Sunday, November 10, 2013

What Can We Learn from Esther?

Being a virtuous woman is being a woman of great value. It is a sad fact that there are many women who are lacking in character and virtue. An even bigger shame is that many characteristics of a woman who lacks virtue seem to be lauded by many in society. Characteristics of virtuous women, ironically, are seen as outdated and perpetuating stereotypes of women who would like to be set back decades, for a lack of better terms.

However, in the Bible, there are many examples of a virtuous woman, whether she is a wife, mother, or career woman. Proverbs writes of the virtuous wife of noble character as a woman who is industrious, faithful, trustworthy, loving, unselfishness, and most of all rare. This is in stark contrast to the woman who is adulterous and lacking in respect for herself and others. Few or no things are sacred to her, including family, marrige, God, and country. She is the simple woman who lacks wisdom and understanding and that her ways are towards death and destruction and that is sad. (Proverbs 7, Proverbs 31:10-31)

The Bible illustrates contrasts between the virtuous wife and the one who is simple, lacking in grace and character, and integrity. Proverbs 7 was such a case with the adulteress who is the total opposite of the virtuous wife for she is unfaithful, loud, stubborn, and deceitful. Her way and the way she takes others are the road to hell. She is a negative influence to others and she is not respected, even though she may be beautiful or wealthy or educated. The Book of Esther issues a contrast with the types of women I have just described in the book. Women can either be a great influence, as Esther was, or a negative influence, as Jeresh, the wife of Haman was. Queen Vashti could have been a negative influence on the other women of the kingdom and her husband knew it. Like public figures today, those of times past were held to a high standard and King Xerxes knew this. Queen Vashti was beautiful, but she embarassed her husband by refusing to be presented in front of his subjects. She was not like the submissive wife, who was the loyal wife who does not disrespect her husband nor tries to usurp his authority. (Esther 1-2:4, 5:14, 6:12-14, Proverbs 7, Ephesians 5:22-33)

Many other lessons could be learned from the Book of Esther and that is the role of women. They could be an influence, both negative and positive. It is said that men build the house while women keep the house. This is true. Men are called to be the heads of the household, not emasculated. The man is the head while the woman is the neck. Nothing could be further from the truth with Jeresh who was part of Haman's decision to have Mordecai hanged. Her influence like the influence of any woman could bring about peace and prosperity or ruin and destruction. Women such as Esther used her power wisely, for what she has done has saved the Jewish people. She obeyed Mordecai's instructions not to tell the King that she was Jewish. The rewards of wisdom is just as great as the price paid for being foolish, if not greater. (Esther 8-10, Proverbs 8-9) Another lesson to be learned is that if a person digs a pit for one, they will fall in it themselves. One who sows corruption reaps corruption. In short, what goes around comes around. Haman plotted wickedness against Mordecai and in the end he and his sons were hanged. What was meant for evil, God could mean or use for good. And the Book of Esther is proof of this. (Esther 8-10) The most beautiful woman is a woman who has strength of character, dignity, unselfish and unfailing love. She is a woman who treats people with respect and dignity. She follows the "Golden Rule". She cares for the less fortunate, her family, herself, and most of all God in word, deed, and action. Her way is that of even greater rewards than the world offers, for her rewards are incorruptible. (Esther 8-10, Psalm 57:6, Amos 7:17, Matthew 7:12, Romans 10:9-10, 1 Cor 9:24-27, 2 Cor 5:10, Philippians 1:21-30, 1 Timothy 2, 2 Timothy 4:7-8, 1 Thess 2:19-20, James 1:12, 1 Peter 3:7, 5:1-4, Revelation 2, 21, 22)

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