old church; Esther represents the new church. The old church was disobedient they had trouble following God. They had trouble keeping faith, they were not loyal, so when God called to them and said come to me, they refused to come. This is Israel, OK. Israel was called to be the chosen people and they were given favor from the King, but they chose to do their own thing. They chose to chase after pagan gods and goddesses, and to move in their own time and do their own thing. Kind of how Vashti did, but God didn’t kill them, He just sent them away, just like the king just just sent Vashti away. And then in the seventh year, in the Millennium when Jesus comes back to take His bride back, He will be taking the real Church, the queen, the new church, which would be Esther. Esther is the loyal queen, who accepted the king’s call who came when he asked of her, and that is how the final church is. It's not just the Israelites, it's made up of all the people who respond to the call of God, all of the people who have chosen to be loyal to God and have chosen to follow his commands.
Esther’s Faith (00:16:24)
And I think, you know, obviously that is a wonderful and beautiful underlying message that we can see, but then there is more. There is always more guys. So when we think about Esther becoming the queen, like I said there's a whole notion of it being the church and the new church and all of this, but we can also look at it in reference to us today. Now, I'm doubtful that I'm going to randomly meet somebody and suddenly become the queen of some crazy powerful nation. To be honest, I don't want that to happen; that's too much responsibility. But speaking of responsibility, each and every one of us is called to do something. We are called to spread the gospel. We are called to do whatever service it is that God has for us. For you it might be helping, you might be ministering to the homeless or you might be ministering to kids in your class. You may be a teacher and ministering to your class is what you were put here for. Maybe you are an electrician and maybe it's just ministering to people that you are fixing the electricity in their house. It could be absolutely anything, but God has put you in a certain place for a specific reason, and when we get in that place it is our duty to fulfill that purpose and to do whatever it is that God has called us to do.
In Esther's case, she was put in the position of queen because she had access to the king. She is the only person who could approach the king and save her people. She was the only person, and that was a terrifying thing, because she could have been thrown out just like Vashti was. He could have never called her to him. He could have refused to talk to her. He could have gotten mad when she brought it up and had her killed, because he was the king, and she was just an orphan who lucked out and got chosen as the queen. But the fact is she stepped out on faith. Before she did this she prayed, she fasted, and then she went and did what she had to do. She used her position of influence, her position of power to further the plan of God and to save her people. That is what God has called us to do. No matter how big or how small your influence may be, there is something that you can do with your influence to spread the gospel, to protect those who are under the umbrella of the gospel. And sometimes it's scary. Sometimes it's going to take a leap of faith. You might have to fast before you go and ask for this thing or that thing, but at the end what God has ordained will always come to pass, and so if you are doing what God is asked you to do, you will be successful.
I think that is something to take with you in your everyday journey. Everyday, all day, remembering that Esther was able to do this and she was successful, and that we have that same ability. That you know again blurring this literal historical story and the symbol, the symbolism, the symbology of it is us as the Church approaching God the king and asking for favor. We are fortunate that He is calling us to Him, He will say come approach me, tell me what you need, what can I do for you. And we have that ability to go intercede for other people, for ourselves, for the nation, for our leaders, and that is our responsibility, because we are Esther. And again, in a literal sense we have that situation, we have that responsibility in our jobs, in our you know, whatever platform you have. Maybe you’re a social media guru; maybe you have a podcast; maybe you have a YouTube channel; maybe you're a pastor; maybe you’re a teacher—whatever you're leading some group of people and you have influence. And you're supposed to be using it for the good of the Lord.
Wrap Up (00:20:58)
So like I said, I feel like there is so much symbolism in The Book of Esther. I only scraped the surface. I wrote a whole post about this a while back, I will link that in the transcript for people who want to go even further into how all of this stuff plays out, but I really think that there's so many layers to the story. And like I said, at the heart is a story that we love to hear over and over and over again, because all of these aspects that I've been talking about talk of direct truths from God. They speak to our purpose and what we're supposed to do and how God's world operates in general. And I think that's why we love it, at least that's why I love it and I never get tired of the story, which is why this book has become one of my favorite books in the Bible.
So I think you guys should read it. I think you guys should apply it to your day-to-day life. And I hope that you also think it's pretty awesome. And I hope that I'm not the only person that would totally watch this as a movie provided Hollywood doesn't screw it up, which we know they would. Let me not even... Yeah, it was nice while it lasted... Anyway check out the transcript at www.psalmstogod.com/hallmark. Don't forget to subscribe and like, and I'll see you next time
References and Footnotes
- Ecclesiastes 1:9
- Ok, so the party in the beginning, banishing the queen, and the fact that the king probably slept with all the women he was given as options, probably disqualified it from Disney well before this chain of events.
- 2 Corinthians 11:2; Galatians 4:21-31; Jeremiah 6:2
- Ree Hughes. "The Allegory of Esther”. PSALMS to God. April 29, 2017
- There’s a decent retelling of Esther on YouTube by Vision Video