In the verses previous to those of our present text, the extravagance and indulgence of Ahasuerus is manifested. His excessive feasting speaks much about his true character. Just as we might find glimpses of our own true character if we examine the areas of excess and indulgence in our life. In the verses now before us, we shall see the consummation of the grand feasts.
The previous article was an introduction to the Book of Esther. This book is remarkable in teaching the providence of God. We noted there are no extraordinary miracles or supernatural events. Rather, this book sets forth the glory of God in the mundane. As we study this book, we want to be careful to pay attention to the details and seeming incidentals. In this article, we wish to begin looking at the verses of the first chapter.
The book of Esther is named for its primary character. Esther was an orphan, Jewish girl raised by her uncle Mordecai who rose to fame and prominence through some rather unusual means. She is really the main focus of the book. The Hebrew name of Esther is Hadassah which means myrtle. The name “Esther” is a derivation of the Persian word for star. It is commonly referred to as the volume of Esther by the Jews.
“Out of the south cometh the whirlwind . . .
He causeth it to come, whether for correction,
or for his land, or for mercy”
~ Job 37:9, 13
Once again, America and the world have been given an awesome reminder of the power of God’s creation. This power is so great that many men without faith stop to ponder its magnitude and come to the inevitable conclusion that the creation is mightier than they are. Incredibly though, they fail to see God who created such power and come then to the sound grasp of the infinite power of the Almighty who created and directs all things. “By the breath of God frost is given: and the breadth of the waters is straitened. Also by watering he wearieth the thick cloud: he scattereth his bright cloud: And it is turned round about by his counsels: that they may do whatsoever he commandeth them upon the face of the world in the earth” (Job 37:10-12).
Some have erroneously supposed that God began the processes of evolution and then held Himself aloof while they ran their own course. They do not see God conducting the affairs of the earth. But, they are amiss for, “He sendeth forth his commandment upon earth: his word runneth very swiftly. He giveth snow like wool: he scattereth the hoarfrost like ashes. He casteth forth his ice like morsels: who can stand before his cold? He sendeth out his word, and melteth them: he causeth his wind to blow, and the waters flow” (Psalm 147:15-18). They can easily see a major storm as nature run amok. However, not only is the storm not beyond His control, but it actually comes from God and accomplishes His purpose. “The LORD hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet” (Nahum 1:3).
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, numerous theological lessons beg to be drawn out of the rubble and that which was, and is, and is to come. Undoubtedly, many will rise to that challenge and bless us with observations likely dominated by the morbid and morose. However, let us not take up the form of the strictly theological, but rather consider some biblical worldview and Christian commentary on current events—a sort of cultural exegesis.
“When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice:
but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.”
~ Proverbs 29:2
As Christian citizens, we sometimes wonder what the extent of our involvement with the civil government of our country should be. Usually, election time sparks a renewed interest in this issue. In this article I would like to consider especially one aspect of civil involvement—voting. Voting is one means by which we may be involved and help to elect leaders that will cause “the people” to “rejoice.”
Our text makes it obvious that we have a certain interest in the government of our land. The people can be made to “rejoice” or “mourn” by those in authority. Our government can affect us positively or negatively. In fact, our leaders have a profound power to impact our lives morally, socially, and economically. They can affect us as citizens, as churches, and as families. The government can encroach on our freedoms through expansive government, complex regulations, and burdensome taxes, or we may enjoy more liberty with a small, limited government that stays within its proper jurisdiction.
In America, we have a representative republic. The magistrates are elected to office by the citizenry of this country. This means that every adult citizen has the privilege of voting in elections. In light of our text, it would be foolish not to vote because of apathy or irresponsibility.
Perhaps, some do not make use of this privilege because voting can seem to be such an overwhelming endeavor. There are so many candidates and offices and it is hard to find reliable information. We can simplify things somewhat when we consider that each voter elects roughly about sixteen key candidates to public office on the national, state, and local levels combined. The overall number may vary given a person’s exact location, e.g. if a person lives outside of an incorporated city, he will not vote for a mayor, city councilman, etc.
We can elect five candidates on the national level—a president, a vice president, two senators, and a congressman. We can elect about five candidates on the state level—a governor, a lieutenant governor, an attorney general, a senator, and one or more representatives. Depending on the place of residence, we may elect about six candidates on the local level—a mayor, a city councilman, a city attorney, the school board, a county supervisor, and a sheriff.
These are the key public office holders that we may vote for. We elect them and pay their salaries with our taxes. They are supposed to be servants of the public and representative of their constituency. They should especially represent us morally.
When we consider the number of offices that we are responsible for, it is not such a large task to be informed of this small number of people. This brings us to the question of how we are to determine a candidate’s suitability for office. Is there some reliable guide by which we can make determinations of how fit a candidate is for the office he seeks? Yes, there is such a guide; the Bible is the best Christian voter’s guide.
Let us now look into our guide and see if we can find help for the voting dilemma. Let us consider two main questions and as we proceed, I will also try to address some common questions and difficulties we meet with as Christians trying to vote with a clear conscience.
“And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this? And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.” ~ Matthew 21:10-11
Many titles were given to Christ in the scriptures, but the title in our text was not expected to be among them —“The prophet of Nazareth.” Christ showed up at a Jewish feast once and there was a stir among the people. Some said that he was the Christ and others doubted saying, “Shall Christ come out of Galilee?” The Pharisees gave their judgment to Nicodemas. They said, “Search, and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet.” Even Nathanael wondered at the testimony of Phillip when he claimed that they had found Messiah and he spoke of Jesus of Nazareth. Nathanael questioned, “Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?”
The very title “The prophet of Nazareth” seems to strike a dissonant chord. The words do not seem to go together. Pomp and grandeur did not surround Jesus. Nor was he celebrated by the day’s dignities. Certainly, the life of the Lord here on earth was humble. He came from a place of no reputation. He came from a family of no reputation. Of a truth, Christ humbled himself and made himself of “no reputation.” This title identifies Christ to us in His humanity and humility. Nazareth was not highly esteemed among the people. Nevertheless, God raised up the greatest prophet from the humble shores of Galilee.
As we look back through the Old Testament, we realize that most of the prophets came from places of no real distinction. Consider Elijah the Tishbite. He just appeared on the scene in the book of Kings. He showed up and stood before the king. He was from the country of Gilead, a stony, rocky country village. The people there were laboring, working people. He certainly did not come from the highest classes and ranks of society. This holds for other prophets as well.
I wish to consider Christ as the Prophet of Nazareth. I want to bring to mind some of the ways in which he did the work of a prophet. I shall endeavor firstly to show Christ as a teacher. Secondly, I shall view him as a foreteller. Lastly, I will consider him as a miracle worker.
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