1 – “Then the king’s young men who attended him said, “Let beautiful young virgins be sought out for the king. And let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom to gather all the beautiful young virgins to the harem in Susa the capital, under custody of Hegai, the king’s eunuch, who is in charge of the women. Let their cosmetics be given them. And let the young woman who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti.” This pleased the king, and he did so.” (Esther 2:2-4, ESV)
RAF: The Church is that virgin bride that pleases the King most. She is the one He has set His love upon. She is redeemed, blood bought, blood washed, robed in imputed righteousness, mercied and the preeminent display of His grace – His personal favor. She is His. Father, let me live in the reality of how deep your love is, how personal it is, how majestic it is, how faithful it is, how perfect it is, how divine it is, how MINE – it is. And grant that I may love you commensurately – as much as a fallen but redeemed sinner can by virtue of your Spirit.
2 – “In those days, as Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate, Bigthan and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs, who guarded the threshold, became angry and sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus.” (Esther 2:21, ESV)
RAF: Some say sitting at the king’s gate probably signifies some sort judicial activity. Perhaps he was elevated since his “daughter” (niece Esther) had been taken into the king’s harem.
3 – ““All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that if any man or woman goes to the king inside the inner court without being called, there is but one law—to be put to death, except the one to whom the king holds out the golden scepter so that he may live. But as for me, I have not been called to come in to the king these thirty days.” And they told Mordecai what Esther had said. Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai, “Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.” Mordecai then went away and did everything as Esther had ordered him.” (Esther 4:11-17, ESV)
RAF: Though Christ has not yet sent for us to be with Him – has not yet come to gather us up, let us not be like Esther and doubt the divine favor in any way. For we live this side of the Cross. Our business is to plead for mercy. His scepter is always extended to those who come in Christ’s name. We need never fear an audience, though in the natural, “no man can see God and live.” Christ has made a way for us to boldly enter before the throne of grace, to receive mercy and grace in the time of need. Christian, the veil to the Holy of Holies has been torn in two. The way in is through the veil of Christ’s body, torn for us, that we might have unfettered access to the Father. We need not doubt or fear that we might suffer some ill fate. The invitation is always extended to us. Let us pray. Heavenly Father, forgive us for our imagining s that make you somehow unapproachable. To those who have put on Christ, we are bidden into your presence day and night. Free to come to you wherever and whenever. Forgive our low thoughts of you that doubt the sweet and full acceptance of your love. Teach our hearts how to plead for that which pleases you – mercy and grace.
4 – “ On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the king’s palace, in front of the king’s quarters, while the king was sitting on his royal throne inside the throne room opposite the entrance to the palace.” (Esther 5:1, ESV)
RAF: Let us always enter the King’s presence dressed appropriately – in the righteousness of Christ our Savior.
5 – “And Haman told his wife Zeresh and all his friends everything that had happened to him. Then his wise men and his wife Zeresh said to him, “If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of the Jewish people, you will not overcome him but will surely fall before him.”” (Esther 6:13, ESV)
RAF: Haman was an “Agagite”. Most believe this is an Amalekite – one whose king was Agag. The same people group God had commanded Saul to destroy entirely. When Saul did not, when he spared king Agag, the kingdom was taken away from Saul and given to David. Further, it was an Amalekite to cut off Saul’s head. Saul, was a son of Kish. Mordecai is of the same family line. God’s command will be carried out yet, though in captivity, and generations later. His word never returns to Him void – even though we may not see it.
6 – “ Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them.” (Job 1:6, ESV)
RAF: Even Satan must give an account of himself to our God. Do not imagine him as without restraint by the hand of God.
7 – “Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.” (Job 1:20-22, ESV)
RAF: In times of great distress, it is imperative that we guard our hearts by justifying God in it. The Enemy of our souls is after the turning of our hearts against God. That was evident in Satan’s words. To suspect God of capricious acts. To assign to Him dark or sinful motives. To think of Him as detached, hard, uncaring or even cruel. Not only will Satan tempt us toward this, our own hearts often feel the need to blame someone for every ill. God is often the first we blame – especially when tragedy strikes and it is of the kind that obviously is out of the ordinary – catastrophic. “Acts of God” we call them. Things we put in His domain and that He could have prevented. The battle is to preserve right thoughts of Him, for who else is it that is our strength and shield? Who is our help? Who alone loves us so that we can truly trust Him even in the unfathomable. Only God. If we allow ill thoughts of Him, we remove ourselves beyond all hope.
8 – “And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil? He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason.”” (Job 2:3, ESV)
RAF: In sorrow, grief and tragedy, we are most often found asking “why?” We want a direct sense of cause and effect we can quantify. We want it because then it restores power to us. And we hate feeling powerless more than anything else in human experience. If we can really get to the “why”, we imagine we can then fix it – or prevent it from happening again. But there was no direct cause/effect relationship here for Job to discover or use to produce his own remedy. These things were hidden from him. God reveals that there was no sin or fault that this was directly tied to, though everyone tries to invent one.
9 – “But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.” (Job 2:10, ESV)
RAF: Job is not referring to moral evil here, but evil circumstances – calamity. We receive all the experiences of life as mediated through the wisdom and love of our Father, even though the direct agent may be Satan, with nothing but the cruelest of motives and goals. We do not deny true evil in that we see how Satan can work, nor do we deny our God’s sovereign hand. To deny or only hold to one, is to form a very distorted view. To fail to admit that evil is real and we can suffer wrong, makes all things amoral. There is no meaning. There is no real good then either. Things are just neutral. To fail to see God as sovereignly over it all, is to make us all helpless victims and God as a powerless or disinterested deity. Neither of these options fits the Biblical paradigm.
10 – Job 3 / Job’s first discourse. I wish I had never been born. Life is pain.
11 – Job 4-5 / Eliphaz’s first discourse:
4:1-6 – You’ve counseled others to be patient in hardship, now you be patient.
4:7-11 – No one suffers without cause. Without connection to sin.
4:12-21 – And, I’ve received a vision. There’s no one without guilt, so this must fit into that category.
5:1-7 – You know I’m right. Affliction doesn’t just spring up out of the soil.
5:8-16 – My advice? Go to God.
5:17- Make your confession, take your licks, and you’ll be restored.
12 – Job answers Eliphaz.
6:2-7 / Talk is cheap. You have no idea how I’m suffering. And you give me glib answers? I’m in pain here!
6:8-13 / I’m already at the point where I wish God would just kill me and get it over with.
6:14-23 / Don’t you fear God – to give me vapid and cheap advice when I’m grieved beyond all measure and wrestling with the largest issues of life and death? Your words are useless.
6:24-27 / If you’ve got something substantive to say – I’ll listen. But don’t treat this like a game.
6:28-30 / Man to man, tell exactly what sin you think I’ve committed to bring this on. Show me.
7:1-6 / Have a little sympathy man! Life is hard anyway. Right now, it is interminably painful.
7:7-10 / There’s no recovery from what I’m going through.
7:11-21 / Since this is so dire – I’ll just spill my guts completely. I’ve got nothing to lose. You’re treatment of me right now is inhuman. Do you really think I’ve done something to warrant this, and that I can just repent and it will all be OK? Is that what you see in your “visions”?
13 – Bildad responds to Job
8:2-7 / Get off your self-righteous horse. If your children had been innocent, they wouldn’t be dead right now. You can only be receiving what is just. Own your sin, repent and God will restore you.
8:8-10 / Don’t take our word for it. Isn’t this the way all generations have known it works?
8:11-19 / Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Where there’s suffering, there’s sin. Simple.
8:20-22 / God will take you back if you repent. He’ll restore you. Your enemies will be judged.