sermon: Esther (Part Two)
Mordecai, Esther, Ahasuerus
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Given 17-Dec-16; Sermon #1355; 73 minutes
Richard Ritenbaugh, marveling about biblical scholars' tying themselves into knots as they consider the proper genre for the book of the Esther— parable, comedy (in the classical sense), chronicle, morality play or fictional drama —reminds us that God wants us to study the Bible in depth, including the symbolic connections, but especially the plot and characterization, integral parts of the book of Esther. Mordecai, identified as a Benjamite (the tribe with a checkered past), lives and behaves as a man of God should, both an ideal Jew and a typical Jew, exiled as an aristocrat, an ethnic Jew related to King Saul, with special abilities from God, adopting his orphaned cousin Hadassah as his own daughter. Mordecai's sterling character does not change, but remains the standard against which all the other characters are judged, serving as a type of God, an invisible guiding force, concealing and protecting Hadassah from danger. Haman the Agagite is an evil, power-hungry schemer, a Satan-like being, the nemesis of the Jews, including Mordecai and Esther and King Ahasuerus. Esther is a Jewess living in a pagan culture, with a name referring to the goddess of love. Her Hebrew name represents a white flower with a perfume more exquisite than the rose. Just as Mordecai conceals Esther, God conceals His people in secret places under the shadow of His wings, in the sanctuary—the fellowship of the Church. Like Esther, we are pawns at the beginning of our conversion, but we must change dramatically to love God with all our hearts, actively doing His commandments, growing spiritually in responsibility as did Esther, who grew from her initial passive role to taking one of leadership, and that in sharp contrast to King Xerxes, an alcoholic whose advisers easily manipulate.
Ahasuerus - Xerxes Ahasuerus easily manipulated by his advisors and prone to alcoholism Apple of Your eye Benjamin's checkered reputation Book of Persian chronicles Character Characterization Concealment Deuteronomy 31:16 Esther 2:5-7, 19-23; 3: 1-10 ; 4: ; 7: 5 10:1-3 Ezekiel 16 I Peter 2:13-17 God hides and conceals His people God hidden Himself Hadassah HAMAN THE AGAGITE Hide me in the shadow of your wings Isaiah 49:1-2;55:12-13 Ishtar Judges 19-20 Mordecai the Jew (typical or ideal) Mordecai - roots in Hebrew strong or bitter oppression Marduk -patron deity of Babylon-equivalent to Xeus Mordecai as a Benjamite Myrtle plant-peace, gladness, joy Nehemiah 8:15-17 Plot to kill the king Plot Psalm 17; 25; 31:20; 83:3; 91 Quasi-historical roots Reading novels for pleasure Reading novels to discover literary techniques Seek peace Shimei Shushan Strong or bitter oppression Susa Xerxes
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