Friday, September 05, 2008

Esther

This morning (written last week), I took the Veggie Tales version of Esther out of our DVD player and hid it away until further notice. Why?

The other day the girls and I were watching this together and I was struck again by how Esther's character is portrayed. She comes across as wishing she were anywhere other than where she is - displaying that she is discontent with being in God's will. She is whiny and I comment on that every time we have watched this.

I don't know about you - but I've always admired Esther for her high character and what I saw on this children's video is not at all what I want my children to believe about Esther.

All of this prompted me to return to the Bible and read her account. Here are some thoughts:

* Those in the public eye do have a great influence, whether for good or for bad. Queen Vashti was deposed from her position because of her disrespect for her husband. In my own sphere of influence, how do I handle this responsibility?

* Esther wasn't extravagant, she wasn't flamboyant or demanding. She was simply herself and beautifully at rest in this. Esther had a purity and uprightness of heart that shone from the inside making her all the more beautiful on the outside. I want to be like this - having an inner beauty that exudes to the outside.

* I knew that Esther and Mordecai were cousins, but I wondered if they were possibly more like peers than Father/Daughter which is what I've pictured for many years, although if he was carried into exile by King Nebuchadnezzar as 2:6 notes - perhaps he was quite a bit older.

* Haman is such a picture of pride whereas Esther and Mordecai both represent and display humility. When Haman presents his plan to the King, he doesn't really present the whole truth. But, the part he does share shines the light favorably on his plan. Do I only present part of the truth to make something look favorably in the sight of others? Manipulating a situation like this can bring great harm to myself or others - as evidenced by Haman!

* Let it be a lesson to me - not to take everything I hear at face value, I may not have all the facts. Do not make hasty decisions but make the time to seek God and hear from Him on the matter.

* I can't help but imagine what it would feel like to receive the news that you and your people were going to be killed on a certain day in the future. Haman ordered all of the people to, "destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews - young and old, women and little children - on a single day, ... and to plunder their goods." I said to David this morning - Haman was like the first Hitler except that his evil was never carried out.

How I would feel: scared out of my mind, weighed down with this burden, trying to find a way out perhaps, prayerful and seeking God earnestly. It says in Esther 3:15 that "the city of Susa was bewildered."

* I am reminded of the challenge and benefits of fasting. Esther asked that many Jews fast together for three days before she went to the King about this matter. When I have fasted, it is important to listen to God and then to do His will. Is there a time I've remained silent when I should've spoken up? God is in control of those in authority and uses them to His glory.

* Why did Esther have banquets for the King and Haman instead of just presenting her request, I wonder? Was it to show her pure motives? A servant's heart? To wait for God's timing?

* I see what an influence wives can have: Queen Vashti with her disrespect, Haman's wife who suggested he build a gallows which he was eventually hung on, Queen Esther's respectful and pure heart which was a glory to her husband, a blessing to her people and a beautiful offering to her God bringing Him glory as well.

* Haman described a wonderful reward for the man the King wanted to honor thinking it was himself. Out of all the things he could've described, he wanted public attention, glory and feeding of his pride and self-centeredness. It must've been very humiliating for Haman to carry out these praises for Mordecai at the King's command.

* I find it interesting that the King tells Haman to carry out all the good things he mentioned for Mordecai the Jew. The King knew he was Jewish; but Haman had only said, "a certain group of poeple" when misleading the king.

* Comparative ideas found in Luke 14. Thoughts on the Lowest Place.

* Esther models humility in being a servant and having pure motives. She is willing to speak up when the time is right. Being humble doesn't mean being silent, but being open to the leading of the Lord.

* I love that Mordecai was the one put in authority after Haman's evil was revealed. He was allowed to write the repeal to the orders Haman had put into effect - God is so good! He thinks of every detail - to make His honor and glory greater and to further His Name! He doesn't just say - leave them be and remove their dignity - he empowers and emboldens them with strength and courage to defend themselves.

* In Chapter 9, they are observing days of feasting and joy and "giving presents of food to one another and gifts to the poor." It seems easy to give the gift of food - but do I so eagerly give to the poor? Also, do I reflect the meaning of the celebration or just get caught up in the celebrating and preparations?

* Doing the right thing before God is more important than any agenda we create. He is the One worthy of the glory (not me).

What do you admire about Esther's example and character? How can we be like her in our lives today? What do you learn from this beautiful account - I have only scratched the surface with these observations. I'd love to hear your thoughts -

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey Monica,
Great Post, thank you so much!!!! I love the book of Esther. Early on in my walk i went to a Precept Women's Conf.. It blew me away how Kay taught this book and all it wonderful history and depth. That was a great weekend!!! I love that Esther was willing to risk her life for her people. You did not go to the king with out being asked first. She did and God (in His Mercy) allowed her husband (King) to show favor on her. In her humility and Mordecai too, they were brave, and put their trust in God. Another thing I love about this book is how faith is played out and we see God's hand weaving these things together. One example is; it just so happen that he couldn't sleep one night and had the records brought in and read to him. Then he relizes that nothing had been done to honor or thank Mordecai for saving the King. This comes in the nick of time (GOD"S PERFECT timing) to the kings attention!!! I so enjoyed this study and love seeing the Lord work in such ways!!! He is good!! Thanks again for letting me again experience my encouragement from the book of Esther!!! tammyp--so much more here.....

The Chambers Family said...

