January 26, 2020
God's Royalty
Esther 2:1-18 by Mike Gerhardt
What does it mean to be beautiful? How would you make yourself more beautiful to God? Trick question. Listen or read to find out.
Series: Esther

Pastor Mike Gerhardt, 01-22-20, Esther Series #2, God’s Royalty, READ Esther 2:1-18, Introduction: What makes someone beautiful? The Beauty contest of Persia is about to begin. The girls for this beauty contest came from all over the known world at that time. Beauty was as important then as it is now. How many women have ever left the house and forgot to put on makeup? You know foundation first, then pancake, then rouge, then eyeliner, eye shadow, mascara, eyebrow pencil, lipstick and lip gloss. That is all after you have colored or tinted your hair, gotten a perm which is always temporary, curled or picked your hair, used mousse or sprayed it in place, put on perfume and deodorant and fastened jewelry to every place possible. How many of you men ever left the house and forgot to put on your make up? I don’t think that’s fair. There may be a make-up for men like Johnny Depp eyeliner, Arnold Schwarzenegger pancake dark tan, and Colin Farrell instant spray-on 5 o’clock shadow. We men may want to try some of this stuff. Is God concerned with beauty? I think so but not in the same way we are obsessed with it. This story hinges on the phrase: For such a time as this. The writer highlights the idea that Esther or as she is known by her Hebrew name Hadassah, was in Persia by God’s providence and chosen by God for a reason: To win a beauty contest?  Not just that, but to save her people from annihilation. While the author is unknown, it may have been written around 460 B.C. It has been read during the feast of Purim through the centuries and is the historical document for that feast of dedication. It is a favorite among Jews.

The aftermath of Xerxes edict: Between chapters 1 and 2, at least four years pass, during which Xerxes went on a disastrous campaign to completely conquer Greece (481–479). He came home a bitter man. But when he came home, he remembered that Vashti had been dethroned. Of course, he had others available in his harem, but he missed his beauty queen. The counselors advised him to seek another. Maybe they thought if Vashti would return to the throne, she might punish the counselors. The great search for the ideal queen began, and this is where Esther comes in.

The grace of Mordecai: Esther and Mordecai were cousins; Mordecai had raised her like his own daughter. Mordecai was known at the palace and probably held some minor office, for he is seated at the gate. Esther was selected to enter the contest, but Mordecai advised her not to make known the fact that she was a Jew.

Esther the Beauty Queen: Hassadah means myrtle as in myrtle trees that shed a beautiful fragrance, but Esther means star as a shining point of light in the dark sky. Talk about a spa treatment!! After a year of special preparation (v. 12), even I would look good! Esther was then presented to the king and chosen! Verse 15 she required nothing that is, she did not decorate herself with gaudy jewels as did the other women. I believe she depended on her inner beauty and character. 1 Peter 3:3–5a: Your beauty should not come from outward adornments, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. (this does not prohibit such gold jewelry or fine clothes) Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. She was made queen in the year 479 and a great feast was held in her honor. Chuck Swindoll observed at least six qualities Esther exhibited: Grace-filled charm and elegance (2:9), the verse literally says she lifted up grace before his face. Esther exhibited unusual restraint and control (2:10). She kept an important secret a secret. God has given women an air of mystery which men do not have. We men are a predictable bunch. I hear men say often I can’t figure her out. I have been married for almost 40 years and let me tell you about jelly on toast. My son brought some jams and exotic jellies like mango and papaya from France back with him and I was so excited. I made some toast for Janet with her breakfast like I do and asked her what jelly she would like. She asked me: have you ever seen me put jelly on my toast? Now mind you I have offered it hundreds of times before. But I couldn’t answer. She explained that she has never liked jelly on her toast. 39 years and I am still learning. Have you ever heard a woman suggest to another woman, what you need is a good cry? In all of my life, I have never experienced a good cry. Women are a mystery, and some can keep secrets for decades. And some women and men cannot keep a secret. Esther also exhibited a continually teachable spirit (2:10, 20). She was always the student no matter her position. Esther exhibited an unselfish modesty and authenticity (2:12-15). She stayed focused and was not caught up in the superficial seduction of the pampering and the perfume. Esther exhibited a kind winsomeness, regardless of her surroundings (2:15-17). She found favor with others. Esther exhibited humble respect for authority (2:18,20). She listened to Mordecai’s advice even after becoming queen. Do you see the inner beauty of Esther? What makes you beautiful? Jesus told us to love others as we love ourselves. Two songs come to mind seem to emphasize that truth. Lady Gaga’s song, Born This Way, quotes her mother telling her: “There’s nothin’ wrong with lovin’ who you are” she said, “Cause He made you perfect, babe.” “So hold your head up, girl and you’ll go far, listen to me when I say: I’m beautiful in my way, ‘cause God makes no mistakes, I’m on the right track, baby I was born this way. Don’t hide yourself in regret, Just love yourself and you’re set, I’m on the right track, baby I was born this way. The rest of the song goes off track justifying ungodly lifestyles. A song by Christina Aguilera entitled Beautiful begins: Every day is so wonderful, Then suddenly, It's hard to breathe, Now and then, I get insecure, From all the pain, I'm so ashamed, I am beautiful no matter what they say, Words can't bring me down, I am beautiful in every single way, Yes, words can't bring me down, So don't you bring me down today. Both seem to say that we need to talk ourselves into feeling beautiful. Do you feel beautiful today? Being beautiful should come from a heart filled with God’s love. The Bible tells us that God does not look at the outside but looks at the heart. He knows we are broken and that we have sinned, but he still loves us. He sent Jesus to die for us even when we were still in our sin. Maybe you are not feeling very beautiful today. Maybe you need the love of Jesus to change everything about you and make you beautiful today. Listen to this song by JJ Heller as we close: He cries in the corner where nobody sees
He’s the kid with the story no one would believe
He prays every night, Dear God won't you please
Could you send someone here who will love me?
Who will love me for me
Not for what I have done or what I will become
Who will love me for me
Cause nobody has shown me what love
What love really means
Her office is shrinking a little each day
She’s the woman whose husband has run away
She’ll go to the gym after working today
Maybe if she was thinner
Then he would’ve stayed
And she says
Who will love me for me?
Not for what I have done or what I will become
Who will love me for me?
Cause nobody has shown me what love, What love really means
He’s waiting to die as he sits all alone
He’s a man in a cell who regrets what he’s done
He utters a cry from the depths of his soul
Oh Lord, forgive me, I want to go home
Then he heard a voice Somewhere deep inside
And it said I know you’ve murdered and I know you’ve lied
I have watched you suffer all of your life
And now that you’re listening, I’ll tell you that I...
I will love you for you
Not for what you have done or what you will become
I will love you for you
I will give you the love
The love that you never knew