A Decision To Stay
But Ruth replied, ‘Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.’ - Ruth 1
Have you ever gone through a shattered season of life? I found myself there a few years ago.
Field of Hope
So she went out, entered a field and began to glean behind the harvesters. As it turned out, she was working in a field belonging to Boaz, who was from the clan of Elimelek. - Ruth 2
What tends to be your reaction when everything feels out of control? Most of us don’t wander through life’s uncertainties with constant peace or calm.
The Long Now
Then Naomi said, ‘Wait, my daughter, until you find out what happens. For the man will not rest until the matter is settled today.’ - Ruth 3
Honestly, I don’t like instructions. I thrive when someone hands me a project with the invitation to, “Just figure out a way to do it.”
Then Boaz announced to the elders and all the people, ‘Today you are witnesses that I have bought from Naomi all the property of Elimelek, Kilion and Mahlon. I have also acquired Ruth the Moabite, Mahlon’s widow, as my wife, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property, so that his name will not disappear from among his family or from his hometown. Today you are witnesses!’ - Ruth 4: 1-12
Today is a life-changing day for Ruth. By entrusting her future to Boaz and allowing him to act on her behalf, Ruth receives a new name and a new identity.
You May Never See It
So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When he made love to her, the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. - Ruth 4:13-22
I confess, as a lover of telling and writing stories, I often find myself drafting the ending to certain circumstances in my life. Sometimes the ending I write in my head is beautiful and sometimes it isn’t.
The Queen’s Refusal
But when the attendants delivered the king’s command, Queen Vashti refused to come. Then the king became furious and burned with anger. - Esther 1
Have you ever acted on a decision that you thought was an honorable one, but the results unexpectedly backfired on you? I know I have, and it prompted a conversation with God where I was asking a lot of questions.
A Divine Cameo
Mordecai had a cousin named Hadassah, whom he had brought up because she had neither father nor mother. This young woman, who was also known as Esther, had a lovely figure and was beautiful. Mordecai had taken her as his own daughter when her father and mother died. - Esther 2
When the new Star Wars movie “Rogue One” was released this past year, all the buzz was regarding the surprise appearance of Luke in the film. Until the release it wasn’t clear where or to what degree he would impact the story.
Then Haman said to King Xerxes, ‘There is a certain people dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom who keep themselves separate. Their customs are different from those of all other people, and they do not obey the king’s laws; it is not in the king’s best interest to tolerate them. If it pleases the king, let a decree be issued to destroy them, and I will give ten thousand talents of silver to the king’s administrators for the royal treasury.’ - Esther 3
At the time of Esther, God’s chosen people had been living in exile in for 80 — 100 years. As a result, many of God’s people were being assimilated or absorbed into this new pagan culture.
Courage in a Crisis
Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: ‘Go, gather all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.’ - Esther 4
Can you think of a time when you knew you would be open and vulnerable to attack if you stood for truth? A day when you refused to keep the pain of your heartbreak hidden because you knew others could be helped if you broke your silence?
Esther Finds Favor with the King
On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the palace, in front of the king’s hall. The king was sitting on his royal throne in the hall, facing the entrance. When he saw Queen Esther standing in the court, he was pleased with her and held out to her the gold scepter that was in his hand. So Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter. - Esther 5:1-8
Have you ever had to wait on God? Waiting is hard because often what we are waiting for is out of our control.
Platform of Pride
Haman went out that day happy and in high spirits. But when he saw Mordecai at the king’s gate and observed that he neither rose nor showed fear in his presence, he was filled with rage against Mordecai. - Esther 5:9-14
Have you ever had such a strong aversion to someone that simply seeing them put you in a bad mood?
Clothed in Kingly Robes
So he answered the king, ‘For the man the king delights to honor, have them bring a royal robe the king has worn and a horse the king has ridden, one with a royal crest placed on its head.’ - Esther 6
The grand story of Scripture is God’s plan to redeem His people so that they can both reflect His glory to the world and enjoy an eternal relationship with Him.
A Divine Reversal
So they impaled Haman on the pole he had set up for Mordecai. Then the king’s fury subsided. - Esther 7
We live in a world wracked with sin, deceitfulness, destruction and death. So often it seems the wicked are prospering and the righteous are suffering.
Now write another decree in the king’s name in behalf of the Jews as seems best to you, and seal it with the king’s signet ring—for no document written in the king’s name and sealed with his ring can be revoked. - Esther 8
As we near the end of the story, it appears the drama is over. Haman is dead. Esther has been given his estate. Mordecai is elevated to prime minister.
God’s Silent Sovereign Hand
The Jews assembled in their cities in all the provinces of King Xerxes to attack those determined to destroy them. No one could stand against them, because the people of all the other nationalities were afraid of them. - Esther 9:1-19
The dreaded day had arrived. The day Haman’s evil edict commanding the destruction of the Jews came into effect. But, by God’s sovereign hand, the day once appointed for their death and destruction became their day of victory and celebration.
It’s Time to Party!
Mordecai recorded these events, and he sent letters to all the Jews throughout the provinces of King Xerxes, near and far, to have them celebrate annually the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar. - Esther 9:20–32
Who doesn’t love a good party? Today we join God’s people for a party, a celebration that commemorates God’s salvation of the Jews from evil Haman.
Held in Highest Esteem
“Mordecai the Jew was second in rank to King Xerxes, preeminent among the Jews, and held in high esteem by his many fellow Jews, because he worked for the good of his people and spoke up for the welfare of all the Jews. - Esther 10
The book of Esther concludes in a similar fashion as it began. Reminding us of an influential empire, a powerful king, a beautiful queen and a grand celebration.
The Song of All Songs
Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—for your love is more delightful than wine. Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes; your name is like perfume poured out. No wonder the young women love you! Take me away with you—let us hurry! Let the king bring me into his chambers. - Song of Songs 1
Song of Songs is a celebration of romantic love. Parts of it may make you blush, but let me encourage you to simply rejoice in the creative genius of God. God created and ordained marriage between the first man and woman.
His Banner over Me is Love
Let him lead me to the banquet hall, and let his banner over me be love. - Song of Songs 2
As we continue the passionate poetry of the love story between a smitten man and soon-to-be bride, we see their growing desire to be together in every way.
Waiting in Love
Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you by the gazelles and by the does of the field: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires. - Song of Songs 3
In Song of Songs 1 and 2 we caught a snapshot of the growing love, passion and desire in the courtship between a man and a woman. The poetic symbolism is sensual yet modest.
Our God of Perfect Love
Esther 9:20-Song of Songs 3 - Weekend Teaching
The Secret Garden
You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you. - Song of Songs 4
If Song of Songs hasn’t made you blush yet, today might just be the day. Remember, God ordained marriage between one man and one woman.
Making Love a Priority
I opened for my beloved, but my beloved had left; he was gone. My heart sank at his departure. - Song of Songs 5
God’s timing is always perfect. My husband and I are celebrating 30 years of marriage this year. After so many years, it’s easy to think we have this marriage thing figured out.
Commitment Makes the Heart Grow Fonder
I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine. - Song of Songs 6
What do you do when the love you once had for your spouse begins to fade? You've made a vow to stay committed, but you never thought marriage would be this hard.
“I belong to my beloved, and his desire is for me. - Song of Songs 7
Not long after my husband and I were married we bumped into a woman that I knew had been interested in him while we were dating. We talked with her and exchanged pleasantries.
Passion God’s Way
Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires. - Song of Songs 8
We live in a world where lust and love are set against each other. It seems like lust and impure passion are running rampant and winning. All the while, real biblical intimacy, purity and pure passionate love between a husband and wife are finishing last.