Hi Monica,

I love the story of Esther as well. It has always been an encouraging book to me. God had put Esther there "for such a time as this." Sometimes we don't understand why God has put us somewhere, or asked us to do something that is really hard. But I believe that the Bible teaches, as we also see in Esther, that God has a purpose and plan for each individual life. And sometimes He places us in unpleasant circumstances so we can be changed more into His image and thus God getting more glory. It's a humbling thought that God could use us, isn't it?

Thanks for this reminder on Esther, it was a blessing. Have a blessed day!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing on Esther - I do so appreciate that God has preserved His Word that we may have so many fine examples of what He expects from us...
On a side note, if you are looking for a better video version for your children, you may wish to check out The Animated Bible Series by NEST entertainment (www.nestfamily.com). I am not a dealer or distributor trying to make a sales pitch, just a mom who enjoyed sharing these animated stories with her children without all the veggietale silliness and nonsense. In this version, Esther is represented as a truly virtuous woman accepting God's will without whining... Of course, as with all dramatized Bible stories, be sure to keep your Bible nearby to show the children directly from God's Word what He has to say about the account. These are some of the best Bible video stories I have found. Thank you, again, for sharing - your blog is one of the best blogs I have found (-:

Caroline said...

If you & your husband would like to have movie night together after you tuck the kiddies in bed, I suggest the beautiful "One Night With the King", based on the book by Tommy Tenney. It is so romantic, visually stunning, and an excellent testament of Esther's faith.

Catherine said...

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on this passage in such detail. I am so struck by Esther's deep faith in God that drove her to very risky action, particularly given the character of the king, the mores of the day and her place in it all as a woman. I find that challenging, especially as I think about how quick I am to fail even in low-risk things! Who are some modern-day examples? Corrie Ten-Boom, perhaps?

Michelle said...

This was beautiful to read, as I am just beginning to study this book again. Thank you so much for your thoughts on this book of the Bible!

Dawn said...

In a hurry this morning, but wanted to say that we got rid of all our Veggie Tales movies for similar reasons.
We study the Bible. I don't want my kids thinking of Bible stories as silliness and laughs. If we are going to raise sober sons and daughters, we need to teach them to be in awe of God's Word.
And I second the recommendation for Nest Entertainment videos. These are wonderful.
Dawn

NanaNor's said...

Blessings Monica, I so agree with your decision about the video-I taught at a christian preschool that showed it and couldn't believe the attitudes in many vege tales movies. They can serve a purpose but we need to be wise.
Both my grown daughters&hubbies decided that these videos were not what they wanted in their homes so they got rid of them and instead choose to teach the Word to their children. In todays age, we need to be discerning about what we allow children exposure to.
Blessings,
Noreen

A Frugal Friend said...

As a Mom of a 13 month old I am not yet watching DVD's with my daughter......but this was all a great warning to me to watch amd screen any movies we do buy for her, even if they contain christian principals. Thank you all for the advice on the Veggie Tales and the NEST series.

This was an amazing post on Esther. I look forward to your posts everyday!

Angela said...

I love the story of Esther...thank you so much for this. It is very inspiring!

Vintage Mommy said...

You're so right, Monica. Your children are very blessed to have a mama with good discernment.

Anonymous said...

Monica,

Though I do appreciate your comments on the video of Esther, and on the book of Esther in the Bible, I think it is best to see the realistic view.. even in the video and then take the time to teach that which is good. Not just hide it away... how does that teach that out childern have a choice and can decide to do right in spite of the bad going on around them?

I love your Blog..

Elizabeth said...

I felt the same way about the Veggie Tales Esther. She does come off as whining. "Nobody even asked me if I want to be queen."

Luckily my kids never picked up on that. We told them what really happened in the story.

Linda said...

"destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews"

Isn't that what Ahmadinejad and his peers are constantly screaming nowadays too? ;)

I mean.. wow.. has there EVER been a time of rest for the Jews?

greetings from holland!

Paula said...

I LOVE your insights into Esther!!! We stopped watching Veggie Tales a long time ago. I felt convicted that the girls were learning fictitious accounts of Biblical stories. I know that not everyone will have that conviction. It was just sad when we would talk about the Bible story and they would say "that's not how it happened" and retell a Veggie Tale version. :( We also got rid of all our "Bible" books that were not accurate. Sometimes children's books will dumb down the story. We were SO BLESSED to find some books from the 1950's which are VERY accurate (so much so it talks about hell and death). They are children's books, and the girls really enjoy reading them. I feel that they are getting a better grounding in God's word this way.

Again, these are all convictions my husband and I have had. And we know not everyone will have the same convictions. But it is scary sometimes how far away something is from Scripture, and we take it at face value. I thought the movie The Ten Commandments (you know that OLD movie) was biblical for MANY years until I started attending a church that taught verse by verse. We went through the whole book of Exodus and I was shocked the next time I watched the movie at all the errors.

Anyways, thanks for letting me ramble. :)

Jenny's Vegcafe said...

I agree with your take on Esther in the Veggie Tales movie. While I normally really like the message of Veggie Tales- Esther just seems really whiny.

Jenn @ Frugal Upstate said...

It's always interesting to see all the different thoughts people can have on the same subject.

I think yes, indeed, Ester is whiny at the begining of the video. But the way I perceive it is that as she accepts Gods will and her place in it, she stops being whiny and is able to really effect things.

I know folks feel differently about this, but I don't want the kiddos to feel that everyone in the bible was soooo perfect that they can't measure up to them. I want them to see that everyone has doubts, fears, even whiny-ness, but in the end that if you do God's will that it turns out the right way.

Does that make sense?