Friday, January 30, 2009


So Esther....

As I read through the story of this woman and all the circumstances that were involved in her life, I was intrigued by several things:

1 - The process of choosing the new Queen is quite involved.  These young women are placed into a harem of virgins and then given 12 months of "beauty treatments."  Then when they are ready to go into the king for their "tryout."  After that night, if he seems impressed, he can make her the queen.  Otherwise, she is transfered to the second harem, and is now apparently one of his wives. What a fascinating ritual, that certainly keeps the king in charge!

2 - The turning point in the flow of the story seems to come when Esther makes her decision about going to see the king and she calls everyone to 3 days of prayer and fasting.  What must have transpired during those three days?  Did she waver in her decision during that time?  What must she and Mordecai have felt as they were praying?

3 - After those three days, it seems like Esther takes control of making the decisions.  She is now telling Mordecai and the king what to do.  What happened to her during those three days?

4 - Where is God?  There is not one instance of the mention of God anywhere in this book!  Was that on purpose by the author?  What might the author been trying to say by not mentioning God?

5 - There is an amazing amount of irony involved in this story.  The way some of the circumstances "work out" seems to set up and create multiple "ah ha" moments along the way.  Perhaps this is part of the reason there isn't any mention of God in the book?

Sometimes I am amazed at how much natural drama is involved in the naked scriptures!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Deliberate LIfe

This week we are considering the life of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and how they portray a very deliberate life for us.

Some preliminary thoughts and questions:
  • These guys were some of the brightest and best from the land of Judah.  King Neby brought them into the palace in Babylon (along with Daniel and others - they were a part of the first wave of the exile) in order to retrain them.  He wanted to reshape their lives and their identities to make them into the best and the brightest in Babylon.  But right away they take a very deliberate stand against this system of "re-calibration."  They knew they had to maintain their identity as Hebrew men of God.
  • Does this mean that they were able to be so deliberate in their actions later because they maintained this identity?
  • 3:6 - They obviously knew the consequences ahead of time for their actions if they didn't bow down to the statue.  Later in 3:15 King Neby once again makes the consequences very clear, and even challenges their god in the process.  In other words, it was clear they were headed for the furnace if they didn't comply.
  • What does this say to us about the way we live our lives?  Do we recognize that sometimes in order to be obedient, or do what is right, we will know we are walking right into the furnace?
  • 3:16-18 - I am fascinated by their very deliberate response to Neby.  They don't argue with him or get into some kind of power struggle.  They say they don't even need to defend themselves, that God will be their rescuer, so they obviously believe in His power and ability to do that.  But even beyond that, they acknowledge that even if he doesn't rescue them, they will not bow down and worship!  They are so determined in their faith in Him, and perhaps they are so secure in their identity in Him, that they are completely willing to face the flames no matter what the outcome may be.
  • This raises to me many questions about the source of this very deliberate strength and response.  What was the source of their great strength and determination?  What caused them to be so deliberate and so bold in their response to King Neby, clearly knowing the consequences of their actions?
  • 3:20-25 - Within these few verses the text references 4 different times the point about them being bound or unbound.  Their being bound prior to being thrown into the furnace, and then being unbound once they were in the furnace, seems to be quite significant.
  • What is the point of the mentioning of this fact?  What conclusions might we draw simply from thinking about them being bound and then unbound?  And how does that relate back to our idea of deliberate?
  • 3:25 - The fact that King Neby saw a fourth man in the fire with them, and that he looked like "a son of the gods," seems pretty important here too.
  • Was this Jesus himself who came and walked through the fire with them?  What it a heavenly being of some kind who was sent by God?  Is it so obvious that this is God being present with them in the crucible of fire, or is there a deeper level of meaning we can take from this?
Well, those are some of my initial thoughts on Rach, Shach, and Benny as the Veggie Tales so eloquently put it.  I am very open to your thoughts, comments and explorations too!

Deliberately Posting,